Chillin' in Wroclaw, and the Hotlist's 1,000,000th page view

Hey guys!

Just woke up and it looks as though it's going to be a glorious day in beautiful Wroclaw! Man, it's nice to be on vacation for another month or so!!!;-)

While I knew it was going to happen at some point while I was traipsing around Eastern Europe, last Friday night saw Pat's Fantasy Hotlist get its millionth page view! Fuck me, but that is totally unbelievable! Not bad for a dumbass who writes short, pathetic, laymen reviews, eh!?!:p Once again, many thanks to all of you who keep dropping by, day after day. You certainly keep things interesting! But 1,000,000 page views???? That's decidedly over the top!

The seaside town of Gdansk was surprisingly beautiful and I definitely enjoyed my stay there. It was only meant to be an extra stop on the itinerary, just so I could say that I had seen a little more of Poland, but it was very neat. Unfortunately, it rained on my last day there, which prevented me from visiting Oliwa and its cathedral, as well as the Baltic seaside resort of Sopot. Hot damn, but I would have enjoyed watching Polish women in their bikinis while soaking up the sun on the beach for an afternoon! Alas, it was not to be. . . I did get to Westerplatte, the site where WWII began when a German battleship attacked the Polish garrison stationed on the island. Yes, I took the kitch pirate ship to get there, but please don't tell anyone!

I got a few messages pertaining to Polish girls and how they can't be that great. Well, let me disabuse you of that notion! I've been to both Hungary and the Czech Republic, and there's no way in hell that those women go one-up on the Polish girls! Ellestra, you're right! They should put that on the posters to attract tourists. Then again, you'd probably get more British stag parties, which are starting to become a plague in Eastern Europe. Brits don't seem to have a clue when it comes to the women here. Acting stupid and boozing till you puke all over the place rarely sends the chick running after you while tearing their clothes off, you know. . .

No, I like the way Polish girls are stylish, whether they're wearing jeans and a tank-top or designer clothes. They're not trashy like some other Eastern European women (no, I won't mention any city, though everyone knows what I'm talking about). And unlike North America, which has become a "skinny" culture, Polish girls seem to understand that you can have meat around the bone and still be beautiful.:-) What can I say!?! I'm a meat lover! Girls in the USA and Canada sometimes have chickenbone legs and waists so thin you fear you'll break them in two if you hug them too hard. . . Polish girls, on the other hand, look like they can be hugged again and again! Hopefully I'll get to hug one or two before I leave Warsaw next week!:p And I'm an avowed leg-man, and boy do many of them have nice legs! The fad appears to be the tanning salons here. . .

Poland's biggest problem is that the trains are atrociously slow. We're talking quasi-Third World speed here, with an average of less than 50km/hour. For fuck's sake, it took me more than 7.5 hours to get from Gdansk to Wroclaw, when such a journey should take 4 hours at the most. Another problem is that no one speaks English, meaning that it makes everything more difficult for tourists. I don't mind countries that make foreigners work a bit to appreciate their charms, and Poland surely falls into that category. But the tourist infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired, especially if there is not a soul in a train station that can help you by telling you from which platform your stupid train leaves. I had a connection in Poznan yesterday, and I nearly missed my train because no one could/would help me out. Every traveler you meet will say that the Polish don't offer the warmest of welcome to tourists, but that's the way love goes, I guess. It's probably why the hostels's staff are so nice and helpful. I mean, this is my third Polish hostels and the folks here are fantastic. They all deserve a raise, and that's a fact!

I saw the Dutch lose to Russia last night, along with a few hundred soccer fans on a giant screen near Wroclaw's immense market square (the second biggest in Europe). There were a lot of Dutch partisans, but it was not to be. Perhaps I should refrain from watching games involving the Netherlands, as they always lose when I do so. I'll always remember that game during the Euro 2004, when the Dutch faced the Czech Republic. I was in Amsterdam and the Netherlands led 3-0 at the half. If you know the Dutch, you know how those guys can party. Well, they loss 4-3, and you've never seen a city go dead like that!

