I know it’s been a while since my last post! Sorry sorry sorry! I’ll try and be a little better about keeping this blog updated.
My last post left off after the end of our first week in Warsaw. After week one, we all loaded up into our fancy party bus and started the long drive down to Krakow. It really was a long drive too, almost six hours, through lots and lots of Polish countryside. Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful drive, but six hours straight on a bus is enough to drive anyone a little crazy.
We finally made it to Krakow and went almost directly to a restaurant to eat dinner. This dinner stands out in my mind especially well since it was when I ate the best pierogis of my life so far. They were perfectly fried and stuffed with potatoes and a hint of cheese. Yum!
The next day found us in a little village called Wieliczka where one of the most famous salt mines in Poland is. A salt mine might not sound very fun or interesting, but this one was very cool!
After walking down 54 flights of stairs to get into the mine, we were still only on level one, with at least two more levels to go. As we walked around the mine, gong chamber to chamber, not only was it just completely made of salt, but you could taste the salt in the air. Our guide showed us how the floor was made out of salt and how we could even lick the salt walls if we wanted (don’t worry, I did not lick the Polish salt wall).
The mine used to be extremely famous because salt was a commodity as precious as gold in times like the 16th and 17th centuries. This was because salt was the only method of preserving food in times without refrigeration so the salt miners were considered upper class citizens. Now salt isn’t quite as valuable a commodity nor is Wieliczka an active mine. Today it is only used as a tourist site.
The mine itself was like a small town in and of itself. There was a ballroom, multiple chapels, statues of important figures like Copernicus and Casmir the Great, lakes, horses and other necessary life staples. Keep in mind, everything was made of salt. Some of the salt statues were absolutely incredible and it was so easy to forget that we were really looking at table salt!
The entire town of Wieliczka was so, so cute, much like many of the towns throughout the countryside in Poland. Every time we drove though one little town, it was so quaint. Little houses with red roofs and trees and green grass everywhere. I love it.
Krakow itself is a bit of a different story. Very different from the new, old-style architecture of Warsaw, everything in Krakow is actually old. And you can tell. Aside from the Old Town Market Square where the buildings are kept to look very nice, most of the buildings are run down. What used to be beautiful architecture is now falling apart, with bricks and paint falling off constantly.
There is graffiti everywhere here in this city. These pictures are from Warsaw, but scenes like this are all over Krakow as well.
In the Old Part of Krakow, there is a big market square. Inside the square are churches, restaurants and a big indoor market where you can buy all sorts of fun souvenirs. One of the funniest things you can buy are Lucky Jews. There are hardly any Jews left in Krakow, but these “Lucky Jew” statuettes and pictures are everywhere. People hang pictures of a Jewish man counting money on their walls at home here for good luck and fortune. It’s really quite a funny sight.
I’ll post more about our trip to the Jewish Quarter of Krakow as well as our tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau tomorrow. Thanks for reading!