Off to Finland with the Fawlty Towers of the Aviation World

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June 27th 2015
Published: June 27th 2015
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An update to let you know about our great day on Thursday and our shambolic day courtesy of FinnAir on Friday. IF I have internet access in Akaslompolo I’ll post some photos of Thursday and do updates as per normal. But if you don’t see a blog for a few days then don’t panic! I’ll update everything next weekend when we get back to Helsinki.

Thursday 25 June:

A little bit of a sleep-in and then Zachary went and played with the dogs for a while. He really enjoyed throwing them the ball and was able to get them to listen to him. He definitely is a “dog-person”.

We then headed for the Givskud Zoo and Safari Park. We parked in the first parking lot and from there walked a loop to see elephants, buffalo, and wolves among other things. The elephant enclosure needs an upgrade. While quite large it was boring and elephants need stimulation. The wolf area was good though and we could see them up nice and close. Then we got back in the car and did the first safari part in which we drove (slowly) through an area populated by giraffes, zebra, bongo, guanaco, and gemsboks. Then at the next parking area we had lunch and then walked through the macaque’s area. There were some very little babies which were cute and it is nice to be able to get up so close. The next drive through area was lions. They have 17 lions in a large area which is very good for them. With it not being hot (it was clear sky but still chilly) they were quite active and we saw most of them, including getting quite close to the male. From the last parking area we walked through the dinosaur area. There was a variety of (animatronic) dinosaurs and was similar to Auckland’s Butterfly Creek Dinosaur Kingdom, although the dinosaurs here moved and roared less. We had time for a quick visit to the playground which has a lot of goats running around available for patting.

We headed home and not long after headed to the marina to go sailing. Henrik is a very experienced and enthusiastic sailor and has a nice trimaran. We got on and Heather got volunteered to do all the hard work that was necessary. I’m not sure if Team New Zealand will take her on, but it’s always good to have a career plan B. We sailed out to an island and dropped anchor in the shelter of it. We had sausages (there is a little stove on board), rolls, salad, and beer for dinner which was extremely nice. Then we headed back into the wind to the marina and saw one small whale on the way. By the time we got back it was after 9 and we need to make an early start to travel tomorrow so we got Zachary off to bed as quickly as we could. I followed him while Anne and Heather stayed up yakking until just after midnight. Tomorrow we have to leave the house at 8:15 to get a train to Copenhagen Airport and then fly to Helsinki, Finland.

Friday 26 June:

Zachary manage to have some final playtime with the dogs before we headed to Middelfart to catch the train. It has been great to meet Anne and Henrik and we have enjoyed staying somewhere much quieter. The landscape around this area is very similar to much of New Zealand, except that it is very flat. Overall I think I have found Denmark the country most similar to NZ, both in terms of geography / landscape and people.

We had some difficulty finding seats on the train but managed to get some and then we were able to move to better ones after the first stop at Odense. I logged on and cleared my emails to receive the extremely inconvenient news from the travel agent that our flight to Kittila tomorrow is now at 8:40am, not 10:40am. This is a huge pain in the arse so I was hoping we could check in when we got to Helsinki Airport so we could just get up and taxi in in the morning. I also discovered that our assigned seats for the flight to Helsinki this afternoon are in 3 different parts of the plane. Apparently Zachary is expected to sit next to strangers. So that would need to be sorted when we arrived at Copenhagen. We got to the airport and only by luck did we manage to change his seat so he and I were together with Heather behind us. When we got on the plane we were sitting near a family of 4 who had had the same issue and they were going on to Beijing, also with FinnAir.

We were able to check in for our Kittila flight so that was good news it seemed and we got all our boarding passes (we were asked if we would volunteer to go on a later flight which we declined) and headed for Baggage Drop. There was an extremely long queue and only 2 counters open (plus one for business class). It became apparent after about five minutes that there was no way that we were all going to get it done before the flight closed. So about half an hour or a bit more they opened up another counter. This left us no spare time to get through security, grab some food for the plane, and get to the gate. Security went quickly and we got to the gate, which was as far away as possible, with a couple of minutes to spare. I quickly went and spent the remainder of our Danish krones on food. When it came time to board one of the two staff conveniently vanished so there was a hold up. By this stage our opinion of FinnAir was at rock-bottom but they at least scored one point for letting on families with children first. Not that it did much good because we waited and waited with no explanation. Finally we were told there was a delay with loading the plane and 25 minutes late we headed off. As the plane picked up speed it inexplicably swerved to the left and back to the right but fortunately got off the ground. The flight was 80 minutes and after 50 minutes I finally got served tea. Then they seemed to run out or something and 10 minutes later, as we were descending, Heather finally got offered one. At least Zachary slept and Heather had a nice chat to the lady sitting next to her (from the aforementioned family going to Beijing). Coming in to land the plane went side to side a number of times as if we were in a severe storm (we weren’t). We hit the ground and came to a very abrupt halt. First time pilot maybe? Point scored at the gate lost.

So, off the plane and onto the bus to take us to the terminal. We went to pick up our baggage. Heather had predicted earlier it wouldn’t arrive and she was right. We established that the man at the counter in Copenhagen and checked our bags through to Kittila. He hadn’t asked us if we wanted to do this, and it didn’t seem to occur to him we might need our luggage overnight. So off to the appropriate desk and the lady informed us it was the busy time but it might take 40-50 minutes for them to retrieve the bags from the “bag hotel” and get them to us. All we could do was wait. Much to our surprise they arrived after 20 minutes so we made a beeline for the exit.

We had no problems getting a bus to the railway station where I popped into a convenience store to get a drink. Three people in the line ahead of me and the first one was having a long, friendly chat with the cashier, the second one needed a lot of help, and the third one was stoned. Waiting seems to be the Finnish way …

Found some McD’s (surprise I had to wait for my burger) which at least was at more normal prices and picked up a few things so we can have a quick bite to eat before our early start and then the tram to the Hostel. Pleased to be here after a pain in the arse day. The helpful young man at reception has ordered us a taxi for today as we now need to get to the airport early. Hopefully no further FinnAir problems (I wouldn’t count on it) and our transfer to the resort works out!


28th June 2015

They just vanished into Finnair...
Hi Ed Note to self. DON'T fly Finnair ! It seems to be pretty useless on every level - reminded me of an internal flight we made to Dehli. One week to the holidays...yippee. Val and I are off to Taranaki and Auckland. I presume you know that the Super 15 final is between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders. You might be on the other side of the world, but I'm sure you are up for a bottle of Coke on the outcome. Highlanders by 10. The cold snap in NZ appears to be mostly over. Cheers Steve
29th June 2015

Super 15
I will enjoy the coke on my return. Hurricanes in a canter. Cheers Ed

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