Will there be PJs? Return to Finland

Skyring

Established Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Posts
2,216
Qantas
LT Silver
In June 2023 I took a trip to Edinburgh via Helsinki. A fairly complex itinerary involving QF Y and AY J and bottles of milk.

Journey to the Land of Flying Barges

That got me most of the way to SG from my LTS status and in October I finished the journey with a trip to Waiheke that didn't go exactly as planned, leaving a sour taste in my mouth.

Trans-Tasman Disaster

This year's BookCrossing.com World Convention - a grand title for an event of around a hundred people - is being held in Tampere, Finland. After the disruption of the Covid years - I was on the Gold Coast 2020 committee that got blown into oblivion and the Finland crew were originally scheduled for 2021 but (heh) got cold feet - we're back on track, kind of.

Normally we'd know who was hosting the 2025 event, but the regular two-year cycle has been derailed or dismounted or whatever it is that they do with cycles.

Anyway, in a few weeks' time I'm heading off to Finland, I'm flying Business Class all the way, and no cut-rate Business Light like last time. No way, sir! This time it's Business Heavy and me with OWS status.

HELBKK A350.jpg

Status-wise, I need 600 points to retain Gold. I already have 70 in my kick from a flight to New Zealand (more or less uneventful apart from my bags not making the trip home with me), I believe I'll be getting 480 points from this trip to HEL and back and I have a trip to Adelaide later this year which will, unless I'm drunk, push me over the line. Platinum at 1 400 is probably way out of reach this year.

Yeah, I know, I could have waited and gotten a DSC boost but trust me, the difference between booking with Finnair last year well ahead of time and getting the seats I wanted, and booking with Qantas a few weeks out from travel amounts to quite a few thousand dollars. Much as I love the Flounge experience and the Plat perks, this pensioner has to watch his pennies nowadays.

Anyway, I did my research and booked last September.

SYD-SIN AY metal, QF flight number.
SIN-HEL-SIN AY all the way
SIN-MEL QF

I juggled a lot of options around and didn't come up with anything ex-Canberra that wasn't going to cost me an arm and a leg for a couple of short flights, so I got what I got. Thanks, Google Flights, you are an awesome resource!

I'll likely get a bus to Sydney. Cheap, reliable, and drops me at T1. I'm getting leery of Qantas flights out of Canberra in the foggy dawn. I'll have to get an Uber at some ungodly hour to the Civic bus station, but the bus to Sydney has wifi, I can nap in the comfy seats, and they drop me a few metres from the check-in counters.

Getting back from Melbourne is yet to be determined but I'll work something out. Probably a flight back because I need to be home for the weekly look-after-the-grandkids circus.

More details in due course.

Skyring
 
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The Qantas website is all but useless for good trip planning. I was flying into Helsinki, I wanted to fly Finnair in their wonderful spacious no-recline business seat, and the obvious routing for me is Canberra-Sydney-Asia-Helsinki. And back. Last time I flew out of Bangkok and that was fine, though there was a lot of standing around in queues.

Qantas had heaps of options for me, most of them going through Heathrow and using anything but Finnair. And hideously expensive. Or ridiculously inconvenient.

Even when I ditched the Canberra connection, things didn't improve that much. In the old days, it seems to me, I got the Canberra legs tacked on for a token sum. No longer.

Google Flights indicated that Finnair was my best bet unless I wanted some non-oneWorld carriers or some really weird routings. No thanks.

I could have gotten cheaper flights by going through a third-party agent but if anything goes off the rails I've got to deal with those guys and that could be difficult and delaying.

So I booked on the Finnar site, crediting my travel to QFF. I'd rather deal with the airline directly if I need to, and they might be able to sort things out without much delay. I've flown Finnair a few times now and I am enormously impressed with their way of doing things, not to mention the country as a whole being well-run, planned, and full of infrastructure that works for human beings rather than corporations.

And a certain Scandi style in design.

Maybe I could have flown into Tampere on Finnair - or someone else - but I know that the trains in Finland are awesome and my accommodation there isn't too much of a walk from the central station, so that's one less thing to worry about on arrival.

Returning via Melbourne worked out a bit cheaper for some reason. It will be a longer trip for me to get home but the terminal change in Melbourne, not to mention immigration and customs, is so much more pleasant than in Sydney.
 
