Scandinavia, Snow…

Work, work, work???

After last week’s adventure, there was more to come.

In preparation for UK’s “worst” weather in 50 years, R booked us on two flights – destination Helsinki monday morning. One out of Gatwick and the other, London’s Heathrow. Taxi booked for 4.45am, airport to be decided at 4.46am. We waited with baited breath, internet on a 24 hour snow alert.

The disappointment on his face as he looked out of the window. Not a flake of snow. The weathermen got it wrong once again! We chose Heathrow having spent more on the flight and the taxi fare was cheaper – and Finnair served a light Finnish breakfast on board – included. Arrived at LHR term 3 and checked in so quickly, we were too early for the lounge. Ended up having coffee with the common herd.

The flight as usual was delayed to the irk of the Finnish pilot. We had to wait an hour for the de-icing machine before take off. Helsinki airport was snow covered. -14ºc and everything was running smoothly. Not even a queue at the taxi rank. Having been assigned “bag look-a-after”, I took a separate taxi into town. 40Euros for a 35 minute ride (probably the scenic route) was worth it. I would never have managed dragging two bags in the snow from the bus terminus to the hotel SOKOS Torni, albeit, a 5 minute walk with change of 34.10Euros (heavier) in my pocket. Once checked in and emails read, the faux fur gillet worn, I headed for Stockmann. Finland’s equivalent to Harrods is by far more interesting. The ice cream stall at the forecourt was doing roaring business. My market research showed liquorice boules in crunchy cones being the top seller. The aromas mingled awkwardly between ice cream and fresh tulips (the stall opposite).

Late lunch consisted of some delicate Graavit Lohi (gravad lax) with a couple of blinis and a dollop of sour cream. I did buy a tablespoon of Lavaret roe (lojrom), quietly smuggled into breakfast to savour with my boiled egg the next morning. A packet of frozen freshTyrni (seabuckthorn) was chucked into my bottle of water for a refreshing filled vit C and Omega7 drink to last me through the day. January is the month for caviar and blinis. Salmon, trout, vandace, lavaret and even vegetarian cavi-art was on offer everywhere on promotion. Brunberg and Fazer chocolates in big bowls. The Finns do have a sweet tooth. For good measure i bought a couple of riesprakkas (Karelian rice pies) still hot, fresh from the oven.

Darkness by 4pm but the snow covered parks lit by old fashioned streetlamps looked postcard pretty. The harbour was delightful with large hunks of ice floating. The covered market with its freshest of fresh seafood, game and fruit was delightful. Dinner at Sundman’s Krog (Helsinki’s oldest restaurant) was as usual good. They even serve LongJin tea. As a hub for most flights to China, Helsinki hosts a multitude of chinese tradesmen. Nokia – Made in China. Everything – Made in China. Surprisingly I have yet to find a decent Chinese restaurant. Lappish, Russian, loads of Italian, Seafood, modern European, even an Indian..


Helsinki – Oslo

Blue1. The gate was right at the end of terminal 1, a good ten minute walk to my favourite Serviceair lounge opposite the taxfree Stockmann. The lounge won 2009 best lounge award, quite rightly deserved. Free WIFI and no fighting. Lots of seats and plenty of charging points for laptops. There is always lots of Fazer chocolates and great duppios. Decent food too. MH on the other hand was due to fly back to London. Yep… BA cancelled it’s flight. Poor chap ended up buying a £350 a single ticket to Manchester via Amsterdam on KLM.

Arrived in Oslo at 19.45pm. -18ºc


Oslo – Copenhagen

It was so cold in Oslo, even the faux fur failed to keep me warm. My fingers were frozen. At this, I decided the Baby Alpaca gillet had to be shelved. I wasn’t brave enough to venture out, besides my paperwork was so overview, the MacBook almost gave up the ghost and I thought I had a virus! Next trip.

The airport express train was brilliant and on time. 20 minutes to and from the central terminal to Gardomoen is pretty good, even if it costs 127NOK each way. Once through airport security, there is plenty to do. The Kontiki restaurant serves good thai prawn curry with rice. The girl in front of me ordered a sour cream smothered baked potato with a 9-11high skewer of crispy bacon speared vertically through. Sit upstairs where few people know about. Salmon House sells all the Norwegian morsels. Definitely worth a look. Temptation to buy a reindeer skin to lie on was shattered by the hounding angel over my right shoulder of “Robert will not let you check your bag in on your return trip tomorrow night from Copenhagen”. The angel always wins.

Flight was delayed to to technical problem. Quite what the problem was we were not told. Eventually landed at Copenhagen and a quick taxi ride to the Square Hotel. It was late and all I wanted want a good night’s sleep. Breakfast at the Square is brilliantly healthy. I recommend this hotel strongly!

After hours of recces at hotels downtown, I made my way to the train station and headed for the Airport Hilton for my last meeting. After quizzing and checing out more hotel rooms (god, it sounds so voyeuristic!) I walked across to the airport and headed for the security. Found the lounge and sunk into a nice cosy corner to finish my notes.

Flight home was unadventurous and it was just nice sleeping in my own bed!

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