Sunday 24 August 2008

Talking to Europe

This year I have already spent well over 10,000 kilometres and 5 nights in trains and coaches. And I mean travelling, not shuttling to work and back. I have passed 10 countries, uncounted cities, and have waited on train and bus stations east and west, north and south.

Travelling with well grounded public transport is much better than flying. Because you remain well grounded. Because you keep the feeling of the distance you cover. And the best thing is: Talking to people. Talking to Europe.
  • Like the young Hungarian who wants to start his studies next year in Hungary but plans to leave the country afterwards because he is unsure about the economic future.
  • And the couple of French civil servants who have experienced their first tropical storm during holidays on Guadeloupe (or was it La Réunion?) and now complain about a crowed train.
  • Or the Romanian man who told he was in prison, found to God and was now travelling with almost no money through Europe - Italy, France, Great Britain, Holland, Germany, Poland and back to Romania - to look for money and a different life.
  • Like the German businessman living in a foreign country without speaking the local language.
  • Or the Moldovan man who was a professor once and is now a construction worker in Italy.
  • The Pole who works for a travel agency and asked me what he should offer for clients like me who like spontaneous journeys.
  • And the old British who cannot sleep in the night train and who I met at 4 o'clock in the morning on the corridor watching the dark landscape passing by.
  • And also the confused Russian who thought he was in the wrong train although he wasn't.
I could spend weeks just travelling around, watching Europe, talking to Europe, seeing Europe pass by the window.

All those europhobes out there, all those afraid of the Polish plumber, the French eurocrat, the German man in leather trousers, the Moldovan illegal or whatever clichés and stereotypes you have: Just go out there and travel with Europe, and actually meet those Europeans who you don't want to be part of your life. I don't want to miss them anymore!

And please, abandon all the borders - I hate to be reveillé by the border controls when I travel at night!

PS.: Thanks again to the young Hungarian girl who offered me sweets earlier this week in the train.