Tag Archives: Krakow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth – Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine

“Wherever he saw a hole he always wanted to know the depth of it. To him this was important.”                                                                                                                           Jules Verne –  ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’

Down in the mine we walked for three and a half kilometres through a succession of chambers, carved chapels and exhibits that explained the history and the operation.   The route took us to a depth of three hundred and twenty-seven metres and down a precise total of eight hundred steps.  Almost at the bottom was the star of the show where an entire cathedral complete with a statue of the Polish Pope, John Paul II, had been craved into one of the largest caverns.

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Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Entrance Tickets – The Oskar Schindler Enamel Factory in Krakow

Oskar Schindler's Factory Museum After a while we arrived at the factory, which was being converted into a museum but as the project was way behind schedule there was only a temporary exhibition to look around. When Podgórze became the site of the Jewish Ghetto many Germans set up businesses in the area in an attempt to profit from the Nazi invasion of Poland. Oskar Schindler was such a man, but in the end he came to save the lives of over eleven hundred Jews that worked in his factory, often at great risk to his own life and at personal expense.





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Remembering Auschwitz


“Dawn came on us like a betrayer; it seemed as though the new sun rose as an ally of our enemies to assist in our destruction.”                                                        Primo Levi – “Survival in Auschwitz”

27th January 2015 is the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  In 2006 I visited Krakow in Poland and went on a bus trip to the notorious Nazi concentration camp.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and I confess to being a little apprehensive at the beginning of the tour especially when a cold wind seemed to blow across our faces at the very moment we passed through the infamous gates of the camp; or perhaps I just imagined it?  There is a story that no birds fly across the camp but I did see a solitary crow passing by so I presumed that this was indeed just a bit of folklore.  I didn’t see any more however.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: New – Nowa Huta, Krakow

Nova Huta Krakow Rose Avenue

Nowa Huta (literally new smelter or steel mill) was built for two hundred thousand Polish steel workers in just ten years between 1949 and 1959 and was designed to rebalance Krakow society in favour of the proletariat to overwhelm the largely conservative and bourgeois city that was a focus of opposition and an irritation to the communist government.  The authorities built, what was at the time, the biggest steel works in the World and created a model communist town and society to support it.

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Entrance Tickets – Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine

It wasn’t all that long ago, certainly within my lifetime, that people were sent to carry out hard labour in salt mines as a punishment.  They probably still are.  The Soviets especially liked compelling people to go deep underground (usually in Siberia) to mine the precious commodity but today things have changed and we were actually paying for the privilege.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Inside the Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow, Poland

The mine is a tourist attraction and about one million, two hundred thousand people visit every year.  This might seem like a strange sort of place to visit but the attraction is a collection of statues and an entire cathedral that have been carved out of the rock salt by the miners over the years – presumably during their tea breaks.  So impressive are the sculptures that in 1978 the Wieliczka salt mine was placed on the original UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

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Review of The Year – 2013

Writing Paper and Pen

Please excuse me a self-indulgent blog to begin the new year as I look back over the previous one.

The top ten most hit blog pages in 2013 on my Travel Blog have mostly surprised me but then I don’t understand how search engines work.  I say hit blog pages rather than read because I am neither conceited enough of sufficiently naive to claim that a hit equals a read.

In 2012 the blog recorded 170,889 hits and the upward trend continued into January and I was optimistic that this number was just going to keep going up but then Google changed their search criteria it stopped and fell back and has never recovered.  I have finished the year with less than half of the previous year total with only 79,450 hits but in November I did manage to limp past half a million in total.

These are the Top Ten blogs of 2013:

No. 1 

Krakow,  Salt Mine

Cathedral Wieliczka Salt Mine

First posted on April 6th 2010

This post is up from number 3 in 2012 to number 1 this year with 5,030 hits. I posted this in April 2010 after returning from a visit to Krakow in Poland.  It was a good trip but I am not sure why so many people would hit on it.  It is not as interesting as my trip to Auschwitz or the Crazy Mike Communist Tour.

No. 2

Mount Vesuvius

Vesuvius still smoking and active

First posted on March 25th 2010

4,220 hits and a second year in the Top Ten and up three places.  A bit of a surprise because this is the account of a day trip to Mount Vesuvius whilst on a holiday to Sorrento in 1976 with my dad.  From my memories of the same holiday I posted several blogs about visits to CapriNaplesPompeiiThe Amalfi Drive and Rome but these have only achieved a handful of hits between them.

No. 3

Moscow and Lenin’s Mausoleum

Lenin Mausoleum

First posted on July 6th 2012

Strait in this one at number 3 with 1,740 hits.  Cameras and mobile phones are strictly forbidden because the authorities don’t want snapshots of Comrade Lenin turning up on the internet in peoples’ Blogs or Trip Advisor reviews so they have to be left in a locker room and if anyone tries to defy this and is caught by the thorough security checks then there punishment is to be sent to the back of the queue!  It seems however that a couple of visitors have somehow sneaked a camera in and I found the pictures through Google and I assume people find my post in the same way.