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Even when I ditched the Canberra connection, things didn't improve that much. In the old days, it seems to me, I got the Canberra legs tacked on for a token sum. No longer.
Yes we have the same experience every time we try to visit Seat Son in the Middle East. Almost always have to put the CBR-SYD or CBR-MEL and return onto a separate CR ticket these days. Quite annoying. And exposes us to various risks associated with the connecting legs not being on the same PNR.
 
Yes we have the same experience every time we try to visit Seat Son in the Middle East. Almost always have to put the CBR-SYD or CBR-MEL and return onto a separate CR ticket these days. Quite annoying. And exposes us to various risks associated with the connecting legs not being on the same PNR.
Yep. Adelaide too.
 
Time for an update. This is getting close.

AirBnB
The organising committee took their sweet time coming up with a venue. They said it would be in the centre of town near the train station. A description that covers a lot of ground. I looked at a few hotels on Booking.com - don't worry, I get an idea of prices and availability and then go direct to the hotel to book - but I find that hotels aren't good value if I'm there for a few days. I like to have a kitchen where I can make proper coffee, bowls and things for my junk food, a table to strew my stuff about, and best of all a laundry where I can wash my clothes from the travel adventure coming in so I have clean clobber for the trip home, and squeeze in a mid-stay wash so I can wear some bits twice over if I spill milk all over them or summat.

This time around, I'll also have parkrun running gear. More on that later.

Once the venue was announced and I - hopefully - found the right spot in the confusing set of names and words they use for addresses in Finland, I looked for an AirBnB. Nothing too grand - it's just me this trip - but there were a lot of options to choose from. Some of them had saunas. Eventually I found a nice balance between price, comfort, location, and review stars, sent off my request and was accepted. I even have the option of early check-in, which could be handy as my flight arrives in Helsinki around dawn.

I'll have to work something out for the trip home. My flight back leaves just after midnight and while I'm not averse to hanging around in an airport lounge for a few hours there are usually various activities on the Sunday and I'll have to find some place for my bags for half a day or so. There are lockers at the station, for example.

Or possibly at the venue, which we have until 1600. Grab the train to Helsinki after, check in for my flight, have a meal and a few drinks at the lounge, do some tipsy writing, fall asleep, miss my midnight flight. Sounds doable.

PR Pete Vollie Wings.jpg

Parkrun
You can blame @Bundy Bear for this. He pulled me into parkrun and he may just have saved my life. The story is here.

Long story short. parkrun is a five-kilometre run/jog/walk/roll/stroll every Saturday, held in thousands of locations around the globe. One of them a five-minute walk from my house in Canberra. Bevan flew down from Brisbane and spurred on by a recent incident with a three-year-old poking me in my tummy - "You're fat, Granddad!" - I joined the movement.

I've since completed four runs and a volunteer event. As photographer and report writer. That's not me in the photo above but it is a shot I took and I think it's delightful. Parkrun is all about fun and smiles.

And fitness. I'm dropping kilos, improving my fitness, getting shorter times.

I've made one parkrun tourism trip - to Williamstown - and had a ball.

Tampere has a parkrun course.

431239610_396072739785974_6453565708875177319_n.jpg

Not my photo. Lifted from the FB page. I can't get a straight answer from anyone on image copyright and licensing so I'm treating them all as public domain because they clearly expect images to be copied freely.

I've been participating in shorts and t-shirt. Might need to lift my game.


IMG_9572.JPG

No longer a solo traveller
My Melbourne trip involved a BookCrossing.com meetup - you can always pick us because there's a pile of books on the table - and for some odd reason an Irish pub was selected. On Saint Patrick's Day. We had to work around the increasingly enthusiastic band a couple of metres away.

The young lady in the photo above is a friend of mine. I've known her almost all of my BookCrossing career and she is someone who gets about 150% out of life. Lots of fun.

She's attending the Tampere convention as well. All told there are six of us Antipodeans. In between glasses of Guinness and raucous drinking songs from the band in our ears, we swapped travel plans and worked out that we'd be on the same plane into Helsinki.

Uh-oh. I'm in the front cabin and she will be parked in the back seats. We'll be sharing a morning walking tour in Helsinki and catching a train to Tampere together, timed to arrive just as our respective accommodations open for check-in.

