Sunday, July 8, 2012

Discover the world, discover yourself!


I can't begin to explain how much this means to me. It surely is the best thing on this earth. I couldn't bare without being able to plan my next trip. Almost daily I am browsing and other airline home pages and thinking about what to do and where to go next. Last fall I got a new job, which keeps my occupied full time. This means more money, but also less time. The eternal dilemma, that is. So after my trip to Jordan in November I didn't really have the opportunity to travel for a long time. Which was very depressing seeing that I spent almost 5 months traveling last year, to 21 countries in total. And these were all for pleasure, not for business.

My favourite two things about traveling are people and food. A boring or less interesting place can be fantastic if you have great people around. If you ask me what my favourite place of traveling has been so far, I would give my answer according to the people I met in that particular place. Of course it is very hard to say which places I loved the most. I mean, you can't really compare places, since they are so different. But I guess if I'd have to choose... At the moment would say that so far of all my travels I've enjoyed Jordan, Sicily and Bosnia & Herzegovina the most.

So far all my travels have been with friends or alone somewhere where I had friends. My current journey, which is ongoing at the moment (I'm writing from Hungary), has been different from all my travels so far. Initially I was supposed to travel with a friend, but at the end she weren't able to go. So I decided to go alone.

Do you want to know about the love of my life? Something that changed my life? It's called CouchSurfing. For those of you who don't know it, it's a website where you can search for people anywhere in the world. On their profile pages the couchsurfers either offer to host you or just to hang out. So when you're traveling somewhere you can search the place for cs:ers and send them a request to host or meet you. It's genius! I mean hostels are fun and you meet people there too, but they are usually travellers as well, and just as unaware about the place as you might be. Couchsurfing gives you the opportunity to get to know local people and really get to know the city and it's best places.

So this year for my travels I decided to do what I love the most: meet people. People I've hosted, people who hosted me and some new cs:ers. I wanted to visit Hungary again, where I had a fantastic time last year and also I wanted to go somewhere new. In April I hosted a Sicilian guy, and I thought that would be the ideal place. I've heard great things about Sicily and seen amazing pictures. So Sicily and Hungary. What else? I started looking up the cheapest ways to get there and back. Here we come to another of my loves. RyanAir. People say a lot of bad things about RyanAir. Like that they're cheating people with all the extra fees and that the prizes aren't initially as cheap as they promise. To these people I'd like to say: think a second on what you get. The flights are short, so it's okay to sit in a small seat for a few hours. You are not required to buy all the things they offer. You don't even have to minimize that much to be able to travel light with only hand luggage. And if you travel a lot you save lots of money by getting the RyanAir prepaid credit card, because you don't have to pay the additional card fee. I mean think about it. You can get off really cheap, so don't complain about it. If you're not happy about the services you can always choose another airline and pay tons of money. It's your choice. Anyways, after searching for a few days I found some good connections. I would fly to Trapani, then to Milan, Budapest, Stockholm and finally back to Helsinki. And all this for a crazy cheap price. I onyl paid 155 euros for all five flights together. And I have no problem traveling with only hand luggage, even though it's 2,5 weeks... In the summer you don't need that much clothes and stuff anyway. Besides it's the traveling that counts, not the things you carry around with you..

In Sicily I stayed with a couchsurfer, well actually more like a friend nowadays, in San Alessio, which is a small village close to Taormina. After two days I continued to Palermo, where I met with a local cs:er and two russian couchsurfers, crazy girls! We had a fantastic time exploring the city and the surroundings for a couple of days. From Trapani I flew to Milan, where I stayed with another couchsurfer, whom I hosted in the end of April. Yesterday I came to Budapest, where I met with a cs:er I met last year. Finally in the evening came to Eger, where I surfed last year as well. My journey continues to Budapest and maybe also to Miskolc to meet some cs:ers from last year. The final destination is Stockholm, where my pattern breaks and I'm meeting a good friend, who I don't know through cs. Nevertheless.

Basically what I'm saying is that there is nothing better than traveling. Some time back I saw a quote somewhere which went like "travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer". This is so true. Traveling helps you learn more about other cultures and even about yourself. Every time you learn something new, also from bad experiences, which I have been lucky enough to mostly avoid. You become more tolerant towards new things and you learn to appreciate small things. You realize what things are important to you and hopefully you grow as a person. Especially when couchsurfing you learn to adapt to other cultures and to not just think about yourself. At the best couchsurfing brings you new great friends that you keep in touch with forever. At least I hope that some of the friendships I've acquired are going to last.

So I can just encourage everyone to travel and get to know new cultures. It truly makes you richer.

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