As usual I’ve made my plan with the help of one of my favourite websites: The Man in Seat 61 (http://www.seat61.com/).
He suggests several routes from the UK to Finland. I did flirt with the idea of travelling most of the way by ferry (from Travemunde or Rostock) before remembering that I’m not very fond of sea travel, even in a relatively sheltered sea like the Baltic. I even considered using one of the routes to get there and another coming back, but in the end that was one complication too far and I settled for the option that should in theory have got me there in 48 hours but which because I’ve had to schedule in 2 overnight stops will take 3 days on the way and 2 on the way back.
The first step for me of course is usually to get to London, a trip which I booked via the Trainline website (http://www.thetrainline.com/) because I find it simpler to use than any of the other UK rail websites. I didn’t actually book this stage first as I had to book on Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) before knowing what time that train would leave and working out my connection in London. I booked through to Cologne on the Eurostar website. In theory I might have been able to book through from Edinburgh to Cologne, but I’ve found from past experience that this doesn’t allow for different requirements on the different trains, and occasionally the site makes weird decisions about connecting times.
Cologne was the point where the 48 hour plan went wrong, in the sense that I couldn’t get a berth on the overnight sleeper from there to Copenhagen, which in turn meant I couldn’t get to Stockholm in time for the following night’s ferry to Finland. Still, there are advantages in the way things have worked out. I get to spend a night in Cologne, for a start, and also to travel from there to Copenhagen during the day, a journey which apparently includes a section where the train drives on to a ferry – there are various videos online about it including this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iMdjnQ2IUg
(I’m not yet sure if I will be adding to the total video footage devoted to this when I get back!)
So after my night in Cologne and a very early start in the morning from a hotel very close to, if not actually inside the station, I travel from there to Copenhagen (booking via Deutsche Bahn – www.bahn.com) by mid-afternoon, then change trains rather more quickly than I would have liked to go on to Stockholm (booking via Swedish Railways – http://www.sj.se/). This is where my preliminary viewing of ‘The Bridge’ comes in, although I’m not sure I’ve really picked up enough Danish and Swedish from it to get by!
I am due to spend the night in Stockholm and travel on to Turku (Finland) in the morning by Viking Line ferries. There is a final train journey from Turku to Helsinki (booked via Finnish Railways – http://www.vr.fi/en/).