I'm not going to be able to look her in the eyes if I've been quaffing bubbly and stretching out flat for a good night's sleep in business while she has been squashed into an economy chair for a thirteen-and-a-half hour night flight. Besides, she'll likely be falling asleep in between sentences. I've been there and know what it's like.

I wonder if there is a way to share the seats so that we both get a good chance at some lie-flat sleeping.

The responses from the experienced travellers in this forum are kind of mixed. There should be no problem swapping seats for the whole flight but a mid-air seat change might be problematic. It's going to be up to airline policy, and what the cabin crew think of the arrangement.

I'm not averse to giving her the seat for the whole leg - but the end result would be the same with roles reversed.

I know this sort of thing goes on - I've given up a J seat for a fellow traveller a couple of times in the past and there's never been a problem - but swapping seats half-way through could encounter turbulence if one of the cabin crew thinks there's something dodgy happening.

View attachment Tim Tam.jpg

I've worked out a plan involving chocolates and minimal disruption:

1. On the SYD-SIN leg, the plane and crew will be Finnair on a QF wet-lease. I'm travelling in business. I have a multi-pack of Ferrero Rocher in sealed transparent packaging to present to the CSM and I will ask them about how I should handle this. My guess is that the crews are rotated regularly through the Helsinki flights and will know all about current policy and conditions. I should gain some valuable pointers.
2. In SIN, passengers go through security in a gate lounge. Based on what I've learnt from the previous flight I'll see if whoever is manning the desk is amenable to my scheme. I will have Tim-Tams in my carry-on.
3. My friend can start the flight in business, where she will be able to learn the details of the seat - don't want to try to recline a no-recline seat in darkness with people sleeping all about - with cabin crew to help and light to see where everything goes. I can take her seat in economy.
4. After about seven hours she can wake up and head back to economy. Business class passengers are generally allowed to visit friends in the economy cabin but not vice versa.
5. I'll head back to the front cabin - just a J pax with the correct boarding pass - and zonk off for the remaining hours.
6. On arrival we'll both have had a good meal and several hours of sleep. We should be in good shape.

Worst-case scenario is that we both fly in our assigned seats. If the scheme is nixed entirely, at least I'll have tried.
Second worst is that I'll spend the whole flight in economy. I honestly don't mind this. I'll still get the points and status credits, my ExpertFlyer access tells me the flight will have a very light load, and if I get a row to myself, that's almost as good as a lie-flat seat.

Anyway, watch this space.

Loose ends
I'll be taking the bus to Sydney. It leaves at 0100 from the bus depot in Civic. That's the latest departure that will get me to the International Terminal in good time. The next one leaves at a more civilised time of 0600 but doesn't hit the airport until 0915, too short a margin for a flight leaving barely an hour later.

The alternative would have been taking an early flight but honestly I've been hearing too many tales of cancellations and delays, especially getting into early-morning mist season.

I could have taken a bus the previous day and spent the night at an airport hotel but that's more expense. I can nap on the bus and sleep on the plane to Singapore. I'll be fine.

On the way home, I fly Qantas into Melbourne, and I've booked an economy flight back to Canberra. Ten more status credits, yay! I should arrive just in time to help look after the grandchildren for the day.

My mate arranged a walking tour of Helsinki and a train to Tampere. We'll take the airport train to Helsinki - four euro one way - and leave our bags in lockers at the central station.

The only loose end left is returning to Helsinki airport for my midnight flight back home, and I can book that online. In fact, I think I've downloaded the app. I don't want to book that until I'm more certain about end-of-convention timings. Quite possibly I can travel with others.

Anyway, I've got most of the travel sorted. Really all I need do now is get some travel insurance and do my packing. I'm not sure I need to do another post on that!

Later: yes, I have the Finnish Railways app on my phone, I've checked and there are a bunch of trains, one leaving every half hour or so, at good prices. This will not be a problem.

What will be a problem is writing the report up while I'm on it, especially if anything goes wrong. That's always been a hurdle for me.
 
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In June 2023 I took a trip to Edinburgh via Helsinki. A fairly complex itinerary involving QF Y and AY J and bottles of milk.

Journey to the Land of Flying Barges

That got me most of the way to SG from my LTS status and in October I finished the journey with a trip to Waiheke that didn't go exactly as planned, leaving a sour taste in my mouth.

