Monday, November 29, 2010

Krakow! Long Drive, Beautiful City!

Driving to Poland seemed like a good idea at the time. Leaving after school on Friday maybe was a mistake, but we didn't have any choice; Kent had to work. It gets dark really early, so even though we weren't driving at midnight, it sure felt like it. Add to it the fact that every time you cross a border on the highway, you have to stop at the next rest stop and buy a highway pass, and it slows you down even further. Add that to the fact that we kept forgetting to stop, which increased our stress level considerably- we were sure we'd be pulled over and interrogated and fined. Add to it a vindictive GPS who added an additional country to the route and- well, it was kind of the trip from hell. Then we crossed the Czech-Polish border, and it STUNK- and then it seemed like the trip TO hell. It was the kind of smell that you're sure is giving you cancer. Round about hour 6, Jack fell apart. He was in the "way back" seat, and hadn't been able to see for 6 hours and then, as I mentioned, it stunk, and he started keening that he wanted to die.  Can't blame him. Before the wailing it had been just the usual 6 year old behavior, throwing his dirty socks over the seat onto my head, singing annoying songs that get stuck in your head and rattle around, that sort of thing.  I pretty much wanted to die too.

But then, we arrived in Krakow, and got settled in, and all was forgotten.  We stayed at an apartment right outside the Wawel Castle. The building was 100 years old, but the apartment was clean and well kept. And the price and location couldn't be beat.  We could walk to the Market Square and the Christmas Market. It was snowing and the whole city looked magical.

 Most of my pictures didn't come out; the memory card on my camera say there's no data, and won't import the pictures. Here are a few I salvaged. 

We went to the Wieliczka Salt Mines- what a very cool place. 

Walking down into the mine.  We were down 130 meters below ground, and mine went down over 300 meters. 

When the salt is exposed to water, the impurities wash out, and the crystals formed are white. You can see some of them on the ceiling above, and on one of the examples of the old pumps they used to remove water from the mine. (below)

The chandeliers crystals are all made of salt crystals.

The Chapel of Saint Kinga is huge; the walls are covered in rock salt carved bas-reliefs. The floors look like tile but are all salt, polished by the footsteps of the visitors to the mine. All along the walls there are scenes from the Bible, and the crucifix is also carved from rock salt. 

We had a lot of fun in Krakow but wished we could have stayed a few more days.  (And I wish my camera would have worked.) Once we got over the smell and the long ride, the only thing bugging Nate was his underwear. Somehow he believes this underwear is too small.  I have no idea where he would get that idea.

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