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The BGTW goes to Zakopane

Roger Bray writes on our AGM venue in March

Zakopane here we come. Thanks to the Herculean efforts of the Polish National Tourist Office, our long planned AGM in one of Poland's major tourism honeypots is almost upon us.

zak5.jpgAs I wrote in a recent edition of Globetrotter, the town has grown on me. With luck the streets will be snow covered while we are there. We should be transported to dinner in horse drawn sleighs. Those planning to ski will find the slopes limited - this is no Val d'Isere - but the cable car I first rode a decade or so ago has at least been replaced with something more up to date and the High Tatra mountains are undeniably beautiful.

The resort's hub is the pedestrianised Krupowki Street. I am not sure how lively it will be in winter but in high summer, all human life is there. Star Wars characters parade for the kids. In the evenings there's a big queue for placki - potato pancakes with sour cream and sometimes gulasch. Near the bottom there's a market where you can buy anything from wood carvings to leather fashions (about £120 for a waist length woman's jacket) - and where stalls sell the local smoked ewe's cheese, oscypek, which is slightly chewy and often served grilled in restaurants, with cranberry sauce. I hope you will get the opportunity buy some direct from a smoke house, perhaps on the way to the nearby village of Chocholow, whose main street is line with the wooden houses characteristic of the region, the logs which form their walls caulked with wood chippings. One house here was built entirely from one big spruce tree.

zak1.jpgThere are many attractive wooden villas in Zakopane, too, some with elaborately carved balconies and wood shingled roofs. Churches, too, with delicately created wooden altars. Behind the oldest of them, dedicated to St. Clement, is a fascinating cemetery. Zakopane has been a mecca for painters, sculptors, writers and sportsmen. Buried here are a ski jump champion who refused an offer to teach the occupying Germans and instead smuggled refugees and secret agents through the Tatras, an Olympic rowing medallist who fought in the Warsaw uprising and lived until 2004 and a former rector of Warsaw Polytechnic who survived Dachau.

zak4_1.jpgThose joining tours of Krakow should find no shortage of material. From my own visit last summer strong images linger - of the vast market square, of the great altar of St Mary's, one of Europe's most magnificent Gothic art works, of the mind boggling salt maine at Wieliczca with its subterranean chapel and cavern where Hitler perhaps planned a rocket silo - and the poignant Kasimerz district, whose streets were used by Stephen Spielberg for the ghetto scenes in Schindler's List, where I heard a woman singer with a small backing group perform the Yiddish love song Bei Mir Bistu Shein - better known perhaps when recorded by the Andrews Sisters as Bei Mir Bist du Schoen.



BGTW Press Releases
News from the British Guild of Travel Writers
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  • Winners of 2014 New Travel Writer competition announced
    WINNERS OF THE 2014 NEW TRAVEL WRITER OF THE YEAR COMPETITION ARE ANNOUNCED The British Guild of Travel Writers today announced that Mandy Huggins of Cleckheaton near Leeds and Helen Moat of Matlock, Derbyshire, are the winner and runner-up in its fifth annual New Travel Writer of the Year competition. The nation-wide competition is aimed at encouraging fledgling British travel writers. Contestants this year were asked to describe in no more than 850 words how a travel experience or destination was brought to life through a person or persons met along the way. Miss Huggins' winning feature,...
  • BGTW announces plans for new website and elects first US-born Chairman
    THE BGTW ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR A NEW WEBSITE, ELECTS ITS FIRST AMERICAN CHAIRMAN AND READIES FOR ITS YEARBOOK LAUNCH The British Guild of Travel Writers has elected its first American-born chairman, unveiled the designs for a new, more outwardly-looking website, announced plans to extend its membership to more professional travel writers working solely or partly online and provided details of the launch of its 2014 annual Yearbook. All of these developments were revealed at the Guild's 27 January Annual General Meeting and Conference held in the historic German city of Weimar. This was followed by fact-finding visits to the city's...
  • BGTW extends deadline for New Travel Writers competition
    THE BRITISH GUILD OF TRAVEL WRITERS EXTENDS THE DEADLINE FOR ITS 2014 COMPETITION FOR TALENTED NEW TRAVEL WRITERS The British Guild of Travel Writers has extended the deadline for its popular, annual New Travel Writers competition until 7 February 2014. The competition is for features up to 850 words by UK-based residents who have not previously had travel features published. The winner and two runners up will be honoured at the Guild's annual Yearbook launch to be held at London’s new ME Hotel on...
  • BGTW applauds new travel writers
    THE BRITISH GUILD OF TRAVEL WRITERS APPLAUDS NEW TRAVEL WRITERS AT ITS 2013 YEARBOOK LAUNCH The British Guild of Travel Writers presented New Travel Writer awards to three new and previously undiscovered writers – Rob Tye of Lymington, Hamphire; Vicki Brown, London, and Joseph Wilsdon, Bridport, Dorset – at its gala annual Yearbook launch Tuesday, 12th March at the Turkish Ambassador's London residence. This is the fourth year that the Guild, a 53-year-old organization of professional travel writers, photographers, editors and broadcasters, has co-sponsored the award. This year's competition theme, People and Places, asked entrants to focus...
  • Sarah Lee wins Best Blog in Caribbean Journalism Awards
    GUILD MEMBER SARAH LEE WINS BEST BLOG FEATURE IN CARIBBEAN JOURNALISM AWARDS BGTW member Sarah Lee has been presented with an award for the Best Blog Feature on the Caribbean by the UK Chapter of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO). The award was presented at a 4 November networking evening held in the Caribbean Scene restaurant, London, and attended by more than 100 guests, including visiting tourism ministers and some 60 media. Mrs Lee's award was for Up close and personal with Turtles in the Tobago Cays, which ran on Live Share Travel. Judge Oliver Gradwell said: When I read blog...
Aaron Millar

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Tim Locke, AA Explorer Guide to Thailand


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