A week after the last Helsinki trip and I’m back at Heathrow Terminal 3, again after an overnight at the Hilton at Hatton Cross. It’s another booking made some time ago in BA’s sale, and at 160 tier points return in business class for £237, is great value in terms of tier points per pound.
Heathrow to Helsinki (80 TP)
For anyone with a taste for Asian food, the Noodle Bar in the Cathay Pacific Business Class lounge at T3 is a good place to start for pre-flight dining. They serve a range of dumplings, rice and noodle/soup dishes, all prepared freshly to order.
Gate number for BA794 this morning is 42, right at the far end of the terminal. It’s advertised as a 20 minute walk, and whilst I know it’s not that far, I’m not going to dally too long in the lounge and risk arriving at the gate late and being denied boarding.
Departure runway is 27R (270 degrees and the rightmost runway), which means we’re taking off in a westerly direction on the northerly of Heathrow’s two parallel east-west runways.
Rather than just stay in the hotel – again I’m staying in the Hilton connected to the airport – after checkin I take the express train from the airport to the centre to wander around a little. First stop after 25 minutes is the central railway station, fashioned from Finnish granite, and very solid and Scandinavian looking with the Viking statues at either side of the entrance.
The Temppeliaukio Church or Rock Church is a short tram ride away from the station. It’s a relatively modern church, opening in 1969, but is somewhat unique in being hewn into solid rock. There’s a music recital starting soon this evening, but I’m allowed in for a quick look around.
The temperature is relative balmy compared to the bitter cold at the start of the year, though there’s plenty of evidence of colder times with snow and ice still on the ground. There are numerous bronze statues located around Helsinki. I pass Elias Lonnrot, seated and writing down words and poems from one of his focklore collecting journeys.
Approaching the harbour is the statue Havis Amanda, a mermaid surrounded by granite sealions.
Moored in the harbour is a small boat MS Marival II, with a restaurant/bar inside. I remember it from earlier in the year when it was covered in huge icicles and the harbour itself was a sea of ice. Tonight it’s the perfect spot to grab a drink before heading back to the train station, and the Airport Hilton for an early start on Sunday.
Helsinki to Heathrow (80 TP)
The return flight is at the same time as it was the previous week, 07:45, which means another early start, quick breakfast at the hotel and then pretty much straight to the departure gate.
Whilst the flight is fine, after taking the Heathrow Express to Central London, it’s disappointing to see Paddington Tube is closed. I’d purchased an inexpensive advance weekend saver ticket, but I feel for the people who were being sold £22 on the day singles by the sales staff at the station, without a mention that they won’t be able to transfer to the tube network.
After a ride from Paddington to Kings Cross by Black Cab, I’m back on a train home, with a total of 2935 tier points now accrued this membership year.