Helsinki Public Transit

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Helsinki Cathedral

I was in Helsinki for a few days for a course. I thought I would write a few words about my experiences on public transit while I was there.

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Finnair City Buses still run to the airport

I’ve been to Helsinki once before in June 2015, which was before the airport rail link was opened. On that occasion, I remember feeling very negative about the Finnair City Bus, which seemed to take an age to reach the city centre, was over-full, and stops in the city were slow because people had to retrieve luggage from the compartment under the bus. This time around, I was able to take the train (cost of a single is €5 if bought from a machine of €4.20 bought via the local transit app). Rather than building a bespoke airport express service, the airport is simply a stop on Helsinki’s suburban rail network, served by both the I and P trains, which run to the city by different routes, both taking just over half an hour. This means there is a steady supply services to catch. The downside to these otherwise nice trains is a lack of luggage storage, as they have been designed to carry people on local journeys rather than travellers with suitcases. However, the services I used weren’t busy so this wasn’t a tremendous issue.

There are a range of trains at Helsinki’s main railway station, serving local, national and international destinations.

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A Finnish Pendolino
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Double decker
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The Allegro operates from Helsinki to St Petersburg

On my day of arrival I was fighting jetlag and reckoned a good idea was to try out various bits and bobs. After installing the HSL app on my phone and adding my credit card, it was simply a case of paying €9 for 24 hours of unlimited travel in the Helsinki zone. This meant I could try out the trams, buses and metro.

 

The tram network is comprehensive in central Helsinki, covering almost all central areas. Stops are at short intervals, trams are frequent and the system seems to work well. The new tram rolling stock is both stunning in appearance and comfortable to use. There are no ticket sales on board, which doubtless speeds up travel times too.

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An example of the new tram rolling stock in Helsinki
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Trams old and new
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Looking up the tram from the back seats
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A tram at the end of the line

The metro felt similarly efficient, making use of a proof-of-payment system which meant there were no barriers preventing access to platforms. The trains are functional, with plenty of seating and plenty of space to stand. I particularly liked the use of time markers on the map to show how long travel between each stop was.

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A typical platform on the metro system
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Metro exterior
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Metro interior

I didn’t make it onto the buses, but there is clearly a busy and efficient network in place. If I return, I will definitely give them a go when using a day ticket.

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A bus

Helsinki is a fairly walking-friendly city. While it isn’t altogether flat, nothing in the centre is ever far away. The course I attended moved us around various locations by minibus, which seemed borderline unnecessary given the city is almost home to a nasty one-way system.

The HSL app worked well for ticketing and planning purposes. There is a widespread city bike scheme in Helsinki, which I didn’t have time to use – I would have liked to see how straightforward it was to use as an English-speaking newcomer.  It will also be interesting to see how developments like Whimapp pan out – the subscription plans it offers vary. While unlimited travel on public transit may seem par for the course, the addition of unlimited taxi travel and car hire options seems innovative.

All in the all, Helsinki works well when it comes to public transit – and looks quite good doing so.

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Helsinki Central Station
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Train adventures in southern Sweden

img_20180516_145438.jpgA recent meeting and conference invitation took me to Lund in southern Sweden for a few days. In the end, I settled for flying out with Norwegian to Copenhagen as this was the best compromise of travel times and price, before travelling on to Lund on the train from the airport courtesy of the Öresund bridge. I stayed with friends the first evening. The next morning, the spontaneous decision was made (courtesy cancelled meetings) to head north to Haverdal for the day. The weather forecast for there was better, and I fancied a day writing by the sea.

Having purchased my SJ resplus ticket (enabling to connect all the way from start to finish across local train, SJ and local bus), I discovered that there was an electrical fault on the west coast mainline at Ödåkra, just north of Helsingborg. This had resulted in the suspension of most services. However, SJ were being creative. By bypassing Helsingborg (with a vague promise of a rail replacement bus for those passengers) and running inland via Höör, Hässleholm and Markaryd, they were able to circumvent the issue.

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I was hopeful that I would get away on time, given the train before mine had run just 20 minutes late, but it turned out that a late running inbound caused rather a lot of delays. In the end, my train north was running over an hour late. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my (updated) SJ breakfast in a very deserted first class compartment and got plenty of work done as I toured parts of Sweden I have previously only seen on a map.

