Krakow the First
How man are you? Well, if you fill this shotglass all the way, you are as man as Jozefa Stalina. Zu Stalina!
That's the medium. The message? Thus:
Vodka Zoladkowa Gorzka. Literally, "Stomach Vodka." In a previous entry, I mention how Poles, on trains, have a tendency to recommend me their favorite vodka and the BEST MIXER FOR THAT VODKA AND FOR THAT VODKA ONLY. Well, for the Stomach Vodka, we skipped that whole "mixer" thing, because Stalin was watching and Stalin has no time for pansies.
Our host the first, Shane from Canada, goes to Stalin, as does his ladyfriend Anka.
Mike takes the next train to the gulag:
We were all holding up fine - these shots make it seem like "OMG CRAZY KRAKOW OOOHHH PARTY PARTY PARTY" when in reality I had a small bottle of vodka, and a large shotglass, and we were all huddled around a table in Shane's apartment. Such is Eastern Europe. I finalize the event.
Now what would seem like an ordinary ascension to Stalin level was anything but, for me at least. Apparently, much like Majdanek, Stalin had "other plans" for me. Those plans? To fool my immune system into thinking he was an an infection. The result? I took the Bolshevik express train to the Hive Gulag. Don't think I just turned "red" by coincidence. Mikhail Gorbachev, your ass is mine.
Shane went to bed before we did, while Mike and I stayed awake waiting for the hives to subsede. Shane never knew about this, and was wondering the next morning why were saying "Are you warm" and "Is it bumpy or smooth." No, it wasn't smooth. It was SMOOOVE. Fresh.
OK, so, you're a 14th century king of Poland. What do you do?
1) Fight off Tatars
2) Invite Jews so you can practice Usury.
3) Excavate some crazy ass kitschy salt mine
4) All of the above.
CORRECT ANSWER FOUR MOTHERFUCKERS. The emphasis herein, however, is on answer 3. Salt Mines. We thought they were bullshitting us? Mines? Salt? Didn't add up. Mike and I take the test.
And the grade?
Yep, them's some gosh-durn salt mines. Equipped with a bathroom, for, um, your pleasure I suppose.
What do you think, Jesus?
"THE MINE IS JESUS APPROVED. SOMEONE WANT TO GET ME SOME WATER?"
So the deal: the Salt Mine is yadda yadda years old and there's a lot of salt and SALT WAS VERY VALUABLE AT ONE TIME IT WAS MORE VALUABLE THAN GOLD blah blah blah, et. f'n c. And the miners did their best homage to Lot's wife by carving lots of things. So then why the wax sculptures of working miners?
I don't know.
Miner: What does that scroll say boss? Does it say I get an extra portion of pig fat for this All Saint's Festival.
Boss: Um, err, no, it says that, ummm. It says that I'm the big boss because I have a curly wig, and you have to get back into the mine and work and while working you PRAY FOR PIG FAT and give me a tithing to make it come true. Hehehehehe, man I'm so glad you serfs are illiterate.
And it must have been some hard work these miners did. Our tour guide let us play with the antique machines.
(Hint: if you ever go to Wielicka, go to the Museum tour afterwards. No one does because they're already walked two miles and are tired, and you're alone with your tour guide and she'll give you salt crystals and play with old delicate stuff that, while large, you are more than capable of breaking. And she'll tell you great jokes. Q. What do American beer and sex in a canoe have in common? A. They're both fucking close to water.)
But, anyhow, the mines are littered with these salt sculptures of the following things:
2. Since this is Poland, you also got some JPII
3. Gnomes, of course.
The gnomes lit up and did a little dance, too.
4. Copernicus, you know, the dude that invented GINGERBREAD.
Serf: Queen, I present you your diamond. I found it in a salt mine.
Queen: Nice job, dude. Too bad I'm a PILLAR OF SALT and therefore CANNOT MOVE. Can one of you assholes snatch some chocolate?
All hail the Salt King.
Mike tastes the saltwater from an underground stream. He is revolted. WHO WOULDA THUNK IT!??!!?!?!!1111
And what's a former communist country without the outdated monumentalist idol to the GLORY OF THE WORKERS? The answer? Russia. But we're in Wielicka, Poland, where capitalism is now firmly entrenched and you get overpriced ham and cheese flavored potato chips when 200 meters underground. Suck on that, communist legacy!
Korean graffiti, 200 meters underground. The Koreans and the Gnomes are jockeying for space. Quick, someone call the UN peacekeepers!
So, goofiness aside, luckily we got this pic. There are chapels carved in salt, cafeterias carved in salt, what was once a whorehouse carved in salt (truth), and a huge underground church which is kind of freakish. Mike and I manage to take a well-composed photo. Kind of.
Yeah, the chandelier is salt too.
That's all for now. There's pictures uploading from the rest of our jaunt in Krakow - sites around town, mounds, steel works, Auschwitz/Birkenau, and other matters. We leave for Prague in about 3 hours. Goodbye Krakow