Updated: Aug 30, 2022
I start this journey at Warszawa Centralna at 5pm.
Here I met my friend Piotr at the train station to catch the 5:30 train to Katowice, As usual the train was a little late, by around 15 minutes...boarding we find Mateusz and Elena already seated on the 4 person table we had booked.
The journey was about 3 hours, we grabbed some beer from the train cafe and played some Uno to pass the time.
Arriving in Katowice we navigate through the underground of the station to the streets and grab an Uber to the hotel Camille in the south of the city, some 30 minutes walk from the centre. After checking in and dropping off our stuff we grabbed another Uber to the centre so we could experience the city.
We go to a restaurant promising the best Squid in Katowice!...a city far from the sea, if this was the best squid then we dread to think what quality the other restaurants could muster, alas we eat our small portioned and somewhat overpriced meals, have a round of drinks in the process and head to Mariacka street...
This is by far the liveliest place in the city, it's streets full of young people in various states of intoxication, after strolling towards the end and seeing a lack of free tables we end up at a bar...called Manekin I believe...Here we enjoy some cocktails and Gin and Tonics, costing around 30zl each (we went for doubles to be clear with the pricing) and sit around talking until around 2am, soaking up the atmosphere of our surroundings before calling it a night and grabbing an Uber back to the hotel.
The next morning I wake up relatively early considering the night before and get out of bed around 9:15. I had already warned my friends that this trip I would be focusing more on Gliwice during the day as I had already extensively explored Katowice the night before, saying farewells to Piotr I headed to the station, Elena and Mateusz were sleeping in.
I went to the station by foot, I always prefer to walk when there is an option, it's healthier, free and you never know what you may see on the way!
It's a hot and sunny day, wearing shorts, a light jacket and carrying a canvas bag over my shoulder I make it through the streets to the station and grab a ticket at the ticket office. It's a short journey of around 30 minutes between the cities and departing in Gliwice I use Google Maps to plot my route to the tourist information office.
Along the way I get a glimpse of some of the shopping streets, some nice beautiful old buildings and in the distance some of the sights I will return to later. Magda in the Tourist office is very helpful, giving me the standard maps and digging out some leaflets about various aspects of the city in English, she also marks several key locations on my map an points out some things which I won't be able to do today but can do if I come back tomorrow.
After getting this excellent briefing on the city and having a nice chat I make my way to the Willa Caro, a Neo-renaissance villa dating from 1882-1885. Going inside the ticket is only 8zl! I am pointed in the direction to go and explore some of the lower rooms, with the first being beautifully decorated with a glorious ceiling! The other rooms on this floor are period pieces, with classic furniture, sculptures and paintings to admire.
Going upstairs I see a special exhibition of an artist called Siudmak, the paintings are just my style, with an elegant take on classic fantasy and very specific, I spend a good amount of time taking them in...and there are a lot to see!
On my way out I inspect some Samurai armour which I'm guess is part of the private collection and can't help myself but buy a book with images of Siudmak's paintings...yes it was 110zl, but I am happy with my purchase!
Leaving the Villa I decide to explore the centre and embrace the city's Old Town, taking in one of the most interesting Churches I've seen, All Saint's Church which dates back to the 15th Century, I peak inside to admire what I can get to...and I've been told you can climb the stairs to the top...but only at 4pm and 5pm at weekends...I'm not sure why so specific at this point, but I will find out...
Next I reach the central square (Rynek) and take it in from all angles, as with all of the best Polish cities this is very ornate, surrounded by bars and restaurants with the town hall in the centre...I decide now is a good time to stop for a bite to eat, I find a quiet restaurant and find very reasonably priced food! After eating in Warsaw and Katowice lately this is a very pleasant surprise, I order the Kotlet and a beer and take out my map to do a bit of planning, as I now had it confirmed I'd be coming back the next day, I decided to focus on what to see near the centre for now and see how I was doing for time.
I next head to the Piast Castle, originally built in the 16th Century along the defensive walls and serving as an Arsenal, it now houses the history museum of Gliwice, this also was very cheap at about 8Zl and I made my way through the exhibits of archaeology on the ground floor, then heading upstairs to take in the history of the city over two floors, not everything is in English at first but soon I find plenty to read next to Polish and German text. After a while of reading and checking out exhibits I make my way out to continue exploring.
I check out the nearby Cathedral of Sts. Apostles Peter and Paul, though sadly it appears locked with only a small room accessible for prayer. Though still, as most cathedrals it is quite a sight to behold!
I next make my way to the final museum of the day which was the Tattoo Museum, I was very curious to see what I would find here...I had to ring a bell downstairs to be let in, and getting up I realised that it was also Tattoo studio as well, they were busy working on some guy and asked me to wait a moment at the reception, then the assistant walked over, charged me 6Zl for entrance and turned on the lights to two rooms which contained the exhibition while he searched for a fridge magnet I could purchase as a souvenir (FYI Gliwice was not a very souvenir heavy place compared to most places I've been in Poland).
After checking out the various designs on the walls and checking out some of the instruments I made my way out.
Now I was a little rushed as I had to be back in Katowice for 5 to meet my friends as we were going to watch the Volleyball that night, so as I made my way back to the station I took in some of the parks and streets to try and do a nice round trip of the centre before hopping on the train back to Katowice.
From the station I headed North up to Spodek, the large UFO shaped stadium of Katowice and sat myself down at a small bar nearby to enjoy a beer while I waited for my friends...I was waiting for a while, as they didn't quite stick to the timings and then we ended up grabbing another beer before going into the stadium...I could have had another hour in Gliwice...but never mind, I was going back the next day anyway.
