What a year it has been! 2017 is going down in the books as one of the best yet. On a personal note, this has been a year of highs for me. The Prince and I turned 26 years old in January and February and at the end of this year, we celebrated two years together! It seems like only yesterday I was inviting him to Scotland and our love story began – can’t wait to see what the future holds for us in 2018 (hint, hint to the Prince!). Our flat is pretty much complete (we might have gone to IKEA again yesterday – it never ends!) and it feels great to have a place to call home. Since 2009, I haven’t lived in one place longer than 9 months. Come visit – we absolutely adore our flat and neighborhood, and enjoy hosting people!
I finally feel settled in Hamburg and am loving life here. I’ve found a really great group of girlfriends and became involved in an international book club the latter half of the year. It’s been a wonderful way of meeting new people and expanding my social circle.
On a professional and blogging note, it’s been an exciting year for me. I’ve now been at my job in Hamburg for almost 18 months. In terms of blogging, it’s been my biggest year yet and I’m even more excited for 2018. Besides working on my blog and totally rebranding (also, I just launched a new theme a few weeks ago – do you like it?!), I branched out into helping travel bloggers with their social media accounts and I’ve absolutely LOVED it. Lots of business ideas for 2018 ;) Additionally, traffic was at its highest this year and I’m optimistic about monetizing my blog this coming year. As always, I wish I posted more often (although the Prince does a great job of reminding me when I don’t post!) but I’m hoping to be a bit more consistent in 2018. Thank you, dear readers, for sticking with me for over four (!) years!
Table of Contents
Quick Stats for 2017
- 10 countries visited (9 repeats and 1 new country – Romania)
- 38 flights taken
- 40+ long-distance trains taken
- 93 travel days
The lovely seaside village of Fishtown in Northern Michigan
The new year started with a bang! The Prince and I were at my childhood home in Traverse City, Michigan for Christmas and the new year. It was the first time in almost a decade that my entire family had been home for the holidays. After coming back from the USA, I had low-key birthday celebrations in Hamburg before going on a solo trip to the Harz Mountains in Germany. I stayed in Goslar but got to venture up the mountains on the Brockenbahn (an old-fashion train).
The Brockenbahn in the Harz Mountains
The beautiful Frauenkirche of Dresden looming in the distance
Every year for our birthdays (mine’s January 16th and the Prince’s is February 1st) we like to venture somewhere new in Germany. This past year, we decided to head to Dresden. I had been here briefly with my family in 2012 but it was great (and cold!) to spend an entire weekend here. The city is absolutely gorgeous! It is amazing how it’s rebuilt itself not only after World War II but also the Cold War. We ended the month by participating in the German tradition of Karneval in Cologne (the equivalent of Mardi Gras in the USA). Cologne has one of the largest Karneval celebrations in the entire world!
The gorgeous skyline of Cologne
Relevant Post: Dresden Through Destruction
The Austrian ski village of Serfaus
Besides officially launching my rebrand (!!!), the Prince and I headed off to one of our favorite cities in the world – London! We visited old friends, celebrated new babies, and thoroughly indulged by visiting some of our favorite bars and eating at our favorite restaurants. It was such a wonderful, relaxing weekend. At the end of the month, we headed to one of the Prince’s favorite childhood destinations for a bit of skiing/snowboarding – Serfaus, Austria. He’s been coming here almost every year since he was born, and it was wonderful to be able to visit a place so dear to him! At the end of the trip, we made a quick stop in Innsbruck – the city where my parents honeymooned almost 30 years ago!
One of my favorite photos of 2017 – the colorful Innsbruck, Austria
The Hamptons of Northern Germany – the island of Sylt
On April 1st, I hopped on a 6:00 am flight and spent less than 36 hours in Brussels, Belgium visiting an old college friend. He’s a big beer fan and we spent an entire day just drinking beer and catching up on life. As Easter fell later this past year, the Prince and I took advantage of the long weekend and went on an overnight trip to Sylt, Germany – one of the chicest and richest islands in Europe. Relatively unknown to foreigners, it was gorgeous and so relaxing.
