Only four months to go to the next grandish tour, so here's the itinerary so far.
17 July Fly from Perth to Singapore and then on to Helsinki. The Perth flight is leaving four hours earlier than originally scheduled, which means an extended stopover in Singapore. Lots to see and do so we won't get bored.
18 July Arrive in Helsinki at the unsmallgodsly hour of 635. Rob booked the hotel for the night before so we will have somewhere to crash and wash and dump suitcases.
19 Train to Tampere. I've booked us into the Omena where I stayed last time. It's just down the road from the train station and across the road from the Stockman department store and supermarket. The Omenas have, unlike some European hotels, tea and coffee making facilities and a microwave and a fridge. All bright red.
20 - 21 July Tampere
22 July Train to Turku's lovely Art Deco station. Booked into the Bore Youth Hostel which is a ship - an ex liner that is docked in the Aura, adjacent to the Forum Marinum, a fabulous maritime museum that I hope Rob and Leece will love as much as I do.
23 - 25 Turku and hopefully Naantali day trip to Moomin Island. I'm not actually into the Moomins, I just think Naantali is gorgeous
26 To Aland Island by ferry, the M/S Amorella (which is the boat that took me from Stockholm to Turku in 2014).
27 to 6 August. Aland Island. L and R hope to get a lot of kayaking and disc golfing in. I will probably read and catch lots of busses.
7 August Back to Helsinki on the overnight ferry.
8 - 13 August - Worldcon75!
14 - 15 Not Worldcon.
16 August Fly out at 2355, land in Singapore the next day, couple of hours in the airport and home to Perth at 2345.
Point of interest, Aland, apart from looking beautiful and Finnish, is also Swedish. It's on Sweden time, which is an hour later than Finland and they speak Svensk rather than Suomi.
Thanks to the generosity of good dear friends (who are more like family), I had a day trip to Bunbury as a birthday present. The first first was a trip on the Australind, a journey of about 2.5 hours. This involved catching the bus from here and then another from the Bus Port to the train station in Wellington St, followed by a short walk to platform 9 3/4 (or possibly platform 3).
The Australind is very comfortable, had a nice loo and does decent tea. I've been told by people who know these things that the coffee is awful and should be steered clear of. I love train travel and am happiest staring out the window at the passing scenery.
The second first was actually stopping in Bunbury and not bypassing it on the way to somewhere else. These days, the atmosphere is more Fremantle than unattractive port city and there are many very attractive buildings and shops, including a lovely art deco building (now a sports store) and pubs from 1898 and the early 20s. There are also some business establishments with amusing names - Afez of the Heart, which I thought was a cafe but is actually a homewares store that some of my friends adore, and a barber's shop called, what else, Sweeney Todd's. We debated as to whether they also sold pies.
Had lunch at Mojoś - Rob and I shared tuna croquettes, cornflake crumbed chicken strips and a pear, walnut and fetta salad. And I followed this with lemon meringue cake, which was the subject of much conversation and possible attempts at making in the future.
Walked back to the bus station for the shuttle to the train, passing through a really nice part of suburbia - lots of lovely cottages.
The third first was on my journey home - my first ride on the underground railway. I've done it many, many times in London, but this was the first in Perth. I managed to miss my connecting bus and had to wait 30 minutes, Actually, it was a bit longer than that as the bus was late, which I think is why the bus driver handed my money back after I asked for a ticket. "Is it free?" I asked. "Yes," she replied. Bargain.
Got home, fed the cats and headed over to L, R and R's for more fine food and video watching. A rather depressing episode of Man from UNCLE, a fun ep of Yonderland and finished the evening with Clue, which is even better than I remembered.
To cut a long story short (too late!), I had a fantastic day.
Right. The Poss Grand Tour, day 10, and I have some gaps to fill in.
When last we spoke, I was in Amsterdam and had visited the Van Gogh Museum. And had been blown away by the art. As with the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, you can get within a foot of the actual painting, which means you can see every brush stroke. There are a couple of self portraights that are most intetesting - his head and upper body are complete, but the back ground is just random dashes of paint. It's as though he was unable to make sense of the outside world.
20.9. I have no recollection of what I did, and Facebook/G+ are no help. I did the hop on/off bus, I think.
21.9 Caught the train to Haarlem, a lovely town about 20 minutes from Amsterdam. Walked around the ancient architecture, had coffee and Dutch apple pie and tried not to get run over by the entrants in the marathon race that left from Amsterdam central station.
22.9 was a pretty touristy day. I had found a laundromat near by, so I spent a nice hour in the warm. I then took a cruise of the canals and had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, where I got chatting to the waitress, who comes from Brisbane and had a brother in Oslo.
