Land of Fat Free & Stars. Gliwice, Poland.

8 Sep

I think this what your “travel” bloggers are suppose to do, right?  Write about food and hotels.  Well, I’m going to take a stab at it…. 

For full disclosure, I’m happy eating rice, beans, popcorn, ice cream and diet coke for the rest of my life.   I love food.  But, I’m no foodie.   That changed when I arrived to Gliwice, Poland.  Take notice of the Piergo picture above… YUM!

I can sum up my Polish consumption and gluttony this way… Bear with me here …. Do you know those days where you “accidentally” eat too much breakfast. You feel full and decide a jolt of caffeine would snap you out of breakfast coma. You do the drive by at Dunkin or S’Bucks.  That little voice insides whispers “screw it,” you smile and ask the lady to throw in some bite size donuts in a to go bag – “it’s a gift for the office.”  Donuts disappear before you can get your keys out of your purse.

You arrive at work, utter another “fu–  it,” and click the heals to HR.  Smile at the ladies. Make small talk as you swipe a bag of M&Ms, candy corns and sweet tarts. It’s not even 10 AM and you’re tipping the 1,934 calorie mark. Before lunch, you hit 2,472 because you need to “walk it off” on your way to the restroom. You happen by an empty kitchen, spy the three-day old birthday cake from Costco and swipe the icing off two pieces and take another to the bathroom stall.

By this time, you realize the rest of the day is “shot.” So, for dinner instead of just water or one glass of wine, you drink the bottle, paw out some Blue Bell and convince yourself that it needs fudge and colored sprinkles. You lie in bed thinking – tomorrow I will do better.

Do you know what I’m talking about it here?  That feeling — try it for two weeks.  It’s called Poland.  I just went Muslim and doing the Ramadan thing now as I prepare for vodka-enriched meals in Russia in three days.

All I can say is thank GOD for Habitat. If this body was sedentary these last two weeks, we are talking about some major poundage. All cream. All butter. All flour. All sugar. On All meals. All the time. No Polish processed foods here, baby. It’s the real deal.


Zero star hotel provided zero star breakfast. Worst meal of the day by Polish standards. That being said, we inhaled. Our Nescafe coffee spouted bubbles. We thought the container was broken by Zero star waitress convinced us it was foamed coffee. Nothing what a little cream and sugar can’t fix.

The Zero spread consisted of ink stained hot dogs (aka sausages), scrambled eggs on even number days, cheap yogurt, hard cheeses, assortment of random meats, crusty bread, fizzy water, whole milk, butter floating in water, and a choice of wann-a-be coco-puffs, corn flakes and granola cereals.  I gobbled, gorged and guzzled. I mean, I needed enough energy for the long 9 minute stroll to the work site.

For the first few hours, our team of 14 shoveled…moved bricks…shoveled…

splattered plaster… shoveled…

picked at plaster…shoveled…walked to Shell station….shoveled…

moved dirt… shoveled…moved dust… shoveled…stomped on dirt… shoveled… looked at rotten wood…shoveled…

squatted on the Toi Toi ..shoveled…stared at hot tattoo, shirtless Polish man….shoveled…

filled cracks…shoveled…

picked-ax cement… shoveled…

dug up rocks…shoveled…moved rocks…. shoveled.. moved rocks again….shoveled… move rocks in wheel barrel…. shoveled…put rocks back…

This was our morning. So, by 12:17 pm, the Habitat team was famished. We pounded on our chest – WE NEED FOOD NOW! Thank GOD for the lunch ladies. That’s what I’m calling them because they are true LUNCH goddesses.  Boots – our team leader – Leslie, Joy and a tag along, would go to the market everyday and surprise us with fresh vegetables, fresh meat (YES, meat can be fresh), fresh cheeses, fresh bread, fresh veggie soup…

Let’s just sum it up. If it was NOT processed, we ate it. No food additives here, baby. Who knew food can taste so good?

Warren – our resident college boy – would pound 4+ sandwiches. I would only “do” two, needing to watch my girlish figure. I went head to head with Warren at night – for dinner is MY meal.

