Wieliczka salt mines

Trip Start Feb 28, 2010
Trip End Mar 05, 2010

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Flag of Poland  , Lesser Poland Voivodeship,
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Second day in Krakow, and we set off to the Wieliczka salt mines. We took an organised tour, as really this is not practical to do on your own, and the tour is cheap.

Mini bus to Wieliczka, a fairly drab area outside Krakow. Passed a big Tesco, and a Lidl. Same all over the world, I guess. The salt mine is just off the main road, and we were met by a pre-booked guide, Christopher. He was very good, spoke good English, and was very ready to answer questions.

The tour of the salt mine takes around 2 hours, and first you have to walk down 54 stories of wooden steps. You see, I think, 3 levels of the mines, and it is a pretty impressive place. You are inside a world of rock salt, and the tunnels and carved-out chambers are supported by wooden poles and planks. Apparently this is OK because the salt permeates the wood and preserves it. Nonetheless, we did see one roped-off passage where the ceiling was cracked and collapsing under the vast weight from above. We moved on quickly!

There are lots of huge chambers carved out, where the salt was excavated (the mine stopped working a few years ago) and some have been made into chapels and sightseeing areas with examples of the primitive machinery used. It was a very hard life, but the workers earned good money and there was competition to work there - you got a big free salt ration each week, worth a great deal of money then. The mines started back in the C12th.

The trip ends at about 320 metres down, by which time you will have seen less than 1% of the mine! The end part is a conference and entertainment area, very plush, and even with WiFi - at 320 metres down. Not bad. There's a lift up, though pretty primitive and small. We saw a brand new glass lift being worked on, though.

Good trip, worth doing, only around 25 each all in with travel, and they'll drop you at various places on the way back.
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