I have a thing about borders. I have a thing about a lot of things, like cemeteries, counting stuff, and doors, but I also have a thing about borders. That I can cross the River Shannon in Athlone, Co. Westmeath and be in another county (Co. Roscommon) but still in the same town amuses me. That I can walk over a bridge in Killaloe, Co. Clare and be in Ballina, Co. Tipperary intrigues me. And to find that I’m within spitting distance of so many borders in Hungary, amazes me. I’m like a kid at Christmas.
I know it’s not rocket science. Borders have existed for eons. They’ve always been there. Be it districts, villages, towns, cities, counties, countries, regions, continents – whatever. They change with the politics, with the wars. They’re movable beasts. And while my borders didn’t just pop up since I started spending time in the village, I feel like I’ve just discovered them.
Driving into Istanbul from the airport some years ago, I was gobsmacked to see a sign welcoming me to Europe. That was my first continental border crossing and I hadn’t even realised I’d been in Asia. My favourite crossing has to be crossing over the Arctic Circle when I was working in Alaska. I’m sure I still have the certificate somewhere. I must dig it out. And I have a vague memory of being somewhere, where by hopping from one foot to another I changed time zones or states or countries … something huge, so huge I can’t remember.
I’ve been a regular crosser of the border between Slovakia and Hungary and less often the one between Austria and Hungary. I’m partial to the border between Serbia and Hungary and rather fond, too, of crossing into Romania. A couple of weeks ago, we crossed over into Slovenia and explored. Last week, we crossed over into Croatia (posts and pics to come). The last two are about an hour’s drive from the house. With six of the seven crossings completed, the one still on my list to do is Ukraine.
The last two have also been road trips, a joy I’ve rediscovered. I took a couple through Hungary in my early days here but then reverted to trains and planes. Yes, there’s been a couple of US trips in recent years, but they involved planes, too. There’s something about just getting into the car and going. That freedom of movement, that being able to stop wherever and whenever. It’s something I’ve taken far too much for granted. My EU passport allows me visa-free travel in the EU and indeed outside. That little purple book coupled with my green international car insurance papers are my ticket to foreign lands. I need to take more advantage of the freedoms I have and be grateful that I can up sticks tomorrow and just go. Does it get much better?