Salt of the earth (literally)
Poland Day 5. One of the highest rated things to do here is visit the underground salt mine – so when in Rome and all that…
I caught the train for the first time, an easy 22 minute jaunt to Wieliczka which is the same direction I went yesterday, just further. A few minutes walk brought me to what looked like the starting point – thought perhaps the many, many people already there at 8.30am were a giveaway.
Wieliczka is a salt treasure trove because of natural events several kajillion years ago when the area was undersea. Salt mining became a massive industry though today the massive industry is tourism. Mining ceased in 1996.
If you haven’t heard about the mine and are wondering what the fuss is, in short it’s the scale and beauty of what has been created underground. My photos were average at best and don’t do it justice, though in any case it’s one of those things best seen first hand.
Everyone wanting to go underground must be in a tour and there’s a constant stream of them going in multiple language offerings. It’s a well oiled tourism machine.
I had time to fill in so I milled around and, for example, found ways to solve my dilemma again of only having large banknotes. (When I was transacting the extra 10 PLN for a sticker that said I was allowed to take photos, I waved a 100 PLN note at her to gauge the appetite for giving change… she made an expression as if mortally wounded and should really have clutched at her chest to complete the effect.)
Finally I surged through the entry with my 30-ish other tour buddies and hooked up the ear piece that would allow us to hear our guide.
I’m not a fan of confined spaces but I had no problems here, mind you I did choose the tame ‘Tourist Route’ rather than one of the more adventurous options. In several places tall people did have to shrink to fit through the galleries but it was ok.
This chamber is the crowning jewel and what most people probably go to see…
It’s an incredible place – what they created down there over hundreds of years is pretty mind blowing.
When I emerged it was early afternoon. I caught the train back, got some supplies and called it a day. There was lots of blog stuff to prepare and there may have been a nana nap as well.
Distance walked: 9.77km (slacker!)
My goodness. You were not kidding when you wrote salt of the earth. I had no idea such a place existed. The chapel of course is the most impressive with the hanging chandeliers. It surely is a popular place given the sight of so many tourists in line. Various languages for the tour groups-I’m impressed.
It must rake in the cash that’s for sure! The big chapel is just stunning. I forgot to mention in the post that weddings are held there as well as a weekly Sunday service that routinely gets 200 attendees.
Ha, ha. Some folks can say, “yes we were married in a salt mine and now we have too much pepper in our marriage” or some kind of joke or maybe they would not be joking. 🙂