Warwick & The Mop!

So, I actually think I’m one of the luckiest people, to have been born and bred in such a beautiful place as Warwick!

It’s true what they say, you can take the girl out of Warwick, but you can’t take Warwick out of the girl!

I know I am probably going to be accused of seeing my home town in rose coloured specs, but the thousands of tourists that visit it every year, must prove something !

Now when I say I’m a Warwick girl, I really am!

I was born in my parents bedroom, which looked out onto the Lord Leycester Hospital! My bedroom was on the back, facing the garden! Behind our garden wall was Warwick Castle! It doesn’t get more Warwick than that!

Growing up, I have so many fond memories! I’ve never taken any of it for granted. That’s probably why, I found it so hard to move 8 miles out of town 2.5 years ago!

Yes it has changed a lot over the years. There are a lot more houses for one, but the foundation of Warwick is still there!

So what makes it so so special ? Where do I start?

  • Warwick Castle
  • St Mary’s Church
  • Lord Leycester Hospital
  • Mill Street Garden
  • St Nicholas Park
  • Warwick Racecourse
  • River Avon
  • Great canal walks
  • The town centre
  • The Mop

I used to also love the dolls museum, which is now integrated into the Military museum in St Johns.

My grandfather was the Verger at St Paul’s Church, and my grandmother, and later my uncle the church wardens.  Myself and my 2 brothers were members of the church choir, with my brother making head boy and I head girl.

We attended choir practice twice a week, and 2 Sunday services, plus weddings etc.

7 of my mothers brothers, were also active members of the local St John’s Ambulance, as was I.  We would cover many local events such as the race meetings, fetes and charity events.

My grandfather and father were involved in building the bumper cars and ghost trains, that were used at the mop, as well as the helter skelter and some other ride at St Nicholas Park.

So as you can see, my family were all part of the foundation of Warwick in the past, which is probably why it runs through my veins.

As a child, the most visited places for us were the racecourse and the park!

The racecourse was just a few minutes walk away. As we had a dog, it was the perfect place to go for daily walks. I rode my bike around it, and even learnt to drive a car on some land next to it. Sadly that land is now flats!

On race days, we would go down for the last race, when it was free! We used to collect left over glasses. If you were lucky you might even find the odd £1 note on the grass! Accidentally thrown away by someone along with their betting slip!

We used to do our cross country running around the race track at school too!

St Nicholas park was where we spent most of our 6 weeks holiday during the summer when we weren’t away. I don’t know about you, but I only ever remember hot summers back then!

There was an open air paddling pool in the middle. Mum would pack a picnic and off we would go for the day!

I remember just playing and enjoying the outdoors in beautiful weather.

As we lived so close to the castle, we often would walk through the outside of the grounds ! I’d never actually been into it until I worked there!

I was so over the moon to land my first full time job there! It was in the offices and accounts department. We were based just next to the main ‘apartments’.

It was the foundation to who I am now! In those days, everyone who was senior were known as Mr, Miss or Mrs. There was no way I’d acknowledge them by their first names !

I was also made very aware of the importance of talking ‘properly ‘! Thankfully I think I pronounced most words correctly ! In particular ensuring you put an ‘r’ in words like castle, path, grass etc!

One of my fondest memories is Mop time ! Most people outside of the area have never heard of the Mop!

It’s basically a travelling fair, which comes to Warwick for 2 weekends around 12th October every year!

Where we lived at the top of a hill, I could sit in the bay window, and watch all the lorries moving from their temporary home on the racecourse, up to the town centre to assemble their rides!

I remember shouting excitedly to my parents as I watched the ghost train, bumper cars, waltzers etc go up! I couldn’t wait to go up and see them!

I probably have an even greater passion as both my grandfather, and father built ghost trains and bumper car rides !

The first weekend, the Mop was opened by the Lord Mayor at 12 noon on the Saturday. It would run until 10.30/11.00 pm. There was always a pig roast around by the Globe Hotel!

The second week the Mop was open Friday and Saturday from lunch time until about 10.30/11.00 pm. This was called the ‘Runaway Mop’!

We used to save our pocket money, and I also remember my grandparents giving us extra.

We would go up as a family early evening, with our pennies in our purses! Eyes wide open !

I remember the smells like it was yesterday ! Candy floss, toffee apples, hot dogs and burgers ! Even the diesel smelt good from the generators!

