Clockwise from top left: phonecards from Austria, Sweden, Czech Republic, & the Netherlands

All good things must come to an end, including this one.  In fact, my trip ended quite a while ago, since I'm still putting the finishing touches on this diary in January 1998.

What did I learn?  A good question.  Perhaps the best way of putting is that travel is just like daily life, except that it is daily life with awareness.  Unfamiliar places, unfamiliar people, unfamiliar customs...  without a monotonous but comforting daily routine to hang on to, you simply have to accept your fate and learn to enjoy it, the good with the bad.  Which is also true in life as a whole, although we all too often fail to realize it.

But the trip ended and I came home, looking forward to "normality" again...  but where had it gone?  Sure, my house was there, my friends were there, all the places I knew were still there, but something had changed.  Not in Helsinki, but within myself.  As in life, there is no going back: every moment is unique and meaningful.  Some memories I will cherish gladly, even though I know I can never replicate exactly the same moment again: instead, more than ever, I want to go forward into the unknown and discover more of this immensely large planet we live on.  Yes, I too have been bitten by the traveling bug, as a glance at my travel page will surely show.

To those of you wondering whether they have the guts to set out on their own Interrail, my advice is to stop thinking and start moving.  In the end, you'll regret not the things you've done, but the things you didn't do while you still had the chance.  As the obscure Finnish poet Lauri Viita said, "Life is neither mind nor matter, it is motion!"  So strike forth and seize the day.

Bonne voyage!

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