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Sleeping In The Greyhound

Sleeping In The Greyhound

Forty-seven hours. That’s how long it took us to come back from Beijing.

We left Monday morning for the airport. Security was pretty tight: as soon as we stepped in the airport, a security officer put some kind of wet towel on our bags to test them for radioactivity. We were then asked to step aside for a few minutes to see if it react. I’m yet not sure whether it’s a great way to prevent terrorist attack (think fifty people waiting for their bag to show signs of radioactivity just meters from the doors) but I was glad to learn we were uranium-free.

The eight-hours flight from Beijing to Helsinki was a fairly easy one, but since we were going West and flying during the day, it was hard to sleep. We arrived in Helsinki Monday at 2pm.

It had only been a few weeks since we came through Finland but it seemed like ages. The temperature had dropped dramatically to a low of five degrees and it was quite a shock after Beijing’s hot an humid weather.

We had a 24-hours layover in Helsinki and we learned last minute that the airline wouldn’t provide accommodation, as it is often the case. We asked the tourist info booth at the airport for hostels but she said they were all booked. To add to our misery, the cheapest hotel in Helsinki was about 200 euro.

We decided to head to downtown Helsinki anyway and look for a place to stay. We ended up at the main train station, at another tourist info booth, where we learned that: 1) all places were definitely booked and the only hotel available was 19 kilometers away and 200 euro/ night, 2) that we couldn’t call it because in Finland, there are no more public phones. Seriously. Apparently, Nokia took over and 99% of the population has a cell phone. Fuck the travelers and the poor people.

So we started to walk around, hoping to find an hotel anyway. Feng finally found one nearby, way too expensive for our budget but we didn’t have the choice. Sleeping at the airport… been there, done that. We still had a long way to go. We checked in and spend the night freezing in “Hell”, as it said on our plane tickets. The hotel was nice and I enjoyed the sauna and the western breakfast, plus we both got a good night sleep which is priceless.

The following day, we got back to the airport to catch a 2pm flight to Ottawa. The plane was extremely small and cramped… on top of that, we scored the two seats by the plane’s door which meant that for the following nine hours the flight attendants kept on forgetting us when serving drinks and food, that we weren’t allowed to keep our carry-on with us because they could block the emergency exit and we couldn’t recline the seats for the same reason. Yes, I did hate the flight.

We arrived in Toronto at 4pm and our Greyhound bus to Ottawa was at 6:30pm. We rushed to take the airport shuttle and ended up walking to the bus station because it was already 6pm by the time we got to downtown Toronto. When we arrived at the station, the bus was ready to leave, so we had no time to go to use the bathroom or buy some food, both things I needed badly.

The Greyhound bus ride took almost six hours. We arrived in Ottawa at midnight on Tuesday… and it’s now almost 2am.

I have about ten millions of things to do, ranging from blog maintenance to reading things, from buying shampoo to unpack my bags and do the laundry. Fortunately, I will only start work again next week… and it’s up to me.

Hey, how about a good night sleep now?


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Hi Zhu,

    Yes, go to sleep…you certainly deserve it. Read this when you wake up… I can almost hear Feng snoring in the background because of fatigue. I just concluded posting a comment on your Tiananmen post when this latest post of yours popped up.

    I got tired and a little short of breath reading this post, and it reminded me about using the bathroom, that it triggered my bladders because of what you wrote about missing the chance in order to catch the bus – for a 6 hour trip. Ouch!

    Have a good rest. At least, you now have only 999,999 things to do eh? 🙂 –Durano, done!

    durano lawayans last great read…Demographic Deficiencies Down-Under

  2. But, that’s exactly how you like trips don’t you? I can’t figure you in a Pullman way of travelling.
    Welcome home and enjoy your well deserved rest.
    Thank you for sharing your journey all the way with us.

