Rope Park opens: Krakow has a new attraction for thrill-seekers

 
At the end of ul. Widlakowa, behind the ramshackle buildings of Pychowice, there is a small forest with a little clearing and a large sign ? “Krakowski Park Linowy” (“Krakow Rope Park”). The park rests quietly beyond wooden an inconspicuous gate and a small parking lot. The calm rustle of the trees is deceiving, however, as the experience that awaits visitors is not for the faint-hearted.The owner, Piotr Rzewuski, is a plump, mustached man in his late 40s. When he heard we were journalists, he suggested that we walk with him through the park before asking any questions. Grinning, he said that we could ask them later, if we still had any. First, we were led through some standard safety procedures that included signing declarations that we knew the rules of the park and were not under the influence of alcohol. Then, we proceeded to the training area, where we were given all the essential equipment ? helmets, harnesses and gloves ? and comprehensively instructed on how to handle them. Next, we climbed a ladder towards the first platform. The change in height makes a huge difference in perspective ? what seemed perfectly safe from the ground now made our fingers clutch at the safety rope more tightly. The 200-meter course begins with a fairly easy-to-cross footbridge, but becomes increasingly more difficult with each of the 21 platforms situated five to nine meters above the ground. Some crossings require a good sense of balance ? like the “Tibetan bridges” (one rope for the legs and one or two for the arms). Others demand more strength ? for example, the “spider?s web” or tire bridges. Overall, the seemingly short course takes from 40 to 60 minutes to complete. At the end, it’s a relief to see the slide that finally takes you back to steady ground. Standing once again on solid earth, we felt satisfaction and the urge to come back ? some day in the far-distant future.Rzewuski explained that he came up with the idea for the park while “unemployed for some time and searching for a way to make a living. A friend saw a park like this in Warsaw. I had experience working with heights, so I decided to give it a shot.”Rzewuski lives in nearby Pychowice Mansion and has plans for the area that include horse-riding and driving tourists on off-road trips. “The most important thing about this place,” he added, “is that you are very close to the city center, but can rest in nature. The park was designed for both children and adults, but we hope to make a separate park entirely for children, too.”Park rules state that visitors must have a minimum height of 150 centimeters, but exceptions can be made. Grzegorz Golab, an 11-year-old boy somewhat shorter than the height-limit, also completed the course. “I had problems on one of the obstacles, but overall, the place is great,” he said with a wide grin.Getting there is easiest by bus ? line 112 or 162 from Rondo Grunwaldzkie. Get off at stop “Pychowice II.” Then follow the signs to “Park Linowy” on ul. Widlakowa. General adult tickets cost 25 zloty, 20 zloty for those under 16, or 35 zloty if you want an instructor to assist you through the course. Also, most of the staff speaks English.

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