Travel Rant: The Moments After Travel

Returning home is always as terrible and as exciting. After being away for a week or two your own country seems so different than before leaving. Safe and sound. You know all the streets and understand what people are saying. You know how to act, how to fit in. It is easy and for the first few days that makes going back home so amazing. After surviving somewhere else being back at home is like relaxation that holiday should have given for you.

However after those few days coming home excitement disappears. You are back at home. Nothing has changed. Everything is exactly same as before you left. So many things have changed inside of you but no one seems to realize. Your family keeps doing normal stuff, friends keep asking photos from your trip and neighbors probably didn’t even know that you were away. In the end you are left standing there feeling odd. It is like this city, this country, these same old circles aren’t enough anymore. You need something different.

You need new streets, new cities, new places to explore. You want to taste foods you have never seen before and that will probably make you regret later even looking towards them. You grave for new interesting people who can teach you so much about cultures and countries you have only read from school textbooks. You need adventure. In your heart is traveler who just wants to see as much as possible because our time in this planet is limited.

Watching all the photos you have taken and going back to all the new memories you have collected, just makes everything worse. “I would still be there…” If you just hadn’t taken the flight back. If you just had decided to escape your life. If miracle had happened and you would do whatever you want with your life. But then again, if you didn’t return back to home every now and then would this traveling thing feel as good? Would every new experience be as exciting as right now if you knew that you could have them endlessly whenever you want? Who knows…

Right now all we can do is to try to survive this after travel blues. Enjoy the few days back at home and then start planning new trip for another adventure. Because we are travelers and that’s what we do. Endless cycle of planning trips, traveling to new places and coming back.

 

Travel Rants are my series of random travel related thoughts and opinions. It is non-edited thoughts straight from my brain and heart. I just returned from my Bremen London trip so it was good timing to bring this post series back. Like always all comments are welcome! Have you ever felt like this? Or how do you cope with after travel blues?

I hope you are having amazing day!
With love,

Viivi Severina

Travel Plan: Bremen, London, Brighton & Rome

I may have made new travel plan that will make some people roll their eyes (sorry, mom and dad…). It is not bad plan but it includes a lot of traveling around and picking up the cheapest option. Also I would have had university entrance exams just now if I hadn’t decided to skip them.

Because this is travel blog but I have never really written anything about my trips before going I decided to start new blogging series: Travel Plans. Nothing extraordinary… Just me telling you about my plan beforehand and maybe asking some tips if anyone has visited the destinations I am going to.

Where did this plan start?

I knew that I want to travel either in May or June but about a week ago I hadn’t done any plans yet. Then I got promotional email from Ryanair saying that flight from Tampere (near the place where I live currently) to Bremen would be only 30€. How could I not buy that flight ticket? After that I had a small problem aka flights back to Finland were too expensive.

I was thinking and thinking until I found out that flights to London from Bremen were only 10€. Of course I had to go there then! But I just visited London and even if I love that city, I really wanted to experience something new. Buying train ticket to Brighton felt almost like a natural thing to do. I have wanted to visit that city for the longest time. I am not even sure why but it just seems like a place I would love.

After booking hostels to my destinations and travel tickets, I still had one big problem… No plan how could I come back to Finland. I am not going to lie. Never coming back may have crossed in my mind. However, I have university entrance exam at the end of May and my sister’s graduation party at June. There is no way I would skip those so I had to come up with non-expensive way of travel from UK to Finland. That’s not easy.

I had to do some planning, desperate searching and counting my budget for too many times before I finally found flight from London to Riga and from there to Helsinki. Not the most easiest one but cheap and the timing was perfect.

This plan was now ready but it doesn’t mean that I didn’t plan more travels during the current week. We have had been speaking about trip to Rome with my mom. After traveling a lot during the last two years I have finally collected enough Finnair points to get free lights to anywhere in Europe. Surprisingly there was also deal to get free lights using lesser points than usually. So, Rome here we come in August!

What to do in Bremen & Brighton?

I really don’t have idea what to do in Bremen but I have some ideas for Brighton. But I would like some tips if anyone knows something about these cities. If I have understood correctly Bremen is quite artsy city with not so many things to do except walking around the city. And then there is of course a few museums I want to visit. After watching some photos it looks similar to Poland’s Gdansk I visited earlier this year.

