Laguna Vere in Tbilisi, Georgia, was once the premier aquatic sports centre in the Caucasus.
The last time I was visiting friends in Bucharest, we passed one very pleasant afternoon touring some of the city’s lesser-seen sights: a derelict mill, the ‘gypsy ghetto’ at Ferentari, and this, an abandoned train depot hidden away in the back streets of the Romanian capital.
The depot once served a nearby station, a satellite to the larger terminals in the centre of Bucharest. The line was in operation until the 1970s, until the communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu launched a project to build a batch of new apartment buildings. The old track lay in the way of his envisaged suburb, and so large sections of it were torn up to clear a space.
This depot, its tracks and its platforms, remained where they were however – merely disconnected from the rest of the network. The last few carriages were stranded, their bodies gradually giving way to the onset of rust and ivy; drowning in air, like washed-up fish on a beach.
Beside the depot rose a grim, derelict factory, its walls a rust-red collage of stained and corrugated metal. The perimeter fence towered above us, too high and too smooth to climb. As we were leaving the train yard however, one of my friends spotted a chink in the factory’s armour.
He poked his head around, testing the boundary for an access point, when a shout suddenly rang out from somewhere inside. Our Romanian host stepped in to translate.
“We just want to come in and take some photos,” he explained innocently.
“Sure,” came the reply, in Romanian. “And I’ll take your photo too, so I can show it to the police.”
It clearly wasn’t going to happen today, and so we left the depot and its rotten train carcasses behind. I made a note of that abandoned factory, though… adding it to my mental list of things to do in Bucharest.
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