Portia, Poland III

Portia King in Poland Pt3

 

To mark one month until the start of the summer holidays here in Poland, our group of volunteers decided to head back to where our great adventures in Europe started – Kraków.

This time, we made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wieliczka Salt Mines, which are an incredibly underrated attraction in my opinion.

I’ve seen some impressive sites before, like the colosseum in Rome and the Parthenon in Athens, but never heard raving reviews about a salt mine so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The size of the mine was inconceivable until I had actually descended the 378 steps to get to the first of nine levels, 64 metres deep. Our 3-kilometre tour took us deep into the mine, although there was so much more that we didn’t see. Highlights included licking many walls and seeing the salty Pope John Paul II statue in the mines cathedral.

It wasn’t just a normal workplace. Horses lived down there transporting salt without ever seeing daylight, workers prayed in the many churches and artists worked to carve impressive sculptures and paintings.

The mine goes down to 327m below ground level which is deeper than the height of the Eiffel Tower (301m tall). Luckily there is an elevator up to ground level after eventually reaching 135m below ground level, otherwise I may have had to book into the Salt Mine hotel for the night.

Our next long weekend adventure was Berlin. I haven’t been to a city that I haven’t enjoyed yet, but Berlin is the best so far. I couldn’t have imagined a better city to celebrate my 18th birthday.

The young and lively, yet rich cultural atmosphere of the city motivated me to see as much as possible in the three days my friends and I had.

 

We started with the Museum Island, as the name suggests, it is an island with five museums, two of which we visited. The Pergamon Museum and Neues Museum show Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Islamic exhibitions which proves just how diverse Berlin is.

I think everyone would be able to find something of interest in at least one of these museums, even the buildings themselves are beautiful and must have a history of their own.

One of the most magnificent pieces of art I’ve seen so far this year has to be the enormous Ishtar Gate, a reconstruction of one of the gates to Babylon, originally built in 575 BC. The deep blue and gold colours were just dazzling.

Following our noses, we found Hackescher Markt, a fragrant and crowded bunch of food stalls. This was like another museum in itself where we tried different tasty Lebanese dishes and german desserts. The transition from Polish Zloty to Euro is rather heartbreaking but a €4.50 lunch is nothing to complain about.

The 42-bed dorm room at The Heart of Gold Hostel doesn’t sound like a fun time, but I can say that it was much better than we ever would have expected.

For €10 per night, I wasn’t expecting much but I was lucky enough to sleep through the whole night, and working wifi and clean bathrooms were a bonus. The hostel experience is still something I enjoy, as you meet people from all over the world and it feels like a cooler version of school camp, but next month I start my two months traveling around Eastern Europe and I will surely be sick of sharing rooms and explaining that New Zealand doesn’t have kangaroos or dangerous animals like in Australia. 

 

We started with the Museum Island, as the name suggests, it is an island with five museums, two of which we visited. The Pergamon Museum and Neues Museum show Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Islamic exhibitions which proves just how diverse Berlin is.

I think everyone would be able to find something of interest in at least one of these museums, even the buildings themselves are beautiful and must have a history of their own.

One of the most magnificent pieces of art I’ve seen so far this year has to be the enormous Ishtar Gate, a reconstruction of one of the gates to Babylon, originally built in 575 BC. The deep blue and gold colours were just dazzling.

Following our noses, we found Hackescher Markt, a fragrant and crowded bunch of food stalls. This was like another museum in itself where we tried different tasty Lebanese dishes and german desserts. The transition from Polish Zloty to Euro is rather heartbreaking but a €4.50 lunch is nothing to complain about.

The 42-bed dorm room at The Heart of Gold Hostel doesn’t sound like a fun time, but I can say that it was much better than we ever would have expected.

For €10 per night, I wasn’t expecting much but I was lucky enough to sleep through the whole night, and working wifi and clean bathrooms were a bonus. The hostel experience is still something I enjoy, as you meet people from all over the world and it feels like a cooler version of school camp, but next month I start my two months traveling around Eastern Europe and I will surely be sick of sharing rooms and explaining that New Zealand doesn’t have kangaroos or dangerous animals like in Australia.