Trans-Tasman Disaster

This year's BookCrossing.com World Convention - a grand title for an event of around a hundred people - is being held in Tampere, Finland. After the disruption of the Covid years - I was on the Gold Coast 2020 committee that got blown into oblivion and the Finland crew were originally scheduled for 2021 but (heh) got cold feet - we're back on track, kind of.

Normally we'd know who was hosting the 2025 event, but the regular two-year cycle has been derailed or dismounted or whatever it is that they do with cycles.

Anyway, in a few weeks' time I'm heading off to Finland, I'm flying Business Class all the way, and no cut-rate Business Light like last time. No way, sir! This time it's Business Heavy and me with OWS status.

View attachment 373918

Status-wise, I need 600 points to retain Gold. I already have 70 in my kick from a flight to New Zealand (more or less uneventful apart from my bags not making the trip home with me), I believe I'll be getting 480 points from this trip to HEL and back and I have a trip to Adelaide later this year which will, unless I'm drunk, push me over the line. Platinum at 1 400 is probably way out of reach this year.

Yeah, I know, I could have waited and gotten a DSC boost but trust me, the difference between booking with Finnair last year well ahead of time and getting the seats I wanted, and booking with Qantas a few weeks out from travel amounts to quite a few thousand dollars. Much as I love the Flounge experience and the Plat perks, this pensioner has to watch his pennies nowadays.

Anyway, I did my research and booked last September.

SYD-SIN AY metal, QF flight number.
SIN-HEL-SIN AY all the way
SIN-MEL QF

I juggled a lot of options around and didn't come up with anything ex-Canberra that wasn't going to cost me an arm and a leg for a couple of short flights, so I got what I got. Thanks, Google Flights, you are an awesome resource!

I'll likely get a bus to Sydney. Cheap, reliable, and drops me at T1. I'm getting leery of Qantas flights out of Canberra in the foggy dawn. I'll have to get an Uber at some ungodly hour to the Civic bus station, but the bus to Sydney has wifi, I can nap in the comfy seats, and they drop me a few metres from the check-in counters.

Getting back from Melbourne is yet to be determined but I'll work something out. Probably a flight back because I need to be home for the weekly look-after-the-grandkids circus.

More details in due course.

Skyring
Am onboard @Skyring , looking forward to your (mis) adventures ✈️
 
I’m also riding along with you. I’m hoping to visit Finland in 2025 as part of my upcoming first ever cruise - more details shortly- so I’m really interested in details about your flight and the country. Also, a very good friend of mine and her hubby are mad keen Parkrunners, so I’m interested in that too!
 
I’m also riding along with you. I’m hoping to visit Finland in 2025 as part of my upcoming first ever cruise - more details shortly- so I’m really interested in details about your flight and the country. Also, a very good friend of mine and her hubby are mad keen Parkrunners, so I’m interested in that too!
There was a fair bit about Finnair and Helsinki in my "Flying Barges" report. It was only a - ahem - flying visit but I enjoyed it immensely and am coming back for more. I like the Scandinavian way of doing things and was tremendously impressed with Helsinki airport as a clean, efficient, practical space.

As for parkrun, I am totally hooked. The kilos are falling away, my fitness levels are rising, I may be able to drop some of the medication I'm on. Plus it is fun and fellowship. Inclusive, supportive, positive. There's a link to my Medium blog above but here's another:

parkrun Virgin

Each article should have a "free read" link at the top.

One of the attractions is that parkrun is an international movement, so for frequent travellers, there's likely going to be a parkrun course or two anywhere you go. Rack up a few tourist points. Another point is that it's all quite transparent. All your courses and times are on the record, you get badges (and can buy t-shirts) for hitting various milestones.

It's not really a race. It would be super-easy to cheat, for one thing. You get a credit just for finishing and there is one volunteer assigned at each event as a "tailwalker" who officially comes last. You can stroll along the course if you want, chatting to your mates and that still counts.

Mt Ainslie Parkrun 8.jpg

More information on the parkrun website and at Wikipedia, where the lead photo - one of mine - shows the diversity of participants.

I'm recovering from a cold now so I won't be running this Saturday but I will be volunteering as a photographer and that gives me a credit as well. It's quite a well-thought-out scheme. Free, one sign-up covers every event around the world, all you need is your barcode. Government at all levels love it because it's a community health initiative that they don't have to fund or organise.

My hat is off to @Bundy Bear for getting me interested. I wish I'd gotten into it earlier.
 
