One of the things I didn't post about my Classic Rhapsody trip was our trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mines; partly because I hadn't taken any photo's.
Partly because, most of us were hungover. We'd survived our bike tour in the morning, with bottles of cola in hand, and then some of us rushed back to the hostel to change out of our sweaty clothes and board a minibus to take us about 15 minutes out of Krakow to the Salt Mines.
The outside of the mine is pretty unassuming for the labyrinth of chambers below. We were taken around by a tiny Polish woman who literally skipped down the 378 steps to the tourist route around the mine. Whilst the rest of us dawdled down the steps, and she waited, relatively patiently at the bottom.
We meandered our way through the 20 chambers over the space of nearly 3hrs. As the mine is underground, it is much cooler down there, so you should take a thin jumper with you, and make sure you wear sensible shoes, the ground can be slippery beneath your feet.
Now, why visit a salt mine, you might ask. Well I had gone for one reason only, which we'll come to later, but actually we learnt a lot about salt. Things you would never believe, like that salt used to be more valuable than silver, only overshadowed by gold. The rock salt of the mine is all around you, and the ceiling, the floor, the walls. You are asked very nicely not to lick the walls, but you know... Some people can't help themselves.
The miner's were like royalty, unlike in other mine's (with the exception of gold) they actually wanted to work there. They made a lot of money, got to retire with a decent pension, and most valuably, they were allowed to take salt home. The miner's also had a fair bit of time off that was spent in the mine's, and in this time off they carved sculptures, some depicting religious icons, and some telling the legend of Kinga of Poland.
The best piece of work they did? The Cathedral.
Yes, you read that right, below ground in the middle of a salt mine there is a cathedral. It. Is. Beautiful. Check out that chandelier. Check out that statue of Pope John Paul II. People have even got married there, even I would consider it if I were to get married. The cathedral was the whole reason I had visited the mine, and our guide gave us some time to wander around there and take a seat and have a think. I have a theory about religious places, and that is that there is a serenity in them like nowhere else (the only place I didn't feel this was in the Cathedral in Seville) and I felt it here, big style. It was beautiful, my favourite piece of art there was the Last Supper carved into the salt.
If you got nothing else out of it, you just went to the most awesome Cathedral in Europe. Even better than La Sagrada, by a mile.
The Salt Mines are 15 minutes out of Krakow, you can get here on either the 304 bus which leaves from Galeria Krakowska (ul. Kurniki), getting off the bus at the stop called Wieliczka Kościół. Zone I (Strefa I). Or you can get the train from the Main Railway Station in Krakow (Dworzec Główny) to the Wieliczka Rynek Kopalnia train station.
Tickets are priced at 75PLN per person. You can just turn up on the day no problem.