As for Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I enjoyed the second part more than the first, which is to say that I didn't dislike it as much as the other. This book is extremely overwritten and overlong, even though I enjoy her witty writing style. Interesting that some people are happy to overlook flagrant flaws (snail pace and absence of plot) that would be inexcusable otherwise, just for the sake of mannerism. . . I'll plod on, just because I want to finish the novel. But I have to agree with Rob and say that this is probably the most overrated book I have ever read.

Okay folks, Wroclaw awaits and the sun's out. This looks like a wonderful city, and I certainly intend to make the most of it. To all of you looking for a new place to visit, Poland is surely a country worth discovering. It has a lot to offer, even if you have to work a little harder to reach it. . .:-)

Again, don't spell-check me, as I have no time to proofread myself.:-)

Have a good one!

27 commentaires:

galarfr said...

"that this is probably the most overrated book I have ever read."

At least someone who agrees with me!!

Roland said...

"As for Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I enjoyed the second part more than the first, which is to say that I didn't dislike it as much as the other. This book is extremely overwritten and overlong, even though I enjoy her witty writing style. Interesting that some people are happy to overlook flagrant flaws (snail pace and absence of plot) that would be inexcusable otherwise, just for the sake of mannerism. . . I'll plod on, just because I want to finish the novel. But I have to agree with Rob and say that this is probably the most overrated book I have ever read."

I'm totally going to wait for your review (I assume you'll write one) before I chew you on the "overrated" part, but I have to say a few other things:

1. There is no such thing as "inexcusable absence of plot". The plot is what the author wants it to be. I'd say "Vellum" lacked plot too, but it was still a magnificent book. Gene Wolfe's "Book of the New Sun" could also be said to lack plot, and it's arguably one of the best SFF books ever written. "The Road" had no plot either. Or "Stand on Zanzibar".

The point I'm trying to make here is that the plot is just a tool a writer has. One of them. If an author doesn't want to make full use of it (and you'll find that S&N's story has a LOT to offer actually), it's his or her right to do so if the world-building, characterization or style make up for it. And I dare say, sir that Susana Clarke has more than made up for her "lack of plot" in those regards ;)

2. There is no such thing as "inexcusable snail pace" either. Actually, the pacing of a book, while objective per se, is totally subjective in the mind of a reader. I didn't find S&N a slow read. The story progressed slowly, but so many things actually happened along the way, that it kept me turning pages like it was some cheap space opera or something.

It's your right to disagree of course, but don't forget that it is not just beauty that is in the eye of the beholder.


And polish girls DO indeed rock. Most east European girls do actually, take it from an expert ;)

Cheers.

Balerion said...

Hmm. More echoes of TPots... ;)

Roland nails it on the head.

greg said...

Your comment about snails pace story and 'lack of plot' makes me wonder whether you liked Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle.

Glad you're enjoying Poland!

Patrick said...

Oh I absolutely loved Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle!

And it's still too early to come with a verdict for Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, as I still have about 400 pages to go. However, I feel that I would enjoy it more if the book wasn't this long...

But hey, liking a novel/movie/yada yada yada is a very subjective thing, so maybe this one just isn't for me.:-)

GP said...

I enjoyed JS&Mr N, it was a pretty long time ago so I can't full justify it, but I do remember finding it to drag at some points. The crucial thing about it is to always remember that Norrel's and Strange's relationship is the core of the book, Strange's development throughout his life is the only other point in the book, really. Even the fairy villain isn't that important, but how he changes Strange is.

I also have a book with some short stories by Susanna Clarke, mostly within the same world. I found them intensely boring, but their almost like missing chapters from the book.

Maurice said...

I guess it really depends where you go in Poland as when I was in Warsaw I met many people who could speak english and if not that, then German. The Poles are some of the friendliest people I have ever met and yes the women are to die for!

Anonymous said...

Breslau (now called Wroclaw) had been in fact German city until end of WWII so what you are admiring is in fact German architecture. The same goes for Danzig. But as with you reviews no one expects you to be insightful.

Jorram said...

Seeing that the city was founded around the 11th century and Prussia came to dominate it as late as the end of the 18th, that's hardly a pointful claim. For most of its history, it's been either Polish or Bohemian, for whatever that's worth in Medieval Europe at all.

