People and nature. I believe that most reasons to travel fit in those two groups. I got to enjoy both on my stay in Portugal in 2000.

What do I enjoy about new locations?

Many of my reasons to travel are related to people and culture. I enjoy meeting new people, trying local foods, marveling at the built wonders of the world. Local culture and history give each destination its own identity and flavor.

Then there are reasons that are less about culture and more about nature. Grand Canyon would be impressive without any man-made additions – even though the built infrastructure makes the visit much easier. Local weather, fauna and plants are always interesting and unique. They truly make you feel that you’re somewhere else, away from home.

Enjoying the sand

My Childhood Visit to Portugal

My family went to Portugal when I was 8 years old. My brother’s godmother was living there for a while as her partner worked on road tunnels. We went for a visit and stayed with them in Porto Covo, a small town 90 minutes south from Lisbon.

I remember our arrival in Portugal. One of my ears was blocked after the flight, and it took a while until I could hear properly. When we got out of the airport, the heat and the humidity kicked in. It was scorching hot, nothing like the typical weather in Finland.

And I remember massive palm trees right outside the airport. For me, palm trees are always a sign of being far from home.

As for the rest of the stay, I only remember fragments. There’s a picture of me sitting on my godmother’s partner’s massive motorcycle. He took all us kids on a ride, one at a time, and I was so small that I sat in front of him.

Small boy, big motorcycle

And for some reason, I remember paying a lot of attention to the plants. The plants of Portugal had to stand the heat, so they had thick dark-green leaves unlike anything in Finland. The leaves felt soft and a little squishy on touch.

Exploring Nature on Travels

Whenever I travel, I like to explore local parks and natural places. I often go on day hikes. I like to get away from the noise of the cities and to explore paths in nature.

I don’t know much about plants and biology. I love it when I get to explore nature with an expert who can reveal peculiar details about our surroundings. For example, I explored the Taroko National Park in Taiwan with a biologist friend, and I really enjoyed a day trip with my tour guide Couchsurfing host Augustino in Lushoto, Tanzania.

In Portugal, I had a chance to enjoy ocean beaches, rocky hills with great views and unfamiliar nature. Those are pleasures that I still seek in my travels.

On our street in Porto Covo.
The same street on Google Street View (2014).