[NetBehaviour] Overland: 36hrs with border crossings Linz-> Wein-> Sophia-> Istanbul

Michael Szpakowski szpako at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 10 11:11:48 CEST 2009

what a beautiful, elegant and evocative piece of travel writing!

--- On Thu, 9/10/09, Ruth Catlow <ruth.catlow at furtherfield.org> wrote:

> From: Ruth Catlow <ruth.catlow at furtherfield.org>
> Subject: [NetBehaviour] Overland: 36hrs with border crossings Linz-> Wein-> Sophia-> Istanbul
> To: "NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity" <netbehaviour at netbehaviour.org>
> Date: Thursday, September 10, 2009, 9:27 AM
> Overland: 36hrs with border crossings 
> 36hrs Linz-> Wein-> Sophia-> Istanbul
> Rob met us at Linz station on Sunday afternoon, a few
> minutes before our train for Vienna was due to leave. Peter
> took a photo of us standing on the platform. We all shared a
> bottle of wine in the restaurant car and enjoyed the view of
> the lush, green Austrian landscape. A few hours later at
> Vienna we changed for the Sophia train. Aileen and I shared
> a sleeper with three bunks and a sink covered by a hinged
> table top. Rob had his own compartment a few doors down.
> Initially they seemed impossibly compact for a 22 hr journey
> but we quickly made ourselves at home and it was perfectly
> functional for feasting, drinking more wine, swapping
> stories of artists, curators, travel and adventures,
> sleeping and reading. We noted that there were no power
> points and that we would have to ration the use of all
> devices though Rob was making the most of his new iphone and
> Twitter account. I planned to make more short movies of
> arrivals and departures into stations large and small.
> Shortly before we turned in for the night (and after
> consuming some good Austrian wine) the conductor, with whom
> we shared no common language, visited us to warn us in
> sign-language not to open our cabin door; not to him, not to
> police, not to passport control because this is how tourists
> are robbed. I fell asleep speeding through Hungary. At 1
> o'clock in the morning we were woken by an alarming
> banging on the door, and a number of men shouting in
> languages we didn't understand, interspersed with
> "passport control! polizei! open! hell-o!". Then
> more agitated pounding, more shouting, different voices. The
> train remained stationery. We played dead under our
> blankets. I could think of nothing else to do than wait for
> them to go away. Then torch lights shone in through our
> window and someone attempted to open the window from the
> outside while Aileen tried to close it again. Only when she
> recognised our conductor looking very flustered outside the
> window did we realise that we must have misunderstood his
> instructions and we sheepishly unlocked the door. A very
> irritated passport official demanded to know what we had
> been drinking. The conductor told us later that there were
> over 10 officials trying to gain entry to our cabin. We
> tried to explain but still have no idea what he thought we
> were doing.
> We should have worked it out. We were border crossing from
> European Hungary into Serbia. The following morning a
> mixture of nervous hillarity blended with an awareness that
> border-crossing is a non-trivial matter for so many people.
> This after all was one of the deciding factors for
> dismissing London as a possible host city and holding this
> year's /ETC in Istanbul. For Turkish and other
> non-European participants without institutional backing,
> getting a visa to enter the UK is a lengthy, tedious
> process, fraught with uncertainty.
> We arrived in Belgrade at 6-ish on Monday morning where
> Uska and Heide (also bound for /ETC) were waiting on the
> platform. After happy greetings we agreed to hook up later
> because our cabin was so small. Rob bravely left the train
> and returned with delicious coffee and jam croissants and so
> began a heavenly day of reading, eating, sleeping, shooting
> the breeze and noting the changes in the landscape. Serbian
> agriculture looks different, with smaller and less regular
> plots of land. We saw many domestic vegetable gardens and
> fruit trees weighed down with apples and pears. We talked
> with Rob about /ETC's philosophy, purpose and DIWO
> approach and ended up convincing him (i think) of the value
> of adventuring into the world of FOSS; suggesting a slow
> ramp introduction in which we could support the installation
> of a dual mac/ubuntu boot on his laptop. Late in the
> afternoon I was still feeling very relaxed and cheerie.
> Throughout the journey carriages were added, others
> removed. Another (this time uneventful) border crossing into
> Bulgaria. The train stopped often for no apparent reason and
> made creaking and groaning noises like a ship. By the time
> we arrived in Sophia we were an hour or so late and were
> told to run for the train on Platform 1 that was waiting for
> the connection to Istanbul. As we ran we said good bye to
> Rob who was booked into a hotel for the night and noticed
> that we couldn't see Uska and Heide anywhere. The train
> journey to Istanbul was not so comfortable. The carriages
> shook us violently from side to side in our beds and the
> border crossing into Turkey at 2.30am was harsh. It was hard
> to understand what to do; shunted from queue to queue for
> passports and visas then back to the first queue to get the
> passport and visa checked again. It was raining and I had
> that empty, vulnerable early-hours feeling. Before the train
> pulled out two more officials, this time wearing masks, and
> carrying torches gave our carriage a cursory search. All
> very unsettling before being loudly shuffled in our beds
> once again.
> Entering Istanbul on Tuesday morning was so beautiful. I
> already regret that I will leave it at night. A huge,
> charismatic city that gives the impression of being built in
> radiating spirals around its 7 hills. We were met by Ruzgar
> (one of /ETC Istanbul's energetic organisers) at 8.30am
> on the platform of  Istanbul's main station. Poor
> Uska and Heidi had been caught in the wrong carriage and
> ended up in Greece. Ruzgar took us to Begum's flat and
> we slept for a few hours.
> =====================
> We Won't Fly For Art!
> http://www.pledgebank.com/wewontflyforart
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