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Our arrival into Halmstad was sufficiently late that I had not only missed my original bus connection, but also the one an hour later. I needed to wait another hour – something that was stated on the train tannoy: ‘Passengers for Haverdal should await the 12:00 bus’ – quite who else could have had a Haverdal ticket is beyond me, given almost no one gets off in Halmstad from the SJ services, and I was struck at how thought through it is to tell onboard staff that they have delayed onward passengers. In practice, given the delay repay scheme and the extent of my delay I got into a taxi to hasten my travel – to be claimed back later.

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The return journey early the next morning was very much the opposite of the experience a day earlier. I was booked on a bus + SJ ticket, and everything ran smoothly. In fact, the bus arrived at Halmstad station a few minutes early allowing me to run and errand. I made it from door-to-door to my Lund accommodation in under two hours, which is excellent (and effectively unbeatable even by car). The breakfast box was, once again, also appreciated. I wouldn’t pay SEK 70 for it, but when you get it for free, it makes the SEK 100 supplement for first class seem well worth it.

The next day, I was to return to Haverdal at the end of my conference, and once again the speed of SJ was very appreciated – with Lund to Halmstad taking just a shade over an hour. I was especially pleased as I got to make use of my SJ Prio points (my travels in the autumn finally counted for something!) as I was able to book a free ticket in standard class. What was striking was that this was available with two hours notice before departure, and that the ticket itself was flexible – the points were fully refundable until the train departed. It was the first time I had travelled in standard on the SJ 3000, and it was fine. There is free WiFi and at seat power for all, making the difference between standard and first nominal. The seats are slightly comfier in first, but without the breakfast box, it is hard to justify the extra cost.

While SJ has punctuality issues, and typically costs a shade more than the competition (especially when you take into account the discount offered on the stopping trains if using the discount card), the speed of the services, the guaranteed seat, the ability to book via the app at the last minute and so on are all highly appreciated. I will continue to make use of these when possible on the Swedish west coast, and hope that I will have built up a collection of points to travel free again soon.

All Change on the East Coast

IMG_20180107_164346So it’s good bye to Virgin Trains East Coast and hello LNER. VTEC only managed just over 3 years looking after the franchise, and it’s been obvious from the trade press and latterly the broadsheets that some sort of government bailout for the franchise was inevitable. I confess to being a little surprised that Chris Grayling was willing to nationalise a franchise – at one time it seemed he was belligerently sticking to his guns and avoiding doing so in order to ensure no one thought he might listen to Labour, the public, or sense. There are good accounts of why the numbers didn’t work for the franchise out there already, alongside some thought-provoking pieces on the choice of brand for the new state operator. (I can’t help but wonder why East Coast Trains wasn’t revived – it was popular with the public and already has ample brand recognition). However, I thought I’d briefly reflect on how the change in franchise holder might impact my own travel patterns…

Points
The East Coast Trains loyalty scheme was tremendously popular, and when VTEC proposed closing it there was an outcry. It elicited a campaign blog and a large petition, but to no avail. It has since been possible to earn Nectar points or Virgin Flying Club points on transactions made through VTEC. I’ve tended towards collecting Nectar points (Virgin don’t fly to Edinburgh, so I prefer not to have orphan points lingering in my account), but earnings have been unremarkable. In terms of redemptions, it remains true that nothing lives up to East Coast Rewards, but there have been a couple of Nectar promotions over the last three years that have been most generous. On one occasion, we were able to secure £100 of credit to spend with Virgin for just £50 of Nectar points. It’ll be interesting to see what the LNER approach to points and loyalty is – they’re almost certainly going to drop Nectar and will obviously lose Virgin Flying Club.

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Virgin have been throwing the kitchen sink at getting people to ditch air travel in favour of the train on the east coast – supposedly with some success. The marketing budget has gone on all sorts, including a mass of TV spots, multiple huge billboards around Edinburgh, taxi wraps, etc. There has also been a concerted effort to run more sales and drive people to make advance bookings – seemingly with some success. One of the most interesting promotions was in the autumn of 2016, where anyone who could demonstrate they had flown to London in the previous three months was provided with a voucher to book a first class round trip from Edinburgh to London for £60 – an absolute steal given that availability was excellent. More recently, as the franchise began to hit the rocks, it felt like these had dried up. Perhaps, with a new operator on the scene, we can expect to see more marketing money thrown at passengers… We can but hope.

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Schedules are more or less fixed – we’re unlikely to get a later last service north from London to Scotland as a result of the change to LNER. Likewise, the new Azuma trains (already rolled out in green for GWR) are coming whether we like it or not. (Reports of quite how uncomfortable these trains can be make me wary). The change in franchise holder won’t change the crews on board, and service has typically been good over the last few years on the east coast. In catering terms, it’s been a long time since there was a restaurant car on the east coast (time to bring it back?), but the current first class catering concept was largely introduced by East Coast and retained (with tweaks) by VTEC. Presumably, LNER has no intention of rocking the service boat when it takes over.