Then there is Brighton, one of my dream destinations. I have wanted to visit here for the longest time. Mostly because of the huge pier they have. But also because Brighton just seems like a city I would fit in and totally fall in love. It seems like city full of cute shops, cafes, street art and atmosphere. Oh, there is also the world’s oldest aquarium! 

I have also been searching some cool walking tours and events in both cities. For Brighton I have found maybe too many options (oh, my poor wallet…) but for Bremen no luck yet. Any recommendations?

 

Sorry for the odd post but today is Eurovision day so I didn’t have a lot of time to write! Like always all comments are welcome. Does anyone have any recommendations for Brighton, Bremen, London or maybe Rome? (Also thoughts about Eurovision are more than welcome. Anyone as big Eurovision freak as me?)

With love,

Viivi Severina

5 Ways To Travel Cheaper

If you are reading my blog, there is high possibility that you want to travel and you would prefer traveling cheap (or maybe you are just member of my family who is reading my blog out of obligation). To the tell the truth I haven’t traveled that much. Of course the last two years I have been traveling more than most people but I still see myself as new member of this traveling and blogging scene.

Even then I have already learned a lot of ways to travel cheaper and had so many online conversations of how to travel cheap that I feel like this post was excepted some time soon. This is one of my favorite subjects to talk about. It mixes up two of my favorite things. Traveling and budgeting. I hope these few basic tips will help you!

 

5. Subscribe For Newsletters

travel_planning
Photos from Unsplash

Everyone is always complaining because I have about 2 000 unopened emails on my mailbox. How did that happen? Well, for me one of the ways to travel cheap is to find good deals from newsletters I get from different companies. I am subscribed to about twenty different newsletters from booking websites, airlines, cruises and hotel chains. I get a few messages from different companies every day but because the title usually tells if this mail will have something good I don’t even open most of them.

This is good way to travel cheap BUT your email will be big mess and you will have hard time to find anything. What we wouldn’t do to travel cheap? Good thing in this tip is that usually trough subscription emails you will get deals that you wouldn’t usually get and you will know about them before anyone else. Usually when you buy tickets anywhere they give you the option for subscripting for their own travel newsletter. Just click yes and give them your email. That’s what I do. (And maybe consider getting extra email just for easy way to get cheap travel deals.

 

4. Free Memberships & Collecting Points

airplane

If you have ever googled cheap ways to travel, you have probably heard about travel hacking and collecting points to get free flights. Yeah that’s great and I recommend it for everyone but it is also slow. Even if you don’t plan doing travel hacking to travel cheap, being member of airline is good idea. Firstly, you will be part of their email subscription list at the same time and get all the benefits mentioned above. However there is even more benefits being real member.

With the points you have collected you can also purchase cheaper flights, hotel rooms or holiday packages if you are not patient enough to wait until you have enough points for free flights. Best thing is that these memberships are free so you can just join to every possible club you find.

 

3. Coupons & Promotion Codes

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First time I truly used this method was for our family trip to Disneyland and Paris. Using coupons saved us a lot of travel money because there was a four of use. However even for solo travelers this is the way to travel cheap and save up some money. Every cent counts, right? Basically, almost all booking sites, hotels, airlines, etc. use promotion codes, discount codes and coupons. Usually you can take advantage of these sales adding short code when it is asked during your booking/checkout.

These codes are often shared on companies’ social media pages or newsletters but if you are not following all of them there is easier way for you to get the sweet deal. Just google company’s name coupon code and you will find different sites listing all kind of codes for specific sites. Then starts the fishing. Sometimes you have to try ten different codes before you can find the working one. However if you want to travel cheap and save travel money it will be worth it.

As additional tip, you can use this method for everything. For example tours booked trough internet and hop-on-hop-off bus companies usually have discount codes that are easily found by googling and can safe you a great amount of travel money.

 

2. Pick Out The Cheapest Travel Destination

money

I am of course all for achieving dreams from your bucket list but if you are broke that is not always possible. I use Skyscanner to this but there is a lot of sites like. Basically you can put to search your departure airport and as destination ‘anywhere’. Then you get list of all the places where you can fly and what are the cheapest options for you. Just decide some of the cheapest destinations (but also think about what you want to see/experience).

