Saturday, July 9, 2016

Salt Mines of Wieliczka - Don't Bother!

I honestly do not understand why so many travel blogs recommend a visit to the Wielliczka Salt Mines.

I made it back to Kraków from Auschwitz by 3 pm so I figured I would have enough time to fit in a visit to the World Unesco Heritage site. I understand that they are quite large and were first used in the 13th century, and I do concede that the underground church is quite nice but let's be honest here...

The whole atmosphere is quite Disneyfied and rather disappointing. The guides wear strict looking uniforms which must be strangling vital body parts causing enough discomfort to result in rather severe and unwelcoming attitudes.  The fellow  I had, did not crack a smile once and recited a memorized script in a completely monotone voice. I swear he was more robot than man and I was tempted to see if he had one of those windy controls coming out of his back. The tour consisted of his uninspired description of the history of the mine and a series of tacky models which he would animate briefly for a few seconds as we walked by. To top it off they saddled this one guide with a group of at least fifty.

After two hours of this torture we made it to a restaurant/tacky souvenir sort of area and were told that we could carry on to the museum or get an elevator to the top. Well I for one couldn't wait to get out of there but the guide disappeared, and a few of us tried to navigate our way to the elevator. We kept getting stopped by guards (disguised as guides) who would yell at us in Polish as they herded us to join a group with a guide that seemed to be speaking Russian! We tried to explain that we were with the English group but our little wind up man had somehow deserted us. It didn't seem to matter...he just kept yelling at us to follow this new group. Finally we made it to a tiny little elevator and managed to get out of there!

This tour was absolutely not worth the 89PLN they had the nerve to charge.  They even insist on an additional 10PLN for the privilege of taking photos! 

There are so many better, and more inexpensive things to do in Kraków that I think I would have given it a miss even if it were free!

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