Salt, Wine and Carols
22.12.2018 7 °C
Oh, And the Dragon again LOL!
I decided to stay an extra day after my tour was over - used up some of my last Aeorplan miles for a hotel room night. I left my luggage at our hotel from last night and after breakfast, I went across the road to the train station to head out to Wieliczka (Vee-el-eech-ka) where there's a famous Polish salt mine. What an exercise waiting for the train!! It was late coming in from the Airport and then they kept changing the platform & track. I climbed up & down about a dozen times before I finally managed to get on board. PHEW!!!
Salt mine tower view from the railway platform.
I made it to the mine and got my ticket just in time to join the English language tour. (WHY do some people feel they need to practically bathe in cologne/aftershave?! There was one guy in the group - could smell him the whole time - uggh) Although they stopped actually mining the salt 22 years ago, parts of the mine have been open to tourists for over a century. Over the years, the miners, who were a religious group, would work in the mine after their shift was over, to carve chapels and statues. Some have been maintained, and form part of the tour. A few statues were added in recent years, carved by professional sculptors - like Pope John Paul II. The caverns & chapels were quite dark and I'd read reviews saying not to bother taking photos because of this. I think they keep the areas dark to make you feel more like you've 100+ metres below ground...and to get you to pay 10 zloty for the photo permit! I didn't take photos except at the very end in a well-lit space.
Salt miners made from salt!
I did buy a few postcards and you can see how well the rooms were lit for them. Sheesh!
It was a good tour and beautiful work to see. And although they're not mining any longer, when the restore or repair areas enough salt is collected and processed to sell in the shops.
Once i was through the mine and shop, I got a taxi to take me out about 3 kms from town to a winery I'd read about. Yes! they apparently are making pretty good wines in Poland. Unfortunately, the winery was closed!! Booo!
The scenery in the area is lovely though - sure wish I could have visited. So I had the driver take me back to the train station where again the train was delayed - but only one platform this time.
I got back into Krakow, in the rain, got my luggage and moved a few blocks West for my last night. I relaxed a little, got most of my luggage packed and then went out for a last evening in the city. When I'm moving around from a different base, I check for landmarks so I know how to get back. This is on the corner of the street for tonight's hotel:
No problem getting back - just look for the crucifixion scene!
That Christmas Market is such fun! I enjoyed another cup of Christmas Tea - the good stuff with Slivovice (ya, that plum brandy), some grilled cheese and a lovely mushroom soup.
I wandered around a little and encountered a Christian group singing in the square. A little farther along, within a crowded hall of shops (Cloth Hall - lots of amber jewellery, woollens and general Polish souvenirs) was a group of musicians and singers.
They had printed up song sheets - Christmas carols - and were leading a sing-along! HOW WONDERFUL!! Some of the songs I knew from a record my parents had - such a treat. I knew some of the tunes and tried to sing along as best I could. The snow may be gone in Krakow but I'm feeling Christmas now.
I also went back down to the Castle to see if I could see the dragon breathing fire. So disappointed to see that he wasn't even lit up at night. I went a little farther and got a shot of the Krakow lights with Wawel Castle in the background - quite lovely.
As I was making my way back, a tour group was around the dragon. I was going to take a silhouette shot of him but suddenly a hissing noise began - and the fire came!!! (It reminded me of the fire swamp in The Princess Bride! LOL)
Got back to my hotel, showered and finished packing. I've got an early flight in the morning and making my way back home for Christmas.
LOVE this bag!!!