Warning! Very personal rant ahead… Dear mom & dad, (and all other family members, friends and curious strangers), you can’t stop me so please let me do my own thing. Sorry. I didn’t know… More
Traveling changes us. That’s a fact. Going to new places, seeing all these interesting countries and meeting these people who have been raised so differently when compared to your childhood. Traveling is full of amazing experiences and if I had time I would love to share all my own with you and hear all of yours.
Recently my travel blogger buddy from DreamsVoyager wrote post about his best travel experiences. In the end he asked everyone to share the first 5 travel experiences that come to their mind. So, here I am copying him and answering this question. What are my 5 favorite travel experiences?
5. Rainy Gdansk with princess umbrella
I never found inspiration to write about my Gdansk trip so you haven’t even heard about my unfortunately meeting with ‘umbrella man’. Maybe I will share that funny story with you sometime soon? Well however, it was raining in Gdansk during my trip. And when I say raining I mean RAINING. There was water everywhere and I was almost considering not going outside at all one day. In the end I went and it’s one of my favorite travel experiences so far.
I took tram from the city center to close-by beach. I had my white lace-heart-rose-ribbon decorated umbrella with me (all blame for buying that cute thing goes for the umbrella man…) and my sneakers had huge holes in them. Not so good outfit for rainy beach. It was almost the last tram stop and I was only left in the carriage. When I exited the tram I saw no one. It was raining, there was mist in the air and not even single person anywhere. I walked through small place looking like a ghost town before seeing the sea. Have I ever mentioned how much I love sea?
After that I walked along the empty beach, sat down every now and then to the towel I had smuggled out of the hostel and just enjoyed life in the rainy weather. It just felt magical. I continued walking until I came to long wooden pier. It was my first time seeing one in person and I fell in love. Old wooden piers are just thing to live for. So pretty, magical and like from storybook. After a while I was freezing and all my clothes were wet.
I decided to find the tram again and leave but then small cozy looking restaurant by the sea took my attention. Of course I went inside. It was empty expect the workers. Handsome looking waiter took my order and came soon back with warm ginger chai tea and cheesecake. I ate while watching the sea and started writing this story that had been in my mind for a while. It was so simple and still so perfect.
I have so many moments like this and if I could I would list all of them as my favorite travel experiences.
4. All the people I meet and things I learn from them
I am totally introverted but I also love meeting new people and talking for people that come from different culture or just different place than I. Mostly I have met these people in hostels or through funny travel situations. In the other hand lately I have been talking for super cool people because of my blog and even been brave enough to meet someone face to face. I never thought that I would be able to connect with so many people just because I am writing to internet. (I am always happy to talk with other travelers so feel free to start conversation for example in Facebook, Twitter or in Instagram‘s private messages. Just be warned that I am and will always be super shy and awkward!)
However, just meeting these people isn’t my favorite thing. Learning something new and unexpected from these people made meeting all of them one of my favorite travel experiences. So what have I learned? EVERYTHING… I once listened three hours when German guy taught me and two Korean dudes how they learn hiragana and katakana (Japanese alphabets) in Germany. May sound dull but I had amazing night.
On the other hand, I have learned a lot about different cultures and things to do and not do in countries I didn’t even know existed. A few times other hostel guests have tried to teach me how to cook. That never works out but at least I get to taste tasty food. Sometimes you meet people who know something really special. Once I got some tips from this professional travel magazine photographer and another time older lady with her 5 years old grandchild taught me how to make origami.
3. Concerts, gigs and music in general
If you have been reading my blog for some time you may know (or if you are new: hello welcome, now you will learn something new about me!) that I love music and especially listening to live music. When I say music I really mean all kind of music from classical symphonies to hardcore rock. This is why music has made its way to my top 5 travel experiences list.
The photo above is from my Japan trip. I saw that group playing drums million times while they were having street performances around Harajuku. I had to stop and listen every time. My first trip to foreigner country without my family was to see Super Junior’s concert in London. I had amazing adventure with my friend and the concert was totally worth all that money and traveling.
I have a lot of music related travel memories. If possible I always try to go to local gig or concert while in new country. In Brighton I didn’t even have to find the music because it came for me. I was staying in hostel and that hostel had also local lively bar. That nice small bar also had live performances every freaking evening. If you have ever been in hostel, you know that those buildings are never soundproof. So, when I was hanging out in my hostel room at 7pm or trying to sleep at 2am, I had to listen these local bands and DJs. Funny thing was that I was able to hear it as loudly as if I had been standing in the bar…
2. Leaving for my first solo trip
There is no feeling like standing alone in the airport with your too big suitcase before sunrise. More rational people would have first gone for shorter sole trip but I decided to start from the extreme. Three months alone in Japan living in hostels. I didn’t speak the language. I had never even lived alone. I was just lost 20 years old girl who had no idea what to do with her life.
