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

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Thu Sep 10 12:44:43 CEST 2009

Hi Ruth,

Thanks for such a clear and vivid account of your journey to Istanbul
from Linz.

36 hours on train - much respect for your determination and of course,
equal respect to Aileen for accompanying you, and a hats off to Rob as
well. Of course, he would not be allowed into the Electic Tech Carnival
unless he was keen in pretending that he was female, although I remember
Helen Varley Jamieson mentioned when we last met that, they have begun
allowing those of a transgender persuasion to part of the festival thse
days. Which has caused much controversy within the inner ranks of the
Eclectic Tech Carnival regulars and organisers.

Your experience on the train with all that banging and crashing by the
passport control and police sounds alarming. I am impressed with both of
you that you managed to get through it, it sounded pretty tough. It
forces one to sympathise and realise how teribble must be for those who
have had to leave their homelands for reasons less positive, such as
wars and other relatively in-human circumstances. What it must be like
for them to go through such situations in order to survive and somehow
find peace from all the havoc imposed on them.

I am also impressed that you both persuaded Rob to partition his mac so
to have Ubuntu on it, it will be interesting to see how this change
develops in the near future.

I do have other things to say in response to your post, will reconnect
later :-)

If anyone on here is interested in reading Ruth's other texts about this
10 day journey to Istanbul, via other forms of transport instead of a
plane just click the link below:

wishing you well.


> 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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