Thanks for all this info @Skyring. I’ll look up your other TR. plans for 2025 are shaping up and I might soon put some questions up on here.

With today’s weather here in Canberra I doubt many/any will be running at Parkrun today!
 
Thanks, Qantas!

I'm getting close now. My email inbox is full of alerts from various travel services reminding me I'm travelling in a day or two. Here's one from Qantas.

Even though I'm leaving at one in the morning - earlier than that, of course, as I need to whistle up an Uber to get me to the bus station in good time - I won't be boarding until nine hours later. I arrive at the terminal in Sydney at 0415, so that's six hours to bum around the airport. The international terminal opens at 0230, customs processing at 0400, and Qantas check-in at 0430. I should be able to get off the bus, wait in the queue and get rid of my big bag.

I must admit that the thrill of browsing through the duty free shops is pretty much gone for me. Unless I need a memory chip or something, the prices aren't great and frankly, most of the luxury goods don't appeal.

What I'll be wanting is coffee, breakfast, a shower and a place to sit down and I have two free options:
1. The Qantas lounge, opening at 0500.
2. The Emirates lounge, open from 0400. It closes again at six or seven (depending on which website I check.)

The Qantas lounge is a known quantity and is conveniently located but I also have access to Emirates via my Qantas Gold status. Reviews are mixed but it seems to be a better facility than the regular Qantas lounge as it also caters for Emirates First passengers.

Much as I enjoy the lounge lizard experience it gets old after a while - besides, they'll kick me out after an hour or so when they close until the next Emirates departure - and I may contemplate finding the planespotter observation deck I remember. The curfew lifts at 0600 and the place becomes a bit of a parade with international arrivals every minute or so.

This should take me from one end of the terminal and back again and then it's probably time to head to the lounge and process any photographs I've taken, start work on the next segment of this trip report, and prepare - i.e. have a shower and get some bubbly into me - for my flight, which I intend to spend a fair bit of time horizontal and snoring gently.

QF advice.jpg

On arrival in Singapore, I have five hours transit, including meeting my fellow traveller arriving from Melbourne. Singapore Airport is not a place where one is forced to be bored. It is a holiday destination in itself, quite apart from hosting several lounges accessible to me. And a guest.

And then it's thirteen and a half hours to Helsinki in …

Hey, what's this "Premium Economy" nonsense, Qantas?

I booked and paid for Business. Have I been "enhanced" downwards??

A quick - and panicked - check with Finnair and I find that the R class code means different things to different airlines. I still have my seat allocations at the pointy end for all flights.

Odds and ends
I have free travel insurance with my credit card, I discover, after I pay for the Qantas offering. Not to worry. I'm never 100% sure about these freebie policies and although I hope I'll never need them, it's still peace of mind. Once things start going wrong overseas it can be a lot of trouble and expense to sort them out, especially if there's any time pressure.

Luggage limits are perplexing me. Qantas will let me have two bags up to fifty kilos total, it seems, with a maximum of 32 kilos in any one bag, so I see no problem checking in my bag in Sydney. Finnair specifies a 23 kilo limit overall and if Finnair weighs my Qantas-legal bag in Singapore there may be some problem.

Already I have packages of books from three different people to pack. It's a BookCrossing convention - there are books! Plus I have a few of my own that I need to include.

I'll be contributing to an Australian raffle prize, so there's some Tim Tams and a mug with lorikeets on, not to mention a stout container to keep them uncrushed in my soft-sided duffle.

One good thing about April travel is that it's usually medium in the weather everywhere. Finland, however, is still in what we Canberrans would call a bad winter, with snow and ice and no visible maximums above 5º.

Clothing-wise, I have several scenarios to cover:
1. Plane travel. This can vary from cool to warm but very rarely anything else. Long trousers, a woollen undershirt, and a long-sleeved shirt I can roll up. I'll have a blanket provided if I'm feeling cool.
2. Walking around outside. I'll need some shoes with a bit of thickness and grip. Long trousers. Layers on top. Thick winter jacket. Gloves, scarf and beanie.
3. Restaurant wear. Something reasonably smart with a collar. Shoes that don't look like they could be used for a wilderness trek.
4. Sleeping. I usually wear trackie dacks and a polo shirt.
5. Parkrun. Looking at the videos, I might need shoes and clothes that are reasonably arctic. I might test out the course on Thursday or Friday, see what it's like. I'm guessing some thick socks will winterise my regular runners, Once I start running, I'll generate my own heat, so overheating could be a problem. Lots of variables.
6. Sauna. I'll need sandals and possibly board shorts. Plus a towel or two.

