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From the Journal: Culinary Adventures in Poland

Saturday,  August 15

Yesterday was a rough one. For morale’s sake, today we decided we were going to take it easy and focus on the finer things along the way. The breakfast of oats with apples, raisins and cinnamon wasn’t groundbreaking but it was well executed and perfectly timed, as my previous morning’s effort, creamed rice with chocolate, salt and butter, had gone over like a lead balloon.

We left our roadside camp at around 9:30 and pedaled casually, stopping for some water and snacks at a tiny store along the way. Past the store the smallish road we were traveling gradually deteriorated until we found ourselves on yet another marginal tractor trail that our regional map had labelled an actual road. I had to put a foot down a few times in the deep sandy soil of the wheel tracks, and grew frustrated as we went further and further past lonely fields without really knowing if, or when, someone was going to come out shouting and waving a pitch fork to turn us around. Fortunately no one did and we eventually popped out onto a major (meaning paved) road. We stopped in a patch of shade and I retrieved some celebratory jogurt from the cooler. (I’d found a bathroom-sized flip top garbage bin in a supermarket, modified it with cardboard, aluminum foil and packaging tape, and zip-tied it to my front rack. With a brick of frozen spinach it stayed cold for about four hours.)  We were delighted to find that this particular yogurt was Poland’s version of the creamy Greek style; basically sugared dairy cream mousse… It was delicious, hard earned, and very appreciated.

We followed the paved road into Le’zask and mingled through a crowded mix of a Saturday market and some sort of holiday bazaar. Amalia found some fresh fruit, but substantial calories (not counting donuts and elephant ears) were lacking. We rode briefly through the town proper in search of a bar mleczy (literally “milk bar” a Soviet-style, subsidized cafeteria were all sorts of down-home Polish food could be heaped onto a dinner tray for just a few euro.) but failed to find it. We figured it probably would have been closed for the holiday anyway. Appetites were growing, and having not found anything great (ie pierogies) in La’ zajsk, we resolved to ride 15 km further down the road to Zolynia, a slightly larger looking town that we hoped had just what we were looking for.

Just before La’zajsk, atop a long hill, we came upon a roadside tavern/gas station with a bar menu. We sat down at once, drank beer and blissfully watched U-2 on Polish TV for over an hour while we ate 36 deep fried pierogies between us.  Thoroughly, shamefully stuffed, we stumbled back to the bikes like a couple of tranquilized bears. We coasted past town to find camp at the first decent patch we came to- an apparent Christmas tree farm about 8km down the road. We collapsed into our tent, still bloated and quickly exhausted just from the effort of setting up. As I lay sprawled on my mat I was grateful we didn’t have to cook.

Sunday, August 16

Incredibly, I woke up early and hungry…