Then there was the noises of the rides, and children’s laughter, adults screening as some of the bigger rides went faster and higher! Multi coloured lights and music filled the air! It was a time of pure joy!

Everyone always seemed happy when you walked around ! It seemed to always dry and crisp too !

We would walk around wondering how to spend our money ? The ‘hook a duck’ was always a good one, as you were always guaranteed a prize! In those days you could win goldfish ! Now I know why we had a pond in our garden !!

There were also amusement arcades! My favourite then, and now is still the machine that forms the t.v programme ‘Tipping Point’. In my day though it was pennies or 2p!

Now a days it’s all changed! The rides are bigger and more expensive ! They still have a few old favourites though, such as ‘hook a duck’. You still get the same smells and noises!

To me it’s still magical. It’s been part of Warwick for so long, I hope it never stops !

Here is a whistle stop tour of 2018 !

https://youtu.be/gKZNI6265J4

The History of the Mop

The tradition of Warwick Mop, goes back as far as King Edward III, when he granted a legal charter that it be held in the town centre! This was a time when even the Castle, as it stands now was still being built, and certainly before Lord Leycester was even a twinkle in his daddies eye!

The date is believed to be linked to when harvesting was done, with Stratford Upon Avon having the Mop on the 12th!

So for those of us who think it’s a modern thing, and to some a nuisance, it is steeped in over 700 years of history!

It is said that the first Mops were set up for hiring labourers, and for employers to meet and have fun!

In those days it was different types of stalls, rather than the big rides you associate with fairs today!

Workers would be hired on a trial basis. The runaway Mop, the second weekend, gets its name from the fact that either the employer, or worker, could back out of the arrangement they had made!

The money they earned during that week was then spent on the stalls, or for some, the pub!

No-one really knows for sure where the word ‘Mop’ came from, however it is thought to be linked to a symbol worn by labourers.

The pig roast, or ox as it also was then, provided food as well as warmth. Whilst we still have this tradition now, the money raised is passed on to charities!

Rides came along later with the industrial revolution, as has continued to evolve. In the early days, it would have been peddle power! Now they are so sophisticated.

I for one think it’s important that we keep these traditions alive for generations to come !

The next Mop in Warwick is 19/20 & 26/27 October!

Go along and support it if you can! Even if you don’t like the ride, (I’m not a fan), walk around, listen to the sounds, smell the air and soak in the atmosphere.  Let it take you back over 700 years to a different time.  Ultimately, the purpose of having fun is still there! So open your mind and enjoy it.

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Let the train take the strain!

 

Does anyone else remember that advert from 1988? It was launched to encourage us to take the train, instead of blocking our roads up with cars!

I was commuting by train back then. Whilst it was 30 years ago, from personal experience, public transport hasn’t improved!

I don’t know whether it’s the demand that has increased, or the fact that the rail companies haven’t kept up with the demand!

Back then, I used to do a 45 minute trip into Birmingham. I always got a seat, and in fact, there was a group of us that used to meet up along the journey, and still be able to sit together.

We had quite a little community going on. We would do crosswords, competitions and in cold days, the guard used to share his tea flask with us!

I may be seeing those days through rose tinted glasses, but I don’t remember it being late or cancelled that often at all! Certainly, not that busy either!

After a 19 year break, where I used to drive to work, I once again in 2012, joined the thousands of others commenting by train!

So why should we all ‘be letting the train take the strain’ still some 30 years later? Well the simple answer is, that the Climate Change Act of 2008, set a long term framework for us to reduce greenhouse gas within the UK.  The Government needs to reduce it by at least 34% by 2020, and 80% in 2050, based on the levels in 1990.

To achieve this, they need more and more of us to ditch our cars, and take public transport.  As a commuter, that is easier said than done!

I for one, cannot get to work without some form of car travel.  Where I live, I would first of all have to walk about 15 minutes to the nearest bus stop.  From there, I would have to catch 2 buses, which takes just under an hour to the train station.  I then would catch a train for a 45 minute journey.  In total, to get to work it would take me over 2 hours, including then the walk to the office from the station.

I currently drive to the station, which reduces my travel time to approximately 1.5 hours each way per day!  To add an extra hour each day on an already 3 hours daily commute, just isn’t practical, or good for a work, home life balance.

