From Melbourne to Helsinki
Melbourne to Helsinki
In the months leading up to our long awaited trip, we had two flight changes which impacted the start of our trip. Initially it was a delay in our connecting flight from Bangkok which gave us enough time to get to a hotel for a solid six hours of sleep. We talked ourselves into this being ‘ok’ because it meant the boys would have a sleep before our long flight to Helsinki the next day. We booked the conveniently located Siam Mandarina Hotel just minutes from the International Airport, for minimal travel time. Weeks later, we were notified that our first flight, Melbourne to Helsinki had also changed and we were to leave Saturday morning, rather than the afternoon. Once again, we adjusted our plans, booked a hotel near Melbourne airport, and rejoiced in the fact that we’d be in Bangkok to have an authentic Thai meal!
I often get asked where we stay when we fly out of Melbourne Airport. There are a few hotels I look to book at but ultimately we go with whichever is cheapest. Sometimes we stay at Cilom Lodge, which on this occasion was where I originally booked. However, in the weeks leading up to our trip, I kept an eye of the Holiday Inn because of its proximity to the airport and quickly cancelled at Cilom Lodge when I saw the prices had become significantly cheaper at the Inn.
Our optimistic outlook on these changes didn’t leave room for really calculating our awake times versus travel times, consideration for having our luggage checked all the way through from Melbourne to Helsinki and the fact that when we were to wake up to go to the airport on Sunday morning, it was in actual fact 11:30pm on Saturday evening in Helsinki and we were not due to arrive until 4pm (which was 9pm in Thailand). Even if we were to get the boys to bed at 6:30pm upon arrival in Helsinki, it was still a hefty 19 hour day. Yikes!
All of these realisations started coming to light as we stood in the queue for an hour and a half, to check-in at Tullamarine International Airport.
We had packed with some level of consideration. We spread our winter weather clothes across the three bags, just in case one didn’t quite make it through to the destination. We packed pj’s at the top of one bag so we could easily access them in Bangkok. We also put our thongs/slides at the top of another bag so we could throw them on when we got to Bangkok airport so we didn’t need to wear our snowboots in 30°C weather.
In our hand luggage we had some winter accessories to get us from the airport to our accommodation in Helsinki, without completely freezing, again, just in case something happened to our luggage. We also had all essential medication, toiletries and the CPAP machine. In an essence, we were prepared if we lost our luggage, we just hadn’t necessarily considered our luggage would be checked right through and that there may be a chance of us not bring able to leave the airport in Bangkok!
Amazingly, calmly, we navigated Bangkok airport, the language barrier and got out, leaving our luggage behind for safe keeping until the next day when they assured us, it would make its way to our plane.
We got a taxi from the short trip taxi rank. It was a metered taxi that read 75 baht (about $3 AUD) when we arrived and we paid 150 baht. At that point in time, we didn’t really care, it isn’t a lot of money and we were pretty keen to get into the hotel room, take off our snowboots and order ourselves some dinner so we could get to bed, quick smart. We were tired and it was an early start the next day for us all.
We had room service for dinner, accompanied by a couple of Changs to cheers Geoff’s birthday. They barely hit the sides!! The boys hardly ate, they were so tired and Geoff and I demolished the amazing curries we ordered. We were all in bed by 8pm, Thai time (midnight in Australia).
Bangkok to Helsinki
Alarms were set for 4:30am, but Finn seemed to miss the memo and wandered in at 3:30am (7:30am in Australia, 10:30pm the night before in Finland). It was an unwelcome early start, that’s for sure! We dozed for the next hour before getting ready to go back to the airport for our second leg of the flight.
Our hotel taxi (costing 400 baht, this time), got to the airport in next to no time, raising questions from the boys about why they drive so fast and beep the horn all the time in Thailand.
Fortunately we got through check-in, security and immigration quickly, with only our two tubes of toothpaste being taken, as they were liquids greater than 100mL. We stopped in at Zurich Bakery for what was a pretty good breakfast. I think it cost us about 1200 baht (airport prices!) for a drink each and something to eat. They also had free WiFi that can be used while at the cafe. The entire airport actually has free WiFi, for one hour at a time.
No surprise but by half way through breakfast, Finn was curled up on my lap unable to eat because he was too tired and almost asleep. We made it to our gate where Geoff and Finn sat at a recharging station and he kept himself entertained (and awake) by playing Wordle and sending some messages to family and friends. Taj and I went on a shopping mission with our remaining 450 baht. We needed snacks for the flight and bottled water.
Taj carefully chose a snack that would fit the budget and something that could be snacked on throughout the flight. He chose a packet of individual packs if Oreo bites. Next was to find some water. Airport prices had me thinking we should have got the water first, until we found Boots! Similar to Priceline, for those who are unfamiliar, I knew we’d find some cheap bottled water. Sure enough, eight baht per bottle for Boots brand – bargain! Taj then piped up and said, “We should buy some toothpaste, too”. Good point, this also fit the budget. We were kicking goals. On the way back to the gate, we set ourselves a challenge to spend the remaining 70 baht on something that could be shared. We soon discovered you cannot buy much from the airport for that price, except out of the vending machine; so a small packet of Pringles was the way we went. We only had one shiny ten baht coin left!
We scoured the entertainment, food and drinks menu and flight information as soon as we were settled in our seats. The movies looked good, two meals were to be served and there were fantastic interactive maps to play around with, as well as an outward camera and downward camera which we could view while flying. Immediately it meant not getting a window seat wasn’t so bad after all, as we’d be able to see Helsinki as we flew in. Also on the screen was a flight overview which told us what time meals would be served, when we were to sleep and the time comparison between Bangkok and Helsinki – there it was, the reminder that if we didn’t get some sleep on this flight we would be effectively awake for 19 hours. That’s not a great look on anyone, let alone kids who typically get eleven hours of sleep every night!
Well, all the threats in the world couldn’t get our overtired children to sleep during the ‘sleep time’. In fact, despite all levels of “encouragement”, neither of them slept the entire way. Instead they played games, watched movies and explored the globe on the interactive map. As we flew over Europe and into Helsinki, we watched the ‘downward’ camera footage, in anticipation of what we might see.
Bleary eyed, pale and delirious, they strode off the plane, eager to see what awaited them on the other side of the gates.
There was snow everywhere, the boys couldn’t believe their eyes! We got ourselves a taxi from the airport to our Airbnb, it was expensive, about $120 AUD. It would have been much cheaper to get a train directly from the airport and reasonably straightforward but at the end of all the travelling, we really just wanted to get here.
We had quite the challenge getting into our accommodation. First, we had to find the bike with the “red saddle” with a key safe attached to it. Then, we either took the lift or climbed six levels to get to the apartment. Finally, we battled with a fancy key to get inside the apartment.
The apartment is on the 6th floor of an apartment building. It has two bedrooms and has a decent living and kitchen area which enables us to self-cater and have some space to unwind and relax at the end of the day. It is comfortable and has heated flooring in the bathroom – the real winner!
We had a short stroll to a local supermarket for a quick dinner before getting the boys into bed, and we’re not too far behind them!