It was crazy to sit alone in the plane and know that after 24 hours and a few layovers I would be alone in Japan. This 24 hours of flying goes to my best travel experiences list. I have never felt so alive and I will probably never feel like that again. Being first time alone, just surviving by yourself, is amazing scary experience that changed me as person.
1. Getting lost in abandoned amusement park
And then number one in my travel experiences list. Accidentally visiting abandoned amusement park and getting in trouble! This is memory that will forever stay in my mind. If you haven’t yet read the whole story, check our my three too long and boring posts about this mishap. Seeing abandoned place is always special. Place that is left by humans and taken over by the nature.
This travel experience was even more special because of the people I met. All those polices and driving crazily small streets in their police car while they asked me all kind of funny questions and gave touristy travel tips. People who went inside the amusement park before me. And of course talking with fellow travelers in hostel afterwards and laughing for my adventure. It may have been against law and I may have gotten in trouble but I would probably do it million times again to just experience all this.
. . .
These are my favorite travel experiences but like Anub did in his post I will now throw the ball for you. What are your favorite travel experiences? Don’t think too much. First five things that come to your mind. What amazing things have you experienced?
I hope you are having an amazing day!
Hello all fellow shy travelers! Today’s travel post is all for you. As totally introverted and socially awkward person traveling and especially hostel life may feel like a nightmare. You want to make new friends and learn about these amazing different cultures but something inside you just makes it impossible. With these tips you will be step closer to being that social traveler in hostel. (Or at least everyone will think that you are the social one…)
Of course anyone asking themselves the question ‘How to make friends in hostel?’ can follow my tips but these are made especially for all us shy people who wouldn’t usually start conversations with strangers.
Everything starts with a smile
Don’t laugh, it’s the truth! With smile you can go a long way making friends in hostel. If you look like you are having the best day of your life, other hostel guests will more likely begin chatting with you than if you are just sulking in the corner. Make eye contact (not too often that’s just creepy) and smile. They will probably answer to your smile and if you are lucky even start talking with you.
This usually works because there is two types of people in hostels. Those who want to talk for others and those who don’t. And then of course those subcategories for people who only talk for pretty girls, with the staff members or when they are intoxicated. So, when you smile people know that they can safely approach you and start talking. Soon you may find yourself with new friend!
Greet everyone always and everywhere
After smiling greeting other guests is the most important thing in making hostel friends if you ask from me. I have had many people starting interesting conversations with me after I have greeted them for a few mornings and evenings in row. Some people just take longer to warm up for you and greeting them every time you see them is good way to achieve just that.
In the other hand. It’s also the best way to make new friends on your first day in the hostel. And with the people who have just arrived to the hostel and are going to spend there their first night. You could call it the good first impression. You will snatch the best new hostel friends for yourself before they make friends with someone else and starting conversation with them will be harder.
Easy questions always work
The most usual way to start conversation with someone in hostel is to ask where they are from. You might think that asking persons name would be one of the first questions but surprisingly sometimes it may take hours of talking before thing like that comes up. Crazy, right? But if knowing someone’s name is important you can always tell the “by the way, my name is ____” and they will probably tell you theirs.
The beginning of conversation when making friends in hostel usually goes by asking and answering questions. You will get hold on to it quickly after making your first few hostel friends. Ask them about their home country, how long they are going to stay in the destination, where they are going next, where have they been before, what they know about your home country and even tips for some destination they have been before. After a while the conversation will start flowing on its own. So, don’t worry too much.
Pay attention to the small details
Paying attention to people around you is important part of making new hostel friends. Why? You may accidentally find reason to start conversation. I just recently talked a little with another hostel guest because we had identical laptops.
A few times I have made friends because I saw someone reading books, watching Youtube videos or talking with someone else about concert they have just been to. If you know something about the subject yourself, feel free to start conversation. “Excuse me, I could not hear you talking about being in the concert. You have good music taste, I love that band.” It may seem hard at first but after a while you will get used to it.
