Okay, I’ve written about this already before but what can I say – it’s just so weird? A historical city lamented with cultural heritage marked with the rich (and bloody) history of Russia. A city that has a centre full of beautiful churches and infrastructure (the famous metro stations, as an example) straight out from a fairy-tale. To be fair, the other side might be the monotonic colourless suburbs surrounding the growing megalopolis; being home to the population flowing to work in the capital from all over Russia and the former Soviet countries.
Mihail Bulgakov captured the atmosphere of Moscow in his novel ‘Master and Margarita’ – a classic I sadly haven’t been able to obtain into my restricted van library just yet. But the day when our physical paths cross will come, and until then I can always count on the public library or my friend’s book shelf. Also, it is worth mentioning that nowadays a mega city like Moscow serves for the first world needs of a hipster vegan nomad millennial like me from multiple vegan restaurants and shops to unique underground areas, museums and party hotspots.
Seattle, Washington, USA
Because it’s the geographical birth place of a genre of the generation who was young around the time I was born, grunge. Although I may not agree on the hate for their hippie generation parents, the music, fashion and attitudes are still pretty great to this day. I found Seattle to be such an awesome city with lots of creative people, and I was lucky to be able to visit there in 2013. Gosh, it seems like a decade ago already!
Also, I confess being quite addicted to Starbucks’ plant-based caramel latte these days. The first coffee shop going with the name was indeed founded near Pike Place Market in 1971 – and it’s still actually running! Here’s a tip for you: the chain brands that serve vegan products are required to do that in all over the world which sounds pretty lame but can actually save your butt in a hurry sometimes.
I don’t know if it’s just embarrassing or uncomfortably patriotic to list your own current home town into this kind list but… damn it! Helsinki has just that something that really treats this small town girl fondly even in the rush hours of a capital city (on Finnish scale) or coldness of the winter wind blowing straight from the sea into your core.
Even if I never have lived in the actual area that is considered to be the centre, the University of Helsinki is nowadays located right next to the Cathedral (or at least the Faculty of Arts and Humanities are). For me, the best moment is to walk past the church and turn to the Alexander Street (Aleksanterinkatu) which is beautifully lit on Christmas time – starting from late November. After the last lecture around 6 pm the air is usually crispy and clear, sometimes even filled with small flakes of snow. If I have time, I sometimes stop by at my favourite cafe called ‘Ihana’ (which means ‘lovely’) to have a warm glass of glögi (hot mulled wine).
I visited there once as a part of a student excursion and it all seemed very cute, colourful, environmentally friendly and, somehow, European (whatever that is supposed to mean). How can you not like a place with huge public swings in the parks? At least if you’re not a complete dull head.
Cities/Countries/Areas that I still have on my bucket list:
The capital of Hungary is on the top of my list for somewhat same reasons as Moscow: they both are very historical and just a bit weird in an intriguing way (or so I’ve heard about Budapest since I haven’t yet visited the place). Also, as a kid I used to love the truffle-filled candies wrapped in the silver paper with decorative blue font. I wonder what happened to those sweets? Could I be able to find them if I REALLY put my investigative mind and effort into it…? This could be worth an adventurous post. Let me know what you think: to hunt or not to hunt the lost candies of the childhood!?!
Haven’t YOU already heard the rumour that it’s absolutely beautiful in there!
Also, my favourite character Kate Cameron in the American historical fiction TV-series ‘Pan Am’ fell in love with a tall handsome stranger from Jugoslavia. When they departed, the savvy red-head whispered tears in her eyes that she heard it’s beautiful in there. This intertextual reference makes it even more dramatic and intriguing for me!
A couple of my friends at the Environmental Science went as an exchange student in Reykjavik and posted stunning shots taken from their field trips.
In a somewhat twisted and bittersweet way I do find the history of this country pretty darn interesting! My godfather has visited Vietnam multiple times, shown me pictures and told some stories from his trips – and now I am permanently in an utter state of despair mixed with travel jealousy. Grrrr!
Around the time when I was in my early teen years, we had a major boom of the manga and anime culture: suddenly it become highly mainstream to draw manga and consume Japanese culture products on a daily basis. Even I underwent a period of one year where I would spend my weekly allowance on a manga comic book which used to cost from seven to ten euros per piece. Luckily you didn’t have to own all of the series yourself since friends were always there to loan you their collection – a couple of books or all of them at once. You could always spot a manga fan pretty easily judging from the amount of books they were carrying around.
After eight grade my sudden interest faded until recently when I started to watch at least somewhat more authentic Japanese anime series with a friend (the cute comedies are my favourites!). That’s actually something I could potentially make a proper post in the future if you are interested to hear more! Anyway, Japan seems to be a somewhat conflicting culture (in terms of feminism, for example) but an interesting one worth getting in touch more. Especially the smaller towns and spectacular nature of the island country!
Technically I have already visited the Canadian side of Niagara Falls but what I still really want would be a full-blown road trip through all the forest and moose parts of Canada. Which I assume would hopefully turn out to be quite rewarding for a die-hard Twin Peaks fan like me.
Christopher McCandless aka Alexander Supetramp may have canonized this into the ultimate initiation rite for any young anarchist who wants to test one’s limits outside the known society.
Technically I could argue that for me the whole call of the Scandinavian Lapland is basically the same thing – and that’s exactly why I’m heading there first. (Sometimes in the summer, of course.) But I can’t deny that the thought of driving through Canada to Alaska wouldn’t be intriguing and most pleasant…
If you happen to be from or have been in some of these destinations mentioned above, please let me know your story on the comments section! And if any of you are coming to Helsinki on this May, June or from August onwards, I’d be delighted to give you a free tour around the city centre!