Walk #12: Bella and Andrew

Walk #12: Bella and Andrew

Date: 30 May 2016

Where: Circular walk to Polana Kalatówki, above Zakopane, Poland

Craig and I met Bella and Andrew doing our TEFL course last summer, which they all passed and I failed! Andrew is English and Bella is originally from Poland but fluent in English, which in many respects gave her a certain advantage during the TEFL course, though she didn't always see it that way!

They did the TEFL course because they're in the process of renovating a large B&B in Zakopane, the up-market winter sports and hiking centre on the Polish side of the Tatra mountains, and - if they decide to move over there permanently some day - they'd like to offer language courses as a sideline.

Realising my ride through southern Poland would coincide with the two weeks they planned to spend in Zakopane checking on the progress of the works (which are proceeding rather more slowly than they'd like!), they invited me to stay. Touchingly they'd cleared an entire room for me to sleep in - no mean feat in the middle of a building site! - and I had the honour of taking the very first hot bath to test out their brand new heating system.

In the morning Andrew checked the weather forecast and reported 100% chance of thunderstorms at midday, so we got our skates on and hiked up the hill to do a quick circuit of Polana Kalatówki. As it turned out no rain came until 18:00, which left Andrew contemplating suing the forecasters for causing us to foreshorten our walk!

At the furthest point of our intended circuit Bella wanted us to sample some apparently edible weeds. I volunteered to be the 'control group' in this experiment. Then she suddenly announced she wanted to hike off-piste directly up the mountainside to reach the ridge above us. We made a valiant effort but had to admit defeat after 100m or so as our Achilles tendons were screaming! On the way back down I heard B telling A to walk behind her, placing his feet on her choice of spots - and people wonder why I don't want to be in a couple haha :-p

Next we stopped at Kalatówki Hotel for really good milky coffees and some apple szarlotka and to use the loos, which I was interested to note were unisex. It's always a relief to relieve myself without people doing massive double-takes at me.

As we walked we began talking about mindfulness. Andrew has started making us of the Headspace app, which I'd definitely use too if I had a smartphone. That got us on to talking about self-care generally, and personal development, and eventually relationships and families, and the challenge of breaking free from patterns of thought and behaviour programmed into us as kids. For example if a parent habitually comments on your appearance, you'll fairly inevitably end up judging your own worth this way, and indeed you're quite likely to make similar judgments of others without even realising you're doing it. I recommended the work of Harriet Lerner on this kind of stuff, particularly The Dance of Connection and The Dance of Intimacy.

On our way back down we took a detour to look at an isolated nunnery, which we did our best to make more interesting than it actually was by discussing whether the electric fence around it at knee height was to keep the nuns in or intruders out.

Our walk culminated in a 'who can stand in the icy river for longest' contest (pictured).

After our walk we discovered a new place to have lunch, tucked away but with a sign advertising dumplings made by 'a grandma'. How could we resist? The place turned out to be run by an eccentric ageing rocker and the food was excellent. We made sure to leave enough room for 'the best ice cream in the world', which involved a drive in the car to a nearby town.

Thank you so much, Bella and Andrew, for your very warm welcome, for the hot baths and for all the DELICIOUS food! I wish you every success with the B&B and will certainly drop in again the next time I pass by!