Cost is also a factor.  At the moment, we are paying each day to travel by train to work.  It is £7.30 each day.  This is with us driving 14 miles to the station.  Thankfully, the car park is free.  It is not so at other stations!

If we went from our closest station, we would face £1000 a year more in train costs, plus £8.90 per day to park the car!  We would still have to drive there, so there is a petrol and emission cost!

When you get the train, there is certainly no relaxing for us either!  It definately doesn’t take the strain for us!  Wherever we catch the train, the following factors come into play:

  • Is the train on time?
  • Is the train running
  • How busy is it going to be?
  • Will the journey be terminated part way?
  • Who will I have to sit next to, or stand next to?
  • Am I going to pick up any coughs, colds etc from fellow commuters

Sadly, all of the above will come into play more frequently than you would think.

Our morning commute is on a 4 carriage train.  It is packed everyday.  You don’t get a seat, unless you are very lucky to be standing next to someone who is getting off at another stop!

When you are standing, you are being pushed against the next person also standing.  You often don’t have anything to hold onto, so when it hits a point or goes round the corners, you are thrown into the person next to you.

If you have got a seat, you are also not always lucky, as the persons standing will be on top of you, falling on you occasionally, or treading on you!  Then there is the size of the seats.  On the 6 seat section, space is extremely tight for the average size person.  You struggle to move your arms in fear of knocking the person next to you!

Don’t think you can get on, and pull your laptop out and work, or read a book!  Oh no, that would take space and comfort.  The best you can hope for is to play Candy Crush or read the news on your phones!

And don’t get me started on some of the behaviours of some commuters!   My most annoying is the person who walks through the crowded train, looking for an empty seat!  Of course, there must be one free with hundreds of us standing. Not!

What about the person wearing the headphones, whose music is so loud, we can all hear it!

Then there is the person who can see we are all like sardines, but still shouts into the train ‘can you move down please’!  I feel like shouting back ‘would you like us to get into the storage shelf’ as that is usually the only place where you might find a gap!

Even on crowded trains, some people don’t have volume control when talking either on the phone or face to face!  I have over the years heard many conversations, from whether someone should have sex with their boyfriend, or more recently,  a school girls asking her friend how to get him to have sex with her, to someone telling their friend about the guy they were having an affair with them.  Unfortunately for them, the friend of the women he was married to was also on the train!  I’d love to know how that story ended!

Long distance travel is no better!

Last year, I decided to take the train to Darlington for work. It’s about a 4 hour drive for me and takes a tank of petrol, so about £60.  Everyone said to me, I should take the train and relax, rather than the stress of driving!  Never again!

I had a 1.5 hour trip to the station to get the connecting train to Darlington.  Then a 3 hour train trip.   Yes I had a reserved seat, but the table was too small to even contemplate getting my laptop out!  My suitcase was miles away, so anything of value had to be at my feet, as the overhead shelf was too small.

I did a vlog on the experience at the time.  You can see my experience here!

The cost of the fare was about £140.

I had a reserved seat on the way back too.  When I went to my seat, it was taken by a pushchair.  The whole trip home, I had a newborn child crying next to me!

Was I relaxed when I got home – NO!  The next trip there I drove!

If the government wants us to use public transport more, they really need to start working with the transport companies.  Everyone I know who commutes, wherever they live, all have the same issues.

We need more carriages, competitive pricing, more trains and please keep the parking free!  Or if they do need to charge, again at a reasonable price!  Oh and it they could be on time that would be even better!  Maybe then, we may be more likely to let the train take the strain!

 

Getting around Krakow!

The best and easiest way to get around Krakow is on foot.  Its also free of charge, and a great form of exercise!

Krakow is flat so you don’t need to worry about any hills, well in the centre that is!

One of the great things about Krakow, is that the centre is pedestrianised!   You can walk around, relaxed, without worrying about cars.  It makes getting around so much nicer!

It also feels very safe!

There is so much to see around the city, that it would be a shame not to put at least a day aside to just wander!  Whilst the square is pretty in itself, as you explore the streets, you will see so much more on foot.

Don’t forget to look all around you, both in front, side to side, and upwards.  Many of the buildings have beautiful paintings or statues on them.

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You can’t really get lost if you keep to the rule, that all things end up back in the square!