IMG_20180327_084739My travel plans
Having had a hiatus in 2017 where I did not travel to London by rail on any one occasion, I have done so a couple of times so far this year. It remains the case that I am reluctant to travel down during the day, as it takes up so much time (and at premium rates if leaving Edinburgh early), while departing the night before adds a night of accommodation to the bill. The return is made tricky by the early departure of the final train of the night to Scotland – I have come to prefer the sleeper for this. What is likeliest to persuade me to change my habits that is within LNER’s control? Cheaper 1st class fares.

Let’s see what lies in wait for us with this new operator…

Linköping to Haverdal (South by Lund)

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After a lovely late autumn weekend in and around Linköping (the above photo is taken in the Omberg Ecopark by Lake Vättern), it was time to head back to Haverdal on the west coast. While I had benefitted from sale rates on my outbound journey, I discovered that I was attempting to travel on the final Sunday of the school half term holidays and was stuck with paying full rate for whatever I wanted. The upside of this was that everything – while very expensive – cost about the same, so I could pick and choose based on timings and routings. For the sake of variation from my outbound, I opted to return via the south, using a Linköping-Lund-Halmstad routing.

Having had a lovely day with my hosts, I set off for the station on the first day after the clocks had gone back, realising that sunset would be around the time of my departure at 15:59. I managed to take some lovely photos as I got to the station.

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My train was already running a few minutes late, but it looked simply fantastic as it arrived.

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Once onboard, I had one of the more interesting experiences I’ve had since SJ switched to personalised ticketing a few years ago. I no longer travel with printed tickets, but have the barcode for my booking in the SJ app (more on the app another time, perhaps). A few minutes after departure, the conductor came down through the coach and stopped next to my seat. First he turned to the other passenger who had boarded at Linköping across the aisle from me and said “Are you Sven?” to which the man agreed he was. The conductor then turned to me and said “You must be Ian?” and I also agreed. That was it – that was the ticket check!

 

The train was gradually losing time, and by the time we were on approach to Alvesta (yet another key railway hub in Sweden) the conductor had bad news. Everyone who was hoping to connect to the Öresundståg service to Kalmar was out of luck – we were going to be late enough that it would have departed. The solution – wait for over an hour in the freezing cold. There seemed to be a lot of people who were looking to connect and they didn’t seem very happy. However, just a few minutes later, the conductor came back and said they had spoken to staff at Alvesta who had agreed to hold the Kalmar service for connecting passengers (so please would everyone hurry across the platform upon arrival!). We arrived in Alvesta, and I watched as a lot of people scurried across the platform (see below). What is most striking is that post privatisation in Sweden, this kind of railway-think rarely happens any longer – but it did demonstrate that it is possible to look after the passenger’s best interests.

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We continued to lose time, and by the time we got to Lund we were running over 20 minutes after our scheduled arrival of 18:31. This was only frustrating because I had been banking on having time to grab a hasty dinner in Lund before catching my connection. As it was, I had to make do with a quick stroll around the station before heading to my platform for my onward connection – a fast SJ service to Halmstad.

These are run as SJ 3000s, but are effectively Regina X55s. I’ve been on them a fair few times now and find them to be really pleasant trains to travel on. There’s not much to tell about the run up to Halmstad, which was smooth and on-time.

We arrived at 20:16, which meant I had ample time to pop over the footbridge to the bus station to catch my onward bus connection, scheduled to depart at 20:30. The bus station was deserted, and 20:30 came and went. I checked the usual social media channels to see whether I had a cancellation on my hands, but there was no indication of this. Eventually, the bus pulled up into my bay, unmarked, about 12 minutes late. The driver seemed puzzled, and the bus was freezing. But we set off, with the driver only making two rather confused, unscheduled stops in the middle of Halmstad. What was most peculiar was that once we got up speed, we really got up speed. The driver appeared not to be familiar with the route, being taken by surprise by corners in the road, but also driving much faster than you might expect (I had some idea of what we were doing by tracking the bus through the bus provider app). Suffice to say that despite leaving almost 15 minutes late, I was only 2 minutes late upon arrival in Haverdal. An interesting… experience.

