Currently I am working in Helsinki in the weekdays and travel back home to Sweden in the weekends. However, this week the force of nature that is Eyjafjallajökull caused some change in the plans.
When we first heard of the ash cloud on Thursday and looked at the prognosis, it was quite clear that flights from Helsinki would be cancelled on Friday. So those of use that were from Sweden took the opportunity to get tickets for the boats between Helsinki and Stockholm instead.
A longer travel than the short flights would have been, but still much better than getting stranded. The boats going between the two cities are really big floating entertainment and tax-free facilities; the typical crowd going with the boats are there to party and have fun, and/or buy cheap booze. This time there were a significant portion of the passengers that were carrying air cabin suitcases and laptops, instead of duffelbags and beer.
Given the nature of these boats, they might not be the best place for uninterrupted sleep – at least if they happen to be close to the night clubs on the boat. I have had better nights.
Coming home to Stockholm on Saturday, the next task was to go to the airport and get my car back from the long-term parking area.
The usual airport shuttle traffic from the city centre had been significantly reduced – one bus per hour and the bus I traveled with was almost empty. All the passengers were there for the same purpose as me – to get their cars back. When I got to the airport, it was almost completely deserted. It was still possible to get a ride to the long-term parking area and soon I had the car.
Overall I think I was among the lucky ones. Some of my collegues who were from other parts of Europe did not have the option to go by boat home and had to stay over the weekend. Other people we met and much more complex travel plans to get home – literally taking a few days in some cases, if they could get a seat on a bus, train etc.
Other people had been in the process of switching flight connections when traffic stopped and now could not get hold of their luggage. Other people are stranded abroad without option to get home – a friend’s parents were supposed to fly home from Beijing.
Hopefully this ash cloud will be an issue for only a few days at most.