Relevant Post: The Hamptons of Germany – Sylt
My favorite city in all of Germany – Heidelberg
The Prince and I have started the tradition of always going back to Heidelberg during the first weekend of May (a long weekend). We met during this exact same weekend in 2014 and it is fun going back to someplace so familiar. We always stay in the same Airbnb, go to the same restaurants, and visit the same landmarks. Our Airbnb and train tickets are already booked for 2018! In the middle of the month, we took a short weekend trip up to the Prince’s hometown of Kiel before I headed back to the USA for a surprise visit! I flew into D.C. and road tripped down to Virginia Beach with my sister. I managed to surprise my grandparents – their reactions were priceless!
Relevant Post: Heidelberg at Night
High above the Vatican in Rome, Italy
Way back in February, the Prince’s mom had the wonderful idea of buying tickets for us to Rome to celebrate the Prince’s 26th birthday. Over Christmas in 2016, the Prince completed a 2,000-piece puzzle of the Sistine Chapel and the Prince’s mom thought we should see it in person. I had never been to Rome before so it was such a wonderful trip! I think we covered like 15 miles in two days :) Our B&B was so quaint and perfect…and it had air conditioning!!! The end of the month, we headed up to Kiel to celebrate Kieler Woche (see this previous post on Kieler Woche in 2016). It’s always so much fun to see all the boats that come in for the event and we got to go sailing on the Prince’s mom’s boat.
The quaint village of Kaysersberg, France
Reliving Beauty and the Beast in Colmar, France
The greenest city in Germany – Freiburg (fun fact: my sister is studying abroad here in the fall!)
The beginning of July, Hamburg was blessed (screwed?!) to be hosting the G20 Summit. This summit saw the leaders from the 20 largest economies in the world converge on Hamburg (think everyone from Trump to Trudeau to May to Jinping to Modi to Abe to Putin). It was really cool to be hosting this event but also quite scary. There were massive protests, cars burnt, so many businesses destroyed/looted, etc. I had already planned on getting out of the city ahead of time and checked three new bucket list places off my list – Colmar and Kaysersberg, France and Freiburg, Germany. I also planned a surprise trip for the Prince in the middle of the month to Dinant, Belgium – an adorable town near the French border. It barely had any tourists and was incredibly relaxing. At the end of the month, I indulged in TWO ice cream festivals in Hamburg. With an overactive sweet tooth, I loved the festivals! My stomach? Not a huge fan of them (ha!).
The Belgian town of Dinant France
Indulging my sweet tooth at ice cream festivals
Staying on an alpaca farm in the Cotswolds!
The Cotswolds village of Castle Combe (might look familiar if you’ve seen the movie War Horse!)
When recapping our travels in 2017, the Prince and I kept mentioning the same trip – a road trip through the Cotswolds. We both absolutely love the UK and I don’t think it’s any secret that we would move to the UK in a heartbeat if given the opportunity! Neither of us had ever driven in the UK but the Prince did a fabulous job. We stayed at one of our favorite B&Bs ever and soaked in the gorgeous countryside. I still need to recap this trip but needless to say, we’re already planning another UK road trip for 2018 (we’re thinking the Lake District). At the end of the month, all the wine festivals were in full force in Germany! The Prince and I particularly loved the local one that’s right around the corner from our apartment.
Relevant Post: An Alpaca Farm in the Cotswolds
Exploring the fjords right outside Oslo, Norway
The Maroon Bells with her snowcapped peaks!
