My project began with a 48 hour long coach journey from London Victoria coach station to (i'd actually got trains from Bristol to London previously, via Brighton, of course!)
Why Romania? As you will find out full details in the next section, I was kicking off my trip on a venturesome expedition with my sister, Michaela. She was adopted from Romania when we were both around the age of 3. At this time, things were worse than atrocious in the country. We were on a mission to find her remaining living sister in Romania (to where she'd never been back since adoption). All other of her family members were presumed dead or missing. Romania was also to be the starting point of an epic road trip round the black sea, so all signs were pointing to here as the place I should begin the arduous research task that lay ahead.
Why by coach?!! This transpired to be the least fussy way of blasting through most of western Europe and getting to Romania in one big stint. It was cheaper, and less hassle than organising trains, which would have taken the same amount of time anyway. Flights would have been far quicker and cheaper, but whats the point of that when you are travelling properly?! I would have spent longer working across Europe if i'd had more time and money for this bit of the trip but to be honest, theres nothing that adventurous to do there and I've seen most of it before anyway (sorry Europe!)
Rewind for just a second...this trip was the culmination of over a year of saving money, planning, dicking about with visa's, and cycling my ass off the 38 mile round trip to work most days. The time had finally come for me to dismantle everything in my life and reduce my piles of accumulated random bollocks and other treasured possesions to a size that I could fit in my backpack.
Most of my stuff including my speakers and music production equipment I ended up having to sell on ebay... much to my despair! but I wasn't going to let my record decks and vinyls go that easily...I've lent them to trusted freinds (cheers Simon & Jamie!) to look after until whenever I may come back (no fixed date for that in sight yet!)
Now I have to go back to using a crappy laptop, its an outrage I tell you!
Michaela and Me, just coming out of london
Our approximate route across Europe to Romania
My beloved, now departed, DJ/production set-up
So anyway, back to the trip...I guess I had a moment of reflection/realisation as our coach arrived on the P&O ferry and Dover and I watched the shoreline of England, and my whole life up to that point, gradually drift away into the distance... I think this sentimentality was generally overridden though by general excitement about WTF am I doing and the reality that I was finally doing something different and had broken myself out of the, 9-5 routine, sitting in front a computer all day, live for the weekend frame of mind which was for the most part good while it lasted, but it has most certainly had its day!
Me and my sis chilled on the deck for a little while, and I proceeded to spend all of my remaining queens pounds on a total rip off bit of fish and chips from the ships restaurant. There were only 6 chips!
I won't bore you with every single little detail about each country we passed through, but I will tell you a bit about how those 48 hours passed by...
I found it kind of interesting how a trip like that acts on your perception of time. I think if you embark on such a long journey, you basically give up any hope of it finishing anytime soon and just accept 'ok, my life is now this bus'. We had breaks every 3-4 hours or so, giving us a chance to get out and stretch our legs etc...
However, spend more than a few hours on these type of basic coaches with seats that don't recline very far back, and you will definately realise how uncomfortable it is! its difficult to find a good position especially if you want to fall asleep...so I kind of fell into a schedule of napping for 3 hours on, 3 hours off.
However, these long journeys really give you a limited range of distractions which is great for general reflection on life, etc. To be honest, for a few hours, as we passed through the endlessly monotonous autobahns of Germany I did feel some waves of homesickness type feelings come across, realising more acutely what i'd left behind in terms of the parties, freinds, raving, etc....
Luckily, this seemed to have mostly passed once I woke up from a nap to find myself in Hungary and to see that things were starting to look pretty different. I think that if you do choose to go through countries like this and observe whats around you, from the landscape outside to the service stations you stop at, you become aware of a feeling that is both exciting and slightly disturbing...the feeling that everything around you is gradually becoming less and less English...!
This service station issue definately started to become apparant in Hungary. Because we were both really pretty Hungry. Being hungry in Hungary is not a great situation particualry once you realise you don't know a word of the language, what the exchange rate is, have no cash at all and the service stations we stopped out were really quite basic affairs with no chance of an ATM or Visa accepted logo.
Luckily, soon after we crossed into Romania we found a small service station that accepted cards and we bought some sandwich rolls (really yummy compared to English service station equivalents, mini croissants, water etc..) On the perception of time issue again, at this point we were like, "THANK GOD THERE's ONLY 10 HOURS LEFT! :D"
Up until this point, even a 5 hour journey would have seemed a bit ridiculously long to get anywhere...so I think this trip was a good primer for the huge amounts of time I would be continuing to spend doing this type of travelling! :) I'll also add that one thing I like about long journeys is not only do I not have anything or anywhere I need to rush off and do something, I literally can't do anything else except, chill, sleep, listen to music, think about the nature of the universe etc.
To conclude, super long journeys have a strange effect on one's perception of time, service station food is better pretty much anywhere compared to UK, german auto-bahns are depressingly monotonous and this was definately the best 48 hour long coach journey i've ever been on.
Actually decent sandwiches at a bus station in Cologne, Germany
Approach to Frankfurt...crazy german electro-rap was on the radio which is where I had the idea to start recording FM staions in foreign countries
Service station in Hungary...a horse and cart came past at this point which sadly I failed to photograph in time