Saturday, February 22, 2014

Travelling with the Reliable Bus in Finland: Helsinki City Centre > Porvoo > Helsinki-Vantaa Airport

When I am travelling/holidaying somewhere, alone, with the Dutchman, family or friends, I always employ some due diligence beforehand. Research is key because I want to maximise every trip I make. I want to see and experience many things without having to compromise comfort (no rushing), maximum enjoyment and value for money. It is really all about good planning and giving yourself enough time for a little bit of downtime and spontaneous activity to discover new things and places outside the crafted travel program guideline without breaking the bank.

But do take note that TRAVELLING DOES COST MONEY. It is ‘HOW YOU TRAVEL’ that distinguishes the difference between cheap, affordable, comfort and luxury. Take your pick. Everyone is different. Everyone has his or her own budget and style as well. Everyone has an idea what is acceptable to them. And everyone definitely has his or her own interest in mind. So every travel experience is different.

Getting to Helsinki

Amsterdam to Tallinn with KLM-Estonian Air.

From Amsterdam I flew with KLM in partnership with Estonian Airlines to Tallinn where I spent several days in the gorgeous medieval Baltic city. Read here: Tallinn, Estonia and after which I took the Tallinn – Helsinki Baltic Sea Crossing with the Superstar boat. One of my smoothest crossings ever.

In Helsinki I stayed in the city for a few days and you can read about my adventures here: Helsinki, Finland. Then on my last two days in the country I went to Porvoo, the second oldest and charming city of Finland half an hour drive (an hour with the bus) from the capital.

Tallinn to Helsinki with Superstar cruise liner of Silja Tallink Lines.

Here is the ferry route between two country capitals:

You can move the map with your mouse, as well as zoom in and zoom out the map by clicking on the + and - signs on the lower right hand side.

Helsinki to Porvoo

When doing side trips I always research the best (most efficient, most effective, comfortable and cost-effective) way to get to the place(s). In most countries and cities, side trips are best done by renting a car, and in smaller places like islands for example in Greece, a scooter. But there are also other ways such as fast trains in mainland Europe or even bus tour groups if you have time concerns. In Finland, the public transport (bus) system is very efficient (similar by the way to the Netherlands), so why not?

I took the bus to Porvoo at the Helsinki Bus Station that is located inside the Helsinki Railway Station. Do not be misled with the buses parked outside, go inside the railway station and then take the stairs or lift downstairs. I was a little bit lost here as directions were not very easy to follow so I had to ask a few people before I found one who spoke intelligible (or was willing to speak) English and helped me with the directions. She even accompanied me to the bus gate. Kiitos!

Porvoo (Finnish) is Borga in Swedish. In Finland, they have two language translations of everything, Finnish and Swedish.

The bus was on time and it was not busy. I paid directly with the driver with my American Express card. The bus accepts other cards and forms of payment such as Visa, Mastercard as well as cash of course (Euro).

The drive from Helsinki to Porvoo is just half an hour non-stop but since the bus stopped at all the towns and villages in between, the ride took longer, about 1 hour. The bus station in Porvoo is located at the New Town Porvoo side, which is just a 5 minute walk to Old Town Porvoo.

You can read my Porvoo adventures here: Porvoo (Uusimaa), Finland.

A bit of the flat scenery during the uneventful ride.

Here is the route:

You can move the map with your mouse, as well as zoom in and zoom out the map by clicking on the + and - signs on the lower right hand side.

Porvoo to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport 

The Porvoo to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport route is not a straightforward route. There is no direct bus from Porvoo going to the airport but there is a route with a transfer connection. One can buy the ticket at the store in the Porvoo Bus Station. The woman at the store told me that I will have to get off at a certain bus stop and wait for another bus to the airport. She said I better ask the driver for further assistance, which I did.

It is indeed very important to inform the bus driver in Porvoo that you are going to the airport because the route (Porvoo-Helsinki Airport) is only implemented ad-hoc. The driver had to call head office to coordinate the transfer (they still  use those old Nokia mobile phones). I was dropped off by the first bus driver at a bus stop where another bus was waiting to bring me to the airport.

And it looks like I was the only passenger the bus was waiting?

The first bus or leg of the route Porvoo > Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. The bus is big like those comfortable long distance tourist buses.

The second bus driver was very friendly, he insisted he help me with my luggage.

I asked him, ‘Am I the only passenger?’ He replied, ‘Yes, you are my only passenger.’ =)

When we arrived at the airport, the bus driver again insisted he help me with my luggage. He was a man of few words but with a big smile.

Well, I am not the sympathetic type about special treatments and such, but this really made me smile. Not just because the bus drivers were friendly and gentlemanly but just the whole experience in itself. The ad-hoc route, the first bus driver calling head office to arrange the transfer and the actual passenger and transfer handling. Quite remarkable I must say; the whole thing was orchestrated very well! Efficiently, effectively, reliably but not sure about being cost-effective though. Nevertheless, I am quite impressed with the public transportation system of Finland.

I guess this is the bus route:

Not a straightforward bus route. You can move the map with your mouse, as well as zoom in and zoom out the map by clicking on the + and - signs on the lower right hand side.

The second bus or leg of the Porvoo > Helsinki-Vantaa Airport route. The bus is smaller and the airport is not too far away said the driver.

As you can see I am the only passenger for this ride. The bus driver had to wait for me to do this special transfer.

Arriving at Helsinki Airport.

Helsinki to Amsterdam

When I looked out my boarding gate’s window I saw a different KLM airplane. A retro-style KLM livery plane! Wow, a retro logo and historical airplane body paint design. Very nice!

In keeping with tradition, KLM maintains at least one (or a few?) airplane with the original livery design when it first flew. I think it is a very good marketing idea that only strengthens the brand, and a special one as well. KLM is the oldest airline that is still operating under the same brand.

Goodbye and thank you very much Finland! Until our next meet =)

Kiitos. Heihei. Nakemiin.

Travel Period: May 2013
Destination: Porvoo (Uusimaa) & Helsinki, Finland

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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