torstai 30. maaliskuuta 2017

Restless Mind

Recently I have been thinking a lot about why I regularly feel the need to get out of my bubble and travel somewhere. My life is somewhat what I imagined and hoped it to be when I grow up (haha, still don´t feel like an adult though) - my own home, car, a good job (even better than I ever imagined I could achieve in my hometown!), money to buy nice things. I didn´t think I would live alone in my thirties, but besides that I consider my life quite good and pleasant. So why do I constantly feel so restless?

Link

Well, probably since I´ve achieved most of the things I wanted to, I find myself pondering whether life still has something better to offer. I´m single and free to do and go wherever, and that of course means that I have millions of options. I´m happy about my freedom, but at the same time I feel very confused. That is why from time to time I just need to take a break from my everyday life.

I know people who have never traveled outside Finland. I know people who have traveled once. I know people who would want to see the world but cannot (=in many cases, don´t want to) leave their spouses &/ children alone at home. Some of them are even a bit afraid to travel. I´m not saying everyone should get up and catch a plane if they don´t want to, but I can tell you this: spending few days far away from home, preferably in a totally another country, offers many new experiences and new perspective on your own life.

I have departed from Helsinki airport countless times, and many of the times I remember feeling sad or irritated about something in my daily life. I don´t know what exactly happens while exploring the world, but I don´t remember feeling anything but relaxed, yet usually tired, on my way back home. Maybe it is the feeling I get in another country: when far away, there is absolutely nothing I can do to my daily worries at home, so I leave them there and spend my time exploring other cultures and enjoying my time wherever I am. When heading back home, any negative thoughts before the trip usually feel stupid and pointless. Normally I am happy to get home and have a date with my bed. Well, at least until various concerns start to feel unbearable again - then I know it is time to book the next flights. :D

Maybe someday I will find my place from which I don´t feel the urge to escape every now and then.

Link


torstai 23. maaliskuuta 2017

Prague

Prague. The capital of the Czech Republic. Many travellers´ favourite city destination in Europe.

I visited Prague in summer 2015. My first impression was that it has some resemblance to Tallinn. I guess East European architecture did that. The airport was quite far from centre, but in my opinion the public transportation was quite functional.

Prague castle and the view from the hill was beautiful. It´s a shame that the weather was quite grey. Lots of red roofs!


The most interesting place for me was John Lennon Wall. It is a continuously changing Beatles-themed art exhibition, because basically anyone can leave a mark there. Street musician playing Beatles´ songs made the experience even more authentic.

John Lennon Wall

Prague is a great city for a long weekend getaway. Lots of beautiful buildings, historical monuments, lovely restaurants and cafés. The food is cheaper than in Northern Europe and very delicious. I could really walk anywhere I wanted to go, but as I already mentioned, trams and buses were easy to use as well.

Shopping was probably the most expensive activity during my stay. The prices were lower than in Finland, so I had minor problems packing my stuff before heading back home :D In case you want to get rid of your money, I recommend Palladium shopping center. I didn´t have time to explore other shopping malls, but I bet Palladium is a good option for both irrational and more selective shopping.




Czech architecture.

At least Finnair, Norwegian and Czech Airlines offer direct flights from Helsinki to Prague. Flight time is aroud 2 hours which is not bad at all.

If I´m being totally honest, I cannot say Prague stole my heart. It is indeed a beautiful city, but I didn´t get "the feeling" I get when I find a place I instantly fall for. But if someone suggests a shopping spree accompanied with good food and lazy strolls in Prague, I´m so in!

maanantai 20. maaliskuuta 2017

Riding in Crete

I spent a relaxing week in Platanias, Crete last summer. One of the most memorable experience was a horse riding trip.

Since it was midsummer time with high daytime temperatures, the trip had to be scheduled either in the morning or later in the evening. I chose the morning since I tend to be an early bird. So it was around 6:30 a.m. when a cheerful lady called Kristi stopped her jeep in front of my hotel and I hopped in. She had already picked up two other riders and we drove to her ranch. While driving, Kristi told about her history with horses and I found it very inspiring.

The ranch is located in Georgioupolis in western Crete. It is a very peaceful place and the horses seemed very happy.

So beautiful surroundings!

