My travel year 2017

The year 2017 is ending soon and like last year it’s time to look back at the amazing (and not so amazing) moments I had the privilege to experience. When 2017 was starting I promised myself that this year would finally be the year when I start truly traveling and will take it seriously. This may have been the first time when I kept my New Year’s resolution. Anyone who knows me or has been reading my Twitter knows that year 2017 was full of adventures and travels.

Travel Blog Flying

Starting my travel year from Travel Expo

I started my travel year 2017 with something inspiring and unbelievable. I went to Finnish travel expo “Matkamessut”. There I took part in this seminar meant for travel writers where they taught everything from writing a travel blog to taking better photos. Afterwards, I walked around the expo and collected a huge bag full of fliers from different travel themed companies and countries.

This all made me want to be a bigger part of the travel community. If I was writing Finnish blog, it would probably be easier. But at least during this year, I have made more traveler friends and even met a cool blogger from the other side of the world twice during 2017. Isn’t that amazing?

Travel Blog Gdansk

How to travel cheap?

Most Finnish people think that flying out from our lovely country is super expensive. In fact, this year I must have heard “How do you have enough money to travel?” at least hundred times from the mouths of my family and friends. Even randoms comment the amount I travel. One of the funniest comments this year must have been “Are you some kind of heiress with endless fortune?” Those who are wondering: I probably make less money than most normal people right now and everything is about budgeting.

During 2017 I have learned more and more ways to travel cheaply without giving up the best sides of traveling. I made my own schedule so that I can leave whenever and where ever flight tickets are inexpensive. Hotels are also out of the equation (if we don’t count traveling with my amazing mum!) and I have to skip some of the most touristy experiences. Traveling to so many places during this year has been possible because I’m not a tourist, I’m a traveler.

Travel Diary: Bremen

Cities that surprised me

Because I had decided to travel cheap and my budget wasn’t great at spring, there wasn’t a lot of choices while picking out the destinations to visit. At first, I thought it would be a bad thing but surprisingly it just meant that I fell in love with cities I might not have visited on my own. During 2017 I was lucky enough to travel to three cities that took me by surprise. Bremen, Gdansk, and Bratislava.

All these three cities were sold short for me. The photos of Bremen I found online were dull and painted picture of an industrial dark city. Gdanks seemed like a place made for tourists and nothing else. While many people told me that there is nothing to see in Bratislava. In the end, all three of these cities ended up on my list of places I have to visit again with more time. Surprises make traveling so much better.

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I found home from Brighton

Some places you just know that you will fall in love even before visiting them. Brighton is a place like that for me. I saw the photos of its huge pier, idyllic streets, and endless beach. That’s all I wish for a perfect travel destination. Even if you know beforehand it always surprises you how one unknown place can make you feel like you have finally found your home. Dark alleys, colorful buildings and people so happy its ridiculous. I fell asleep listening to too loud live music playing under me in the hostel’s bar. Brighton felt like home.

Cherry Blossom Trees in Stockholm

Too many times in Stockholm

Stockholm, city probably 99% of Finns have visited at least once in their lifetime. Even if my statistics aren’t the truth, Stockholm has been known as the easy and cheap destination amongst Finnish people for a long time. Stockholm cruises are always a popular way of traveling. I have taken this form of traveling to the next level because it just happens that flights from Stockholm are nothing when compared to the flights leaving from Finland. Because of this, I have visited Stockholm too many times this year. If I counted correctly I have visited Stockholm 7 times during the last 12 months. 7 TIMES!

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Adventures with family

I am all for solo traveling but it doesn’t mean that adventuring with my family every once in a while wouldn’t be on my budget list. One of the first trips of 2017 was with my mom, siblings, and cousin to Sweden by cruise ship. The idea of this trip was to see the pinkish cherry blossoms for the first time in our lives. If I wasn’t planning a return trip to Japan before, after seeing cherry trees in Stockholm it came one of my most important agendas.

This cruise wasn’t the only trip I did with my family during the travels of 2017. At autumn I went to Rome with my mom. That trip interesting. Not bad but definitely torturous because of the endless sun and hot temperatures. We saw a lot of local history like Colosseum and Vatican but also just walked the idyllic streets full of tourists. After traveling together my mom flew back to Finland and I continued by bus to Venice.

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Two longtime dreams

I believe that every traveler has a few dream destinations that have always wanted to visit. Iceland and Venice have been dream destinations for me as long as I can remember. I’m not even sure how or when my mind decided that going to these places would be dream come true. It must have been primary school and something to do with geography homework.

