October 2017

August 22, 2017

 

A two day, three night city break to Berlin, the hipster capital of Germany in October 2017 followed by a couple more days in Helsinki to visit family. There won't be much planning in advance for this trip, as it's pretty simple to  organise and the only rail journey I see happening is from Schönefeld Airport to Berlin city centre on Thursday evening.   

 

Update: Tuesday 22nd August 2017

 

The idea:

 

I'm joining Mehri on her yearly business trip to Berlin. We've talked about going together every year for the past three and this year we've finally made it happen. 

 

Annual leave:

 

Not required - all the days I am away for are 'free days owed from working Saturday's and Sunday's.

 

Flights:

 

RYANAIR. London Stansted 19:00 to Berlin Schönefeld 22:00. £28.79. Booked at www.ryanair.com

 

AIR BERLIN. Berlin Tegel 09:50 to Helsinki 12:45. US$ 46.61. Booked at www.airberlin.com on the US version of the website. The British version had the same flight for approximately £45 which is far more US$ 46. Google listed this flight for approximately £245. 

*** CANCELLED on 12.10.2017 due to bankruptcy ***

 

NORWEGIAN. Helsinki 08:00 to London Gatwick 09:10. £38.91 (saved £1.18 on this fare from earned Norwegian "cash points"). Booked at www.norwegian.com.

 

Rough plan:

 

Day 1: Fly to Berlin

Day 2: Berlin

Day 3: Berlin

Day 4: Berlin, fly to Helsinki

Day 5: Helsinki

Day 6: Fly to London

 

Update: Monday 25th September 2017

 

Ryanair has today announced that they will be cancelling hundreds of flights due a pilot shortage.

 

Also, since booking my Air Berlin flight on 22nd August, I have learnt that the airline filled for bankruptcy on 15th August, which is 8 days before I booked my flight through Air Berlin's website.  There was no mention of this on their website at the time of booking, and would I have known about the potential bankruptcy, I would've booked the Finnair 'multi-city' flight option which at the time was only marginally more expensive. 

 

Because of this news, I have decided to adopt a wait and see approach for now...

 

Update: Thursday 12th October

 

Ryanair flight status checked on their website and it shows as still operating.

 

Air Berlin announces they will cease all operations no later than 28th October 2017 - so that's probably  my flight cancelled.  The good news is that any flight booked after 15th August will be refunded, but how I have no idea?!?!?

 

With this news, I spent a lot of hours frantically checking alternative flight options from Berlin (or any city nearby like Prague, Warsaw, Poznan, Hamburg etc.) to Helsinki (or again, to any near by city).  I also looked for options involving a change of airline at an intermediate place, and the only realistic option I found was this... 

 

Update: Friday 13th October

 

Flights:

 

SAS.  Copenhagen 21:35 to Helsinki 00:15.  £72.70 bought from www.flysas.com. 

 

Train tickets:

 

I called "International Rail" who are able to quote FIP fares and they gave me the following prices for a journey from Berlin to Copenhagen (with 50% FIP discount within Germany and a Danish FIP coupon* - i.e. free travel within Denmark). 

 

* Unfortunately I have ordered my German FIP coupon for my trip to Amsterdam and Vienna in July 2017.  These coupons are valid for 3 months and have four boxes, each of which are valid for 48 hours.  If this coupon was still valid, the 'ICE' train below would have been free and the 'EC' train would have probably involved just a small surcharge. 

 

Berlin Hbf 06:09 to Hamburg Hbf 09:06 - EN470

Hamburg 09:28 to Copenhagen 14:49 - EC33

£46.00

 

Berlin Hbf 10:39 to Hamburg Hbf 12:24 - ICE1626

Hamburg Hbf 13:28 to Copenhagen 18:49 - EC35

£49.50

 

I was informed by "International Rail" that as these are issued as paper tickets, they require 3 weeks notice to complete the order which I no longer have.  I will now either buy a flight to Billund from Berlin (Ryanair £25) or buy the train ticket locally in Berlin. 

 

Hotel Reservation:

 

Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz.  £231.75 for three nights booked through www.hotels.com with a 10% discount code. 

 

Rough plan:

 

Day 1: Fly to Berlin (from London Stansted)

Day 2: Berlin

Day 3: Berlin

Day 4: Berlin, train or fly to Denmark, fly to Helsinki (from Copenhagen)

Day 5: Helsinki

Day 6: Fly to London (from Helsinki)

 

 

 

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