Today we would be rolling out of Krakow and onto Vienna, but only on the overnight train so we had time for a day trip to the Krakow salt mines. We went with a small tour and had a lively and knowledgeable guide. The mines themselves are huge, the ocean having dried up millions of years ago to leave a rich seam for the future. In the times gone past the mine supplied a great deal of wealth to the local area and it was joked that you either had, were currently or would be in the future working at the mines. The conditions of mining were made dangerous by methane leakages and tunnel collapses but otherwise were relatively pleasant compared to the coal mines of the UK as salt does not throw up the same sort of dangerous particulates. With time on their hands the miners have carved various sculptures out of the lower grade salt and we saw dwarfs, dragons and famous people enshrined in salt. To maintain these the humidity and temperature is carefully controlled. More impressive was the cathedral that had been carved out. This cavernous space seemed out of place so far underground and it is still used to this day for weddings - an impressive location indeed. The excavation of salt has dried up now (sorry for the pun!) as salt has been made virtually worthless by the gigantic supplies from China but there is some production as brine is pumped out of the mines and it is unfit to be washed into rivers so the water is evaporated and salt produced. However, the  adornments to the mine continue and our guides father had carved a commemorative plaque only the previous year. Pure salt is a clear crystal but mostly it has some sort of impurity which gives it colour, but also diminishes its usefulness. So the miners concentrated on the purest seams within the salt band and this has led to seven distinct levels to the mines. We were shown around some of the first three levels, about 2km of walking, which was only 2% of the entire mine - very big!

After our tour was walked through the main square and around the old town, which seemed like it had not benefited from the influx of the tourist pound as much as the newer square.Yesterday we had popped into a nice shop down an alley selling all sorts of ceramic items, generally animals. The person in charge explained that they were all made locally in Krakow and that all the tourists seemed to take a fancy to the striking red bull and we were no exception. We popped in for a second look and to weigh up in our minds whether we wanted to be carrying a large breakable item for the rest of the trip but it looked every bit as good as it had before. Not really sure if haggling was expected we asked for their best price and were pleased with the instant offer of 15% off. Delighted we asked if they took credit cards but they didn't. We then hunted through our wallets to see if we could meet the price and came up 9 short and sheepishly asked if they would accept what we had. With good humour they took pity on us and still seemed pleased to have sold one of their more expensive items and provided us with some mail order information for when we wanted the matching set. We finished up with some food overlooking the main square and then headed up for train 23, our overnight trip to Vienna. This train trip wasn't the highlight of the trip. Firstly it wasn't as long as we had hoped, with the clocks moving forward overnight the 6.22 arrival time felt every bit like the 5.22 it would have been the week before. This wasn't helped by the noisy teenagers in the cabin next door, the very hot rooms and the stop start nature of the trip.