#ballinasloe #ireland #trainstation #america #photooftheday #photofrommyday2016
Happy Birthday to my oldest son, Preston!
October 14, 2016
RAILROAD, n. The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us to get away from where we are to where we are no better off. For this purpose the railroad is held in highest favor by the optimist, for it permits him to make the transit with great expedition. — Ambrose Bierce
A train to somewhere from Asia to Europe – the yin and yang of travel.
Vietnam – Trains packed tighter than sardines in a can. In first class, windows are open hoping to catch a breeze to lighten the stifling air – cushioned seats are full (wooden benches in 2nd class) – aisles are filled with passengers, perched in a near fetal position on a child’s plastic stool. The 6″ area behind the rear seat shelters a body, curled up on a woven straw mat, toes peeking out.
Boxes are filled with crickets, snakes, roosters and God knows what else. The food car serves up cupfuls of slime, something that would tangle our fishing line in a still warm lake.
India – Smiling, friendly, religious zealots, who kissed our toes and touched our foreheads. Merchants cruised up and down the aisles hawking every item imaginable from sarees to nail clippers – 6 beds to a room with no doors on a full train.
Eastern Europe – Backpackers galore, train cars from 2 person personal sleepers to a 100+ sleeper car with no air and sweltering heat poaching our skin. Generic.
Europe – Cushioned seats are full and that is that – no poachers. The air conditioning hum can hardly be heard it runs so smoothly. Windows closed. No color, sterile… vanilla 😉
The absurdity of the brain – In Vietnam we imagine the cleanliness and civility of European train travel. As we traveled west in Europe we longed for the lively stimulating train travel in Vietnam. Go figure…
The number of abandoned buildings along the tracks grow. Because the language and alphabet are foreign, not Latin-based, we don’t talk or visit much – or read the signs or newspapers.
The railroad guys are thick! Their arms are like tree trunks and necks to match……. I think there was an Olympic wrestler from this area who was huge – maybe Greco-Roman.
There are more dirt roads, and storks in nests on many abandoned industrial chimneys. The grain has been harvested and the straw is in windrows – that stuffy pungent hay fever odor permeates the train.
We crossed the Danube. Interestingly there was some industry and a power plant on the Bulgarian side, but just ag. fields on the Romanian side. The fields of sunflowers and corn continued….with a little alfalfa. The fields got bigger and the horizon further off in the distance. It was flat. The Romanians burn their fields…… like Malaysia, Indonesia, Mexico and some in Carson Valley. At this magnitude the impact is real.
Bucharest was really fun. It is a romance-based language…. some claim the purest Latin derivation. There is a lot of French and of course Russian and techno vocabulary. The city has a real and pleasant railroad station. Downtown is a mix of serious architecture, along with new and abandoned. The banks and government buildings are almost baroque…. Buff and strong like the people.
Of course the country is still coping with the freedoms offered after the 1989 revolution and the world economic crisis. Prices are cheap. Wages are cheap. The people are quiet and introspective but the city gardens and the stores are colorful and lively.
We’ve seen many Detroits in Eastern Europe and this is just another one…..but they seem to be trying.