When you visit the castle, take a walk over the river to view it from another perspective!  Its such a unique castle, with different types of architecture, it would be a shame to miss it.  If we hadn’t done this, we may have missed the fire eating dragon!

The parks are small, but again worth a walk.  You will fall upon different sculptures along the way.  Many of them hidden amongst trees, or on benches.

There are many churches in the city.  If the doors are open, pop in and have a look.  I was blown away by some of the decorations inside.  Remember to have your shoulders and thighs covered though!

If walking isn’t your thing, don’t worry.  There are a couple of other options.  How about a tour in an electric car?  Prices will vary depending on where you are going and for how long.  I would say no more than £20 per person.  Ask the driver and agree a price in advance.   We took one of these for the short ride to the Jewish Quarter, for dinner.   It was only £2.50 each for us, as it took probably only about 15 minutes!

Here you will find a square of chairs, dedicated to the Jews who lost their lives.  Its situated just over the river in the Ghetto, and worth a visit around sunset, where the chairs are lit up!

You will also see many horse drawn carriages.   They leave from the square, and take you for an hour ride around the city.  Again agree a price before you start.  They are usually around 400 PLN (£100) and can seat 4 comfortably, but if you negotiate you may get it cheaper!  On a sunny day, it is quite a nice way to explore the city.

Trams are plentiful.  At under 4 PLN (£1) each way, they are a cheap way to get around.  They run from 5 am to 11 pm.

If you want to go further afield, I would certainly recommend the train service.  We used it to go to the Salt Mines.

To go into the Salt Mine, you just have a 5 minute walk up a slight hill.   The cost is 89 PLN each plus 10 PLN if you want to take photos or videos (£25 in total).  Certainly a nice day out and well recommended.

The station is clean and everything is easily signposted.  It cost us around £0.85 each way for a single trip lasting about 20/30 minutes.

The trains were clean and spacious.  They have ticket machines on board if you don’t have time to get one before boarding.  Alternatively, there are ticket machines on platforms, if there isn’t a ticket office.  It is also a nice way to sit back and take in the scenery.  I do love looking at other peoples lives.  The houses, streets and countryside always interest me.

Taxi’s are also plentiful.  A ride from the airport is around 90 PLN or £20.

We also took a private hire to Autschwitz as there were 7 of us.  It was all included in the price for the tours.  The cost was 160 PLN each (£40), but well worth it.

There are so many options to get around the city, there really isn’t any excuse not to explore.

 

 

Eating and drinking in Krakow

You will never go hungry or thirsty in Krakow! There are absolutely loads of options open to you !

The big decision is, do you want food on the go, in a relaxed or formal setting, inside or outside !

When we go away, we like to eat local food. You will find a MacDonalds everywhere in Krakow, but there is no way you would find us eating there. We can have one of those at home!

The weather for us was gorgeous, so it was perfect for sitting outside!

We were staying a few minutes from the main square, so we tended to gravitate there!

There are many restaurants running around the square. Each have their menus on boards outside, so you can check before committing yourself.

Don’t worry if you think the menu is limited in some, they have just put a selection on display! Ask them for a full menu.

Most staff speak very good English, so if you have any specific requirements, they are happy to cater for you.

On every corner you will find a little stall selling ‘Precels’! These are rings of bread, and delicious, perfect for eating on the go. They come in various toppings, cheese, sesame, spicy and salted. At only 1.8 PLN (approximately 45p) they are a bargain! We had them the day we were running for the train to the Salt Mine, for breakfast, as well as to take to airport when we left!

DSC_0919

If you want to sit down, don’t be fooled by the price! Most meals are under £10! That doesn’t mean the portion is small! Oh no! This is one of my dinners ! It was a starter but I had it as my main!

That is a litre of beer next to it! It was filled with a selection of meats including, chicken, pork, Polish sausages and beef, with sauerkraut in a dry sauce! It was very filling so the bread wasn’t eaten!

Other local dishes include Bigos (hunters stew) which is also served in a bread bowl, smoked sausages, Pierogi(dumplings), which are stuffed with a variety of fillings ranging from cheese, minced meat, cabbage and mushrooms.

Don’t forget the good old pork schnitzel too! These are also usually the size of a dinner plate!

And one of my hubby’s favourite, the pork knuckle! Be careful when you choose this option as some are a set price, others are charged per Kilo! This is the one my hubby ordered! It was 1.2 kilo ! Way too much for 1 person!

