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A World of Salt

POLAND | Friday, 26 August 2016 | Views [358]

Our adventure began with buying tram tickets to go to the Wieliczka Salt Mines.  We read about many ways it was possible to go to the mine, but the local tram/bus combo was quick, cheap and easy.  We bought 8 tickets at a machine close to the tram; cost 40 zloty, or about $12 Cdn.

After a quick stop at a bakery we were off on the tram.  Smooth and comfortable, it delivered us to the 304 bus stop and after a few minutes wait we were off again.  Although we had a transfer and had to pay attention to the stop, definitely a smooth trip.

We arrived to the salt mines; purchased our English tour tickets (84 zloty each or about $110 Cdn total for 2.5 hour tourist tour; of note there are many types with differing interests and fitness levels).  We had awesome timing; arrived at 9:20 and were on the 9:30 tour.  Just enough time for the toilet.

Our tour guide, Patricia, was really good.  Not only was she informative, she was quite funny; and definitely interesting and entertaining.  She explained the history of the mine and the hard life of the miners that worked there.  

After a 382 step decent, we were explained that the mine has over 400 kilometres of tunnels and the tour only explores 1 percent of the mine at about 4 kilometres and a depth of 164 metres.

The tour was incredible.  The problems of water, methane, darkness would have made for treacherous conditions.  As we made our decent we felt as if we were going through time; signs indicating the mine was officially 'discovered' in the 13th century and as we went deeper it quickly moved up the years.  The mine officially closed in the 20th century and today more tourist guides work there than there were miners.  It is almost impossible for me to describe the beauty of this place.

The miners were also very religous and prayed at the underground churches for their safety.  Today in the biggest of the churches you can rent it for marriages and they still hold service at it for specail occassions like Christmas.

The tour obviously ended in a gift shop, but the prices were very good.  We picked up a couple things and made our way to the lift.  

We ate our picnic lunch in the park just outside.  The sandwiches were very good, except Dad's, somehow he got a vegetarian.

We took the 304 bus back downtown, felt a lot longer than the bus/tram combination. There was a parade of some sort happening so of course we stopped to take pictures.

After buying a couple of sovereigns, taking some photos, we stopped for a pint at Pod Wawelem.  This time we went into the restaurant and got a way better experience.  Not only did they bring free pickles and sauerkraut, the gave free shots of turpentine, aka cherry liquor.  We had a couple hor d'oeuvres as we wanted to have a proper meal out for supper.

After checking back at the market close to our apartment, we found an awesome traditional polish restaurant; soup and a dish for 15 zloty, about $5 Cdn.  The food was awesome, beer was cheap and we left completely stuffed.  Soup: green pea for 3 of us and Tim had a potato borsch.  For the main, Mom and I ate pierogis, Tim had a stuffed chicken with a side of rice (mushroom gravy) and Dad had breaded cod with mashed potatoes.  Awesome, about $40 Cdn including tip.


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