We made it past security after they inspected our bags and scanned our tickets and we walked along the wide open corridor checking out many Polish fans, souvenir stands and food/drink outlets, we grabbed a beer and made our way up to our seats. The first game was well in progress with the USA playing Mexico...the USA was 2 sets to 0 up and they ended up taking the 3rd set with ease.
The stadium was massive, with us on the top tier with a good view of the court, by all accounts this venue was sold out...but more for the game to come, Poland Vs Bulgaria...
After the US victory we headed back out to stretch our legs, get another beer and some rather stale pretzels as a snack and after a bit we headed back to our seats.
There were the teams warming up, followed by cheerleaders and dancers doing opening performances before the players names were presented on the big screens, the atmosphere of the stadium was incredible, everyone in good spirits, chanting regularly and honestly it was a fun energy to be surrounded by!
It's fair to say most of us were quite happy with Poland putting up a very strong showing against Bulgaria, however Elena my Bulgarian friend was a bit sad to see how her team performed, and looking around we only saw one group of Bulgarian supporters sat together, the arena dominated by Polish fans.
After 3 sets Poland had won, though Bulgaria did make some good moves in the 2nd and 3rd sets.
We headed out of the stadium and walked to the centre, found a Pizzeria and after waiting a while in the very busy place we ate and then headed home, it was pretty late at this point and the city was heaving on the busy Friday night!
Grabbing an Uber back to the hotel, me, Piotr and Mateusz decided to grab a beer from the local BP garage and have one last drink sat outside the hotel bar (which was closed to be clear) before bed.
The next day I managed to get up a little earlier and headed out of the hotel by 9:15, I knew I had a lot of walking to do today so needed all the time I could grab!
After getting to Gliwice I headed north this time, heading straight for the radio tower...this is basically where World War 2 started, where the Germans staged a fake Polish attack on the station (FYI - Gliwice was part of Germany at this time). The structure was wooden and 111 metres tall and was surrounded by a small memorial park with a stand talking about the history and telling you about the first Pole killed in the War Franciszek Honiok.
After this I wasted about 20 minutes trying to find an archaeological museum that google told me was close...then I walked in the direction of the cultural park and found myself at the house of remembrance on the way, located in a former Jewish pre-funeral house this now houses a museum as a monument to the Jewish people who lived in Silesia before World War 2, it was a very detailed and moving museum and I'm glad I made it there!
After this I walked around to enter the park and went down a few paths, following some signs...this was basically woodland, I didn't find too much other than the nature apart from a large wall of falling water that people would walk around...these are meant to be soothing and relaxing, I went further into the park and eventually turned around and headed back to the south of the city. I was later told by Piotr that there was an amphitheater in this park...google did not help me there...
My next stop was the metallurgists cemetery, here some of the industrial leads were buried such as John Baildon, a Scottish man responsible for much of the development of the area during the industrial revolution, walking down some wooded paths I passed the large Arena and eventually trekked down to the Artistic Casting museum, here you went to the site of the former engine room of the Gliwice Coal mine where a lot of sculptures/statues were manufactured, being shipped as far abroad as the US and Japan!...Plus the museum was completely free! (maybe I got lucky on the day of the week).
Tired, hungry and thirsty I finally decided to sit down for a few minutes to rest my feet and relax a little before heading back to the centre...making sure to stop at the first Zabka I saw to grab some water and juice to replenish fluids.
I went to a nice park en route and eventually made it back to the centre...I walked past a craft beer bar and died a little inside knowing I didn't have enough time to grab a drink before my next destination...St Anne's Church, I needed to be there for 4pm to take these stairs to the top so I could get some aerial views of the city...
Now I learned why the specific hours...you are given a tour while climbing the stairs, stopping in a couple of rooms along the way, sadly this was in Polish...I tried to understand what I could, though given this all lasted almost an hour...it was a bit much for me...but when we did eventually get to the top I got my view and could see Gliwice in all it's glory!
My final stop of the day was the newly reopened municipal palm house, walking quickly to get there as it was due to close within the hour I was able to see plenty of tropical plants spread over 4 enclosures with a small aquarium at the end.
After a little walk in Chopin Park, where this botanical garden was located I made it back to the train station...I was so glad to get to sit down for a spell!
Back in Katowice I walked back to the hotel where my friends were taking a break so I went back to join them, grabbed a shower and a small sit down and feel refreshed before we grabbed an Uber into town (yes another Uber!).
We went back to Mariacka street to a thai restaurant called Aroi Thai and had some really good food...not having eaten all day I was starving! Though Mateusz was given a non-alcoholic beer by mistake which he was too polite to exchange...
Walking up and down the strip after our meal we couldn't find any free tables, we then walked into the centre and tried to go to a bar I like called Cyber Machina (this is the first one in the chain with venues all over Poland)...though my friends said it was too hot inside...we eventually stopped at a bar in the main square and would witness security turning homeless people away and a saga with a tram that died...and not quietly I'll add! Eventually being towed away by another tram after some time. Finally we ended the night and grabbed another Uber back to the hotel...
The next day Sunday was our last...and this time, I stayed with the group...though part of me wouldn't have minded another excursion...we went to this lovely place KAFEJ for breakfast, having an amazing meal and then got an Uber to our destination for the day...the Silesian Park, here we arrived outside of the stadium there and went to the planetarium for a show before getting a bite to eat at this rather nice lakeside restaurant (Browar Przystan) I had been too on my previous trip, getting some locally brewed beer and having a delicious stir fry, we watched on as a storm started to roll in, seeing lightning in the distance and hearing the odd soft roar of thunder before grabbing an Uber back to the train station where we had left our luggage that morning and heading back to Warsaw!