Why Poland is better than Ireland… and why it’s not

I’ve often thought the Polish are the Irish of Eastern Europe–they’re Catholic, they eat a lot of potatoes, they move to other countries to work in the building trade–but a recent visit to Krakow and Tarnow made me realize that Poland is infinitely superior to Ireland in so many ways. Except for the ways in which it is not.  Here is how things add up. + is why Poland is better than Ireland and – is why Ireland is better. I’m leaving other countries out of it because things would just get too messy otherwise.

+ It is warm enough for bare arms and legs in May, even if the sun goes behind a cloud

+ Sometimes the sun is not behind a cloud

This can occur for days at a time

 Bugs as well as people thrive in this sort of environment 

The streets have street signs

+ Restaurants and homes have napkins on the table

 Restaurants often have smokers at the table, and Eastern European cigarettes are a special kind of smelly

+ There are bagel vendors everywhere

 They eat just as many potatoes, but they peel them before cooking

+ There is more than one kind of good draft beer

 But good coffee or black tea are hard to find

+ But the automated “espresso” machines are kind of funny, and you pay way less for the bad coffee than you would in Ireland

 but in Ireland these days, there’s a fair chance you’ll get a good coffee 

+ They have cheap trains with windows that open

+ It is warm and dry enough that you might choose to do this

+ The streets have street signs

 Poland is even more monocultural than Ireland

+ They speak a different language where letters make funny sounds

 They speak a different language where letters make funny sounds

+ Did I mention they have street signs?

+ And bagels!?!

Published in: on May 25, 2009 at 8:55 PM  Leave a Comment  

Riding the Wicklow 100. Slowly.

Originally published June 11, 2008

For the last few months, every Saturday I rode the third hardest ride of my life. The hardest was the Mountains of Misery metric century, and the second hardest was the Civil War Century metric. (Why are metrics harder than full centuries? Is it because they are not on the flat Eastern Shore?) We were training for the Wicklow 100. Yes–another metric century! But luckily the Wicklow 100 was not the hardest ride of my life–I got that out of the way a few weeks ago. I don’t remember much, except for some big uphills, but I’m pretty sure there was some wind involved. Those hills were much bigger than these hills, which you can see me flying up.

I slowed down somewhat after eating the performance-enhancing food on offer. If anyone ever asks you if you want a chicken and stuffing sandwich in the middle of two 1,000ish foot climbs, just say no. I didn’t. My mistake.

We got medals at the end, which is not nearly as cool as a long-sleeve t-shirt and certainly not worth the €42 entry fee. I was going to write a letter and ask if next year we could have oranges and homemade banana bread instead of medals, but I think the medal is something of a tradition.  I would post a photo of me wearing mine, but I think it got eaten by the washing machine.  Maybe that’s why it keeps breaking down.

Published in: on September 4, 2008 at 12:51 PM  Leave a Comment