Day 18 - Free Day in Krakow

January 14, 2013 - Krakow, Poland


On the bus it is 9.10am and -7oC and it is sooo cold.

Today was a free day but since our hotel is so far out you have to either catch the top deck bus into the city at 9am and back at 6pm or catch public transport or a taxi. Since I have limited money I am catching the top deck bus at 9am. The did a drop off in town and then dropped the rest of us at Wieliczka Salt Mine. It cost 65 Zlotty to do the tour and then charge an extra 10 Zlotty to take photos of this one cathedral they have carved out of salt. They know how to get the tourists, I paid my 10 Zlotty so I could at least take photos.

We walked down a windy wooden stair case down to the first mine level and we walked through 20 different chambers. The walk ways are supported with pine structures and there are salt structures in each of the chambers. It is pretty amazing all the sculptures are done by the miners not by artists. Salt when compressed is grey so it doesn’t look like the salt that we have on our table. The lowest point in the mine we get to is 135m below ground level and it was 16oC. I could stay down there all day, it was heat wave compared to the temperature we have been experiencing. There were several chapels through the mines as the miners pray for their safety and families when working in the mine. It was still quite a dangerous job. The salt mine is healthy for you to walk through as the air is so clean and pure. They had carvings of gnomes as the miners believed that the gnomes in the caves looked after them and where good luck. The cathedral where I had to pay my 10 zlottys for to take photos had carvings of the last supper and even chandeliers that were made out of salt crystals. They played music and had a light show in the cathedral there were good acoustics there. There was even a salt statue of Pope John Paul II. They had underground lakes which you couldn’t drown in because of the salt content in the water. The salt mine is still a working mine as the miners need to stabilise the mine for heritage purposed but not mined for salt. They extract salt from water. They have an issue with salt leakage and forming stalagmites from the salt. The tour guide kept saying you can lick the walls of the salt mine as it is included in your ticket price but you couldn’t lick the statues.

After the tour, we got on the bus and dropped off in town. By this time it was 1pm, I was with Jess and Sharna and we went to a little café to have Pirogi - which is a dumpling that is a polish dish. I had spinach and fetta pirogi and spicy cheese. They were delicious but they did remind me similar to the Chinese dumplings with the rice casings.

Afterwards we walked to the Wawel Castle. I wanted to go through the Dragons Den, there is a fairy tale around the dragon but it was closed. The sign said it was closed for the winter months. We couldn’t walk through the castle either as that was shut. The only thing was open was the Wawel Cathedral where you could walk through the church and walk up the bell tower and down into the crypts. They had the Crypt of Chopin the composer which was an unexpected surprise.

There was a couple of times were I jumped as I walked into one crypt not expecting to see anyone and I saw these two people at the far end thinking they wee ghosts or something. The next time was walking into the maze of tombs and there was someone from the church in a black clock with the hood up just standing still in the corner. It freaked me out a little. Going down beneath the church you don’t expect to see anyone particularly when there isn’t many people around.

The rest of the day was just strolling through the town. It was so cold so we stopped in a café Cukierina & Kawiarnia and I had another hot chocolate. I have to say that this almost beats my Bratislava liquid chocolate drink. They had heaps of different flavours. I had a gingerbread hot chocolate which was thick and topped with whipped cream and had 2 wafer biscuits on top.

The rest of the time was spent walking round town and headed to the pick up point at 6pm. There are thermometers along the roadsides to let you know the temperature and at 6.20pm it was only -4oC. It actually got warmer.

As we got off the bus the bus driver said they predict it to me 0oC and that is when you get snow not in the negatives.

We just had dinner in the restaurant hotel and I finished off my remaining zlottys I had on me.

Im not sure if I would come back to Krakow maybe in the spring would be a lovely place top visit.


Catherdral in the Salt mine
Me licking the salt wall - Yum!
View of Krakow from the Bell tower
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