Day 12 – April 17, 2010 – Krakow

After a wonderful buffet breakfast at our hotel, we travelled together to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, located just outside of Krakow. We figured that since we couldn’t go up into the sky today as originally planned, we would go down into the ground. As we descended the many, many, many flights of stairs, we were reminded of Dante’s Inferno. This mine has not been active for seven years, and is now only open for tourists. However, at one time, dating all the way back into the middle ages, this incredibly huge mine in the depths of the earth was fully operational. Salt, once as valuable as gold, helped to make Poland a rich country.

Oh the wonders we saw: chapels, dance halls, a cathedral, and many other rooms, tunnels and 6 full stories below the three levels that we walked through.

We had a lovely lunch at a very Polish cafe across the street from the mine, then travelled back into Krakow to the Jewish Cemetary that was opened in the late 1800’s. Because it is Shabbat, we were unable to go inside, however we talked about the synagogue and the cemetary before heading back to the Wawel Castle area.

The weather here was gorgeous: sunny and in the upper 60’s. We walked to the Vistula River below Wawel Castle and watched the swans in the river. We saw the infamous Krakow fire-breathing dragon below the castle. Mr. Chang told us his version of the Krakow Dragon legend: A dragon was terrorizing the kingdom until a peasant put sulfer inside the belly of a disguised lamb. When the dragon ate it, his stomach blew up and pieces of the dragon’s scales dispersed all over the banks of the river.

Walking back to the main square, the arrangements for tomorrow’s state funeral for President Lech Kaczinski were evident. Steel barriers lined the streets to contain the expected crowds, and banners were stretched across the street with the Polish emblem, pictures of the President, and floral wreaths. Upon reaching the square we saw it had been transformed since yesterday. Two jumbotrons had been set up and a mass in Warsaw for the President and First Lady was being broadcast as large crowds of Poles and tourists watched. The main market building, Cloth Hall, which has been under reconstruction, had been painted, and hundreds of chairs had been set up for the guests for tomorrow’s funeral. After watching the mass for awhile, we located a wonderful small pizza restaurant and ate dinner.

Upon returning to the hotel, students were engaged in a scavenger hunt in which teams of students were required to take photographs of a list of items. The winning team consisted of Kayla, Erin, Nick and Matt.


  1. It is great to see you're all still smiling and in great spirits in view of what you've experienced during the past several days and the delay in your return trip to the U.S. We're praying that you'll be able to return home very soon.


  2. Glad to know that you are making the most of your extended trip. We are all thinking of you, and wishing you a safe trip home as soon as possible. The blog has been great, but I am also eager to hear about your experiences in person.


  3. Mrs. McCann said… Wow…I've been reading your blog since you left and I have felt like I was almost there myself. I can't begin to tell you all the different emotions that I have had reading your descriptions and insights of what you saw on this trip. Now although unexpected, you are experiencing history in Poland first hand. What an amazing life experience you have all been through. Thanks for letting us come along for the ride. Enjoy the rest of your time together. Can't wait until you are all home safe and sound. Joan McCann


  4. Fabulous work! So many rich observations and lessons to learn — and remember. Great stuff! Wishing all of you a safe journey home. Bill Celis, associate professor, USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, Los Angeles.


  5. It is stunning to me that you are all still immersed in history over there in Europe. You went there to study the past, and are now witnessing history as it unfolds. What incredible opportunities this trip has handed to you. I am in awe of all of you and can't wait to see you all and give you hugs when you finally return! Be safe.


  6. Although you've had to remain in Poland a little longer than planned, it's great that you're having the opportunity to visit all of these additional places. Making the most out of your extended stay is probably the best thing you can do when you're missing home! It seems that your trip has been even more eventful than what you all expected, like being in Krakow during the funeral of the President and the First Lady. This trip has been full of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for you all. Hope you have a safe return home soon!


  7. This blog is amazing! I feel like I am there with all of you. I know it stinks that you are not back already but you are getting to experience things that most people wish they could and never do (i.e. me:)) so enjoy it for me!!! Mrs. T just make it home before my wedding ;). Have a safe trip back..see you all soon!!! Miss you guys!


  8. it is so exciting to see all the places you all got to visit and see. Being in Krakow during the funeral of the president and first lady must have made the trip even more interesting. i hope you all are enjoying your extra days there and being able to visit even more places. I cant wait to hear all your stories when you get back!!


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