Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Long may you run, ‘Let’s Go: Eastern Europe’ September 14, 2008

Okay, so this is weird. I was logging into my Yahoo mail, when I noticed a tab for “horoscopes.” I paused and thought, “Why not?” So I clicked on it and picked my sign (Libra), and got this: You’re doing a great job of not letting fear guide your life! Keep that focus.

Here’s what happened that makes that weird and more or less accurate: First, scroll down two blogs and take a gander at the book in my hands. That book was stolen – I shit you not, STOLEN – from me less than 48 hours later on the plane ride from Poland to Lithuania. The facts of the whodunit are pretty straightforward: I sat on the plane reading up on Vilnius and trying to figure out how to say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ (which, BTW, please and thank you are pronounced “ach choo”! Like you’re sneezing! Easy breezy, baby.)

Anyway, I got up to use the restroom, grabbed my messenger bag/purse (thank god), and put my guidebook in my seat, spine splayed open to the page I was reading. I came back a few minutes later…and no guide book. At first I had the, “I’m losing my mind” moment, and went through my backpack, thinking I must’ve put it in there and forgotten about it.

Then I thought maybe it slid forward or backward on the plane – I once had the entire contents of a purse do this – and started wandering the aisles, peering under the seats. Then they indicated it was time to land, so I figured it slid somewhere REALLY crazy, but it’s a big book, so of course we’ll find  share a big laugh later about how the pilots used it like a booster seat or pulled a few pages out of the Estonia section to use as kindling at a later date.

Then the plane landed and everyone cleared off onto the bus. I lingered, checking the floors, and growing increasingly anxious…and realizing this may not be a story with a happy ending.  It got to the point that I had to get on the bus to the terminal – forcibly – so I suspiciously eyeballed the other passengers as we rode. Everyone seemed guilty, and yet no one had a giant guide book peeking out from the waist band of their slacks.

Long story short, I eventually found an English speaker and he had someone radio the plane and the bus…and no guide book.Around this time, I started to accept the concept of guidebook death. I’ll be honest. at first, I went into a state of shock (the damn thing is a bit of a Bible in this situation) and denial. I was like a jilted lover with no sense of reality. I just stood there waiting to be reunited with my beloved. Thus,my once it really was clear that no one would be coming up to me with book, shaking their head like, ‘You silly girl,” I  got a little scared.

For the first five or ten minutes, I hung around dumbfounded. Who the hell would steal my budget travel guide with two countries missing??? (I tear the pages out when I leave.). I wouldn’t dial into reality, and kind of wouldn’t leave the airport. I even looked in some of the trash cans. Even in ‘steal your low budget guidebook right out from under you while you’re innocently relieving your bladder’ countries, the natives are tough on dumpster divers. People looked at me like, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Then I got the idea to grab a couple pamphlets from one of the rental car agencies, tear them into pieces, and throw one out while thoroughly examining the other contents of the bin. Let me say, not much happens in a Lithuanian airport trash can. And thank god for it. i wasn’t really in the mood to discover a fetus or some other devastating item.

Regardless, my guidebook – replete with maps and key info for nine outstanding countries – is no more. Perhaps I’m rationalizing, but I do still believe that nothing is an accident and things happen for a reason – and ostensibly the person who stole it from me needed it even more than I do.

Thus, onward and upward. I will figure out where the hell I am and where I’m going some other way. My great-great grandparents (Lithuanians) didn’t have guidebooks. It was good enough for them and it’s good enough for me.

Until then, godspeed, Let’s Go Eastern Europe with my neurotic Post-It note flags on the pages and comments in the margins. Godspeed.


7 Responses to “Long may you run, ‘Let’s Go: Eastern Europe’”

  1. Lucky7Star Says:

    If you like, I think maybe you might post your situation and use your blog tp get feedback from family and friends… Just make sure your category tags are set correctly, ie. Lithuania, party, nite life, cheap hotels.opera, ect, and of course the city but it should work. As long as you have a good Google connection, everything should be okay. Have fun be happy:)

  2. Bill Says:

    Sorry to hear about your book loss. I hate thieves worse than anything I can think of…especially thieves who steal just for the sake of stealing!

