Imaginary lines drawn at random through the map to separate one piece of earth from another. In theory, borders are just that. Arbitrary lines. The people living either side of them are biologically the same, the nature continues right on through and the weather certainly doesn’t adhere to these made-up boundaries. It is a strange occurrence, therefore, that the world can change so much and so drastically either side of these random dividing lines.
Thankfully, the borders we have crossed and are yet to cross on our journey are wide open – indicated only by a small sign informing us that we are seamlessly transitioning the frontier into a new country. No big burly men asking for papers and documents, no barbed wire fencing and no security forces. No fees, no fuss and no song and dance. In essence, a beautiful symbol of peace and co-operation across Europe. The only person to look at my passport so far on this entire trip has been a uniformed French man in Dover… and even he wasn’t that bothered.
Despite the ease of crossing borders here in Europe, it was the latest crossing from Germany into Poland that felt instantly like we had entered a new world.
As we crossed the river I was struck by the way in which such an innocent stretch of road can beckon forth such a dramatic transition. Apartment blocks sprouted from the ground in the quickest germination I have ever witnessed, roads developed a serious case of pothole-itis and the small family cars that had slowly overtaken us minutes prior magically morphed into trucks hurtling their down our new road. The atmosphere changed almost instantly; we were on edge, our senses heightened and our brains furiously whirred as they began processing this dramatic change in stimuli. Undoubtedly a scary transition but simultaneously exhilarating. The feeling of having our comfort zones visibly moved from under our wheels is the very reason we came on this journey. Poland has arrived and has instantly made herself known.
Borders are certainly opening up in this world. There are some I would still not wish to cross but on our trip we have been seeing first hand how accessible this continent feels. Despite the fact that they do sometimes feel arbitrary, I feel we are reaching the stage of our journey where our road is changing more dramatically. All of a sudden Estonia seems that bit closer… but first, a whole new road full of villages, towns, forests, lakes and unknowns stretches out in front of us. The next chapter has begun: Poland.