Surprise! And happy
Wednesday Thursday! I’ve decided to launch a new series — Don’t Miss Day Trips– to go along with the ever-so-popular Around the World in 80 Drinks and The A-Holes of History series we already have going! We’ll be highlighting both popular and lesser-known destinations within a day’s reach of popular destinations. To officially kick off the series (we already sort of kicked it off with our post about the Bone Church outside of Prague), we’ll be talking about Poland’s underground salt cathedral near Krakow! Without further delay…
I know exactly what you’re thinking: “What the shoot? Doesn’t that darn tootin’ WanderTooth lady usually post on the Wednesday morning? Why she is now posting on Thursday in the a.m.? If me no can count on WanderTooth, what me can count on? And what be this salt cathedral she be blabbing about?”
And so I must apologize to the five of you who regularly read this blog (Hi Mom! Hi Geoff’s Mom! Hi other three people!). It is darn tootin’ true that I failed to post yesterday morning. But I had a
good reason…I was getting all ready to write this post, and then I thought to myself, “self, I need me a salt cathedral video to go with this salt cathedral post!” And since my video editing skills are about as sophisticated as, say, a two year old’s aptitude for macro economics, it took me longer than expected. By the time I’d finished the video, I had officially exhausted the energy stores required to make my blathering even remotely palatable to you, the reader. And so I took a nap and missed my normal Wednesday post. Sad face.
But now I’m back! And I present to you my first attempt at video-ing. Please, tell me what you think (But only if you think it is fantastic – otherwise kindly keep your opinion to yourself)! I give you, the video:
I’ve now regained my strength, and am ready to tell you all about the most fantastical Wieliczka Salt Mine and salt cathedral, which was a surprisingly awesome day-trip from Krakow, Poland. The salt cathedral was one of those destinations we’d heard about through good ol’ fashioned word of mouth: the year was 2010, and we were sitting on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, sailing between islands in the Galapagos, when our boat-mate and new friend Jonathan told us of the wonders of this crazy underground salt cathedral in Poland. Let’s just take a minute and think on how crazy that is: we were discussing a Polish cathedral — a salt cathedral, nonetheless — while in Ecuador. It was neato, and I got pretty excited about the whole thing.
So when we found ourselves in Poland, it became one of those things, like font walks and drinking Polish vodka, that I absolutely had to do. And if you find yourself near Krakow, Poland, with a half-day to spare, you should absolutely-positively-no-questions-asked make your way to the Wieliczka Salt Mine and salt cathedral. Tout de suite and posthaste!
Even after Jonathan’s impromptu Ecuadorian marketing pitch, we were tempted to skip the experience when we learned everyone visiting the mine underground salt cathedral has to take a guided tour: those Wieliczka-ians will have none of this “self guided” monkey business. We didn’t understand why this was the case until we started the tour, when it became abundantly clear that you DO NOT want to be walking around down there without a guide. The mine contains 700 years of passageways, and the passages go on for the equivalent of the distance between Paris and Brussels; while everything is pretty clearly marked, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that you could lost down there, and if there was an emergency and you were sans guide, you’d be pretty much screwed.
Luckily, my steadfast refusal to not miss the salt cathedral prevailed, and we arrived for our tour just in time, after some mild panic, running, and hurried ticket purchasing (English tours only run once an hour in the winter, and we arrived about 2 minutes before the tour was scheduled to depart. Consider this blog fair warning to anyone who ventures to travel with us in the future – we truly are a complete shit show).
Our group consisted of around 15 people or so from all around the globe. Shortly after noon, we descended into the mine together, arriving first at a depth of about 65 meters, and continuing on the tour to reach a maximum depth of about 135 meters below ground level (That’s over 400 feet – and they had free wifi and beer on tap)!
Once we were below the surface, the guide took us through a series of rooms and passageways, telling us about the history of the mine as we went. The guide herself was a bit meh – suffice it to say she didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm for her job — but the content of the tour more than made up for her lack of enthusiasm and stock script.
Like the fact that almost everything in the mine is made of salt, and I had to resist the urge to do this:
Like the Bone Church, the salt mine is truly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen: to say it is freaking awesome is such a gross understatement, I deserve to be punched for even saying it. If “wunderbar” (the German word, not the chocolate bar) made love to a unicorn,their baby would be about as cool as the Wieliczka salt mine. It truly is great.
And the bestest part of it all is the underground salt cathedral.
If you haven’t watched the above-mentioned video about the Wieliczka salt mine, now would be a good time (and just ignore all the stuff I said about my post being informative; I must have been drunk when I made that).
When we arrived at the cathedral, we were treated to a show: it was all classical music and lights and jazz hands, choreographed in a way so as to show off the utter splendor that is the underground salt cathedral. After the show, we were set free to roam around and inspect all the marvels of salt engineering contained therein.
Like salt Jesus…
And salt pope…
And salt light fixtures
After the salt cathedral, you will be so over stimulated by awesome, everything else on the tour will hurt your brain and seem insignificant in comparison. Luckily, it doesn’t last much longer, and they soon will set you free in the gift shop, where you can buy — you guessed it — salt for all your friends and family! Which we totally did, and can absolutely recommend the celery-dill flavored option for your chicken, potato, salad, and general licking needs.
Because we were running so late, we took a cab on the way there (roughly $15 one-way) and took the bus for the return trip (way less than $15); both were pretty easy, and the whole experience left us with enough time to go check out the Schindler museum in the afternoon, which I will blab on and on about another day.