We arrived in Krakow and immediately after dropping our bags, we went out to have dinner in the old Jewish Quarter. A neat little restaurant that looked very similar to a grandmothers house complete with ancient paintings. We orderd some Polish Vodka and had a nice dinner complete with Jewish Music played by a trio. The bus then took us into the old town and since we were feelin bold from the Vodka, Renata and I joined the group going out for a night on the town. We walked into the beautiful Market Square and wanderd till we found pub big enough for the twenty or so of us. A few drinks then it was off to find someplace to dance...and this time it didnt disapoint! We found a club that was playing awesome music and danced till the club got way too packed and the Polish Basketball team (not really but I swear they could have been) crowded around us and I had to get going home! It stopped being fantastic when you could barely move on the dance floor. A group of us stopped in a MacDonalds, then walked back to our hotel through the silent streets of this old town and I had to stop and marvel and its beauty despite my vodka haze!
The next day we were up and ready for our local guided tour of the city and hopped on the bus to hear its history. We drove into the area where the Jewish Ghetto used to be and saw Schindler's Factory wher he saved a thousand Jews from deportation. We walked up to the old Castle and heard the legend of the dragon which used to live in the caves benieth the Castle and saw the beautiful architecture. We walked into the Market Square again amd found an awesome place to get Pirogi for lunch, and I added a traditional potato soup with it. Heavenly! A quick bit of shopping and an ice cream cone and we wer set for our tour in the aftenoon.
One of the optional activities you could participate in was a guided tour of the Unesco World Hertitage site, the Wieliczka Salt Mines. The mines were built in the 13th century and are still running today, making them one of the oldest and largest operational salt mines in the world. The miners decided to start creating statures out of the salt and we saw the most incredible pieces of art I have ever seen carved out of the dense salt blocks located throughout the deep mine. First you have to descend 378 stairs to reach the sixth level of the mine. From there the tour takes you through quite a few chambers that house the statues or scenes. The most impressive by far is the stunning Chapel which has a carved replica of the last supper on the wall! Afte making a wish in the underground lake, a very cramped elevator took us to the top again. It was amazing to see this site and I am so glad I went! We grabbed dinner at the hotel tonight and are headed to bed early in anticipation for a very emotional day a head of us tomorrow... I am loving Poland so far and am wishing we had more time in Krakow.
We were up early dreading the heat and our longest day of driving on the bus. We were excited to be going to Poland though...especially my friend Renata whose family is from a little town we will visit later on the trip. The bus was stiffling and the air conditioning was making my throat close up. The group dynamics on the bus are interesting...who sits with who, where you sit on the bus and what they talk about! Its a little like high school! I buried my nose into my Kobo and managed to knock off two Sookie Stackhouse books before we arrived. We did have a quick pit stop for lunch in another tiny Slovakian town, and had a hilarious ordering experience in the pub. The man walked up to our table and when I ordeed a margarita (which was on the menu) he make a face and shook his head, then barked beer. I agreed, then we tried to ask for a menu. He replied "chicken or pork". It was clear that we werent going to get more of a selection than that so we ordered three chickens and a pork, and when it came we were surprised with a sweet and sour dish complete with rice! So funny!