On July 18th, I was sitting at a cafe in Bucharest talking to a fellow traveler, Jeremy, from TheWorldOrBust.com, when he randomly mentioned that Pegasus Airlines, a budget airline based out of Turkey, was offering extremely cheap airfares from Bucharest to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
Upon hearing this piece of news, I decided to double-check his claim and sure enough, the fare was indeed $232 USD, quite a bargain for such a long-distance flight to a part of the world that is often very expensive to reach.
Nevertheless, I had a few hours of work to finish up and so it wasn’t until I was back at my apartment later that afternoon that I pulled up the deal again on my laptop and gave it some serious thought. That serious thought ended up being, “I am definitely going to Kyrgyzstan!” I even went over to my Facebook page and announced my intention to go.
After all, I had planned to spend the last week of July and the first three weeks of August traveling somewhere new anyway, mainly because I had to leave Romania for visa reasons (for those who have been following along, I didn’t have time to renew my Romanian residency visa yet and it has since expired). So, what better place to travel to than Kyrgyzstan, especially with a $232 USD flight.
To say that I was excited would be a major, major understatement. I know almost nothing about Kyrgyzstan, which makes it even more attractive, and it would be my first foray into Central Asia, apart from my trip to Afghanistan several years back.
However, moments before I hit the ‘Confirm’ button to purchase my flight ticket, I remembered something.
Between the dates of August 13th – 19th, I have somewhere to be. I had already organized a special trip to what I will only mention now as another ‘secret destination’. And if I was going to visit Kyrgyzstan first, I needed to make sure I could get from Bishkek to this ‘secret destination’ relatively easily and cheaply.
Well, it turns out I couldn’t. When I first checked, the prices for such flights could only be described as out of control. I waited another day and tried again, but no luck this time either. I even waited six more days, checking for flights almost hourly, but the prices never went down.
Finally, this past Thursday, I had no choice but to give up the idea of visiting Kyrgyzstan right now.
It was therefore time to move to Plan B, which, in fact, was my original plan before I heard about that cheap flight from Bucharest to Bishkek. Plan B involved traveling to the Republic of Georgia and Armenia and that idea suddenly sounded as appealing as ever. So, I went back online and looked for airfares.
I found a flight from Bucharest to Tbilisi, Georgia for $183 USD and immediately decided to take it. But then, I once again remembered that I also needed to purchase a flight to my secret destination afterwards, as well as a flight back to Bucharest in time to lead my “Wander Across Romania” Tour at the end of August.
Naturally, I was very disappointed to discover that it would take a good $1500 USD for the flights I needed after visiting Georgia and Armenia. That wasn’t going to happen. I waited another day and tried again, but the fares remained the same.
At this point it was Friday (yes, just three days ago) and I was staring at my laptop without a plan. All I knew was that I needed to leave Romania by Sunday. It was a strange feeling knowing that in two days I would be in a different country even though at the moment I had no idea which of the 195 or so countries on the planet it would be.
Where Am I?
Ukraine. Yup. Lviv, Ukraine.
That’s where I am right now.
On Saturday morning, I had started looking for airfares yet again. I searched for flights to/from Delhi, Bangkok, Tallinn, Oman, Morocco, Singapore, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Dubai, Tel Aviv and dozens of more destinations before, all of a sudden, the Ukrainian city of Lviv randomly popped into my head.
I typed it into the search engine and within seconds there appeared a remarkably cheap flight from Bucharest. I then looked for airfares from Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev to my secret destination and then back to Bucharest, and I could not believe it when I saw the results. In fact, the airfare was so reasonable that I didn’t even take a moment to think about it as I quickly entered my credit card details and booked the tickets. Done deal.
The next morning at 8:30am I was on a flight to Istanbul, where I had a full 27-hour layover to spend relaxing at the Agora Guesthouse (my favorite guesthouse in the city), eating at my favorite local restaurants and enjoying a shisha session at my favorite nargile cafe, before catching my direct flight to Lviv earlier today.
And now here I am, in a city and in a country that never even crossed my mind as a potential destination until a mere 48 hours ago.
That’s how this long-term travel stuff works sometimes. One minute you think you’re going to Kyrgyzstan and the very next minute you’re on your way to the Republic of Georgia. But somehow you end up in Ukraine.
It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure, but I still get a kick out of this frequent uncertainty that rules my life. If that wasn’t the case, I’d have stopped traveling a long time ago.
Have you had similar situations? Do you enjoy the uncertainty? If you haven’t traveled yet, do you think you would enjoy this kind of uncertainty?