Well, the title says it all. We listened to everyone, including Father Tomasz, and left early for the Salt Mines and the tour from hell.
Editors note: The Wieliczka salt mine dates from the 13th Century, and was in operation up until 2007. Over the centuries, the miners carved statues, as well as four chapels, completely made out of salt. Since the majority of these miners were Catholic, almost everything in here relates to the Catholic Church. It is one of Poland’s most popular tourist attractions.
Even without breakfast and only 2 cups of coffee……I was ready for anything but this. When we parked, we had to pay the attendant, but he didn’t speak English, so we walked up some stairs and around a loop and then down some stairs to the ticket window. It took 10 minutes and we ended up 30 feet from where we parked and missed the 8:30 tour by a minute.
Now you know me, mister patience, I wasn’t too happy because I wasn’t sure I wanted to be here in the first place. We stood at the front of “no line” for awhile as other non-group tourists arrived for the tour. I must say that at 9:00 sharp we were led in to a chamber and waited a few minutes before we had to descend 390 stairs. With my arthritis it’s not so bad going down stairs, but 390?
At the bottom we were led thru a bunch of corridors, felt like we were there an hour until we saw the first SALT statue of fat man who was important.
My ear phone kept falling out! So I don’t know what she said. I decided that we should keep close to her so we could at least hear. A few more tunnels and the tour really heated up, when we saw the ropes and pullies and fake horses and cave men and more SALT statues of fat people, but important fat people.
Now, rock salt is dark grey and black and is hardened rock and I won’t bore you with all the things I learned, but some of it was interesting. I did feel like a hostage because after less than an hour on the tour I felt like it was way past the hour and a half this tour would take. Now I was starting to panic because we wanted to go to noon mass at the Saint John Paul II center.
Susan kept telling me it was only 10 and I kept telling her that her watch was broken. I decided to get friendly with the guide, her name was Natasha, no this is no joke, she was from Romania, and to be exact she was born in Transylvania. I backed off a little remembering that she told everyone not to take her picture and she loved caves. I can’t wait to see those pictures or not
see those I took with her in it.
The only real thing we cared about was the large church made all of salt. They have a chapel in the John Paul II Center like that. I asked the vamp if we were close and she said we where but had to walk down another 250 stairs to get there and after there were another 150+ more stairs before the end. Now…….that’s a 40 story building folks.
Now I start playing the arthritis card and started to slowly and quietly whimper a little…..rather loud, actually….. and Susan panicked not knowing my plan. I saw someone down here in the church in a wheel chair and he had to come in by elevator and that’s the place I wanted to be. Get me out of here! No one was paying attention and Natasha said you had to be registered to use the lifts. Great.
I asked how many more tunnels till we got out and she said three. She lied……..and when we did finish, she dropped the bomb. They make you go thru each gift store, restaurant and shop in order to get out. The walk was about a ½ mile. The bomb was that when you got to the lifts, it could take a 1/2 hour to an hour to get in a lift. She told us to go stand in line when we got there and it was 1st come first serve.
Wrong! We were the first people in line and a tour group muscled their way in and they got to go first. We weren’t too happy, but let them go first and as luck would have it, there was room for 2 more on the last one. The ride up was in a mine shaft and the car held 8 people elbow to elbow and you could not see a thing except cracks of light now and then. We made it as we were left off in another gift shop area, and I said to Susan, bring some SALT home from the apartment.
We left and when we got in the car the clock said 11:00 AM. I thought it was afternoon. The longest morning of my life was only 1 1/2 hours!
With so many new prayer requests for Saint John Paul II and Divine Mercy, we had decided to go to the shrine for mass to pray and leave them there to be read at mass. After mass it was off to Saint Faustinas’ to pray the Divine Mercy and leave intentions.
From here our plan was to go to the church of the Rock and pray the rosary. Which we did………but not before stopping for some perogi’s at a real off the beaten path place. The place was packed and we finally ordered and only got ½ the order. We ate and left ½ full.
We found the church and accomplished what we came for, except that mass started in the beginning of our prayers, so we finished outside next to the statue of Saint John Paul II.
Back at the apartment we did a few things and went to eat, since today’s intake of food consisted of one piece of cake and six perogi’s split between the two of us. We went to Corlione’s, one of our favorite restaurants. Susan had Octopus, freshly grilled with lemon and olive oil and I had a homemade spinach gnocchi and salad. As usual we had wine and left $29.00 poorer. DIETYILK?
Both were outstanding and finally satisfied we headed back for a good night’s sleep.
The following was sent to us from an old friend who teaches in Costa Rica, and we have not seen each other in over 30 years, but he found me on facebook and we have been writing and praying for each other ever since.
“It doesn’t make one holier to kneel where a saint has knelt, but it is
Those words are so true. Yes, I want to be holy, but the holiness comes
from within and not from outside the heart. Being holy is denying myself,
picking up my daily crosses, and walking the painful journey of the Holy Cross.
I only wish being holy was as simple as praying in the same spot of a
Through the Grace from God may we all become Saints,
Susan & Tom
May God Bless Each and Every One Of You!
Tom & Susan Melillo
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 (USA)