So after a shower and the same clothes, it was time to explore Helsinki in great weather. Beach volleyball being played in a central square among many spectators was somewhat striking. Assorted fish antipasti and Reindeer dinner. No bag still when back at hotel. Not a big deal. It should arrive tomorrow –the friendly reception girl said confidently- It had not arrived 48 hours later. So it was time to buy the essentials, in one go: A grey t-shirt, 2 pair of socks, 3 slips, razor, shaving gel, toothbrush and toothpaste.
I updated Finnair as to where I would be staying next: Turku. Nothing got there. Things were starting to look bad. Oh well, cycling in jeans it would be, as it was Sunday when we left and no shops were open till midday. We could not wait that long, as 50 km had to be done before 3 pm to catch the only ferry of the day to Kustavi.
We got to the bed and breakfast at around 6 pm, where a couple in their 50s were waiting for us, standing outside their house to welcome us very warmly. I don’t know how they knew we were arriving, whether they were looking out for us with binoculars from the top of their house as we made our way along the rolling and bendy road; or whether the lady who came out of her house to offer us directions 4 km back had contacted them. Anyway, we had a tour of the house, instructions for use of the communal bathroom and sauna, and a view of the lighthouse that they look after.
Very nice dinner at only nearby restaurant, and early bed. I was sore. I was now missing those padded cycling pants that were probably still at Heathrow –probably still are-. My friend in the bed across -who had not been on a bicycle for 3 years-moaned and groaned all night from pain in the knees.. I am not sure what our hosts made of this, but as I made my discomfited walk towards the breakfast room, their treatment was more arms length.
Next day we spent around the island. About 20 km return trip to the main town. A small supermarket. Nowhere to buy shorts, let alone cycling pants. No luggage yet. No matter, what beautiful forest scenery, the odd elk, the sea resembled more a lake, the piers inviting a dive and strawberries and jam from a cute unattended hut where one is trusted to leave the right money. Such quietness and beauty evoked films like the Russian The Return, as well as some Slovakian ones.
When I did not expect to see it anymore, my hand luggage was waiting for me when we got to the mainland in the 5th day of cycling and after hopping 8 islands or so. My parents, back home, received a phone call from a Turku taxi driver who had been given the task of delivering it to me. Unknown to me, many calls went back and forth to establish my whereabouts. With no phone and between rolling roads and ferries as we raced a group of cyclists, I could not be of help. So a nice surprise to see my backpack with a large yellow tag “Rush, TKU” on entering the room. No cycling pants there, but I was glad to have my camera and phone back, and the guide book. By then the soreness had been mitigated with an absorbent kitchen pad lining the 1970s vintage shorts, both bough from the only supermarket in Nagu Island.
|Ladies on morning swim|
All refreshed by the heavenly pure air and 300km of exercise, it was time to go home. Bicycles were returned in Turku after some sightseeing. We then spent the night there. The next morning it was time to catch the 10.02 pendolino train to Helsinki. What a delight Finnish trains are.
I had time to walk to the city beach of Helsinki, visit the Kiasma museum and some exhibition of a national celebrity simply named Tom.
|Outfits of Eurovision winners Lordi|
..before taking the Finnair bus to the airport.
Great feeling of light and sleekness in the terminal. Hardly anybody at the counters. I Go to the nearest one , a floppy haired young agent greets me jovially . I ask if there are any restrictions on hand luggage going to London. –Do you have onward flights from London?- I don’t-, -So just the normal 8 kg.-
-So nothing to check in? I explained about the missing bag. –I read that there are 20.000 missing bags at Heathrow- Came a cheery consolation. –Oh-
-Would you like window or aisle?- Well, if you have window, that would be good! I said.
-Actually, that’s a good choice, as it is an emergency exit and the available aisle is in the back of the plane and there’s an infant next to it. Ah. I avoided saying what would be my usual reply in these cases (that I don’t mind infants, but don’t have an appetite for a whole one). I just expressed my thanks and smiled wide.
Absolutely adorable. It was hard to part.
Security was easy for me, breezing through the metal detectors. Not so for the gentleman in front of me., who did several trips back and front, being thoroughly checked in between. Somebody was having a frisky summer.
Exactly the same plane as the outbound flight -boarded through a jetway- Same seat too: 10F. Perfectly on time. Images from the cameras on taxi, take off and landing. Dinner service : A burger mix of meat and beetroot, and finely chopped soggy potatoes on the side. OK, not great, but it was hot. Cold drink, including alcohol. I took a cola. Hot drink service after and yet more cold drinks after that. FAs were amiable. One of them was striking for her pleasant manner and beautiful eyes behind schoolgirl glasses.
|Extractable cup holder|
Read a bit on Delhi –Finnair’s new destination- and slept a bit until my neighbour woke me up trying to close the window shade. I expected that an FA would ask me to open it on approach, but it had not happened when the command was given for seats for landing as we left the holding pattern after 10 minutes. I lowered the shade to open it just as the millennium dome was in view. I found it surprising that the aisle seat in the front row remained reclined. An oversight, I assume.
|Final approach live|
London was wet and cool. Saw bags thrown about randomly across the arrivals hall. Did have a quick look for mine, but I am not really that bothered. In any case, these were all late arrived bags that missed their owners. Can’t imagine how it is in the bowels of Heathrow. Went straight to catch my coach back to Oxford, and a local bus to be home 90 minutes after landing.