A while ago, I stumbled upon a quote saying something like “whenever you want to say that you don’t have time, say you don’t want to make it a priority instead”. It may sound harsh, but it’s shockingly true: You can always make time for things that are a priority. And yes, in the last months, blogging was not a priority for me.
To be honest, I don’t feel the need to justify this priority shift. But maybe this summary of my spring 2016 can explain why I preferred to live offline for a change, and why it took me this long to publish a blog post about spring while summer is already in full swing.
This spring was actually a time when I came closer to a pseudo-long-term trip then ever before: In March 2016, I was on the go for two weeks straight, never sleeping in one bed for more than three nights in a row. First, I headed up to Berlin for the annual meet up with all my international blogger friends who were in town for the giant ITB travel trade fair. But instead of worrying about business cards and appointments with PR people, I spent the days visiting museums, drinking fabulous coffee with friends, and trying Sudanese food for the first time.
In the evenings, I would attend the blogger parties and meet-ups — and thus get the best of both worlds: Getting to know Berlin better while still doing a little networking over drinks and nibbles. And I also dared to book a mixed hostel dorm for the first time since 2013, which actually turned out to be super fun. I forgot how gloriously random tipsy 2am discussions about politics can be. I met a guy from Melbourne who I introduced to Berlin coffee, I chatted about my Isfahan travel dreams with a girl from Canada who was about to travel to Iran. And I basically realized once again how easy and fun solo travel hostel experiences are when you are open to a little hostel small talk.
From Berlin I traveled onward to North-Rhine Westphalia where I attended a wedding and crashed with my cousin and her boyfriend for a night. Then I spent two nights at my parents’ place in the state of Hesse before flying to Italy with my mom for four days. It was the third year in a row I traveled to Italy with my mom for her birthday.
Our plan had been to soak up all of the Italian sun to make it through those last yet seemingly endless weeks of German winter. I had overestimated spring temperatures in Northern Italy however and we ended shivering in our winter coats at 4 degrees in Venice. Nonetheless, we fell completely in love with Venice and aperol spritzes. This getaway was slightly different from what I had planned, but Italy just never disappoints!
From Venice I traveled back to my parents’ place for a night before visiting a friend in Southern Hesse’s Rhine Valley for three days. Even though it was still freezing, we rode a gondola over the vineyards, hiked past castle ruins, sampled regional wines, and took a boat tour on the Rhine river. I’m always surprised to find gorgeous places in Germany before I remember that there has to be a reason my country can be found among the top 10 most visited countries of the world. Lesson learned: I have to spent more time in the Rhine Valley (and more time exploring Germany in general), preferably in the summer!
I know these two weeks of traveling don’t sound like much, but I loved feeling like I was on road for two weeks straight with a change of scenery every other day. I was far away from my computer and everything else that ties me to my everyday life. I also re-discovered the joys of solo traveling in small doses: I spent so much time in transit by myself chatting with strangers, people-watching, and reading (actual novels!) and I loved every second of it. I called these two weeks my spring break for fun, but it was actually just that: A beautiful break from everything my life is usually about.
In April, things slowed down a bit again. Spring was slowly arriving in Germany and I didn’t feel the urge to run away as strongly anymore. I hosted girlfriends and introduced them to my cute little adopted home town, attended birthday parties, and big family reunions. It was all pretty low-key, but there rarely was a free weekend to catch up on blogging things.
In May then, when it finally got a little warmer, I did some hiking through the surrounding forests and canoeing with my family. In more exciting things, I used Pentecost holiday again for a little weekend getaway with my boyfriend Steffen (yet another annual tradition): I had given him flight tickets to Copenhagen for his birthday back in March and we were seriously excited for our first time in Scandinavia!
Copenhagen was everything we expected: The colorful houses were adorable, there were bikes absolutely everywhere, and the food, the craft beer, as well as coffee were outstanding — but it was also absurdly expensive. We mostly limited our sightseeing to walking around and put all our money toward culinary adventures instead: I even tried an oyster for the first time (finally)! And seriously, not a single thing I ate and drank wasn’t worth its money! I’m sure you could do Copenhagen on a budget, but I’m glad I waited this long to go there, because it certainly felt like all the good stuff there demands some serious splurging!
It’s kind of crazy that these spring months went by this quickly. Summer (or at least Germany’s definition of it) is already here and I can’t believe I’m only now finding the time to write. But that might be a good thing:
Life & Blogging
The funny thing I recently understood is that the better life is, the less I can write. It’s not like I couldn’t have squeezed in some writing time every now and then during the last months. But I actually chose to eat my meals consciously without typing while chewing. I chose to go to the park and read my book in the sunshine instead of sitting in front of my laptop. I chose people, nature, and being present over the online world. And while this certainly wasn’t healthy for my blogging stats, it was healthy for me.