Comparing my outbound and return journeys, both had their merits. I really liked using the direct northbound service from Halmstad to Katrineholm, but using Lund as the connecting point in the south is generally quicker. If travelling this route again in future, I might try the third option, which is to travel with Krösatåg across country from Halmstad to Nässjö, before connecting on to Linköping. Best to cover all the options!

Haverdal to Linköping (North by Katrineholm)

As part of my stay in Haverdal during October, I had made plans to have a change of scene for a couple of days midway through to ensure I cleared my head and had some company. I have friends in Linköping in the east of Sweden, and this seemed as good an opportunity to head to see them. By road, it’s a fairly arduous 300km cross country – further if you opt for motorways all the way. By rail, you can select one of several routes, all of them seeming a little circuitous. Naturally, this felt like an ideal opportunity to try out some routes not travelled much previously – and when an SJ sale came along, the deal was sealed. For my outbound journey, I was booked to travel on a Friday morning.

It was a very early start for me, as I was booked to travel on the 06:21 bus from Haverdal in to the station in Halmstad. I had booked my ticket all the way through via SJ’s website, using the Resplus function. Resplus comes in handy, despite costing a small premium, because it provides protected connections between bus and rail. If the bus doesn’t get you to the station on time, you can travel on the next available service. I headed to the bus stop and my service arrived on time. After some confusion about my ticket exacerbated by the driver not turning on the lights to actually look at it, all was well and I settled down in the dark towards the back of the bus. It was a quick run to town, picking up a few commuters but not making many stops. As we swooshed through central Halmstad, we passed a pink-lit tree.

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I had plenty of time to mooch around Halmstad station in the cold and the dark, so I got myself a coffee and ambled up and down the platforms. As discussed previously, Halmstad is the point on the west coast mainline where the fast SJ services pass the slower Öresundståg services. As you can see here, the departure times are almost the same. What was exciting was that I was booked on the 07:18, which is the only through train of the day from Halmstad to Stockholm, run using an X2000. A few minutes before my service, a purple Pågatåg turned up, terminating at Halmstad. Then the X2000 swept in through the darkness – hence the blur!

 

First class is pretty comfy onboard the X2000, and I had a window/aisle seat. I was served breakfast within 90 seconds of departure, which seemed like excellent service. As far as Gothenburg (non-stop from Halmstad), the train was pretty much empty. However, in Gothenburg, it was filled up with lots of people heading to Stockholm for the weekend. Below you can see my seat as well as my delicious breakfast box. These aren’t actually too bad for what they are, but once you’ve had the same one a few times it does begin to wear a little thin!

 

We made steady progress, with the tilt in full use once we left Gothenburg and used to remarkable effect. In some places, it really does feel like you’re about to be dumped into a lake! We arrived on time in Katrineholm at 10:47. Katrineholm is a 19th century railway town, hence why it was my connection point. Below you can see the X2000 I arrived on standing at the platform waiting to depart for Stockholm. Meanwhile, I poked around the station. As you can see from the departure board, it’s a fairly busy station, and even features international services!

My onward connection from Katrineholm was scheduled for 10:58, but was running a few minutes late. When it did eventually arrive, I was pleased to discover I was going to sample a new type of train: a Regina EMU (the X50 version). I really liked the look on the outside, with the chrome and red/blue thing making it look very striking. We had a straightforward run through the lakes of Östgötaland, arriving in Linköping bang on time at 11:49. For the £25 I had paid (remember, it was in a sale), I was pretty pleased to have done 3.5 hours in first class direct from Halmstad, and to have got to where I needed to before lunch time. Below are a few buses and a tram I ran into on the journey, as well.

London to Haverdal

As previously mentioned, I was away from home in October for a three-week mega trip that covered a range of activities. The most prominent of these was getting some dedicated writing time in peace and quiet, so I decided to decamp to Haverdal. I’ve never travelled to Haverdal from London before, so I thought it would be interesting to record the experience.  The first decision was where to fly to – Copenhagen or Gothenburg. A combination of factors helped to make that decision – I was going to be at an event in central London until relatively late the evening before, so didn’t want a dawn start. Having written off the entire day for travel, I was also fairly flexible and happy to save a few pounds. The decision was made by the fact that a colleague has been spending their sabbatical in Gothenburg – the opportunity for a cup of coffee as I passed through seemed too good to pass up. I was able to secure a ticket with Norwegian from Gatwick to Gothenburg for just north of £30, which seemed very reasonable.

