Today was only really taken up with getting home. We had a lazy start to the day, showered, packed etc then walked slowly to the bus station via the market square again for some last minute photos. The bus to the airport doesn’t accept tourist cards so we had to pay for another ticket but it was only 4 euros and got us to the airport in about 35 minutes.
We got to the airport about 30 minutes before check-in opened so just took things easy then joined the queue early enough that we would be in the first boarding group. Helsinki isn’t set up for online check-in, which is given priority boarding with Easyjet, so we had to check in at the airport and get there early to be able to get on the plane first to get a good seat.
There are plenty of shops and cafes in the airport so, after going through security and getting a strange look from the guard for having a bag of confetti from the Nightwish gig, we bought last-minute souvenirs before just sitting down and relaxing over a coffee.
We went through to the departure gates and relaxed for a bit longer before being called to our exact gate. When we got there we saw probably about 20 other people who had been to the gig – either because they were wearing Nightwish shirts or other random metal band shirts. On the bus to the plane we talked to some of them and decided it probably would have been easier to just charter a plane to and from Helsinki – there probably would have been enough people from the UK going.
I’ve had enough experience with Easyjet and have a good system worked out for getting a good seat which I won’t go into here otherwise you’ll all know it, but we managed to get the exit rows again on the way back which was great – I can’t fit in the seats without this extra bit of leg room.
The flight was uneventful, although we saw views this time, and we arrived back at Gatwick on time, where we split up and went through three different passport queues. Anna had one of the new passports so went through the automated booth, George has an old passport so went into the longer queue and I’m signed up for the iris recognition system so went to that booth – for which I was the only person in the queue so got straight through.
Anna got on the bus back to Oxford and we went back to the car park for an easy drive back to Kent. Overall I had a great time and would consider Helsinki again – and will definitely go to see Nightwish next time they play Hartwall Areena, although that isn’t likely to be until 2013 now!!
There isn’t as much to do in Helsinki as there are in other major cities but it is possible to stay here for a few days to see all of the sights, or use it as a base to see other things in the local area, or even go to Tallinn in Estonia for the day. The Eurohostel was a nice, cheap, alternative to staying in the expensive hotels for which Scandinavia is well known. It has private rooms with shared facilities which, although basic and not soundproofed, are good enough if you just want somewhere to sleep before exploring the city.
Oh and did I mention they sell Mountain Dew in Helsinki? Here I am celebrating the fact I found some without having to travel to Uganda or the USA….