Last year, I finally understood what it takes to be happy. And in retrospect, during those times I struggled the most, I also blogged the most. Apparently, I need to be troubled to create thought-provoking content — and lately, I’ve been doing so well emotionally that I couldn’t even think of many meaningful things to really write about.
I think I finally overcame the pressure the blog was putting on me. I still feel bad for not updating my social media channels often enough, but I also don’t feel the need to compete with other bloggers anymore. I’ve done the conferences, the intense blogging courses, and the luxurious press trips. I’ve learned so much through this blog and I’ve met so many amazing people though it, but I don’t what to live a life for the blog anymore. I can spend a month away from my computer, my camera, and my Instagram, because I prefer to create good content when I really feel like it over generic list posts written just to keep those stats high. And it’s actually pretty great when life gets in the way of writing sometimes!
I’ve also started to take better care of myself again. Although I’m quite the annoying know-it-all when it comes to healthy foods, I’ve been letting things slack in 2015 and relied on take-out dinners way too often. Since I came back from Italy though, I’ve reduced said take-out dinners, sweet treats, and fried foods to an absolute minimum. I also try spending less time on the couch and going for more walks instead — and I’ve already noticed that I feel less tried lately. I kind of hate these motivational memes online telling you how you are the only one responsible for your own happiness and all that jazz, but this one is actually really true: Once you start treating your body well, your mind will be more at ease, too. A part of the time that I would have invested into this blog, thus went into spending time outdoors, cooking, or shopping for fresh foods more regularly, but I wouldn’t want to have it any other way right now.
In March my coffee game was obviously very strong, because Berlin and Italy can never let you down when it comes to good coffee. My highlight was actually a little coffee discussion I had with that guy from Melbourne I met in my hostel dorm in Berlin. He was convinced that coffee in Central Europe could never live up to coffee in Australia’s coffee capital, and although I assumed he was probably right, I was up for the challenge and took him to Father Carpenter in Berlin-Mitte. After his first sip, he gave in and admitted that this was some seriously good coffee. I never felt so accomplished!
Aside from this total coffee success, I managed to try some other delicious flat whites in Berlin’s ever-growing third wave coffee scene, which is one of the reasons I love coming back to Berlin so much. Drinking coffee in Venice was as far away from Berlin’s hipster coffee shops as anything, but no less delicious. Those Italians just know what they’re doing! (And in case you want to know how to find great, affordable coffee in Venice, read this!)
My Favorite Things in the Spring of 2016
My new camera: As you might have (hopefully!) noticed I upgraded my camera body back in March. I had been talking about this for years and I this spring I finally felt ready for going professional with my gear. I invested in a Nikon D750 body and while I’m still learning how use all its features properly, I’m just loving how much my image quality has improved already.
Aside from travel photography, I’m shooting some weddings again this year as photographing people is something I’ve become most passionate about throughout the last years. I’m still not sure where I’m headed with all these photography projects of mine, but I know that I love creating beautiful memories of beautiful moments so that’s what I’ll keep doing for now.
My new camera bag: After staying in a hostel dorm in Berlin with around 2,500 Euro worth of camera gear laying around in my purse that doesn’t even have a zipper, I knew it was also time to invest in a proper camera bag as well. I spent hours looking for a cross-body bag that didn’t look like a camera bag, would go with all my clothes, and that could fit and protect my expensive camera as well as a small water bottle, wallet, and phone without being to heavy at the same time. I ended up ordering a black leather Pompidoo Geneva bag and I’m super happy with this choice: It blends in perfectly in stylish European cities and is big enough for all my necessities but at the same time small enough so I don’t look like a dwarf wearing it. They also shared my photo from Copenhagen on their Instagram and don’t you just love a company that has their social media game on point? (This is not sponsored, I just really like this bag and can absolutely recommend it if you’re looking for a mid-range but high-quality camera bag!)
My balcony: It’s certainly not new, but I’m glad to be reunited with it finally! Whenever the sun is out in the morning, I have breakfast in the sun and even though it’s only 15 minutes of the day, it makes such a difference to start of a day like that! I just love how there are so many more places available once the sun is out, from my balcony to all the parks and patios in town!
And in the Summer of 2016…
The early summer is always crazy busy at work — in June already didn’t get around to taking a single photo on my dSLR. But I hung out with friends and family and then started the month of July with another mini-getaway to Berlin to celebrate my 29th birthday!
There are so many things to do and keep in mind in the upcoming months and I’m half-convinced I won’t get any down-time until late fall, but I’m looking forward to the next weeks of summer, because I have super exciting life and travel plans! Plus, I’m also planning to revive my social media channels once I’m on the road again — stay tuned for travel updates this August!
How has your spring and early summer been?