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Posts Tagged ‘Athens’

More tales of Vienna and Europe in the Cold War:

Agatha Christie did not title her novel Murder on the Orient Express for nothing. Thirty-plus hours of standing from Vienna to Athens is a kind of slow murder. Or sitting on the floor in the grimy vestibule by the cans until a conductor comes by to kick your feet and tells you, in languages from German to Serbo-Croate to Greek the get the hell up and out of the way of respectable passengers.

There are few respectable passengers traveling second class, mostly cars full of students going south from Vienna for the semester break. This is 1969; Greece, despite being ruled by the Junta, is the destination of every college age kid in Europe that February. The twice-weekly Orient Express is overbooked as usual.

I am traveling with a buddy from Oregon who has come over to Vienna for a visit. Said buddy is also trying to get me to stop smoking, so he hid my ciggies before we got on the train. Thus, I can’t even strike a romantic or existential pose with one of my cheapie Austrian oval-shaped nonfilters. We do come prepared with food and water, but the wurstsemmeln last only the first day, the bottled water is gone about the same time. So we live from stop to stop along the line in Yugoslavia, buying food from vendors at the stations where the train halts. (more…)

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