After adjusting the helmets and getting on the saddles, our guide escorted us to the track. Since I´m not (yet) in a stage of crazy galloping in the beach, this trip consisted only walking and our guide was walking ahead of us. We saw such a beautiful countryside of Crete and it surely was even more spectacular in the back of a horse. On our way we saw forest, bamboo jungle, beach, lovely farmhouses and I could easily sense the peaceful living in the countryside.




The horses were well trained and they were used to other animals and speeding cars. Our guide had a dog with her and it was happy to jog among us. Our tour lasted for few hours and it was the longest time I have spent on the saddle. I could definitely feel that in my legs... nevertheless, this was an experience I hope to repeat some day. I can warmly recommend Zoraida´s. The kind of walking tour (Discovery round trip) I took doesn´t need any experience in riding, so you don´t have to be a pro to attend!

I just love exploring life from this perspective!



perjantai 17. maaliskuuta 2017

Money Money Money

Apart from business trips, traveling isn´t the cheapest way to spend your leisure time. Well, at least compared to a holiday spent at home watching Netflix... Life is full of choices and if exploring the world makes you happy, then you should go for it. Unfortunately if you are not particularly wealthy with lots of free time, saving money for traveling is essential. My tips for saving are not that unique, but I have found them quite functional. They are tips which suit for my life, which consists of me, myself and I. So no children or boyfriend with combined living costs to think about.

Travelhack

Indispensable living costs. With them I mean monthly rent (in my case mortgage), maintenance charges of my apartment, electricity, water, incurances, gas for my car, food, housekeeping facilities etc. I make sure they all are the best for me and also that they cost as little as possible. For example, by comparing insurance companies on a regular basis I have saved hundreds of euros per year! It is up to me how much I use my car, so sometimes I use my bike to get to grocery store. Quality of food is something I usually don´t want to bargain for, but if I want to save some extra euros I may skip restaurant lunches at work and eat bag lunches.

No impulse shopping. After paying the bills, my current income fortunately allows me to do some feel-good shopping as well. Sometimes I certainly am capable of spending money for clothes and accessories, but I still do that in a controlled matter. If I know I have to save money for a trip, I will not buy anything I really don´t need. If I know I will be traveling to a place with huge shopping malls, I simply save my shopping cravings till there.

Several bank accounts. I have actually three accounts. One is for daily use and to other accounts I transfer my savings on a monthly basis. In addition, I have acquired a small fund unit to which I transfer 50 euros per month. So far it has been profitable, but the aim is to keep it as a long-term investment so I don´t plan to use that for traveling.

Goals. If I want to save money in a certain time, I simply make a goal and act accordingly. If I want to save 600 euros in six months, I know I need to spend 100 euros less per month. If I want to save the same amount in two months, it will require more effort. So far I have been able to stick to all my saving plans without enjoying life. The key is to be reasonable and set realistic goals.

I think the most crucial thing to save money is to be truly honest to yourself. Do I need to buy several designer clothes for myself/son/dog/niece? Do I need to get my nails done or could I do that myself? Could I use cheaper cosmetics instead of Dior? Do I need to get a new dress for every party I go to? If you live from paycheck to paycheck without anything left to save and are not willing to downgrade any of your not-so-necessary expenses, that is your choice. I have heard comments like "it´s useless to save 50 euros per month" or "100 euros buys basically nothing". I don´t think 600 or 1200 euros are that useless after a year... it´s only a matter of persistance and further outlook.

keskiviikko 15. maaliskuuta 2017

Sun and Piña Colada

Long time no see. Well, that´s life.

I had a break from work in February and travelled to Tenerife. I stayed in Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora, which is a true luxury resort. I had never booked an all inclusive package tour in a five star hotel ( four and a half actually, according to TripAdvisor ) before. After my first experience I would definitely do that again when the main intention is to spend a carefree holiday just enjoying the sun and lazy mornings.

My holiday consisted mainly swimming, sun bathing, reading, sleeping, eating, jogging and exploring Tenerife. Did I mention eating? ;) One of the best activities was a trip to Teide. I have been in the area once before, but this time I took a cable car almost to the top. The view was simply amazing. While temperature at the resort was around +25, in Teide it was around 0. Quite a gap, don´t you think?


On my way I stopped the car (from which the picture above is taken as well). The silence was indescribable. I could have stayed there for hours just clearing my head from all my thoughts, enjoying the silence and brisk air. That kind of calmness I want to experience again - soon please!

Highway back to the pool.

