A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about flights

Snapshot

sunny 18 °C

Cancelled

Cancelled

I wonder how the Covid 19 events of March - June 2020 will appear when we look back on them 3, 6 and 12 months from now.

How will our lives be 3, 6 and 12 months from now?

I should have been in Rīga on Thursday morning (19th June) after a flight the day before from Edinburgh with SAS.

Rīga

Rīga

My itinerary was supposed to take me to Moscow on Saturday with Aeroflot. Then today (Monday 22nd June) I should have been on an S7 flight to Kazan. My return was to have been via St Petersburg with Nordavia and SAS.

Russia is not open to travel for foreigners. Here in Scotland only essential travel is allowed, and for leisure I am restricted to a 5 mile travel radius.

SAS cancelled my flights - they are working on a 7 day cycle but it has been clear for a while that Edinburgh would not be on their schedule at the moment. They offered a voucher or a refund, so I took the voucher. It is valid for a year. Even if I cannot use it for a future trip to Russia, Scandinavia is always attractive.

SAS at ARN

SAS at ARN

Aeroflot cancelled my flight too. I have a voucher from them as well - valid for 3 years - plus a 15% discount. I had to call their customer service centre (free) last week, and they were a pleasure to deal with.

Aeroflot Offers

Aeroflot Offers

My S7 and Nordavia flights are still scheduled, and domestic flights in and out of Kazan seem to be operating normally. I have had to cancel and then see if I can recover on my insurance. The flights were cheap.

In the overall scheme of things this inconvenience is minor, and the cost very small. It is still disappointing. It was a trip I put a lot of research and planning into, even going as far as resuming my Russian studies (after a gap of 45 years) on Duolingo.

Thursday should have been special just on its own. In July 1968 I took my first flight, and it was from Rīga to Moscow with Aeroflot. My plans had been built around re-tracing those steps.

Posted by IainT 02:57 Archived in Russia Tagged planes moscow st_petersburg scotland edinburgh life flights russia sas riga latvia airlines kazan aeroflot Comments (0)

Scottish Islands

all seasons in one day 13 °C

Lockdown Reading

Lockdown Reading

Earlier this month I was looking for books to buy and found Scottish Island Bagging. Click, click, click and it was on its way to me from the publisher (in Sheffield, oddly enough).

Apart from a summer job in an Arran hotel in 1972, for most of my life the Scottish islands were a blank spot on my travel map. I remember a couple of day trips to Stornoway for work, and an overnight business trip to Shetland when we worked for 16 hours out of 24.

I woke up to this a few years ago and started to put things right.

Vatersay/Bhatarsaigh

Vatersay/Bhatarsaigh

In the space of 5-6 years I have visited Gigha, Islay, Tiree, Colonsay, Mull, Iona, Staffa, Ulva, Lismore, Seil, Kerrera, Luing, Easdale, Eigg, Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay, Lewis and Harris.

I have been back to Arran a few times in that period, and to Orkney (which I first visited about 10 years ago).

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney

From my home in Fife, just across the water from Edinburgh, all these places make for quite a long trip and careful planning is needed. If a ferry is involved, often it means getting to Oban first and that is a 3 hour drive. Mallaig - for Eigg - is a good bit further. Tayinloan or Kennacraig, for Gigha and Islay respectively are also a 3 hour drive.

Usually you have to be at the ferry terminal at least 30 minutes before departure, and with building in a bit of time for toilet stops and contingencies, you have to leave the house at least 4 hours before the ferry time. You will have to make a reservation if you want to take your car on the more popular routes, and well in advance in the summer months. On the smaller ferries you just drive up and get on the next one.

Gigha Ferry

Gigha Ferry

I flew to Barra, Lewis, Tiree and Colonsay. Loganair was the carrier for most of those short hops, but I used Hebridean Air from Oban to get to Colonsay. All those flights are on small planes and lots of fun.

Waiting

Waiting

During the peak season accommodation is at a premium in these small places, so that has to form part of the advance planning. I think I have only once been disappointed by accommodation on the islands, but remember that it is a short season with relatively high demand (in normal times) so what you get may not always seem like value for money if compared with other parts of the country.

Where would be top of my list to return to? Iona. It is special. It has so much of the country’s history as well as being remote and slightly spiritual. I am not “spiritual” but on Iona I got it.

Jura Ferry

Jura Ferry

Where is top of my list to go to for the first time? Well, I will finish my book before I make up my mind, but at the moment Coll, Raasay or Canna.

Coll is a strong possibility because I loved nearby Tiree, and it is on Hebridean Air’s route map as well as Calmac's.

Raasay is easily accessible from Skye, which is a long drive from home but no ferries are involved. My late father had a long involvement with the buyout of the island from its absentee landlord during the 1970s, so I would love to see how it is now.

I loved my time on Eigg, and getting there and back by car, train and ship, so another of the Small Isles beckons. Canna seems right.

My View, Eigg

My View, Eigg

Meantime, I am staying at home and trying to stay safe. A good book helps.

Posted by IainT 23:31 Archived in Scotland Tagged beaches planes boats scotland ferries transport flights lewis airlines orkney barra lismore islay stornoway eigg calmac islandlife colonsay steòrnabhagh leòdhas na_hearadh barraigh vatersay bhatarsaigh eiriosgaigh eriskay Comments (0)

Malmö - The Essentials

overcast 6 °C
View Malmö on IainT's travel map.

Sunday Lunch

Sunday Lunch

To get to Malmö I flew from Edinburgh to Copenhagen with easyJet. Flight time was 90 minutes (a little slower going west) and it cost £107 return. I only needed hand luggage for a 2 night trip.