In addition if you are not chained to specific days use the option that let’s you see the cheapest travel prices for whole month/year. The just pick out the cheapest day to travel and the cheapest day to return and also the cheapest destination to go. For me this has been the way to travel cheap. For example next Monday I am flying to Bremen (it was the cheapest destination from Finland/40€) and from Bremen to London (it was the cheapest destination to travel from Bremen/15€).

 

1. Be Creative

ways to travel cheaper

Last but also the most important tip I can give for fellow broke travelers is being creative. No, this doesn’t mean making paintings and selling them for your to kind relatives (even if this is a good idea!). Creative way of finding cheap ways to travel means for me looking for options that are outside of the box. Taking plane, booking hotel and just going with it isn’t always the best option. I have talked about this before but I don’t think I can never mention it enough.

So, example? I live in Finland and if you are from here or have ever planned trip to Finland, you know how expensive it can be to fly anywhere. My go to plan? Take cheap cruise to Sweden and fly from there. I have saved a lot of travel money with this. Look for airports that are accessible by bus, ship or train for you. Are the flights from there cheaper? Is the sum of traveling to airport and then to your destination cheaper? Congratulations, you just saved money and found way to travel cheaper.

There is also other ways to be creative. Try bus travel and you may find surprisingly cheap deals anywhere (especially in Europe). Did you know that bus from London to Amsterdam costs only 20€? And from Amsterdam to Lyon 30€? If you are more adventurous try free accommodation like couchsurfing or free traveling by hitchhiking. There is endless amount of possibilities to travel cheap. You just have to find them.

 

Do you have any tips for cheap travel? Feel free to share them or any comments you have below!
With love,

Viivi Severina

14 Free Things To Do in Kyoto, Japan

For broke traveler like me Kyoto is heaven. However to find the free and cheap things under all the expensive ones can be tiresome. To safe you from this task here is my free tips to Kyoto. This free things to do in Kyoto, Japan list includes some of my favorite destinations in Japan and maybe in whole world. I even left some out of this list because I would talk endlessly about Kyoto. Still after almost two years I keep naming this city as my favorite travel destination.

(I will add some photos to this post later today or tomorrow… Sorry!)

14. Heian Shrine

White sand, bright red buildings and tourists with cameras. There is 600 yen admission fee to get in the garden but at least for me the free front area was enough. And you should not forget to walk a little farther away from the shrine to see the huge Torii gate and beautiful red bridge next to it. If you want to take photos without other tourists interrupting you, go just after the opening in 6 am. Because I am not morning person I almost visited this shrine too late. It closes already at 5 pm.

 

13. Kiyomizudera Temple

kiyomizu

The temple itself isn’t free but the area around it is enough to keep you occupied for a while. There is souvenir shops, free food samples, smaller temples, pagodas, old buildings and a lot of people. It’s easy to get lost here but you will definitely found something interesting on every alley. I recommend this for those wanting to free samples of local sweets because you can find those from almost all of the souvenir shops. Also if you are kpop, kdrama or Korean beauty product fan, there is interesting shops for you.

 

12. Nishiki Market

Maybe not place to do shopping if you are short of money but still forth of visiting. Nishiki market is street full of fish, sweet and food sellers. Some even have free samples. Opening hours depend on store but I recommend visiting either on morning between 9am to 11am or on afternoon between 2pm and 4pm. Most of the stores are open at that time and they have a lot of free samples. But if you are on budget and trying to find sales go just before closing time at 6pm.

 

11. Gion

gion

Have you ever dreamed of seeing Keishas and Maikos? At Gion it may be possible! It may be hard to spot them and requires some getting lost in smaller streets of Gion. However even lazier traveler may be able to see normal Japanese girls and boys wearing their kimonos. Just don’t be rude and ask before taking photo.

This is place to take pretty selfies and admire the architecture. If you are hungry -and out of money like me- just visit the shops on Shijo dori (from Kamo river to Yasaka shrine). There you can find free samples to try.

