“I spend so much time at airports. Nowadays it actually feels like I’m more at home at the airport than my actual home,” says Veera Papinoja.
And no wonder. For instance this September, Papinoja spent only two days in her apartment in Helsinki. The rest of the month she was travelling around Vietnam, Iceland, Greece, and Japan.
Since 2016, travelling and updating her popular ”Veera Bianca” travel blog have been a full time profession for Papinoja.
However, travelling has not always been her passion.
”I grew up in a family that was afraid of flying. So as a child, I always thought flying was extremely dangerous."
”I grew up in a family that was afraid of flying. So as a child, I always thought flying was extremely dangerous. We even traveled to Paris by bus with my mother and grandmother,” says Papinoja.
”It was not until 2004 that I flew for the first time with my friend and her family. I still recall how it felt: my back pressing against the seat as the plane took off, thinking I had somehow ‘betrayed’ my old self, since I had always thought that I would never fly. The trip sparked something in me though – a need for adventure – and I’ve felt that way ever since.”
Tough farewells and sweet reunions
Travelling swept her off her feet for good in 2006.
”I travelled to Australia and spent a year at a small horse farm close to Canberra. It was one of the best experiences of my life. When I got back to Finland, I no longer felt like I belonged here. Something in me resists the idea of a ’normal life’: settling down with a house, a couple children, and a mortgage. I feel like the true me comes alive when I’m travelling,” says Papinoja.
She says that the worst and best moments of her life have been at airports.
”Leaving my host family in Australia was so difficult that I thought I will never experience anything as awful again. I cried the entire 30-hour trip home: on the floor of Canberra airport, then in Hong Kong, and finally in Helsinki.”
”I’m quite sensitive as a person – I connect deeply with people and create strong relationships easily, so goodbyes are difficult for me,” Papinoja says. ”On the other hand, reunions bring me great joy. Friends and family are already used to the fact that though I’m always leaving, I’ll also always come back.”
Airports are like a second home
Papinoja mentions Hong Kong as her favorite airport, but Helsinki Airport has special place in her heart as well: in 2012 and 2013, she worked at the airport at the check-in desk, departure gates, and security check.
"Even after a long day at work, I could sit for hours at Starbucks with tears in my eyes watching as people reunite with loved ones in the arrivals hall.”
”I was at Arlanda airport when the idea of working at an airport occured to me. I wasn’t really sure what to do with my life, but as I watched the travellers, flight attendants, and pilots passing me by, I knew that I was in my element.”
The feeling grew even stronger when Papinoja worked at Helsinki Airport.
“I was told that the excitement wears off after a while, but that never happened to me. Even after a long day at work, I could sit for hours at Starbucks with tears in my eyes watching as people reunite with loved ones in the arrivals hall.”
Although being a travel blogger means that Papinoja is on the road more than hundred days a year, the special atmosphere at airports still amazes her.
”I have experienced so many great things at airports that there is no place that feels more like home.”
Veera's blog: www.veerabianca.com
Cover photo: Rania Rönntoft