My Thursday morning began at the Gatwick Sofitel, where I was able to avail myself of free breakfast in the lounge (on the left below). Nothing that exciting, but really wonderful views of the apron at Gatwick that I failed to take good photos of because it was dark. However, I pressed on to the terminal, feeling my stomach rumbling. The good news was that I managed to persuade the check in robot to take my very heavy bag – apparently it will accept anything up to 20.9kg. The even better news was that I reassigned my seat to 1F. The bad news was that the flight was showing as fairly heavily delayed. I proceeded through security and after some quick shopping tasks, I headed for the Grain Store for my second breakfast (on the right below) as part of their deal with Priority Pass. I was very pleasantly surprised by the Grain Store – nice setting, good service, ok food – and a good spot to settle down while waiting out the delay.

Eventually, some progress on our flight was made – it was running a mere 100 minutes late. We were assigned a gate, and FlightRadar gave the impression that the aircraft was inbound, so off I went. The windows at Gatwick into the baggage hall really are good fun, and I could have happily spent longer looking through them. Boarding was a zoo, but I was on in fairly short order and settled down in 1F, which is one of my preferred seats on Norwegian. Leg room was decent – even more decent was the fact that I was not joined on my row by anyone else. As we got underway, I saw one of Norwegian’s 787s – next to a 737 they really look huge. The flight itself was uneventful, except for the fact that it was the first Norwegian flight I’ve taken in years with functioning Wi-Fi, which was a novelty. Of course, it wears off quickly! We made decent time and it wasn’t long before Swedish terra firma beckoned.

After retrieving my luggage, I headed outside to find that an empty bus was just pulling up. I got on and had my pick of the seats. These buses are heavily used and often depart full and standing – which is highly unusual in Swedish terms. They simply aren’t designed for so many passengers with luggage. On this occasion, it wasn’t too bad, and we made steady progress down to the Nils Ericson Terminal in central Gothenburg (next door to the central railway station). There I found my colleague, and off we went for a coffee.

Little did I know that upon my return to the station at around 5pm, all hell would have broken loose. An electrical line side fire not far from Gothenburg station had led to a suspension of all departures. Despite being fairly savvy, and keeping an eye on appropriate travel company social media pages, it was clear this was not something they have great contingencies for. It was the middle of rush hour and the station was already absolutely heaving. It was apparent that I wasn’t going anywhere soon, so I decided to deposit my bag in a locker and headed out for a stroll and some dinner.

When I returned a couple of hours later, having had the impression from the web that there might be some progress, I found this was not the case. The station was still as busy as before, and while some departures had been managed, many had not. It was an opportunity to have a wander and see the new MTR Express trains used by MTR, an open access operator, on the Gothenburg-Stockholm line.

I retrieved my luggage and put myself on what appeared to be the first train going south to Halmstad with space and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Repeated promises that we would be departing shortly were made and broken. Eventually, we were informed that the service was cancelled due to a train fault and directed to another platform, where we waited in the dark and cold for half an hour before the next train appeared. Which we then waited onboard to depart for another 45 minutes. Eventually, we got away – running as a triple set Öresund train, which I don’t think I’ve encountered before (indeed, the train was too long for the platform at Varberg). By the time I arrived at Halmstad, the last bus to Haverdal had departed an hour earlier. With a little British elbowing, I ensured I secured one of the few taxis available on the station rank and I was in the house in Haverdal just before midnight, only 5.5 hours later than expected.

What did I learn from this? Well, the lack of contingency for this kind of mass event in Sweden seems poor. Station staff were powerless and clueless – train crews were baffled – and there seemed to be little interest in moving people on. The line side fire had an impact on signalling, but there seemed to be little in the way of efforts to work around these issues. Communications with passengers onboard trains were poor too. I’m not saying this wouldn’t happen in Britain – but station staff and crew are better trained, and the (better) TOCs are primed to jump into action to make sure they lessen the impact when it does. I’ve been promised a refund of my taxi fare, but am still awaiting the funds…

All in all, it was a rather more eventful journey to Haverdal than I had anticipated. (Had Norwegian not been late, I would not have run into my trouble in Gothenburg). Nevertheless, I did eventually get to where I was meant to be. Next time I run into an event of that kind, rather than spending 6.5 hours to go 80 miles down the road, I’ll get in a taxi and figure it out later!

