A Travellerspoint blog

December 2018

Best of 2018 (1)

semi-overcast 1 °C
View Vilnius 3 & Vilnius 2 & Toulouse & Lockerbie 2 & Barraigh & Bergen & Vilnius & IIHF & Aberdeen & Steòrnabhagh & Girne '18 & Eagles & Ouarzazate on IainT's travel map.

Wait in Lounge

Wait in Lounge

The first category in the annual awards is for airlines.

This year has brought a lot of variety and - like last year - a new experience.

Widerøe is the airline I used for the first time, on its Aberdeen-Bergen route. As I blogged at the time, it was very positive.

On Approach

On Approach

SAS is the airline I used most - 8 flights - but the reason really boils down to a couple of trips to Vilnius via Stockholm or Copenhagen. All those flights were good.

I had two trips with Loganair (Barra and Stornoway) and they are a lot of fun to travel with. It helps that small airports and small planes are so user friendly.

Loganair Saab 340 at Steòrnabhagh

Loganair Saab 340 at Steòrnabhagh

Turkish Airlines featured 4 times - to and from Ercan (in Northern Cyprus) via Istanbul. I was very happy about all of them and of course with a longer flight (4+ hours between Edinburgh and Istanbul) you have more chance of finding something to be unhappy about!

I flew 4 times with KLM too - not so positive, but most of the negative aspects relate to a missing suitcase. It arrived eventually, but the delay and absence of anything resembling customer service was appalling.

I renewed acquaintance with easyJet and Norwegian on my weekend away in Copenhagen. In a direct comparison of two of the better low cost, no frills operations, Norwegian is a clear winner.

Norwegian Air

Norwegian Air

Air France took me from Casablanca to Edinburgh via Paris on 1st January. It seems like so long ago… It was good.

I flew Finnair from Edinburgh to Helsinki at the end of December. It was another renewal of old acquaintance. My only other flight with Finnair would have been over 20 years ago. They had reindeer on their inflight menu.

Helsinki Airport

Helsinki Airport

My journey from Helsinki to Vilnius via Rīga on Air Baltic went so smoothly it was a pleasure - an excellent airline and three excellent airports.

Rīga Transit

Rīga Transit

My top three out of all these is not an easy selection, although conversely the winner is. My top three are Air Baltic, Turkish Airlines and Loganair.

Loganair Disembarking

Loganair Disembarking

This year my decision for a winner is really easy because flying in and out of Barra is a unique experience - the tiny airport, the beach as the runway, the weather… So, yes, this year’s award winner is Loganair to/from Barra.

Posted by IainT 02:45 Archived in Lithuania Tagged planes bergen helsinki france turkey istanbul finland transport morocco flights cyprus aberdeen denmark copenhagen sas vilnius lithuania klm airlines casablanca kibris barra stornoway islandlife steòrnabhagh barraigh Comments (0)

Air Baltic (and Friends)

semi-overcast 0 °C
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Finnair's 08:00

Finnair's 08:00

Well, that’s it for 2018. On 26th December the next stage of my last trip of 2018 came and went. No more travels in 2018.

It was as smooth as silk, to steal an old Thai International advertising slogan. Or was it Singapore Airlines? Perhaps even Cathay Pacific.

I got the 08:00 Finnair bus to Helsinki Airport. Door to door - hotel to airport. The Air Baltic check in desk was quiet - waiting time 90 seconds. Terminal 1 security was quiet too - waiting time zero.

I had plenty time to enjoy a big coffee and cinnamon bun to compensate a bit for the rushed breakfast in the hotel.

2nd Breakfast

2nd Breakfast

Air Baltic’s flight to Rīga left early and arrived 25 minutes early. I had 50 minutes between flights and that is lots of time in a small, user-friendly airport like Rīga, but any delay would have made the connection tight. Instead I had time to relax, recharge my iPhone and indulge in people watching.

Rīga Transit

Rīga Transit

The flight to Vilnius - Air Baltic again - also left early and arrived early. I discovered they sell Lavazza brewed coffee which comes in a special cup. It contains a filter which keeps the coffee grounds in the cup. Wonderful.

Dash 8

Dash 8

Vilnius Airport was quick with the bags (as usual) and mine was on the carousel before I reached it.

What a pleasure it is when all the arrangements go so well. Hats off to the three airports, Air Baltic and Finnair’s bus department.

Posted by IainT 01:22 Archived in Finland Tagged planes helsinki finland transport flights riga vilnius lithuania airlines Comments (0)

Helsinki

snow -12 °C
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Ccccold

Ccccold


My last trip of 2018.

This time last year I was in the Sahara, in Morocco. 20⁰c in the middle of the day.

Yesterday it was -12⁰c when I got off the plane at Helsinki Airport in the early afternoon.

Helsinki Airport

Helsinki Airport

I have two nights here (24th and 25th) and then I’m off to Vilnius for a week.

Finnair brought me here - an excellent flight. It cost me £242 one way, but I was quite late in getting booked up. We left Edinburgh early - no drones, no ATC problems, no weather problems - and arrived a little early too. My bag was waiting for me on the carousel by the time I got there.

I waited less than 10 minutes for a train at the airport, and at €5 for a ticket, it is a good deal. 35 minutes later I was at the central station.

Central Station

Central Station

My hotel is the Vaakuna, just across the street from the station. It was completed in 1952 to house athletes participating the Helsinki Olympics and renovations since then have left plenty reminders of 1950s style.

50s Style

50s Style

The room is warm, comfortable and quiet, the staff are friendly and helpful, the buffet breakfast is excellent, and the price (€120 per night, from memory) is good - particularly when taking into account the relatively high prices here generally. I choose well.

Hotel View

Hotel View

The day I arrived it was dark before I got to the hotel (4pm) but I got out for a walk in the evening. I had forgotten how quickly you get cold when it is -12⁰ even if you keep moving.

Festive Sofiakatu

Festive Sofiakatu

On the 25th the temperature shot up to zero, bringing with it wet snow and then rain. I hiked around the city a bit for 90 minutes - to walk off breakfast - before heading back for shelter at the hotel.

Kauppatori

Kauppatori

My flight tomorrow is a 10:15 departure, so it will be an early start.

Posted by IainT 04:03 Archived in Finland Tagged planes trains helsinki finland transport flights airlines Comments (0)

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