Poland (2021)

Pszczyna, Nikiszowiec and Gliwice

The first full day of travel in Poland started off quite comfortably. Nathalie left early to work out at a nearby playing and training field. I, on the other hand, read a book. After breakfast we checked whether a guided tour by boat in a mine was possible, but both the prices and the dates turned out to be very unfavorable. So we decided on plan B and drove to a relatively nearby bison enclosure in Pszczyna. We had been considering this project for a long time because we were unfortunately unable to visit the bison enclosure on our last short vacation on the Polish Baltic Sea (it was closed that day). The day before, Nathalie’s uncle gave us the coordinates for parking spaces at this and other sights, so we left before lunch heading towards those destinations. We had agreed to visit other places, once Uncle Darek comes back home after work.

After a short drive we arrived in Pszczyna, but unfortunately we did not get to the parking lot in front of the bison enclosure. A police car had blocked the last exit just before the attraction. We didn’t know why, so we had to turn back. Similar to many other guests who wanted to go to the enclosure, we then parked in a parking lot of a nearby supermarket (since it was Sunday and the supermarket was closed anyway, we just hoped that it was allowed, especially since many other people parked here, too). The roadblock seemed to be quite pointless because the police officer hardly gave any information and most of the cars just sneaked past the police car. It wasn’t until later that day that we should find out what the purpose of this roadblock was.

When we arrived at the enclosure on foot, we noticed that the enclosure is only a small part of a large park. Signs showed that you can walk around the park for more than 7km. Since my foot was not feeling much better, it should stay with the walk to the enclosure itself.

The bison enclosure is quite small and manageable. In the middle there is a wooden hut with lots of stuffed animals. Around it, there is a path with various adjoining small enclosures with various animals such as donkeys, deer, foxes and of course the bison. The only animals roaming free were peacocks, either on the sidewalks or jumping in and out of the other animal enclosures. We took photos of almost every one of the animals and when we wanted to leave the attraction, we bought a small bison plushie (name: Bully Mc Bull) and Silesian apple and cinnamon candies at the souvenir shop which turned out to be extremely tasty and are almost only available in this region.

After the enclosure we drove to the city center of Pszczyna and it was here that we noticed straight away how overcrowded the city center was and how hard it was to find a parking space. Again the last exit in front of the parking lot indicated by Uncle Darek was blocked by a police car. After a while, however, we found another free parking space, close to snack bars and mud pits. When we arrived in the city center in just a few minutes, it became clear to us why there were so many roadblocks in the city: There was a bike race that went through the city center over the market and for which many small attractions were set up. But our goal was the city palace, where we were surprised again.

A street food festival took place on the meadow in front of the city palace. We already knew such events from Weimar, where they took place more often (before Corona) and presented “fast food” from all possible countries. So it came together quite well, because we wanted to eat something small in town anyway (there was big food planed for the evening) so that we could choose something from the stands. The selection wasn’t as big as compared to other street food festivals, but we were able to choose something fine. We took 12 dim sum, Chinese dumplings, which we shared between us.

After that we went back to the city center. There was an avenue with lots of umbrellas hanging over the restaurants. Although we wanted to eat ice cream and drink coffee, it was too full for us, so we went on. This was probably the better decision because only a few seconds later a fire brigade siren could be heard. A large fire truck came from the bicycle racetrack across the market square and wanted to drive into this avenue. Many chairs and tables had to be moved to one side. But we went on and stopped at a bakery on the way back to the car, where Nathalie was served a latte macchiato by a young employee who was probably just having her first day at work and was introduced to everything by her colleague while I got ice cream from wild blueberries, which are very popular in Poland.

Back in Zabrze we had the real lunch in the evening and then set off again with Uncle Darek.

First we were in Nikiszowiec – a historic workers’ settlement in Katowice. The special thing about this settlement is that it is practically separated from the capital and forms its own small town with apartments, church and shops, where the miners of the time and their families could live in one complex. The red bricks from which all buildings are made are distinctive for the district. The settlement was built in the early 20th century and was quite modern and unique in its structure. Nowadays all sorts of families live there who are of course no longer tied to this work, but the district is still considered to be culturally rich. In fact, Nathalie’s paternal grandfather also comes from here, but we didn’t find out until later.

The next major stop was the city of Gliwice. Here we were first in Rynek, the market ring, from Gliwice and ate ice cream there while Nathalie ordered tea. In the middle of the square is the town’s pretty white town hall. Then, when it was getting dark, we drove to the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul. A service was just taking place here, which is why we couldn’t go directly into the building, but we still had a look at the area. Shortly afterwards we went back to Zabrze, where we fell into bed after a short time.

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