We had our first actual warm day while in Krakow, Poland! It was a gorgeous city, especially on a gorgeous, sunny day.
We spent a lot of time in the town square, as usual, since it is the center of life in the city... especially tourist life.
The square was completely full, especially when we first got there, because there is an age-old tradition that a bugle player opens a window of the bell tower of the church to play a song each day at noon.
Above is me trying a cheese serowe on the town square. There are tons of little carts with similar pretzel-pastries for sale.
With our tour, we visited the Jewish district of Krakow and then went to the top of the city to see the castle.
John Paul II is from Krakow, so there are statues and memorials for him all over the city! He was a much beloved Pope, and soon to be saint.
There were tons of horse drawn carriages leaving from the square, and each set of horses were uniquely decorated. Although I think that horses belong in fields rather than in busy cities, they really were beautiful to look at and seeing them all clop down the cobblestone streets made me feel like we were in a different era. I would never pay to ride a horse drawn carriage in a city, but the horses were gorgeous and seemed healthy, and made for nice photos.
After our time above ground, we drove a little bit out of the city to the Wieliczka Salt Mines, where we took an elevator 100km down a mine shaft. The only part where I felt claustrophobic was in that elevator, because the actual mines were huge. Our guide said that we only saw 1% of the mines on that day, which was crazy! We were down there for at least two hours and made our way through many different rooms.
Everything that you can see in these photos is carved out of the salt rock. Though it looks dark and gray, if you shine a light behind the Virgin Mary statue behind me, you could see that it is slightly transparent. The salt rock appears dark, rather than white, like table salt, because it has different minerals mixed in and it is not refined like your average table salt.
Our guide encouraged us to lick the walls (the salt makes them antiseptic, apparently) and she said that the salt mine was left over from a great sea that once covered this part of Europe, millions of years ago. Above you can see the biggest room in the salt mine, which is used as a chapel.
The highlight of my time in Krakow was definitely visiting the salt mine, since it is a natural wonder and it taught me a lot about Polish culture and the history of Poland. The whole city of Krakow is lovely, and the mine is definitely a place to put on your list if you ever visit Poland.