The following blog entry was typed into a text editor in Helsinki Airport very, very late at night, after a very very long journey that wasn't quite complete. We've since made it to Oulu, though too early to be able to check in to our hotel. Thank god for free municipal wireless in Oulu. Unfortunately, I've only got about 10 minutes sleep in the last 24 hours.
So it turns out getting to FInland is a pretty time-intensive process. I'm currently sitting in Helsinki-Vantaa Airport in Helsinki, Finland, at 1:43 am local time on June 25. Looking at my handy-dandy World Clock, I can see that this equates to 4:45pm June 24th in Edmonton. Over the last 19 hours, I've walked through three airports (Calgary, Heathrow, and now Helsinki-Vantaa), sat on two planes, and have yet one more plane hop to go through before I'm at my destination, Oulu.
It's a long standing fact that I can't sleep in moving vehicles, couches, chairs, or awfully hard airport bench seating, which means that I haven't been able to get any sleep at all. I've never traveled this far before, however, so I was kind of hoping this would be hte trip to break that curse. Turns out that nope, the sleepless travel streak continues. I woke up early yesterday (body time, which is actually two days ago now, according to local time) because I was anxious about getting everything ready for the trip. So - again, body time - I've been up probably about 33 hours so far. Due to the fact that the group of flights was really all that was available while still being moderately affordable, we have a 6 hour layover in Helsinki; of course, due to the schedule of the preceding flights, this layover is from 11:30pm to 6:30am. Or as the case may be, from 12:30am to 6:30am, as our flight from Helsinki to Oulu was delayed in Heathrow. Now, this might not be a problem in a larger airport, where services and restaurants are open 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, in Helsinki, everything closes shop at 10pm.
So I am currently experiencing a level of tired that dares not speak its name. K is understandably tired from the journey, so I've opted to keep watch on our things and let her sleep for a few hours, rather than have us both fall asleep here at gate 14a and miss our little tiny flight to Oulu.
I don't have wireless right now, so I'll post this later, but why don't I go over some reflections on the international travel experience, since this is my first trans-atlantic journey.
First, if you're flying across the Atlantic and want to connect in London, fly British Air. They may not have the most comfortable seats in economy (in fact, they're some of the least comfortable I've been in), but they do make up for it with good amounts of tasty food. During our Calgary to Heathrow flight, we received a snack with two little pops, a rather large meal (curry chicken or roast beef with gravy), wine, coffee, and a croissant sandwich with yoghurt. I can only imagine the levels of pampering the passengers in first and second class received. As a side note, I covet the seats in First and second class, which are honest-to-god sleepers. They're not side by side, but rather alternate front- and back-facing, so that you don't have to worry about the inevitable drooling co-passenger sitting next to you. These seats were not made for the likes of us, however; we're a few million short of flying that class of British Airways.
Second, time zone hopping can seriously mess you up. For example, here in Helsinki, it's 2:05am June 25. We arrived in Heathrow on June 24 at 1:30pm, after having left Calgary at 9:50pm June 23. Somehow, in only 19 hours, we've gone forward two days.
Observation the third is that all airports, regardless of size and geographic location, are pretty much the same place. I find this with shopping malls, in that you can be in Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, or Houston, and it all looks like the same place. It certainly wasn't helped by the fact that Terminal 1 of Heathrow is essentially a giant duty free store, with retailers such as Burberry, Timberland, etc. Visually, it was not all that different from stepping into the middle of West Edmonton Mall.