Sunday, February 28, 2010

Helsinki, Day 3 – I have arrived :-)

So I finally got onto a plane to cross the Atlantic, this being my British Air 777. I sat in the last of four progressively worse cabin sections … with 9 seats across and only 21” of leg room. That’s 1” less than the standard and several inches less than the better cabins.

The worst aspect of this configuration is the difficulty sleeping. To stretch one’s legs, one must slide forward on the seat, removing the support form the lower back. After 3 or 4 hours of sleeping this way, the back is screaming.

Anyway … we landed about 15 minutes late because we had to go around once. This did not worry me too much as I had a 2 hour cushion. But that turned out to be barely enough.

After landing, we waited 15 minutes while the buses were brought in to get everyone off the plane. Then we had about 10-15 minutes of driving to get to the  terminal. That airport is huge …

I got into the terminal and followed everyone to the connections area, knowing that I still had to see an agent to get my seat assignment. The lack of a boarding pass was really causing me stress.

Queue up for the bus over to Terminal 3. Wait 10 minutes, then a 10 minute drive. Then, at least 20 minutes in line for security and getting my bags scanned again. Thank goodness I did not need my boarding pass, as I would have been toast.

After all that, I look at the screens. My flight is boarding and I do  not have a boarding pass. Oy … so I run. The gate is pretty far, but this is my one chance. When I finally arrive, huffing and puffing, the gate is marked “closing”, which means that the last bus is waiting for passengers. Strangely, after all my anxiety over the boarding pass, she issued me one without blinking an eye. And it was business class no less.


The view from my window seat in 01F.


I will remember this trip and (a) try to minimize connections; and (b) try to leave 3 hours instead of two to get through connections at Heathrow.

So off we went to Finland. It was raining in London, but at least there was no snow.


DSCF3567 DSCF3569

Things are pretty different once we arrive in Helsinki. Bleak might be one word.



Lots of Finnair around here :-)



I saw this advert in the luggage area and had to chuckle. Obviously, big American stars are quite willing to sell their souls in other markets …


Leaving the airport, I saw this peculiar display.


The taxi I rode in was a very nice Volvo. The driver mentioned that Volvo and Mercedes dominate the taxi population, with Toyota and Hyundai making inroads. The taxi I rode in sells new for around 55,000 Euro. <choke>

Some things I noted include: the city looks just like Ottawa in a snowy year; lots of English signs everywhere; Finnish words are the longest I have ever seen; LED traffic lights have not found their way here yet; lots of cars with unrecognizable names; they drive on the “right” side of the road :-)

The hotel turns out to be pretty nice. Very similar to the one I use in the UK, but with free Internet. The room is small, but well designed:



Real wood floors! Lots of power outlets. All better than the more expensive rooms I got in London.

The area just outside my room is pretty spacious:


And this spot in the lobby near the restaurant just screams Scandinavian furniture:


One last thing … I found the zero used for first floor in England to be peculiar. But using P just makes no sense to me at all.


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