We grabbed our grub in our fancy, dirt floored, bacteria filled, open aired shack with garbage bags, plastic tarps and rocks as a roof. When you are this hungry and the food is this good, you don’t care if a little dust, dirt and mites are part of the meal.

Our last day at the site, Boots arranged for Kibosh sausage celebration. I’ve never been high on sausages, let alone smashed in between white bread and forced as an afternoon snack.

This day – our last day on site – we were to consume 4 meals, like the Polish. And, two of the meals – sausage snacks and 2 course dinner – were only 72 minutes apart. Cake was included at both meals. No matter. By the end of the week, my stomach had expanded, I was positive that I could handle more Polish food.

My stepfather does not call me condor because it is cute, sexy and “gets the guys.”  I can put away food.


Now, it’s the dinners that rocked your world. Leave to our leader, Boots, to find the best Polish cook in Gliwice.

Exactly 6:03 pm every night, the mini-van for midgets would drop off the group at the Lutheran church. Waiting for us was a three course meal.

Let me just say, I would have never believed I would heart cauliflower or beet root (barszcz) soup, fermented cabbage, minced meat goulash, potato pancakes, cucumber sour cream salad, sauerkraut with lard and smoke sausages. And, add to it, would salivate on poppy seed filled sponge cake.

By 6:28 pm, the team went into food coma. Conversation changed from nouns and verbs, to grunts and glassy stares. Polish food knocks you out. I did read later that the Polish kick-back a shot of vodka after for it aids in the digestion process. No vodka at Habitat.

Instead, we all crawled back to our dorm rooms at the Zero star hotel, curled up with the bed mites and slept for a good eight hours.


Which brings me to Hotel Lesny.

I did not coin the phrase “Zero” star. The Polish country manger greeted our team by welcoming us to the “Hotel Lesny, The Zero Star Hotel.” Sad to say. He’s serious.

I really can’t do it justice except by visual representation.   But, let me try to “t” up for you.

If you are allergic to mold, not for you. If you expect the restaurant to be open during food hours, your mistaken. If you use shampoo, seek water pressure elsewhere. If you want hot water on September 1st, take a train to Warsaw. If you want beer on tap, go buy your own keg.

If you want your room key to be attached to a bottle opener, check-in now. If you want your housekeepers to smoke cigs in your room, check-in now. If you want your sheets too short for your bed, check-in now. If like the peeled paint, window fungus look, check in now. If you want lake water substituted as pool water substituted as a skate board park, check in now. If you want a rabid dog to bark and charge every time you walk outside, check in now.

Hotel Lensa – View from the Pool

Pool Area.  With Slide.  No Water.

Water drained.  Future skate board park?

Heading out to our build.

Dorm dwelling below.

I know I’m making fun of it. But, I actually enjoyed my stay. It was perfect setting for volunteers. If we were to stay in a place with water pressure, beer and a pool, then I would assume Habitat is wasting my money. The more they can save on volunteer overhead, the more money goes to buying sand for cement and super glue to fix the pick axes. I would go back to the Hotel Lesny any day. And, I’m serious too. They get a .08 STAR in my book. Given my next habitat is sharing bunk bed compartment with no door with 4 other randoms on a train to China, I will soon be pining for those Zero star days…

One Response to “Land of Fat Free & Stars. Gliwice, Poland.”

  1. MaryStuart (lil sister) 08/09/2010 at 9:41 am #

    GROSE! I could not eat that crap! However, I have had way too many days like the one your perfectly described! Were you spying on me? I have eaten 5+ pieces of cake at work…that is what you do every time you walk past the office kitchen, right? Don’t forget Mountian Dew…that helps my sugar drop. Ok,this does not make me want to eat. But if there is nothing else, I totally would jump on the ink died sausage. Ok, so do they advertise a hotel “with a pool” or pool shell? At least there is no graffiti all over it, like the states. Sleep well in Hotel Zero!Love you! MSDV