Thursday, 10 April 2014

Where is Katowice

An hour and half distance from Krakow and Cieszyn (Border with Czech Republic) further 4 hours away from Capital Warsaw. Katowice is largest Upper Silesian city in Poland. I have spend six Months in this City as an Erasmus Exchange student at University of Economics. The city has given me lot in terms of Education, Culture know-how and most importantly friends to cheer around Europe, Latin America and Asia. As usual I made Katowice as my hub to catch nearby destinations around Poland,Scandinavian nations and far East Europe to Romania and Bulgaria. One of the most amazing thing of Katowice is it's Airport which offer's cheapest flying option in and out of City.

Katowice is more known as an Industrial city pooling in IT and host to business and Trade fair events rather than a Tourist Destination, Don't expect to find Castle's, landscapes, beaches or archaeological landmarks, compared to it's neighbouring cities Krakow, Worclaw, Gdansk, and Warsaw. That's the reason I have to come up with the title Where is Katowice?..
When I Tweeted +TravelPunter  I had to repeatedly answer to friends and Dearer ones to similar questions Why Katowice? what's going on there? Is there anything to see? Even Polish themselves never ever thought of spending a night in Katowice.

Well, while I am here now, why not to make good use of what it has to offer. For which I have compiled best attractions, which you shouldn't miss when you are in Katowice.

In front of Main Station
Huge Vagina -  When I arrived to Katowice Station, while waiting for my Student mentor to pick me up, I was admiring this newly build architecture called Gallery Katowice which is house to many international and local Brands. Furthermore it has quick passage to Katowice Main Train Station, and on the basement floor local bus ferries around city and to the Katowice Airport.

My mentor walked forwards me smiling saying "How do you like to see the Big Vagina" What I didn't get it was my reply she said we locals call it as "Big Vagina in front of Station" as we walked laughing on it further, I stopped to see what It seemed to me as there is a war going on with Cranes, Bulldozers and construction Trucks, digging, carving in to repave the street. By end of my Semester Term It turned out to be stunning with old fashioned street lights.

I waited few more days to explore city with my Travel Dude - 'Angel' she has always been with me on my Poland and Scandinavian destinations. On bright morning we took off on foot with our bags and handy camera towards,

Galleria Katowice (Huge Vagina)
Rynek -  literally means main Square as I mentioned earlier on previous post, Fairly we weren't impressed from what we saw, since it was getting facelift. We picked up free maps from Tourist office at Rynek 13, and turned towards the UFO looked alike architecture
Spodek - Image source from 
Spodek - (Flying Saucer) As called by locals, the shape resembles a UFO. Spodek Arena is a multipurpose complex includes gym, Ice Ring, and stages cultural and international Band events. When walked passed by it during night the illuminations emerged from it wont get you down to think as this saucer is about to take off.
Silesian Monument with Spodek 
Silesian Insurgents Monument - This monument is across Spodek which stands to commemorate the Silesian uprisings of 1919, 1920, and 1921 it symbolises three eagles wings flapping. It is the largest and heaviest monument in Poland. 
We stopped  few minutes to have a 360 degree view around, Spodek on our right, a long communist style building in front of us has puzzled me many times, as how many windows are there, and why I cannot see anyone outside? Is government official staff residence?

Behind us was Qubus Hotel, I have heard from my local friends that the sky bar on top 27 floor has a good view of city. We thought of splurging into it for a coffee.

Mariacka Street Image source via photographer Bobby Bradley
Walk at Mariacka Street - No matter what the occasion, if  you feel Bored or tired on any given day Mariacka Street has much to offer for everyones delight, well it's smallest night life street I have ever seen in Europe, but it's always buzzing with pubs, cafe's, and parties.

Night life in Katowice- The club's I would like recommend which I frequently visited at number one Club Pomarancza, at ul. matejki 3Where I ended up freely every Wednesday upon flashing students ID card. Spreaded 3 floors with different music on each, LED flash lights and Centre stage for girls only to shake in, Don't even try to get into stage if your male, The security at club are known for their worst action.
Klub Pomarancza
Well the other one I won't say it's great with it's music, or may be I was so frequent that I hear same music every time, the only reason I loved to visit is due to it's international atmosphere, The Kwadraty studenki club at Franciszkansa 10, has great international ambience, you can hear English as a common language spoken around you, as most of the Exchange and Erasmus parties end up here. Hssss! it's in basement of Student's dormitories, Aha.. that's the reason we ended up here often as it took less than one minute for us to reach there. 

* The dormitory above offers cheap 40PLN for overnight stay just asked at the reception, if you happen to make a friend at club who has free bed then I need not tell you the rest.

* Do take care of with broken glasses on the floor, if you notice one immediately notify the management, as I remember one of my friend getting deep cut's and bruises falling upon it.

Student Klub Kwadraty
Let's give a thought for a food :- If you are on a budget then few of the following places will be best suited for you to stock up.

A) Bonapetito- Remember the big Vagina as I mentioned earlier, Yes the Galleria Katowice at main station on top floor. Bonapetito offer's variety of  dishes at a cost of 3.29 PLN per 100 Grams, For 15 PLN you can fill the plate according to your taste with salad's, Baked fish, Fried Cauliflower or chicken legs. Flash your students card to get an extra discount.

B) Stolowka- Next to Club Pomarancza, It cater's Polish dishes at very affordable price. you can customise menu as per your taste. The below picture given chosen by us didn't cost more than 15PLN each.

C) Buddha - Offer's ethnic Indian cuisine, I usually stepped in for lunch buffet for 15PLN, After exchanging few words with the staff I came to know it's run and operated by Indian's. The legitimacy of Indian cuisine is preserved with it's spices. The interior give's a glimpse of Indian arts. Located at ul Drzymaly 9 close to railway station.  

Punting in Katowice:

By Air :- First bust towards airport leave's from Galleria Katowice (Main Station ) at 4am it's cost around 27PLN and takes approximately 50mins. Click here to know the schedule and latest information.

By Bus :- Dworzec Autobusowky Katowice at ul. Skargi , is a bit difficult to trace for first timer's if you are leaving early morning from Katowice, you better pin point it day before as you won't find any one to guide you in English during early hours. It's a hub for long distance routes in Europe for Polskibus, Eurolines and Pks. 
Where as short distance bus towards Krakow, Cieszyn (Czech Republic border leave from Main station  

You may also like to read
Cost of Living in Poland- For Survival Guide Click8

Public Transport in Katowice:-

-       One zone serves upto 15 mins       
 3.20  PLN
-       Two zones upto 30 mins          
 3.80  PLN
-       24 Hours Ticket serves in all 3 zones (I guess you won't need this one)
18.00 PLN
* There is student discount for ISIC holders under the age of 26, in all public transport, It always better to    buy extra tickets in hand as Ticket vending machines are not available on ever stop/station.

Do not forget to validate your ticket after boarding the bus/ Tram, If you are not sure ask someone where punch it,  There is on the spot fine of 140 PLN + cost of ticket if your caught by ticket inspector.