Day 25: Last day in Krakow

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Underground Rynek Museum with remains of medieval shops and houses.

Today is our last day to enjoy the city of Krakow before we jump on planes and head back to Texas tomorrow morning. Jessi and I chose to spend the morning exploring two more museums. First up was the Underground Rynek Museum dedicated to the remains of the medieval square and marketplace buried just below the modern square and Cloth Hall. The ruins were only uncovered a little over ten years ago so the museum is very modern with lots of projections and animations to tell the stories from Medieval Krakow.

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Shoes in the Underground Rynek Museum

We saw the layers of the old cobblestone and wooden roads along with drainage ditches, burned relics of houses, and jewelry and pottery found during the excavation. The highlight of the museum was walking through the old merchant stalls which housed separate exhibits for each type of craftsmanship of the time. There were blacksmith, locksmith, cloth, and jeweler exhibits among others. My favorite of them was the cobbler’s shop because the display contained recognizable remnants of medieval shoes. All along the way, the museum had set up screens to display the townspeople walking by from the perspective of someone down in the shop stalls which was interesting to see.

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One sarcophagus of the many we encountered. Note how dark the room around it is.

The second museum visit of the day was to the Archaeological Museum. It was fairly cheap to get in so we figured we might as well explore it. As it turns out, museums can be pretty creepy when you are the only people in it and it’s pitch dark. The museum is housed in a working university so the setup is not ideal and we weren’t able to read the directional signs so we mostly had to guess which direction to go. When we got to the top of the stairs there was a museum worker waiting who pointed us toward a room. This room was as pitch dark as you can imagine and we really weren’t even sure what the museum had on display. We had already walked a few steps before the lights finally turned on revealing many cases of mummies, sarcophagiand Egyptian relics which caused us both to jump out of shock. The silence of the room was haunting as we walked around alone in near darkness since only the display cases shone dim lighting.

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One of the many statues in the archaeological museum.

Once we had seen everything in the room we continued down a long hallway which was gratefully well lit only to end up in another pitch dark room, again all alone. This room was even more haunting than the first with more sarcophagi and a projection of a skeleton illuminating one corner. At this point we were very unsure which direction we were supposed to proceed in and all we could see were a staircase leading into utter darkness and a door without markings. I tried the door first but there was a sign just in front of it on the other side. We were left with the stairs as our only option of escape. We walked sort of near to it while we discussed our options and then backed away slowly as we discussed our options. A few moments after we had walked away, the light to the stairs suddenly turned on which again caused us to jump. We slowly made our way down the stairs into the deafening silence only to find that the small basement room at the bottom was a dead end. At that point, we knew we would have to forge our way back through the creepy, silent rooms to find the main hallway we had entered from. You had better believe we didn’t waste any time in doing so.

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Attempting (and failing) to overcome my fear of mannequins.

The next exhibit traced the development of human clothing, food, and tools/weapons from the neolithic period through medieval times. In one room, we walked into the darkness only to find out that we were surrounded by human skeletons on all sides. I distinctly remember uttering the phrase, “It’s dark and we’re surrounded by human remains” because in the silence the eeriness crept in again. Since I have an irrational fear of mannequins I was not overly pleased to later find myself in a room surrounded by twenty or so different figures. This exhibit had more personnel so we didn’t feel entirely alone although we were still the only museum visitors. In the end, we made it through but if anyone is thinking about going to the Archaeological Museum, I would highly recommend taking a friend.

We finished off the day with a trip ending barbecue hosted by some of the faculty and students who we had met from the university. It was held at one of the school’s farms which currently has horses used for English riding lessons but will soon also house pigs for behavioral studies. We laughed and said our goodbyes before heading home to go to sleep early. We leave tomorrow morning for the airport at 3:30 AM and then we’re Dallas bound!

Ryczard (middle) led our trip to the farms and ranches.

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