At One with The Istros: LeftReight Repeat’s biggest adventure.

‘As soon as they discharged into the Istros, the name which they had at birth ceased to be used, they surrender in his favour, all are called after him, and together their waters pour into the Euxienos’

-Aelien’s On the Characteristics of Animals

The above is a description of the Danube River, written roughly 1,800 years ago, by a Roman, in Greek in a seventeen volume text describing all of nature as he saw it. Istros or Ister was a Greek river God, the largest in Europe and the namesake of a civilisation that lies South of the mouth of the river in the Black Sea. The waters of the Danube supposedly contain all life, under one name, and when you look at it, it’s impossible to not be excited by it. Starting in a disputed hill (there are two other ‘sources’ which have fought for the title over the centuries) officially flowing from a pipe that tapped an aquifer by a solitary house in Germany’s Black Forest, the Danube then flows through Bavaria, into Austria, from there it runs along the border of Slovakia before dropping through Hungary and Croatia where it swerves east in Serbia and Balances the line between Bulgaria and Romania until shooting upwards again towards Moldova, reaching the Black Sea in Ukraine 2,860km later. 10 countries, 98 towns and cities, 21 national parks, a cultural history from art to war that spans 5 millenniums and drinking water for 20 million people, you cannot look at the Danube and say that it does not encompass life. No wonder the Greeks believes all within it was Istros, it’s just easier than trying to point out every individual aspect. 

So what does this have to do with LeftRight Repeat? We’re going to paddle-board it. A two-man team, Finn and myself are going to join the Istros and lose our names in June 2017, hopefully regaining them as we meet the Euxieno – that’s the Black Sea to you- in September. Even better is our paddle-boards are going to be homemade in Glasgow that’s right, three students gaining Arts degrees are designing and building stand up paddle board for the first time, and then paddling them nearly 3,000km through Europe. There is a high chance that we will actually become part of the Istros indefinitely.

The story of the Istros, is connectivity. All that join its waters are one with it, and all that is done with the river, affects the rest of it. That is animals, environments, cultures and economies. ‘At One with the Istros’ is more than merely an exploration of a river by a few fool-hardy kids. In the last 500 years humanity has placed big structures in the middle of the Danube for flood defence and for energy. There is now a dam every 16km of the Upper-Danube. The impacts of this range from a change in flow rate or the river, diverting ecologies, and affecting water supplies (It’s also bloody annoying if you want to paddle board through it). Major cities like Vienna and Budapest also produce large amounts of waste and pollution on the river. All of this effects the countries downstream, some areas and some nations less developed than Germany and Austria, and some communities which have relied on the river for generations. LeftRight Repeat are teaming up with some awesome film makers to tell the story of the impacts of modern society on the Danube and it’s residents from fish to farms. The Istros has always been about connectivity, connecting Europe by a waterway, and we want to tell the story of that modern connectivity.

Danube River Map

Source: http://www.tauck.com/

In addition, we will again be supporting Anthony Nolan, a British charity that works tirelessly to help the fight against Blood Cancer. In the past LeftRight Repeat and my family have raised over £10,000 for Anthony Nolan, and we aim to keep increasing that number. 

Keep an eye on our page on the top menu of LeftRight Repeat for our progress, updates and any other information!