 

Haverdal to Edinburgh via Denmark

IMG_20170911_083242Our trip to rainy, rural Sweden was almost at an end and decisions had to be made about how to get ourselves back home to Edinburgh. Unlike on the way, we had most of the day to make our way to Copenhagen airport for a 17:05 departure to Edinburgh. We settled on using the Helsingborg-Helsingør ferry as a variation on the direct train. It is possible to buy a through ticket from the bus driver when boarding at our local stop all the way to Copenhagen – and by either the ferry or bridge route. Our driver hadn’t sold a “via ferry” ticket before, but it didn’t stop her from doing so! You even save around £2 per person by buying the ferry option. So, we joined the 08:41 to Halmstad, which is fairly busy bus – including passengers going to Halmstad Airport for flights to Stockholm. Despite several passengers needing to top up their travel cards onboard (ourselves included), we made good progress to town and arrived at the bus station just 3 minutes behind schedule.

This gave us ample time to loiter at a rather grey, chilly Halmstad station. What do you do once you’ve consumed your coffee and bun from the ubiquitous Pressbyrån? Why, you wander around the platforms watching the other trains come and go. Halmstad is where the fast SJ services bypass the slow Öresundståg services – and it is quite impressive to watch it happen. The SJ train arrives just a couple of minutes behind the stopper, and manages to be away in around 90 seconds (no platform dispatchers in Halmstad either, so this is all done by the conductor).

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Eventually, our train, the 10:12 turned up. It was pink! (In Helsingborg, they join a second set on which was green on this occasion!). We managed to secure seats, which isn’t always a given on these trains. The journey was unremarkable until just north of Helsingborg, where there remains a stretch of single track – we had to wait for a delayed northbound train, and the minutes ticked away. So much so that we did not make our connection to the Scandlines Aurora in Helsingborg.

On the upside, this gave us the opportunity to poke around the departures area for a few minutes. It is an overwhelmingly exciting place, as can be seen from the photos.

Instead of the fancy Aurora, we ended up with the former HH Ferries vessel, the Mercandia VIII at 11:30. It is much smaller than Aurora, and rather less shiny. It was by far the choppiest crossing I’ve had in several years, and even the coffee was poor (almost unheard of in Scandinavia). The silver lining is that upon arrival in Helsingør, foot passengers disembark through the front of the cabin, providing the below view. I particularly like the juxtaposition of the prominent Danish flag and the Swedish flag-coloured markings on the car deck. In short, the Mercandia is much boatier than the other ferries plying this route – but there is little else going for it.

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Upon arrival in Helsingør, there was an outside chance we could catch a train with a very short connection, and we duly paced our way along the corridors from the ferry. Unfortunately, an obstructive fellow passenger – also rushing but not quickly enough – stopped us from making it. Nevermind! A chance to poke around Helsingør station instead. Seen below is our train on the right, bound for Kalmar on the Baltic coast of Sweden, next to a local service bound for Hillerød.

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Our train made good time into Copenhagen and we got off at Østerport to change onto the Metro, which we took 3 stops to Amagerbro station where I had spotted a lunch opportunity. No decent photos of the metro to share, but I remain impressed by Copenhagen’s interpretation of a metro system, which seems to work very well and has consistently decent ridership. Bear in mind that we were still travelling on the ticket bought from the bus driver in Haverdal at this point! It was about 13:10 when we arrived at Amagerbro, meaning it had taken around 4.5 hours from Haverdal. We might have cut 30-40 minutes off that journey time if we had gone on the direct train from Halmstad, but it would have been far less interesting.

After a rather good lunch at Halifax, the sun had come out, so we decided to walk the 5.5km to the airport through the Amager suburbs. Once we reached the airport, we headed for our usual hang out, the Aviator Lounge, for a quick cup of tea. Normally, it’s been a favourite for the wonderful views of aircraft on the apron and lots of daylight. As it was, the work on the new extension to the terminal meant that the lounge was very dark and that when secured one of the few seats by a window, this was our view…

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Nevermind! We only had 20 minutes to spare, so we set off for the charming F gates shortly after we had finished our tea. Apparently feeling the urge to hurry things along, ground staff were already pushing the Final Call button when we appeared despite the absence of an aircraft, which turned up 10 minutes after we did. It was a decent example of how EasyJet can get it right when they try – the plane spent 28 minutes on stand between arrival and pushback – and both flights were full.

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It was an unremarkable flight, but we got some wonderful views of the Scottish borders and Edinburgh as we approached our destination. Seen below is the Port of Leith.

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We decided we’d take the tram to the city centre on what had turned into a beautiful evening – and it even ran quicker than usual! A quick change onto the number 33 on Princes Street had us home at 19:20 – a door-to-door travel time of just 12 hours (including a leisurely lunch and walk in Copenhagen).

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