Trip Start Sep 14, 2012
Trip End Oct 15, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hotel Polonia apartment
What I did
Wieliczka Salt Mine and Krakow walking tour

Flag of Poland  , Southern Poland,
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Up c 0530 and mucked around on the web re news. The wifi here is inconsistent, drifting off, not letting me click inside websites, etc.

Had a shower and will go down to find when brekkie starts [hopefully 0700] and find out what I missed last night.

Morning repast was available at 0645, just when I arrived. A decent spread, including kielbosa to sample. Only realized upon looking around the restaurant I was sitting at the very same table where Gregor and I had dinner. Took awhile but the boys and the couple down together, finding out a little about each other's evening. 'Bar hopping' for them was finding a spot without smokers in it.

8 headed off to the Wieliczka salt mine [Jan/Ria, Don, Rose, Rachel, Linda and Amy]. Took a minibus to same 3 PZl. The weatherman is literally all wet as it was overcast and drizzling, a good time to be underground. Don was suggesting his room mate was looking forward to a long shower for dubious reasons or was it a threesome with Nathalie and Catherine?

Got a 0930 salt mine tour 83 PZl including a 10 PZl camera fee. We walked down 64m, eventually in the course of the trip going down to 134m. What I thought was raindrops were little fuckers spitting. There was 2.5k of walking. We toured 3 [of 9] levels. Salt has been mined in the area since the 1280's. You do have a feeling of being enclosed.

Methane of course was a problem in this mine too. The salt walls sometimes felt wet. My feet are feeling better but not 100%. Our local guide was a bit hesitant making jokes in English.

The second level has the grand cathedral area, the highlight of the tour. Ria took a pic of Jan and two miners in a statue, referring to three bozos! The little musical performance in the Weimar gallery was nice.

Eventually up in a sardine-like elevator, taking bus 304 back near the hotel 3.4 PZl, amusement thereon provided by a tourist doing about 10 tickets and a tattoo lady.

Back up to the room to put on shorts and diary update, waiting for Jan and Ria for some excursion time before the 1500 guide rendezvous. I need a quick lunch too.

Got going after 1330 and spent most of the time around the main square. Grabbed a pretzel for lunch 1.5 PZl. Some further walking about and a beer 10 PZl, watching square life.

Saw Peter near the statue in the centre of the square. Surprised everyone went on the tour with John, a big chap originally from Tampa, Florida. He moved sites around in the schedule but a full 3H plus tour. He was vocal about his views, bagging the castle and utterly slamming Oscar Schindler of Schindler's List fame as someone hardly altruistic.

Our tram 76 was a no show but eventually down to the Vistula River, an area the city fathers would like to make better use of. The history of the Jews in Krakow was discussed after we crossed the Vistula River. St Stanislaus is the patron saint of the city. His pool was visited, Catherine as usual barging in front of everyone's photo.

Many sites were quickly passed like the Paulinian Monastery. We also walked past the church for St Rita.

The Jewish Ghetto, or Kazimierz, was dwelled upon, from its inception to its role in the 'final solution', those resisting shot on the spot. So effective was the Nazi cleanising of the Jews from Krakow in WWII that there is effectively no Jewish presence in Krakow some 70 years later in a city that at the time was 25% Jewish.

We were outside the Schindler Museum when our guide gave his version of the supposed saviour of 1,098 Jews. Schindler was making a profit in a facility taken from the Jews and used Jewish labour as it saved him money. He was a drunk and philanderer of the highest order. He wanted to save his Jews as it would have meant more to train new ones ie an economic advantage--not moral--to do so. Take that, Mr Spielberg!

Chatted with John a couple of times about Niagara Falls and hockey loyalties. He is a big Tampa Bay Lightning fan. The tour ended near the Barbican 50 PZl.

Back to the room, the internet still not functioning. Down to rendezvous with the boys, walking over to the Old Town with the girls and splitting with them there. After a long walk to find a place, went to Pod Wawelem where Arjan had had lunch. I had the officer's plate which included ham, 2 pieces of liver, chicken, white/red cabbage and yellow rice, washed down with a Tyskie beer which was nice and light. Some flavoured vodka was supplied at bill time 40.3 PZl. Don did the worst re his goulash in bread, Arjan doing okay with his lamb grill.

Rose jokes featured as part of the conversation. There were comment about dishes going to other tables. I suggested if our guide today was right about Schindler it is fraudulent to go to his museum, not exactly getting any good retort from the prospective museum goers tomorrow.

One pit stop for Don to get a cake and back by 2245. The internet is a non-starter so did the diary and downloaded the rest of the pix, the rest, including packing and storing collected items, can wait for tomorrow.

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