Tag Archives: Salt Mines in Krakow

Review of 2015 – Top Ten Posts

Ireland Inch Beach

As we nail down 2015, please excuse my annual self-indulgent post to begin the new year as I look back over the last one.  I have ignored the WordPress annual statement to produce my own review.

The top ten most visited posts on my Travel Blog always surprise me but then I don’t pretend to understand how search engines work.  I say visited pages rather than read because I am neither conceited enough or sufficiently naive to claim that a visit equals a read.  I know that a lot of people will arrive here by mistake and swiftly reverse back out via the escape button!

Just to go back a bit, in 2012 the site recorded 170,900 visits and I was optimistic that as I kept posting this number was just going to keep going up but then in February 2013 Google made some devastating changes to its search algorithms and the numbers halved overnight and have never fully recovered. I finished 2013 with 79,470, a decrease of 115%.

I thought it was important to keep going so in 2014 I posted 320 times and the total number of visits recorded was just over 101,000 so there was some significant recovery.  2015 has not seen the same level of improvement but there has been consolidation.  I have posted 311 times and the number of reported visits is 106,600, an increase of just 5.5%.

These are the Top Ten posts of 2015:

No. 1 

Gaudi Casa Batlo Barcelona Catalonia Spain

Catalonia, Barcelona and Antoni Gaudi

No change at the top this year and this post has recorded 8,715 visits which is over 3,000 more than last.  I posted this in August 2013 following a week touring Catalonia and pulling in a visit to Barcelona along the way.

I’d like to think that this is because it is a knowledgeable and scholarly assessment of Gaudi’s architectural contribution to the urban World but I think it is more likely because the image attracts visitors as it easily found in a Google search and people seem to like it because it has been copied several times!

No. 2

royal-garden-party

Royal Garden Party

5,870 hits, up from 3,300 and staying in the Top Ten for the sixth successive year which by that measure makes it my most successful post.

In total it has 17,800 visits which makes all time second after my post about  Norway, Haugesund and the Vikings. This one has been around for a long time ( since June 2009) and 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. 3

Vesuvius Naples Italy

Mount Vesuvius

This one has been around a while as well and with 1,610 hits and a fifth year in the Top Ten is becoming a stubborn stayer.  A bit of a surprise to me really 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. 4

Antoni Gaudi and me

Alternative Twelve Treasures of Spain – Antoni Gaudi

A second top ten appearance again this year for the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi  (maybe I am an expert on Gaudi after all).  After I had taken a look at the official Twelve Treasures of Spain I thought it might be fun to draw up my own personal alternative list.  I included Antoni Gaudi in a general rather than a specific way.  I posted this in March 2013 and this year with 1,455 visits it has risen five places to number four.

No. 5

Angry Man Skelligs Viewpoint Kerry Ireland

Ireland, Ring of Kerry and I Temporarily Overcome My Fear of Dogs.

This is the first of this year’s new entries with a surprising 1,325 visits and no convincing explanation why that should be.

I visited Southern Ireland in June 2014 and wrote several posts that I personally would consider more interesting than this encounter with a grumpy street entertainer and a worn out old collie dog.  Once again, and rather disappointingly, I suspect it isn’t the words but the picture that grabs attention.  It was a map of the Ring of Kerry which I noticed displayed on the front of a shop.

No. 6

L'Escala Costa Brava

Catalonia, In Search of Norman Lewis

The second of this year’s new entries and I must confess that I am rather pleased about this one.

There are some posts that I have written that I would like people to read and this is one of few that have achieved that. Before visiting Catalonia in 2014 I read the book ‘Voices of the Old Sea’ by Norman Lewis which is an account of the Costa Brava in the 1940s and the approach of mass tourism.  In this post I attempted some research and some interpretation of the book and the area.  It has recorded 977 visits and in this case I like to think that this is because of the subject rather than the pictures.

No. 7

wieliczka salt mine

Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine

This post has also been a consistent performer with five years in the top ten but in terms of visits is this year’s biggest loser, down almost 3,200 hits to just 790, dropping four places from last year’s number two and if that slide continues I expect it to be gone next year.  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. 8

Benidorm Hotel Terrace c1960 

Every Picture Tells a Story – Benidorm c1960

I posted this in March 2010 and it finally made the top ten last year and I am glad to see it there for a second year. It has stayed in this year with 740 visits.   It is actually one of my personal favourites  and is a story about the Spanish seaside resort of  Benidorm inspired by some photographs that I came across of my grandparents on holiday there in about 1960.

