As I settle into my frugal man’s first class seat (exit row), I figured I’d summarize my trip to Europe, as best as possible, punching out this entry on my tablet hoping to not mistakenly hit the “n” key from time to timenasit’snnestlednclosely to the space bar. But alas, I have a Bluetooth keyboard waiting for me at home so as not to look like a Neanderthal next time, trying to chicken peck my way through my adventure, so appropriately named #EuroTour14.
We’ll start on breakfast. From what I have seen Europe, you have some work to do. Serving up deli meat and bread at your all you can eat “breakfasts” only makes me assume that I’ve missed half the day and must adjust my schedule to a noon o’clock wake up. You’d be amazed at the simplicity and versatility of an egg or two paired with all your delicious cheeses. Maybe some Tabasco, if you want to give your taste buds an adventure. Give it a try, you’ll love it. I was fortunate enough to have my teammate, Heather, allow me to crash her breakfast during my second leg in Leuven, so I’m not having as many withdrawals.
On the topic of food, I regret not having more time to sample more of the local delicacies, as I did my best to maintain a diet conducive to my training. However, from time to time, we were able to do as the Belgians do, or Irish, or Dutch (Eric and I paid separately each time), depending on which leg of the trip we were on. Pretty much every corner in Belgium has a waffle and gelato stand. Amsterdam provided great “coffee” shops and companionship. I’m not much into those endeavors, let alone having to spend money on either, so I partook in other activities, such as city tours and getting in touch with my Dutch roots. Ireland provided a surprising amount of appreciation for country music (oh, Franky) and a tour of the Guinness factory complete with a free pint. Unfortunately, I’m certain I did not come close to enjoying all that was offered everywhere we went.
Luckily I had time to enjoy some frites (fries) & moules (mussels) in Brussels, along with some escargot. As to whether or not the snails were antibiotic free or sustainably raised in a cage free environment, I cannot attest, but enough garlic butter can make anything delicious.
If eating snails concerns you, that may be the least of your worries, while traveling abroad. As I’m generally comfortable in just about any situation, I quickly realized that beyond the language barrier, there are pretty much no rules when it comes to driving and much of what happens around you makes no sense. For one, cars and buses will plow through crowds of people in town squares, which appear to be pedestrian traffic only. Nope. And to add another concern, many of these countries allow motorcycles and scooters to scoot along bike paths throughout the cities. Seeing as we had to share the already narrow bike lanes/sidewalks with pedestrian and bike traffic during our runs, we immediately jumped to threat level purple, if that even is a tangible threat level. Ireland proved to be an adjustment in terms of traffic flow with their left side of the road driving and love for roundabouts. Even our cab driver complained about the infrastructure of the roads, along with voicing his hatred of the “stupid leprechauns” on bikes (his words, not mine). But nonetheless, we were able to navigate each run without getting lost, and traversed through 3 different countries with limited casualties.
Moving from place to place can make competing abroad a bit more difficult as you make numerous mental checks each time you relocate. Passport:check. Spikes/uniform: check. Wallet: check. Clean underwear: dammit. But we made it to each destination on time and ready for the next race. The only casualty that I’m aware of was my travel pillow being left in the back of a taxi. Luckily this is only a concern on days that I have to travel anywhere from 4-16+ hours. So, today. But a $12 pillow from Target is not cause for much concern, especially since I can probably find a cheaper one on Amazon.
By no means do I consider myself a world traveler based on this one trip, but it gave me plenty of experience for future seasons and possibly more leisure oriented trips. I’ll be happy to touch back down in the US and even more excited to be back home. While this trip has offered an extraordinary experience from racing to adventures, I’m left feeling quite exhausted at the moment and content with what I was able to get done in Europe, much like an appropriate second breakfast. Take notes, Europe. And as much as I’m looking forward to an amazing American breakfast at Keys tomorrow, I’m happy to close this track season with much more hunger than anticipated. If you happen to prepare it the right way, I’m looking at you Europe, a good breakfast can go a long way.