2016 has been another wonderful year, unfortunately it flew by so fast I actually felt like I didn’t have time to take it all in, soak up every moment and enjoy every minute. I certainly tried as best as I could to enjoy every single day and to slow down the time, but that is something completely out of my hands.
This year was a big year for us that had PLENTY of happy, joyous moments, many new adventures and lots of opportunities for which we are incredibly lucky to have had. So I want to take the time to show my gratitude to this beautiful life we live that has given us the chance to travel Europe. And I especially want to show my gratitude to my new husband who has been the most wonderful travel partner I could have ever asked for!
With each passing year, I feel that our lives continuously improve and grow and while there is so much more to be done, I know that for now, we should only focus on the here and now, but I can’t help but feel excitement for 2017 that will be filled with many new adventures, laughter, happiness and growth.
While I shouldn’t look to far into the future, I don’t want to look to far back into the past either. There were plenty of ups and downs throughout the year, on and off the camera, but that is no reason to dwell in the past either.
But a recap of our amazing year certainly doesn’t hurt that left us with long lasting impressions that turned us into story tellers and left pieces of our hearts everywhere we went.
January – March
We brought in 2016 standing on the Charles Bridge in Prague just as it began to snow at the stroke of midnight while watching the fireworks ring in the new year. Hoping for a proposal, I’d have to wait just a little bit longer. After all, patience is a virtue…which I dearly lack.
A beautiful wintery day led us on a quick day trip to Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic to enjoy castles, beer and a beautiful historic city center. With each visit to the Czech Republic we fell in love more and more with this beautiful country. We visited the Hluboká Castle, did a tour of the original Budweiser Brewery and enjoyed traditional Czech cuisine.
February is such a great month as my birthday and Valentine’s Day are just a few short days apart, which mean a long weekend trip! Valentine’s Day weekend I knew we were going somewhere, but my then boyfriend refused to tell me where we were going until we were on the road. I quickly figured out he was taking me to Vienna as soon as we crossed the border. After much sightseeing, a few delicious cakes and some authentic Wiener Schnitzel, a horse drawn carriage ride ended the night with a proposal! And I said YES! Too bad the horse carriage driver took crummy pictures!
April – June
When I mentioned we loved the Czech Republic, I wasn’t kidding. At the beginning of April we made another little day trip to the town of Karlovy Vary. Sad that we finally made it here after a friend had long since moved away, we mostly went because we were looking forward to our first Beer Spa experience! Such an awesome experience, it is highly recommended – after all, how can you beat a Beer Spa, unlimited beer in one hour, and homemade beer bread?
From February to April, we were full steam ahead in wedding planning and preparing for our Engagement Pictures, a very American wedding tradition. A friend of a friend, Andreas F. helped us to create our vintage travel engagement pictures and they turned out amazing!!
The beginning of May saw a road trip to Stuttgart for family reasons, which led us to the historic half-timbered town of Esslingen after we ran into a crowd of protestors in Stuttgart. Turns out May 1st is the day for protesting all of your woes in Germany. This town was by far way more picturesque than I had imagined and we instantly fell in love!
Mid May I made my first solo trip in 3 years without my then fiance to Texas for come wedding dress shopping! The most important part of wedding planning is saying “Yes to the Dress”, preferably with my friends and family! Also came a surprise mini-bachelorette sightseeing day trip to Austin, Texas before hitting the bars!
After returning from Texas, the rest of May and June saw a lot of rain, so that meant finding indoor things to do! So, we had been saving the Munich Residenz for a rainy day trip, and it turned out to be just what the rain man had ordered! The Residenz was more glorious than anything we could have imagined!
July – September
July is always a busy month as this is when we try to pack in the most of our sightseeing as the weather is usually the best in Germany at this time, and this year July had been a pretty wet summer. When we do road trips, we go big or go home, so we hit up the magical and surprisingly stunning town of Blaubeuren to see the Blautopf before continuing on to Schloss Lichtenstein, the little brother to Schloss Neuschwanstein.
When the weather is just right, we itch for getting out of town and hitting the road, so another day trip led us to Bamberg for the day where we enjoyed Smoked Beer and more half-timbered houses!
End of July saw a totally spontaneous last minute change of plans for Hans’ 35th birthday. We HAD planned to go to Lake Constance for the weekend only to discover somehow I managed to only book a hotel for one night and not three, sooo as all the hotels were booked our first instinct was Bruges, Belgium. There was no second guessing, we looked and booked within 15 minutes and hit the road the next morning. It’s our favorite town and this time as we were “slow traveling”, we took the time to really explore Bruges more than our first visit, as well as our first beach trip to Blankenberge Beach!
October – December
The beginning of October found us once again going away for the weekend – our last weekend together before we got married and before friends and family arrived from around the world. So we headed to one of Germany’s most stunning regions, the Rhine Valley where we visited the Loreley, sipped on a glass of Federweißer in Rüdesheim am Rhine, meandered the delectable town of Bacharach and made a side trip to Cochem to see the picturesque Reichsburg Castle.
By mid-October family was already arriving two weeks before the wedding, so we did what we do best: We entertained by traveling and took my parents to Prague for a weekend! We went all out and did another Beer Spa, ate Trdelník (Chimney Cake), and walked till our feet fell off! Afterwards, as more and more family arrived, we went to Schloss Neuschwanstein, Schloss Linderhof, Schloss Herrnchiemsee and Munich all during the 2 weeks before and after our wedding! Whew! That was a lot!
Finally, October 28th arrived! The day we could hardly stand waiting for any longer! Our beautiful wedding day! Friends and family from the US, the UK, Germany & Poland came to join us to celebrate our marriage! The day that would be known as “the best wedding ever” would go down in history! We were surprised just how awesome our day would be, how well it all came together and exceeded all of our expectations!
November was a relatively quiet month as we needed to recuperate after our wedding and two weeks of playing host and tour guide for friends and family. End of November however, begins a month of Christmas Market gallivanting! We hit up Nuremberg’s Christkindlmarkt as well as Strasbourg’s “City of Christmas” in France. Unfortunately, that was all we managed to make it to as I have recently been suffering from some severe muscle pain in my shoulder and up my neck and wasn’t up for sightseeing and carrying a camera around my neck all day. Plus, we booked a last minute flight home to Kentucky for Christmas.
December marks the time to start spending extra time with loved ones as everyone is infected with holiday cheer (at least, I hope they are!). This year we are spending our first Christmas as a married couple in Kentucky with my parents. It’s our first visit to Kentucky since my parents moved here at the beginning of summer 2016 so we’ll be hitting up the Kentucky Bourbon Trail! We’ll be playing with my doggies, catching up on some much needed shopping with a trip to Nashville, Tennessee.
What do we hope for in 2017?
As 2015 was such an amazing year and 2016 was fantastic, I can hardly wait to see what 2017 will bring! As we are a bi-national married couple, we talk about moving abroad together quite often as we think it would be a great experience for the both of us, but haven’t decided when or where we will go. Maybe 2017 will be the year of change! Fingers crossed!
With moving, comes the hope of also finding new jobs for the both of us, doing something new and exciting that will get us out of the hum drum we currently find ourselves in. Preferably, working from home more often via the internet so that we have move freedom to travel and pack up and go when we want, or the option to stay longer in certain places.
Of course, 2017 will also be the year of our honeymoon finally, as we delayed it to early summer at the end of May/June. So this is something we definitely look forward to!
If you’re interested in visiting Europe and are looking for more information, I highly recommend using the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides! Without these guides, I would be lost! This is my travel Bible!
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