Ask help or offer help
You are sitting in your dorm room, new guests walks in and you greet them happily. They start searching for their bed but look a little bit confused by the numbering system of your room’s beds. You have been following them in the corner of your eyes while surfing on your computer. Then you ask if they need help and tell them where their bed is. They will probably thank you and you can introduce yourself and ask where they are from. After that it’s easy to start talking and if they don’t look too tired after traveling you can even tell them that you were just leaving to eat something and ask them to join you.
Asking help and offering help is easy way to break the ice and start new friendship with your fellow hostel guest. I think this is one of the most common ways of making friends in hostels.
Bride with food
You can’t get true friends with money but food is totally different subject. Some of the most interesting hostel friendships I have had have started with food. Recently in Bremen my dorm roommate made me breakfast because I woke up too late to eat it every morning. We talked a lot after that. During my Japan trip I made friends again and again with food. I especially remember the Halloween night when group of us ended up sharing candies to everyone and talked far into the night.
Everything starts from the common room
After long day adventuring around the new city you are probably ready for the bed. However staying unsocial in your dorm room means no easy friends for you. Buy food or snacks from convenience store, take book or computer with you and set towards the common room or kitchen area. Then just find nice spot for yourself with many seats around you and began your waiting. Eventually someone will start talking with you.
Just remember all the other tips I have shared. Remember to greet every guest arriving to the room. Usually if you greet someone and even more often if you are the only person in the room, they will ask would it be okay to sit with you. Then just start talking. Ask them where they are from and hope for the best.
The more the merrier
Don’t be scared of big groups. It’s more than normal for hostel friend groups grow uncontrollably. You may talk with one person, then third person starts talking with the two of your, fourth person asks if you know any good restaurants and you start all together planning meal together. Then a few hours later you will find yourself with six other hostel guests from too small restaurant for you all to fit in properly. Just normal hostel life…
So, be prepared to hang out in bigger groups and don’t be scared to start talking with people even if they are already with someone. And if you are asked to join group going out say yes! You can regret later and find stupid excuse to escape.
It will either work or not
In the end you can’t force hostel friendships and making friends in hostel is more about lucky than social skills. Sometimes you make too many friends to even remember their names and sometimes you will only smile for someone and that’s it. That happened for me in Sweden. During my stay I only talked about two sentences with my roommates and I never met anyone else in the hostel. Bad luck.
My last tip for making friends in hostel for shy people is to just go for it. At first it is hard but you will get used to it quickly. Always keep in mind that if you don’t want you don’t have to see anyone here ever again. Heck, they don’t even know your full name so they will never find you anywhere. You can make fool of yourself or be totally awkward without any consequences. Making friends in hostel is perfect way to learn social skills. Feel free to fail as many times as you need.
And that’s all I have to say now about making friends in hostel from the introvert’s point of view. Do you have any tips or tricks for making friends? Or maybe someone more social person would like to tell how they start the first conversation in hostel? Like always all comments are welcome and thanks or reading.
I hope you are having an amazing day!
Hello all fellow travelers (and random friends and family)! I am again back with Photo Diary series because I am just too lazy to start writing that real travel diary of my trip. No worries, I will get there eventually. Because I don’t have anything else ready, here is collection of photos from my recent trip to Bremen with random thoughts. And yes, this Bremen diary is named my first time there because I will definitely return to this pretty city.
Bremen was interesting destination for me because maybe for the first time in my life I had decided to travel to destination that didn’t seem very interesting for me after doing some research on the internet. Bremen seemed colorless city with a few pricey attractions. Oh how wrong was I… It took me only one walk through the city from city center to my hostel to realize that in fact Bremen is one of the most colorful cities I have seen in my life.
I was lucky because during my stay in Bremen it was sunny and hot. Good change after Finland’s long and unusually cold spring. I literally left Finland after it had been snowing and wasn’t ready for this heatwave. But I can’t complain. It was green and fresh everywhere. Colorful flowers and a lot of birds. The park and its idyllic river circling around Bremen become quickly my favorite thing in this modern city. Perfect place to relax after long touristy day around Bremen.
One thing I love about traveling is meeting amazing new people. Bremen didn’t disappoint me here. I got new friends in hostel. Someone even accidentally made me breakfast even if I hadn’t paid for it. So, I basically ate secretly under the table while talking with them. A little bit of action for my holiday and well free breakfast.
This cafe was like straight from my dreams. Pastel colors, pretty cupcakes and clerk that didn’t fit in at all. He was dressed in black and seemed too rock for the girlish dream cafe. What would be more perfect combination? So, if you happen to be visiting Bremen i recommend Coockies Cupcakes.
