Thursday, 26 July 2012

If You Don't Like It, Leave

Song Celebration in Tallinn, Estonia
Song Celebration in Tallinn, Estonia (Photo credit: ToBreatheAsOne)
Last year we managed to carve out a few precious days from the round of visits to family & friends that have become so core to our summer leave routine and visit Tallinn in Estonia. I even posted about it, so stunning were the place and people. It was a double whammy as I'd already decided to set part of my fourth book, Shemlan - A Deadly Tragedy, in Tallinn, so the opportunity to do a little resarch combined with a much needed slice of 'us time'.

 We were a true pair of 'idiots abroad' and didn't even bother researching Estonia, so we were very lucky indeed to fall as comprehensively on our feet. This year we decided to go to neighbouring Riga in Latvia, the second of the three Baltic states that saw the 'singing revolution' when the populations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania stood in the street in an unbroken line spanning all three nations, hand in hand, and sang. The Russians, perhaps understandably, threw up their hands and went home.

Much against our better judgment we booked with Ryaniair, but it was the only direct flight with reasonable timings. Funny, those 'bargain prices' don't half start to look less attractive when you've paid £70 for a bag, £10 for a seat etc etc.

This is the bit when we actually do some research on the place we've booked to visit - not that we were planning to, it just happened. And, believe me, it's not good. We flicked through websites with growing horror. The travel advice is unanimous - this place is a tip. Currency exchange scams, prostitutes, pick-pockets, cut-purses, thugs on the streets, pricing scams, nightclub bouncers beating punters up at ATMs to extort their PIN numbers. Turns out Riga is the mafia-infested crime capital of Northern Europe.

Nope. Stuff that. We decided to cancel. Of course Ryanair doesn't offer refunds. And Michael 'crawl on your belly over broken glass for a discount' O'Leary wants £160 to change the ticket.

You live and you learn. We're going to Sweden instead.
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Macthomson said...

Make that a real holiday in Sweden, not reaearch... I'm sick of 'Scandinavian noir!'

Just finished "Space" which was enjoyable to the very last. Brilliant that you managed to keep the basic absurdities plausible enough all the way through and I fail to understand why the rejection slips piled up. Maybe it was due to your passages of socio-political reflection... bits I like very much, in fact. And it is the pleasure of getting such self-indulgent, pseudo-philosophical marginal excursions down on paper which keeps me writing. I guess your typical editor would demand that they be excised from a conventional 'airport novel'.

Alexander McNabb said...

Wow, Mac, that was quick work - there's over 100k words in that there book!

And no, no plans for 'Scandinavian noir'! :)

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