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Wieliczka Salt Mine and Schindler’s Factory

How did we get here........

rain 15 °C

Tuesday May 23, 2017 Day 13

How did we get here? Sipping champagne in our elegant suite having just strolled back from a dinner of roast duck and salmon with apple pastries for dessert. This is definitely not our usual style.

The day started out in the fresh mountain air of Zakopane. It was sad to leave the scenery and architecture of this delightful town. It would have been nice to spend a few more days there. There’s more to see so off we go.

The scenery in this area is classic storybook. Rolling hills with cows and sheep, chalet homes either in the valleys or on the low ridges overlooking the valleys. Even the dandelions, which are prolific in Poland, add to cheerful colour to the scene. Small groupings of fairly big homes appear sporadically. We’re heading to Krakow, which is about an hour and a half drive. As we get closer to Krakow small businesses become more prevalent as does the return of the barriers along the side of the highway.


Our fist stop is Wieliczka Salt Mine. Salt mines conjure thoughts of downtrodden men labouring in the cold. Not here. Salt has been mined in this area since the 13th century. They stopped mining in 1992 due to flooding but today about 1000 people are still employed maintaining the tunnels and taking tours (the tours were started in the early 19th century). The mine has 300 km. of tunnels although we only explored about 3. What we saw is hard to explain. We walked down stairs to the first level down about 350 steps. The tunnels are carved through the salt. Walls, floors and ceiling are mostly a grey looking salt although when a light is put to them they glow. The tunnels open up into chambers with salt sculptures. Going back hundreds of years, miners built chapels in the tunnels, not surprising considering the danger of the work. At one point there were more than 40. Today we only visited 3 or 4 (what would a day be like in Poland without visiting a chapel?) built in the chambers. Going down further to about 327 m. we reached a huge chapel that was carved over 70 years in the 20th century. Services are held in the chapel every Sunday. There are banquet rooms, restaurants, gift shops, and even a spa down here. Continuing further we walked by underground salt lakes. At the end of the 2.5 hour tour we took an elevator back up to the surface in about 30 seconds. 1.5 million people visit the mine every year.


On to Krakow to Schindler’s Factory. The factory has been turned into a museum depicting what life was like in Krakow just before and during the Nazi occupation. It is a well done, creative museum depicting a brutal time in Krakow’s history. The recovery of this country after all the turmoil that has been imposed on it, is remarkable. The movie Schindler’s List was filmed as much as possible on the original sites where the story took place including the factory and Birkenau.


Thanks to Robert, our patient and skilled driver, our very tired and overwhelmed group, made it through the crowded streets to our hotel. After a quick rest we walked down the street to dinner at a lively (good thing as otherwise we might have nodded off) restaurant for another hearty and interesting Polish dinner and that’s how we got here today.


Posted by Fredricgail2017 13:39 Archived in Poland

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