Today we spent more or less the entire day under ground in the Wieliczka salt mine just on the edge of town. We started with the classical tourist rout which, by the looks of it would be very crowded considering the one hour queue for tickets and a further half hour wait to get in. Down below it was not as bad as all that, due to a limited group size.
We descended down a seemingly endless set of stairs. When we got to the bottom we set off on our walk through long, wood lined corridors and chambers of pure rock salt. The special thing about the place is not just the vast landscape of tunnels and chambers dug out under ground, but also the decorations. Here and there were statues hewn from the salt, and the miners of old even made chapels and churches. The guide was good as well, ending each presentation with a joke. The pace was a bit off though, especially since I was trying to get good photos.
Although beautiful and very nice, this mine was not all that I had hoped for. So, I left Yini to wander around the mine museum and headed to the second shaft. There I joined a second tour called the miners rout. They equipped me with some coveralls, a hard hat, emergency breathing apparatus and a miners light. When I was ready me and my guide (there were just us two) set off down the dark tunnel.
The miners rout was absolutely fantastic, no lights except the ones we carried, no crowds and no frills, just bare walls and a muddy floor. The guide even gave me some hands on experience, letting me try my hand and pushing a salt car along the track, pumping water and even hacking away at a piece of salt with a pick axe. I was so into it I didn’t even bring my camera but I would, without a doubt, recommended it for the slightly more adventurous. It is likely as close to a real mining experience one can get without actually working in a mine.
Just to top the day off, we got back to the city center just in time to see this magnificent sunset: