Friday 21st July!
We left our rather lovely studio flat in Krakow this morning, heading towards the Wieliczka salt mines. In his enthusiasm to get outside, Lex walked right into the glass front door of the apartment block. It was a confusing morning for him. Although, in his defence, it was a very clean glass door.
Our Airbnb host had cheerfully messaged us this morning about our check out, mentioning that the weather was going to be great today – much better than yesterday!
“It’s 35 degrees!” said Morgan in panicked tones as we packed the car. “What was she playing at, calling this good weather?! I want to go to arctic circle again.”
We drove the half an hour to the salt mines, which we planned to visit one after the other, as (of course) the mines were not dog friendly. Morgan went down first for the 2pm tour, whilst Lex and I collapsed into the nearby shade and sat around panting. Dear lord, it was hot.
Eventually, hunger inspired me to move, and I headed back to the car to see what I could rustle up for lunch. Opening the boot, I was greeted with a blast of hot air, much like when you open the oven during cooking, only hotter. We’d already put our camping gas in the shade under the car, after realising it has a storage limit of 50 degrees. The car was way hotter than 50 degrees. It was like death.
I grabbed a jar of peanut butter and some crisp bread for lunch, making sure to move the eggs under the car least they actually cook inside their shells.
The salt mine tour was 2.5 hours long, so including ticket buying time and the all important “dog handover interval” we spun the whole thing out until 7.30pm, despite arriving around 1.30 in the afternoon. The mines were pretty amazing though. Up to 327 meters below ground, literally everything down there is made of salt, including the walls, ceiling, floor, chandeliers, statues, and the tour guides. Ok, this last one might not be true. But they do allow you to taste the walls which are, unsurprisingly, salty.
The highlight was a huge, fully functioning church 100 metres underground, entirely made from… you guessed it, salt. You can even get married down there!
There were also a couple of Dead Sea style salt lakes, eerily clear in their underground chambers. They used to offer boat trips on the exceedingly buoyant lakes, until a group of soldiers got stuck under their capsized rowboat and drowned because they were unable to push themselves underwater long enough to escape the boat!
Also, while I took my turn down in the mines, a gang of fan-powered hang-gliders inexplicably swooped over Morgan’s head:
It was late by the time we got back on the road, and we were desperate to find somewhere to cook dinner. We pulled up into a small car park off a quiet street, and were bemused to find a group of young people standing around chatting.
“They look like they’re about the drive off” I said, as we debated the merits of this particular spot. “Oh wait, no, they’ve got drinks in their hands.”
Sure enough, as we cooked dinner groups of teenagers would pull up, stand around for a bit, then drive off again, screeching around the corner in a wholly unnecessary manner. 10 minutes later, the same car would appear again. At the peak of this frivolity there were 6 or 7 cars parked near us. Suddenly, they all left at once, but before we could breathe a sigh of relief more cars appeared, pumping loud obnoxious music into the quiet evening. Teenagers are the worst.
Actually, dinner was the worst. We hadn’t been food shopping for a few days, as we’d been enjoying eating out in Krakow’s delightful old town. Rummaging through our baking hot car boot, here’s what we came up with:
– 1 can of baked beans. Dodgy brand from the Baltic states. Swimming in greyish, thin, flavourless sauce.
– 2 cans of tuna. Also from dubious Baltic supermarkets. Grey and mushy.
– 1 pepper and 1 onion – reasonably good quality thanks to being carefully stored underneath the car during the hot part of the day.
This all got mixed together and heated up into an unappetising greyish mush, which we shovelled down whilst the teenagers revved their engines and drove around in circles for fun.
Obviously we couldn’t sleep there, so we drove off into the darkening night. We found a small gravel road leading to nowhere, which is generally perfect for sleeping.
“I’ll just park in line with these trees” shouted Morgan. I had got out the car to suss out the area while he parked. “Is it muddy over there?”
“Not really” I responded, and he drove towards the dark forest.
The distinctive noise of tires spinning and skidding in the mud cut through the pitch black night.
“You said it wasn’t muddy” Morgan shouted out the window as the wheels spun uselessly.
“I thought you were gonna reverse, not drive into the forest!” I shouted back. We were stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere. In Poland. At night. “Could this get any worse?!” I thought to myself, as mosquitoes started biting my bare ankles. Turns out, mud is the worst.
Morgan carefully considered the situation, then saved the day with some heroic driving, somehow escaping from the mud whilst I helped by panicking and flapping. Safe on solid ground, we settled down to sleep in the car, and a whole new problem emerged; it was still baking hot! We have bug screens for 3 of the 4 windows, but even with all these windows down it was still insufferably hot. Lex has a special cooling gel mat to sleep on, so he was happy, but Morgan was suffering.
“Hot cars are the worst!” he protested. “I can cope with teenagers and mud and even Baltic baked beans, just as long as it’s not hot!
We were in for one more surprise that night; Just after we’d settled down to sleep, a huge fork of lightning streaked across the sky, followed by a full-on thunder storm, and Morgan was quickly distracted by trying to capture the lightning on camera.
The rain poured down, sounding like bullets on the car roof. Of course this meant we needed to close all our carefully prepared open windows, but at least the thunderous storm cleared the humidity a little. It was actually kinda cosy, in the end.
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