In the town of Wieliczka (20 minutes outside Krakow) there's a place where you can journey to the centre of the earth - 300 meters/1000 feet underground, to be precise - and lick the floors, ceiling, and walls.
It's Poland's 700 year old salt mine, which only stopped producing table salt six years ago, and is so much more magical than you ever thought a salt mine could be.
First you descend down these steps, and arrive in a cool, dark landing. Your tour guide leads you through winding wooden tunnels - wood, because it's preserved by salt and doesn't rust like metal.
Slowly, salt begins to surround you, growing like a cauliflower fungus on the wooden beams, sparkling when you walk past.
And then you emerge here - in the chuch of St. Kinga - made entirely out of salt by three regular miners (who, incredibly, never worked together on the church at the same time!)
The crystals in the chandeliers, the sculptures and tiled floors, the altars and stairs. It's all NaCl - regular old table salt.
Once you've picked your jaw up off the floor, departed the salt church, and reached the bottom of the mine there is a children's museum, spa, restaurants, gift shops, and conference and event spaces (our tour guide had her prom there! How cool is that?) And of course, plenty of walls to be licked.
Who knew a salt mine could be so cool?
If you never get the chance to visit (which I highly recommend you do), you can take a virtual tour with this impressive iPhone, iPad, and Android app.
transport / To get to Wieliczka Salt Mine & Auschwitz, and for our airport transfers (75 Pln/€20 each way), we used a private driver who I would highly recommend. Paul was very punctual, friendly, and accomodating. For a full day of transport to Wieliczka & Auschwitz we paid 600 Pln/€140 (less than a bus tour) and Paul guided us through the admissions procedures at both sites. Plus, we got a taste of local hospitality that was top notch. Thanks Paul!
tips / Bring a sweater, the mine is temperature controlled to be chilly. And bring some extra cash - licking the walls makes you thirsty!