Add in my regular supplies of undies and socks, toilet bag, coffee-making equipment and my bag might be pushing the 23 kilo limit.

I wonder if Tampere does op-shops, stock up on clobber that can be left behind.
 
Thanks, Qantas!

I'm getting close now. My email inbox is full of alerts from various travel services reminding me I'm travelling in a day or two. Here's one from Qantas.

Even though I'm leaving at one in the morning - earlier than that, of course, as I need to whistle up an Uber to get me to the bus station in good time - I won't be boarding until nine hours later. I arrive at the terminal in Sydney at 0415, so that's six hours to bum around the airport. The international terminal opens at 0230, customs processing at 0400, and Qantas check-in at 0430. I should be able to get off the bus, wait in the queue and get rid of my big bag.

I must admit that the thrill of browsing through the duty free shops is pretty much gone for me. Unless I need a memory chip or something, the prices aren't great and frankly, most of the luxury goods don't appeal.

What I'll be wanting is coffee, breakfast, a shower and a place to sit down and I have two free options:
1. The Qantas lounge, opening at 0500.
2. The Emirates lounge, open from 0400. It closes again at six or seven (depending on which website I check.)

The Qantas lounge is a known quantity and is conveniently located but I also have access to Emirates via my Qantas Gold status. Reviews are mixed but it seems to be a better facility than the regular Qantas lounge as it also caters for Emirates First passengers.

Much as I enjoy the lounge lizard experience it gets old after a while - besides, they'll kick me out after an hour or so when they close until the next Emirates departure - and I may contemplate finding the planespotter observation deck I remember. The curfew lifts at 0600 and the place becomes a bit of a parade with international arrivals every minute or so.

This should take me from one end of the terminal and back again and then it's probably time to head to the lounge and process any photographs I've taken, start work on the next segment of this trip report, and prepare - i.e. have a shower and get some bubbly into me - for my flight, which I intend to spend a fair bit of time horizontal and snoring gently.

View attachment 378772

On arrival in Singapore, I have five hours transit, including meeting my fellow traveller arriving from Melbourne. Singapore Airport is not a place where one is forced to be bored. It is a holiday destination in itself, quite apart from hosting several lounges accessible to me. And a guest.

And then it's thirteen and a half hours to Helsinki in …

Hey, what's this "Premium Economy" nonsense, Qantas?

I booked and paid for Business. Have I been "enhanced" downwards??

A quick - and panicked - check with Finnair and I find that the R class code means different things to different airlines. I still have my seat allocations at the pointy end for all flights.

Odds and ends
I have free travel insurance with my credit card, I discover, after I pay for the Qantas offering. Not to worry. I'm never 100% sure about these freebie policies and although I hope I'll never need them, it's still peace of mind. Once things start going wrong overseas it can be a lot of trouble and expense to sort them out, especially if there's any time pressure.

Luggage limits are perplexing me. Qantas will let me have two bags up to fifty kilos total, it seems, with a maximum of 32 kilos in any one bag, so I see no problem checking in my bag in Sydney. Finnair specifies a 23 kilo limit overall and if Finnair weighs my Qantas-legal bag in Singapore there may be some problem.

Already I have packages of books from three different people to pack. It's a BookCrossing convention - there are books! Plus I have a few of my own that I need to include.

I'll be contributing to an Australian raffle prize, so there's some Tim Tams and a mug with lorikeets on, not to mention a stout container to keep them uncrushed in my soft-sided duffle.

One good thing about April travel is that it's usually medium in the weather everywhere. Finland, however, is still in what we Canberrans would call a bad winter, with snow and ice and no visible maximums above 5º.