No. 4

Norway, Europe’s most Expensive Country


First posted on February 15th 2011

1,510 hits – that’s about 2,000 less than the previous year but still holding on to fourth place.  This was a second blog about my trip to Haugesund in January 2011. It contains some interesting facts and figures which might explain the number of hits that it has received but I am not really convinced that this is the reason unless top European economists are using it for research purposes!

No. 5

Travel Journal 2

Fifth place with 1,060 hits and which demonstrates the importance of an About page.

No. 6

Royal Garden Party

Palace Invite 3

First posted on June 26th 2009 and therefore the oldest post in the top ten.

1,000 hits and staying in the Top Ten and up one place from number 7.  This one has always been popular especially around the Spring and Summer when invitations to the Royal Garden Party are going out and when people are wondering how to get one or what to wear if they have one.

No. 7

Travel Tips when Flying Budget Airlines

Ryanair over the Alps

First posted on August 2nd 2011.

940  hits and also going up one place.  I first wrote on this subject in 2009 and it immediately started getting hundreds of hits and then in 2011 it just stopped completely.  I reviewed and reposted it and changed the title from the specific ‘Travel Tips when Flying Ryanair’ to the more general title that it has now and hey presto the hits started coming again.

No. 8

Twelve Treasures of Spain – Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Sagrada Familia Cathedral Barcelona

First posted on March 2nd 2013 so the most recent post in the top ten so at under a year I will be interested to see what happens to this one in 2014.

With 750 posts a newcomer in the top 10 this year.  The “Twelve Treasures of the Kingdom of Spain” was a contest/poll that was conducted by the Spanish Television Company Antena 3 and the radio broadcaster Cope. The final results were announced on 31st December 2007.  I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the eight out of the twelve that I have visited.  Tenth in the competition and the final Cathedral in the list is the unfinished Gaudi masterpiece Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

No. 9

Onyx UK and an Inappropriate Visit to the Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge Naked Dancers

First posted on August 23rd 2011.

Another post devastated by Google changes and only 696 this year so dropping like a stone from number 2 to number 9. I have written a few times about my recollections of working in waste management in the private sector in the 1990s.  All of the posts manage a respectable number of hits but this one gets the most.  I don’t suppose for one minute that people are interested in my stories of mismanagement, incompetence and rubbish collection but they do like to read about dancing on a nightclub stage in Paris.

No. 10

Sorrento, Mount Vesuvius – Living on the Edge of Disaster

52 Naples

First posted on March 23rd 2013, two days before the Vesuvius post at no. 2.

This one surprised me with 690 hits and a first show in the annual top ten because it is an old post from May 2010 which only goes to show that old material sometimes has legs.

There is a famous phrase that says ‘See Naples and die!’ which originated under the Bourbon regime and means that before you die you must experience the beauty and magnificence of Naples.  Some, less charitable, now say that the city is so mad, dangerous and polluted that death might possibly be a consequence of a visit there and my post is about Vesuvius, Pollution, Pizzas and Crime!

If you have read one of these posts or any of the 1,140 others on my site ‘Have Bag, Will Travel’then thank you very much!  I guess it proves that George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) was right when he said: “The three most exciting sounds in the world are anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.”  

Dropping out of the Top Ten this year were:  Norway, Haugesund and the Vikings,  Pula, Croatia and Onyx UK and the Dog Poo Solution


Roman Amphitheatre Pula Croatia  Dog Mess Solution

And just ‘bubbling under’ …

Alternative Twelve Treasures of Spain – Antoni GaudiGermany, Triberg the Cuckoo Clock Capital of the WorldTwelve Treasures of Spain – Seville Cathedral and Russia, Tsars in our Eyes – The Grand Palace at Peterhof

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus

Krakow Poland Tram

The Trams of Krakow

Overhead an intricate spider’s web of electric cables was providing power to the blue and cream trams that regularly rattled past on the steel tracks in the roads.  Some of these were modern Bombardier flexi-trams that hummed rather than clanked but my favourites were the certain future museum pieces from the 1950s and 60s that conjured up images of the old days of the Soviet Empire that were heavily engineered and streaked with grime and rust.

I noticed that as passengers got on board they immediately began to look grey and tired and seemed to become a feature of the tram as though locked permanently into a 1960s Krakow time warp.

The trams whirred and screeched and sounded bells to warn of their approach as they drew up and pulled off, setting down and picking up and clattering away again between the rows of neglected buildings and out towards the proletarian apartments of the city suburbs.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine, Krakow, Poland

Well, it means something special to me…

The mine is a tourist attraction and about one million, two hundred thousand people visit every year.  This might seem like a strange sort of place to visit but the attraction is a collection of statues and an entire cathedral that have been carved out of the rock salt by the miners over the years – presumably during their tea breaks.  So impressive are the sculptures that in 1978 the Wieliczka salt mine was placed on the original UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Read the full story…