Sometimes I forget why I created this blog in the first place. Was it to show pretty pictures? To get the most followers? To make money?
It was more basic than all of that. It was simply to keep my friends and family updated and informed on my whereabouts, as they change so frequently.
I've been totally MIA the last few months, for several reasons. But after family and friends back home kept making comments like "I didn't know you went to Finland!" I realized that my lack of posting here affected more than just the number of readers I have.
So let's get back to the basics.
I went to Norway and Finland two weeks ago.
And nobody knew. Because it was kept a secret till after I went.
All for the sake of.... [drumroll] the bachelorette party of one of my best friends!
I was contacted by the Maid of Honor two months ago asking if I would be interested in coming to Oslo for a weekend bachelorette party, which of course I jumped on.
A weekend with one of the loveliest girls I know, in a beautiful city, with all sorts of fun events planned? Yes please.
As you may have guessed based on the secrecy, the bachelorette party was a total surprise. My friend lives in London with me, so the plan was for me to fly to London earlier in the day and meet up with her close friend in Oslo, while the Maid of Honor kidnapped her later in the evening and escorted her to Heathrow and on to Norway.
Surprise #1: flying to Oslo.
Surprise #2: me being in Oslo (she had no clue I would come).
I arrived in Oslo around noon Friday, and then spent the afternoon helping to prepare for the party and getting to know the area. I was the only non-Norwegian attending the party, so I planned to stick around for the full weekend and do a bit of exploring.
As it turned out, my friend was 100% surprised by both the party/flight and my appearance, making it a huge success. Plus, all the events planned went perfectly, including a group dance class that I was more than a little wary of (I'm making sure the video evidence will ever see the light of day, haha)
Fortunately/unfortunately though, because I was busy with the bachelorette party for the full weekend, I didn't do much typical sightseeing in the city. What I witnessed of Oslo was lovely, but I was too busy running around and having fun to take photos beyond my iPhone.
I'll be returning to Norway in April for the wedding, and look forward to really documenting the country then.
After a successful weekend in Norway, I headed home to London. But not before stopping off in Finland, where I had booked a 20-hour layover in Helsinki. One of my favorite travel techniques is to book an extended layover, because it's basically a free flight to a new destination. I didn't do any planning for my Helsinki trip, and figured I'd wing it upon arrival.
I got into the city around midnight and made it to my hostel with no issues (a marvel, considering my proclivity for getting lost), and ended up spending the next day simply walking the city. I stopped in at Fratello Torrefazione for coffee and reading (I highly recommend it; their latte was gold), and then found myself wandering the harbor.
It was absolutely freezing there, and the bay was frozen over in a thin layer of ice. It snowed as I entered the city the night before, but all that was left over by the following day was compact sleet on the sidewalks.
All in all Helsinki was lovely, though a very quiet and rather uneventful trip. Phil has big dreams of doing a Finland tour over the course of several weeks, so hopefully I'll get a chance to really soak in the city again in the future.
I have a love/hate relationship with solo travel. While I've only ever traveled solo on short-term trips (1-2 days long total), I've never really enjoyed them. I appreciate the learning experience that solo travel presents - how not to get lost, how to function on your own, how not to be dependent on others - but for the most part I find myself lonely and bored.
I'm a social butterfly. Give me a full day of hanging with a group and I'll be happy as a clam. But I'm not so social that I'm dysfunctional when I'm on my own. As a result, solo travel for me doesn't hold much appeal. I have so much more fun with others, why would I waste time and money to go out on my own?
I have no shortage of friends and loved ones to venture round the world with, and a trip by myself seems like a missed opportunity to make memories with them.
So, yes, Helsinki was beautiful. But I lost interest by mid-afternoon, because half the fun of exploring a new city is doing it with someone you love. Or at least someone to laugh with.
So, you should go on a solo trip, at least once, because everyone should. But with a huge push for all women to go solo traveling (or so it seems there has been), don't feel disappointed if you don't love it as much as everyone else [seems to] does. Solo travel can be great for some people, but really disappointing for others. I fall in the latter category.
Travel is wonderful, but do it the way that makes you happiest.
Huh, that got a bit serious. Didn't mean for that to happen, haha. You should probably go read my hilarious story about my solo trip to Paris to lighten the mood. It's got flashing and closed airports and all the elements of a good misadventure.
What are your favorite locations in Norway and Finland?