Every meal is served with bread, but rarely butter. If you want it, ask. I’m sure most restaurants would be happy to provide you with some!

What was lacking for me though was the lack of vegetables. Some dishes came with potatoes but that is all. You will need to order vegetables and salad as an extra!

My tip would be to order your drinks, look at the menu, and then look what others have had ! It will give you an idea of how it’s served, and more importantly, the portion size!

You can share a main, or even ask for a doggy bag!

If you are visiting the Salt Mine, I would recommend the sausage for lunch ! For 15 PLN, you get a large sausage, bread roll and a bottle of Coke, which is less than £4! It’s delicious!

We had most of our meals at the same restaurant. Why? It was sooo good! And the beer was the cheapest we had found ! 17 PLN (£4 ish) got you a litre of their local beer! It was one of the very few without patio heaters, but as we were lucky with the weather it didn’t matter!

So what was that restaurant ? Sukiennice! It’s named after the building it’s located in – Cloth Hall! Sukiennice is its Polish name.

Breakfast was also the most reasonable we saw! Scrambled eggs (3 eggs) wit bread was only 9 PLN (less than £3), you could them add extras such as bacon, mushrooms, cheese etc for only 1 PLN (25p)!

I opted for one of their bagels for breakfast. Beetroot, rocket and walnuts. Oh wow! What a taste delight! At only 9 PLN (just over £2), it was a bargain!

Beetroot is a traditional food item of Poland. Most restaurants will have a delicious beetroot soup on its menu, served hot and cold!

They had a good selection of tea and coffee too!

Because it is on the square, you get to people watch, while eating, which I always enjoy!

They also have a cosy basement for late night tipples!

Another restaurant I’d recommend is Chopin! It’s on the opposite corner of the square!

The head waiter was such a charmer! When I tried to make a joke with my friends that they didn’t serve alcohol, he joined in. He told the group they only sold potato water, grape water and hop water! Aka vodka, wine and beer!

I had one of the very few salads here! Roast beef! It was cooked to perfection and at only 23 PLN (less than £6).

When in Krakow, I would also recommend a walk to the Jewish quarter. There are also some lovely restaurants there too!

I’m sorry but I can’t remember the name of the one we ate in, but wow, it had the best bread I’ve ever eaten!

I had had a big lunch, so wanted something light for dinner! I chose a mushroom soup, served in a bread bowl! The soup was good but the bread, out of this world ! If you had the hunters stew here, it also came in the same bread bowl.

The bread was firm enough to hold the liquid, but light and flaky to eat! I wish now I’d asked how they made it! I can still taste it today, a week later!

On our last day, we had lunch at Max 18 in the square! I had chicken kebab, salad and chips! Again a really large portion of food!

What was exciting though, was behind my shoulder, in the next restaurant, they were filming! I asked our waiter what was happening. It was a scene for a local Soap Opera! I didn’t recognise the main man, but still, it made for an interesting lunch !

I’m usually a wine drinker, however it’s a bit more expensive in Poland, so I stuck to the beer!

Local beers are really easy to drink. Price ranged from 10 PLN for half a litre, to 17 PLN for a litre at Sukiennice Restaurant. So basically £2.50 to £4.00.

The two we mainly drank were Tyskie and Zywiec.

When in Krakow, it would be rude not to try their specialty!  Vodka!  At home, I love toffee vodka, but here, I would strongly recommend the cherry and hazelnut.  If you like Ferrero Rocher, you will love the hazelnut one in particular!  Its like a liquid version of it!  It was so nice, I had to buy some at the airport to bring home!  At only 16 PLN a bottle (£4), it would have been a crime not to!

All restaurants will offer a range of soft drinks too.  The homemade lemonade is also a really good choice, if you don’t want anything alcoholic.  You don’t get tap water on the table, so if you do want water, you will need to pay for it.

When you pay the bill, they will also give you a little shot of cherry liqueur, which is really really nice!  It certainly leaves you wanting a second!

Krakow is definitely a place worth a visit.  Make sure you try eating and drinking local specialties.  You won’t be disappointed!

Wandering around Krakow

Today was our last day. As we didn’t need to be picked up for the airport until 6.30 pm, we decided to have a relaxing day, wandering around the city!

We met our friends for a drink (tea and coffee!) in our favourite restaurant, in the main square !

