Thursday, June 20, 2013

Welcome to....Latvia? (14 hours of hell)

Oh boy! Where do I begin. Today has been the most interesting and stressful part of this trip! Right now I'm on a bus leaving the Riga (Latvia) airport, and heading to Tallinn, Estonia. It's almost 1am. And this is how it happened.

We arrive at the Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport without mishap and plenty of time to spare. Our flight on AirBaltic is two different flights. Paris-Riga, then hour layover, Riga-Tallinn, our final destination.

Going through security is kind of different, they scan your boarding pass three different times, and a conversation pops up like this:

"Miss, do you have anything in your pockets?"

I realized earlier that this would probably come up, but I wanted to see what happened anyway.

"Yeah, my pant legs."

"No, anything in your pockets?"

"The rest of my pants."

See, I was wearing zip offs, and had put the pant legs in my pockets in case it got cold or rainy.

"Nothing in your pockets?"

"Nope!" I was cracking up by then. But the security guy just kind of smiled in a confused manner.

Past security, we eyeball expensive food, because our flight arrives in Tallinn just after midnight, and we will probably be hungry. While we browse for snacks suddenly the power goes out. Everywhere. My first thought: "Oh god, where are the zombies?"

Ten seconds later the power flickers on, and we look outside and see nothing, because a torrential downpour has started, and we can't even see the parked planes at the gates. Thunder is booming and the power flickers here send there. This goes on for about half am hour. We soon realize there is no way any plane can land in this weather, and sure enough the boards all read delayed. Much frustration.

Time passes. Our plane is able to land once the storm clears up an hour later, we board, and we are trying to figure out what we are going to to when we touch down in Riga...

An hour is lost when we land, and it's 11:40pm. The airport is very closed looking, but we stick with people from our flight. (By the way, there is apparently a Jehovah's Wittness conference in Riga, so we were surrounded by them on the plane. They have name tags and are easy to recognize.)

What we are thinking now is, since we missed our flight and (looking at the boards) the next flight to Tallinn is 9am the next morning...where's our luggage? We need our deodorant and toothpaste.

We are redirected to the baggage claim area by an AirBaltic representative, who says nicely "We will figure out hotels and flights for all of you, just go downstairs and get your baggage and then go to the ticket office upstairs."

After a few anxious minutes, we are happy to see our packs on the belt in one piece, and not soaking wet, and we head upstairs again. Unfortunately this time of night the immigration booth where you get your passport stamped, is closed... :(

Tessa and I are now excited by this mention of a "hotel" development, and this keeps us going, because we are already really tired.

Upstairs at the office with the dozen other people who missed their flight, the lady is working on getting everything in order so we are there for about 45 minutes. Finally she calls, "Tallinn, this way!" And heads outside. We are crestfallen when we spot the huge charter bus waiting on the curb.

I guess they figured it was cheaper to bus us all directly to Tallinn, than a hotel and put us on another flight (which is probably already booked) the next day. So what else are we to do at a deserted airport at one in the morning? We board the bus. 

A plane ride is only 40 minutes, but the bus ride is just over four hours. And the whole time we're facing where the sun is not setting, so that's weird too. Pictures below catalogue our journey, because it's easier that way.

Three hours in we realize we should have asked where the hell this bus is taking us. We only find out when our bus stops at Tallinn Airport and drops all of us off. Nobody from AirBaltic is there and they don't have anybody in the whole airport from the company to help us. They pretty much abandoned us there. Like, "See! We got you to the airport! Just 6 hours late!" 

By now our moods are more than annoyed. The best thing is to go to our hostel and see if we can sleep or something, because it's hard to think. At 5:30am on no sleep or proper meals from the last 12 hours. Carrying 25-pound packs.

The one silver lining of Tallinn: our taxi driver who got us from the airport to Hostel Tallinn 4 miles away, was very kind, sounded a bit Irish, and said to be careful in town, because he is a parent too, and worried for us. :) He also gave us a map of the town in German.

Once we actually got inside the hostel though, the reception was closed. Well. Tessa worked on getting her phone to work Internationally, and managed to call the number posted on the door. (This took about 30 minutes.) Upstairs there is some commotion, and this guy shuffles down the stairs past where we are sitting. He is half asleep but buzzes the reception door open and we try to check in.


We were supposed to check in the night before, at whenever our flight landed, so just past midnight. The guy says the dorms are booked for tonight, so we can't change our reservation. Thankfully we didn't put any money down so none is lost.

Tessa finally finds Sandra's phone number, (her pen-pal, whom with we are staying) and she is up! It's only 6:15 or so. Anyway she is happy to hear from us and tells us to go next door and take a bus to Pärnu, because she was about to leave for one to get to us.

For once, everything actually works out.

Murphy's Law happenings today:
-Catacombs in Paris are closed for something, for yesterday and today only.
-Zombie apocalypse almost begins.
-We miss our connecting flight by ten minutes.
-AirBaltic sucks.
-these aren't all Murphy's, but I'm tired as shit right now and can't think properly, but I want to write it all down before I forget, and think it was all a dream or something.

Okay now I am finishing this post in a most sleep deprived state, at seven in the morning, making our way to Pärnu, to Tessa's friend Sandra's house.

Want. Sleep. 


We often followed the guy with red hair, with all our confusing flight stuff.

In Latvia: Stopp is not spelled wrong for them. :)

It's very hard to sleep with the sun in your face. At 3am.

Arrival at Tallinn Airport.

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