Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Friday, June 3. The Salt Mine Tour and a leisure afternoon and evening

Friday, June 2. Maybe. I have no concept of dates while on vacation!

We ate our first breakfast in our Hotel's breakfast room. We felt that, at 5 Euro per person, it was rather pricey, so we have mostly eaten in our room, or had other stuff out. But it was okay. No hot food but some hot dog - looking "sausages", which we did not eat, but Mike found some delightful cheeses, I had meat and cheese, tomato, we had toast/bread, orange juice, yogurt, hot cocoa for Mike, I had a few cocoa puffs, too. It was a pretty good variety of stuff.

Then we caught a taxi (it was raining quite steadily) to the University Hotel on the West side of town at 10 a.m. We met up there with Oana and the rest of the BBU (Babes-Bolyai University) participants of International Week and traveled in two large vans 30 minutes to the Turda Salt Mines. There were a lot of stairs for Mike, but also an elevator for the longest drop/climb. I took the stairs going and coming. It was a huge place and the tour was very impressive. A lot of walking and climbing for  Mike, but he made it.
There is a wooden walkway that goes all around the big open area. Rickety and very scarey to walk on! But I walked over to a different (less-busy) set of stairs and walked down. Mike took the elevator. This is looking DOWN to the floor, but it's not the very bottom. Yet.

This is kind of blurry, but stalactites cling to the roof of this cave. Salt ones, of course.

This is from the floor area. Games and activities for the TONS of noisy school kids who were there. Pool, miniature golf...

A ferris wheel kind of contraption...

And a Bridge that is fully 10 stories LOWER than the previous pictures.

Here, you can rent boats and paddle around in the salty lake.

Looking up to the ceiling area.  It's well-lit. Imagine how dark it would be if the lights went out!  And will all those school kids. Wow. That would be very loud and very dark.

I took this from the little salt "island" in the middle of the lake. Miners threw the less-pure stuff down this big shaft, making a big mound. Then, later, the shaft was flooded on purpose and the lake around it formed.  If you look really closely, you can see teeny tiny people standing on the brink of that ledge over looking the island and lake. This place is BIG. AND it is ALL hand-mined. No machinery carved ANY of this mine.  Totally by hand--over many, many years, of course.

Walking down the stairs to begin the mine tour.  I marveled at how corroded the electric lights were, yet still worked. I am sure they must have to replace them all the time.

Salt will liquify when temps warm, then slide down the wall, re-crystallizing on the bottom.  There is natural wind flow through this mine, too.

This is a "balcony" overlooking an echo chamber, but I think it is actually the top part of the "lake" chamber. Maybe. I didn't get a chance to look closely at the mine schematic drawings I passed on the way out of the visitor's center.

There was equipment in the form of pulleys in the ceiling.

There were informative plaques on the walls.

They had tracks, and carts. Horses actually ran the pulleys. In total darkness, no less.

See how the crystals are re-forming on the ceiling?

There was even a church down there for the miners.

After the Mine tour, we were back at the BBU office of international affairs for me to sign paperwork, receive my money and a gift (large photo book of botanical gardens). That was about 3:30 or so, and I was done with all requirements. They paid me 2080 Euro in cash. That's almost $2,000. That's a lot of cash to haul around!! And what a help that will be to pay for our extravagent European vacation!

Ever seen a grand piano filled with dirt and plants?  Seems a sacrilege.

We were hungry and ate dinner at yet another place. It was still raining lightly, so we went inside to eat after waiting (and Mike was cooling off from walking and sweating in the humidity, though it is quite cool) outside at their sidewalk tables under big umbrellas for 20 minutes without being served or even acknowledged or even given a menu. I guess the outdoor tables are "closed" when it is raining?

One time we sat down at a restaurant's sidewalk tables to eat our pastries we had picked up elsewhere from a window and have some cherries for a quick lunch, and were immediately given a menu by the waitress from that restaurant. We bought hot chocolate to go with the pastry, and it let us know that the restaurant tables were ONLY for restaurant customers. That's why we were surprised not to be served when we sat down at this place in their side walk serving area. Our food at this place (pork ribs for me and fish and chips for Mike, pear "Cappy" bottled drinks for both) was great! They even substituted grilled vegetables for french fries in my meal. I have discovered that inside dining usually has loud music in these bar and grill/pub - type places, so I prefer outside where its quieter, but only if we are not on the major thoroughfare streets with noisy and smelly traffic.

After dinner, we walked slowly home. Mike knees were sore and tired, and it was still drizzling rain most of the time. We played "GeoGuessr" on my tablet to TRY and keep Mike from falling asleep too early. It was only 9 pm! But he really did just fall asleep,while doing that, and while watching TV. I listened to my audio book since it was to expire in a day. Its a Nick and Nora mystery. Cute. I finished it at midnight, we had prayer and went to bed. This night we decided to try sleeping without the air conditioner being on (it's a bit noisy), but by 4 am it was stuffy, so Mike turned it back on. I wore earplugs all night again. They are a little uncomfortable, but it does muffle his loud snoring. Our poor neighbors!

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