Day 1. My Journey to Helsinki

The start of our summer holidays and whilst most Britsh families head south to the Mediterranean we always head north to Finland.  You may find this somewhat strange but actually southern Finland generally enjoys warm sunny weather during the summer months, warm enough for trips to the beach and for swimming in the crystal clear lakes and sea.

My love affair with Finland began in 2006 when I had the privilege to go there for a few weeks as a visiting teacher.  Although I’d travelled widely over the years and had visited neighbouring Norway and Sweden,  I hadn’t been to Finland before but that first visit was to leave a lasting impression on me, so much so that I have visited for summer holidays every year since then and even taken two winter ski trips with my family to Saariselkä in Lapland situated in the very north of the country way above the arctic circle.

Heathrow Airport Terminal 3
Heathrow Airport Terminal 3

Back to today, I left home mid morning to make my way to London’s Heathrow airport by train.  In previous years I have either flown from Manchester or taken a connecting flight with BA down to Heathrow but this year it was much cheaper for me to travel down to London by train and take a direct flight from there.    My large suitcase,  approaching its weight limit of 23kg was difficult to manoeuvre but somehow I managed to get it on and off trains, often with the kind help of fellow passengers.   After arriving at London’s Kings Cross station there is step free access down to the Underground and trains run direct along the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow enabling me and my luggage to get there unscathed.

Despite the majority of BA flights departing from Terminal 5,  some flights including the one to Helsinki still depart from the not so attractive Terminal 3.  After checking in, I wandered round the terminal glancing in some of the shops and cafes before stopping for a sit down and a snack in one of them.

View of London from the air
View over London

You might think from my post that I’m going on holiday all alone but this isn’t the case.  My husband and sons will be joining me to fit in with their work commitments at differing times as they are fervent lovers of all things Finnish just like me!   In fact, my older son is flying into Helsinki from Gatwick on a Norwegian flight today and our flights are due to arrive in Helsinki at exactly the same time so it will be interesting to see what happens and if both our flights arrive on time!  Norwegian offer free wi-fi but that’s not very helpful to me once I’m airborne as BA don’t offer such luxuries.

River Thames and O2 Arena from the air
River Thames and O2 Arena from the air

It was a full flight taking less than three hours into Helsinki.  Sitting next to me were two gynaecologists travelling to Helsinki to attend a conference in the Finnish capital.  It was to be their first visit so we discussed how they might spend some of their free time.  Chatting to them, I discovered that the first hospital one of them had worked in was the one in which I was born – what a coincidence!

BA inflight meal, short haul
Inflight Refreshments

The snack on board was small but delicious, a sweet and savoury combination of a chicken and bacon roll followed by a salted caramel muffin, (there was a salad option available for vegetarians).  Then it seemed in no time at all that we were landing at Helsinki Vantaa Airport, 11.45 pm local time but still light – how I love the ‘white nights’ of Finland – they leave me so energised!

Just as I arrived in the Baggage Hall my suitcase appeared, how I wish other airports were as efficient as this one.  I walked out into the Arrivals Hall, looked round and about a minute later my son appeared, his flight touching down two minutes after mine, perfect timing!

Helsinki Airport Railway Station
Helsinki Airport Railway Station

After greeting each other, we walked along to the airport railway station which opened almost exactly one year ago and caught the train into the city centre from where we strolled across to the Kamppi bus station to take a night bus the short distance to our rented apartment where we’ve stayed several times before. After unpacking and a little supper it was time for bed, feeling immensely happy to be back in Finland!

If you have enjoyed reading this post you may also like:

A walk to Tervesaari island, Helsinki

Kamppi and Herttoniemi, Helsinki



77 thoughts on “Day 1. My Journey to Helsinki

  1. Always good when flights work out with such precision. A couple of our friends spent time in Denmark and Finland this past September, so we are looking forward to them sharing their stories. Cheers, Marion. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. jasonlikestotravel

    Interesting to hear you say the ‘not so attractive terminal 3’ haha. I generally only ever go through terminal 5 at Heathrow so it’ll be interesting seeing the delights of terminal 3 this time.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. I have wanted to visit Helsinki for such a long time. A friend of mine is from there and still has family there. When her mom is out here…she brings all kinds of goodies and stories. It is so awesome you are traveling all over seeing the world!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love when you find a special place that makes such a mark you want to return again and again. Completely understand your connection with Finland, we’ve been twice in summer and twice to Lapland in winter and loved every moment of each visit. Reading about this wonderful trip and all your posts make me definitely keen to return.


    1. Sounds like a good idea. I’m not sure of companies that you can use to rent summer cottages but there will be several if you perhaps try and search. We were fortunate to stay at our friend’s cottage. Thanks for reading my blog and enjoy your travels!


  9. I’ve never been to the northern countries of Europe. I usually only land in Amsterdam and then switch either for Prague or Paris.
    I heard that the food in Finland is not so great. I haven’t had a chance to sample the northern cuisine. I would love to do that.
    Thanks for sharing. Visit my EW Emma’s Writings blog for some travel and culture news and stories.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The Secret Life of a Vagabond

    I’ve been to Norway, Denmark, and Sweden and loved it. The land was beautiful and the people were very warm. The weather not so much, but in their defence I live in south florida. Great blog, never thought Finland as a summer trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My grandmother was Finnish and I had to take Finnish lessons as a child (I won a prize for coming up with the longest word – not difficult in Finnish!). I’ve never been to Finland and it is on my list. But like you falling in love with Finland we have fallen in love with Romania. We are just back from Cluj Brasov and Vama Veche and are already planning our trip to Maramures and the Danube Delta.. But I have had to give up Finnish lessons for Romanian ones, up in the far north little English is spoken. Isn’t it lovely to have a place that means so much to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Yay, haven’t been actively online for a few days, so was very excited to see your post! What perfect timing with your flights, so much nicer to make your way to your apartment together ☺

    Liked by 2 people

  13. look forward to read more of your trip. I never been to Finland. But I have been to Denmark twice. So many places to visit. Of course, for European it is much easier to visit the other countries around. For me it is always a long journey as I travel from Vancouver…

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Loved your aerial shots of England and London! We usually fly Norwegian to Gatwick as we got used to that route when my mother-in-law still lived in Eastbourne. The wifi onboard doesn’t always work very well. Have a nice time in Finland – hope not too many big thunderstorms around Helsinki! Did you happen to see this recent NYT article? Good tips there of places to go to and see in our capital.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sinikka, I hadn’t seen the NYC article before but have just read it now, thank you. Some good ideas for wining and dining!! We’ve just experienced one thunderstorm here so far and it was just before bedtime. Almost overhead, the whole building felt as if was shaking. M


  15. Loved your aerial views! Wow, BA still offers snacks. We usually fly Norwegian to Gatwick as we got used to that when my mother-in-law still lived in Eastbourne. The wifi onboard doesn’t always work very well. Have a good time in Finland! Let me know if you are coming to Turku 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sinikka! Interesting about your comment on Norwegian wifi as my son told me his plane didn’t have any. It was a new plane and it hadn’t been fitted yet! I’m sure he coped without it. We would have travelled together but unless I’m staying in the south, it’s more difficult for me. Likewise, if you are heading to Helsinki this month let me know !


      1. How beautiful photos. Love the train. Sounds great that You are visiting other places also than Helsinki, although it offers so much to see. Although I do not know Your plans, we have beautiful small towns alongside the coastline, like Porvoo, Naantali, Rauma etc.

        Liked by 1 person

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