Fortunately the rain stopped as we reached the Wieliczka Salt Mine
and we throughly enjoyed the three-hour tour of the amazing mine where they have been mining rock salt since the 1400s, digging out over 300 km of tunnels over 300m deep, and leaving underground caverns, chapels, carvings and pools. It's a really fascinating place, although quite touristy. The lunch was great though - rye and sausage soup (that's rye soup with an enormous sausage plunked in it) and a desert for about three quid each. It was also quite a novelty to eat 100m underground.
When we emerged it was into sunlight! We risked leaving the rain suits in the panniers and rode south toward the High Tatra mountains, and there were more and more sunny spells as we ascended the foothills. At last we had what we travelled for - great scenery, windy roads and crisp mountain air. The Polish mountain resort of Zakopane was crowded with summer visitors, but we quickly left them behind as we skirted the Tatras toward the Slovakian border. The High Tatras are high, bare granite peaks, still with snow in patches, but with slopes covered with pine forests.
We experienced a very Australian moment when we stopped for photos - literally within seconds we were surrounded by a cloud of black flies worthy of Cooranbong or Alice Springs. Must have been the sweaty gear :)
We soon reached our hostel - the Ginger Monkey
in the small village of Zdiar. We were greeted by a great bunch of guys (including several Aussies) out on the terrace enjoying the first sun they had seen this week, so our timing was impecable.
The view from the balcony is stupendous, and the great meal we ate at a local restaurant (two courses + drink for 5.50 euros) was wonderful, and we're dry!
Things are looking up. Washing and chilling out and perhaps a cable-car up to the highest peak of the High Tatras tomorrow, then off to Hungary on Friday.
After last night's apocalyptic welcome to Krakow and a great Polish white-bean-and-nameless-meat soup at Greg & Tom's Hostel, today dawned with yet more rain. We packed the bike in the rain, had a quick lap of the town square in the rain, and rode out to the Wieliczka Salt Mine in the rain. Hint - if you visit Wieliczka, and you should if you get the chance, don't follow the enthusiastic-waved directions into the non-official car park that is several hundred meters short of the official car park.