The train ride back to Helsinki was punctuated by the Russian border control taking my passport for a while and going for a walk, to another carriage. Turns out my visa had been stuck in the passport upside down, and they couldn’t scan it on their machines. Didn’t have any issues getting into Russia, but this time they wanted to check with a supervisor on what to do – manually type in the visa details on their machines.
The first day we had booked a guide for The Hermitage. It was within walking distance from the hotel, so we set off on foot. The cost of the guide paid for itself when they negotiated our way through all of the queues and straight into the museum before it was actually open. I think they used dad’s walking stick as an excuse. The only down side was I didn’t like being rude, and cutting past that many people was a bit award, they had been waiting a long time to get in.
One thing I really do love in Europe are the trains. They are such a more civilised way of travelling than aeroplanes. No giant queues, no need to take off your belt and shoes (although I am good at dressing in stuff that never sets off the metal detectors), and there is so much more leg room. Not that I need lots of leg room, but there is still much more of it.
We spent the next couple of days around Helsinki. What we didn’t know was this time of year was holidays and a lot of things were closed. Dad had bookmarked a few museums to go to, but even these were closed. I was desperately trying to find a place to fix my laptop, but most of the shops were closed.
Today started early, again. 4 AM alarm, got dressed, checked out, and into the car.
We negotiated the rather quiet and slightly familiar streets back to the highway to the airport. There were hardly any cars, but there were some roadworks at 4:30AM! Good time to do them, no one about. Dropped off the car, walked the 1.5km back to the terminal, and lined up for baggage drop. They asked to see passports, but only to confirm our tickets. Dad asked about passport control, “Not until you return to the UK.” Ha! Jokes on you, I mean, of course, not until we return to the UK.