Zakopane Take-Homes: Folkloric Keepsakes
There are two markets in Zakopane, a small market of wooden shops in the main pedestrianised street in the heart of the old centre, and another larger market that sprawls along the route to the funicular that goes up to Gubałówka hill.
Most of the stalls are manned by little old ladies in kerchiefs and aprons and/or their daughters, and most of the products are locally produced. I say ‘most’, because at a stall selling woollen products, you might find pure wool slippers (smell the fur and look for the sheep’s ‘skin’ inside) right beside synthetic wool slippers (look for the ‘Made in China’ label and synthetic fabric where the ‘skin’ should be).
You’ll find vibrant folk scarves in the floral pattern that is typical of the region, and earrings, bangles, and beaded wooden necklaces sporting similar patterns. There are plenty of locally carved wooden products from children’s toys and kitchen utensils to folk carvings, such as the welcome sign above, and it’s not unusual to see elderly women and men carving right at their stall.
There are dozens of stores selling leather jackets and furs (real and fake) – from Russian-style hats to a ridiculous array of coats and loads of woollen products, from the incredibly warm slippers above that I bought my mother to thick, natural, woollen sweaters, socks and mittens.
You’ll also find shops selling folk music CDs from the region (listen before you buy) and dozens of stalls selling Zakopane’s famous smokey cheese.