Santa lives in Finland. True facts.

Traveling is exhausting. helsinki fountain

(I know that seems a bit like a “well duh” sort of statement. But stay with me here.)

Currently I’m sitting in a hotel room in Athens, Greece. The sun is shining outside, there are mountains in the distance. However, I’m okay with relaxing for a few stolen moments before venturing. Anyone who knows me knows that I consistently have issues with sleeping so if I am able to sit still and not really do anything…well…it’s a chance I take.

And early on in my traveling journey, it was something I would feel guilty about. But it was during my trip to Japan where I decided that my guilt was misplaced. I was lying in my bed in Hiroshima, still sick from a cold I had caught in California. I knew that there were things to do and plenty of sights to see. But all I wanted to do was sit still for even a few moments. And that taught me something about these trips. It is OKAY to not necessarily be constantly moving about and doing things. Pushing myself without reprieve was only going to make me remember being sick and tired rather than the sites themselves. So when I need to relax – take a page out the Hawaiian’s playbook and just chill, bro.

I will probably get to a Japan wrap up post at some point because I certainly have the pictures to support it. But for now, let’s talk about Finland.

helsinki cathedralcinnamon roll

I decided to do a stopover in Finland on my way to Greece for the very scientific and logical reason called “Why not?” Honestly, Finland is one of those places that never really factored in my brain as a place to visit. Cause when one thinks about Finland what really springs to mind? Snow. And being really cold.

church interiorbaltic sea

But I was pleasantly surprised. Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a really quirky and lovely city. Not only is it very easy for an English speaker to get around (literally everyone speaks English and they speak it REALLY well) but it had a very beautiful old World elegance to it. The buildings are all gorgeous and I enjoyed simply walking the streets and looking around. Helsinki rarely tears down their buildings in favor of more modern ones. And they don’t cover up much of anything. You can see bullet holes (one area is actually framed in a Burger King) and effects from bomb explosions in several places. It was explained to me that the Finnish people do not want to cover up history no matter how sad or tough it might be. And generally that same attitude is everywhere. Finland is minimalist and straight-to-the-point. And Finnish people do not beat around the bush at all.

They also really love heavy metal music there. Also Donald Duck. Go figure.

tree fortress island

This is what I really love about traveling though. I love discovering more about the countries that I visit and upturning any thoughts I might have had before. Sometimes it rings true (yeah, Hawaii is THAT laid back) but most of the time it broadens my views and shows me just how wide our world is. And while it’s not easy to travel by myself, every time I learn something new, I know that it is worth it in the long run.ice cream

 

 

After a couple days in the far north, I switched gears. Last night I arrived in Athens and later today I will join a tour group. After a couple days in Athens, we’ll travel to Mykonos and Santorini before returning. I’m looking forward to sunshine, ruins and the big blue Mediterranean Sea.

Until next time!