Impressions of our tourists from Finland about the tour to Baikonur with launch of Soyuz TMA 19 December 2012

Risto Vuorenrinne

Hi Irene,
The weather in Baikonur was quite chilly – between 15-25 minus and windy. Anyhow, we are used to this kind of weather, only I and Ari needed to buy fur hats to fight the cold!
For the next group, you should be aware, that Kazakhstan officials have a passport control at the Krainy airport since beginning of December. There was quite much hassle since we didn’t have Kazak visas, but the local guides took care of the matter. Probably we were first foreign tourists they ever handled which added the complexity…
Our local guide Aray was nice, punctual and helpful. Her English is sufficient, some more practice would do good for her, but I suppose there are not too many English speaking visitors.
Hotel Centralnaya (can’t spell it correctly) where we stayed was ok. Of course not up to international standards, but clean and warm and the food was good. We noticed that the Reuters reporters stayed also there and some of the staff of the rescue officials.
As for the program, we were quite disappointed to find out that we were not allowed to see the rocket before the launch. We expected to see it transported to the launch site and erected, but our guide showed us the Roscosmos permission where these items were taken out of the program.
Anyhow the launch itself was as amazing as we hoped and we could visit the launch site afterwards. Here’s a link to short video, our New Years Greetings:

Have nice new year,
Risto Vuorenrinne
Senior Asset Manager
VALAD Europe