Clothing-wise, I have several scenarios to cover:
1. Plane travel. This can vary from cool to warm but very rarely anything else. Long trousers, a woollen undershirt, and a long-sleeved shirt I can roll up. I'll have a blanket provided if I'm feeling cool.
2. Walking around outside. I'll need some shoes with a bit of thickness and grip. Long trousers. Layers on top. Thick winter jacket. Gloves, scarf and beanie.
3. Restaurant wear. Something reasonably smart with a collar. Shoes that don't look like they could be used for a wilderness trek.
4. Sleeping. I usually wear trackie dacks and a polo shirt.
5. Parkrun. Looking at the videos, I might need shoes and clothes that are reasonably arctic. I might test out the course on Thursday or Friday, see what it's like. I'm guessing some thick socks will winterise my regular runners, Once I start running, I'll generate my own heat, so overheating could be a problem. Lots of variables.
6. Sauna. I'll need sandals and possibly board shorts. Plus a towel or two.

Add in my regular supplies of undies and socks, toilet bag, coffee-making equipment and my bag might be pushing the 23 kilo limit.

I wonder if Tampere does op-shops, stock up on clobber that can be left behind.
Loving this preamble already @Skyring - well and truly onboard - happy travels ✈️
 
The day was restless. I had a long list of things to do and check and pack. Not to mention tidying my office, as my wretch of a wife has long promised that if I didn't keep it neat and tidy and clean, she'd do it for me while I was away on the other side of the world somewhere.

By the end of the day, I cannot say that it is perfect but at least it is not quite so much a disgrace. I've even chucked a few things away instead of merely rearranging the clutter. Unfortunately I don't have any photographs to show. Sorry.

A quick ride into Civic to buy some trakkie dacks. These will serve in Finland as both sports attire and PJs. Plus they will also do for parktun during a Canberra winter which seems to work out to be the same as a Finland spring, weather-wise.

Cramming everything I need into my bags is a struggle. I weigh everything individually and calculate that I've come in just under 23 kilos. Still, I have to leave more books behind than I really want.

I manage a catnap but that will have to do me. With the bus leaving at 0100 the next morning, I dare not go to sleep in the evening. I'd be worried about sleeping through multiple alarms and that would ensure I got no good sleep at all. I've been there before, you see!

Eventually, it is time to go. Midnight and I drag my bags out. Whistle up an Uber, five minutes to the bus terminal, I can be there in good time for the boarding. It's been ages since I took one of these buses but I remember it is first come best dressed for seating and I'd prefer a window seat if there's a choice.

The app hooks me up with a driver who is apparently out near Fyshwick and I follow his appallingly slow and misdirected progress with increasing frustration. I used to do this sort of thing for real as a night cabbie and this guy is not winning any brownie points from me as I shuffle from one foot to the other in the midnight chill.

It becomes apparent the system has given him my job while he still had a passenger on board. I'm beginning to wish that I'd called a cab instead as the time grinds on. It's twenty past before my guy rolls into the drive. At least he jumps out and gives me a hand with my bags, which is more than some Uber drivers care to do.

He's a nice guy, actually, and he drops me off right beside the bus. I only have a couple of minutes before boarding and it turns out that seats are allocated. I'm up the back in an aisle seat. Worse, I have a seat buddy.

CBR-SYD Murrays  1.jpg

The bus itself is pretty spacey. Looks a bit like a disco inside with party lighting and generous seat pitches. There's even a toilet at the back for a quick bit of sin, if that's your fancy.

CBR-SYD Murrays  2.jpg

Speaking of fancy, the seats are nothing out of the box. However there are charging ports and free wifi.

CBR-SYD Murrays  3.jpg

I plug my phone in. I've got a bag full of devices and cables to match. Might as well keep my charges topped up.

As soon as the bus begins moving, I unplug and lead the charge to fill up the empty seat rows, of which there are plenty. I now have a row of two to myself and this should be fine for the three hours to Sydney.

As it turns out, the seats could use a bit more padding and support. Tired as I am I don't manage more than an insipid doze. At least I can close my eyes and tune out, if not completely.

It's freeway all the way to the airport nowadays and at night it's pretty boring outside. I eventually realise that we are in a tunnel and as we emerge into the open air, the driver switches on the lights and announces our imminent arrival into the airport.

Half an hour early, as it happens.

View attachment CBR-SYD QF Checkin.jpg

Qantas check-in is deserted. Supposedly it opens at 0430 but at four the self-check-in kiosks and bag drops are open and I use them instead of waiting for actual people.

Oops. 24.4 kilos on the big bag. Too much cold weather gear, I guess. Books are essential for a BookCrossing trip, clothing optional. The bag drop serves me out a bright orange "Heavy Bag" tag and I hope nobody in Singapore notices that I'm overweight.

