I have spent the majority of my life in Poland. I moved from one city to another and travelled to many more of them. When you travel in Poland you notice a pattern of building in the biggest cities — each of them has an old town. My favourite part of Poland in Warsaw is a perfect example to illustrate it.
I will probably never stop being amazed by the beautiful medieval architecture located between newer high-rise buildings. I can spend hours and hours walking among magical tenements, which all look like small private castles. The city’s rich history has me feeling like I have just stepped inside an old novel written in the Middle Ages.
I have walked these old streets thousands of times, but I discover something new that draws my attention every time. For example, a small workshop run by an elderly man whose profession is dying because of the lack of industry demand. My steps follow my eyes. Usually, I find myself lost between tiny streets without any sense of direction. But that’s fine; sometimes having no sense of direction can sharpen another sense, allowing me to appreciate time and realize how fast everything changes. I travel to Warsaw twice a year and each visit surprises me with higher buildings, newer trains, and faster roads.
Above ground, Poland is made of old towns within quickly growing cities. Underground, within the Kracow metropolitan area, is the Wieliczka Salt Mine. A wooden staircase with 380 steps takes all of the adventurers, like me, into a beautiful, salt-made world.
The mine has a labyrinth of tunnels, about 3.5 kilometres of travel underground (thankfully, there are tour guides who make sure nobody gets lost). This fascinating trip through the many chambers and galleries marks chapels with altarpieces and figures, statues and monuments, as well as underground lakes.
My favourite one is a dreamily-lit dwarves’ cave, which made me feel like Snow White.
At the end of the tour, there is even an average-sized Catholic church, which holds mass every Sunday.
In addition, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is like an underground heaven with its microclimate, providing many health properties for treating allergies.
Coming back from medieval Warsaw and heavenly Wieliczka to the reality of jet lag takes some time. However, getting used to the feeling that my loved ones are 7,000 km away from me takes much more.