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Days 12-14: Salzburg Showers

Shelton and I left Budapest before Brad. In a moment of euphoric excitement he booked an extra night at the lovely Art Otel, without running it by the rest of his traveling contingent. Upon hearing of Brad's impromptu audible, I thought it best that I continue to Salzburg as planned, afterall, our hotel room was in shambles, mini bar exhausted, a victim of my my comrades' after hour suaray with three Hungarian Jackals.

To me, our welcome was thoroughly worn out and I was ready to depart. Shelton agreed.  Brad wanted one more night with the wilds of Hungary.

All of this exposition is for not, I realize, as Brad forewent the room that evening and hopped on a train not long after our departure to meet us in Salzburg three hours after our arrival. 

Salzburg, Austria, is another picturesque city broken up in two halves by a river. Old Town Salzburg is exactly what you would imagine. Beautiful, historic architecture lining cobblestone streets which all lead to the base of a mountain. Atop the mountain sits a stronghold the likes of which we haven't seen thus far. We would storm that beast by day's end, hear you me, unknown reader. 

The weather was colder and grayer than in Budapest, with a few short drizzles punctuating the afternoon as our platoon marched the cobblestone streets of Salzburg, scowering for espresso, ice cream, and pastry treats. 

We've become quite good at devouring all three in one sitting, by the way. Not that the heavily caffeinated espresso intake has had an effect on our troop's somewhat lackidasical mindset today. We've each had four shots and Shelton and Brad just informed me they're headed back to the room for a nap. 

This gave me time for further exploration and Justin-time, too. I found an antique map store and decided to purchase one for my father, who has collected hand-etched maps for quite some time. I found one extremely detailed one from 1865 done by a German artist, printed from a steel etching engraving. The map conveyed the original layouts of Norway and Sweden, which my Mother's family dates back to. I also found one slightly smaller one with Texas, New Mexico, Mexico and California depicted, from 1809, and I decided to get it given my current place of residence and my home state on one masterly crafted image.  

I returned to the hotel room three hours later and found my travel brethren lying side by side on the queen size bed, Brad with his face-mask on and Shelton's shirt off and his pants low enough to show off the crack in his hairless, pale ass. 

I stood before my resting travel contingent, sighed, and then went to sleep on the rollaway.

The next day we found a local brewery called Augustiner Brau, a staple of Salzburg since 1630, a date, seemingly from another world. 1630? We were drinking from a place that was built in 1630. These castles we've been visiting date back longer, but something about an actual brewery establishment being that old made me think.  Think of what, I don't know, I suppose the fact that since the dawn of time, seemingly, man has gotten drunk. Not sure what to make of that, if anything. 

Our trio's conversations have ranged vastly over the span of the trip and now, as we share massive beers at the Augustiner Brau, we've dipped back into our staple talking point, which of course, is women. And more specifically, women of the past. We all went to grade school, junior high, and into high school with one another.

And that last paragraph just put me to sleep. 

As I denote our travels by means of the world wide interweb, I'm keeping in mind your interest level, unknown reader. Obviously, if you're reading these words, you're interested in the exploits of three grown caucasian men traversing Eastern Europe. The extent of your interest is most likely hinged upon the brevity of my story. 

Oh, here's something. We really need to grow up. I have known this for awhile, yet, have done absolutely nothing to remedy. Men our age have wives and kids and mortgages and responsibility. Shelty has an Astros zip-up. Brad has an espresso. I have a cat. 

We have discussed our current relationship statuses, wondered when we will get married to our dream women, settle down, get lawns. We all want to. Our conversations sometimes grow quiet when these discussions get to this point. Other times they turn the tide and spur the ordering of another round. 

Shelton gets particularly downcast as we discuss matters of the heart today. He lives in Dallas and is currently singling and mingling. Shelton lived in Dallas at the same time I did for nearly 2 years and  has remained one of my closest friends throughout our time on this planet together. Brad, on the other hand, has told us repeatedly that he doesn't care about finding a woman. He's a card. But Brad, he's a talker. Brad has been talking about a girl he met in Budapest and it seems there might be some caring in the very near future. But when it happens it happens, he says. I believe him, but I let him know that he has to be truly open and to not be closed off and an utter dickhead to them, whoa, what the hell am I doing giving advice. The nerve of me. I only take advice from people that are successful in the areas that I'm looking for advice in, for instance, I don't take stock tips from hobo's or ask virgins about their fave sexual manuevs. Makes no sense. I would never take women advice from me, why should Brad.  

  I realize that I've failed to mention the dynamic of our group in certain situations, one of those being arguments. Let's take the daily bickerings between Shelton and Brad. They are opinionated men. They will get into a disagreement over the most trivial of things, and instead of talking through the issue while looking at one another, they will both look at me. Literally, they will be side by side, arguing with each other, but staring directly at me. It's odd.

We have been jet setting across Europe for two weeks now, and have just found ourselves on a bus full of retired Germans headed to an old World War 2 relic entitled the Eagle's Nest. 

A wirey man-waif with a big pair of black glasses, a little black umbrella he used as a pointer, and an impossibly high voice was to be our tour guide for the 4 hour Eagle's Nest tour. His voice was amusing at first, the German accent turning him into a cartoon character, but as time wore on I found myself imitating his dialect. He would begin and end every sentence with 'Berchtesgaden,' the name of the town that the Eagle's Nest is perched above, at the pinnacle of the area's tallest mountain. Berchtesgaden I've never heard the word Berchtesgaden more in my entire life than Berchtesgaden in that 4 hour trip Berchtes-fucking-gaden.   

So we checked out Eagle's Nest, which, funnily enough, was a gift from the Nazi Part to their Boss, Adolf Hitler, in 1938. He visited the spot a recorded 12-15 times in the years that followed, the years leading up to us kicking their goose-stepping asses in, and successfully ending the moustached midget's campaign to rule the world. 

The US military spared the Eagle's Nest in accordance with German pleas, and I'm glad they did, because we enjoyed our trip to the spot. A one lane road blasted from the side of the mountain brings you there, high, way high up into the sky. Once to the base of the peak, we shuffled down a 300 yard tunnel ending in a bronzed elevator ride to the top and to the Eagle's Nest compound. 

The vista from the top was nothing short of epic. Our conquesting contingent took a photograph together on a cliff overlooking the Nest and Austria and Germany. Then it was time for lunch, so we left. 

If I know anything about myself, it's that I can sleep anywhere. Be it a 3 or 4-star hotel, the first-class cabin of the RailJet, or a random European girl's queen bed, I can really rough it. 

Kidding on the last line there, folks. Come on, not much went down in Salzburg so I'm filling.  

Which, oh lookit the time, brings us to the end of our time in Salzburg! 

Onwards, my friends! Our journey has two more stops, do not leave us now. 

We are headed to Germany, the nation of the Harder's origin and probably some other things. 

Until next time, Go Berchtesgaden Yourself. 

The view from the Eagle's Nest