I did not know what to expect from the Wieliczka Salt Mine tour, so I guess my expectations were met and exceeded. It was my mother-in-law’s idea. I was kind of thinking ‘eh, this is going to be boring, let’s get it over with.’
What I didn’t expect was what a big deal it was. The crowd looked like the crowd at JFK airport, except the line moved even slower. A family ticket was 161 zlotys, which is about 40 bucks, which I would have balked at but, we were there, that was the plan for the day and, like I said, my mother-in-law was looking forward to this part of the trip.
Whether or not it was worth it depends on your definition of worth it, but they sure tried to give you your money’s worth, credit where it’s due. There are different chambers with different salt statues, Nicholas Copernicus in one, Goethe in another, a group of elves in another, some miners in one carrying torches and they did some special effects, 3 chambers with pools of water, a diorama on salt mining 6,000 years ago which had nothing to do with the place at all, a huge Cathedral chamber which rivals actual Cathedral’s in both size and elaborateness of statuary, and a sort of surreal and scary elevator ride at the end.
Three hours, and when we came out it was pouring rain. We went for lunch at a restaurant not far from there, the prices were much less than last night’s dinner, you just have to get away from the tourist center. We were home about 4 or 5 and I was ready for a nap, but didn’t get much time for that, as everybody else was ready to go out again. Saw Wawel (pronounced Vavel) castle, which was seriously impressive. It reminded me a lot of Prague Castle, the situation and the views, except there was a lot of green in the main courtyard. Then a bit of a walk along the river, by the fire breathing dragon and the giant bubble makers, then a quick hike back over to Old Town Square, then I went for a walk with Helena to explore the center a bit further (it is an amazing city for impressive old buildings; it is the equal of Prague in that respect and that is saying a lot) while the others got an ice cream, then we went for dinner at a restaurant in our temporarily adopted neighborhood. The food was great, the atmosphere suitably Polish, with long, wooden tables and bench seating, but the service was comically bad. The waiter was a nice guy and all, but all I wanted was a piece of apple cake and he had to be reminded of it several times.
That’s my blog for tonight. I am all touristed out.