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18/01/2016

Katowice: eclecticism under the watchful gaze of a UFO

EHF EURO blogger Magda Pluszewska shares her tips on what to do in Katowice during the last days of the preliminary round

Photo: Magda Pluszewska

Katowice is an individual city. Walking its streets you have the impression that nothing fits together. Raw, industrial architecture competes with modern skyscrapers, charming tenement houses and large shopping malls.

The market square has nothing in common with a classic market square – you will not find a City Hall, any elegant restaurant, nor the numerous pubs you grew accustomed to in Krakow and Wroclaw.

Instead, there is a big square cut with tram tracks and an ice rink in the middle. And the buildings all around. Each one different. Each one not fitting the one next to it.

It has its own charm, no doubt. Especially with the distant Spodek (‘Saucer’ in Polish), the odd sports hall built in the shape of the vehicle of newcomers from space, as part of the skyline.

In good weather, the perfectly visible object complements the eclectic landscape of the centre of Katowice. Unfortunately, with the fog, which recently quite strongly enveloped the city, there is no chance to see it from the market square, although in a straight line it’s only 800 metres away.

A UFO in the middle of the city

The arena was built with the aim of making it a symbol of the city, which had no remarkable icon until the 70s. The goal has been achieved, because Spodek is still the main hallmark of the capital of Upper Silesia.

Its biggest advantage is the location – it's definitely the best positioned arena of the four objects of the EHF EURO 2016. It’s at a huge roundabout, under which runs a tunnel for cars and four underpasses expediting traffic during rush hours. From the main square you will reach it within 10 minutes.

Spodek is one of the hottest sports facilities in Poland. I associate it mostly with the Polish national team matches in volleyball and motivating songs blaring over the stands.

I'm sure the fans will also be up to the task with handball and create a great atmosphere for visiting teams during the group stage.

Bar in the sky

Right next to Spodek, across Roździeńskiego street, there is Qubus Hotel. At the top of the building is a very pleasant place, which offers a magnificent view of the city. It's Sky Bar – the highest bar in Silesia.

The speciality of the house? Butterscotch pie! Fourteen layers of crisp pastry, sweet cream, dried tropical fruits and a scoop of ice cream. A powerful dose of calories, it's true, but above all an incredible portion of taste sensations. Combine it with a latte or cappuccino – yummy!

Social marathon after Mariacka street

If you like elegant interiors, drop over to restaurant Kryształowa (Warszawska street). Right at the entrance a waiter comes up to you and leads you through the stairs to the hallway where the wardrobe waits. It’s ready to host your outerwear while you sit at the table.

Polish cuisine and typical Silesian region specialties, for example Wodzionka (soup with lard and garlic) or karminadle (homemade meatloaf).

Looking for a marathon of pubs? Go to Mariacka Street – there you will find a nest of Katowice hedonism. Wherever you look there are only pubs, bars, clubs and cafes.

This street is the centre of social life in the city and has its own website where you will find a list of all the places it offers. Locals recommend the Ambasada Śledzia, Katofonia, Bar-a-boo, Len Arte and veg bar Złoty Osioł.

And at the end of a successful evening you can fall into Spiż (ul. Opolska 22). Four dance floors open from Wednesday to Saturday – a large, modern club with its own brewery.

For fans of underground electronic music climates InQbator (ul. Dworcowa 2) will appeal.

Bowling, billiard & cinema

Don’t forget to check out Punkt 44 (ul. Gliwicka 44). This centre of entertainment is a bit remote from the heart of the city, but you will find a cinema city, bowling, billiards, video games and several dining options.

I recommend bowling especially! On this subject I am completely green, but luckily when I was there recently, a man from staff was practicing nearby and he explained the basic technique and laughed a bit at my attempts. The cost is 30 zloty per hour of fun.

Admittedly, the EURO 2016 ends in Katowice on Tuesday, but via highway from Krakow it’s just an hour of driving to the city. You will pass through two tollgates; at each one you need to pay 10 zloty to pass. It’s a very nice drive on foggy days, when the outlines of trees emerge from the all-encompassing greyness.

If you have time, come at least for a while to feel the atmosphere of Silesia – a typical dialect, and an extraordinary politeness and directness of inhabitants.

When I was there last time, a driver stopped in the middle of the street so as not to enter my frame while taking a picture, an elderly man chatted to me while waiting for the green light at a zebra crossing, and a nice attendant gave me 15 minutes parking free of charge while I was paying for parking in the zone.

written by Magda Pluszewska