I’ve been asking my dad to tell me his train stories on email, and this is one he sent today:
“I WAS AT A CONFERENCE IN RIJEKA, CROATIA WHERE I DELIVERED A PAPER. SEVERAL FRIENDS ASKED WHERE I WAS GOING NEXT, AND I
TOLD EACH – TO BELGRADE, YUGOSLAVIA. NO ONE SAID BOO RE A VISA.

THEN IN TRIESTE, I BOUGHT A FIRST CLASS RAIL TICKET TO BELGRADE, AND NO ONE SAID DIDLEY-SQUAT ABOUT HAVING TO HAVE A VISA. I HAVE BEEN TO ALL OF THE LEADING COUNTRIES OF EUROPE AND NEVER HAD TO BUY A VISA TO GET IN.

SHORTLY BEFORE THE BORDER THERE WAS AN
INSPECTION OF OUR LUGGAGE, WHICH WAS A SURPRISE. THEN WHEN
WE DID CROSS, IN CAME TWO SOLDIERS W/SHOTGUNS.
WHEN I WAS ASKED FOR A VISA, I SAID I HAD NONE, SO I WAS FORCED
AT GUNPOINT OFF THE TRAIN.

map-of-vukovar-and-vincoviciTHEY PUT ME IN A SMALL TENT AS THE TRAIN PULLED OUT. LATER I WAS GIVEN SOME LUKEWARM SODA POP. MY QUESTIONS GOT NOWHERE UNTIL ONE OF THE SOLDIERS SUGGESTED I TAKE THE NORTHBOUND TRAIN, DUE IN SOON, AND GET OFF AT VINCOVICI.
THERE I COULD TAKE A BRANCH TRAIN UP TO VINCOVAR WHERE
I COULD APPLY FOR A VISA.

BUT OF COURSE, I HAD NO TICKET FOR THESE OTHER TRAINS. AT THE
FIRST TERMINAL, I STOOD IN LINE ALONG WITH MANY OTHERS AND
HAD STILL NOT BEEN TAKEN CARE OF WHEN THE “ALL ABOARD” SOUNDED. SO I RUSHED TO AN EMPTY CAR, GOT ON WITH NO TICKET.

SOON A CONDUCTOR CAME THRU, FOUND I HAD NO TICKET, SO I ASKED
IF I COULD BUY ONE THERE. NO, THEY WOULD NOT TAKE AMERICAN
MONEY OR TRAVELER’S CHECKS OR A CREDIT CARD. IT WAS GETTING
TO BE AROUND 1800 AND I KNEW THE CROATIAN VISA OFFICE, IF I COULD FIND IT, WAS PROBABLY CLOSED.

GUESS I LOOKED DESPERATE, SO THE RAIL CONDUCTOR TOOK MY U.S.
DOLLARS AND I RODE THE TRAIN TO ZAGREB, GOT A HOTEL, AND
POSTPONED MY WITCH HUNT UNTIL MORNING. I TOOK A CAB TO THE
EMBASSY. LOOKED LIKE A PIECE OF CAKE; BUT NO, AFTER A LONG WAIT, AN EMPLOYEE SAID THEY HAD ENOUGH VISITORS FOR THE
SUMMER AND WERE TAKING NO MORE.

“NO VISA.”
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