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© KatkaTravels

I’m hungover as all hell.

The boys – two Frenchmen and a Latvian – drive me out to the middle of nowhere, in the middle of winter, to hike up the side of the mountain and explore an abandoned castle – Slovakia’s Považský hrad. Normally, I’d be up for such an excursion.  After a full night of drinking in town with Slovaks? Not so much.

I struggle to climb what is probably a small hill; dehydrated, sore muscles, nose running.  Miserable.  I don’t even know if this is part of the High Tatras or just some minor land form that was created to kick my ass. The boys are yards ahead of me, perched on a shelf of the hill, staring down at me and smoking cigarettes.  Smoking, at a time like this. Unbelievable, as I can barely breath.

It’s so French.

I reach the shelf and suck at my water bottle. “Can we go home now?”

The boys oblige my request, and we head back down to the car.  Even descending, I fall to the back, stomping through the snow and trying to avoid slipping on the ice.  Ints, the Latvian, has already fallen on his ass, twice.  I laugh mirthlessly at his misfortune, and consider it karma for leaving me at the bar last night, alone and wasted.

When I get home, all I can do is sleep.