2005-08-18: Would you like salt with that

I find myself having to hover the mouse over the time now-a-days to see what the date is. How quickly you forget when there is no routine of work or weekends to measure the days by. How much and how little seems to be done after each day of holiday.

Today we left after another Polski breakfast for a tour of the castle. But first to the shops! And yes, we visited the central square market again (although this time it was just to pass through on our way to the Krakow castle).

Waffle for brunch

We got into the castle. It isn't really set up for tourists (what were those 15th century kings thinking?). We stood in line for 40 minutes hoping to get our tickets into the state rooms and the armoury. During the wait you could see the available number of tickets dropping (there is a daily limit of people, and then a limit of how many people per hour). Many people in the line were nervous that there wouldn't be any tickets left before they got to the front of the queue. And then as we were almost at the front we noticed that a sign said there was a break at 12:40 to 1pm (or 13:00, the Polish use 24 hour clock everywhere). The time was 12:36. Luckily the lady kept working through. We could only get tickets to the state room in the end, time meant we had to leave out the treasurery.

The castles church

We had to kill an hour and a bit so we wandered into some of the free exhibits. This was the cathedral and the toilets (although we did put in a donation at the toilets, I'm getting used to pay for going to the loo now). We got into the state rooms, which as expected were big and stately. The building is being renovated to fix it up from the mess left by the Austrian army. We wandered into a room where there is a leather wallpaper. Edyta liked the look of it and had to touch it. This resulted in a guard tut-tutting her (much as I warned her would happen). Then a few seconds later an alarm started. Now she'd really done it! Turns out the alarm was a fire alarm but no-one seemed that keen to rush us out. Edyta heard some of the guards laughing as they decided whether they should let people know to evacuate or not (or even if they should themselves). In the end we left because the alarm noise was becoming unbearable.

Fire engine in the courtyard

In the courtyard we discovered that the everyone had been evacutated. We were all shoved down to one end and had to wait until the fire crews had been in to check all the rooms. This was met by much applause, especially when they managed to squeeze a fire truck through the gateway built for the days of horse and wagon.

More pierogi

Edyta and I left in a hurry to catch the bus back to the hotel. Before we got there though we had to stop at another place to eat pierogi again. Some pierogi are nice but I don't think they will make the staple of my diet (deserts maybe, but not as mains).

Welcome to the Salt Mines

Our next trip was to the Salt Mines. These are famous mines where people dug salt out of the earth. They've been dug since 1400 A.D. and closed as a working mine in 1992 A.D. Tourism has been happening in the mine from the 1700's. It was quite good walking through the mine and I'd recommend it to anyone who ends up in Krakow. The best bit is that when you tour caves the guides tell you not to touch the walls, here the guide tells you to lick the walls as much as you like (the stuff is all very salty rock salt). The mines themselves gave a good impression of what life is like for the drawves of Kazak-Dom before an invasion of goblins... Oops, wrong impression. It is good seeing some of the 30m+ caverns that have just been dug by hand, and some of the impressive support structures built.

The Queen who won the mines

The best bit of the trip is the final bit, the ride back up 135m in a miners elevator. You get a good combination of speed and darkness.

We had the same driver from yesterday for today. Edyta is telling me that Polish people don't like seat belts as this guy is answering phones while driving and even running a red. Seems odd that they wouldn't like seat belts.

This day closes our last full day in Poland. Tomorrow we fly back to England and then on Saturday move out to Swindon to settle down. By Monday I'll be looking for work (and hoping to find a job with much haste, the credit card is taking an international pounding).

That is salt on the walls. Pure finger licking salt.

Me in a silly hat

Gnomes of good kissing

An underground banquet hall