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Gallivanting the globe 2019 - RTW and then some

craven morehead

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Given the short overnight flight from ANC-LAX, I opted to chill in a hotel near LAX for the day and overnight there before continuing the DONE4 the following day on what is perhaps my favourite flight. QR740, 16 h LAX-DOH, departing at 1600 h and in QSuites. Perfect dinner and sleep timing IMO.

A pre-flight S&P squid and Champagne snack in the QF FLounge before hauling out of LAX in 1K (rear-facing).

Arrival in DOH about 1800 h; again, great timing. Overnight there before continuing to HEL the next morning.

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Was there any wines on the list that weren't tested for research purposes ? ;)
 
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JohnM

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Was there are wine on the list that wasn't tested for research purposes ? ;)
There was. o_O

You will notice only two glasses for the whites; I didn't bother with the NZ SB. Nothing necessarily against SB, but generally to me Marlborough SBs in particular are too floral to enjoy with food. I don't mind them as an aperitif but, not surprisingly, I had the Champagne.
 

JohnM

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After overnighting in HEL, I rented a car and headed out for a Saturday-Monday loop around the SW of Finland before my late-night flight HEL-SIN in an AY A350.

A brief stop at Turku which is an historic town that was the capital of Finland until 1812. It’s now the second-largest city after Helsinki. The old trading square area was cluttered with summer festival stages and such-like.

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JohnM

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My main destination was Rauma, the Old Town of which is the largest preserved wooden town in the Nordic countries. WH-listed.

The Hotelli Vanha Rauma was once a warehouse in an old fish market. It’s the only hotel in the Old Town proper and has been done up nicely.

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JohnM

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From Rauma, I headed inland to Mantaa, a town that grew up around its very large paper mill that was founded in the mid-19th century by the Serlachius dynasty. The family was progressive, benevolent and cultured. They have built a major art gallery and Mantaa now promotes itself as Finland’s ‘Art Town’.

Despite that, it was almost painfully quiet and lacking in any decent cafes or restaurants – although, in fairness, I was there on a Sunday which may be a particularly quiet day in rural Finland.

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Next day I swung back S towards HEL, passing through Hameenlinna, where a Swedish-built 13th century castle is a major attraction. Adjacent to the castle is a large military museum related to Finnish involvement in WW2. I didn’t have enough time to explore it.

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Final stop before beelining to HEL was at Porvoo, an historic port and market town with a charming Old Town, on the S coast east of Helsinki.

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RooFlyer

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A pre-flight S&P squid
Well at least you got the proper condiments with your squid this time.
That S&P looked deep fried! Was it?

You've rewarded my lack of curiosity for SW Finland - looking much the same. I once went to Porvoo for dinner (with my Tas friends, who you know) in between flights (just around the corner from that church), but not much ambition to go further, except to go well north.

 

JohnM

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That S&P looked deep fried! Was it?
I think the S&P is always deep-fried, but that coating was thicker and darker than usual. However, it was better than the somewhat pasty-looking offering sans chillies in the MEL FLounge a couple of weeks ago. Given that they have been my last two S&Ps, they both fell short in their own ways.
 

JohnM

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Back to HEL, drop the rental car and over to the terminal amongst the massive renovations currently under way at HEL for a smooth checkin and soon ensconced in the AY FLounge prior to the midnight departure over to SIN – in 1L, natch.

Scoped out a bit of the rubbish on offer in the lounge.

Flight was fine, but nothing memorable – but midnight departure doesn’t help, and I had a fairly long drive earlier in the day. I only took one pic. Whole meal came out as one.

HEL-SIN I think is AY’s longest flight. I was really heading for DEL for the next adventure on this trip but, hey, why fly direct… (y’all know the rest ;)), so SIN-NRT-DEL it just had to be. Looking forward to JL SIN-NRT and NRT-DEL.

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Overnight at SIN and then on JL in 1A – natch, for the ride to NRT at 0800 h. This is where things in-air get seriously good. 😋

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JohnM

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Well, that was a pleasant way to spend a couple of days. :cool:😋:)

I had no particular need to go to DEL as I’ve been before and done it sufficiently.

My main intention in making it a destination within my DONE4 was as a departure point for a separate Turkmenistan Airlines flight to Ashgabat to join my 5 Stans tour. That was due to finish in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from where there are direct flights back to DEL, from where I could resume the DONE4.

Turkmenistan Airlines is off the grid with respect to the GDS and they have only two DEL-ASB flights per week. I initially allowed two nights in DEL just in case of schedule changes or cancellation. That would give me enough time to get to ASB via DXB or IST at short notice if the Turk Air option failed.

As it turned out, Turk Air moved the DEL-ASB flight from Saturday to Sunday morning. Advance notice was good, so I ended up spending three nights in DEL but missed a little extra free time in ASB prior to the 5 Stans tour starting almost immediately upon my arrival.

In Delhi, I just chilled and explored the Hauz Khas temple complex and the adjacent Deer Park near my B&B in South Delhi. Hauz Khas means ‘noble tank’ and was a reservoir originally covering 28 ha built in the 13th century to capture monsoon water to sustain the Siri Fort community through the dry season. Alongside are the ruins of a 14th century madrasa.

After a hot and very humid day, an icy Simba or two went down nicely in a hip local bar.

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JohnM

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Up at sparrow’s the next morning to get to DEL for my Turkmenistan Airlines flight to ASB.

As anyone who has travelled in India will know, it is impossible to enter the terminal of any Indian airport without showing your E-ticket. I had printed mine before I left home but, as mentioned upthread, Turk Air changed the day of the flight from Saturday to Sunday, with the same departure time. I crossed out ‘17’ (of Aug) and wrote ‘18’.

Oops! Not acceptable! Flicked on mobile data on my phone and made frantic attempts to get online. Wheels spinning, nothing happening. Gaaahhh!

The officer eventually relents and lets me pass. Relief! I check in and eventually get away on a delayed but otherwise uneventful flight.

Entry into Turkmenistan was smooth enough. The tour company organises the visas in a batch and had sent it a few days earlier. Going through Customs, the officer asks “English?” (ie. as in “do you speak English?”), answer yes, but then he says “Russian?”. Err, no – and I’m left very puzzled as to why he would ask that after I’ve confirmed that I speak English.

I learn later that the Turkmen people were (and still are to a large degree) so cut off from the world during Soviet times that they were brainwashed into believing that Russian was the world’s main language!

Exit and get picked up by our tour guide to high-tail it into town as the first excursion – sightseeing Ashgabat - of the upcoming three-week tour is due to start soon. Quick stop on the way out to take in the extraordinary sight of the ASB terminal. Now, that is different!

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Check into the hotel, catch up with @RooFlyer and we’re into a bus for a look around Ashgabat. Rooy has covered the next three weeks in the 5 Stans in his TR (The 5 Stans of the Silk Road) but I’m going to put my take on it for completeness of my full trip.

First thing about the new part of Ashgabat: get accustomed to white Carrara marble on an immense scale. All new buildings are grandiose and uniformly clad in it. It’s just mind-boggling excess built from immense income from gas and oil.

But, as becomes evident, it is really a Potemkin Village.

The wedding palace and a Burj al Arab knock-off.

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The library is shaped like a book. When we did stop, stepping out onto the magnificent avenues was not a problem – there were almost no cars in most places in show-town.

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This is an indoor ferris wheel. It was a Sunday afternoon but there were no people. It was hot and it may be typical for Turkmen people to avoid the middle of the day and venture out in the evening, but exclusively seems unlikely. Rooy had already been there a day and had a chance to get a better feel for things like that.

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