Journal entry 1.
19.10.2019 16h Somewhere near Regensburg, DE on route to Vienna, AT
Twelve hours to travel by train. One transfer. Two invisible borders (owing to freedom of movement within the EU). I left at 06:38h this morning. It was dark then. Today I have passed through a rainy and overcast landscape which has opened up to a partly overcast one. I can see that the sun threatens to peak through, I can smell the smoke from a burning pile in someone’s backyard. I smelled it before I saw it. I can see blue sky, I can see the warm hues as I look out across the flat landscape toward the horizon, a reminder that the days are shorter. This and the haze tells me that winter is approaching, though there are still leaves on the trees. But they are beginning to yellow.
The landscape has gradually transformed from the flat waterlogged farmlands of the Netherlands to hills and pines and grass that grows from an earth that lies above sea level.
If I had taken a plane I wouldn’t sense any of this. I would not feel the distance I am covering. My mind would grasp the concept of the distance I have travelled, but the body wouldn’t really understand. I would miss out on all the details… on all this time.
Of course it’s too easy to romanticise the dead-time of travel, of the commute, of the waiting, of the necessary invasion of personal space which routinely takes place when a stranger takes temporary residence in the adjacent seat, when you use the bathroom that everyone else is using. The spaces of travel are foreign, are temporarily occupied by bodies and overpriced food and drink. But maybe any waiting time, in-between time, is always remembered more fondly afterwards. To be human is to have a lot of time doing nothing really. Life can at times be long. Having to wait for something… we want it all now.
Yet the absurdity is I’m travelling in a train that travels at speeds in the range of 200km an hour at times. Let’s remember, this is fast travel. Or it used to be fast travel at least. All speed is relative I guess. This used to be the fastest way you could get anywhere.
The sun is out now, I can see the contrail but not the plane. We are approaching Passau HbF soon.
[Took a roll of film, overlapping exposures from the train somewhere near the German Austrian border]