2017 was a lucky year for me because I was able to visit both of my longtime dreams. After spending a week in Rome with my mom, I continued by over-night bus to Venice. I arrived at early morning hour and fell in love right after exiting the train station. Getting lost is my thing and in city full of canals, narrow alleys and ending roads it’s easy. Iceland was almost an opposite experience but still as breathtaking. Alone traveling around Iceland’s south coast would be boring but with a good friend and easy bus tour, everything felt perfect. I even hiked on a real glacier!

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Around East Europe by busses

Between my trip to Venice and Iceland, there was time for one more adventure. I think you know what that means! Time to do one more dream of mine. I booked a flight to Budapest and first bus from there to Bratislava. After that my plan was just to improvise and travel around East Europe by busses.

During the following two weeks, I had the privilege to visit four new countries and return to Poland. Like always traveling gave me more than enough funny memories, new stories and moments to share. However, I also experienced the most moving moment of my 2017 while taking a bus trip to Auschwitz. They teach us about it in school but really visiting this sadly famous place you truly could feel the pain and terror.

New York Travel

Taking over the USA!

The last trip of my travel year 2017 was to the USA. It was my first time crossing the Atlantic and visiting America. After Iceland, the first few days didn’t feel as marvelous as I would have probably felt if coming straight from Finland. It doesn’t mean that New York didn’t charm me. I loved running around with Starbucks mug and fancy paper bags. The museums I visited were unique and full of famous artists. Let’s not even talk about the three-story high bookstores or writing endless stories to my new notebooks in small cafes.

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Starting something new 2018

And that’s my travel year of 2017. Adventures, adventures and little more adventures. I will now start my year 2018 with a new theme. There will still be travels around the world – I don’t think there is any other way for me to live – but at the same time I have decided new goal. During 2017 I wanted to travel as much as possible but in 2018 I will give everything I have for blogging.

Laugh if you want because this year my blogging schedule has been just sad. Feel free to not believe me but remember that when I once decide something it’s hard to change my mind. Next year I have decided to do daily blogging. It may sound crazy but I think that’s just fitting for my current life. Just follow my lost side blog and there I will tell you more about this plan later this week.

What hopes or resolutions do you have for 2018? Or what were the most memorable trips you did during 2017? Like always all comments are more than welcome!

With love,

Lost Viivi

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Travel Diary: Montpellier pt. 1

When my grandpa’s friends asked me to come and spend sometime in their place in south France, I couldn’t believe I would eventually really go. Here I am in sunny charming Montpellier. Is this dream? How can I be so lucky?

I didn’t do a lot of planning before leaving my home behind. In the early morning one hour time left I still had things to do and back. The feeling of traveling never come across my brains. Traveling is the only way I truly feel like living. The feeling of freedom and unknown paths is my home. So here I am and this is the first part of my travel diary.

 

Day 1: Lost in train stations

Finland is amazing country to live in but there is one big flaw. The airport isn’t located anywhere near my city.

So in the early Sunday morning I woke up at three am after sleeping only four hours. My mum then drove me to bus station in the city next to us. (I’m sorry mum you had to do that so early).

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Snowy and dark Finland just before my flight

After two and half long hours in bus I was ready to embarrass myself at airport. Like usually I went in wrong line and then the security check machine beeped for me. I’m starting to think I’m made of iron… How can it give the alarm for me every freaking time??

The whole airplane was packed and when choosing my place I took the last window seat. It was quite funny that at my six people row everyone were lonely travelers.

The guy next to me read book about growing puppy and beside him sat Japanese guy who had a lot of snacks with him. We didn’t really talk but they smiled nicely to me and the Japanese boy said goodbye when we departed.

The flight was normal and everything was good. Well if we don’t mention the horrible weather… It was snowing a whole night before and it didn’t end even when it was time to fly. I was scared to death.

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France through my train’s window

The conditions in France were totally different. Sun was shining and I had to abandon my leather jacket. For locals the feather seemed cold but for me it reminded Finnish summer.

Montpellier charmed me starting from the first seconds. There was beautiful old buildings, graffiti and sunset.

The older madams (let’s call them S and L) who had invited me welcomed me with hugs and smiles. Together we continued the trip to their apartment. We used tram and let me say I have never seen that kind of public transport. The trams were all colorful and different. So cool!

