Working the salt mines
From Prague, I headed to Krakow with a small posse of Irish and English lads I met in the Czech Republic. I almost missed my train to start, so after piss-bolting for about a kilometre, I started the journey rather sweatily, and with no water or beer to re-hydrate me.
Poland was not on my list of places to see this year, but after meeting a bartender from Krakow in the Greek Islands and hearing some incredible first-hand stories of grandparents in Auschwitz, I thought I should see it for myself, and after hearing almost every single person I’d spoken within Western Europe rave about Krakow I was surely destined to visit.
The quality and enjoyment factor of Krakow was accentuated by the people I met and the hostel I stayed at for the majority of my time. The first night I ended up in a dodgy hostel which was not a good start. For the first half of the day there, I ended up sleeping in the luggage storage room, as there was no way they were going to let me check-in before 1 pm and I desperately needed rest from the overnight train ride. The next day I gladly checked out and met up with my friends from Prague who were staying in a new hostel called (oddly) Hostel Giraffe. This place was fantastic, and once it gets a little better known on the backpacker scene, it will be hard to get accommodation there without booking ahead. The staff were great, the other guests were great, and the place itself was great. All-new, clean and funky, for less money than the shitty hostel I stayed in for the first night and with much better services. It was even attitude free from the owners and staff! It’s amazing how much these things affect your quality of stay.
The problem for me was, with three Irish guys, two English lads, and me, an Australian together, we did little apart from drink excessively. First thing most days were breakfast beers, followed in the late afternoon (which was just after waking up mind you) by Vodka and Black Russians. It got worse from there. Each morning the drinking stopped sometime around 8 am to find some sleep, before doing it all again.
Apart from drinking excessively, I managed to see the Auschwitz Death camps. These were possibly some of the most depressing places on earth. Thankfully we found a night club called Prozac that night to help relieve the depression a little =). I also went to a salt mine in Krakow which, strangely, was kinda fun. The workers obviously had plenty of time (not mining salt) as they had carved statues of all sorts everywhere (totally out of salt mind you). There was even a grand chapel carved out of salt 130 meters underground. The stairs on the way down were over 50 flights, and the dizziness factor from turning in one direction so many times was not pleasant. The guide constantly encouraged us to lick the walls, as EVERYTHING was made from salt. Bloody fantastic. I wanted to go hustle up a bag of slugs and release them deep underground to see how far they got., but the idea stopped there.
The locals in Krakow were friendly too and many attempts at lengthy conversations were had in the streets. I had an especially hard time with the Polish language. The hostel barman tried to give me some language lessons but trying to learn Polish, in a bar, at 5 am..? Not overly successful.
A friend and I took great pleasure one day in buying replica BB guns from a street vendor for around 10 Euro each and spent the entire day shooting stuff. As they are illegal back home for each of us, we took great pleasure in this and you should have seen the grins resulting. Unfortunately, I had a flight to catch later that day, so it was a short-lived venture.
Poland is definitely worth a look-see when you’re next in the general area.
Check out some of my photos from Poland:Next