Monday 2 May 2011
Oswiciem to Krakow
5 hours 40 mins
As we knew it was going to be an easy day’s drive we decided the night before to have a lie in. Well “Good Morning” at 7:30am – if you can call that a lie in, still the sun had come out to say “hello” again after hiding for the last 36 hours !
We got going around 9:00am for the Wieliczka Salt Mine. It was just after 10:00 when we arrived so with time to have a quick coffee and then join a group for the 11:00am tour.
I didn’t know what to expect but the excitement grew as we walked downwards from ground level the 52 floors to the first underground level. The mine had an incredible 300km of tunnels running over 9 levels and going down as far as 327 metres – but we were going nowhere near this today. But still we walked 3 km through the tunnels over 2 levels and down to 135 metres. Still this was enough to open my eyes to the incredible engineering factor of the place with a huge chapel and an array of many shrines for praying.
We were told that it was important to all the miners to have high spirits and to have a laugh and have fun while they worked to keep them in a good frame of mind whilst they worked. It was important to them to have the chapel and shrines as they liked to pray to keep themselves safe as it was an incredibly dangerous job as every year 10% of the workforce lost their lives in an array of many accidents.
The mine opened early in the 13th Century and continued to produce table salt until 1996. The company continued to trade until 2007, this made the Wieliczka Company the 4th oldest trading company in the world.
The mine became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 with an incredible 1.2 million tourists passing through the doors each year. We certainly felt that as we were almost herded like sheep through the mines tunnels.
Around 2 hours later we emerged from the mine, all feeling a little rumble in our stomachs and with a considerable thirst. We decided to have a small lunch. While I had a Hamburger Simon & Susie shared a Pizza, it was your typical tourist attraction lunch.
We saddled back up and made the short journey to the Etap hotel in Krakow.
It was the end of the holiday feel because Susie (Wilma) my co-pilot and navigator through Europe who was far better than “Betty” my Garmin SatNav, was to leave us that evening.
We had an early farewell dinner and popped Susie in a cab to the airport. That was it. The boys were left on their own. So let the adventure begin…
So what do we do first ? Straight to the pub..? No !! Find the nearest Strip Club..? No !! We headed back to the hotel to write our journals and have an early night for an early start the next morning…
Yes..! We know how to live life on the edge..!
Good Night All…