Stories tagged with disused
/ Germany, Luxembourg, France
The last stop on the trail was Luxembourg with a night camped out in sleeping bags on a grass verge, much to the amazement of the morning commuters. From down here below the southern tip of Belgium it was a long old way back to Dunkirk, deviating once more only so that Larey could go nuts in the hypermarket. And go nuts he did...
/ Latvia, Estonia
Plans to stay in Riga had been ditched in favour of putting in a few hundred miles overnight. The Estonian leg was a long one and the only way to get round it all in time to make flights home was to keep going. I don't think there was total agreement in the car about this option, but it was the one chosen nonetheless.
ith the sun going down at the end of our second full day we rolled into Ventspils on the western coast of Latvia. Our encampment for the night would be amongst the smashed remains of gun emplacements, block-houses and bunkers. There's something very satisfying about finding a good spot to bivvy down.
/ Latvia, Lithuania
Never let siologen choose your accomodation. What he'll probably do is arrive at the hostel, settle himself into a 6-bed dorm with 5 teenage girls before welcoming you into your room by shoving the door open. The Asian girl inside will almost definitely fly off the handle and proceed to go nuts about the lack of manners.
/ Hungary, Slovakia, Austria
/ Romania, Hungary
/ Bulgaria, Romania
Disbanding as we did with bags and cameras only seemed to enthrall the residents even more. By now they looked bemused about the whole thing but made no effort to stop us. They re-appeared en force, one presenting us with a mobile phone. Siologen put the phone to his ear to be met with the expected question.
/ Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria
Bosnia. If you're old enough to remember the news coverage then the very name is enough to conjure up images of burning buildings and cars, weathered soldiers, UN vehicles and refugees. Indiscreet in our red Seat we passed through the border controls with no issue and continued our course towards Sarajevo.
/ Hungary, Austria, Croatia
Five minutes later an attendant arrived and showed us out to the carpark where a gleaming red Seat was waiting. I'm sure the car cowered away as siologen dumped his trademark blue rucksack into the boot, but it was too bad - bitch was ours now. Forty minutes later blue flashing lights appeared in the rearview mirror...
There's an amazing feeling being down in the workings of a hydro plant, knowing that there's all that water potential above your head, held back by a man-made wall and a few valves. And of course, hand controls and levers attached to those valves are always going to provide temptation to mischievous intruders...
And there they were, indeed looking dark (at least the windows were) and satanic. Neither myself nor DLB were, however, among them. We were instead being summoned towards a pick-up truck, the driver of which had spotted us as we scampered from one bush to another. For us, the war was over. For the second time.
Once more we were shepherded off to the side and instructed to park next to another vehicle. Beside the other car stood two worried looking men, roughly the same age as us. Inside the front of their car several customs guys were busy pulling the centre console apart. Wires and plastic were going everywhere.
/ Sweden, Denmark
One dull clunk produced no results, as did the second. The third produced more fascinating results: the fans sparked into life, enveloping me in a cloud of rust. At this point, annoyed and covered in dust, I descended the ladder and barked at siologen to stop messing about. And then he threw the fourth lever...
/ Lithuania, Latvia
As we moved through the place we found some recognisable buildings: a vehicle garage (empty), a sports hall with various murals on the walls and in one corner an oily looking substation building was literally wrapped in barbed wire and wooden shuttering. One can only imagine just how nasty it was in there.
The first night in the car produced two stiff necks and a bemused stare from an elderly lady hobbling past the car. The windows were misted up and siologen lolled to one side in a grey sleeping bag that generally made him resemble a vast slug. I climbed out of the car, had a stretch and grinned at the old bag.
A good while before I ever took the kind of photos that appear on these pages I spent a lot of time riding various kinds of bicycle in places I shouldnt, which is how I came to feel so comfortable with the idea of trespassing, and the realisation that a good majority of the better places to spend ones time are, officially, off limits.
Unlike the two rabbits I can see from the window, which stop now and then and look around, we no longer need to live in fear of our lives. And in fact, you and I never did, not like our distant ancestors for whom hunting, gathering and staying alive was a daily operation. But for us with all this time and money on our hands, what are we to do?
Many had been there to explore the various floors and loading bays; many had taken photos. Eric though had other ideas for the Red Hook grain terminal, voiced with intermittent laughter as he threw various rope equipment onto his apartment floor. Crucially there was a 200ft rope, a harness, some slings and then ascenders.
Looking up and around I contemplated the massive open space before me like the cathedral to modern manufacturing that it is. Here within these vast halls Henry Ford conceived the snaking mechanical monster that would shape industrialisation in the 20th Century, radically changing the way of life in the West.
Standing forlorn on the Toronto Harbourfront, the old Canada Malting silos were no strangers to intruders. For the several decades after they fell into disuse countless people breached the somewhat-fortified exterior. On a bright day in October 2009 a small band of us risked our necks to clamber up and into the remains of its workings.
A vertical ladder took me up beneath a hinged steel lid, apparently devoid of locks. Shoulder to the cool metalwork I pushed, swinging the grill upwards and then letting it fall open. Stepping upwards one last time I clambered out of the misty darkness and emerged onto the main turbine hall floor. The method had worked.
Standing near the top of Horseshoe Falls, for the time being just another tourist, I watched the waters never-ending procession with unease. A gigantic cloud of mist and a terrifying persistent rumble completed an experience like no other I can think of, but one that would later that night be completely surpassed.
For the hundredth time that night Shane's laughter reverberated across the room. With Johnny Cash thundering from the jukebox as her soundtrack the vivacious barmaid, dressed in questionable attire, shimmied along the bar top in her cowboy boots deftly stepping over glasses and bottles balancing two cans of Coors on her head.
To enter Yaggy's Eagle River Power Station we had to cross some exposed wasteland watched-over by a man in a portacabin. Once inside all of us relaxed and toured this mighty ruin. Water ingress has hastened it's destruction, with the beautiful roof above the turbine hall on par with those at the grandest of railway stations
On the morning of the last full day in Belgium we awoke on scaffolding attached to a church tower. Daylight had found us and so we reluctantly took this as a cue to get moving. As we climbed down onto the pavement the caretaker turned up and scowled at us but she was too stunned to actually say anything coherent.
Coming shortly was what the passage is more-or-less famous for: 'the bridges'. And 'bridges' is in inverted commas for the simple reason that most of the 'bridges' aren't really bridges anymore. It's at times like this that you have to keep your brain in gear. If you become lazy, complacent or slack then mistakes will be made.
The heavy iron door opened silently. Eyes adjusted to the darkness, inevitably the path ahead was downwards by way of ladders. The clunking sound ceased - quantum-x had reached the bottom. Trying not to breath in the sparkling shards of fibreglass that were now airbourne thanks to our disturbance, I followed.
Despite an assumed 14 years of neglect, the place didn't seem to be doing too badly. The ward blocks looked sinister: barred windows and little observation slots in the doors. Ultimately we gained entry to both floors of both blocks, but that first time was the most exciting, for we had no idea what was to be found inside.
Quite possibly involved...
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