Day 8 (June 23, 2018)   Wieliczka and Wianki


Map of Krakow area

   We’re keeping the car for our first day in Krakow for a reason: visit to Wieliczka Salt Mines. This day is mainly for this visit, which is one of the highlights of this travel.

   The spots marked at map are:

 0- Apartaments Sienna 7

 1- Wieliczka Salt Mines


   We take our breakfast in the apartment from the goodies we brought from the Carrefour Express that is in the same building and leave to Wieliczka at 10 AM. It is an easy and short lift, about 20 minutes, and when arriving at the place we can see people across the roundabout pointing to the Wieliczka mines parking. We’re asked to pay 25 zlotys just after stopping the car, which is the daily rate. One minute later we find out this is a “fake” parking, meaning the real one for the mines is just a few meters down the road. They charge 6 zlotys per hour there.
Graduation Tower in Wieliczka
   It’s just a few minutes before 11 AM when we’re inside the complex and have to ask about where to get the salt mines entrance. There, we join the line for tickets for foreigners with no group. While waiting we can see the lines that are getting ready in front of every country flag, which seems to be the groups per language. Then, we can see there are just two accesses for Spanish groups in the entire day and the only one in the morning is at 11:20 AM, so we have just a few minutes for it.

   We finally get the tickets on time, at 11:13 AM, by 89 zlotys each. We join the group for Spanish just when they’re opening the access inside for it.
Entrance for groups in Wieliczka53 levels of wooden staircase to go to Wieliczka mines
   The first thing to do is going 53 floors down in wooden stairs until the first gallery. It’s then when the explanations start.
Depth for Wieliczka mine's first levelWieliczka mine's art
   This tour takes us through chambers with old and new salt rock sculptures carved by the miners along the centuries and some other areas showing how was the work in this mine using dioramas.

Wieliczka mine's artDiorama showing how where the works in the mines in XIX centuryWieliczka mine's artWieliczka mine's art
   The main highlight here is St. Kinga’s Chapel, a big church carved in the salt rock. The stairs were directly carved from the floor, the walls are all full of decorations carved on them. It’s a breathtaking place that we would always feel like not having enough time to explore.

St. Kinga's Chapel in WieliczkaSt. Kinga's Chapel in WieliczkaSt. Kinga's Chapel in WieliczkaSt. Kinga's Chapel in Wieliczka
   There are beautiful natural places too made by the water, like salted lakes. Our guide finishes the tour and leave us in a room with the gift shops. This is an area with a restaurant, a museum, a reception room and, of course, the exit.

Water in Wieliczka minesLake in Wieliczka minesOne of the last chambers visiting Wielicka minesLake in Wieliczka mines
   We decide to get our lunch in the restaurant there: dumplings and breaded fillet for me and tomato soup and dumplings for Eva. We pay 77 zlotys in total.
Wieliczka mines' restaurantReception room in Wieliczka
   You need to wait for a guide to be taken to the elevators to the surface and we can understand why when we can check how ridiculously long is the way to them, through endless corridors and doors. We get the surface and the daylight somewhere in Wieliczka town, and we need some time and a map to find our way to the entrance and the parking. It’s been 5 hours for the visit so, at the end, the rate in the fake parking has been better.
Hall for waiting to exit from Wieliczka minesCorridors in Wieliczka mines
   I drive heading back to Krakow’s Old Town, but not going directly to it. We’re going to Krakowska Galleries, a shopping mall close to the Old Town where we must deliver the car. We do it in parking Pg, where a guy appears while we were looking for a Panek sign and performs the checks and close the delivery. We take advantage of being here for shopping in the huge Carrefour supermarket before walking back to the apartment.
Wianki festival in KrakowWianki festival in Krakow
   In our way we can see the atmosphere in these Old Town’s streets full of live so, although we’re quite tired from the walk in the mines, we go out from the apartment to see the Polish dances that are being performed just in front.

Polish dances in Wianki

   The Market Square is getting ready for a bigger party: with a big stage and a lot more people. It’s already dark when we’re thinking about going to bed but fireworks start over the Cloth Hall, making that even more people come to the square.
Stage ready for Wianki in Krakow
   It is a magic moment and we regret not having brought the cameras to get some pictures of it. We didn’t know St. John’s eve was celebrated here as we do. Later we’ll find out this is the mid-summer festival called Wianki.