I Basically Travel – A to Z

When I Basically Travel was born in July 2015, I didn’t really know what I was doing! For years my friends had encouraged me to start a blog to share anecdotes, photos, and tips from my travels and finally I gave in. However, when the very first post was ready and I hesitantly hit the’publish’ button, I was still trying to figure out what my writing style would be and whether the blog would actually live longer than a few months. That also meant I hadn’t really thought about introducing myself. However, it’s still not too late to reveal something of the person behind the posts. Therefore, new old and new readers alike, welcome to an A-Z of I Basically Travel!

A=Attitude: I always feel that what you get out of different places and experiences depends largely on your own attitude. A rainy day, cancelled trains, lost luggage, or rude staff can be annoying but they shouldn’t ruin the whole trip. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from calm and collected when things don’t go according to the plan but after the initial rant I just make necessary adjustments and carry on.

B=Backpack: I rarely use handbags or suitcases. Instead, I take my backpack everywhere with all the essentials whether I’m going to work or for a long weekend away. Sometimes it cannot be called travelling light and I have to be creative with packing but luckily that’s rare.

C=Coffee: I need it, I want it, I love it – in most styles and sizes. I even carry a thermos mug with me at all times in case I want a take-away coffee. (I try to avoid single-use cups as they are just unnecessary rubbish and coffee tastes better from proper cups anyway, at least in my opinion.)

D=Dumplings. One of my favourite foods anywhere. Japanese gyoza, Polish pierogi, Italian ravioli, Cantonese wonton – it’s a dumplings galore and I’m happy to have any of them at any time!

E=Eurostar: If I’m going to France or Belgium, I rather take a Eurostar service than fly. The train takes you from one city centre to another and provides a more relaxing, less cramped way to travel.

F=Finland: my home country until I finished my studies and came to England to spend a year abroad. That was almost 20 years ago…

G=Gigs: Although I rarely listen to music at home, I love going to concerts. Small pub gigs, big stadium shows, classical concerts – I’m not fussed! The likes of Villagers and Sea of Bees have totally blown me away at small venues, whereas Bruce Springsteen really owned Wembley Stadium.

H=Hubby. My favourite person to share my travels and life with. 🙂

I=Internet: How did I ever travel before the Internet era?! It’s just so handy to be able to book tickets, check the weather forecast, relocate yourself on the map if you get lost, or find out when that funky coffee shop down the road would open in the morning. Having said that, I don’t ever want to become the kind of traveller who’s online all the time.

J=Jigsaws: Although I can go long periods without even looking at jigsaw puzzles, I get totally addicted once I start assembling them, especially the funny ones with lots of detail. “I’ll only add a couple of more pieces” is most definitely self deception…

K=Kraków: When I finally visited Kraków for the first time, I seriously asked myself why I hadn’t gone before. The historic centre is absolutely stunning but I also loved the relaxed, yet vibrant feel of the city. A stroll through the area that used to be the Jewish Ghetto and a day trip to the near-by Auschwitz brought history home in a completely different way from school books.

L=Languages: I have always loved learning languages and feel slightly guilty for letting my German and Swedish skills go rusty over the years. Having spent years learning them at school, I hope that I still hold the core information in my head and could tease it out with some serious revision. Being mad about Italian, I’m currently making an effort to learn it well enough to be able to have proper basic conversations, instead of just asking for a train ticket or a menu.

M=Minimalism.  My name is Minna and I’m a minimalist. No, I don’t live in a house with bare white walls and no furniture! Although to start with I saw minimalism simply as a handy decluttering and money-saving tool, it now means focusing more on what really makes me tick – such as travel, live events, and time spent with friends – and not buying extra “stuff” unless it’s something I really need or like. When I do buy something new I want it to be of good quality and last a long time. I guess it’s about simple life and avoiding over-consumerism.

N=Novels. I always have a book in my bag, thanks to the great collections in the local libraries. Although I have a Kindle, I prefer a paper copy unless I go away for a longer period and simply don’t have the room for ‘proper books’. After all, everything needs to fit in that faithful red backpack!

O=Oxford: The city that changed my future plans! (Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?) Until I visited it for the very first time before my final exams at college,  I had planned to become a journalist. During my stay in this city of dreaming spires, I decided to study English instead and move to the UK after graduation to do ‘something’ for a bit. That’s also what I did – and ended up staying. Talk about random decisions!

P=Photography: Photos not only portray events and moments but also work as memory triggers later on. I always carry a compact camera in my pocket to be able to easily capture anything quirky or beautiful at any time. My favourite images usually appear on Facebook and Instagram as I believe photos should be shared and not hidden on a hard drive.

Q=Quizzes. I like pub quizzes with a good bunch of people. We don’t even have to win although it always feels good not to finish last.

R=RailSail:  RailSail is a relaxing and cheap way to travel to Ireland: one ticket covers your train journey from a nearby station to Holyhead and the sailing across to Dublin. The Dutchflyer ticket to The Netherlands covers the journey from any Greater Anglia station (in my case London Liverpool Street) to any Dutch station including the ferry crossing. I always choose an overnight sailing, which means I go to bed in one country and wake up in another. Beautiful!

S=Salty liquorice: As a Finn I probably have the love for ‘salmiakki’, or salty liquorice, in my genes. It’s available in sweet shops in the UK, too, but I rarely buy it, maybe because I’m so addicted to it. If I’ve got it, I eat it.

T=Trains: Even if I fly somewhere, I tend to use the city as a base and take a train to explore the region further. In the UK different railcards can give you up to a third off your off-peak travel, and even with their restrictions (age, region, group size) they can be a real money-saver. Some give you discounts on advance tickets too. I swear by them!

U=Unplanned: I don’t go for detailed itineraries or long to-see lists. I prefer to just get to a place, wander around, and see what I come across.

V=Variety. I crave variety in life, which is probably the reason I want to travel as much as I can, whether it’s a day trip or a fortnight away somewhere. It’s good to have *some* routines in place but if life feels too monotonous I get bored and frustrated. Change of scenery always brings relief though!

W=Walking: I walk everywhere, both home and away. Exploring on foot gives you a chance to take in what’s around you, take random detours, and make ad-hoc coffee stops. You just have to remember to get comfortable shoes.

X=Generation X: I guess I fall into this category, being a 1970s’ child.

Y=Yorkshire: When I left university, I did voluntary work in Yorkshire for about six months. At first I struggled with the accent, a couple of weeks later I wondered what actually had been the problem. I remember it as an area with friendly people and stunning scenery.

Z=Zucchero: I used to be a huge fan of Italian music and would regularly listen to the likes of Umberto Tozzi, Eros Ramazzotti, and Zucchero even before I understood a word they were singing. Although Zucchero is a pop singer, he does a pretty decent duet with Pavarotti too. Here’s Miserere .

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