On the road

On the road

I wrote this yesterday as we sat in a very crowded ICE train between Koln and Bruxelles.

The ‘journey’ is nearly over and I have so much in my head that blog posts are starting to go forth and multiply. Travel like this, with long periods where you surrender responsibility to the train crew, hope you’ve picked the right platform ans the right end of the train (there are often hidden traps lurking there) gives both the time and the stimulus for thinking about lots of stuff. Here’s some.

We’ve had the most amazing trip but it’s been exhausting. This has been one of the surprises. That travel makes you very tired – hardly an original thought – but this is a different kind of tired. There are the physical things: a lot of waiting around in between connections; a few anxious moments when you arrive in rundown, seedy stations in edgy parts of town and wonder at your sanity; there’s the daily ritual of the rucksack, unpacking it every night because the best place to pack the toilet bag is right at the bottom, then the big lift in the morning when you heave it onto your shoulders and feel the strain as you trudge back to the station with those heavy morning legs. But all of that is as nothing compared to the other tired that’s difficult to describe but I’ll try.

We felt it when we reached Istanbul and finally put the rucksacks down in the little studio at Adonis Taksim, a tremendous deep tiredness. It had been a gruelling few days with night trains and buses, snatched meals and very little really good sleep. We had also made it to our destination, so maybe it was that ‘job done’ reaction. But mainly it’s about the challenge of this trip that neither of us had fully understood when we set out. The constant moving on, being on the road, or in our case, on the rail is strange. There’s a troubling dichotomy between loving the freedom and adventure of travelling light with but a vague direction and getting weary of the transitoriness of it all. There’s the sense that you need to be alert all the time to take in everything you see and hear, the people you meet, even those who just happen to be in the same train compartment but with whom you barely exchange a word, they are all part of it. And there are moments when you long to relax and be home again.

We like a challenge and feel it’s good for us, not in a self-denying sort of way but because it gives you so much to think about, creates little tiny windows into other people’s lives and makes you feel alive. Alive and knackered, but hey, that’s the deal. And, of course, it provides endless subjects for the artist!

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