From Copenhagen Airport I took the Oresundståg train to Malmö Central. The journey time is just over 20 minutes and train frequency is excellent. It cost SEK120 (£9.60 or €11.37) to buy a single ticket in Malmö and DKK91 (€12.17 or £10.31) in Copenhagen.

Sankt Petri Kyrka

Sankt Petri Kyrka

When you go to buy a train ticket at Copenhagen Airport, the first thing you see is a large row of automatic Danish Railways (DSB) machines, with a queue management system. It is well set up, with helpful staff to assist customers who are struggling.

Less obvious (and so less busy) are 2 Skånetrafiken machines close by which will also sell tickets for the Oresundståg. They are also red, and stand next to a couple of green SJ machines - the Swedish Railways ones. Skånetrafiken seems to be the regional transport - trains and buses - operator for Skåne, where Malmö is located.

Malmöhus

Malmöhus

I stayed at the Radisson Blu in Malmö. It cost SEK1,760 (£141 or €166) for the two nights, inclusive of their superb buffet breakfast. The room was massive and I am not sure if that is what I booked, or if I was upgraded.

The hotel was excellent in all kinds of ways - staff, comfort, location, for example. It is an 8 minute walk from the station, and in the centre, but the location is quiet.

Malmöhus

Malmöhus

One of my reasons for choosing Malmö for a weekend away at the end of January was to see the local ice hockey team play Luleå. The Swedish league is one of the best in Europe, and Luleå were top.

No Luck

No Luck

My ticket was super cheap at SEK100 (£8 or €9.47) for a seat on the behind the Luleå bench. I did not understand the details, but it seemed to be a special charity fundraiser match, so I guess prices were reduced. 12,600 took advantage, so the atmosphere was great. So was the game.

The arena is excellent, and easy to reach from the city centre by train or bus. I did not try their food and drink, but they had plenty on offer.

Posted by IainT 00:04 Archived in Sweden Tagged bridges trains scotland edinburgh sport sweden transport flights ice_hockey denmark copenhagen malmö airlines brexit Comments (0)

Brexit

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View Malmö on IainT's travel map.

Escaping

Escaping

Thursday night (30th January) was tough. I had been diverting myself all week by keeping busy at work, and with other stuff at home, but that night the barrier collapsed.

Brexit Blues

Brexit Blues

Yesterday (31st) was better, with more diversion therapy. I took a flight to Copenhagen, and from there took a train to Malmö. I have never been to this part of Sweden before, unless you count passing through on a sleeper train from Stockholm to Copenhagen.

My mood was helped by the hotel - Radisson Blu - upgrading me to a junior suite.

Radisson Blu

Radisson Blu

After settling in I went to find something to eat in the dark, in a strange city, and in drizzling rain. I was half expecting to end up at a fast food place, but only 100m away I found a great wee pizza restaurant.

Pizza Time

Pizza Time

Excellent food and friendly service. My mood lifted even more.

No 25

No 25

Well that’s what I did on 31st January 2020.

Goodbye

Posted by IainT 13:18 Archived in Sweden Tagged planes trains food beer scotland restaurants sweden transport belgium flights ice_hockey brussels denmark copenhagen airlines brexit Comments (0)

Athens - Travel Tips

sunny 6 °C
View Athens on IainT's travel map.

Parthenon from Stadium

Parthenon from Stadium

I flew to Athens from Edinburgh via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. The first flight was on 25th December and the other at 01.15 on the 26th. Both were excellent.

I had a long wait between flights in Istanbul, but that is part of the price you pay for getting a flight on Christmas Day. The cost was £206. It included my checked in bag (30kg) and I had an emergency exit seat on the 1st leg - it was not booked but TK put me there to let a family sit together in the row I had chosen.

Panathenaikou Stadium

Panathenaikou Stadium

TK has in flight entertainment on its flights out of Edinburgh, and serves a full complimentary meal with drinks. Both are good quality.

My flight home on 1st January was on easyJet, and direct. It cost €228. That price includes the extra cost of a checked in bag (15kg) and an emergency exit seat to give extra legroom. Needless to say easyJet does not provide free catering, nor any in flight entertainment.

Akropolis and Parthenon

Akropolis and Parthenon

Had I been able to book earlier I know I would have been able to get a much cheaper deal on flights, but I was held back while waiting for my employer to decide what the office arrangements would be for the end of December.

I stayed in the Sofitel at Athens Airport on the night I arrived. My flight got in at about 2am, which is to late to take the metro into the city. The cost was €141, without breakfast. It is literally across the street from the airport, so ideal in the circumstances. Breakfast is an eye-watering €25.

Hadrian's Arch

Hadrian's Arch

Most of my time was in an Airbnb apartment in the Koukaki neighbourhood. It cost £321 for 6 nights. I could not fault it. It was ideal, and just as advertised. It is located a short walk from Syngrou-fix metro station, making travel to and from the airport quite simple.

I took the metro from and to the airport. It takes around 40 minutes to/from Syntagma Square. The cost was €10 each way. The service is only every 30 minutes which makes for quite a long wait if you have just missed a train. However, the airport has display screens to keep you advised, and the train times are also published on the website of the city’s transport authority.

Ariston Pie Shop

Ariston Pie Shop

My top tip for Athens is to take the gastronomy tour I went on. It cost €65 - for a 4 hour tour and a huge amount of delicious food. I learned a lot, the food was great, and it was a lot of fun.

Posted by IainT 17:40 Archived in Greece Tagged food greece athens turkey istanbul flights airlines Comments (0)

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