The travel market is absolutely flooded with sites promising unique holidays and weekend breaks. In an effort to find the world’s most unusual travel destinations we have traveled far and wide.
One company that has a totally unique angle in the travel sector is War Torn Tours.
“I remember,” says Tomasz Pochwa, the Polish owner of WTT, “travelling across Poland with my father. Here, he would say, ‘such and such a battle happened.’ I was fascinated to know that on the spot I stood men, women, children and animals died in senseless slaughter. ‘Tomasz,’ he said, ‘One day you must bring people to these places so they can remember’.”
Tomasz opened his encyclopedia and created a map of all the major wars of Europe, graded them by who won, how many died and quality of nearby facilities like restaurants, clean toilets and souvenir shops.
Before long he had a portfolio of 4,657 individual wars.
The wars were fought in every country in Europe and almost every town in Europe was somehow affected.
This opened up a wealth of possibilities for Tomasz.
How, he pondered, could he capitalize on creating a travel company encompassing every European country? He broke down each country into cities, then with the help of the Internet, created a short summary of the history, cultural and tourist destinations and links to sites for car hire and hotel bookings.
After three years, Tomasz produced a book and created his own website called Travel Most of Europe and TME.com
Quite why nobody else had written travel guides and created travel websites prior to 2013 was a mystery. This amazing achievement was hailed by the Warsaw Gazette as “quite a good idea.”
Then Tomasz’s life came crashing down around him.
Nobody had told him that there are literally tens of thousands of travel books and hundreds of travel websites. He couldn’t believe it.
Then his wife (now ex-wife) pointed out that Tomasz’ Internet search was floored. Tomasz does not have a great grasp of the English language and his attempt at ‘travel website’ was ‘trwl vbst’. Since the Polish language rarely uses vowels and also interchanges V and W he had made a right hash of his search.
Down and very despondent Tomasz re-evaluated his business.
Then he had his lightbulb eureka moment.
It all hinged in the senseless slaughter of animals. In a tirade of nostalgia his father appeared to him and he once again heard his father telling him about the deaths of countless horses, dogs, pigs and chickens.
Today Tomasz’ company War Animal Tours, guides tourists around some of the most upsetting yet ignored episodes in world history. He tells his tourists about Oscar Chicken and how this famous bird saved countless lives by supplying eggs, until one tragic day he died in a bombing raid over Berlin.
When he is in Paris he relates the story of Pierre the fearless dachshund, the first tragedy of the Nazi invasion. He has stories dating as far back as 1883, to the very first war in Europe.
“Do you know, he challenges, what the first animal to die in active combat in a war zone was? It was a pig called Cogida del Cerdo. Why was he famous? Because he was used to keep three Russian soldiers warm as they fought Napoleon.”
He smiles at the memory from his own childhood of how a shepherd donated his entire flock to ‘comfort’ the free Polish army. He boasts with pride about the story of the Romanian army horses who defied the odds racing through minefields until there were none left and finally of how a rabbit named Cuddles was used to plug a hole in a British submarine and later awarded the Victoria Cross.
We did find out that Cuddles was not the only rabbit to save the lives of British during WW2, but he was the only one not subsequently eaten.
Today Tomasz is an old, rotund contented man. He sits on his veranda counting the hundreds of zloty he has collected and smiles. He has finally found his niche in the travel world.
Who knew,” he sighs, “that I would find so much comfort in animals?”