The year 2021 is finally over and it’s time to look towards the new year 2022 and new amazing adventures. Last year included a lot of changes and fantastic moments, as well as great emotions and wonderful experiences. It was not a very big year of travelling maybe, but quality replaces quantity in this case, and instead of several separate trips, the year was filled with change and adventure when I moved here to Portugal and did a lot of exploring inside this new country that I can now call home.
It feels downright weird and funny to look back in time to the beginning of last year and remember the times when the frosty snow was still cracking under my shoes and my face was freezing in the cold winter air. However, I have to start somewhere with this compilation of last year, so we go back to February, when the 2021 travel year officially started for me.
RELAXING ON THE WAVES OF THE BALTIC SEA
Cruises may not be the most revolutionary travel experiences, but they do create a comfortable break from your everyday life and refresh yourself in the middle of work and everyday life. We carried out this February cruise on the cozy Viking Grace in cooperation with Viking Line Finland, and although not all of the ship’s services were available at all times due to the corona, the voyage was still a relaxing experience with sunny winter sceneries.
THE CHARM OF KUUSAMO AND THE MAGIC OF THE MOUNTAINS
I may have always been a bit of a “bad” Finn, because I have never liked the cold or the winter, I don’t like winter sports, and I hate skiing holidays. I can enjoy the snow and fresh winter weather for an average of a month, but after that I could already return to the summer time and sunshine. I have only visited Lapland once before and even then it was July and we only drove through it to the Norwegian side, so that made me feel obligated to jump on the car when my mother announced that she was going to Kuusamo to look at some white winter sceneries a little further North. So we girls from Tampere city drove to the great Rukatunturi mountain, and to the lovely Ajakka Bed & Breakfast to admire the reindeers and huge amounts of thick white snow all around us. In addition to these, Kuusamo also offers for example cute huskies for a husky safari ride and of course the famous Riisitunturi mountain.
MOVING TO PORTUGAL WAS LIFE CHANGING
May was an emotional month in many ways, as at the end of May it was finally time to pack my suitcase and head for the new great adventure, moving to Portugal. I had received an good job offer from Lisbon, the capital city, just a few months earlier, and I finally decided to grab the bull by the horns and accept the job, because after thinking about it, I couldn’t think of enough reasons not to seize the opportunity and to take the job.
Beloved relatives and friends remained in Finland, as well as my boyfriend and our rental home. I packed my life in one suitcase, in which I only packed a bunch of shorts and a bikini, as well as salmiakki, the famous finnish liquorice.
I fell in love with Portugal right away and Lisbon surprised me with its versatility, comfort and easiness, although I had never before thought of moving to Portugal to live more or less permanently. Lisbon has everything from lovely cafes and restaurants to history and the old town, a beautiful city center and easy access to everywhere. Nightlife is booming and there is entertainment for every taste and style. Lisbon has great exercise facilities for both outdoor and indoor exercise, with options ranging from cheap gyms to affordable all-inclusive wellness centers and everything in between. Personally, I just signed up for a new dance school here and soon after a break of just over six months I will start dancing lessons with some new dance genres too, so excited!
It is also extremely easy to travel from Lisbon to the surrounding areas and the rest of Portugal, or why not cross the border into Spain. In the summer I travelled a lot to the nearby cities and villages and for example my own new favorite beaches can be found on the other side of the river Tejo, in Setúbal, in the area of the Arrábida Natural Park. We also went to spend a long weekend in the Algarve, the cozy city of Lagos. The Algarve was a truly wonderful experience and this year I will head back to explore more of the southern coast. The Algarve blog post is also coming up soon, so stay tuned. This year, the directions will of course also be put towards the much praised Porto, as well as many other lovely small towns, from which I will write more here on the blog too.
In November I traveled to Finland for a mini-holiday to take care of some work and visit some family, and to finally end my relationship, which had lasted about eight years. The decision was common between me and my boyfriend and we parted as friends, in all good harmony. The new life in Lisbon opened my eyes in many ways and I know I will not return to Finland for a long time. We want different things in life right now and the future cannot be predicted, so this decision feels right. Life has taken great steps forward and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming summer, for example, will bring here in Portugal with sun, warmth and new wonderful experiences!
Read more about Lisbon:
- Alfama – The charming old town of Lisbon
- Bairro Alto – The bohemian neighbourhood and nightlife mecca of Lisbon
- Cascais – The sunny gem of the Portuguese Riviera
- Cabo Espichel & Pedra da Mua – Fantastic daytrip from Lisbon
- Arrábida Natural Park – Beautiful beaches & amazing nature in Portugal
- Sesimbra & Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo – Portugal’s long-hidden gem
- Setúbal & Tróia – The perfect weekend getaway from Lisbon
Remember to check out how we celebrated Christmas here in Portugal:
HOW WAS YOUR TRAVEL YEAR 2021? DID YOU FOCUS ON TRAVELLING INSIDE YOUR OWN COUNTRY OR DID YOU TRAVEL A LOT ABROAD? DID YOU HAVE ANY OTHER REVOLUTIONARY EVENTS IN YOUR LIFE THAT IS NOT RELATED TO TRAVELLING BUT IS STILL MAJOR? SHARE YOUR OWN HIGHLIGHTS AND SUMMARY FOR 2021 IN THE COMMENT FIELD! 🙂
<3: Tiina Johanna