Name: Holly Connors
Occupation: Blogger and freelance writer
Current location/hometown: Brisbane, Australia
“An Unknown Treasure…”
Welcome back to the ZakopaneGO Travelbloggers Q&A sessions. Today we’re joined by one-fourth of Australia’s most delightful travel-loving families, mum-of-two, wife and explorer – Holly.
Hi Holly! Thank you for taking time to join us! Before we begin, I got to say! Congratulations! You must be over the moon 🙂 Bless her little cotton socks! So adorable! I bet Lily is already teaching Violet to pack a suitcase properly 😉 It’s not easy feat being a mum, let alone travel with small children, but every moment is precious. Let’s crack on. Tell us a little about yourself first..
I’m a regular part of the writing team for the Brisbane Kids website, which is a resource for families in and around Brisbane for activities, services, travel and pretty much everything kid focused, as well as contributing to The Colourful Housewife, another Australian based website. I also have a second blog focused on home and family life, Simplify Create Inspire, and contribute the occasional article for other publications, such as The Sunday Brunch online magazine and Family Living magazine.
Where have you travelled?
We have travelled mostly in Europe, including Poland, France, Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Czech, Switzerland, Italy, UK and Belgium so far, as well as a little closer to home with Fiji, New Zealand, and our most recent family holiday to Vietnam. Of course we have travelled a lot around our home country of Australia as well.
What motivated you to go out and see the world?
There is so much value in experiencing another culture and way of life and these are experiences you cannot learn in any classroom. Travel also teaches you a lot about yourself and helps you grow personally, as you learn to appreciate not only what you have in life, but how little you need to be truly happy.
Completely agree, travel can be the best teacher and true happiness is greater than any degree or diploma! As travelbloggers, you know how globetrotting can change a person’s life and open them up to new cultures, perspectives and experiences. What made you choose Zakopane as one of your pit-stops?
We were planning a white Christmas, since for us here in Australia, the typical Christmas day is in the middle of a hot summer. My husband’s mother is from Poland and she had great memories from her own experiences holidaying in Zakopane when she was young so it seemed like the perfect choice and it definitely was.
Oh nice! Although rest assured, sometimes I think the perfect choice would be to unwrap the presents on a beach. Winters do get a bit extreme around here, but we love it really. What time of the year did you visit in the end and why?
We arrived two days before Christmas and stayed until after New Years, giving us the chance to not only enjoy our white Christmas but also to celebrate New Year’s Eve before heading off to explore more of Poland.
Where did you stay and how would you rate the facilities?
I cannot recall the exact location, however it was a private multi-level home with enough bedrooms to accommodate our whole family and two other families who joined us for our Zakopane white Christmas adventure from back home. There was 14 of us in total, so it was a massive home with full kitchen facilities to cook up our Christmas feast. Staying in a house rather than a hotel was definitely a far more enjoyable way to enjoy Zakopane, so we highly recommend it. It was only a short walk to the main part of town also.
That sounds like a lot of fun. Nowadays, more and more people are actually taking the same option, it’s that little bit different when in a home as opposed to the rather restrictive hotel atmosphere. I’m a big food fan and the Polish cuisine, and especially the Wigilia (Christmas Eve Meal) is my favourite. Did you rustle up some traditional dishes and, if so, what’s your favourite?
We did actually have a traditional Christmas Eve meal at a private home in Zakopane that was set up to accommodate around 30 people. The food was great, although we do Christmas Eve here in Australia every year too, with my mother in law cooking up a pretty impressive traditional feast. I am of course a big fan of pierogi (not that it appeared for Christmas Eve). I’m not great with remembering the names of some of the other traditional dishes but there wasn’t much I didn’t love.
Tell us, what was the highlight of your trip?
The white Christmas is of course a stand out. After the usual Christmas day festivities were over, we spent the afternoon running around in the snow. There was almost no one else out as it was freezing, but we had a blast. Snow angels, snowball fights and just general silliness. New Years Eve was also a highlight. Back home permits are needed for fireworks so the free flowing fireworks in the centre of the main street was downright crazy but awesome.
No permits needed here. It does get a bit nuts at times, with the main street resembling a scene from a social revolution, but it’s all in good gest. What activities would you have liked to see made available to travellers visiting the region?
At the time of our visit there was nothing that we felt was lacking for us as travellers, however travelling with several Polish speaking companions would have made our trip easier. Everything was pretty much taken care of and we could not have asked for more.
Well if you do ever visit again, or any of your friends or relatives do, let me know. There are spots in Zakopane where use of the English language is pretty much restricted to exchanging basic pleasantries. What else could the city improve on to enhance the experience of tourism in the area?
I think the only thing lacking for tourism in Zakopane is the fact that it is such an unknown treasure to the rest of the world. It’s somewhere that deserves recognition as a great holiday destination and has so much to offer. What really stands out is the fact that it does not feel like a typical commercial tourist destination, and that is very refreshing.
It definitely is a one of a kind. What would be your top travel tips for visiting the city/region?
Zakopane is a must see in winter so that all the winter-based activities can be enjoyed to their full-potential. Consider staying in a private home rental instead of a hotel or apartment – not only does this give you a more authentic travel experience, but it is also more comfortable and spacious when travelling with kids or large groups. Give yourself at least a few days to enjoy the region as there is plenty to see and do, without wanting to rush and potentially miss out on seeing something wonderful. Bonus tip – Snowboarding is really hard! But worth giving it a go, even if just for a laugh!
High-five on that note! Love boarding! I’d recommend it to anyone coming over and there are some great slopes around here! Where’s next on your bucket-list?
We are actually headed back to Poland next year for a wedding and hoping to visit Gdansk for the first time, as well as heading south with plans to visit Budapest in Hungry and do some sailing through Croatia. My only visit to Poland has been in winter so I am loving the chance to see it in summer next time.
We hope you do. Poland is definitely one of those places where you truly get to experience the contrast of the four seasons. Anything else you’d like to share with the readers at ZakopaneGO.com?
Family travel to Zakopane or anywhere in the world needs more preparation than trips without kids, however so long as kids are kept entertained, well-rested and well-fed, you are off to a great start for a successful family-friendly vacation. We will be adding plenty of family travel ideas over coming months on our blog, launching a “Top 10 things to do with kids” series for cities around the world. Keep an eye out for the upcoming Zakopane with kids post for more ideas on exploring this beautiful destination.
Look forward to reading up on that! Great topic to cover for all the families interested in packing their bags and jetting off for some well-earned rest. Make sure you keep us updated, will be keeping my eyes open for the new posts. Holly it’s a great pleasure having you chat with us and thank you so much for taking time out. Best wishes to you all, hope to hear from you soon and a lot of love for your entire family from us here in Zakopane! Stay in touch!
You can follow The Connors’ adventures on their blog fouraroundtheworld.com or follow them on Twitter @fouraroundworld. Alternatively, check out their latest posts on:
Fouraroundtheworld on Facebook
Fouraroundtheworld on Instagram
Fouraroundtheworld on Pinterest