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, so I am never a solitary wanderer.
As I contemplate retirement, I realize that I might be doing a little more traveling - 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 seem to 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. BTW, any similarity between the two sets of guidelines are purely coincidental!