Hyvää iltapäivää from Helsinki!

After a wonderful breather in the magical city of St. Petersburg, we sadly left for our last day of this ‘roundtheoneworld challenge. We urge anyone who has not had the chance to spend some time in St. Petersburg – there is so much to see and do, and the experiences we had were so positive – it certainly is on the agenda for a place to return, sooner rather than later!
Despite suffering from lack of sleep, we sprinted to The Hermitage to see some of the most amazing treasures…from gold clocks to lapis lazuli urns, from daVincis to Van Dyks, malachite columns to grand ballrooms – it is all just amazing. You could spend months and not see everything. We had a taste and will certainly return. We also had a wander around town, which was bustling. We had to retreat to the Mix Bar on the top floor of the fabulous W Hotel St Peterburg for some, uh, liquid refreshment!

Finnair Flight AY166 St. Petersburg – HelsinkiAircraft: Airbus A319       Miles:  187     Duration:  55mins

After a comfortable and much needed rest, and a good breakfast in the Alain Ducasse restaurant, we made our way back to the airport and checked-in for our Finnair flights to Helsinki and onwards to London Heathrow. The short hop from St. Petersburg was due to be on Finnair’s Embraer E190 aircraft with its wonderful 2×2 configuration, but an aircraft change saw us board a pristine Airbus A320 instead, which flew us to efficient Vantaa Airport in just under an hour.

We were offered a light snack of prawn salad on brown bread, some sliced Parma ham and some olives, along with a choice of juices, water or coffee on this short flight by very welcoming, stylish and friendly cabin crew.

The transfer process at Helsinki is slick, quick and pleasant.  Within minutes we were safely ensconced in the stylish new Finnair Lounge, which has space for upwards of 250 guests.  In addition to drinks and an ample buffet, Finnair has its own wine cellar in the lounge, offering guests a chance to taste some interesting wines.  There are separate workrooms, access to showers, internet access – in fact, just about all you can think of needed during a transit.

But the surprise is yet to come.  Down the hall, there is a full spa and sauna operated by Finnair.  The 600 square meter facility contains four different saunas, a mineral water pool with underwater audio, and a selection of paid-for treatments available to totally pamper and refresh mid-journey.  Treatments include facials, massage, full body treatments – even a Hamam.  I don’t believe there are many airport lounges in the world that have this amazing offering – so congratulations to Finnair on their innovation.  Next time you fly with them, remember to pack a swimsuit in your hand luggage (there are swimsuits available for purchase if need be) and don’t fret over a long layover.  Without a doubt it could pass very quickly. And no, you will not be seeing any photos!

Finnair is another historical carrier with its origins dating back to 1923!  It has long served destinations in Europe, and has been serving New York since 1969.  In 1983, Finnair became the first Western European airline to fly non-stop from Europe to Japan, cutting up to three hours off the average flight time, and five years later became the first Western European airline to fly non-stop from Europe into Beijing.  AY were the launch customer for the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 aircraft, which served the carrier well until their recent retirement.  The backbone of their fleet is now Airbus narrow-body aircraft, along with Airbus A330/A340 aircraft for their longer-haul flights in a fleet than numbers 56 aircraft, flying to 63 destinations.  They have 17 aircraft on order, including 11 Airbus A350 variants scheduled for delivery in 2014.

So, just two flights to go and our challenge will be complete! So close, but still nearly 5,000 miles to fly.

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About rtow2012

Richard and Andrew, aka modern day Phileas Fogg and Passepartout, have accepted a charity challenge to raise at least £20,000 GBP for the Flying Start charity, a part of Comic Relief. Together, we will fly just over 30,000 miles on all of the oneworld airlines, circumnavigating the globe.

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