Share |


I only have 10 minutes left at internet cafe to give brief update. In short, vodka tasting:  brutal.  But tasty. Herbal minty, cherry, cinnamon apple pie, lemon drop. These were our flavors, they tasted more like schnapps flavors but much yummier than schnapps, not as sweet. Then we were taken to bar to drink from huge tubes of beer with spigots to release the beer from the tube.... then to a night club. It was a rough morning afterward….
Despite the subsequent ill effects, it was fun night and made us feel, well, youthful. A group of strangers from all around the world going out to party together is typically a good recipe. We hung out with people from Finland, England, Australia and Holland.

Well, we can cross off one thing from our big to-do list, which is we have now seen the Wieliczka Salt Mine. On a 2.5-hour tour, we saw a staggering one percent of the mine! It is enormous, and was used continually for nearly a thousand years until just a few years ago. Huge cavernous spaces. The mine is so deep, in the old days men just lived their lives completely in the interior, never saw the light of day, otherwise they would have to spend hours walking in and out. So they did everything inside the mine.
An entire cathedral was built inside so the miners could attend church, and many elaborate statues are carved out of the salt all throughout the mine. Livestock that was used for labor was raised and housed inside the mine as well. There were donkeys and horses whose eyes never once glimpsed natural sunlight in their whole life.

The salt is a grayish color, not what I expected. It’s a wicked cool place that positively deserved its place in our Top To-Do list, and it was worth the effort to get there -- it was, in fact, the whole reason we came through Poland to Krakow. 

Tunnel into the Wieliczka salt mine. Poland.Statues carved from salt in the Wieliczka salt mine. Poland.Statues carved from salt in the Wieliczka salt mine. Poland.Stairway leading into large cathedral inside the belly of the Wieliczka salt mine. Poland.Statues carved into the wall inside the large cathedral in the Wieliczka salt mine. Poland.Inside the large cathedral carved into the interior of the Wieliczka salt mine, Poland.Cavernous space inside the Wieliczka salt mine, Poland.

Our guide in the salt mine was really great. People had told us that the guide can really make or break the tour (it would be visually amazing at any rate, but there’s a lot of interesting info to know…). So we lucked out with a good guide who enunciated very good English and had a nice touch of humor. But he looked intimidatingly dour as he stood waiting for those in his charge to assemble. His demeanor completely changed once on the tour. There were lots of little dwarfs (little = 3 to 4 feet tall) carved from the salt all over the mine, and the guide put the song “Hi ho hi ho it’s off to work we go” into my head for the next 24 hours. You may be wondering, did I lick the walls in the salt mine? Why, yes, I did. Very salty.

We’ve crossed into Slovakia now, where the population drops, development drops, open space increases, road condition worsens, general rate of dilapidation increases. But it's a beautiful drive, heading straight toward the High Tatras. We saw several adorable tiny churches and shrines along the road.

View of the High Tatras from a highway in Slovakia.Erik takes a cat nap against a tree in the yard of a small church. Slovakia.


To our chagrin, when we arrived in Poprad, the hotel we had reserved was locked when we got there. We stood outside helplessly for awhile wondering what had gone wrong. Exasperated, we walked back to our car in a little parking lot and noticed on the other side of it a man outside hanging wet sheets on a clothesline just beyond the front porch of a building with the word "hotel" above the door. We asked if he knew where the proprietor of our hotel was. He didn't (at least he claimed), so the natural course of action was to stay at his place instead. It was not a regrettable decision ... we had an adorable room in the attic and the guy was very friendly. It all worked out fine. Plus there was a kitty across the street. Feline company is always appreciated.
Attic room in Poprad, Slovakia.

White kitty cat watching the world from a white window. Poprad, Slovakia.

Gotta run. One minute left.

*


Read more articles about Central Europe

 

Archive

 

-- AFRICA --

 

 

Uganda All posts

 

Uganda photos only

 

South Africa All posts

 

 - includes Lesotho

 

S. Africa Photos only

 

Botswana

 

Namibia

 

Namibia II Witchcraft

 

Save Rhinos

 

 

 

-- MIDDLE EAST --


Tunisia


Iran  All posts


Iran  photos only

 

 

 

ANTARCTICA 

 

 

ARGENTINA

 


-- EUROPE --

 

Central Europe


- Czech Rep.


- Poland


- Slovakia

 

Catalonia, Spain

 

Andorra / France

 

Iceland

 

Greece Refugee Camp

 

 


-- ASIA --

 

China I

 

China II

 

 


- NORTH AMERICA -

 

Ixtapa, Mexico

 

Maui, Hawaii

 

Puerto Rico

 

Keepers of the Wild

 

Maine

 

Colorado

 

Utah

 

California

 

 


Trip posts for Trazzler

 

(worldwide)

 

Travel Essays

Updates

Subscribe to the SKJ Travel newsletter to be notified when new posts are added to the blog.
emails arrive from "Shara Johnson." check your spam filter.

Most Recent Additions

1. "A Childhood Far From My Own: Growing Up in Chinese Peasant Village" added to Travel Essays

2. "Dragons, Land & Rain Gods: Village Temples in China" added to Travel Essays

3. "Eve of Battle: China's Traditional Village Landscapes Changing" added to Travel Essays
4. "Things I Keep: Observations in Guatemala" added to Travel Essays
5. "At Night in the Loo" added to Travel Essays

6. "The Earthen Heart: traditional farming in China" added to Travel Essays

 

Follow SKJ Traveler

 Facebook
 RSS Feed
 Twitter
Google+

 

<script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script>
<g:plusone></g:plusone>

Support

 



If you like what you read,

feel free to support the

website, so SKJ Travel

can keep showing you

the world! Expenses include domain name

& website hosting.