No. 9

Volare Domenigo Modungo Polignano a Mare

Italy and Puglia, Domenico Modungo and the Eurovision Song Contest

The last of the new entries and another one that I am pleased about. This is the story of the Italian singer Domenico Modungo.   Domenico who? I hear you ask.  Well, let me tell you that Domenico is renowned for writing and performing what is claimed to be the most famous, most copied, most successful ever Eurovision Song Contest entry and most lucrative in terms of revenue, Italian popular music songs of all time.  Think about it…have you got it…

“Nel blu dipinto di blu” or most popularly known as “Volare”.  With 656 visits it has only just about crept in to the top ten but I am happy to see it there.

No. 10

Tourists The Grand Tour of Europe

Travel Journal

Seventh place with 636 hits and four years in the top ten which demonstrates the importance of an ‘About’ page.

Dropping out of the Top Ten this year are:  Moscow and Lenin’s Mausoleum, The Twelve Treasures of Spain – Seville Cathedral and Weekly Photo Challenge – Signs

If you have read one of these posts or any of the 1,785 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.”  

On reflection, not a bad year but I still haven’t been Freshly Pressed (Discovered).  Do I care? Well, maybe a little bit!

I’d be interested to know about other people’s most popular posts in 2015 and the possible explanations why?  Comment and let me know.  I’m a sucker for statistics!

home-statistics

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.

Read the full story…

Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine

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.

Read the full story…

Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Going Underground at Wieliczka

“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’

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 of dropping down towards the centre of the earth.

The hotel clerk tried to persuade me to book a personal taxi tour but at forty zlotys more each (£10) this seemed an unnecessary expense so I booked the regular tour instead.  This meant that to begin with there was a couple of shuttle bus journeys to reach the final rendezvous point across the river Vistula on the western side of the town where we separated into two groups, one for the Nazi concentration camp tour to Auschwitz and the other to the salt mines just a fifteen minute ride away on the outskirts of the city.

It was still rather overcast as we drove the short distance but it was much warmer today and the sun was beginning to compete with the milky clouds by the time that we arrived at the Wieliczka Salt Mine where we left the bus and walked to the entrance to meet our guide for the tour. We were soon to be swallowed up underground so the weather was actually rather irrelevant.

The mine is in the suburb town of Wieliczka that is now part of the greater Krakow metropolitan area and since the thirteenth century has continuously produced high quality table salt.  It has been one of the world’s oldest operating  mines producing salt for seven hundred years until commercial mining was discontinued in 1996 due to low prices and flooding problems, followed by formal closure in 2007.  It now produces just sixty tonnes of salt a day which sounds rather a lot but this is only a by-product of routine maintenance operations.

The largest underground salt mine in the World is in Goderich in Ontario Canada which produces twenty-five thousand tonnes of salt every day, which might sound like an awful lot but is only about 5% of Worldwide production!  That is a lot of salt!

Journey to the Centre of the Earth…

 

Today 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.

After we were assigned an English speaking guide who welcomed us on the tour and then the visit began with a long descent down a vertical shaft which meant negotiating over three hundred vertiginous wooden steps that zigzagged past fifty-four platforms down to the first level.  From here we were about to enter a labyrinth of tunnels and interconnecting chambers that are over three hundred kilometers long and probably puzzling enough to confuse even the Minotaur of Greek legend.

The Underground Pope and a Cathedral…

 wieliczka salt mine

We walked through disused and exhausted chambers, passing by whole forests of timber props and retaining walls and through heavy wooden doors to reach the first of the sights, the Copernicus Chamber, where for those of us who were expecting statues similar to white marble we were disappointed by the rather lack luster grey of the rock salt figure and the guide explained that this was due to clay impurities and other contamination in the rock.

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 where there was a light show accompanied by a rendition of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, which to all of us seemed to be a rather strange choice of music.

After that there were a few remaining tunnels and chambers and the inevitable gift shops and then thankfully a lift to take us back to the surface, which was preferable of course to having to climb back up the eight hundred steps.

Wieliczka – Discover The Treasure…

Wieliczka Salt Mine advert

Back on the surface of the earth the sky was clearing nicely now and blue patches were rapidly replacing the unwelcome clouds and by the time the coach dropped us off on the edge of the old city centre the sun was shining and the temperature was rising nicely.

In the square we selected a restaurant for lunch based on the contents of the menu board outside but then managed to find ourselves in the wrong place.  We really wanted the Krakow specialty of soup in a hollowed out bread bun so we had to do the embarrassing thing and leave as soon as we had realised the error and relocate ourselves in the correct place next door.

Here we were served our preferred lunch where it was fun trying to anticipate how long it would be before the hot liquid would leak through the crust and end up spilling the scalding liquid spectacularly into our laps.  We wondered if we could attempt this at home but I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying it with a loaf of thin crust supermarket ‘economy’ loaf..

Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine