live slow, love nature, be adventurous

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Looking Back at 2015

Happy New Year - well, it has been a while since I last published a post on my blog! The last couple of months have been kind of crazy: I have been really busy with school and therefore I have found it hard to maintain some sort of balance in my life and so I felt like I needed to take a break from blogging to clear my mind again. I have missed writing a lot, but sometimes it really is necessary to take a step back in order to find yourself again and now that we’re at the beginning of a new year, I finally feel like it is time to start afresh again.

Before we move on, I would love to take a moment to simply look back at the past year. Like every year, 2015 was a bit of a rollercoaster ride: There were moments when I felt really elated to be alive and times when I had to smile so hard that it hurt, but there were also moments when I questioned my path in life and times when I felt unsure about myself. And while both ups and downs are necessary to make us truly appreciative of life, negative times – no matter how small and insignificant they may be in the grand scheme of things – do have a way of effecting us so much that we almost forget about the good times and so I want to focus on the moments that were filled with love and laughter as I look back at 2015.

My boyfriend and me started the year with a long weekend in Prague. I haven’t blogged about it a ton yet (but I have a post coming for you in January!), but Prague really is one of the most beautiful places I have visited in Central Europe so far and definitely well worth a visit for a weekend filled with beautiful architecture, interesting culture and some of the best pastries I have ever had.

Aside from this trip, winter was rather quiet, though we did go out on a beautiful winter wonderland walk in the mountains when we visited my parents for a weekend. There were also lots and lots of coffee and brunch dates in Heidelberg with Jordan and Margo that made me really thankful to have started blogging.

In March, I interned at a law firm in Frankfurt and used the opportunity to explore the region I grew up in a little bit more. I spent a day embracing the cold in Wiesbaden and an afternoon escaping to the tropics in a greenhouse and both trips laid the cornerstone to a love for local adventures that was a constant for me in 2015.

I also spent a fun girls’ weekend in Paris with Jen, Alex, Jordan and Margo where we went on a tasty food tour in St. Germain-des-Prés and took way too many pictures of the Marais. The takeaway? Bloggers make for some of the best friends you could have!

By the time I was back in Heidelberg for a new semester, spring had finally started to take hold and I began to slowly awake from my winter hibernation. I showed Jen and her London roommate around town when they stopped in Heidelberg for a sunny afternoon on their Germany roadtrip and as the temperatures started to rise in the weeks that followed, my boyfriend and me started spending a lot of times outdoors and discovered the beauty of the Neckar Valley properly for the first time.

Speaking of local adventures: I also found my new favorite place in Germany in 2015 – the Black Forest! Even though I had been to the very south of Germany a few times since my boyfriend has family in the area, I had never made the jump to the Black Forest until this spring and I’m so glad I finally did: The nature is stunning, public transport is ample and there are so many great hiking opportunities! Our favorite hike of the year took us through an impressive and wild gorge and I am sure that you will see a lot of the Black Forest on the blog in the years to come!

It has quickly become a tradition for me to visit the beautiful Schloss Wolfsgarten near Frankfurt at the end of spring and to go absolutely crazy with my camera in what surely must be one of the most beautiful landscape gardens in Germany. I go almost every year and it has been really interesting to see how my photography skills and style have changed over the years!

In the early summer, Heidelberg was hit by a big heatwave and since the only way to escape the sun seemed to be to seek out the shade of the forest, Margo and me went looking for dragons in the Palatinate Forest one afternoon. There were also a lot of bike rides (hello sunburn!) and other outdoor trips and we enjoyed the sun as much as possible.

But since I can't stay in one place for too long without getting itchy feet,  my boyfriend and me went on an awesome long weekend trip to Florence in Italy in June. Florence had been on our travel bucket list for a long time and it was even more beautiful than we could have imagined. Florence is an art lover’s dream and almost feels like a living museum: There were so many stunning churches, so many beautiful buildings and so many places that were just brimming with history that we were pretty much in heaven. And the delicious gelato didn’t exactly hurt either!

At the end of June, I went to Bavaria with my parents to visit a family friend and it was basically the most blissful weekend ever. I went on walks in the forest, took lots of pictures of pretty flowers and left my phone and my laptop stowed away in my bag the entire time and, at the end, I vowed to move to the countryside one day.

Overall, July was a bit of a bittersweet time: Margo and her husband moved back to the US after two years of living in Germany and since Jordan had already left the country in spring, our Heidelberg blogging group sadly had to move online. I had plenty of work for university to distract me, though, and time flew by quickly.

The end of July called for another trip to Freiburg where we not only spent some time exploring one of my favorite towns in Germany, but also visited the Black Forest again to cool off in one of the picturesque lakes in the mountains.

September was the big travel month of my year. My boyfriend and me went to Spain together and spent two weeks exploring the beautiful region of Andalusia and Madrid, the country’s capital. We were really blown away by Spain and its beautiful architecture and landscape and when we had to leave, we were both eager to go back to visit some of the other regions.

After Spain, I flew to Rome with my mother where I not only ate lots and lots of Pasta and still lost weight and what has to be the best Pistachio gelato of my life, but also saw some of the greatest monuments that grace our planet. Rome and me had a rocky beginning, but when I left I had really fallen in love with the narrow alleyways, the grand squares, the plethora of churches and maybe even the chaotic traffic. Pictures will be on Instagram... eventually!

When I got back to Germany, fall was in full swing and we took full advantage of our free-time by heading out on local adventures as often as we could. I managed to drag my boyfriend to the Pumpkin Festival in Ludwigsburg again and left with both a full bag and a full memory card and a few weeks later we admired the colorful foliage on a fairytale forest walk in the Neckar Valley.

November was unusually mild and while school suddenly started to get really busy again, we continued backyard exploring. We finally visited Maulbronn Monastery, one of the best-preserved medieval structures in Europe, and enjoyed what we thought might be the last sunshine of the year and at the end of the month, we also visited my boyfriend’s little sister in Münster. Münster is a beautiful and lively city in the north of Germany and we attempted to visit every single hipster hangout in town, but also went on a peaceful walk through the countryside to a beautiful water castle.

Since I took a break from blogging for the last few weeks of the year, December was mostly a quiet and contemplative time. I felt exhausted from school, but still planned out Christmas presents with a vigor I have never possessed before and I got even more into the Christmas spirit when we went to Strasbourg in France for a day with my parents to visit the city’s world-famous Christkindelsmärik. I spent the holidays at home cooking up a storm and was back in Heidelberg just in time to ring in the New Year.

I can acknowledge the lessons my struggles have taught me in the past year, but most of all I feel grateful for all the wonderful moments of 2015. I always like to think of January as a peaceful and restorative time after the stress of the holidays and so I’m gently trying to ease back into my Yoga practice and blogging right now. And thank you to each and every one of you that has taken time out of their day to read my blog – I hope that the new year be unforgettable for you in all of the right ways and be filled with adventure, hope and opportunities!


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