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Practicing Patience in Poland

We've visited the famous Salt Mine at Wieliczka (pronounced: Velly EEch Ka) saving money by taking the train and getting there on our own, instead of the organized tour advertised at 100 PLN (about $50) we did it for more like $35 each. The Salt Mine, like Kazimierz, also listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, dates back to the 13th century and is quite the experience, though not recommended for claustrophobics. A highlight is the cavernous underground Chapel of St Kinga . & The salt sculptures, made by the miners themselves, include famous Polish heros, saints and even gnomes. & If you are a single woman, and want to be married, you are supposed to kiss the gnome on the left, with his arms outstretched. (Yeah, right. Where have I heard that before?) Actually, so many women have kissed him over the centuries that his mustache melted away, and it's no longer allowed. Here's one of Byron's photos, which he had to pay 10 PLN (about $5) for the privilege of taking:

Wieliczka Salt Mine Sculptures by KPBS, on Flickr

I am also fascinated by thedarkly atmospheric pubs and clubs of Krakow, most of which are located underground, in labyrinthine caverns. Andrzej Gibek, age 26, whose family owns the lovely studio flat we are renting (which we found on Craigs List), took us last night to Ministerstwo . I thought it was wild, but it was still early. Action doesn't start here until at least 10pm. According to Andrzej, there are more pubs and clubs located around the Old Town Market Square than there are in all of Warsaw! Andrzej's favorites include Midgard on ul. Szitolna, Cien on ul. Sw. Jana, Prozak on pl. Dominikanski, and Bledne Kolo , which is not in a basement--for that club, you go upstairs. & But for most of the best pubs and clubs, Andrzej says always go downstairs--and don't be afraid! &

This weekend, we are heading south, to the Tatra Mountains, where Kafka once stayed in a sanatorium. More on that soon.

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