September was a month of LOVE. At the start of September, I took a quick two-day trip to Oslo to meet up with my cousin and her boyfriend. Unbeknownst to her, she would leave Oslo with a fiancé! I helped her boyfriend scheme and documented the actual proposal. It was so much fun to be part of it! I then headed to Aspen, Colorado the middle of September for my sorority little’s wedding. I was a bridesmaid and besides being an absolutely gorgeous wedding, I left with some amazing new friends! At the end of the month, the Prince and I went on a road trip through Transylvania in Romania. While the driving conditions were a bit intense, we both fell in love with the city of Sibiu (so many German roots in that city). The vacation was a much deserved break for the Prince – we were apart most of September due to my travels and his work for Merkel’s reelection campaign in Germany.
Peleș Castle in Romania
The Transylvanian city of Sibiu
Relevant Post: Hiking the Maroon Bells in Aspen
The quaint seaside town of Bellagio, Italy in Lake Como
Remember the book club I mentioned at the beginning of this post? I went on a girls’ weekend trip to Lake Como with a dear friend from that group. Although we only met in August, we immediately hit it off and decided to take a weekend trip together (after hanging out only 2-3 times! Ha!). It was so so so much fun and much-needed sun after a dreary, grey, cold summer in Hamburg. In celebration of 500 years of the Reformation, all Germans had an extra public holiday on October 31st. The Prince and I took advantage of this opportunity and returned to where it all started – Edinburgh, Scotland. This trip was good for our soul, filled with lots of yummy food and catching up with dear friends.
Edinburgh Castle in Scotland
The side streets of Madrid, Spain
After a weekend in Kiel (the Prince’s hometown) during the beginning of November, I met up with a friend from elementary school in Madrid in mid-November. She’s one of my oldest and dearest friends, and I’m so happy that she now lives in London. Once again, the warm weather and sunshine were desperately needed. The end of November brought our annual Thanksgiving celebration. The Prince and I hosted a Thanksgiving feast for 20 friends (Germans, Americans, and a few other nationalities) and I managed to successfully cook the turkey! It was extra special this year because I had my sorority big visiting me for the holiday!
The City Hall Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria
The adorable Karlsplatz Christmas Market in Vienna – it specifically caters to kids!
The lovely town of Tübingen, Germany
December was an insanely packed month of travel with all weekends booked! As a Christmas gift to ourselves, the Prince and I booked a weekend in Vienna at the start of the month. I think we explored 12 different Christmas markets in 48 hours. I’ve been trying to get to Vienna for years and absolutely fell in love with the city. The next weekend, I headed to Tübingen (in southern Germany) with fellow travel blogger Christina from Happy To Wander. Tübingen is extra special to me because I studied abroad here almost 6 years ago. I’d always wanted to visit the annual chocolate festival and it did not disappoint! In the middle of December, I took a solo trip to Weimar and Erfurt, Germany. Both formerly part of East Germany, I was excited to explore their rich histories and Christmas markets. Weimar is a gorgeous city but Erfurt definitely had the better Christmas markets! I still love taking these solo trips and am glad that the Prince is always so supportive of them. We spent Christmas with the Prince’s family up in Kiel before flying to the USA on the 28th. We met my family in Disney World (!) and just returned from a week-long trip to Orlando.
The famous Merchants’ Bridge in Erfurt, Germany
Christmas-y side streets in Weimar, Germany
(Belated) Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Best Wishes for 2018 from my family to yours! Disney World 2017 :)
Future Travel Plans
2017 has been such a great year both in my personal life and travel wise. I’m so excited to see what 2018 brings for me and the Prince! Although we currently only have concrete travel plans to Luxembourg City, Luxembourg; Bamberg, Germany; Aarhus, Denmark; Serfaus, Austria; Heidelberg, Germany; Lake District, United Kingdom; and Hawaii, United States, I have a feeling that many more trips are on the horizon ;)
Locations of interest for 2018 include: Morocco, Israel, Prague, Dublin, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Menorca (Spain), Zugspitze (Germany), and a few more German islands! I’m also off to a blogging conference in Rotterdam the last weekend of May.
Here’s to 2017 and cheers to 2018!