While a white Christmas is very much the way things are year after year for many countries, here in Australia it is all sunshine and sometimes very hot weather. We are more likely to be swimming in the pool or at the beach than having snowball fights, so like many fellow Aussies, we always dreamed of that magical ‘white Christmas’.
Lucky for us we made it happen a few years ago, during a 6 week family trip to Europe. Simon’s parents said they were heading back to Poland for Christmas, so we jumped at the chance too.
Our white Christmas holiday took us from Paris, where I saw my first snow… EVER! Although it was light and not so unlike thick rain. It was just after we been to top of the Eiffel Tower to admire the somewhat foggy views.
Next, our trip took us to Germany, mostly through the Bavarian area where we finally saw snow covered ground and spent our days and nights wandering through the different Christmas markets, eating delicious food and tasting the mulled wine in our novelty boot mugs.
Finally, it was on to Poland. First to Krakow for a couple of days, before heading on to Zakopane – the place we would experience our first white Christmas.
We stayed in a massive private home which accommodated all 6 of us, plus the 8 friends who joined us in Zakopane from Australia. For a couple of them, they have had their share of many white Christmas memories, having grown up in Poland before moving to Australia, but for the rest of us, we were beyond excited!
Being only a couple of days before Christmas already, we spent a big part of our first full day in Zakopane at the markets, buying each other small gifts to wrap under the Christmas tree, and of course, buying the supplies for our Christmas day feast.
Christmas Eve we went to a neighbouring home for a traditional Wigilia – the Polish Christmas Eve feast. The home was set up like a restaurant so there were a few other families there also. Most from other parts of Europe – Russia, Ukraine.
We headed back to our accommodation and exchanged gifts, as is the tradition in Poland, to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. Then most of the family headed off to midnight mass. It was a fascinating sight to see… almost every person in Zakopane out walking towards church in the middle of the night.
The next morning we were up and preparing food, ready for our Christmas brunch. There were lots of the traditional foods we were used to already, having a heavily Polish influences Christmas back home each year also. But for a couple of our friends, this was all very new and extra exciting!
We feasted for hours, laughed and enjoyed one another’s company before the afternoon rolled around and most of us decided to take a stroll and walk off some of that hearty Christmas food.
It began to snow soon into our walk and even though it was only early afternoon, it was already getting so dark. But that didn’t stop us. Simon and I, along with his two much younger brothers ended up having a blast in the snow. Snowball fights, snow angels and just random silliness. We were laughing so hard and having the time of our lives.
Finally when it was virtually dark, we headed back for a relaxing evening of left overs and good company, after experiencing the magic of our first white Christmas in Zakopane.
Our white Christmas was before we had our kids, instead enjoying it through the eyes of a couple of our younger travel companions, but we know we will be returning for another Christmas in Zakopane, as it is the perfect place for kids with so much to do and just a really beautiful place in the world.
Zakopane is only around an hour from Krakow on the bus so it even makes a great day trip, with plenty of opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and enjoying the general winter vibe of this snowy wonderland!