"Here's your torcher" or Estonian Helltrip to Hellfest
First off, the quoted part of the title is an inside joke between us Estonians who went to Hellfest this year. This joke in the end became a symbol for the tortures of the trip that we endured. There's no point explaining how the term was born. Well, it just did the natural way when fun people get together and have a couple of little tiny drinks.
But that's beside the point. The real code for the trip is Helltrip. Or maybe way-too-complicated-travelling-arrangements is suitable as well. I've been to Hellfest two times before this year. Both times I took a plane from Tallinn to Paris, a train from CDG Airport to Paris centre, subway to the train station, got on the über-awesome-high-speed train to Nantes which was followed by the ordinary not-so-über train to Clisson. This was afterwards repeated in reverse order.
What is good about this, is that a) you know what you are up to and depend on mostly very reliable transportation system, and b) you get from Tallinn to Clisson in about 12-13 hours. The downside of this arrangement is that it's actually expensive, costing over 600 Euros in total.
On both trips I had some friends to come with me. However, this year's financial situation knocked the potential Hellfesters off the list and I was left alone. Not being really interested in making the trip alone I was lucky enough to find that Metaltravel was organizing a trip to Hellfest and back and for about a third less than I was used to spending.
Nice, huh? Well, here's how it was supposed to look like at first.
1) A bus starts from Tallinn on Monday before the festival taking the baggage of all people going to Hellfest and Gods of Metal festival one week later.
2) On Wednesday morning 5AM those of us going to Hellfest start our trip on a bus from Tallinn to Riga.
3) At about 10:30 AM we fly from Riga to Düsseldorf where we meet the bus that started out two days earlier.
4) We then drive to Paris, do some sightseeing and spend the night
5) On Thursday we drive to Clisson and spend the next couple of days at Hellfest.
6) On Monday morning we drive down to Milan, do some sightseeing and spend the night.
7) On early Tuesday morning we fly from Milan to Riga and drive the bus to Tallinn to arrive at about 5 PM and have enough time to catch Midsummer Night festivities.
8) The bus takes on another bunch of people from Milan, goes to Gods of Metal and returns about a week later with our baggage.
Now, this was the initial plan. More or less sound, not the best one but still okay. The first sign that this trip isn't going to be smooth came when I found out that the return route was changed. Because the plane ticket prices had gone up, we were now supposed to start off for Düsseldorf as soon as Manowar finishes and proceed to Riga from there at about 4 PM. The difference is, we'd arrive some 14 hours earlier to Tallinn. Which didn't sound so bad given the date and the festivities to come.
However, this single switch proved to be pretty lethal and everything was destined to be doomed. And almost everybody got their share of misfortunes in the end. There were 11 of us going with Metaltravel, one of the drivers being 12th, plus two sisters going separately and joining us at the festival. 14 in total.
So, the first mishap became apparent when we were reunited with our baggage in Düsseldorf. Well, some were, and some weren't. It came out that one pair was left without their baggage as it was forgotten in Tallinn when the bus was loaded. That's quite a thing to discover, don't you think? However, the good thing was that the sisters hadn't yet started their journey and were kind enough to take some – which is an understatement – of the forgotten baggage with them. This makes 4 out 14 for misfortunes.
The second mishap was when two guys found out that the tent they had taken with them didn't have the outer cover. That is, they only had the inner cover which doesn't hold any rain or temperature. In the end they did it the MacGyver way and taped a bunch of trash bags together for the outer cover. This makes 6 out of 14.
The third mishap – disaster would be a more appropriate word – happened the third night when these goddamn-drunk-and-stoned-French managed to not only knock off the tent of one of the guys, but actually break it when he was sleeping inside. On top of that they also broke his glasses along the way. Nice going for spoiling the fun. 7 out of 14.
One of the girls got her eye knocked blue in the moshpit. That's sort of a normal course of events but still quite bad. 8 out of 14.
One of the guys managed to either catch cold or fever in the end of the trip. Although he saw what he wanted, he wasn't really feeling well. 9 out 14.
Me, I got problems with the portable hard drive I had purchased for backing up photos taken at Hellfest and was lucky to actually retrieve them in the end. Not that big deal but still a pain in the ass and would have been a shame to lose all the photos taken with the press pass. 10 out of 14.
11th is the Metaltravel trip organizer and our bus driver who suffered quite a substantial financial loss in the events that are still yet to be described.
The rest of us seemed to be fine. Although, given the circumstances, I'm pretty sure there must have something happened to them as well.
The rest of the trip started out as planned. We headed out for Düsseldorf right after Manowar at about 3AM. We had our sleep in the bus, everyone exhausted. 9AM I wake up. We're somewhere north of Paris, we're not moving and I have a fishy feeling which is confirmed a moment later. The bus had broken down. Some electronics problem in the engine and fuel delivery. Not being able to fix it, the service was called in. Those arrived, looked around and called in another service who called in another service. In the end we spent 6 and half hours on the repairs, were charged quite a bit for repairs and effectively missed our flight to Düssledorf.
It was then decided to revert to initial plan and head to Milan. Long drive later through the whole France, through the spectacular mountains which we didn't see at all in the dark, out of booze as French don't sell beer at petrol stations, we arrived to Milan almost late for the flight to Riga. In the end, it didn't matter as there weren't enough seats for all of us and the tickets were too damn expensive. We then drove to another airport in Milan but had no better luck there as well.
A flight to Stockholm was chosen. From there we were supposed to proceed on either a cheap flight or a ferry to Tallinn. Cheap flight? Yeah, right! We had no choice but to take the ferry and had to give up hopes of reaching home before Midsummer Night festivities. However, we got showers, beer, lots and lots and lots of food at the buffet and more beer later on the deck. There wasn't much else we could do.
In my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined that going to Hellfest I'll end up returning 30 hours later than planned, via Milan and Stockholm and a ferry to Tallinn. As we counted, during this trip we crossed 10 countries. And we each got a fair share of events. However, the trip itself is one to remember for quite a while and for that my travelling companions are to be thanked. Another trip with them would be cool. The question is, would anyone else want this bunch of misfortunes on their trip?
I guess the moral of the story is never change your initial plan at the last minute. If the initial plan hadn't been altered, we would have managed to catch the plane in Milan even counting 7 hours of repairs. Or, which is maybe more suitable, don't make a too tight schedule for the trip and most of all don't be (too) greedy.
Written on 01.07.2009 by
I shoot people.
Sometimes, I also write about it.
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