23.9 was a fairly early start as I had to be at the airport for my 10.45am flight. As usual, I was in plenty of time. I was given seat 15D, which was half way down the plane. According to the SAS website, the plane holds 99 passengers and I could have had my choice of 60 other seats. My row was completely empty, which meant I could move over and take photos out of the window. Mostly of the wing.
I arrived in Oslo around 12.30 and was most disappointed that nobody checked my passport. This means no stamps! Arrival into Norway means waiting for your luggage, walking through the Nothing to Declare door and out. I asked the Information man if that was right. Apparently it is. But....no stamp!
I went to buy an airport express train ticket and was told that it was cheaper to swipe my card at the barrier. Shuttle trains are such a civilised way of getting from the airport to the city.
The next part of the journey to the hotel was somewhat more fraught as I had misread advice on Tripadvisor on how to get to the Best Western Hotel Kampen. I had to go to Tøyen, so I bought a 24 hour travel pass and caught the train from near where the Express came in. Got off at Troyen and started walking. And walking, and asking random strangers if they knew where the hotel was. Fortunately, the young man in a cafe did. I had walked past the intersection and missed the sign.
Turns out, I should have caught the metro or T line and not the overhead line. Lesson learned.
When I booked the hotel, I asked if there was a lift and was assured there was. The day i arrived, it was being repaired, so they put me in one of the motel type units out the back. Despite facing the road, it was remarkably quiet. And it had a kitchen.
(ern) hemisphere, that is. The flight from Perth left 50 minutes late, which caused a bit of concern for those of us with only a 70 minute connection in Kuala Lumpur. I was stopped by KL security after my backpack went through the x-ray machine and the travel CPAP machine's battery showed up. They looked a little bemused at the hosing and face mask but accepted it was a medical device.
No waiting in the departure lounge, straight onto the plane. I had bought a comfort economy seat right up the front of cattle class, no-one in front of me and lots of leg room. And we got fed first.
I didn't sleep much, just dozed on and off. But I was surprisingly chipper when we landed, despite being mostly awake for 30 hours.
I had booked a hotel shuttle bus to take me to the Piet Hein in the museum district. I had noticed a lot of smoke or smog over the city as we flew in. The sun rose during the bus ride, huge and red. Stunning, pity I didn't have my camera to hand.
Got to the hotel around 8.30 and was pleasantly surprised to find my room was ready. An Australian couple trying to check in weren't so lucky. I hadca shower, felt 100% better and headed off to find coffee and an ATM. The ATM was right next to a bakers, so, cash, coffee and rye roll with some kind of wurst achieved, I headed back to the park I can see from my window. Many, many cyclists, a red kelpie dog and birdies.
I managed to get lost (happens every time), which is fine. Headed back to the hotel, did a bit of research re local supermarkets and then went for another walk. There is an organic, Fair Trade store a couple of streets over where I bought some apples (delicious!), bananas, egg and salad sarnie and orange and raspberry juice. They also have a huge cheese counter and I was so tempted, but as I don't have a fridge ( or tea and coffee making facilities), it would have been a waste.
Also went back to the bakery and brought some mini macrons (yum!) And citreoncake, which I haven't tried yet.
I managed to last until about 7.30pm, then flaked. Woke up about midnight, went back to sleep and have been up since 5ish. Had a shower, waiting for breakfast at 7.30.
Today I plan to stroll to the hop on/hop off bus stop at the end of the road and tour the city and possibly the Zoo. Tonight - the Van Gogh museum. It stays open late on a Friday.
It's nearly the end of August. Which means it's nearly September. Which means it's nearly time for me to chuff off.
The itinerary as it stands today:
17th Fly out, Perth to KL, KL to Amsterdam
18th Arrive Amsterdam at sparrow's (i.e. 5.55am!). Work out what to do until I can book into the Piet Hein Hotel in the arvo. The Hotel is around the corner from the Van Gogh Museum, which is exciting.
19th - 22nd, Amsterdam. I have been advised by a friend who has just returned that I should take a day trip on the train to Harlem as it's very lovely.
22nd Fly to Oslo
22nd - 25th Best Western Kampen Hotel, Olso.
25th Norway in a Nutshell to Bergen on the west coast
25th - 28th Bergen, Citybox Hotel. I did want to go back to Oslo on the 27th but the trains aren't running that day, so it's an extra day in Bergen. Which is no hardship as it looks to be a beautiful place.