Renting a car is a great way to discover Tenerife. Besides Teide, I visited Playa de las Americas (not for long - didn´t enjoy the hustle and bustle there), Puerto de la Cruz and Los Gigantes. I have been to Puerto de la Cruz around 15 years ago, and boy did it feel small this time! It was nice to visit there though - I liked the urban atmosphere after spending days in the resort.

Not that I didn´t enjoy the resort - who can say no to this kind of sunset view???


I could easily have stayed there for another week, maybe even more. I already miss morning walks by the sea, delicious breakfast and swimming in the most enormous sea water pool I have ever seen. Maybe someday I will go back.

Ps. A strong recommendation for a restaurant nearby the resort: Sauco. I have to say their food was even better than in the hotel, so I had at least three lunches/dinners there during the week...

torstai 26. tammikuuta 2017

Back again

Well hello jet lag.

I came home yesterday around 6 p.m. Time difference between Finland and our business destination, South Korea, is 7 hours and we started our homeward journey around 1 a.m. It was a long way - 15 hours of traveling! Luckily I was able to stay up until 10 p.m., so I managed to get a good 8 hours of sleep before heading back to the office. Apparently it didn´t go that well with my colleagues since I haven´t seen them today...

We managed to arrange our meetings so that we experienced the coldest two days South Korea can offer in winter. It was around -15 and windy... as one could imagine, the heating is not that efficient in a country with temperate climate and I was freezing basically throughout the trip. The hotel staff had a habit of turning off the air-condition after their daily clean-up, so the temperature in our rooms was around 15 degrees when we returned from meetings in the evening. Nice - NOT. Fortunately there was enough warm water in the shower, so I could feel my toes every once in a while :)

As we were very busy with work, I really didn´t have time to explore any attractions. However, I find Korean people very welcoming and polite. The traffic was as usual in Asian countries - hectic, but luckily we didn´t see any bad accidents. They do prefer their own car brands like Kia and Hyundai, and I even had a chance to get a ride in a modern Hyundai limousine. There is a first time for everything, right?

I have to say that sea food is not my favourite, so I don´t have particular appeal to East Asian kitchen. They do have nice restaurants with good beef as well, but of course we were mainly introduced to many traditional dishes. This time I was delighted to note that I could eat with chopsticks though! In Korea they use metallic ones, which are a bit more slippery than wooden sticks.

Korean dishes

perjantai 20. tammikuuta 2017

Packing for business

I will soon fly to East Asia for business and I thought I could share a peek of what I usually pack for a quick 4-day trip.

First, I always check the weather in destination. In this case, state of the weather seems to be quite similar to Finland, so I will definitely take my winter clothes with me. You never know how -5 centigrade feels in another continent before you can actually experience it. For example, even -1 feels much more freezing somewhere near Siberia than it does in Western Finland.

In my hand-luggage, which normally is a bigger handbag, I carry all the things I definitely don´t want to lose in any situation:

- passport
- smartphone & charger
- wallet with all necessary cards, possibly cash
- flight ticket (which I actually carry in my smartphone these days, thanks to several airlines´ applications)
- laptop & charger for work
- possible paper documents regarding business meetings + pen and notebook
- business cards
- wireless headphones for Spotify
- necessary medicines
- a good book or magazines
- (toothbrush if traveling long distances in economy class)

My male colleagues have often mentioned that I´m not a typical woman because I tend to travel light. For a short trip of less than a week, I can easily deal with a small suitcase which could easily be counted as carry-on luggage. Nevertheless, I will have it delivered into cargo space and take my handbag with me to the cabin.

For the following trip, my suitcase will include at least:

- socks & underwear
- blazer and few t-shirts
- trousers
- casual clothes for possible leisure time
- skin care and make-up
- tooth brush
- travel sized shampoo, conditioner and shower gel
- hair brush & spray
- alternative shoes
- pyjamas
- gym clothes

www.fodors.com


In addition to normal address label attached somewhere on top of my suitcase, I add the same information inside the bag as well. The luggage is certainly not handled with care, so in case of a loss and damaged address label I believe it is practical to have your contact details also inside the bag. Especially when traveling in more exotic countries, I tend to carry paper copies of my passport both in my cabin bag and suitcase. Just in case of losing the passport...

Lastly, I must admit I absolutely hate packing! This is why I always pack about an hour before leaving the house. The more I travel the faster I pack. I hope the same would apply for unpacking...

Anyways, have a nice weekend!