After saying goodbye to one of the couples, as they were heading to the airport, we took a stroll back to the castle. We have walked here a few times, but you can never get bored with it!

I wanted to see if I could get a better shot of the dragon, as it roared with fire! I did! Check out my YouTube channel to see it! I’ll post the link below!

We then strolled around the streets. It’s amazing how you see new things everyday.

What surprised me today is how much quieter everywhere is. There is definitely a lot fewer tourists about!

There are also a lot more nuns and priests around!

The sun is out, so it’s a perfect day again for photography!

https://youtu.be/Kx3NfU9p1jk

If you are going to Krakow, make sure you give yourself time to just wander around! Look up and down. There are so many things to see! Beautiful architecture is everywhere, statues on buildings, as well as sculptures.

We meet our friends again for lunch, before they too head off to the airport. We choose a restaurant just off the square.

As we eat our lunch, we notice a lot of people behind us! There is a film crew and actors literally over our shoulders. People are gathering to watch and take selfies!

I ask our waiter what is going on! They are filming for a local Soap! It’s all very exciting and interesting! I don’t know for sure, but I’ve decided the main man is cheating on his girlfriend!

We have spent everyday in one particular restaurant on the square. They have some lovely tin dishes for sale at 22 PLN each! I love them and think they will be a great pot to make individual meals in. They also are red to go with my kitchen, and with the restaurants symbol on, so can’t resist buying 6! It’s a good job I’ve saved space in my case!

We say goodbye to our friends. We are the last of the 4 couples to leave. We still have 3 hours to kill, so decide to just have a little wander again!

It’s so hot we end up back in the square for the last hour, people watching !

It’s been an amazing weekend.

At 6.30 pm we are picked up for a drive to the airport! It takes less than 20 minutes to get there.

Security and passport control are all speedy too.

I can’t resist a quick look in duty free! There, on the first isle I look at, is cherry and hazelnut vodka! 16 PLN each! That’s £4 a bottle. It would be a crime not to take some home! Hubby and I can enjoy it while looking back over our photos of the trip!

Our flight home, at the moment is on time! Tomorrow we are back to work . We have had a wonderful time, with great friends, weather, good food, drink, culture and some amazing memories!

The Salt Mine – Krakow

Today we headed off to the Salt Mine. Instead of booking a formal tour, we went solo!

We headed off to the main train station in Krakow, to catch the 8.51 am.

We initially tried to buy the tickets through one of the many machines, but not speaking the language and being a little unsure, we opted to go to the main ticket office!

As you walk through the station, it’s all very well signposted. It’s also very clean!

At the ticket office the cashier speaks English, so it’s very easy. You can’t get a return ticket so we buy just a single! I can’t believe how cheap public transport is here. 3.50 PLN each, which is about £0.85 each!

We head to platform 1. The train arrives on time. Again, it’s clean and modern. There is also a ticket machine on the carriage, so if you don’t have time to get one before boarding, you can still buy one!

I’m also impressed with the seats. They are comfy and have plug sockets underneath? Plus a bin for each set of seats!

Above is a screen which shows you the trains route, and where you are on that route. For foreign travellers, it’s perfect to make sure you get off at the right stop. Which we do!

The Salt Mine is only about 5 minutes walk away from the station, up a slight hill.

As we have arrived early, there isn’t really a queue! Entry, for a 2 hour tour is 89 PLN, approximately £22 each. If you want to take photos or videos, you have to pay an additional 10 PLN (£2.50), which of course we do!

The tours are in different languages, so we head for the queue for the English one. We are given headphones and receivers, so we can hear our guide better!

You then start the tour. Be warned, we will go down a lot of steps, so sensible shoes are a must.

The tourist books say to take a jacket as temperatures fall to between 13/16 degrees, although we were rather hot in ours!

To descend to the Danilowicz Shaft on level 1, you walk down 380 steps, taking you 64 m underground!

In total you will descend 800 steps, taking you down to 135 m underground to level 3! There are a total of 9 levels to the Mine, so the tour only covers about 1% of it !

In total, there are nearly 2400 chambers in the Mine, with 245 km of corridors! Reaching to 327 m underground! I’m amazed, just thinking of what lies beneath us! All this is supported by wooden beams! The Salt hardens the wood, so it’s perfectly safe!

