This weekend involved a class trip to Krakow, Poland. We had previously visited this country for our tour of Auschwitz, but didn’t have much time to explore otherwise. We ended up spending a majority of our first day at the Wieliczka Salt Mine. I had no idea where salt came from mind the shaker on our kitchen counter, so this was intriguing to say the least. Imagine the Eiffel Tower flipped upside down, and there stood 24 of us underground walking through hallways of salt rock. I was mildly claustrophobic, but luckily there was plenty of room and light to comfortably enjoy the tour. Because of some scientific reason, bacteria can’t survive in the conditions of the mine, so we got to lick the walls and have a taste of the natural stuff. We observed that there are different types of salt formations throughout the mine, and all have a slightly different taste. One kind of resembles clear glass, to which they created “salt chandeliers” specifically for the space. The mine is full of hand carved salt statues and even a chapel - they hold a service here every Sunday morning at 7:30 AM, so for those of you looking to spice up your religious traditions, Poland’s got something for ya! After a long day, we took advantage of a pub crawl in town and headed to bed for a shorts night sleep.

The next day, our teacher Martin took us to tour the Wawel Castle and Crown Treasury/Armoury. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to photograph inside the buildings, but I’ll attest that they were beautiful. Everything was SO detailed. It took me awhile to keep up with the group because the pieces were so fascinating. This included vintage tapestries, jewelry, dining objects, swords, canons, armor, guns, etc. The amount of pure hand-done work that went into each piece was baffling. I later had a short conversation with the tour guide who mentioned “In 20 years you’ll be the rulers of the world. You have the power to change the future.” It seemed fitting for our societies current lack of craftsmanship.

For the rest of the day, Marrissa, Holly, and I enjoyed the nice weather and open air markets. I’ve noticed that a majority of the towns we visit always seem to have these farmers market-type events on the weekends. Little brown huts line the city center, filled with handmade goods and cheerful locals. Generally a stage sits at the front, home to small skits or live music. The city comes alive with laid back crowds and cheap food - I will certainly miss these the most when we have to return back to the US. We each treated ourselves to decorated jewelry boxes, and then headed back to the hostel for a nap. Later on we indulged in a chocolate bar where a 35 page menu gratefully welcomed our appetites. Of course we couldn’t just choose one item and soon after sat amongst a table full of chocolate in every form you could imagine. I ordered a dish with rice, white chocolate, apples, syrup, cinnamon, and brown sugar baked to perfection. It was one of the weirdest and most delicious things I’ve ever had. As night came, Anastasia and I went exploring and ended at a relaxing Indian hookah club before heading to bed.

Another short weekend passed, and we were headed back to our home, Olomouc. On the way back, we stopped at Schindler's Factory for a quick tour. I had heard of the movie Schindler’s List but never really knew much about it other than that it dealt with The Holocaust. The museum itself was set up in a really interactive and unique way, and was a great way to end our time in Poland. Sad to see our time here in Europe come to a close with just a few short weeks left - until next time, na shledanou!