Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Undiscovered Countries...

Finland
I'm cheating here a bit: this is not wilderness but a national park, about an hour from where I live...

When BonnieKaeleneSammy and Van invited bloggers to write about their travel bucket lists for this week's Travel Tuesday link-up, I was at a loss. I don't have a travel bucket list, I thought. There's no place I really want to visit (except the ones I keep going back to). My husband and I travel all the time, both together and separately, but the truth is, I have no wanderlust to explore new destinations...

And then it hit me: I do have a travel bucket list. There are two countries my husband and I always say we would like to explore a bit more, one day:

Finland

Confession time: I live in Helsinki (or rather, that is where Homebase 1 is located...), but I have hardly ever ventured outside the capital area since I moved there (a very long time ago). Thus, there are dozens of places in Finland I've never been to: the archipelago, Lapland, the eastern border region... and lots of things I haven't done (hiking in the wilderness, swimming in a lake, seen reindeer or the northern lights..). 

I wasn't born in Helsinki, though. I spent my childhood in various places around the country, and I have fond memories of living by a lake as a little girl. I remember picking blueberries in the forest with my mother, wearing wellies and a raincoat, or taking the boat and going fishing... That's all just part of a normal childhood for any Finn: spending endless summer days at the family summer cottage in the middle of nowhere (and I hated it; I was always a Big City Girl at heart...).

While I have successfully avoided the Finnish countryside most of my adult life, Professor M and I have of course visited family members in other parts of the country (besides the capital), and sampled a few smaller towns nearby on day trips... But we've never ventured very far north, or east. Every now and then Professor M suggests we should go to Lapland, and my standard (cliched city-girl) answer is 'what are two snobbish city-dwellers supposed to do there?' It is a valid question: Lapland is a great holiday destination for people who like outdoor activities (hiking, swimming, skiing...), getting off the beaten path and exploring the wilderness. But I don't think it has a lot to offer to someone who thinks having to go to the neighbour town to get to the airport is a drag (that would be me)... And a winter holiday is of course out of the question (as I made a promise to myself when I left school that I would never ever have to go skiing again because I hated the cold and the snow so much), and there are too many mosquitos in summer (or so I've been told). 
On the other hand, maybe we should go, just once, so that he gets to see what a real forest looks like... (I've learned that the Central-European idea of  what constitutes 'a forest' is very different from the Nordic one). 

Germany

While I spent my childhood summers in lakeside cottages (and still somehow failed to learn to swim...) and running around forests, Professor M used to to go hiking in the Alps...
And every year he suggests we should go and see all those places he saw as a child... Or just tour his native country a bit.
Of course, I have visited my husband's native country on several occasions. I've seen the house where he grew up, met his relatives, and... well, that's about it. Whenever we go to Germany together, we seem to have a lot of things to do and people to see, but no time to see anything. We did go to Berlin once, for a weekend trip, though...

So, while we spend quite a lot of time in Britain (in Homebase 2 or having fun shopping or playing tourists in London), keep going back to Barcelona, and occasionally find ourselves in odd places around the world, it seems we have neglected the places closer to home.
Maybe we should explore our respective native lands a bit more, one day...

Tiina

Linking up with BonnieKaeleneSammy and Van for

Travel Tuesday

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10 comments

  1. I agree! You always want to travel far away but hardly ever realize the beauty that surrounds you. I've always wanted to move away from Germany though it's definitely a very diverse country and there are so many places that are absolutely great, not just the usual destinations Berlin and Bavaria! People hardly ever travel to Northern Germany as apparently they want to experience the "real" Germany with Lederhosen, Beer and Oktoberfest which of course isn't as typical German as they always think :D Where does your husband come from? If you haven't already, explore Hamburg and also the Ruhrgebiet in the west some day :)

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    1. My husband comes from Dortmund, so I've only seen that area, and Berlin.

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  2. It's a good thing to remember that right in our own backyards there is a lot to explore! I am moving to Prague soon and hope to explore a lot of Germany as well--and Finland if I can make it there!

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    1. Well, you'll have all of Europe pretty much on your doorstep, then, within an hour or two away by plane. And Finland is less far away than you may think... It is less than 3 hours from London (that's the flight I take all the time...) after all...

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  3. I am excited to explore Germany next year- I hear it is gorgeous, especially the Christmas Markets, which sell all sorts of food and trinkets :)

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    1. I've seen very little of Germany, but I've seen a few Christmas Markets, quite nice but very crowded.

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  4. I went to Lapland in Sweden and I reckon I am a half outdoorsy sort of person, but I swear to god I wanted to die when I was cross country skiing - hardest thing ever! Haha. I haven't made it to Finland or Germany yet. I'm not sure if I will make it to Finland, but I am going to Germany next year!

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    1. I know what you mean... I had to do cross country skiing at school. I know how to do it, but haven't done it since. I just prefer to stay indoors and out of the cold, don't like winter...

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  5. Ahh, I am visiting Helsinki/Finland for the first time in the middle of August, I'm looking forward to it but don't know what to expect. Would you be so kind as to recommend me one un-missable attraction/cafe in Helsinki? I am only passing through for half a day on the way to a friend's home, and travelling alone, if that is relevant :-)

    -Eimear {www.CuteTravels.com}

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    1. First of all, it takes about 45-60 minutes from the airport to Helsinki (bus number 615/ €5). If you only have a few hours, you might just want to take a walk in the city centre, maybe stop by a shopping centre (Marimekko shop + café, Moomin shop, the posh Kämp restaurant…http://www.galleriaesplanad.fi/en/) Or you could go see the Tove Jansson (the creator of the Moomin characters) exhibition at Ateneum (http://www.ateneum.fi/en/tove-jansson ). If you have a bit more time, there is a fortress island called Suomenlinna (http://www.suomenlinna.fi/en/ ). I assume you’re arriving by plane. The airport is actually not in Helsinki but in the neighbor town (Vantaa), and there is a science park (http://www.heureka.fi/en ) just 30 minutes’ bus ride away (take bus number 61 from the airport to Tikkurila. Also, if you plan to continue your trip by train, most north or eastbound trains stop in Tikkurila…).

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