 

Day 2: Fascinating older Montpellier

The first morning rose cloudy but still almost 20*C warmer than Finland. S and L were still sleeping and I had time to admire the scenery outside of my window. Not much to see but still different than I have got used to. Heck there was palm trees in this city! Those would never survive in Finland.

After a while all three of us ate french breakfast. There was so much food I was sure eating later on that day would be impossible (I was totally wrong).

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The center of Montpellier reminds me of old labyrinth

Quickly after that I was dragged to the tram and towards to the mystical old streets of Montpellier. The first thing I learned was how everything is closed at Mondays. That however didn’t matter because we just walked around and even found small restaurant open.

The second thing I learned from my lovely companions was only order well done steak (rather not even that). Apparently french people like their meat red and bloody or it’s not tasty. I’m of course just joking… (or am I?) Well just remember kids never order medium steak in french. Of course if you like your food a little bit raw don’t listen to my advice.

MontpellierTram
Look at the tram design! So cool?

After eating and wandering around more I had to admit being tired. So we headed back to home. And I just need to add that I get amazed easily but I totally fell in love with the local tram network. Firstly who doesn’t like the bright colorful trams??! And secondly only 6 euros for 5 persons to use all the trams and buses 24 hours! In Finland I pay 5 euros to go one trip…

 

Day 3: Road trip time!

I only had four days with my amazing hosts -and their car- so we decided to do day trip. After we left the sunny Montpellier behind us I quickly come to the realization this day wasn’t going to be some kind of short visit. No, the lovely madams had planned full day road trip around the Mediterranean coast. We left home when sun was rising and got back after dark.

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The ghost town Mèze

Our first stop was Mèze 40km to west from Montpellier. The city seemed more like ghost down this time of the year. According to my all knowing guides all of the too many restaurants filled up in summer time. I liked it more when I couldn’t see any people. Like peace had taken over this little town.What I did see a lot in this town was seafood. Farther away you could see the frames where locals farm oysters.

After the calming city we continued our travel towards Sète. However without reading the map our trip went trough several other smaller cities. If you ever have car, time and just happen to be in south France good entertainment would be just driving from city to city. Everyone of them has something different to offer and oh my goodness how beautiful the small roads inside towns can be.

So finally we arrived at Sète and drove around to see what it was like. Canals covering the city layout made using car kind of hard. However I have always liked water and bridges so Sète made good first impression on me.

Setefood

As first thing we tried to find place to eat and there was a lot of options even if it’s not the tourist season. As not french speaking persons we didn’t get so kind service and the waiter “forgot” us often. But the meal and dessert overrun all my expectations.

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The view from cemetery in Sète

The most amazing thing I recommend to do in this small city is visit the Paul Valéry Museum and cemetery next to it. You have to walk up the mountain but visiting there is worth it. The museum has really succeeded in the presentation of the art works. It was delight to my eyes.

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Big cross in the top of mountain and view to Sète

Our last thing to do before leaving Sète behind us was visit in the viewpoint in the highest point of the mountain. Looking from the sky this city seemed even more idyllic and full of adventures. In addition to the view there was small chapel with lovely atmosphere.

Our next destination was Palavas and it’s endless beach. The drive there showed me the coast and small towns. And of course something I didn’t expect! Flamingos! Flamingos living in wild. Pink cute and gorgeous flamingos. It was my first tie seeing them and that literally made my day perfect. I would have drove to the Palavas just to see those amazing birds. Unfortunately I didn’t get pic of them. 😦

palavas

Finally in Palavas the sun has already setting down. That didn’t prevent me hunting seashells between the sand and stones. I love pretty things… We spend sometime there just enjoying the last warms of day and looking the sea. Then I thought it would be time to go back home but the madams S and L still had one place for us to go.

L drove in the darkening evening and I got to admire even more of the France’s coast. In fading sunlight everything seemed so different. After a not so long drive we found ourselves in this odd futuristic city. La Grande Motte’s buildings rise towards sky in different architectural forms.

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My attention quickly turned from structures to the clouds. Sun has already set but it’s last remaining lights reflected from clouds. S and L took me to walk around the harbor and promenade. If I would decide my every evening should end like that. Like I said I love pretty and beautiful things. I love everything that takes my breath away.

After the darkness had taken over we returned to car and started the travel back home. That night I fell asleep smiling.

 

 

You can read the part 2 from HERE

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Stay tuned for more stories of my adventures!