I call myself a bathhouse traveler, someone willing to go the extra mile for a unique bathing experience like a traditional bathhouse in an old medina in Morocco, a hot spring in Eswatini, a herbal sauna in Laos, or a natural cave sauna in Jordan. All probably because I’m from Finland, where sauna is at the center of our culture. But it also offers opportunities for connecting with others in a vulnerable state.
At nineteen I moved from a Finnish town of 2,000 people to New York City to study. In many ways I still feel more at home in New York than I ever did in Finland: the energy, the diversity of ethnicities and lifestyles, the unexpected make every day feel like traveling. That’s why I stayed for more than twenty years. While NYC is special, so is every other city: they all have a specific spirit and identity, and they all provide a set for tales to take place.
These are stories about food and wine, arts, history, anything that makes a place unique. As any traveler, I’m a sucker for any and all of them: I search for the local specialties, visit wineries and art galleries. My special hobby is visiting national museums as they tell the story of how a nation wants to portray its identity.
Mountains, trees, birds, hiking paths, remote lodges. Nature is the best antidote to city life, a place to quiet down and recharge your batteries. National parks provide the best setting for it, whether in Jordan, Georgia or Namibia.
The Invisible Traveler. That’s what I called myself on my first solo trip. I was nineteen and traveled to Ireland from Scotland, where I was doing a temp job. Solo travelers recognize that feeling of invisibility though female travelers also know that sometimes we stick out too much. We have to endure strange looks and questions, judgment, pity, unwelcome suggestions, awkward moments having dinners alone. Yet I still often travel solo for what it offers: chance encounters, solitude for reflection, freedom to do whatever I like.
I love public transportation but sometimes your own wheels are the best way to see a country and to visit remote places. Whether friends’ cars, a hired driver or my own rental, some of my best travel memories are from road trips.