When someone who grew up on Japanese media visits Tokyo, be it for the first time or the twelfth time, there is something which drives them back to Akihabara.
This area of Tokyo has peculiar and interesting history and is now the “mecca” for anyone interested in videogames, animes and mangas.

The whole place is exactly as one would expect: colourful, chaotic and very crowded.
The numerous shops are housed in very thin but very tall buildings with up to 8-9 floors, each dedicated to a category or specific genre.
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Tiananmen square is a majestic and wide area which connects to the Forbidden City through Tiananmen, the Gate of Heavenly Peace.
Now commonly connected to the massacre which occurred during student protests of 1989, the square has quite a long history.

Built in 1415 during the Ming dynasty, it went through many renovations including an expansion by Mao Zedong in 1958, who wanted to make it the most spectacular square in the world.
After Mao’s death, a mausoleum in his honour has been built on Tiananmen Square.
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Hello there!
After so much dreaming and planning, I am excited to finally be able to present my next world trip: From Finland to New Zealand!
I grew up with all kinds of pictures, documentaries and trinkets from Southeast Asia, so this adventure is quite personal, as this was my dream since I was a clueless young boy.
I believe showing is better than telling, so here is the rough idea of the trip:

tour map

Journey Map

As a fellow traveller once told me: “Dude, we are travelling in slow motion”. Back then I smiled but also realized why it is often so hard to tell people about my plan. Most people travel for a short amount of time and then go back home.
This journey will take years to complete but it will not be just travelling, there will be trips and tours of course but it would mainly be “normal” life just in different locations. Otherwise it would certainly burn anyone out, and all the places would just start to slowly blend together and lose their unique flavour.
As the name implies, I will be leaving from Finland and head all the way down to New Zealand (and the little tiny islands), passing through all the countries in-between (way too many to list them all). The plan is much more detailed for the first part (until Taiwan) but then it get a bit fuzzier as, honestly, I both can’t and don’t want to plan that far ahead.
So, if you think there are some unusual places or things to do in one of the countries I will be visiting, please feel free to suggest! 🙂

For the first few days in the Lapland, the weather went against all my hopes of seeing either the stars or the northern lights; the sky was completely covered in clouds, day and night.
On the third day, walking back from the center of Inari, I experienced almost a déjà vu of my first adventure here. Again pitch dark and again trying to survive the cold and the passing cars on the side of the road.
It was just 4 o’clock in the afternoon but already as dark as it gets.
Just moments before being rescued (once again) by Jussa’s father, I noticed a light in the sky. At first excited, I quickly realized it must just be a small hole in the clouds, from which a small spot of light was coming through – nothing like the clear sky I was hoping for.
It was just after dinner that the single spot was joined by a multitude of other lights.
Taking this as a sign, I started checking aurora forecasts regularly to keep an eye on the solar wind gauges. (Funny thing about the aurora forecast service: every day, a single guy, in Finland, checks the solar data, the sky and his gut feeling and updates the website with the forecast of the night.)
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Dropped off at the nearest bus stop, I headed to the husky camp by foot.
It was just 3.30PM but, in Inari, it was already pitch black, especially because there were no streetlights in that part of the road.
Equipped with my massive backpack and phone/flashlight, I started my 2.5km walk. It was an interesting experience: walking in the middle of the forest, the path only dimly light, snow falling; it was thrilling. The darkness and the trees surrounded me in a chilling embrace, which is how I imagine it would have been before electricity.
While all these thoughts stormed through my head, one of the rare passing cars stopped by and a voice called my name.
It was Jussa, the owner of the sled dog camp, and his family, coming to rescue me.
We had a quick dinner and headed to the camp so that I could get settled.
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The arrival in Rovaniemi was nice and smooth, despite my host not being around at the time (she was working as a nurse at the ER). Her brother was there and he kept me company in the evening. We tried out the house-sauna and afterwards jumped in the snow. Freezing amazing! (quite lame, I am aware.)


Delimitation of the Arctic Circle (the blue light) at the Santa Claus village

Rovaniemi is a small town where the highlights are the Arktikum museum, the art museum and the Santa Claus village just on the outskirts.
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As in Sweden (posts 1, 2, 3 and 4), I took the chance to visit the north of Finland during the winter break. I absolutely love snowy weather and, up until the end of December, there was no snow in Helsinki, so that pushed me to seek white-covered landscapes outside the city.
The trip had the usual mix of good planning and ‘let’s-see-what-happens’ that I like to have when travelling. The rough idea was to first stop by Oulu, head to Rovaniemi (right on the Arctic Circle imaginary line) and then somehow keep going north into the Lapland (hey, also the name of this series!).
So, only certain of my bus ticket and my Couchsurfing host, I headed to Oulu!
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As a final trip before our departure, we walked just outside Shkodër to the Rozafa Castle.
The castle, due to its strategic location, has a very long history, dating back hundreds of years. It overlooks the whole area around Shkodër from its height.


View from the castle

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Being very close to the border, we decided to stop by Ulcinj, a nice little town near the sea.
It was short day-trip to completely relax and, finally, enjoy a good swim in the sea.
Other than the numerous boats and water-scooters roaming the waters, the spot was a fair typical beach scene.
This was until a guy showed off his cool new gadget!
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The boat trip on the Koman/Komani Lake (which, to be honest, kind of looks like a river to me) is a common destination for travelers, especially if they are interested in hiking in the north of Albania. In fact, this is the most beautiful and scenic way to get to Fierza (a small town where many hiking trails begin).
Since the hostel was in very close contact with one (possibly the only one) of the transportation companies bringing people from Shkodër to Fierza, we were given a couple of tickets for a day-trip on the ferry. Continue Reading