Back on the train and we’re travelling south to Krakow.
Our first day was a school day. We were completely unaware that salt was mined in the same way as coal. Yes we’ve heard of salt mines but didn’t think these mines would go down 320+ meters deep where 50kg+ blocks are cut and carried out since the 13th century. When you climb down the 50 odd floors down into the Wieliczka Salt Mine it makes you realise what an amazing feat this is. Then you continue to go down as you make you way along some of it’s 287km length. This mine is immense.
As the centuries rolled on the mine got deeper and the caverns more cavernous. The miners stayed down there for extended periods so they carved out statues and made the larger spaces into places or worship. Since ceasing operation in 1996 it has been transformed into a major tourist attraction so more sculptures have been sculpted down there by several artists including a very good likeness to Pope John Paul II who was born 50km outside of Krakow but made Krakow his hood and became the auxiliary bishop there in 1958, where he remained until moving to Rome for his new gig.
Right, where’s that umbrella? It’s time for a walking tour.
Had a nice chap showing us around. Have to say again, these free tours are very good. It does drive the guides to up thier game and every time we have had great guides. It’s the way forward.
Anyway, we had a good tour of the Old Town and taking in Wawel Castle to. There’s a monument there to recognise the heroic feats of a Krakowian named Tadeusz Kościuszko. Not only did this fella do the Russians in Poland he also nipped over to the US to get involved in the American Revolutionary War to help do the British over as well. Driven by the rights to freedom apparently.
Lastly we visited Auschwitz. No words for this. It’s something you have to do.