Poland was an afterthought. I knew nothing about Katowice, a major low budget airport hub city in Poland when I booked my flight from Barcelona to Katowice. It was the only reasonable way to make my way back to Ukraine for my eventual flight to Thailand.
I did not know one Polish word and mistakenly withdrew a few hundred dollars worth of Polish currency for one day. Rather than sleep in a hotel next to the airport I took an hour-long shuttle into the city to catch a glimpse of Poland.
The night time was approaching as I was dropped off at the bus terminal. I wanted to find my way to the hostel before the light disappeared and with the aid of some locals I did. I first approached a rugged looking man and he was excited to help. Neither of us could communicate in words but he drew me a very basic map which pointed out the general direction I was to walk.
As I made my way closer to the intended street a woman walking her dog pointed to my street and I was all set. I walked into the hostel courtyard and my thoughts immediately turned to the horror movie, Hostel, as this courtyard appeared very shabby and almost looked like the entrance to a dungeon.
But the hostel was actually pretty nice with free wireless and all the other needed amenities.My absolute favorite thing about it were the hostel rules. Take this one for instance!
I went for a wander around downtown Katowice. I could hear some music being played somewhere so I followed the sound. Downtown was completely empty of people but the music was actually a live concert, and pretty nice too. I didn’t pay to go inside but listened for a few minutes to a Polish band play some alternative song with nice melody. I continued walking and found the only open restaurant, a pub playing the world cup final match. I ordered perogies and beer while I watched the match.
The waitress was really friendly and I had the same impression of everyone else in the pub. Poland is another place I think i’d like to spend some time in. At least more than half a day.
At a convenience store I walked in on a man with an absolutely huge pot belly. It was insane and his tight shirt did not help either. He also seemed a bit nuts chatting up the cashier, mainly talking to himself. About a half hour later as I was walking back to my hostel I spotted the cops talking with him.
I woke up early and walked back to the bus terminal and with the help of some people I found the correct bus to the airport. I snapped a photo of downtown Katowice along the way.
That actually looks really nice. How long do you normally spend in a particular location? I’ve always felt that you needed 6 months to a year per country to really get to understand it, and frankly you could spend that much time learning about a single major city. Hell, you could live in New York for a decade and STILL be learning new things about it every day.
Locationless Living says
I’m pretty inconsistent in how long I spend in each place. In this case I only had a half a day because it was basically a short layover. But I usually move on to the next place when there isn’t much left for me to keep me interested. Sometimes that is two days, and other times a few months. What about you?
I haven’t started traveling yet, I’m still working on getting my business that I can run from anywhere in the world off the ground (I could probably start right now, but I’d be living very frugally and wouldn’t be able to save at all), but once I do what I plan on doing is getting fluent in the language of the country I want to go to first, then moving there, and staying there for about 6 months to a year, and while I’m there I’ll be learning the language of the next country I want to go to, then I’ll pack up and go on to it (being fluent in the language before I hit the ground) and staying there for 6 months or so, next country, etc.
My true passion is travel, it’s been years since I’ve done it back in high school, but I’ve never forgotten about it, I’ve always desired to spend my life traveling to new countries, learning new languages, and learning about the people and the culture ever since I was very young. My second passion, connected to my first, is languages, and the primary motivator for me to learn them is so that I can speak to the people of a country when I go there. I go into a lot more detail in the About section on my site if you’re interested: http://howlearnspanish.com/about/
I just really don’t think you’ll get much of an understanding about a country, its people, and their culture unless:
1) You speak their language. There are expats that have lived in countries like Thailand for over a decade, never learned the language, constantly hung around other expats, and consequently STILL don’t really understand the people and the culture, it’s absolutely pathetic.
2) You LIVE (not just visit in a hotel/hostel for a week or so) there for at least a few months, at a minimum, and I’d aim for closer to a year or two, realistically.
I want to really understand the people and their culture, so I feel like I have to do this. Does that make sense?
I’m in NO WAY criticizing or looking down on the backpacker/hosteler lifestyle (in fact I will likely end up doing that for a bit first before moving on to the method I mentioned above–I definitely want to try backpacking around the U.S. and maybe S.E. Asia and Western Europe), there’s nothing wrong with it at all, but it’s going to achieve my ultimate goal with regards to traveling, which is to really understand a people and their culture.
Locationless Living says
Thanks for sharing your plans. I like that you will be traveling to pursue your interest, and not necessarily just to travel. Once you head off I think you will have a great time with that attitude. It’s pretty helpful that learning languages is your favorite thing to do. I sure wish it were mine 🙁 What you explained may be why I still prefer Latin America so much, as I can speak with people there. Thanks again for all your comments Andrew. I am always happy to hear from readers!
nike ctr360 maestri says
I want to thank you for this informative read, I actually appreciate sharing this good post. Maintain up your work.