First off, customer service tip of the day: Air Baltic's website sucks. Not because it's a pile of attention-deficit AJAX shit (although it is), but because ten minutes after they send out an email advertising their fall discount on tickets, the website crashes under the load. Also, they don't include taxes and airport fees in the advertised flight prices, which I'm fairly sure is illegal according to some EU directive or other.
I've got a problem, and I need your help. I've got three weeks' vacation coming up, from mid-September. Hey, I didn't ask for it; I've got way too much vacation time accumulated and my boss bullied me into muttering some random date. Late September seemed as good as any other time, on the assumption that it would still be decent weather, but off-season, so travel should be cheaper.
The point is that I almost never know what I want to do with my vacations. I went to Rome purely because Estonian Air was having a sale on tickets back in the early spring. I've got the time, and I've got some kind of budget, but I am absolutely out of ideas.
I know what I do not want to do: spend a week or two lying on the beach. That automatically discards the vast majority of offerings from Estonian travel agencies, which come down to Turkey, Egypt, or the Canary Islands. Nor will my budget stretch to anything very remarkable - I'd love to go to Japan, but the only tour I've seen so far was 30k, and that's decidedly outside my price range. It would also pretty much have to be a package tour, since I like to use people I know when travelling independently; I'm out of friends in places I haven't been, at least in Europe. I've already been to Iceland and Israel, so that's two exotic locations out.
One good idea has been Georgia, but a) it looks like it's about to get really fucking messy (though not all that disconcerting to me, I was in Israel during the Lebanon war), and b) the package tours seem ridiculously expensive. 18k for a week's holiday in Georgia? No way.
Could do Prague, which I've been avoiding so far because it's just so fucking default. There are approximately 1.3 million people in Estonia, and of them, I am the last one that has not been to Prague. Gotta admit though, there are a lot of good connection opportunities via CSA.
Maybe I should go and get a US tourist visa? I understand they're issued for a year or so, not for a particular date. I already had a B1/B2 class visa issued years ago, too, so they ought to let me in. I've actually been talking about going to visit some friends in NYC and around, once Michael Chertoff muscled Estonia's visa waiver through Congress. But visa aside, travelling to the US seems like such a fucking hastle - what with the ETA, laptop searches, etc.
Canada? Visa-free, and I know people in the Greater Toronto area, but nobody I could expect to accompany me on some serious travels. Besides, too much of the budget would be spent on tickets just to get there, and after Rome I definitely don't want to stay in one place.
If all fails, I suppose I could just jump in the Mazda and do something I've been thinking about for a long time now... One Lap of the Baltic.
A tale of two countries
5 weeks ago