This photo is again from the park I mentioned earlier. It gave me a little bit of the Netherlands vibe even if i have never visited that country. Interesting things was that for some reason I didn’t see this windmill in any Bremen guide I read before leaving for my trip. Why is that?
And then I want to speak about the amazing cool area I fell in love with that later one revealed to be the famous area for drugs and prostitution. Well, at day time it was cool to visit (??). East side of the older city centre and artistic Schnoor is situated this area full of small alleys, unknown galleries and colorful street art. Basically everything I love.
Like you can see from the photo above this area was almost empty at day time. I was wondering why I didn’t see any tourists like in everywhere else but all travel destinations have these ‘secret’ places where you never meet other travelers. Then on my last evening/night in Bremen we went to eat with group from my hostel. We returned quite late trough this area and one of us told that this area was famous from its nightlife. And more specifically nightlife full of drugs and prostitution. So, not place to for nice evening walk alone but definitely place to check out during day.
In contrast to that area full of graffiti Bremen has its well-known old town. Fountains, statues and shops full of souvenirs of Bremen Town Musicians.
This photo is from the huge market from old town. It may not be very clear but in the right bottom corner you can see man doing huge bubbles. He was there every day with his dogs and bowl of soap. Cool job, am I right?
Germany and Finland have one thing in common and it is beer. Unfortunately I have never liked alcoholic drinks so I couldn’t test any of these terrace restaurants serving huge selection of different beers.
This photo is from Schnoor. One of the interesting areas in Bremen. Small alleys, galleries, cafes and shops full of handicrafts. Surprisingly I didn’t like it that much. It was highly recommended everywhere on internet but it just didn’t have charming enough feeling for me. A little bit boring place.
Somehow my travels are always full of odd meetings with too friendly birds. Even in Bremen I got almost attacked by badass ducks who were just too interested about my snacks.
And this was my Bremen photo diary. I think my photo editing skills are radically decreasing but at least I am trying. So, have you ever visited Bremen? Or some other place in Germany? Like always all comments are more than welcome.
Oh right, I would also remind you to follow my FACEBOOK page to get notification of my new posts and some extra photos and stories! I would be forever thankful. Or if you want to see more photos follow my depressingly inactive INSTAGRAM.
I get quite often asked for things to do in Finland and especially things to do in Finland during summer. So as promised here is list of 10 things you should do during summer in Finland. Some of these are more specific while others can be done almost anywhere.
Before listing all the things I have in mind I just want to mention that if you have only time to do one thing in Finland you should just walk around the nature and enjoy our fresh aired green forests. These tips are mostly something we locals do during summers. Totally normal for us but something foreigners may not try without encouragement. Enjoy and all Finns feel free to share your own tips on comments!
10. Day trip to Suomenlinna
Suomenlinna (Finland’s castle) is sea fortress and small island that is part of Finland’s capital Helsinki. If you are looking for perfect day trip destination in Finland, Suomenlinna is just perfect in every way. Idyllic small city, historic castle (that isn’t really castle but hey at least it sounds cool!) and of course perfect picnic spots with sea view. Lucky ones may even wave for cruise ships sailing right next to the island or take part to interesting events happening during summer.
Suomenlinna has earned its place on our ’10 Things To Do In Finland During Summer’ list. In addition to beautiful walking trails and cool cafes you can find handful of museums. If history isn’t your thing I recommend visiting toy museums. It’s not too expensive and I live for the small cafe they have. Try their matcha tea, I would die for it!
9. Free tours around churches
Finland has this thing called Roadside churches that are open every summer. Basically you can enter these churches freely during their opening times. There is usually guide who is ready to tell you about the church, Finnish culture and near by destinations. Even if you are not one to get interested about history, religion or things like that roadside churches are still fun places to take small break from your busy day.
I have myself worked in roadside church and I can tell you that it is definitely interesting place to visit. Finland has a little over 200 churches open every summer and visiting at least one of them is definitely must thing to do in Finland during summer. Because Christianity as religion has been in Finland for quite short time many of the roadside churches have many interesting stories (and not only religious ones) behind them.
8. Swim in lakes and visit Finnish sauna
You may have heard about Finnish saunas aka hot steamy rooms we go to relax. You should add this experience to your must to do things in Finland during summer list. When during winter we like to visit sauna and roll in snow afterwards, summers are dedicated for days on the beach. Colorful water toys, swimming in the still chilly lake water and then warming up in sauna. What would be better way to spend summer day in Finland?
