In February, my friend A and I took an extended weekend trip to Poland. We caught a low-cost flight on a Saturday night from Frankfurt Hahn and before we knew it, we were in Poland.
We hopped into the shuttle we had the forethought to book with our plane ticket and within 30 minutes, we had arrived in Katowice city proper. We asked the driver where the bus station was because we were going to use that to navigate to our hotel. He asked our hotel name and offered to drop us off because it was on our way back. Awesome! It wasn't a super long walk, but it was late and cold and we were tired so we welcomed the good fortune.
We stayed at the Novotel Katowice Centrum, which is near the university, and even better yet, the main part of the Silesian Museum (though sadly we had very little time there during the trip). It's about a fifteen minute (easy) walk to the heart of downtown and the main bus and train stations.
It was one of the less inexpensive hotels to choose for our flight package and it suited us just fine. Actually, it offered more amenities than I had expected (yes, I'll admit, I was in a hurry during booking and didn't look at too much). A pool, hot tub, and even a casino are available. We didn't have any interest in any of those things but were happy with our room, which included a refrigerator. Had we wanted to buy snacks, we would've had a cold place for them. Since we normally stay at hostels, it was also quite a luxury to find ample towels, nice soaps, free coffee and tea with a corresponding coffee pot. We were living the high life, I tell ya!
My initial impressions of Katowice, which are not entirely to be trusted after arriving late and shivering, was as follows:
-Oh, this city is way bigger than I had thought; there are quite a few apartment blocks and even some skyscrapers with shorter buildings tucked in.
-The air smells...uh, polluted, like sulfur. I later read this article from Well, That Was Different, and it explained a lot. I wish I had read it ahead of time.
-Why is there sand all over the sidewalks? Wow, there is a lot of sand. Finally my duh moment subsided as I realized that it's probably used instead of salt to deal with icy or snowy pavement.
-Where our hotel is seems really deserted. Actually, the whole city seems rather deserted, especially for a Saturday night. Yes, it was late, but I thought we'd see a few more people.
-I'd like to explore downtown more. It reminds me of Detroit because the mix of new(er) and older buildings were in various conditions; some were abandoned, some beautiful historical buildings had been spruced up, and others were in rough shape. A renovated, central square with benches around a water feature would probably make an excellent place to enjoy some drinks with friends during summer; this is totally a foil for Detroit's Campus Martius. As someone who likes Detroit, I see it as entirely positive that a city that's been run-down is revitalizing itself but is not completely perfect.
Note: I am not affiliated in any way with the hotel, nor do I receive any compensation for my review. All thoughts are mine.