Growing up the eldest of ten children you develop certain skills. Skills that make me a nightmare for………..woops. Skills that translate well to Hostel life apparently. I had a free day in Warsaw and decided to take a walking tour with the event director of our hostel, Bojan. It was him, myself, and three Germans (yes. I meet Germans everywhere and they are awesome). Anna, Karina, and I can’t remember how to write her boyfriend’s name in English. In my defense, it’s his fault because I sent him a message asking and he never answered. lol.  Small group which made for a fun and intimate tour in Warsaw.

War evolution piece in Warsaw Poland

War evolution piece in Warsaw Poland

Jewish Ghetto Wall Memorial Placard from Israel

Jewish Ghetto Wall Memorial Placard from Israel

Polish soup and drink.

Polish soup and drink. No real idea what this was but it was tasty and cheap. Plus warmed me up.

Hala Mirowska Market in Warsaw

Hala Mirowska Market in Warsaw

Prozna Street (Ulica Prozna)

Prozna Street (Ulica Prozna). This area is something else. Largely in the same condition as the early 1900’s. Right next to a brand new complex. Stark reminder of the past and future.

Statue of Janusz Korczak in Warsaw

Statue of Janusz Korczak in Warsaw. Search this man. You need to read his story.

Former home of Adolf Hitler praying on his knees by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan in Warsaw, Poland

Former home of Adolf Hitler praying on his knees by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan in Warsaw, Poland. Statue has since been removed but you can still look through.

                Poland is one of my top five favorite countries. The culture, food, and people make it one of the best travel destinations on the planet. Bojan represents everything right with Poland so I want to tell you a bit about this man. He’s going to kill me for this but I’m way bigger than him. lol

                Bojan is an unassuming guy. Always has a smile on his face and interacting with people. He was one of the first people I met when checking into my hostel. But what really stood out to me was his passion. For everything. For travel, food, tourism. Everything. This truly carried over to the tour he gave us. If Bojan is reading this, START A TOUR COMPANY!!!!!

Fragment of the Jewish Ghetto Wall in Warsaw Poland.

Fragment of the Jewish Ghetto Wall in Warsaw Poland. One of two remaining.

Jewish Ghetto Wall locationmemorial marker in Warsaw Poland.

Jewish Ghetto Wall location memorial marker in Warsaw Poland.

Palace of Culture and Science (Palac Kultury i Nauki / PKiN)

The Palace of Culture and Science (Palac Kultury i Nauki / PKiN) AKA Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science is the tallest building in Poland and eighth tallest in the EU.

Russian soldier mural in Warsaw.

Russian soldier mural in Warsaw.

Warsaw Ghetto Wall Memorial

Warsaw Ghetto Wall Memorial

                It was a freezing Wednesday in late March. Far colder than I expected since it was the beginning of Spring. At the time Europe was in the midst of their coldest winter in 130 years. This didn’t deter our small band of Walking Tour warriors. Bojan should have his own tour company. And I say that with no reservations having spent quite a bit of time on tours.

Apartment Ruins in Warsaw Jewish Ghetto

Apartment Ruins in Warsaw Jewish Ghetto

Nożyk Synagogue

Nożyk Synagogue. Only synagogue that survived the Nazi’s because they used it as a horse stable. ASSHOLES!!!

Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Warsaw in front of Staszic Palace, the seat of the Polish Academy of Sciences on Krakowskie Przedmieście

Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in Warsaw in front of Staszic Palace, the seat of the Polish Academy of Sciences on Krakowskie Przedmieście

Pope John Paul II statue outside the All Saints' Church, Warsaw,Poland

                What makes a tour guide special is historical knowledge, professionalism, and mastery of different languages. Well Bojan had these traits in spades. I’ve told him he should start his own business but he has no desire to. He gives FREE tours because he enjoys it. Just part of who he is.

                Now here’s the funny part about this day. How I ended up cooking spaghetti for 30 people. No idea how it came up but the German guy mentioned Bojan was cooking for the entire hostel and they were thinking about helping. He asked me if I still cooked (in passing I mentioned I was a Sous Chef before joining the military) and I said yes. There was no way in hell I wasn’t offering to help Bojan after he gave us this great tour for free all day. Due to the size of the kitchen it became me and Bojan cooking and the German couple (and a few others) doing prep. Was one of the most fun culinary crews I’ve worked with. People from all around the world, most had barely met, speaking different languages, and cooking dinner together. One of the beauties of travel.

Oki Doki Hostel Spaghetti night

Oki Doki Hostel Spaghetti night

Me cooking for Oki Doki Hostel Spaghetti Night

Me cooking for Oki Doki Hostel Spaghetti Night. Lots of Garlic and HEAT!!!

                So one of the issues with cooking overseas is always ingredients. I know what certain spices and meats taste like together. Those combinations often can’t be found so you have to improvise. Instead of ground beef we had to use pork and turkey for example. Also I was being heckled by an Italian.

                Giuseppe is one of the coolest people I met in Europe. Giuseppe never had what he calls, Texas Spaghetti (I mix everything together instead of serving separately). Italians know Spaghetti and Giuseppe made sure I knew it. He did reserve judgment until he tasted it and applauded me on my culinary skills which meant a lot. I mean how often do you  go to Europe and cook Italian food for Italians?

At The Warsaw Mermaid

At The Warsaw Mermaid

                Oki Doki Hostel is one of those places where everyone knows everyone. Special shout out to Giuseppe, Bojan, Sarah, Dominika K, Lyubov, Karina, and her boyfriend whose name I can’t type in English, Кристиан Граап. I’m lucky to have come across this place as it helped solidify Poland as one of my top countries.

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