 

10. Philosopher’s Path

Beautiful walk starts from Ginkakuji and runs two kilometers along the river until Nanzenji neighborhood. Philosopher’s Path belongs to my free things to do in Kyoto list because it is one of the most beautiful places in Kyoto around the year. However I have two recommendations: spring and autumn… I visited during colorful fall and it was perfect. The trees surrounding this path are cherry trees so during spring and hanami this is perfect cherry blossom viewing spot.

This walk got its name because it is told that one of Japan’s most famous philosophers used to meditate and walk this path. Don’t settle for only walking! There is many pretty shops, cafes and restaurants that you can visit. Also many small temples and shrines welcome visitors.

 

9. Umekoji Park

Around Kyoto aquarium and Railway museum is located Umekoji park. Even if you don’t have money to those two attractions is just enjoying the park nice experience. When I visited there many locals were playing football and walking their dogs. Stop by to buy hot drink from vending machine and took small break from your day. This may not be the most interesting free attraction in Kyoto but good spot to relax for a while. Also the neighborhood around this park is beautiful. There is many small ponds and idyllic forest.

 

8. Nishi Honganji & Higashi Honganji

Honganji temple kyoto

Two huge (and free) temples in the center Kyoto. If you want to take look to older Japan and Buddhism, I recommend to visit these two. At some parts it’s prohibited to wear shoes so prepare pair that is easy to take off an put on. I didn’t want to include too many temples and shrines on this free things to do in Kyoto list but Nishi Honganji and Higashi Honganji are close to everything and easy to access. Also if I should recommend places for day trip in Kyoto, these two would be on my list.

 

7. Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto Imperial Palace is free to visit and offers wide look to Japanese history. There is free English tours but you have to reserve place for one beforehand. A few years ago Imperial Palace was only accessed by guided tours that were hard to book but fortunately nowadays anyone can access the palace’s grounds. This makes it one of my favorite destinations in free things to do in Kyoto list. (I had so many problems booking that free tour during my Kyoto visit two years ago…)

In addition to the palace I recommend walking around the Imperial Park that has many smaller attractions. Also the neighborhood around park is interesting and has many things to see. For example river next to Horikawa Dori is worth of seeing.

 

6. Kamo River

free things to do in Kyoto

Join in the locals sitting on the bends of Kamo river. In Kyoto I lived right next to Kamo river so it has reserved its special spot in my heart. There is not many things to see when you first visit and you may even ask why would I include this normal river to my free things to do in Kyoto list. However if you sit down and look around, this is the best place to see local life and Kyoto’s true side. Fishers, families playing around, couples walking around, young adults drinking and having fun.

One of the best things is that Kamo river runs along the whole city and past some of the major attractions. You can walk from Fushimi Inari to Gion and back. If you have bike and time, try day trip out of the town. One man told me about his trip while I was staying in hostel and apparently if you follow the river you can see some amazing and beautiful Japanese views.

 

5. Arashiyama

free things to do in Kyoto

Arashiyama is huge area in west Kyoto. There is many things to see and most of them are free so it is good addition to our free things to do in Kyoto list. Firstly, just walking around the area is interesting experience. Remember to take good shoes because I totally destroyed mine here. Walk bends of the river towards the forest and you will see beautiful photographic spots. Not so many people go there but it is definitely worth it.

Then secondly be part of the tourist masses and visit souvenir shops you can find from the main street of this area. They have tasty free food samples. And thirdly go to bamboo forest (read below) and Kameyama Park. Kameyama Park is extremely beautiful during fall when you can admire the colorful mountains and river from its observation spots. It is accessible from Bamboo forest but not so many tourists visit here.

 

4. Bamboo Forest

bambooforest

This major attraction from Arashiyama deserves its own spot on my free things to do in Kyoto list. Why? It is one of the most popular destinations in Kyoto and maybe in whole Japan. If you have seen beautiful bamboo photos when looking up Japan, I bet those are taken in Kyoto’s Bamboo forest. If you want to have photos without huge tourist crowds, go super early. Also good tip is to walk and walk and walk. Most of the people just visit the beginning of this path in bamboo forest so if you walk more than them you will also find spot with not as many people.

 

3. Kyoto Station

happy_terrace_kyoto

Almost everyone visiting Kyoto will walk around station at some point. I recommend it as the place to start your trip whatever you are seeking for free things to do in Kyoto or want to use as much money as possible. It is a little hard to find but Kyoto station has tourist information with free maps, flyers and helpful staff members. It may sound touristy but there is no better place to start your trip.