  3. Wow. That was a tight itinerary.

    You are right, airlines usually do not provide overnight accommodations to their passengers, unless it is their fault. By saying that, I mean that if for example you were supposed to connect but the previous flight got delayed and therefore you missed the last flight out, they will book you. Or if they changed the schedule of your itinerary which results in a long lay-over, then they will usually book you a hotel as well. Both cases happened to me on American Airlines, when my first flight had a mechanical problem, and on Qatar Airways, when they changed my itinerary which resulted in a 15-hour lay-over.

    It is risky to have a 2.5 hour connection between airplane to bus. I do not know how congested Toronto can be, but I usually allot 4 hours for that type of thing. I haven’t done a JFK-Greyhound connection in New York City, but I have done a air-to-air with different tickets (i.e., Swiss to JetBlue). The other airline doesn’t know I am coming from another airline, so I allot plenty of time to connect. Because if I don’t make it, it is not their fault.

    Otherwise, I am glad you are back in town. Time to rest for a while.

    Linguist-in-Waitings last great read…Lollipops

  4. i love travel stories. one day, i’d love to buy an airport concession for coffins. coffins to sleep in, for weary travellers. wouldn’t it be nice to close the lid and rest your eyes for a bit between flights, in your own space?
    i bet it’d get lots of free press, and be commercially successful. it wouldn’t be too expensive providing clean sheets. and if someone pees their bed, i’d sell the coffin via ebay: the dead wouldn’t mind, and i suspect a certain population would be pleased to bury their ‘loved’ ones in a pissy casket.
    welcome home.

    Seraphines last great read…Pain. Free.

  5. Oh help!! Stranded in Helsinki and freezing your butt off to boot! I am glad you had a great time in China though. 47 hours does make you a world class traveller!!! Good luck getting your mind back into Canada and out of Chinese time hehehe!! I hate jet lag, but travelling is so worth it.

    DianeCAs last great read…Summer in review

  6. Salut Zhu,
    I’m so glad that you made it back safely.
    I know,I know; the traveling part itself is a bitch; I’m not looking forward to going through the “circus” that is now airport security… but, that’s how it goes.
    The best part is getting to destination ! Although for you both, once you arrived,the bus trip was exhausting too .

    Keep in touch, and you rest up
    Grosses bises

    barbaras last great read…Time is flying !

  7. Wow!!! watta experience 😀 I am sure you would have written entire series on your journey back 😀

    But good to know you are back and safe and had a nice trip! I think that’s what gets counted here 😉

    And your trip to China will be good motivation to keep you going for some time 😉

  8. Wow, that was a long time. I feel bad for you! 🙁

    I loved your pictures from China. One day I may make it there… I’m still working on conquering Europe first!

  9. Gosh!!! You sure looked tired and no worries pal, catch up all your beauty sleep and rest well. Such is the case after travel what more with the time difference…never ending chores to do at home plus unpacking, laundry blah blah.

    Sorry about the stopover in Helsinki, I have a Finnish friend whom I met when I was there 2 years’ ago if I know you are going to be there for the night I could email her. She is really really nice Zhu.

    Anyway, great to be home ya and wanna thank you for all the updates in Beijing….WONDERFFUL 😀

  10. @durano lawayan – I keep on waking up way too early but I did sleep, and feel much better!

    @Froggywoogie – I know, I know… but I need to complain once in a while, I’m French, see.

    @Linguist-in-Waiting – We didn’t plan it that tight at first, it’s just that the last Greyhound for Ottawa was at 6:30. Worse case scenario (plane late a few hours etc.) we would have slept in Toronto… but given we had 2.5 hours to get to the station, we thought it was doable.

    @Art – Well, this one was tough!

    @Seraphine – I think I’d sleep in anything at the airport! MOst of time, the seats are so uncomfortable too, it’s like they don’t want us to sleep before a flight.

    @DianeCA – I’m not too sensitive to jet lag for some reason… Just need to catch up with some sleep.

    @sir jorge – Thank you!