Dark Wolf said...

I'm sorry but I have to make a correction, in 2004 The Netherlands lead the Czechs with 2-0 and lost the game with 2-3.

Anonymous said...

Next time around the EURO will actually happen in Poland... Maybe *that time* the Dutch will win?

But the Poles need to fix their railways in the meantime...

Cranky Hamster said...

Are you seriously complaining that the U.S. has too many skinny people?

Pardon me while I die laughing. All those medical experts decrying our obesity rates? That was just crazy talk! Too many skinnies, that's our problem!

GP said...

he means the image of beauty, and although America's biggest problem is with obesity they also have big problems with girls malnourishing themselves to appear beautiful which is just awful to be honest

Fred said...

To the Anonymous who wrote: "But as with you reviews no one expects you to be insightful.":

No disrespect but that post makes you sound as somewhat of a jerk. I mean, if I want a history lesson I'll watch the Discovery Channel.

For a guy who never had the chance to leave the States other than for a trip to Puerto Rico, I'm enjoying these snippets from Europe from Pat. God knows I can't afford to go on such a trip, so it's cool to have him share some of his thoughts on Poland and where he'll be going next.

I'm a little confused about all the recent "hate" directed at Pat. The more so because the guy is traveling and has no internet access and he can't even sort of defend himself. There's been a lot of people pissing on him of late and that's a bit weird. After all, the guy has been doing the same thing since this whole blogging thing began, so it's not like he changed his style or something. I find that his casual approach works best for me and I guess that many readers agree. Why else would this blog be so popular, I ask you???

So why should he change anything? I've been following that debate generated by that email exchange he had with Morgan's editor, and a lot of people kind of rip into him and the Hotlist and want him to challenge himself more, etc. Let me be honest: I love Pat's Fantasy Hotlist because it's the way it is. And to claim that he doesn't write insightful reviews is bullshit. Just because you'd like Pat's review to be longer, more in depth, more whatever, doesn't mean that what he's been doing for the last couple of years has no merit.

Pat has always maintained thjat he doesn't consider himself a particularly great book reviewer, that he writes the sort of reviews he's want to read. So why piss on him if that doesn't quite meet with what you're looking for. Just visit other sites...

Pat if you're reading this, don't mind your detractors and keep up the good work. I stop by basically every day and I don't see that habit changing any time soon!:)

And damn you got me interested in Polish girls!!! Have fun in the old countries my friend! Looking forward to your next review...

polishgenius said...

I suspect anonymous critic is trying to be clever for the sake of it. Not very well, as jorram pointed out.

But I don't see what it has to do with anything anyway, Pat's not mentioned who did the architecture. He's not writing a travel blog or a history journal. I think someone was looking for any excuse to throw some smugness around.

Also, Polish girls... I agree. Though I may be biased. It's not just their look, it's their style. I live in England and believe me when I'm on holiday in Poland it's refreshing to see the ladies knowing how to dress themselves.

Strange and Norrell. I agree with roland, what Pat's describing aren't flaws in the book, they're stylistic choices - the plot is there, it's just drawn out slowly. On the other hand I reckon Pat's well within his rights to dislike those same stylistic choices - I enjoyed it but it's pretty clear why a lot of people wouldn't. It's not exciting, gripping, or intense, so if it doesn't draw you in on the strength of the style and characters there's nothing to keep you going.

As Pat says there, different strokes.

Larry said...

Fred,

I think you were a bit too broad there. Pat's known me for about 3.5 years now and we respect each other enough to make constructive criticisms on occasions. He thinks I'm daft to like M. John Harrison, I think he needs to expand upon matters on occasion. Challenging someone to want to improve is usually a good thing, or at least it was when I played team sports. So perhaps you might want to use a smaller brush size to paint others with the negativity paint?

Patrick said...

cranky hamster: Not to sound pissant,but I could you possibly mistake my meaning??? Go to any college, high school, university, dance club, gym, yada yada yada, and you'll know what I mean. Don't know if you work out, but there is something foundamentally wrong when you see a 5'5 girl wearing about 120 pounds at the gym who's saying she has to lose some weight because she's got a few extra pounds!!! A Keira Knightley figure just isn't healthy, and yet it appears that a majority of girls in North America are aiming for that. It's a sad state of affairs, really. . .

