One of the things I enjoy most about travelling is that there is always something new or exciting just around the corner, and that the art of globetrotting and the level of what it is possible to experience while away from home is growing. It never goes backwards, only forwards, and there are few things in life one can be so certain about. This is why we all love to travel, of course.
A few months ago, The Cultured Traveller team travelled to Finland to research the Helsinki cover story for the fourth birthday issue you’re reading now. The trip was a long time in planning and the word “sauna” was bandied about a number of times, since the ancient bathing ritual is an inherent part of Finnish culture. I have to admit that I was not convinced, and despite various arrangements which had been made I wasn’t sure that I would partake in any sauna experiences to be honest. But I did, at Löyly, an architecturally-stunning multi-million Euro complex which a couple of local entrepreneurs opened in 2016, one of whom kindly hosted me personally when I visited. He had never met me before or even spoken to me on the ‘phone, but the time I spent in his company – in the magnificent building he had co-created from scratch – was one of the most memorable moments of my year thus far. And the sauna experience itself – including swimming in the Baltic Sea, in between trying different types of sauna – was such a profoundly positive and rejuvenating experience, that it gave me a new-found respect for the Finns, for whom sauna is part and parcel of their daily lives. Finland is one of the safest and happiest countries in the world and now I understand why. I can’t remember the last time I smiled as much as I did during my visit to Helsinki.
In an interesting twist of fate, the same chap told me (in a very unpretentious, matter-of-fact way) that he just starred as the baddie in Spike Lee’s much-talked-about movie BlacKkKlansman, which won this year’s Grand Prix award in Cannes. It was so refreshing not to have been informed of this fact via a press release or a note from one of his “people” before we met. You can read our exclusive interview with actor and Löyly co-founder Jasper Pääkkönen in our Music & Night Life section.
I hope you enjoy reading this Fourth Anniversary Edition as much as the team and I enjoyed the new experiences we encountered putting it together. One never knows what’s around the corner, so if you have an opportunity to travel and there’s even the slightest possibility of seeing something new, get out there and do it. Because life and travelling are all about moving forwards.