My visit to the Wieliczka Salt Mines & My Walking Tour of Krakow

I just flew in from Gdansk (there are some pictures I found of my friends and myself at the Baltic Sea that I forgot to post on last blog); to Krokow late one evening and went directly to my Airbnb host. It was a first time not using Couchsurfing and I found myself at the Hosts’ Grandmothers Flat (who did not speak any English). I went to bed after looking at the maps she left for me in English (thankfully.) I had Zlotys for the tram billet and I awoke and off I went to the Wieliczka Salt Mines( which has been a source of rock salt & monetary usage in the beginning, since the late 13th century). This underground Saltworks Museum has been mined for the past 700 years! It has many stairs (370 stairs just down to the 1st level alone) and this treasure of Poland has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. It has nine levels where men worked and created over 2,000 chambers.  One of the chambers has an artist rendition of Jesus teaching to the Rabbis. There was no one artist who did the extraordinary  work over the years, just miners who spent their time below the ground who made Spectacular Art Works! There is an entire underground Church (where the Pope had visited 3 times in his life time, starting when he was a schoolboy). There are dozens of life sized statues carved out of the rock salt and huge rock salt chandeliers! There is a newly built micro climate called the graduation tower built on site to specifically to treat people with upper respiratory sinusitis, dermatological diseases, etc. There are subterranean lakes (like the dead sea) and this has been a tourists site since the 15th century! I then found a train to go back to the main railway station and walked to the Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny). I must admit I got a little lost as my goal was the Jewish Quarter (that I saw and passed on the bus there) but I was able to know how to get to the rail station to change tickets later and to catch a inexpensive bus to the airport the next day, so it was not all in vain (and very inexpensive). The trials and tribulations were my tired poor feet.. ….trying to put three days of touring into one day! Anyway, I went to the Main Square to look at  the medieval architecture (13th century merchants’ town and magnificent churches  with heir stunning interiors that I have only read about! When I got to the Old Town I remember reading about a restaurant in a Rick Steves’ travel book; which he said I couldn’t pronounce but the food was good (Gruzinskia Chaczapuri) with a great vegetarian selection. I sat under the Henjal tower (where the famous trumpet call sounds hourly, the call is unfinished in memory of the Medieval trumpeter who was shot with an arrow, while sounding an alarm). This Basilica tower  of  the Church of Saint Mary (construction began in 1355) which was magnificent inside and out was right next to my outdoor lunch seat and I saw the trumpeter in the tower! The square was lively, colorful with all sorts of galleries, shops etc.  I then took a tram to the Wawel Castle and walked around the outside the medieval walls/gates that was built in 1499! I walked some more looking for the Kazimierz (The Former Jewish Quarter). I finally made it  there and went into a few of the Synagogues . A trio of Krokow Jewish musicians were playing (the Jascha Lieberman Trio)  in one of the Synagogues. I went into the Kupa Synagogue (17th century) and it is converted to a Jewish Cultural center. The streets were old as were many of the remaining buildings and I slipped into yet another small cafe for dinner to get my last fix of  Polish Borscht! I called my friend (Iwoka) up in Gdansk (still in the Tropical Hospital) and we talked and laughed as if she was right there sharing my meal with me! It was decided after 20.000 steps that I was too tired to walk back (in the dark and I had no clue how to get back to the Airbnb) by both of us; DSCN0063DSCN0064 DSCN0071 DSCN0070 DSCN0076 DSCN0079DSCN0082 DSCN0090DSCN0123DSCN0120DSCN0115DSCN0096DSCN0245DSCN0231DSCN0230DSCN0251DSCN0242DSCN0234DSCN0228DSCN0226DSCN0208DSCN0206DSCN0175DSCN0150DSCN0141DSCN0140DSCN0139DSCN0134DSCN5028DSCN5022DSCN0139that I would take my first taxi cab ride in Poland. It worked out and it was a perfect way to end my trip in Krakow… Got up the next morning and knew how to get a bus to the train station, as I had walked all over the city of Krakow and truly put 3 days of touring into one! Onward to Czestochowa for my “Roots Expedition”… This blog is still a work in progress so I will move on backwards (and come back to it when the translations from my Archivists sends me the English versions of some of the paperwork he retrieved from the Ntl. Archives for me) and blog about Paris:-)

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