    It looks like you are taking this well so maybe it is all for the best. Now you will have to see if “ah choo” works in other parts of Eastern Europe as well. If not, at least you may get a bunch of tissues handed to you. 🙂

    When you have the times I would love to ask few questions such as:
    1. Are there many travelers your age and older? I’m 45 (which I really can’t believe as I type this) and am wondering if I will stick out like a sore thumb.
    2. If someone had a little more generous budget available, are single rooms (where available) more restful? i don’t sleep as well as I did in my 20’s.
    3. Are there more English speakers in Western Europe versus Eastern Europe? I think it might be easier start where there are more English speakers initially and work my way to the countries with fewer English speakers.

    I am enjoying your blog immensely. Take care and be safe.

  3. Quirky Indian Says:

    Uneventful your travels are not. 🙂

    In Lithuania without a guide-book? Devastating as that can be, I think you’ll manage.


    Quirky Indian

  4. wideawakeinwonderland Says:

    I owe all of your comments return comments, but I’m struggling for computer access. The wifi doesn’t work, and I have to wait for an hour for a ten minute shot at the hostel computer.
    Anyway, Bill, thanks for the great comments, and sorry I didn’t acknowledge sooner. Sorry about the layoff, but I think making the most of the time is a great move.
    Yes, there are a fair amount (25%?) of people over 30 in hostels. Tonight I’m in Klaipedia, Lithuania and there are three guys who look to be late 40s/early 50s (all traveling individually). Frankly, the way they smoke around here, it gets hard to tell. I met someone (allegedly) 24 I would’ve sworn was 35 or even 40. Wrinkles galore. However, the more it’s in the dead of summer, the more you’ll get hard partying kids on vacation.
    There are all kinds of single rooms. I use Hostelworld.com to figure out where to stay. Lots of options – sometimes single rooms in hostels, cheap hotels, guest houses, pensiones, etc. The reviews help immensely in terms of places to avoid, etc.
    Yes, way more English is spoken in the west than the east. Where I am right now (Baltic sea region) is low on the anglais and a bit unfriendly to westerners, quite frankly.

  5. Lucky7Star Says:

    Hi Wonderland,
    Look if you can find a MacDonald, I hear all the MickyD’s are wired now… So maybe its worth a shot. Here is a link to a couple of places if you’re at a loss for things to do:
    This claims to be the scariest hostel ever and the Hill of Crosses: in Europe (Course being lost without your travel guide is preddy frightful)… Try to have fun with it and get yourself like totally freaked.


    Here is a link to some more travel articles about the cirty and surrounding region:


    Write down what you like to see and visit and stay away from things you don’t… You’ll never miss your travel guide, Google on and have a great adventure!

  6. Lucky7Star Says:

    Morning Wonderland.
    Plz. Just delete that last comment. I’m sure you’ve got your Googling figured out by now. Also try maybe and not figure the natives for jerks… You know those thoughts do translate into their own form of reality, so quit manifesting that nasty junk… Have no fear to have a little fun!

  7. wideawakeinwonderland Says:

    Hey Lucky7Star! Thank you sooooooo much for looking all that up! I’m really touched. Askimet stuck it in Spam (I just rescued it seconds ago, on 16/09/08), probably because of all the links.
    Even if I’d found it in a more timely basis, I may have had to pass on the haunted hostel! If you factor in all the people who were murdered in this region in the last 75 years, plus my own belief in things like ghosts…sounds like a way restless night!
    I don’t tend to get too ‘out there’ in my postings, but I will say that I spent two fairly haunted nights already (albeit with someone I know who’s passed on), and that was plenty! Even that comment is enough to earn me a long, hard psychiatric evaluation in some countries (such as the U.S.)! Thank you again!

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