"Who, in their right mind, travels to northern Europe in winter?"
Welcome, new reader. We get asked this question often of people new to us. And we get it: for nearly three decades, we chose to travel to bright and sunny beaches when our weather turned nippy. And when it was too hot, we'd venture to cooler climes. So yes, you may ask why the hell we made the choice to spend winter in northern Europe.
The is mostly asked by other extensive travelers who keep a clear delineation between occupational travel and discretionary travel. The former is that thing we -- and they -- do for for the job or our business. Get there. Get it over with. And then look forward to a vacation of lounging on the beach, relaxing on a cruise, or spending the days sliding down slopes and nights with a good book by the fire. Probably in the lodge over a pint.
But opportunistic travel -- the kind we're now doing -- is a blending of those two travel modalities into something completely different. Because I can't resist a science analogy, think of the standard types of travel as hydrogen and oxygen. Individually, one gas enables life and the other is highly combustable. You learned in chemistry that together, they make water. True ... sort of. You can't just combine the two gasses in a container and expect to get water. Do that, and you get the Hindenburg. Oh, the humanity.
But back to northern Europe in winter. Contrary to popular belief, northern Europe does not close for the winter. The residents are non-migratory. Commerce still takes place. Busses run. Kids go to school. TV broadcasts continue. And also, people fall in love. They go to the movies and take long, scenic drives. The bars are open. Walks along the shore are possible and happen. And yes, even the "touristy" things are mostly accessible. Leisure time exists and is enjoyed.
You know what happens during the winter months in northern Europe? Life. Life happens. Occupational time and discretionary time are often perfectly blended. The guy in the coffeeshop on his laptop: Is he writing for pleasure or business? The lady on the train next to you: Is she headed to work or to stroll along the river? Is this the first time the couple you saw at dinner had been to that establishment? Are they even local?
This isn't a phenomenon unique to northern Europe. It happens where you live. And it happens to you. It happened to us. We just had a hard time recognizing it, mostly because we were caught up in the differences between occupational and discretionary time. Not any more. At least, not for us.
When you look at a glass of water, you can't see the hydrogen or oxygen gas. Each has, in a practical effect, ceased to exist in favor of forming something radically different. How different? Throw a match in a glass of water, and then in a bottle with a mix of the two gasses. On second thought, don't try that second part. Oh, the humanity.
So... why were we in northern Europe for winter? Because it's where opportunity took us. It wasn't for vacation. It wasn't for work or just another place to do our jobs. It was for an experience. One we're grateful for. And one we're even more grateful that we could share with you.
Here's to the next adventure. Maybe it will be warmer.