Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wawel Castle and The Salt Mines

Up early and out the door by 8:30 am so we could walk to St. Mary’s Basilica for 9 am Mass.  Beautiful service and we were out before ten and headed for the Castle; about a fifteen minute walk from the square. 
Took a look at the large building in the center of the Market Square before we left the area but have not yet figured out how to get upstairs to the umbrella tables to people watch the activity in the square???

The walk to the Wawel Castle was not bad but then it was a rather steep walk up the hill to the top for the entrance.  There we found a long ticket line and when it was our turn we found out that we didn’t have time to see the Royal Apartments today as the tickets were sold out until 2:30 pm.  But we did purchase tickets for the State Apartments and one to view the Leonard Da Vinci painting entitled “Lady with the Ermine”.   Years ago, Jim, Jennifer and Kelly all flew to San Francisco for the day just to see this painting.  It is rarely out of Poland.
Ate our lunch in the square of the Castle under the shade of a tree with pigeons at our feet; waiting for the ticket booth to open for the Cathedral Museum in the Castle at 12:30 pm.  As soon as it did; we purchased tickets for tomorrow…it is closed on Sunday…and then walked back to the Market Square and our Management Office.  Checked in about our afternoon tour, downloaded some morning photos on Facebook as we have WiFi service while we are there.
Then we walked to find some of “Milk Bars”… cafeterias that were set up by the Soviets and still function today offering inexpensive good food that the locals love.  Soon it was time to get back to the office and our tour.

At 3 pm we left for about half an hour ride out of town to the Salt Mines.   Today there were only six of us in a van for the trip….more leg room!   We were a couple from Palmero, Sicily; a single guy from Naples, Italy; and another single guy from Barcelona, Spain.  A very international group. 

We arrived and they split us up into groups of different languages; Mathew, our guide spoke excellent English for the tour and we each had a head phone so we could easily hear him.  The tour began by walking down over 300 steps to the beginning of the tour.  Every once in a while we went down more steps…never up…always down, down, down.  Along the way there were statues of various famous people carved out of Salt by workers over the Centuries.  The mines go back 1600’s.   The most famous is the large sanctuary that has large chandeliers that are decorated with salt crystals instead of glass.  One of the best was a carving of the Last Supper in the wall.  Many scenes and even a statue of Pope John Paul II.  It was two hours of walking in a very   There were several lakes that are so salty that you can only float…impossible to dive into the water.   It was a very interesting tour and they did bring us up by elevator from our lowest level at 135 meters.  We were only on Level 3…the mine actually goes down nine levels. 

Today we also visited the Archbishop’s House across from St. Francis Church where Pope John Paul lived for many years before becoming Pope.  A very nice priest talked to us for a while and gave us some literature about the Pope and his years in Krakow.  Tomorrow we will see more when we visit the Cathedral Museum.
Tonight we arrived home at 7:30 pm…ate a late dinner in our rooms…remember we have a kitchenette.   Now we’re doing the Internet and making our calls while we watch “Wilson” on television with Polish subtitles and voice over.  The same man does all the voices:  male, female, children, etc.  We hear him on every show that needs translating!  Really funny.   Fortunately you can still hear the English underneath!
Hope you enjoy the slideshow link below:

No comments: