Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Psychic Travel Log, Volume III

We were supposed to come full circle back to Milan, but...

Psychic Travel Log, Volume III – Austria

After a magical week of lounging and eating in the Italian countryside, we punched a few new holes in our belts and reluctantly got back on the spider web of confusion known as the Italian highway system, headed north to Austria.

Everyone on the roads out in the Tuscan countryside was still trying to kill us, but they seemed to do it at a slower and more relaxed pace than in the big city of Milan. Unfortunately, however, they had tractors with crazy-old trailers, so it evened itself out to be just as death-defying.

Surprisingly, we made it to the border with all of our fenders and most of the original paint. As soon as we crossed over into Austria the drivers were ninety-seven percent less crazy, and I was able to pull to the side of the road and, with some considerable effort, unstick my hands from the wheel and get the blood flowing back to them.

At the first stop for gas (which was roughly three thousand Euros per milliliter), we noticed the other glaring difference in our new surroundings. Everyone sounded different.

What were they thinking when they invented German? They’re so close to Italy. Couldn’t they have just used Italian? Everyone in Italy sounded like they were offering me warm bread and telling me it was OK to take a nap. Everyone in Austria sounded like they were hacking up a fur ball while demanding that I fix the engine and run somewhere to put out a fire.

Still, as a Schmatjen, these were my people. Strangely enough, however, not one of them knew how to pronounce our last name. I know for a fact that we don’t pronounce it right, but I at least figured they would know the correct way. Everyone in Austria and Germany made the same “what in the hell is this mess of letters?” face that we get in the U.S. Bummer. I was hoping for some insight there.

Well, at least they have schnitzel. And German beer. For all their faults with the language, they sure know how to craft superb flat, breaded meat and brew wonderful beer.

We were on a whirlwind tour through Austria and Germany. We visited Innsbruck, which is German for “Holy cow, look at this place!” My people are very appreciative of their surroundings.

We toured a salt mine in Salzburg, which is German for “Salt Town.” My people are also very literal.

We visited Neuschwanstein Castle, which is German for “this is a two-bazillion square foot castle, but you’re only allowed to see the porch.” My people are not very welcoming with their big buildings, either, I guess.

Then we drove to Bamburg, Germany, which is another really old city with a lot of really old stuff. It was one of the only cities not to get bombed in World War II, so it is ironically named, from an American pronunciation perspective.

A lot of the stuff in the town of Bamburg is literally a thousand years older than me. Many of the residents have carpet older than the United States of America. Those facts were totally lost on our boys, who had just completely tuned out to how amazing Europe was and had deteriorated to the point of simply complaining about a lack of French fries and how everything was old and made of gray rocks.

This, along with our considerable lack of money, signaled a time to make our way back home.

From Bamburg, we were scheduled to drive back to Milan on what would end up being today, the 22nd of July, when all of you finally catch up to us and this column is automatically posted thanks to the wonders of the internet.

We were supposed to fly out of Milan on the 23rd. After careful consideration regarding the feasibility of a road trip back through Italy, however, we decided to drive to Frankfurt instead, purchase new full-fare flights home at the ticket counter using fake names, and report the rental car stolen, which we left in a ditch just outside the airport.

That just seemed easier than driving back through Italy.

It was a great trip, but we can’t wait to be home.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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