My ticket allows me 32 kilos on the Qantas flight and 23 on the Finnair leg. On checking the website I notice that I'm in a ticket purchase window with higher allowances either side of a range of dates. Weird.

Oh well, not much I can do about it. I'm pretty hopeful for a free pass to be honest.

Passport control and security is a breeze, apart from being required to take my plastic belt off. These Nude-o-scopes don't pick up metal so much as bulk but the security lass is just following rules, I guess.

I trek out to the Emirates lounge but the gate guardian examines my boarding pass and refuses me. "We don't have an Emirate's codeshare on that flight," she tells me. I'm puzzled. That shouldn't matter. I've checked the rules and I seem to qualify but if she ain't going to let me in, I don't have anything on me to counter with.

I trudge back to the Qantas pub - maybe not as plush but what this guy needs now is coffee sweet coffee - and naturally I'm allowed in.

CBR-SYD QF Lounge QF.jpg
CBR-SYD QF Lounge EK.jpg

Huh. My Singapore flight is an Emirates codeshare after all. Not that I'm going to make the trip out to the far end of Terminal One again, now that I'm here and gesturing with my arms outstretched for "a huge family sized flat white, please" that might be the approximate size of a keg of beer.

CBR-SYD QF Lounge 1.jpg

The cafetrix points at the largest size they have, about the size of a thimble, and I nod unhappily.

CBR-SYD QF Lounge 2.jpg

It arrives soon enough. A life has been saved!

CBR-SYD QF Lounge 6.jpg

Doesn't last long. I go back for another.

Tired I might be, bullied by a slip of an Emirates hostie, but I am here in the Qantas lounge with neverending supplies of coffee and bubbly, a business class ticket in my pocket. That's pretty good!
 
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Not too long ago, five hours in a lounge would have been an excuse for non-stop grazing from the range of food and drink available.

Post-parkrun, not so much.

It’s nice to have a light breakfast - I indulge in a hash brown as well as some sausages, bacon, and a delicious bowl of fruit - but it’s the teeny cups of coffee where I splurge, racking up three caffeine injections.

Yesterday, when I weighed myself, I had lost nearly eight kilos on my pre-parkrun maximum. Each one gone is one more I don’t have to carry up and over that blessed hill on the Mount Ainslie course.

And possibly one more year on my life. I’ll let you know in thirty years or so.

Instead, I improve these shining hours by writing up the trip so far, which is mostly a boring bus ride. I have a bad habit of falling increasingly behind on these things as my access to fully-charged devices, internet, and time decreases.

We'll see how I go on this week-long trip. I’ll let you know in thirty years or so …

I find a seat by the lounge window, open up Flightradar 24 and see what’s going on around me.

Quite a bit, once the curfew lifts, it transpires. There's a Singapore Airlines A380 comes in twenty minutes early and I wonder what the story is there.

SYD QF arrival.jpg

I’m not best placed for plane spotting, to be honest, but there's a bit of a view with Sydney's CBD on the horizon and I try to get interesting planes against that backdrop.

Including, I notice, a brace of Finnair A333s. Woot, one of these is my bird!

SYD AY Arrival.jpg

SYD AY Arrival 2.jpg

SYD AY Arrival 3.jpg

SYD AY Gate.jpg

SYD AY Tails.jpg

Probably the one coming in from Singapore, I guess. I’ll let you know.

IMG_9723_jpg.JPG

The lounge gradually fills up. I don’t, apart from a glass of bubbly. Just for the photo, you see.

One change I notice. It used to be that the glide slope was a series of big airliners coming in just after curfew and consequently the baggage claim and customs area was a zoo as more and more people keen to make their onward connections were funneled in.

Not so much today, I find. The heavy arrivals are spaced out a little more. This must make things less hectic downstairs.

SYD Air India arrival.jpg

SYD Air Viet.jpg

SYD United.jpg

The hours roll by pleasantly. A lot more comfortably than they would have from the old terminal plane spotting platform which has, I discovered, closed down permanently.

Eventually on a periodic check of the flights board I discover that my Singapore flight has moved to “GO TO GATE” status. I give the lifesaving barista a fond look as I leave once I’ve unplugged all my cables.
 
Very enjoyable so far. But that Air India livery looks so odd/ different compared to what I am used to seeing over the decades.
 

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