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.
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.