As visitor in Finland you should look for the closest public sauna you can find. You can find them almost every city in Finland. Go there bravely and if you don’t know what to do you can always ask help from locals. In Helsinki good choice is sauna restaurant Löyly standing next to the ocean.
7. Visit outdoor museum
If you want short look to the way Finns used to live, local art or even have picnic among statues, find the closest outdoor museum. Because Finns love to spend our limited summer days outside outdoor and open-air museums are popular places to visit. In Helsinki Seurasaari Open-Air Museum is perfect example of traditional Finnish outdoor museum. Old buildings, people dressed in national costumes and of course cute animals. If statue parks are your thing, I have heard many good things about Parikkala’s Sculpture Park.
6. Colorful old towns
If you have been reading my blog for some time now, you may have realized that I am totally in love with old towns and colorful cities. That’s why my top 10 things to do in Finland during summer list wouldn’t be complete without sunny trip to pastel colored old town. Don’t get me wrong. These are good places to visit even at winter time but during summer Finnish old towns come to life. Small cafes, art galleries and of course locals having fun. My favorite ones are in Kokkola, Naantali and Mariehamn.
5. Day trip to Moominworld
Moomins are adorable fairy tale characters from Finland. These cuddly and friendly characters are well known from cartoons and comics. Every Finn knows them but surprisingly in the last few years Moomins have taken over Asia and more specifically Japan. Tourists around the world come to see Moomins in Finland but also locals love these characters. Most of us grew up watching these magical stories.
From pretty Finnish seaside city, Naantali, you can find theme park dedicated for Moomins. Moominworld is popular among local families and tourists. Even if you have never before heard about Moomins it is definitely worth of visit and good place to get know something more of Finnish culture. Remember to take bikinis with you because they also have idyllic beach!
4. Hike around national park
Nature and Finland walk hand in hand. There is only under 6 million of us but we have a lot of area. One of the best sides of Finnish national parks: you can go there, hike and use everything freely. Just respect the nature, don’t litter and keep on trails when asked to. All national parks in Finland have good hiking trails that are well taken care of. There is even outdoor toilets, places for campfires and shelters to sleep in.
So, how can you do your perfect overnight trip to Finnish nature? First get tent, or hammock, or just sleeping bag (because like I said there is shelters you can use for sleeping). Step two: go to internet, find the closest or the most interesting national park and get free map. And finally take bus or tax or lift to your destination. Then walk. That’s it. Easy, right?
3. Enjoy the sun with cold drink on terrace
Finns are known for heavy drinking but even if you are not one of those party animals drinking cold beer (or glass of fine wine) on sunny day while watching people passing by is almost perfect moment to have. It is something locals do. When it gets warm and days get longer every place from bars to restaurants and small cafes open their terraces. And at the same time those terraces get full of Finns enjoying our short summer warmth.
2. Crazy festivals
Because summers in Finland are short we love to enjoy them as well as we can. This is why visiting festival is one of my must to do things in Finland during summer. We have everything from music festivals with world class names to small village happenings with local musicians and events varying from family olympics to dance performances.
Maybe the most popular celebration of summer in Finland is for midsummer (juhannus). Midsummer fest is also event to celebrate our nightless night. Traditional ways to spent midsummer are burning a huge pile of branches, drinking and doing summer magic like try to find out your future husband through dream. Just find out from internet where the closest festival is and go. A little alcohol and warm summer day makes even us Finns friendly and talkative. You will fit in perfectly.
1. Enjoy peaceful Finnish summer cottage life
Maybe the most Finnish thing you can do here during summer is to spend weekend living in cottage. You will get bonus points if the cottage is next to lake, has wooden sauna and no water toilet. It’s like escape from city to just be peacefully with yourself, your friends and family. You can play traditional Finnish summer games like Mölkky, boot throwing and of course board games. There is nothing as atmospheric as playing game of Uno in candle light chocolate as price while listening radio.
Other important cottage (in Finnish ‘Mökki’) activities are swimming and eating. Barbecues are normal things and especially eating sausages and as dessert traditional Finnish pancakes made on campfire. But in reality there is no rules for cottage life. Just enjoy and have fun with your closest ones.
Have you any summery things to do in Finland you would like to recommend? All comments are welcome like always. It’s already June so I just want to wish good summer and happy holiday for everyone! And thank you for 2 000 readers. I don’t know what your are still doing here but you are highly appreciated. This writing thing would be super boring without you. 🙂
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!