Photograp by Viran de Silva
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Romania to Bulgaria by Train
Finally the train from Russia arrives in Bucharest Nord after 2 a hour delay. Apparently it had broken down somewhere in Russia. I was eagerly waiting to begin the 9hour journey across some of the beautiful Romanian countryside I was excited all was going well !!!
I boarded the train and realised that almost all the seats were empty. Spoiled for choice, I found a nice empty seat, by the window. It was just me and one man at the end of the carriage. Immediately after I boarded the train there was an announcement and another followed by a long beep…. I couldn’t understand anything !! After a while, the car began to move with only two Romanian 2nd class compartment cars sandwiched between a couple of old soviet build sleeper waggons and a massive old engine completed this train. As we left Bucharest Nord it began its long journey that would reach Istanbul in two days.
Soon things changed!! The snow storm got worse !!! The train dragged its way across the beautiful Romanian countryside rocking side to side covered with a thick white blanket of snow as far as your eyes could see and then, a couple of hours later ….finally the inevitable happened…..the train came to a grinding halt. We were stranded in the middle of nowhere.
With harsh reality downing on me that I will not now make it to Sofia on time and would miss my ride to the Rila Monetary made me anxious and aggitated.
Nothing I could do was going to get me closer to my destination …… slowly hours passed as the snow storm got worse…… as night fell this journey had turned into a nightmare!! We were going nowhere!! Then the engine stopped giving way to the silence of the night. No heating, no water and no restaurant car and in the middle of a snow storm!! Just added misery to my journey ….nobody spoke English… I mean there were only 3 people in my carriage !!!!
Can’t read …..can’t write and no clue of what’s going on!! ….. Suddenly I felt like I was 5 years old again. In the words of Bill Bryson “ my sheer existence for the next 9 hrs was going to be based on a series of calculative guesses and luck “….. since I don’t believe in the latter… I thank the lord … This adventure has taught me that in life everything is not about reaching the destination on time … but the journey and the people that you meet along the way that matters
Late at night, the storm got worse and the snow pelted against the windows covering my only view of the outside world. It was quite eerie… the whole compartment was silent only to an occasional whisper from the adjoining cabin. I decided to walk through the carriages some were locked as people slept inside they seemed to accept this situation. Maybe there destinations were further than mine, maybe Istanbul ,maybe it was somehow normal …..hours passed. I met a few people…..some could speak English, others tried !! some looked at me curiously
Sharing “pogacha”(Traditional Bulgarian Bread) and a pile of mekitsi with jam a Bulgarian traveller in the last sleeper carriage taught me more about sincerity and kindness than I’ve experienced in a life time of rushing around on a day to day basis back home.
All these strangers all going somewhere united with a common bond that we were not getting any closer to our destinations… listening to them and getting a glimpse of their lives and hearing their perspectives of the their culture and their world has opened my eyes and challenged my deepest beliefs. It’s made me to trust my instincts and take that untraveled path to uncharted lands.. I also learnt that … everyone has a story that I’ve never heard before….. and everyone knows something that I don’t…… that … is worth knowing ….
4.00am cold and hungry on board an old soviet train
12th Jan 2014
I go where I am lead by people I don’t know. Still searching for the light.. to photograph and capture those moments in time.
Finally after 3 weeks on shared vans ,trains and buses and clocking up more than 1500km on my GPS I have made it to Greece from Bosnia …. This has been one hell of an adventure…… this is Meteora a mysterious place on earth…. something I have never seen before…. again my vocabulary fails to describe how beautiful this place is what a finale…. it’s the perfect gift to a perfect adventure…
I sit in the shade of an olive tree on a bolder that’s is still warm by the mid-day sun. A three hour hike has bought me here a place like no other ……I have dreamed of this place ever since my boyhood days…. now proudly crossing it off my list… been there, done that!!!
A cool breeze blows across my face, sun is setting over the great Meteora range ,the village of Kalambaka lies in the valley …… Risanu monastery rings the bells until sunsets as it has done for centuries…. its magical and its surreal ….
I think of London, day after tomorrow I would land at Heathrow where it might be 2 or 3 degrees below freezing…,there will be things to do….. meetings to attend…. servers and switchers to configure…..
I was not sad but happy and content for I had the past three weeks of the roads unpredictability…. each morning I rose to a day of mystery….. saw new landscapes, took off the beaten path to magical mountain tops, kept off the tourist trails …..got lost in little known villages and ate new food. ……I have transformed the way I think and feel …..I met with only strangers …. I formed friendships……….. cherished the hospitality of the people I’ve only just met …..
