Athens to Istanbul
Trip Start Dec 17, 2005
28Trip End Jan 17, 2006
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Athens - Istanbul
price: 33 €
duration: 24 h
you will not arrive on time. the border crossing to turkey takes forever. Greek people call Istanbul "Konstantinopolus". you have to change trains at the border.
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from Athens to Istanbul
Let's face it. This travel is a hardship. We are always moving. If we are not on a move we are resting. If we are not at rest, we are eating. What is this all about? We go to one place in order to look at it. One or two nights we stay. Then on we rush to the next. We could stay in any of those places for a week, for a month, for a year. Our bodies are passing through European history at the speed of an axe, splitting the wood. Our minds keep softly-imprinted impressions that are feeble images of colourful or colourless flashes. When I wake up, I ask myself: where am I?
If we wouldn't be together, I would travel much slower or much faster. Being together, I feel comfortable doing at the speed we travel with.
What is our motivation? I don't want to talk for Baidi. I can only talk for myself. The are many reasons for going away. First of all, I want to see my brother, my friend, my comrade. Erik. Without him I wouldn't have survived Stuttgart. We were always together. No matter what lectures or tests would be up for the next day. Our common life in Stuttgart is another story so be told. The moment he left, I decided I would visit him as soon as possible. I didn't think about when and how it would be a good idea to go Georgia. Just get there somehow and see what happens. My childish and naïve approach to everything.
Christmas time is a difficult time. I believe in a higher power that governs earthly affairs to a certain extent. However, I don't believe in Jesus Christ and that he and I have a closer relationship than I have with anyone who is walking on the street. I can't accept how people can freeze their emotions for an entire year and suddenly - when it's Christmas - everybody starts to play Christmas music and watches Christmas movies and feels the love of the savior.
I don't like the gifts. If I would have a Christian way of thinking, such consume as it can be observed during Christmas, would be connected with the world below.
Everything has two sides. I also love Christmas, I love the family and to spend time together. My dream is that I could spend such days like Christmas together with all family members. Family is such a broad concept in my mind. I know that for my grandmother family means: the closest relatives. For me it's quite different. However, my dream is made of illusionary fabrique, since my mother and father don't talk to each other. How could there be a family Christmas when the most vital parts - mother and father - are in argument with each other? They say: "Come to me for Christmas, so we can spend it together as a family." My grandmother talks the same way. If I would lock my grandmother, my father and my mom into one room, I would not be sure if all of them got out of there alive. Each one of us defines family in a different way. Everything and everyone has a lot of complications. People paint relationships with stereotypical colours. On Christmas they would just like to forget about it. How can I forget about it? I always have to decide, where I'm going. Maybe all of us will be able to find a common definition of family one day.
So I am running away from Christmas.
A more important aspect behind my motivation is the adventure. Oh, adventure! Adventure of the unknown. Blood sparkles through my veins with excitement. Sensing every vibrant bubble of oxygene rushing from one point to another inside my skin, my organs, my thoughts. They make me run, make me go, make me explore. They permit me to think, to keep me out of danger, to love the excitement. I like the danger. If I wouldn't like the danger, I wouldn't search the adventure. If I just wanted to travel, I could go to France or Britain. But why Georgia? The unknown world caught my attention when I was a child. If I read about Georgia on the websites of the CIA or Auswärtiges Amt, I have the feeling they are trying to scare me. They are trying to talk me out of this trip. They try to keep me away from there. Because life there is not regulated. Nothing there is regulated. Everything and everyone has his and her and its own rules. If you can't find something today, you will do it tomorrow. Or never. It's not important. What is important are the people. Their hearts. Emotions. Friendship.
They have something that we have lost in our shiny and highly-decorated world of knowledge, standards and offices. We have lost something on the way. We have become so rich that we forgot what it's worth living for. Whenever we stand still, we think: "I want to get this cell phone" or "I want to get this car" or "I need a bigger house." Mostly we think "I want" or "I need". Uttermostly we think "I".
We define ourselves by what we have got. In other countries people don't have so much. So they define themselves by who they are. I didn't see so many people take medication for mental deseases in South Ameirca. In the States you can by this kind of medicine in any drug store. Without prescription.
This is almost the most important aspect. The adventure. The unknown. Getting to know the unknown. Being thrown inside. Finding my own way through there. The darkness turns into light. People are people everywhere. It doesn't matter which colour of skin, which religion, which food they are eating. Those concepts are the easiest to live by. Nevertheless, I feel like I was breeded in an environment of stereotypes. In Germany we think that we are such cool people. We think that we are doing everything the right way. We look down upon developing countries. It starts when we refer to them as "developing countries". Surely the assets of those countries are still developing. However, the more developed the assets of a country the less developed the minds of the people. I mean the capability of understanding how the world and human beings truly work.
