Wednesday, 14 July 2010

No Mr Bond, I expect you to die... I/III

Written 6th July

And he did!

I have discovered that I can't shoot for shit with a glock - just one glancing blow to the left arm - but am a full on gun-toting, rebel freedom fighter with an AK-47.  Three shots to the heart and my paper Bond was down - Jack Bauer I am not but I'll make a lair-inhabiting freak-cat stroking evil genius villan yet...

Will, of course, hit the target with all eight of his shots but then he is annoying like that.

Yep, having been so carefully sticking to the budget recently, we blew a whole day's allowance on 16 bullets between us in a heavily fortified  ex-soviet bunker and it was one of the best, if most expensive per minute, experiences of our trip!

And bloody scary!

I've been clay pidgeon shooting before (and was quite good by the competition at the end of the day once I got my eye in) and Will has also shot air rifles but you don't get the opportunity to fire real guns any more - outside america that is.   

They are scary things, somehow both small and insignificantly light yet strangely solid and weighed down with responsibility at the same time.  Although, oddly, it was more scary being in the same room whilst Will fired them, with the noise and the muzzle flash, than doing it myself as, although they were hugely loud, neither of them really kicked or gave you any feeling as to the explosive and destructive force you had just unleashed.  You are, in fact, oddly disassociated from it in a way which I can easily see could lead to you shooting someone if they pissed you off and you happened to have a pistol on your hand, without you really thinking about what you've done until it is too late.

But also what a buzz!  And afterall, guns don't kill people, wabbits do... Or am I mixing my gangsta rappers with my breakfast DJ's??

We had told our new american friend of the previous day what we were going to do and he said he had looked into it but it was massively expensive in the place listed in his hotel guide and anyway, he had more guns than he knew what to do with back home in Maine.  He did invite us to go shoot his for free but we didn't get his email address - I wish we had now...

Sadly the rest of yesterday didn't live up to the start.  We had hoped for an enchanting afternoon of fairytale castles, caves, national park and soviet government nuclear bunkers. But sadly not to be.

The castles and caves of Sigulda proved to be unexpectedly hard to find and expensive (although we were never going to go in anyway, having spent all our money on bullets, we've done castles), with pay parking so we couldn't even get a peek.

The secret soviet bunker - a 2,000 sq m underground bolt hole for the Latvian soviet government in the event of nuclear war located under an innocuous grey 'rehabilitation centre' - was so secret that its location was only declassified in 2003.  

but it seems destined to remain fairly secret as tours are for a minimum of 10 people and have to be booked in advance, or cost a whapping €42 for a private guide if you just turn up, and it will be in Latvian only with no english explanation.  A real shame as it is apparently pretty much intact and ready for purpose including the various contingency plans, maps of the hydroelectric plants and the consequences of the resultant floods if they were to be destroyed and even the red telephone hotlink direct to moscow.  You can even book it for a party, if you wish, and eat a full soviet menu in the canteen and dance the night away to period (80's) lps - cool

But not to be.  

And Cesis - apparently the most Latvian of Latvian towns - was nice with its mediaeval castle and church and unexpected orthodox church, but we had somewhat lost enthusiasm by this point...

But a hot sticky and largely frustrating day was somewhat redeemed by the unexpected sighting of a sandy rivrtside beach and a dip in the cool brown water - the first time I have been properly cold for weeks!  Lovely.

Onwards then, across the boarder under the cover of darkness - yes, it does still get dark at the moment, about 1am...  Just a short visit but we did manage to swing by six out of latvia's top ten according to the tourist brochure so that's not so bad going!  Abd I am already wondering whether and how, in another life where we have jobs and money, I can justify a minibreak to Riga just to shoot guns again...  Probably not.

Will's birthday today!  But sadly less than exciting :(  The other downside of our disappointing day yesterday was that we didn't get as far north as originally planned so eventually arrived in Tallinn in busy middle of the day in hot sticky weather.  And just as we had got our bearings - despite the least useful tourist office lady of the trip so far at the port:  me "we are here for just today and tomorrow, where is good to go?"  her "umm, most people come here for the old town"  ok "is there anywhere we can park our car for free?"  "umm, I don't know, I don't drive" ok, easy, obvious one "are there any restaurants you would recommend to get traditional Estonian food?" "umm, I don't know, I don't go into the city, its too expensive", one final go "we have a car, is there anywhere you would recommend outside the city?" hopeless shrug... - found somewhere to park and were thinking of heading out to the park,  the heavens opened with rolls of thunder.

Poo :(  but at least it is getting cooler.

But in exciting news we have ferry tickets booked!  We depart for the frozen north on Thursday at 8am!

So we are sat here in the van, listening to Estonian radio - a fabulous 80's mix, some of which we are now listening to with a whole new understanding now we get the context! although I don't know how much of this sort of thing they would have got at the time - with the rain hammering down and the windows misting up - first time for ages.  Will is soldering his new components to make Adam's fuel injector drivers (so probably happy as the proverbial pig in muck to be honest) and I think its about time for another cup of tea...



  1. This blog is a marvelous place to come for valuable information! Do you mind if I make a trackback of some of your posts on my own site?

    1. Glad you are enjoying it! Sorry don't check this very often. You are very welcome to link to it if you like. I highly recommend traveling with an open-mind and a good Lonely Planet library on board!