For many, it was cold water swimming. Or sourdough bread baking. In the Nordics it seems to have been knitting fluffy beanies and Icelandic sweaters. In Switzerland, it was Nordic skiing. The biggest trend of the pandemic winter 2020/2021.
For me, the trend was not any of the above mentioned old loves of mine (though I have been thinking of getting back into them soon again, and I have skied nordic nicely lot this winter too). For me, the trend of this pandemic winter was rethinking my greatest passion. (And some other stuff but about those some other time.)
During the past decade and a half, I though my biggest passion was travel. I studied a Master of Science degree with specialisation in Tourism Research. I worked in hospitality and tourism industry from guiding and service to marketing and research. I traveled for fun and work, not a lot but still a good amount. No backpacking in Asia, but surfing in Morocco and clubbing in Berlin.
Then came the pandemic, lockdowns and travel restrictions. A brief stint back in travel SaaS business and experience economy happened too and especially my longest time – during the past decade and a half – in one country . (For about one and a half year now, I haven’t traveled outside Switzerland nor much longer than in 100km radius from my home base – moved once though, with about 100km moving distance.)
For me, the pandemic has been marked with the realisation that I do not miss travel itself much. I do miss some things only travel makes possible. And I miss the biking in Copenhagen for the best Danish pastries and I miss eating tapas in Granada watching moon rise above Alhambra and Sierra Nevada mountains. But I don’t miss much travel itself nor working in travel – it is the other things, related and not related to travel I miss.
It is living and breathing different places and cultures. It is learning about those. It is challenging myself with foreign exciting stuff and steep climbs on mountain sides. It is is the learning, the personal development and empowerment – living the life well and making my best to make the good life possible to myself and others I am the most passionate about.
Luckily, living well has been possible during the pandemic as well (maybe even more now, for also certain amount of solitude and the distance to other people and crowds is important in the very good life of a introvert like me).
Staying in one place, I have been able to impress myself with other cultures and practice my language skills, challenge myself and develop multiple personal and professional abilities and traits. It is also been a good possibility to get rid of some habits not good for me, and of things which do not support me on my path toward my dreams (again, no big crowds nor closer than 2m distance to strangers, thank you.)
I have also been blessed with a long stay close to my most loved one and enjoying the everyday (as far as the restrictions allow) with the best people, and a damn good of a support and ass kicker bubble. And my bikes, skis, shoes, digital devices, pens, papers, books and coffee machines have been here too, helping me to get the most out of my capabilities and this life so great.
At some point this website and my blog was supposed to be a travel blog. Then a lifestyle blog with lots of travel and outdoors. Then it kinda went to sleep, with the so many things and changes happening during the 2020/2021 pandemic. But now I thought to wake it up more regularly again. With less travel and more developing, learning and exploring. Flashback stories from the past year and new stories from the adventure ahead. And more importantly, many many snapshots of life well lived. Because that is my greatest passion.
Yes most likely a lot of biking too. Because that belongs to the life well lived like enough sleep, food and water. And we seem to be almost in the season already.
Backyard escapades are the trend these days. At least for the ones who are still allowed to go out. And it really becomes a luxury when your backyard is the Swiss Alps, with it’s mountains, hiking trails, xc-ski tracks (not in Engelberg though) and just the nature and landscapes itself.
In here, one can really take advantage of the health benefits what being physically active (or just lazying around) in the nature offe. Outdoor activities in the time of covid-19 shouldn’t be too risky and taking all the safety measures and distance recommendations seriously is more than advisable, but they are ok and they have many benefits, like always.
(And well, if you are like me this Tuesday, one can also very easily totally freeze her fingers and upper body when riding the bike down from the treeline. Note to self: It’s still March, the ski and skitouring high season. Not biking, despite what the temperatures from the previous weeks and closed ski resorts suggest.)
And (not bragging but) since in the past (while carelessly sitting close to each other in restaurants and sharing the bowls of moules frites‘ with friends and strangers like no one currently) I have studied the outdoor recreation and nature based tourism and tapped in some hours in the Finnish Forest Research Institute – who conduct research on these things too – I thought to share now some of the research findings on the health benefits of natural environment exposure.
(On side of advising you more practically to not forget the warmer gloves and jackets and headbands if you already get up and down the hills and mountains with your bike. I think next time I take my ski gloves.)
These are not the easiest of times for most of us, but I hope this too can help at least some to cope a bit better with the uphills and challenges. And please note the last sentence of the quote below. I know in many places the parks are closed too and urban hangouts aren’t advised even on outdoor spaces. So what’s better to know that even research shows that our favourite things, urban forests, recreation and coastal areas work better for our health and wellbeing than the now closed urban settings.
I know, for many even these are hard to get to especially now, but I do hope we all are back to our favourite things sooner than later.
Until that, let’s try to make the most of it despite everything, dream and plan on. What’s best, it also doesn’t cost anything.
Please do note though, if you are going out these days – walking, biking, running, easy hikes and (xc) ski tours –please keep in mind the recommendations of your local health authority. Which in Switzerland means that one should keep as close home as possible, keep at least 2 meter distance to every other person, avoid public transport, not meet/gather with more than 5 people etc. (The Swiss authority instructions in many languages can be found in here.) Also, if you in example are in Swiss Canton Uri and over 65, you shouldn’t go out at all. (And if you are under 65 and healthy, go help your neighbour and the over 65 year old near you.)
It’s also always advisable – and especially now– to do your best to avoid injuries and other emergencies. Covid-19 is a huge challenge for the whole healthcare and emergency response system and you shouldn’t be the one going to the hospital with broken leg right now. So keep it safe, keep it your responsible careful granny/grandpa -style, and keep it delivering the good, not bad.
See you on the other side!
Spending time and being physically active in nature promotes well-being and health. Nature helps us recover from the effects of stress and forget our everyday worries. It also lifts our moods. The effects are manifested in lower blood pressure and a stabilised heart rate.
Spending time in our favourite spots in nature, in particular, restores us. Experiences of restoration in reported favourite spots such as recreation areas, urban forests and coastal areas are stronger than those reported in favourite spots such as parks or built-up urban environments.
Where: My backyard (Engelberg, Switzerland)