European Roadtrip, Part 1

For reasons that are not important to elaborate here, I am currently driving from Vienna, Austria to Tartu, Estonia – a 1,581 kilometer journey that will take at least eighteen straight hours of driving over three days. Lucky for you, dear readers, I’ve decided to record this experience for posterity. Here is my record of day one.

Just finished day one of the trip. I, an American expat, am traveling with a Russian professor and a Ukrainian intern – all we need is a rabbi, a priest, and a horse to make the perfect “walked in to a bar” joke. The car that the professor has rented for us is an enormous Škoda SUV. It is enormously impractical and it warms the cockles of my American highway-loving heart.

The trip through the Czech Republic was uneventful (though we did see some skydivers practicing at what felt like a dangerous proximity to the highway). As soon as we entered Poland we got stuck behind a strangely dispersed convoy of police vans, all driving way under the speed limit and running their blue strobe lights. None of us know what it means, so we ease by the cops until they’re out of sight and then gun it.

We finally reach the town in which we are stopping for the night and after a suspiciously long drive along a single-track road we land at a little hotel in what I have to assume is officially the middle of nowhere Poland. We’ve arrived too late in the evening to eat in the restaurant, but not too late enjoy a few blessedly cold beers in the gorgeously decorated hotel bar/restaurant. After some much needed decompression (and a fair number of jokes at the expense of a certain leader of Russia), we decided to head to the rooms. We have rented rooms number 10, 13, and 14. As the professor is handing out keys, he asks which one I want. I glibly reply: “give me lucky number 13.” I will soon come to regret my choice.

We leave the bar and retrieve our things from our cargo ship of an automobile. As we make our way back to the rooms, I see that there is a vending machine in the lobby that appears to be selling pot? I’m not sure if it’s legal here but I make a mental note to check (Edit: I checked, it isn’t. What the hell?). The hotel seems nicely decorated but when I get to my room, I notice the window doesn’t seal shut because a handle has been snapped off.

The reason for the window’s malfunction is only apparent after some examination. This takes some time however because the more immediate aspect of the room that jumps out to me are the GODDAMN HUGE SPIDERS hanging in various corners of the room’s ceiling. After a frantic search of the room I count ten in total (eleven if you count the curled-up spider corpse that was already on the windowsill when I came in). Also, there is a large, very obvious, suspicious stain on the floor. I am comforted by the fact that it is probably too small to indicate a murder scene.

I have been driving for hours and am exhausted. I kill/expel the spiders I can find (doubtless the ones to whom I have shown mercy will find their way back in before morning) and spend the rest of the evening paranoid that every tickle is another unwelcome arachnid roommate. I rub some hand soap around the unsealed window in the hopes that the harsh chemical smell will keep them from coming in. As I blearily look under the bed, I see a glimpse of a silverfish? I can’t be sure but at this point I’m so tired I decide that the arthropods can simply have me.

If I’m still alive tomorrow, I’ll continue this chronicle.


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