ScandiBaltics Diary #4.5: The Time I Erroneously Decided To Do An All-Nighter At Helsinki Vantaa Airport (Finland)

It’s obvious but true: if you are travelling on a budget, you’re going to have to pick the cheapest flights. Whether this means a 12-hour layover in Istanbul or landing in London at 3am, it’s one of the downsides of having to count every pound/dollar/Euro.

Getting a plane from Helsinki Vantaa to Copenhagen had no end of possible flights, but getting one for under £50? There was only one way, and it involved a 6.30am flight. The last bus from the city centre to the airport was at 10.45pm. A taxi would have cost about £30 at cheapest, compared to the 5-euro bus. I had to go hard, or stay at home. Evening bus and all-nighter it was.

The thing was, I may have sneakily been streaming Masterchef from the UK over the course of my trip. And the day before my flight may have been the day of the all-important grand final. So I may have got an earlier bus to the airport than was strictly necessary in order to stream the final. I neither deny nor confirm.

Here is a vague liveblog of my airport all-nighter experience.

2am snack.

2am snack.

9pm: And we’re off! I am on the tram to Helsinki Rautatieasema (in non-gobbledygook: Helsinki Station) so I can get the bus. It was tempting to buy a ticket for once, but seeing the damned tram map raised my hackles considerably and I decided to wing it. What are the chances of being caught and fined 80 euros?!

9.30pm: They are… low! This rampant criminal mastermind reaches Helsinki Rahosrohisgfdhofihema no problem, although locating the airport bus stop proves trickier. Eventually I find it and eagerly try to board the airport bus that has pulled in a few metres up the road. The driver firmly tells me I must wait for the bus to reach the stop. I disembark and re-embark a few minutes later. Helsinki Vantaa ahoy!

10.12pm: I arrive at the airport! Only 8 hours and 18 minutes until my flight leaves. This suddenly seems like a really, really long time. That said, I should be in no danger of oversleeping and missing my flight, my taxi being delayed unti I miss the flight, I’m saving a lot of money by- oh who am I kidding, I’m really just here to use their free WiFi for my illegal streaming activity. I print my ticket at one of the Norwegian machines to productively waste some time.

10:30pm: MASTERCHEF BEGINS! I am perched on a bench near the entrance, while a weird man further down the bench stares at me, possibly because I’m getting very slightly teary that this is the end for Simon, Emma and Tony, whose ridiculous moustache I have never forgiven. Zarte and I exchange terrible pun messages about Starey Guy (“Don’t let him make your life Hell-sinki. You should Finnd out what he wants.” “*what he Vantaa”).

11:30pm: Civilian Masterchef is finished for another year and I’ve avoided a big weepfest. Starey Guy, who I begin to think has had some alcoholic beverages beforehand, becomes increasingly weird over the hour. He laughs when I laugh at Masterchef, he takes loud, boisterous phone calls, and he drops several sausage rolls on the floor, before offering me one of the unsoiled ones. I decline.

12:00am: Just 6 1/2 hours to go, and there are now no more flights until 6am. I have escaped Starey Guy and his sausage roll agglomeration, and found a plug socket by a table and chair next to a window. The comfy leather seats against the wall have been commandeered by two Asian girls, who have used their coats as blankets and are fast asleep, while the rest of us slump in the less comfy wooden seats. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only lethargic skinflint avoiding paying for a room and taxi overnight, yet simultaneously worrying. What if I fall asleep and someone robs me? Even worse, I have the Masterchef Synesthesia song (more famously known as the ‘Buttery Biscuit Base song’) stuck in my head and have an alarming urge to play it loudly in this graveyard of human activity. Out of consideration for the unconscious girls, I overcome it.

12:47am: Bored now. Might have a nap.

1am: Really difficult to sleep on a table in a lit room. I cover my head with a coat, to the amusement of two women nearby.

2am: Nghhh… ugh… where am I…

2.15am: Manage to get it together enough to buy a cinnamon bun and a chai latte at the one open cafe with my last 8 euros, in order to banish the post-nap dry mouth/weird taste. The bun is pleasant enough, but the chai latte? Good God. I have had many chai lattes in my lifetime and this was the worst by a long way. The waitress puts syrup in it. Syrup?! It’s supposed to be spicy, not sickly! Ugh. My annoyance does, however, wake me up properly.

2.45am: People are chatting to me on Facebook. One of them, who has just taken an exam on Europe, tries to tell me that Finland is not in the EU. I tell him Finland’s currency is the Euro. He backs down. (In fairness, several non-EU countries – Kosovo, Montenegro and all the tiny pointless countries – use the Euro. Finland, however, is massive.) In a desperate attempt to stay awake, I enlist his help to see if we can list every sovereign nation’s currency.

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3.15am: We can’t list all of them, but we list over 50:

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3.30am: I’ve bored him to sleep. I try to list capitals of the world. So… sleepy…

4.30am: Praise be! I have checked in my massive bag and can now move from the hard wooden seat towards security and the departure lounge.

5am: Now got 90 minutes to waste in the departure lounge. The seats here are, however, very comfortable and well-cushioned, plus there are loads of plug sockets. Get in!! I celebrate by reading Love In The Time Of Cholera, as I’m just about awake enough to deal with literary rape culture and misogyny. Plot synopsis: woman’s husband of 50 years dies in freak accident, even freakier guy who she had a flirtation with as a teenager proposes to her before her husband’s even cold, because he’s basically been obsessing over her and stalking her for 50 years and, get this, STAYING SINGLE AND KEEPING HIS HOUSE TIDY FOR HER. EVEN THOUGH SHE’S MARRIED. (Not staying chaste though, whatever he tells her later on…) This is lauded as a romance novel. Is stalking a woman obsessively for 50 years romantic? NO! It’s beautifully written, insightful at times, and a good yarn, but a romantic one? No. This guy should have been sectioned.

6.15am: Finally it is time to board the plane. Tiredness is setting in again.

6.30am: Success! I stayed awake enough during my all-nighter to make it onto the plane, which has taken off without incident. Now I can sleep.

7am: Nghhh… ugh… where am I…

STAY TUNED for the Copenhagen instalment of Steadman As She Goes, coming soon!

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