As for people pissing on me. . . Piss away, I say!;-) I'm on vacation, so I don't have time to waste on this.ut any time you run something like this blog, well whatever you say and do becomes "public." Hence, some will like it and some won't. That's the way love goes. . .

I arrived in Krakow yesterday afternoon, and city is beautiful. But in terms of gorgeous girls, it's got nothing on Wroclaw.ost girls you see are tourists like me, and they can't hope to compete with the beauty and the sexiness of those Polish women. Man, Wroclaw was the shit in that department!

Still plodding through Clarke's book. Definitely leaving this behind as soon as I'm done. Can't get into it, which means that I can never read more than 50-75 pages in a sitting. I grow bored rather easily, and this is not a work that captured my imagination. With the length of those Polish train rides, I should techinicallye done by now, but alas. . .

Talk to you later!

Larry said...

Pat, one thing I forgot to say earlier:

No way can I believe that Polish girls are hotter on average than Brasilenhas or the porteñas of Buenos Aires, but perhaps that's just my bias speaking? ;)

Patrick said...

Larry: I think you know I go totally crazy for that exotic look. But the Polish girls come in all shapes and sizes and flavors!:p

Definitely among the most gorgeous women in the world, no question!

Larry said...

I'm still awaiting your verdict on Southern Belles, ya know ;)

Ellestra said...

"But 1,000,000 page views????"
Congratulations :D
Sorry it’s so late but I had philosophy exam.

"Poland's biggest problem is that the trains are atrociously slow. We're talking quasi-Third World speed here"
Unfortunately PKP is the giant that still lives in communist time. If you think you got it bad think of those poor people who use trains to get to work and many weird things happen.
My friend is from the most South-Eastern part of Poland – it took her longer to get home from Warsaw by train then her father to fly from New York. That’s why she uses buses now.
Fortunately for you the Krakow-Warsaw line is one of new and pretty fast.

"Another problem is that no one speaks English, meaning that it makes everything more difficult for tourists."
You had to deal with so called tourist information, I assume? Not advisable.
Try to ask people under 30, dressed casually but not trashy – much more chance for finding somebody who speaks English. And, knowing the state of TI, usually try to be helpful.

I’m glad you liked Wrocław and Gdańsk.
Hope you enjoy Krakow as much and that Brits are not too much of annoyance :)
Did you managed to see something outside the cities?

And if you don’t like Strange and Norrell it doesn’t matter. One doesn’t have to like everything. I don’t understand people who get militant when somebody doesn’t enjoy what they like. Maybe you should try another book.

polishgenius said...

I've been in Krakow two days and it's bloody sweltering. By my crappy English standards anyway. >_>

Does bring those pretty Polish girls Pat mentions out in force though... I'm on the outskirts. Less tourists...

Larry said...

Until the heat index is well over 40ºC, I don't want to hear any of you complaining of "sweltering weather." Of course, being a Southerner has its advantages. In some parts, Daisy Dukes are almost year-round ;)

polishgenius said...

Being an Englander I'm allowed to complain of the heat at anything over 25c, so shhhh. >_>

Ellestra said...

I heard that some people live in the South all year long but I'm convinced these are stories propagated by the same people who tried to convince us there are jungles on Venus.

In Poland temperatures are above 30C (in shade). It can be hotter - I'm sure we'll see 38 before summer ends. Still 30 is more then enough to feel like dying from overheating when you're in the city and at the sun - it's more like 40 then (at least it feels like it.

Still - it's only six months till winter starts and the we'll miss this.

PS Did you have storm in Krakow? It got much nicer in Warsaw after rain - and it poured so hard it got dark and visibility was down to 50m.

Larry said...

Ha! You two do realize we're giving a new meaning to the "Hotlist," right? ;) Most European tourists (and Yanks as well) don't seem to do too well with our humidity. Breathing in shower steam for half the day does help with asthma though, I've noticed. And in southern Florida, it's this way for almost the entire year. I miss it.

I'm waiting for Pat to report back on his whale tail sightings ;)

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