Tag Archives: Backpacking

Swindled By Air Baltic

A learning lesson to:

(1) Avoid Air Baltic and (2) make sure your travel visa is valid at time of take-off, not landing (though this last part is questionable!)

On a flight from Warsaw to Moscow I had a layover in Riga, Latvia. I had my Russian VISA from the consulate in Toronto. Flights were booked. Everything was fine. Until Air Baltic screwed it all up!

Long Story Short: Russian VISA started August 17th. My flight landed on August 16th at 23h45. Everyone I asked said that would be fine because I’d get to customs after midnight. Air Baltic check-in staff didn’t like that idea.

By the time the plane landed, taxied to the gate, passengers disembarked, and I arrived at customs, it would have been August 17th. VISA valid. But Air Baltic staff said my VISA had to be valid at the time of take-off. In all my research, they are the only ones that had ever said this. They refused to allow me to board.

SO I thought this was a gimmick to force me to buy a ticket on another flight. So I told them I would give my business elsewhere. I went to Aeroflot who told me that I had every right to get on my original flight. My VISA would be verified by passport control in Russia, not at a flight check-in desk with Air Baltic.

Air Baltic still said “no.”

SO I bought my ticket from Aeroflot and flew out the next day…..hundreds of Euros later and a very very bad taste in my mouth toward Air Baltic, who I will never support again.

Lesson learned: make sure your VISA is valid for the date of take-off. And MAYBE the check-in staff were just doing their job. Maybe this is an Air Baltic regulation. Or maybe they were trying to milk more money out of me. But the staff were not kind, not understanding, not helpful, and their online customer service agents were just as unwilling to help.

With enough flight options out there, it’s easy enough to simply pick another airline. Which, in the future, I’ll do.

Up&Down, Back&Forth: It’s Time to Stay Put

Lift Off

I went up. I went down. I went back & forth. I slept on cots & couches, in airports and in parks! As any backpacker knows: travelling is exciting, but it’s terribly exhausting after a while!

HIGHLIGHTS OF EASTERN EURO TRIP 2012

  • The Paterei Prison in Tallinn, Estonia was probably the most unique and haunting thing I have ever seen. When a new prison was built, the old one was pretty much deserted, some rooms left in-tact, pictures and beds just sitting there. And for 2 euros you are free to explore it on your own….if you dare!

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  • Russia (St. Petersburg & Moscow): I’ve explored both the cities before, but doing it with Brock (www.backpackwithbrock.com) was the trip I’ve been wanting to do for years! And it was ten years to the month when I first set foot in Russia: quite the anniversary!

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Return to the Motherland: A Decade After First Touching Down in Russia, I Return to the Country I Fell in Love With

My Room

This is me a decade ago in my apartment in Moscow, flanked by Russian chocolate and a crap-load of the Russian pop music that I fell in love with. I had just turned 23 and had no idea what to expect. What I got was an experience that changed me & has kept me intrigued with this nation ever since.

Now, almost to the very day 10 years later, I’ll be returning to Moscow. I’ve been there since, but this decade-mark seems a little more meaningful for some reason.

Привет, Москва!

Eastern Euro Money Matters

imageI lost my first chunk of money yesterday in Budapest. Not sure if it was a pickpocket or if it just fell out. Budapest pickpockets are so talented & well-known that a store clerk approached me in a store because she noticed my wallet in my back pocket. She told me not to keep it there in Budapest! Thankfully, I lost my $$$ in Hungary where the Canadian dollars goes a long way! So it didn’t amount to much.

AND I experienced my first scam here. Pretty young women approach male travellers, ask to go to a bar for drinks, the bar charges exorbitant prices, and of course there are some husky Hungarian body guards to make sure you pay! I was warned about this scenario and sure enough: yesterday two attractive young ladies asked if I was interested in going to an Irish Bar for drinks = see ya, ladies!

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Eastern Europe Trip 2012: The 1/2 Way Mark

After Paris, Berlin, Prague, and Budapest, I thought it was about time to give a quick insight into what I’ve been up to! Hopefully the pictures speak for themselves!

Berlin Highlight: The Berlin Wall & Checkpoint Charlie

Prague Highlight: Pražský hrad or Prague Castle

Budapest Highlight: chillin’ out (or sweating it out, rather!) at Rudas Baths: built in the 1500’s

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Bon Voyage! The 1 Week Countdown

Passport Stamps

In 1 week I’ll be leaving Canada, not to return until 2013. Everything has happened so fast and not all the little details have been figured out….but for me, that’s the liberating part of travelling: I just have to give in and go with the flow. It’s easier said than done and I know that with planes, trains, and all the adventures in-between, not everything is going to go as planned. But sometimes that’s when the best memories are made!

Here’s what the next month of my life looks like. If you have any unique things to do in any of these places, I’d love to hear from you!

PARIS – BERLIN – PRAGUE – BUDAPEST – KRAKOW – WARSAW – MOSCOW – ST. PETERSBURG – NANTES

Thailand

I’m back in Canada after a 3 week trip to Thailand. Every day was a total adventure and I miss it already….not to mention my tan is fading WAY too quickly!
After my 2nd day I totally looked like your typical backpacker travelling by train/bus from city to city in flip-flops with dirty feet & a massive backback and I’m sure at times I didn’t smell too hot!
I was there during Songkran: the Thai New Year. It’s a water festival and you literally can’t walk down the street for more than 2 minutes without being doused with water. It’s a brilliant idea for such a hot country! +38 degrees Celcius?!?! Bring on the water fight!
I saw some amazing things, met some amazing people, and did some amazing stuff. But the kicker was taking care of an elephant for a day at an elephant sanctuary high in the hills of Northern Thailand. It was totally unreal.