Hello everyone. We have been very busy having fun.
We arrived in Helsinki from Bangkok and booked into our (now second favourite) airport hotel - the Hilton Helsinki Airport. Although there was only a four hour time difference the super early morning start got the better of us so we were in bed early.
Of course this meant we were up early so we used the time to juggle our luggage. We are flying economy (heaven forbid) to Billund so we needed to leave a bag behind.
The Executive lounge at the Hilton Helsinki Airport is a bit spartan but at 7:00 we had the place to ourselves for breakfast.
Later in the morning we caught the local bus to the Iittala outlet store in a nearby suburb.
Part 1: HEL-BLL-HEL
In the afternoon we took our Finnair flight to Billund.
Embraer E-190. This plane is a narrow body jet and is smaller than a 737 or an A320 with only 100 seats.
Oneworld. We paid for these flights with real money because at less than 1c per point it was not great value for money to redeem points. See here https://www.pointhacks.com.au/rewards-points-valuations/ for a detailed description of how to value points and when to redeem.
A flight on a oneworld airline will earn points on any airline in the alliance - one just needs to specify which programme to accrue the points. Although both of us are Finnair Plus members, The Navigator is earning points on this flight to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and The Navigator is earning to Qantas.
Economy. Seat 18A and 18C (window and aisle) on the way to Billund and 8A and 8C on the way back.
In economy the allowance is one bag weighing 23kgs.
1 hour and 45 minutes. Easy.
This is a regular economy seat, covered in grey cloth and arranged in a 2+2 layout. There is 46 centimetres of width and 79 centimetres of pitch, with enough room for The Navigator's 182 centimetre frame.
The business class seats were EXACTLY the same, so apart from some extra baggage allowance, more points and maybe food there is little value to business class on this route.
Having said that, Finnair offered us a cheap upgrade to business class about two weeks before our flight. This happens regularly with European carriers - we have taken up these offers from British Airways in the past.
None. Not even in business class.
There is free tea, coffee or water. Food, soft drink and alcohol is available for purchase.
Despite flying economy class, we had access to airport lounges via Priority Pass (which is a benefit of our American Express Platinum card). Priority Pass is an affiliation of over 1,200 airline and shared lounges around the world. We have used this lounges in the past - some are great and others not so.
In Helsinki we visited the Aspire Lounge. We have used this lounge before and found it very relaxing, even down to the birdsong played in the bathrooms. However this time the lounge was jam packed. We were lucky - we made it in through the door and found a seat. Within ten minutes they had to stop letting people in because the lounge was full. There were a few grumpy people in the queue!
The food is great and included gluten free options. The internet uses the airport's free service but there was plenty of bandwidth up and down.
In Billund we visited the King Amlut lounge. In contrast this lounge was almost empty and by the time we left just before lunchtime we were the only people in there. There were plenty of comfortable chairs and good food although the tea was loose leaf and there was no strainer, much to the annoyance of The Navigatrix.
Part 2: LEGOLAND
Billund is the home to LEGOLAND® (get the capitalisation and trademarking correct!). The original, the best and celebrating 50 years.
The Navigatrix has a cousin who lives in Sweden. We promised their little ones the next time we came to Europe we would go to LEGOLAND so here we are.
LEGOLAND is more than just bricks. Of course there are the amazing and imaginative creations but there are also aquariums, rollercoasters, laser light games and plenty more. It is heading toward the end of the season here. The park shuts down in November for the winter, so our window is Friday - Sunday.
The perfect weather of our holiday so far is shattered upon arrival in Billund. We had fog and misty rain on Thursday and then on and off showers and high wind on Friday. Fortunately we were able to dodge the weather by going inside during the worst of it. It helped that the park was almost deserted - we barely waited in line and many times were able to do a ride a again without having to queue.
There is also no such thing as bad weather if one has good clothing - we all had our Swedish wet weather gear on just like every other European family in the park. The non-locals were the ones wearing inadequate yellow LEGOLAND ponchos. We stayed dry... almost. On one of the last rides of the day we had taken off our rain paints as the weather improved. The Pirate Ship was boarded and off we went to be squirted by water cannons from the shore operated by over zealous teenagers. Thankfully we could also shoot back.
Afterwards we needed drying out under a heater in the coffee shop complete with Lego® shaped chocolate.
We deliberately bought a two day pass so that little kids could go home and rest without the pressure of having to do all the rides in one day. For DKK100 extra it was good value. It is possible to do the park in one day, although probably not at the height of summer with all the crowds. Saturday for us was significantly busier but even then we only waited in some lines for about 10 minutes.
LEGOLAND is a delight and we highly recommend it for kids from aged 2 to 54 and more.
Part 3: Lalandia
We could have stayed at the LEGOLAND Hotel, which has direct access to the park, or the LEGOLAND village which is across the road. However, neither of these had a suitable layout for 4 adults and 2 children and were both relatively expensive.
Instead we chose to stay at Lalandia, which is a holiday park and is adjacent to LEGOLAND. Lalandia is a holiday village, complete with accommodation, scheduled activities a supermarket and shops. There are plenty or organised activities for little kids as well as a bowling alley, mini golf, sports courts and most importantly for our little guests, an indoor water park. Think Wet 'n' Wild but all indoors.
Our self contained house had three separate bedrooms, a large living area, kitchen with dishwasher, bathroom and a laundry with washing machine and dryer. We did not want for anything. It seems to operate like a timeshare - one can be an owner (a 12 person holiday home was on the market for DKK1.8 million - about AUD$485,000) and Lalandia leases back the property when not occupied.
Lalandia seemed to be a holiday paradise. There were plenty of accommodation options ranging from 4 people to 12. Pets were welcome. We saw lots of Danish families who had packed up the car and were spending time here. The teenagers spend their time in the water park while the parents take the little kids to LEGOLAND. Everyone is a winner. If one did not want to, there is no need to spend time outside of the main complex. This is a wonderful idea in the dead of winter when there is three foot of snow on the ground.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Lalandia and frankly could have spent more time here. We achieved our goal of a great family holiday. However the schedules of Navigators and cousins prevented a lengthier stay