Don’t worry about the way back, there is a lift back up!

As you walk through the Mine, you will be blown away at its natural beauty! If you touch the walls and lick your fingers, you taste the Salt!

As you pass through chambers upon chambers, you will see many sculptures carved out of the Salt! The chapel of St Kinga is said to be the largest underground temple in the world!

An emerald lake sparkles in the light.

Due to the darkness in places, it’s difficult to video, although, I have tried it on my GoPro, so I will see when I download it at home.

I’ve take many photos, so I’m hoping they too will show it’s beauty!

There are plenty of toilets on route, and a couple of places to buy gifts and have a drink or snack!

The highlight of the tour though has to be the chapel! You can get married there too! What a magical place to take your vows!

The tour takes a nice pace, but I was very thankful for the lift back up!

If you are scared of enclosed spaces, please tell your guide! The lift is very small, and they will fill it to capacity! It’s certainly not for anyone who needs space!

The trip back up only takes about 20 seconds.

Outside, there is a kiosk which sells food and drink! I highly recommend the sausage! You get the sausage, a roll and a coke for 15 PLN (£3.75). It was delicious!

After a feed and rest we head back to the station. There isn’t a ticket office here, but now as seasoned travellers, we buy our return ticket from the machine! You can’t pay cash through the machine only card though!

The train arrives on time and we do the 20 minute journey back to Krakow!

It’s been a great trip. Here are some more photos.

https://youtu.be/Zu4QsSfdx7A

As we head to the main square, it’s hard not to notice how much busier it is. Obviously the locals must come out on a Sunday. There is a lot going on! Musicians are playing, people are making bubbles or balloon animals! It’s absolutely lovely!

The sun is out, so it’s a perfect afternoon for a stroll!

Auschwitz & Auschwitz-Birkenau

Today is our first full day here! We arrange to meet at the ‘head’ in the square at 8.30 am for breakfast.

We decide on the same restaurant that we had lunch in the day before ! The food is good as is the service . In fact the waitress remembers us! Is that a good thing ? I hope so!

I opt for the beetroot and walnut bagel, which was delicious.

Today we are off to Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau. We have some time before we are due to be picked up, so hubby and I decide to try and take photos of the Castle on the opposite view from yesterday!

It’s a bit dull this morning so the photos are not as good. We cross the river and look back ! There opposite us is the famous dragon, with fire roaring from its mouth! We decide we have just enough time to go across and take some pictures!

We get to see it in action, but it’s too light to capture it on camera !

We head back to our hotel ready to catch our tour.

It’s not a long drive. Approximately 50/60 km. As we are a group we have our own car which is nice.

It’s a good drive, it’s lovely to see the countryside around Krakow. The houses, many churches, as well as how people live away from the main city!

We arrive relaxed and ready for our tour.

I visited both camps over 12 years ago. It’s changed now. Security has increased . You can’t take large bags in anymore. They have to be 20cm x 30cm or less! Mine is slightly larger, so I take my camera, phone and go pro out of my bag! I’ll have to carry them all separately, but I need them to capture the trip!

When you arrive, you are given headphones and a receiver, so you can hear your guide easier!

The tour at Auschwitz takes about 2 hours. There are a few rooms missing from my last visit, but the sadness I felt then is still here now !

It’s hard to believe people could be murdered just because they were Jews! Young innocent children, with their whole life ahead of them !

You visit some of the huts, see where they lived and died!

After the first tour you take a shuttle to Auschwitz-Birkenau. This is far bigger than Auschwitz. You can still see the railway line that brought people to the camps !

Wandering around, looking at how they slept and were treated, you can’t help feeling angry!

Row upon row of huts! All built by the people who ended up loving and dying there !

When you go inside you see their sleeping area. Can you imagine how cold they must have been in winter?

If I said I enjoyed the camps again, I don’t mean in a fun way! I think it is so important to go to these places. See what happened and how they lived, with your own eyes!

More important, I want to remember them all. I hope they are all at peace now !

If you are ever in Krakow, you have to do this trip. It’s very humbling !

I have published my photos on my YouTube Channel. Please take time to view them.

https://youtu.be/-KuqAIZJ9d4

We heard back to our hotel. I think we are a little weary now, so a quick drop off of our stuff, before we head out for dinner!

Tomorrow we plan to do the Salt Mines !