First some confessions - I am not much of a traveler or adventurer. This may sound odd coming from someone who has lived in five countries in three continents. But it is what it is. I also do not have any bucket list. I am content knowing that I’ll not see everything that is to be seen. Relatively speaking, I have seen plenty. Then, I live in a place where I might have otherwise longed to vacation. Combine that with my aversion to flying – which has long stopped being glamorous. So, do I just sit at home and vegetate? No.
I love to hike, and spend time in the nature, especially where few people are around; and be one with the trees, the forest, the mountain creek, the valley, the sky .... be it in the summer or spring or autumn or winter. In the fall, as I walk in the solitary woods, I love the rustle of the mottled, fallen leaves under my feet, and the sweet fragrance of the decaying leaves. And on a cold winter day, as I walk in a lonely, winter fairyland forest, I love the sound of the crispy, crunchy snow under my boots. In other words, I have been in love with shinrin-yoku even without having known it. Fortunately, Christine shares my interests.
As I contemplate retirement, I realize that I might be doing a little more traveling - and not all of them are going to be just hiking. But neither are they going to be those “must-see, world travels” - the kind many prospective retirees have in mind, and what many of my colleagues and friends expect me to embark upon after retirement. So, I had to pause and think about where I'd like to go. I realized that the three most important things that I value in a travel destination are:
Be in the nature (rather than in a city or a metropolis)
A region where it is safe to move around independently (because we don't like group travels)
Not generally considered to be a top tourist attraction - the lower the likelihood of encountering tourists, the better. This wish is somewhat illusory because I am also not willing to forgo basic creature comfort.
Obviously, there are not many destinations that will fulfill all three requirements. The few that come to mind right now are: Iceland, Lapland/Finland, Norway and Russia. But as with my “guidelines for reading”, an occasional exception is very much acceptable.