rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
Day 0: Friday
I had the afternoon off work, the plan was that I'd sort the backlog of clean laundry, pack, and we'd be ready to go by the time Tony got home, then we'd be at our hotel in Gatwick at a sensible bedtime.

In reality, I left work a little later than planned, I was tired when I got home so I took ages to sort out the laundry and start on the packing, and we weren't ready by the time Tony got home. Also I jammed the garage door and then panicked and jammed it even worse, meaning Tony had to work very hard to unjam it safely.

We finally left about 90 minutes after he was home, by which point hangriness was setting in on at least two of us. It turns out that even when I make a packing list, if I get stressed and hangry and interrupted, I stop following it. As I emailed my mother from the train:

So far I have (realised I have) forgotten:
- the family railcard
- our waterproofs
- the doll Jonny gave me to give to Mum

We have definitely got the passports, the tickets, our credit cards, euros and EHICs though! And chargers for all the phones and kindles. (Priorities.)

[Since then I have also discovered I am lacking a hairbrush and the printouts of our Worldcon barcodes.]

We avoided the underground and took the Thameslink direct from St Pancras to Gatwick, where the Hilton intimidated Charles with its poshness, but otherwise provided what we needed: somewhere to sleep in easy reach of the airport for the next morning.

Day 1: Saturday
My alarm was set for 6am, which really wasn't enough sleep given our late arrival the night before, so of course I woke myself up with a coughing fit shortly after 5 ... I let the children sleep in until 6, and an hour turned out to be just enough to get everyone up, dressed, and moving to the check-in.

It was the first time the children had flown, and the first time Tony and I had flown in over a dozen years. The airport experience was horrible: heaving with people, huge queues for the bag drop, Charles and I both got flagged by the metal detector, and Charles had to be patted down too. Then we emerged from security into the Hideous Winding Path of Commerce which eventually dumped us in a glorified shopping mall where all the places to eat were rammed. We did manage to get a table at Wetherspoons thanks to a kind staff member, and then got breakfast into everybody. We had more hurry-up-and-wait - the plane was a bit delayed, then it was boarding in about five minutes, then of course we were stuck in queues both at boarding-pass check and actually getting onto the plane.

The flight itself was fine: we had reserved seats, it turned out the family sitting in front of us were also Worldcon-bound and their child and Charles had been at the same workshop at Worldcon London. Both the children found takeoff exciting, and for a miracle, both were contented with the entertainment we'd brought for each of them. We got off the plane in Helsinki in a downpour - and I nearly left the passports on the plane, but remembered them just in time.

Arrivals had creepy automated facial recognition machines for the EU citizens (and wow, that made me emotional), but not for those under 130cm. We split the party and I took the slow route with Nicholas. We then walked steadily through the airport: baggage reclaim, loos, sandwiches, tickets, rail station, and finally a train to Helsinki.

From the central station we found the Metro station easily enough, and got the right train to Kalasatama, where we are staying until Wednesday. That's when things started going wrong. We got caught up in a festival crowd, took a wrong turn, tried following Google Maps, which tried to send us through a building site, and eventually arrived at the apartment tired, grumpy and late. Our host was impeccably polite about it all and walked us through the recycling and laundry protocols before departing. We collectively decided that we were Not Going Anywhere Else Now and holed up in the apartment for the rest of the day. Tony ventured out to the local supermarket for essential provisions, and a bit later on, Nick and I went for a local wander and found a trail to Korkeasaari marked by little green tortoise statues.

Day 2 - Sunday

I was particularly excited about today, because we were planning to meet up with my mum and stepdad for the first time since they set off around the world last September. Unfortunately the day did not go very well: most of the time we were together one or both children were unhappy or angry, which meant Tony and I were preoccupied and stressed. We ended up bailing back to the apartment after much less time with mum than I'd hoped. (Tony and I then did a post-incident review to identify what needs to change to prevent the rest of the holiday being so miserable: better planning of food, and avoiding unnecessary deadlines are the top two.)

We did the sightseeing boat ride, which was a poor choice for frazzled children, but would otherwise have been a pleasant introduction to the city. The audio commentary was in Finnish and English; my attempts to learn Finnish ahead of this holiday were not especially successful, and I could understand quite a lot of individual words, but very few of the sentences. Nick was especially happy that we rode on a couple of trams today. We are hoping to make time on this trip to visit the Tram Museum, but tomorrow (unless it is pouring with rain) we are going to walk to Korkeasaari.
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rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

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