    @barbara – Airport security is annoying… I never know how to pack and what to pack anymore. I mean, so many things are forbidden there but okay here!

    @Annie – Yes, it did motivate me. I still have plenty of energy and I’m glad I saw so much!

    @Jennie – I don’t even know Europe that well to be honest, so if you travel, I’d be the first one to enjoy your pictures!

    @shionge – The unpacking is pretty much done, and so is the laundry. But I still have so much today before I start work again on Monday!

    @Seraphine – Oh yeah, I was just zzzzzzzzzz….

  11. Layne | Crete Delights on

    Welcome back, Zhu!

    Sorry I havent dropped by for a while and am soooo jealous that you’ve been to Beijing for Olympics, who’s a lucky girl? As dearest Durano says, sleep sister, you’ll feel a lot less crappy when you’ve wound down and feel at home again.

    I’m now off to peruse your posts about China. Take care, girlfriend. 🙂

    Layne | Crete Delightss last great read…Crete’s Wildlife ~ Dice Snake Video

  12. I loved all your photos of China. I was there in … geez when was that… 2000 I think. Geez I feel so old. And I have to admit that your photos took me right back. (Please tell me that you took a bit of creative license with the photos as I do not recall Beijing being so red… then again, I am sure they repainted a lot of temples in preparation for the Olympics!!! so maybe those are straight out of the camera photos!).

    Regardless, it looks like you had a great trip. I am glad that you are back but eager for your next adventure, too!

    Jessicas last great read…Correction: Kaiserstuhl and Regensberg

  13. Good to know your home safe and sound and thanks for taking us with to the Olympics. Can’t believe you where there when the Norwegian javelin Mr. Thorkildsen did the Olympic record – I envy you of course.

    Sorry you had that much trouble in Finland – you should have gone through Norway instead as you then could stay for free:-) Regarding the price level, you’ve got my note. Besides: even poor people have mobile phones in Finland.

    Glad you got the chance to try the sauna 😉

    Hope you’ve had a good night sleep and will have a great end to your week.

    RennyBAs last great read…Bergen in Norway with Fish Market and Edvard Grieg

  14. @Layne | Crete Delights – Thanks for dropping back! I’m cathing up with my feed (and my laundry :lol:) and will resume visiting soon as well. But first, more sleep needed!

    @Jessica – I guess the temples were painted again because I didn’t tweak the pictures. Everything was new and shiny, I was in China in 99, 2000, 2001 and 2003 and it didn’t look that red either!

    @Eric “Speedcat Hollydale” – Nah, I’m just complaining cause I’m French 😆

    @Aiglee – Thank you!

    @RennyBA – Well, I don’t regret going to Finland and it was interesting, but strangely challenging, more than Beijing anyway! Next time I’ll fly a Norwegian airline instead of Finnair 😉

  15. Hey Zhu!!

    Welcome back!!!!!! *hug*
    What a trip, girl!! It gave me the chills lol *nodding*…
    No public phones in Finland? Ok, talking about being anti-people-who-don’t-own-a-cellphone and tourists!!

    But I am glad you are back :D!


    Max Coutinhos last great read…Who are we?

  16. Salut Zhu!

    I am so glad you are back: welcome back!!!! 😀

    Oy, you had the trip of hell, girl! No public phones in Finland? Outrageous…

    But all that matters is that you are back, safe and sound :D!


    Max Coutinhos last great read…Who are we?

  17. What a journey! I hope you have recovered and caught up with everything by now. I hate that feeling where you get back from a trip and there’s so much to do and suddenly you feel like you need another holiday 🙂

    Seraphine’s coffin idea made me think about a new hotel chain in London. It’s inspired by Japanese capsule hotels, apparently, and they have one at Heathrow and Gatwick, inside the airport. A bit bigger than a coffin, but quite similar in many ways from the sound of it!

    Lizs last great read…Arts around the world

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