If you checked my previous blog post, you already know all about how I have been robbed while leaving from the Birkenau former German concentration camp in Poland.
Even though I was devastated by the fact that I was robbed, there was a bus with almost 25 people waiting on the parking line for the tour to be continued.
I couldn’t do anything about it, what was done, was done. Even though I rather wished to immediately go back to the apartment and cry over my destiny, I had to calm down, sat in the bus and continue the tour together with the rest of the group. From whom by the way, most of the fellows passengers, hated me very much at the moment.
The departure was delayed almost half an hour because of me, and I can actually see the hatred in their eyes regarding this. Even though we just visited such of place where we were faced with a cruelty done from people to the other people, unfortunately, some will never learn a lesson from it. Some are still not able to show any compassion, empathy or understanding to the others in need.
Anyway, we continued our journey and we finally arrived at the Wieliczka Salt Mine parking.
The funny thing was that I suddenly started to act like a scary kitten. I was holding my poor empty purse with my hand all the time, even though there was nothing in there left to be stolen. Everybody suddenly seemed suspicious to me. I was so scared and stressed all the time while we were waiting for our guide in front of the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
Finally our guide arrived and he shared the radio headsets to us. Later on we started to descend the 778 steps of the staircase.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is the oldest salt mine in Poland. It is located in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland that lies within the Kraków metropolitan area.
It is opened in the 13th century. The mine produced table salt continuously until 2007, as one of the world’s oldest salt mines in operation.
Commercial mining was discontinued in 1996, because of salt prices going down and also because of mine flooding.
The mine is currently one of Poland’s official national Historic Monuments.
If you decide to visit this mine be aware that you have to really be ready to walk a lot.
There are first 375 steps, as I early mentioned from 778, that you have to walk until you reach the actual underground mine entrance.
The interior of the mine is breathtaking and it is definitely a place worth visiting while in Krakow, Poland. It is about half an hour driving distance from the center of the city.
There are dozens of statues and four chapels carved out of the rock salt by the miners, as well as supplemental carvings made by contemporary artists.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine reaches a depth of 327 meters and is over 287 km (178 mi) long.
The rock salt is naturally grey in various shades, resembling unpolished granite rather than the white or crystalline look that many visitors may expect.
The mine also features an underground lake.
The Wieliczka mine is often referred to as “the Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland”. In 1978 it was placed on the original UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites.
There are a lot of shops, cafes and restaurants in the mine underground.
I relaxed slowly while we were walking and looking around.
I even had a coffee 135 m underground for the first time in my life, and probably the last.
If you wish to take photos while visiting the mine, you have to pay the permit for it. It costs 10 Polish Złoty. We bought it of course, otherwise I wouldn’t have these nice photos to share with you.
Despise off the terrible experience I personally had on this tour, I have to admit that the tour was really great and worth the money.
We booked this tour trough Viator. If you wish to take the same tour, please press the blue letters with word Viator.
My advice in the case you are planing to visit this place is please book your tour before you go. We did it and we are absolutely glad regarding our decision.
We almost didn’t have to wait at all before we entered the mine, just about 10 minutes until our new tour guide arrived.
But I saw a huge line of people who were waiting in front of the mine for the tickets. And even bigger line in front of the main entrance. We did not have to go trough this difficulty at least.
We entered the mine from the separate entrance for organized groups without waiting even a minute.
In the mine we learned a lot of interesting facts.
The most amazing was the way they were bringing horses down and how those horses helped regarding the transfer of the salt upstairs.
There is a beautiful chapel, and a reception room that is used for private functions, including weddings inside of mine underground.
A chamber has walls carved by miners to resemble wood, as in wooden churches built in early centuries.
The wooden staircase we used to go down provides access to the mine’s lower levels.
As we walked almost 3 km through the salt mine tunnels we went down some more stairs to reach the lower levels of the mine. Our tour lasted around three hours.
I can’t deny that those tunnels were quite claustrophobic and the air pressure was quite strong while we were entering from the one chapter of the tunnel to another through the doors.
But entering into this mine was almost like entering into a totally different world for me. I felt like I was in a Hogwarts castle (Harry Potter) or the mines of Moria (Lord of the Rings). Truly magical experience.
The tour features a lot of corridors, chapels, statues, and a beautiful underground lake.
At every turn there was more to admire and see.
Fabulous carvings and chandeliers, accompanied with the sound of Chopin music, insights into the mine operations, stables where the horses once lived everything was amazing and breathtaking.
Our guide was excellent, I can’t remember his name though.
He was a very young boy with long hair, tied to a pony tail. He had a great sense of humor and he made us laugh all the time.
His funny acting and his jokes really helped me a lot to forget for the moment the fact that I was robbed just an hour ago and that I lost all my money and my documents.
I laughed with all my heart down there 135 m underground, but I was still squeezing with my hand my poor empty purse.
We returned back to the surface by an elevator. The each elevator holds only nine people per load.
It was kind of scary and it felt quite claustrophobic in that small elevator. We were stuffed in there, it almost felt like we were inside of the Auschwitz train wagons.
We were actually crammed in that elevator like the cows driven to the slaughter. The elevator was looking like a cage. We could hardly breathe after being locked inside by a stony faced and very scary lift guard.
It doesn’t take a long time though to make the trip back on surface of the earth with the elevator. Our scary journey lasted less than a 50 seconds.
At the exit you will pass trough one big souvenir shop. We had some change left in our pockets so the only thing we could buy was a small bag of the crystal salt it costed just 11 Polish Złoty (PLN).
Stay tuned to find out all about my next day adventure at the Krakow police station.