Tallinn: day one (not actually in Tallinn)

It’s incredibly hard to write on this keyboard with these nails – without autocorrect, you’d never work out what I’m trying to say.

I arrived at Gatwick at about 9.30 last night, took the bus to North Terminal and then went to see about transfer to my ‘lodge’. I was told there was no bus, I’d have to book a taxi, which would be £17. I’d been told £10 when I booked the lodge and it turned out to be £11.50 and much further away than expected. The lodge was attached to a hotel and on reception, I was told apologetically that my room was in the main hotel, not the lodge. I didn’t mind. I did mind that I spotted a transfer bus timetable on the counter after I’d been told there was no bus but to be fair, the last bus of the evening is at 7.45pm.

There’s not much in the way of signage and directions at the Europa. I only found the lift because I followed someone else and I found my room by method of walking all the way down every corridor until I spotted it. It smelled of chlorine outside my room – there’s a spa somewhere and I suspect it was close.

My room had four beds and a bath, much better than expected but the pillows were like concrete slabs and the fountain outside made it sound like it was raining heavily all night.

In the morning, I got the bus, which went through towns and industrial estates instead of just whizzing down the motorway as expected but it arrived at about the advertised time, which gave me time for toast & apple juice before an unremarkable flight to Riga, during which we passed right over Ystad.

We arrived (early, at 2.35 local time) in the Schengen area of Riga airport, which meant I had to come out of the security area, which meant I ended up sitting outside in the sun, enjoying the meadows literally right outside the airport and watching the planes take off. Actually, driving past that door eight hours later on my way to my next plane, I spied the transfer signs I’d missed earlier. Never mind. I got to sit in the sun.

At 5, I thought it was time to go in. Got through security with no problems for the second time in one day only to find, on the first information board I found, that my flight was delayed for 3 hours. We were given refreshment vouchers – a free meal in Lido or TGI Friday being no use to me, I used it in the kiosk for snacks and drinks. €2.13. Three hours delay for a €2.13 voucher. Not good, airBaltic. To be fair, I’d been told this was the worst of the deals on offer but it was the only one that would get me anything I could eat. Fortunately, Lisa can still meet me at my apartment for key delivery but I now incur a late arrival fee. Some homework must be done on the subject later. Meanwhile, we Tallinn refugees are waiting patiently and silently at our gate – another hour to go – and shamelessly helping ourselves to any sockets we see to charge phones that shouldn’t need an extra 3 hours use – but unlimited free wifi, well done Riga airport.

As I went through the gate, my boarding card flashed up red. In approximately half a second, my passport had been checked and a new boarding pass was being scanned and passed to me. For some reason, my seat had been changed.

We squeezed onto the aforementioned bus, which travelled about 100 yards and then stopped for ten minutes, then drove us halfway around the airport (cue comment from the back “Now they’re taking us to Tallinn by bus!” repeated when no one laughed). At last we stood shivering on the steps, waiting for everyone to stop faffing with their too much luggage and let the rest of us on. My new seat worked out ok – I was still by the window, although on the wrong side of the plane, and the middle seat was unoccupied.

It was a very quick and painless flight. In the dark, you could even make out the lights of Helsinki in the distance. I got a taxi, the driver eventually worked out what I meant by my attempts to pronounce Uus, my street, and Lisa and Trevor were waiting to welcome me and show me around on a map. And now it is late and I’ve had a long day.

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