When you walk up the stairs of station (often decorated with light show or other decorations) you will find observation deck that is often forgotten. This is good alternative for Kyoto Tower if you don’t want to spend money. If you want to see the station from high, find free Skyway path that walk above the station. Kyoto station has also three shopping malls and even if you don’t want to buy anything it is fun to just walk around. Also find food section and they usually serve free samples.

And the last but not least thing to see in Kyoto Station is just outside the front doors. Aqua Fantasy Musical Fountain Show has amazing name but it describes perfectly what this is about. Colorful lights, water and of course music amaze people on evenings.

 

2. Yasaka Shrine

Known also as Gion temple this shrine is next to Gion area and in the end of Shijo street. It’s big area with people constantly passing by. You can buy food and crafts from small stalls. One of the free and main shrines worth of visiting. At weekends you may see locals wearing pretty kimonos and visiting the shrine. Don’t just visit the main shrine but walk past it and wander around the whole area.

 

1. Fushimi Inari Taisha

Magical Forest Kyoto Torii

My ultimate favorite place in Kyoto, Japan and maybe whole world. I don’t even know why I have so utterly fallen in love with this mountain full of torii gates. It is perfect for everyone from photographers to travelers seeking for free adventure in Kyoto. Definitely one of the best free things to do in Kyoto.

Hike to the top and back requires good health (or many breaks) because it takes about two hours. Fortunately there is many break points and several vending machines. Just remember to take coins with you. In addition to admiring the red torii gates taking over all of the paths you should look for the amazing views to the city. Sunset from mount Inari is breathtaking. If you have more than enough time, try the not so popular paths and you may find secrets… For those interested I have written story from my trip to Fushimi Inari.

 

These were my favorite free things to do in Kyoto. Do you have any additional tips? Or maybe favorite places in Kyoto? All comments are welcome like always. Also if you are interested I wrote this short text about my home country Finland. Or if you are interested to read more about Kyoto, here is my top 10 things to do in Kyoto list.

I hope you are having an amazing day!
With love

Viivi Severina

Photo Diary: Cherry Blossoms in Stockholm

Cherry blossoms are usually seen as Japanese thing but suprisingly you can see these beautiful pinkish flowers even in cold northern countries like Sweden. During our day trip to Stockholm a few weeks ago the most important thing we wanted to do was to see the popular cherry blossoms on Kungsträdgården.

Earlier today, I asked my sister if sharing post full of cherry blossom photo would be okay. She said no… Apparently this is boring idea. So, here is post full of only cherry blossom photos I took in Stockholm! I am always been kind of rebel and not so good at listening others’ opinions. I hope you enjoy.

Cherry Blossom Trees in Stockholm

Cherry Blossom Trees In Stockholm

We were scared that there wouldn’t be any cherry blossoms left because it was cold day in Stockholm (and it was even snowing at one point). Luckily for us half of the trees were still blossoming and we got to see these beautiful flowers.

Cherry Blossom Trees In Stockholm

Cherry Blossom Trees In Stockholm

We weren’t the only one who had came to central Stockholm to see cherry blossoms. Under the trees everyone from families to excited tourists were taking photos and admiring pink flowers.

Cherry Blossom Trees In Stockholm

Here I am looking totally lost and awkward like usually. But hey, we traveled to Stockholm to see these trees so at least I can share one photo of me with them.

Cherry Blossom Trees In Stockholm

cherryblossom_in_stockholm

I have to say that seeing a few cherry blossoms in Stockholm made me want to travel back to Japan. Maybe next spring? I love pink and pretty things so seeing even more cherry blossoms would be like a dream. Now I just have to plan this trip, right?

Cherry Blossom Trees In Stockholm

Cherry Blossom Trees In Stockholm

Have you ever seen cherry blossoms? Or what are your favorite beautiful travel spots? Feel free to comment anything like always.

With these cherry blossom photos from Stockholm it is good to start spring. It is snowing today in Finland but my summer holiday started yesterday. Because I don’t have school anymore before autumn I will have more time to write this blog. So, wait for better post next Wednesday! I will come up with something interesting.

With love,

Viivi Severina