Tag Archives: Finnair

Back To Italy

We had the wonderful chance to travel back to Italy this summer. We have visited Sicily, Sabaudia, Ardea, Trevignano Romano, Rome and Pisa…. now we flew back to Pisa and drove up to the mountains 65 km west and a bit north from Pisa airport.

Finnair flight has arrived at Pisa

It is nice that Finnair offers direct flights to Pisa in the summer time.

Montecatini Terme is the closest town near the mountains and our vacation house. I had never heard of this town. It is an Italian municipality of about 21,100 inhabitants within the province of Pistoia in Tuscany, Italy. The town is located at the eastern end of Piana di Lucca and has a strong vocation for tourism, as well as industrial and commercial industries related to the spa, which in turn has increased the interest for hotel accommodation in the region.

Up the mountain road.jpg

The drive up to the house was exciting and fascinating. So many curves and small roads and up up we drove. The scenery was beautiful and magnificent.

The first look at the view from the house was just what we hoped for.

View from the house Montecatini.jpg

As always it is nice to just sit down after travelling for many hours. Driving, waiting, flying, waiting, driving and then… finally: vacation time!

Stay tuned for more stories and photos from this magnificent area.

Italy: Arriving at Pisa

We have travelled to a few Italian cities in the past years. We have visited for example Rome, Ardea, Anzio, Sabaudia, Syracuse, Floridia and Trevignano Romano.

In my early years, I visited Milan, La Spezia and Venice with my aunt and her Italian husband.

venice_shopping

There is so much to see and enjoy in Italy!

This time we decided to visit the area around Pisa. Finnair offers direct flights in the summer, which we appreciate.

The flight was an early one. We started with breakfast at the splendid Finnair lounge.

Finnair lounge breakfast before Pisa flight_2

In less than three hours we arrived at Pisa International Airport. Weather in Finland had been quite cold for the past weeks (11 C) so the sunny and warm weather in Pisa made us extremely happy.

Arriving at Pisa

We just had to take some pictures of the Finnair plane before walking to the arrival area to pick up our luggage.

Arriving at Pisa_2

As always in the past years, we had made a car reservation to Maggiore. As always the service was very nice and the car as well. We got an upgrade to an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. We love to drive an Italian Alfa Romeo along the Italian roads.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta from Maggiore

We like to travel to places where not many tourist have been. This time we found a secret hideaway on the top of the mountains at Montemagno.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 😉

On our way to Montemagno_JH

The view from the yard was amazing. A small valley was followed by some high mountains and behind them lay the amazing Mediterranean Sea.

Montemagno front yard view

First photo of our backyard at Montemagno

To our surprise we had a white rabbit as a “pet”. We named it Osku. Osku followed us everywhere we walked in the front and the back yard. The rabbit was a lot of fun.

Osku_our rabbit at Montemagno

More news, photos and stories from Montemagno, Lucca and Pisa will come soon.

Waiting to fly to Jordan

Where is Jordan?

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is in The Middle East, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan borders Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and Israel to the west.

Map of Jordan and the surrounding countries
Where is Aqaba and Tala Bay?

Aqaba is situated in the southern  part of Jordan and is the largest city on the Gulf of Aqaba. It is Jordan’s only coastal city. Tala Bay is a holiday resort 15 minutes south of Aqaba and very close to the border of Saudi Arabia.

Why Jordan?

We have travelled during the summer in countries around the Mediterranean Sea for more than 10 years. During winter time it is a bit cold in Europe, so we decided 5 years ago to visit Africa. We thought Egypt could be something interesting, mysterious and fun.

Egypti kamelimies
We love the sun, warm days on the beach, diving into the sea and photographing fish and corals. It is also wonderful to experience new cultures and countries, meet local people.

Exif_JPEG_422
We have visited Egypt 5 times. We are in love with the Red Sea.

fish in the red sea
In September 2013 the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland recommended to not travel to Egypt due to the unstable situation in the country. As a result of this all Finnish travel agencies cancelled all reservations to Egypt until April 2014.

We searched the web for other countries (to which Finnish travel agencies offer flight + hotel packages) around the Red Sea, which we hoped to visit again. We found Jordan and Israel. They both have some coral beaches on the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea.

We compared Israels’ Eilat with Jordan’s Aqaba. Aqaba sounded more exciting and mysterious. Then we found Tala Bay, a sunny vacation resort 15 minutes south from Aqaba. No noise of a hectic town or traffic, great hotels, long beaches and promise of corals and exciting fish … that is all we needed to make our choice. Apollomatkat is the only one in Finland offering vacation packages to Tala Bay (and Jordan for that matter). If you want to go to Eilat you can choose between Aurinkomatkat and Apollomatkat. Both fly with Finnair.

Tala Bay venesatama kuva
The temperature in November in the southern part of Jordan was said to be quite warm. Forecasts promised 23-30° C during the day and 19° C or less in the night. This sounded very good.

Apollomatkat, which we had never before used, handled everything very well from the beginning. The website works well, the customer service is friendly and helpful and the list of hotels in Aqaba was surprisingly long. In Tala Bay you can choose between 3 nice hotels.

We chose Radisson Blu Tala Bay, as the pictures of it on the website of Apollomatkat were great, we were promised corals and fish very close to the beach, the hotel had a private beach and the website of the hotel gave a great overall feeling of the resort.

Radisson Blu Tala Bay web site Radisson at Tala Bay Jordania_6Radisson room pic
The hotel gave us great service already before our trip. We have a wish list regarding the room and the car service. I contacted the hotel, as Apollomatkat, just like all other travel agencies in Finland, cannot confirm if you get a balcony or terrace, if you are on low floor or high floor etc. We got all our wishes fulfilled with the kind help of the executive assistant manager at the hotel. To offer this kind of service is definitely a competitive advantage.

It takes 5 hours to fly from Helsinki to Aqaba. Most tourist take the travel agency’s bus. But as it usually takes a long time to wait for all people to come to the bus, and the bus drives to many hotels before ours, we started to use the hotels’ car service a couple of years ago. One more reason was a sad experience with Finnmatkat (which otherwise works quite well). The bus did not pick us up from our hotel in Egypt some years ago. (The guide did not answer her phones and no one knew what was going on. The hotel finally drove us to the airport. When checking up on this matter, we were told “the phone lines do not always work in Egypt, the bus was late and the guide forgot to inform the hotel and the customers about this.”)

Most hotels offer car service. It is smooth and fast. It does not cost more (or much more) than the bus service.

This was an introduction to my future stories about Jordan. I will write about Tala Bay, the history of Jordan, the corals and the fish in the Red Sea as well as a review of Radisson Blu Tala Bay Resort.

Our passion since a few years back is to photograph in the Red Sea. I have hundreds of pictures from the land, the air and the sea. I’ll share the best with you.

Radisson Tala Bay Red Sea Diving picture_2 Ma`a as-salāma!