You can't ignore the emotion. But that's what we are taught in my country. To ignore the emotion. Rely on what you can see, read, understand. Don't rely on what you can feel.
Maybe the spread of the democratic system - the spread of assets, standards and busines - the spread of competition will bring exterior wealth to other countries. Perhaps those countries are not thinking about the price they will have to pay for the wealth they receive. Everybody will be sheltered, except the emotions and the mind.
Of course, I just painted a picture in black in white. There are many more aspects of this problem. This is just a part of my opinion. My opinion is highly based on what I feel. A person who has read more about those topics than I, will find much better arguments for his or her point of view. My point of view is still developing. Every moment I feel like I wake up. Perhaps I will change my mind later.
The most important aspect of this travel are Baidi and I. We are together. I am so surprised that she decided to come with me. I don't know how to describe my feelings. I have not experienced before, that the girl I love tells me, she wants to come with me. On a travel to a distant and notoriously dangerous country. It would have been different if she would have said:"let's go to Italy". We talked about it before. We discussed interrailing and many other possibilities. Nevertheless, we have started this crazy trip to Tbilisi togheter. The first word that comes to my mind right now is: happy. She makes me happy. We make us happy.
Our decision to travel together makes me even happier. From the outside it may seem like we are doing a crazy travel. A crazily cold and rough travel. You really shouldn't travel Europe in winter. At least not like this. It would be better to go around by taxi and sleep in five star hotels. Perhaps it wouldn't be better but at least a whole lot more comfortable. I am so worried about her. I hope she doesn't get sick. This is hard for us. Hard for our minds and our bodies. However, we are getting closer each second. The intimate and mutual trust in our relationship has blown up all frontiers of the mind. We are in love, we enjoy, we are alive.
Both of us gave up our original plans for this journey. She wanted to go to Italy and Spain, tickets already booked and paid. I planned to visit Georgia for much longer and travel there on another route.
Now we are here. Together. On a trip. From Athens to Istanbul. We are taking more than three hours to cross the border from Greece to Turkey. We stand still in a village called "Pythion". This settlement consists of two or three buildings and a police station. The police have had our passports for more than two hours now. Occasionally a locomotive pulls in and out of the train station, leaving a single waggon behind.
other bagpackers arrive. they are frech. they come from istanbul and want to continue to ahtens. there's some problem. some heated discussion. the officer behind the glass window doesnt really care about their worries. he doesnt need to go anywhere today. he didnt have to go anywhere yesterday. he wont go anywhere tomorrow. everything is gonna be the same. with or without foreigners. with or without travelers. a spanish couple is reading and writing books. very interesting.
we board the train. no locomotive, yet. no passports, yet. it takes forever. we have time. nowhere to go anyway. life shouldnt be such a rush. we wait. then we get our passports. we leave. slowly. crossing into turkey. watching the army. soldiers with rifles. officers with guns. workers building tents. mosques. people in head scarfs. a child with a "bayern münchen" back pack. first contact with soccer ever since i left stuttgart.
then the turkish police. checking our passports again. it takes forever. four hours later...
we continue to istanbul. there is no light. no heating. we like it. we want to sleep anyway. the conductor comes. he asks us to come up front. better carriage. this one is out of power and heat, he says. he's worried. we send him away. another one comes. we send him away too. a third one comes. we accept the suggestion and leave. they lock the waggon behind us. they are really friendly. trying to speak english. their smile makes us forget that we come from different countries. smoking cigarettes. feeling wonderful. she falls asleep in the sleeping bag. "i'm a bag" she laughs and falls asleep.
then we argue a bit. then we fall asleep again. somebody wants to enter. we lock the compartemnt. fall asleep. wake up. fall asleep again. what a life. trying to read. it doesnt work. watching her. she can sleep in any condition. i try the same. then we're in istanbul. delight. joy. we made it. we're in asia. we step off the train. meltem is not there. we dont have money. our phones dont work. we get money out of the ATM. we dont even know the name of the currency nor the exchange rate.
get outside the station. walking somewhere. people asking us to stay in their hotels on the way. then trying to find a call shop. we find it. the guy talks to Meltem. our friend. she's coming to get us. sweet and rough travel delight. finally we gonna have a break now.