28th Train back to Oslo, BW Kampen Hotel
29th Oslo to Trondheim by train. Arrive in Trondheim at 18:00, catch the sleeper to Fauske at 23:30ish
30th Arrive Fauske 8:25, catch the bus to Narvik at 8:50. I posted a very naive comment on the Lonely Planet Scandiwegian forum asking if it was possible to make the connection from train to bus in 25 minutes. The response was, why ever not?? This is Scandinavia, where the trains run on time and the buses are right next to the train.
30th - 1st Narvik. I booked a cheap room in the Narvik Budget Rooms hotel, then discovered that the place is actually up a steep hill, and while the bus station may be short in distance, it's long in time. A taxi may be in order.
2nd. Narvik to Kiruna in Sweden via the Arctic Circle railway. Forgot to mention that Narvik and Kiruna are above the Arctic Circle. Woot.
2nd Kiruna, the Bishops Arms Hotel.
3rd Kiruna to Stockholm via SAS. I was going to get the sleeper train (17.5 hours) but couldn't work out how to buy a bed, so I gave up and had a look at flights. Loads cheaper and only 1.5 hours.
3rd - 5th Stockholm, Omana Hotel, which is part of a chain as I've also booked an Omana in Turku.
5th Stockholm to Turku on the MS Amorella. Leaves at 20:00 and arrives in Turku at 7:35.
5th to ....some time. I had wanted to book the Convent again but no beds! So I'm in the Omana, which is near the railway station and has a microwave.
Finland, Finland, Finland to Helsinki
12th Helsinki. Hmm, haven't booked accommodation yet.
13th Helsinki to London, via Stockholm with SAS, arriving terminal 2 at 12:50.
13th Luna and Simone Hotel, Pimlico
14th Train to Stratford upon Avon to pick up the hire car.
UK, UK, UK - definitely heading to Glencoe and the Pencil Museum in Keswick (it's a tradition), hopefully Bletchley, tempted to go to the updated Who Experience in Cardiff.
21st Drop off the car and back to London. L and S Hotel, must remember to book
23rd London to Amsterdam with BA. Amsterdam to Singapore
24th Singapore to Perth, arriving home at 2355.
And there you mostly have it.
It's been a busy week. Tuesday night we went to Reading Cinemas in Belmont and watched the Lego Movie in Glod Lounge. Lovely! Great food (fish and chips and ice cream sundae), funny film and very comfy surroundings.
On Thursday we went to a panto at UWA. Apparently they have a panto society - we did not know this! Keeping our eyes out for future productions.
And last night we went to the drives to see Captain America and Thor. A full house, by the look of it. I got there at 5.25ish and was fifth in line.
Plans for travel in September are slowly coming together. I've booked my hotel in Amsterdam and Oslo and the return flight from London to Amsterdam. The bit in the middle is still a bit of a mystery.
It's been a while and the first third of the year is nearly over.
When I first booked by flights in Sept/Oct, the final leg from Asia was with Qantas from Singapore; however, now that they will no longer be flying to Singers, this has changed. I've been in touch with KLM who followed up for me and advised that the final leg will be with Singapore Airlines. Yay. The other carrier flying on that date, albeit three hours later, is Jetstar, who I didn't fancy flying with. Nor did I want to hang around the airport for a further 3 hours (6 hours is too short to do anything but long to be boring and risk falling asleep). Singapore Airlines will be leaving Singers and landing in Perth at the same time as the Qantas flight.
And speaking of travel, my passport expired in January and I finally got around to renewing it last week. Bloody awful photo taken at the chemist's, though the lass in Aust Post reassured me that it wasn't too bad and she had seen some shockers. I've missed out on the flight I wanted from Amsterdam to Oslo because I don't have a passport number to quote on the booking page. I was told it would take about two weeks to get the new passport so I'll just have to be patient.
Today we're off to Astrofest at Curtin Uni. The temp today will be 26 C, which is a damn sight cooler than we're been having, and cloudy. Not so good for the telescopes but much nicer for walking around and looking at stuff.
Not a long one, sadly.
Still cleaning, tidying, throwing things out.
I did get to see the Desolation of Smaug last Monday and enjoyed it immensely. Wasn't struck on the first film, thought it dragged a bit thanks to the padding; this, however, was much better, despite the unnecessary, IMHO, elf/dwarf love triangle (Tauriel and Kili, and Legolas with himself). Leece, who knows these things, was very taken with the depiction of Smaug.
Last night I usheretted at the New Fortune for GRADS' latest production of Hamlet. I think I may have been suckered into rejoining the committee... Almost got the gig of secretary but told them I'll be away for a couple of months this year. Whew!
Off to Leece and Rob's for dins tonight. I have made gingerbread from scratch. Ok, from a packet. Coles do a very nice gluten free model that I've added cinnamon sugar, nutmeg and mixed spice to.