This week on Stop Having a Boring Life…
This post is part of the mini-series I’m going to call The Art of the Layover. Googled it to make sure no one else in the blogosphere has come up with the same theme (say NO to scraping!) and it turns out the only thing I could find and what I expected to find was from this one dude: Anthony Bourdain.
I have been hearing about his new show “The Layover” for the past couple of months and thought it should be brilliant as I am a huge fan of utilizing ridiculous flight schedules to see and do as much as possible. So finally last night I decided to watch a couple of episodes to see how the boss does it, London and New York. I came to this conclusion: it’s good stuff and pretty informative but a lot of it didn’t seem realistic for many of us 20 or 30-something, poor but sexy travelers. He took cabs everywhere, indulged in fine dining and drinking, had hotel rooms mostly for his bags to hangout in. Unfortunately, none of these things are feasible at the moment for Blonde Gypsy layovers, but that doesn’t stop me.
So what is feasbile? Just to give you an idea, here’s a breakdown of one of my latest strategic stops in Tallinn, Estonia. Perhaps it will inspire someone to think twice before booking a direct flight or sitting/sleeping it out in a cold and lonely airport.
Basically was trying to get back to Copenhagen, Denmark from Kiev, Ukraine and came across this Estonian Air flight that departed at 5:35pm on Wednesday and arrived in Copenhagen at 1:35pm on Thursday. Most people who are aware of the distance between Kiev and Copenhagen (about 2 1/2 hours on a direct flight) might think RIDICULOUS, but I thought GLORIOUS.
First thing’s first, a very important factor that I always consider when attempting to make a layover like this cheap and worthwhile is whether or not I know someone living there. Or if I don’t, I usually check to see if someone I know does or turn to Couchsurfing. Luckily I know awesome people in Tallinn from when I was traveling through the Baltics back in 2010 which is the main reason I went for it. I knew that if all else failed, I would at least have my luggage and sleeping situation sorted for those 19 hours.
Next important thing is figuring out what to do with your time and more importantly, what you can do with your time. Estimating airport business and transportation to and from the city, I knew I had a solid 16 hours; I also knew Tallinn was extremely small and well connected so whatever I was going to do it would be relatively close and easy to get to. Moreover, since I had already been before, I knew I wasn’t going to sightsee as much as I was going to drink Vana Tallinn and catch up with my friends. Perfect, itinerary sorted.
Since I had a lot of luggage with me I actually did opt for a cab from the airport but it was only 7 euros and since I wasn’t paying for accommodation it was more than worth it. For the record though, there is a bus, Bus 90K (with free wifi!), that takes you from the airport to city centre for just 2 euros.
Like I said, my friends there are awesome so from the minute I arrived at their place I had everything that I had hoped and dreamed for: a delicious home-cooked meal, Vana Tallinn, and a party. Only thing I ended up paying for that night was this incredible midnight snack combination from their local corner shop (red wine & rosé “to-go” plus pickled cucumber potato chips, BELIEVE IT).
Turned into an especially fun evening thanks to my abovementioned friends and just that alone was worth the stop; any hassle I might have felt before due to lack of sleep or dragging around two huge suitcases that essentially had my life from Ukraine–gone. However, felt super ambitious upon awakening the next morning and actually did make it into the Old Town for a coffee and leisurely photo-taking stroll which made this particular layover not only a real success, but one of my greatest ever. Life’s too short, get as much of it when you can and while you can.
In closing, I would like to leave you with some very important information that I learned from Estonian Air’s inflight magazine: in Estonia, World War II ended in 1994.