Name: Justyna Sojka
Current location: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. From Chorzów, Poland
Occupation: Social worker by education, currently self-employed travel blogger
“…great atmosphere, sledging and snowy landscapes.”
Welcome to the ZakopaneGO Travelbloggers Q&A sessions. Today we’re joined by Justyna, a social worker-turned-traveller who wanders the globe with her photographer partner, looking for the perfect adventure. Great to have you with us Justyna. Tell us, how did your start your big adventure with the wide world?
Travels became a very important part of my life, I’m not even sure when it all started. But my first big adventure was a two-month trip to the Middle East during my studies. It was before all the terrorist attacks and I am glad that I could visit Syria, Jordan and Egypt when it was still relatively safe. I remember people’s hospitality, quite a few times we had meals with Jordanians and Syrians or slept in their homes.
I have traveled a bit around Europe visiting Scotland and Scandinavian countries the most, especially the love of my life – Lofoten Islands in Norway. I’ve even co-designed photography and travel guide ebooks to the Islands. Living in the UK for 10 years allowed me to spend some time in Wales and Scotland, so I became used to breathtaking landscapes but also a lot of wind and rain…
My partner is an American and I have had an opportunity to go on a few road trips in USA. We drove around California, visited State and National Parks of Utah, Arizona and Nevada. We have also climbed a few of Colorado Fourteeners (above 14k ft = 4200m mountains) in summer and did some ice climbing in winter in the Ouray Ice Park. There is a big difference between European and American landscapes, the latter always amaze me with their space, it seems like you can just drive or walk for hours, without even being near any person or town.
What motivated you to go and take that first step out of, what people call, the comfort zone?
Curiosity and willingness to discover new places and cultures. Ability to get to know myself better. Sense of adventure. Friendship and love – as I typically travel with my partner or friends.
I was born in Poland when it was not easy to travel and cross borders. I spent my childhood in an industrial city, so needless to say that family holidays or trips with friends to the mountains, lakes or seaside were something I would look forward to. Two-month trip to the Middle East during my studies was the first attempt to travel and experience places at a slow pace. After Poland joined the EU, I moved to the UK to work in a social care sector and lived for 10 years in England and Wales. I kept on traveling and decided to start a blog – Somewhere It’s Raining – to share my stories. Closing of the school where I worked helped me to turn my life upside down again and with my partner I traveled for a few months finally moving to Germany. I am in a difficult place right now, both excited and anxious not knowing what the future brings.
As a travelblogger, 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?
My first encounter with Zakopane was during a family winter holiday when I was a little girl. I can still remember the great atmosphere, sledging and snowy landscapes. In May 2014 my partner and I were planning to meet friends in Poland and a Zakopane trip seemed ideal. Mountains, beautiful views, great local cuisine and hospitality. Need to add that my partner is an American and he really loves the place, has been three times already.
What time of the year did you visit and why?
It was spring time, we wanted to hike in the mountains and hoped for the weather to be good enough.
How was the weather? Did you manage to do any hiking?
The weather was better than we expected, it was really warm and we hiked in T-shirts. But there was still some snow on the mountains so getting to the top required a little bit of snow crossing. First day we just took a cable car, went up on Kasprowy Wierch and wandered around. The second day we hiked to the Murowaniec hut, left our big bags and went up Kościelec which was really exciting.
Where did you stay and how would you rate the facilities?
Polish style B&B / hotel called Klonowy Dwór – a beautiful place with a local feel to it. It was a bit away from the centre but we didn’t mind walking a bit and as a bonus the area was very quiet. As we did some hiking we also stayed in a mountain hut Murowaniec, a good base to do mountain trails. There’s ample accommodation in Zakopane and around, for everyone to choose from.
What was the highlight of your trip?
Getting to the top of Kościelec, we had a bit of snow left and the views were amazing.
What activities would you have liked to see made available to travellers visiting the region?
Can’t really say as we did what we planned to do. I think there’s plenty to do even for those who don’t want to go to the mountains.
What else could the city improve on to enhance the experience of tourism in the area?
Some things might seem obvious for locals but not necessary for tourists, especially if they are from abroad. For example, we didn’t know that to get to Kasprowy Wierch you need to take the bus going to Kuźnice. And of course if you read one of my blog posts you know that I would appreciate if the kitchens in the mountain huts stayed open longer…
That’s a very good point and I’m sure fellow hikers would agree with that! Give us your top travel tips for visiting the city/region?
To plan staying for a few days at least. It’s a beautiful area and i don’t think anyone can get bored.
Next on your bucket-list?
At the moment I’m planning a 440km hike in September through the Kungsleden trail in northern Sweden.
Wow! Sounds amazing. We really hope you enjoy your time out there. Let us know how you get on. Bring us back some sweets 😉 Justyna, thanks so much for getting on this chat with us! Real pleasure and we hope to see some more great photos from you soon! All the best!
Alternatively check out these great, recommended pages!
www.codyduncan.com (amazing photos and stories from my partner)
www.68north.com (site dedicated to the Lofoten Islands)
www.vdubvanlife.com (a couple travels through Europe in their VW van)