Trip to Europe summer 2019 – day 4 (going north in Finland)
The Fin5 competitions started at Rautavaara airfield and I have signed up for all except the last day competitions. I thought I had enough time to make my way from France after the race Saturday evening there as the race started in afternoon for the first day.
My intention was to fly from Geneva from Helsinki Saturday late evening, then do a morning flight to Kuopio where I could take a bus to the competition before noon, however, this plan didn’t work.
It turned out the last flight of the day from Geneva to Helsinki was at 19:00 – 23:00 which was too early, as it took approximately 2 hours from Évian to Geneva airport, which meant I needed to leave Évian by 16:00 which I thought the time would be too tight for the competition (as competitions usually delay). I then worked out the earliest I could arrive at Helsinki was to take the 21:40 – 02:10 flight to Moscow, which was the last flight out of Geneva on the day, then transfer to the first flight from Moscow to Geneva by Finnair which landed at 06:50.
Even I could arrive Helsinki in the morning, I still needed to go to the north to the competition in Rautavaara airfield as well. If I could arrive in Kuopio, I could take the organiser bus from 09:50 to the competition, even if I missed it I could still ask someone to ride me as there were likely other people who were going there as well, or in the worst case rent a car at Kuopio airport.
However, it turned out that, although that there were 4 daily flights from HEL to KUO on weekdays (AY 361 in morning, 365 at noon, 369 in afternoon, 379 in late evening), the flights did not operate at all for a complete day on weekend where I was arriving, after the AY 365 at 12:50 – 13:50 Saturday the next flight would be AY 365 at the same time on Sunday, without any flights between.
I then tried to find flights to other airports as well, including Joensuu (114 km from the competition), Kajaani (98 km away), Jyväskylä (169 km away), the earliest flights I could take was 12:00 landing at Joensuu or 09:25 at Kajaani. As there was another competition in Joensuu that morning, if I could get to Joensuu I would be likely to be offered a ride as well, but 12:00 landing meant that it also might be too late, so the only flight which I could possibly reach the competition on Sunday was the 08:10 – 09:25 flight if I could find transport from Kajaani as well. However I didn’t have confidence in finding a bus route between a small town (Kajaani) and a place in the middle of nowhere in rural Finland (Rautavaara airfield) so I gave up the idea and had to miss the competition on the first day, and tired to find a way to Nilsiä in the evening to start the competition on second day as well.
I then looked at train and bus connections to the north as they were cheaper than taking an aeroplane to Kuopio. The nearest train station to Nilsiä is Siilinjärvi, 25 km from Nilsiä. The earliest train connection from Tikkurila I could get was 08:35 – 12:57 (workable for the flight landed at 06:50), and then 11:35 – 16:01, and buses from Helsinki to Kuopio were 06:25 – 12:00 (not possible for me), 08:30 – 13:45, 10:15 – 16:30 and more afterwards.
However, arriving Nilsiä remained a problem. The only bus on a Sunday to Nilsiä was the 12:30 bus from Kuopio, which passed Siilinjärvi at 12:50 (7 minutes before the earliest I could possibly arrive Siilinjärvi), and the next bus would be 06:10 – 06:45 on Monday, which would be good if I could take it. The problem was that there was no accommodation except a very expensive hotel which cost more than €100 in the whole fucking town at all!!! (I only found out that there was actually a viable way to make it, i.e. stay in Kuopio for that night, take bus 40 from Kuopio to Siilinjärvi 05:10 – 05:50, then transfer to bus 61 to Nilsiä 06:10 – 06:45, afterwards when I found out that there was accommodation in Kuopio when I was working out the return journey)
As the earliest flight AY 720 SVO – HEL 05:00 – 06:50 was expensive and there was no award space when I was searching, judging that I couldn’t even make the Sunday competition by taking that flight, I finally booked the flight SU 2202 08:30 – 10:20 which was cheaper, then the train Tikkurila – Siilinjärvi 11:35 – 16:01, while asking for a ride in an orienteers group to Nilsiä at the same time.
I found out that there were some “capsule hotels” inside the restricted area of SVO airport terminal D which I could sleep for 3 hours between my flights, but when I arrived there at about 03:00 the reception was closed. I found out that there were other capsule hotels in other terminals but it was too late, as both flights were in terminal D so I did not have intention to go to other terminals. Also, when I tried to go to a 24-hour McDonald’s when I was outside the restricted area (as I was connecting on separate tickets because I bought the flights on separate times, and the fare rule did not allow me to change the first ticket to include the second flight, I needed to go out, enter Russia and check in again landside), it was closed and the opening hours was stated to be 04:00 – 02:00!! Which meant a 24-hour McDonald’s didn’t open 24 hours a day!!
I couldn’t find out any buses I could take on Sunday nor any reasonable accommodation to stay for a night to take the Monday morning bus in Siilinjärvi, and I couldn’t even find any place to rent a car or a bike as well in the whole fucking town of Siilinjärvi!!!!! So the only remaining thing I could do was to take a very expensive taxi (estimated to be about €60) from Siilinjärvi to Nilsiä if I failed to find anything on arrival at Siilinjärvi or someone to ride me to Nilsiä at the same time, which became true when I took the train and arrived Siilinjärvi at 16:01.
However, even finding a taxi was difficult too. I walked to the taxi station and there were no taxis at all. I then opened an app to call a taxi and it took a very long time to get a response even it was a Sunday afternoon. The taxi ride to Nilsiä turned out to be €70.
I finally arrived Nilsiä with much difficulty after a day completing marathon swimming in Évian, without any sleep on the day which definitely wasn’t good to my body to recover.