I learnt not to fear the unknown…. But to laugh out loud at the surprises and be humbled by the moment…. A month at home and this adventure will surely fade. Days will pass where I would speak to four or five familiar people and have mundane conversations with others…… !!! Soon I will become a part of their lives and theirs in mine. I will only go to the same predictable takeaway joints day after day …. Gradually these memories will fade …I am human, yet will join the rat race … routine will follow routine until it brakes…
I close my eyes… hypnotised by the echoes of the bells…. Ringing in the distance … The Images comes as a gift…… the lens is my third eye, the camera is a tool that I take for granted.
I have travelled … I have remembered all the faces in strange places…..every sunset and the golden hours….
Friends I give you this image and share this moment …….hoping that you too will tred the un-traveled path….. now I leave you in the words of St. Augustine “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page”
Happy Adventures hope you have many….
2nd November 2013
It’s been a while.. flown 5000 mils to the other side of the world….
it was a long wait … I peeped through the window of the plane as it taxied to a halt The sun was so bright it hurt my eyes.. I could see the blue sky above and the coconut trees in the distance … soon I was out of the plane. Its was hot and humid…. ….
8.00AM what a beautiful morning .. it’s the Katunayake International Airport ooopps I mean Bandaranayake International Airport sorry we keep changing the name every now and then just to confuse hell out of the returning traveller. “W” is glad to see me, he gives me the lowdown of what’s being happening whilst we are on our way to Colombo ….you know its nice to be driven.
buses drive on the wrong side… TuK Tuk drivers creep behind you!!! People crossing the road from every corner except the zebra crossing it’s the morning rush…Driving here is not for the faint hearted.. But soon I get with the flow as if I had never left .. noisy, messy and chaotic it’s a way of life … it’s great!!!
People just enjoying life to the fullest!! recessation, global economic meltdown nahhhh never heard of them in this part of the world
After three decades of war the bloody and brutal bloodshed has now come to an end.. but at what cost ? everyone smiles and hope is in the air sense of relief from the war The old world charm still exists… being lazy comes natural and is the order of the day. The island mentality supersedes and rules the daily life. The heat is slowing me down but the excitement keeps me a wake
I look out of the window admiring carved stones, old houses bordered by overhanging trees.. Temples painted in white….. catholic churches with big iron gates , little known kovils and vintage mosques in small towns, seeduwa, Ja- Ela, Kadana congested towns we pass one by one. Old men chewing on beetle getting ready for yet another day …. , ugly cut-outs of politicians erected for the up coming elections and their false promises printed in big red & green letters..
I have returned….. again … alone … but I am glad …. this is my world …. my own little world .. but its ok … they know me here….
Stunning architecture ranging from Art Nouveau and Baroque to Renaissance and Gothic so untouched by war and then six hundred years of history …..
I walked along the river Vltava towards the Charles Bridge the sun was setting behind the castle and the bohemian vine yards was glowing in the last light.. Yes the left bank the Latran Quarter the hillier side ….. St Vitus Cathedral rising above the red rooftops on the right bank by far made the perfect backdrop to a perfect evening….
I love the twilights just before the darkness the last rays of the sun ….even after that.. believe me, at night it got even better! I wondered through narrow cobbled stone streets away from the old town square it was spacious dint have no walls….. the tourists had returned to their hotels…. horse-drawn carriages with lovers whispering sweet nothings disappeared to the darkness with the shadows of a misty scene giving in to the silence once again… …..
The winding and narrow eighteen century street of Hradcany was dark only to be illuminated with old-fashioned street lamps, here and there……. Up the steps a couple walked hand in hand … embracing under the shade of light….. for the old man stood tall next to the candlelit cellar playing his guitar (the first photograph is my favorite) … music was mellow “strangers in the night” how appropriate may be not so for the lovers… a women in the nearby court yard peeped from the open window …. Half pass eleven it’s time to head back… Farewell to the old bohemia…. oh how lovely it had been…. a wonderful three days!!!! Your charm and beauty has touched my soul and captured my heart…..
– Random Thoughts – My last night in Prague in the Czech Republic a night I will remember…August 2010
Photography by Viran de Silva for more Travel www.viran.co.uk
Photography by Viran de Silva
www.viran.co.uk – February 8, 2014 at 10:32AM