Three quick stops within 2 days. Honestly it wasn’t my first idea, but I didn’t find accommodation (read CouchSurfing) in Katowice. Instead it was offered to me in Tychy (30 minutes by train from there). That’s why I adjusted my plans.
First things first… Not even the departure from Bielsko-Biała went smoothly. I was supposed to take a bus, but instead there arrived only a minibus, type Ford Transit. Not only that I didn’t fit into door but carrying my bag and unicycle through the aisle felt like the 4×1 tetrimino block. Sadly after sitting myself on the last seats the front rows didn’t disappear even if I had fitted there just perfectly.
Bus took me nearly to the front entrance where were located huge groups of tourist already at 10am and lot of approaching buses. Ticket line wasn’t long but the ticket for the Czech tour I missed by only 5 people in front of me. “Karma”? Therefore I took a tour in English.
Three pieces of advice:
- Backpacks that are bigger than A4 paper size can’t be taken in. Leave them in the car, bus or luggage store.
- If you have earphones with standard “jack”, take them with you. They will most likely be better than the lent ones.
- Bottle with water will be also useful.
Whole trip is about 4 hours and is divided into two parts. First part is in the concentration camp Auschwitz I and then you continue into Auschwitz II – Birkenau. It is really hard to truly understand the horrors that were happening there, if I didn’t experience any war on my own. Even harder it is to describe them. The most terrifying thing there was the room, where you see over 2 tons of human hair and you know that they belong to real people murdered in there. It is similar in the other rooms with glasses, combs, suitcases or shoes. Before the end of the first part you also visit a prison – which sounds little bit ironic – and the building of “Crematorium”, first of several ones, that served to mass execution and then burning the dead bodies.
After I have moved to Birkenau you can see the bigger complex (former area of 170 hectares), that was divided into several smaller blocks. There is a railway still present and two platforms from which nearly no one had the luck to return. You slowly move to the monument of the victims, that is located in the very end of the concentration camp. It is the spot where two crematorium buildings with gas chambers were located. Today there are only ruins. During the whole time I couldn’t stop thinking about all the people that arrived with hope there for their future live to begin there and there were heartlessly killed.
The whole visit was carried in grim spirit and I regret only the fact that it took me 31 years to visit this place. Mainly for the quote:
Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.G. Santayana, The Life of Reason
And I really don’t want to repeat this part of past.
From Auschwitz it is about 1 hour trip and as I had already written, my accommodation was provided by a young couple Nataly and Martin. Since I have arrived there in the late afternoon we weren’t able to undertake much. But the “Jezioro Paprocańskie” and its surroundings are worth visiting. You can definitely spend there whole day and enjoy the beauty of the nature.
Dinner was in Asian more than Polish style since we visited the Misz Masz. The food wasn’t expensive and really tasty. The following beer house Wielokran appealed to my taste much more. More than 10 beers on the tap, from regular lager beer, through IPAs and APAs, most of them from local breweries. If you accidentally appear here, try it out. You won’t regret it.
Whole Katowice visit was based on the pieces of advice I was given by nice young couple – Ania and Tomek. I knew that I don’t have much time there, just because the next day I planned to visit Salsa festival in Krakow already.
From their suggested activities I wanted to try park Śląski. It is quiet huge but in the middle there is an observatory I wanted to see. Unfortunately the observatory was under reconstruction so I wasn´t able to get there. Whole park is well maintained and full of natural cyclist routes, sadly I didn’t meet any bench to sit on.
On the way back, I used the cable car “Kolejka ELKA” that took me from the further most corner of the park back closer to the city center. I rode just next to the near located zoo and entertainment park, which roller coaster looked impressive. Sadly I didn’t have any time to enter and try it.
When I returned to the city center I wanted to visit the bar located on the 27th floor of Marriott hotel building. I was told that view from there is incredible. I believe you can get a great food there, but if you have some money spending limits as I do you can try their cocktails. I tested Espresso Martini and it was delicious. The view over Katowice was just fabulous. If you don’t want to spend any money at all, they are not really strict there and they will let you make a picture even if you don’t make any order. Before I left I was also offered to taste delicious nuts liqueur.
I was really glad that I was able to meet Ania and Tomek the same afternoon. We went to Aiuoli for late lunch, that they serve there just for 22 PLN. Cold sour cheery soup was really unusual but delicious, pasta, small dessert and a drink. The evening couldn’t finish any better if my driver from car sharing (Blablacar) did reply to any of my massages. Since he didn’t communicate I had to relocate myself to bus station and take a regular bus to Krakow, where I arrived around 9 pm. By the main shopping mall was just starting the fire show juggling performance, meaning that from badly ending evening was suddenly again a great one with a surprise. But that’s already Krakow…