I had always been hesitant when it came to answering the question “Why do you write a travel blog?”, because the commonly used phrase in the blogosphere “I just want to inspire people to travel” never sounded like the right answer to me.
Deep down I knew the reasons I originally started blogging were boredom, procrastination, and escapism.
But even that wasn’t true.
Looking back at who I was at six years ago, I understand now that my self-esteem was basically non-exsistent: I felt lost and incredibly lonely, I didn’t know what to do with my life, I had lost track of purpose. I yearned for connection and belonging, not seeing that it’s impossible to feel connected when you’re completely out of touch with yourself.
Then I found travel blogging.
And it became a way to create the external validation I wasn’t giving myself internally. It felt nice to have strangers on the internet compliment my writing or photography; every comment and share gave me the dopamine rush I seemingly couldn’t get elsewhere.
But that external validation was hollow. When a creepy stranger’s marriage proposal via email (yes, stuff like this happens) is the only thing to make you feel good about yourself, you know there’s something wrong — but I wasn’t ready to see that.
Instead, I started comparing. Thinking that if I get as many likes as blogger XYZ or a collaboration with that big tourism board, I had made it. Except it doesn’t work like that.
In 2015, at the hight of my blogging ‘career’, I was at my lowest emotionally. I was stuffed with self-loathing, but projected it onto other travel bloggers, judging them for being prettier and more successful.
I honestly shiver reading some of my blog posts from back then, because I see my envious bitterness shine through so clearly now.
I needed to find a way to get out this slump and the last three years thus were a series of baby-steps towards finding ways to change my core-narratives. And as I slowly learned to let go of needing external validation, I also needed to blog less and less.
I’m still learning so much, I still have bad days, but most of the time, I don’t need others to tell me I’m doing a good job now — obviously, it’s still nice to hear, but I don’t need it as my only source of positive affirmation anymore.
This results in me barely writing or photographing these days, because I don’t have to make my day-to-day sound exciting to compete with other content creators for virtual love.
I rarely leave the country these days, I don’t drag my camera with me everywhere to take photos of coffees and random other things just to make my life appear perfect.
I’m saying this in the most non-sarcastic way possible: My life is pretty lame.
I’ve lived in the same city (apartment even) for five years now. I currently prioritize work over travel. I enjoy cooking dinner with the husband (aka make him cook for me) way more than going out. I choose hiking in my home country over a weekend getaway to a new country most times.
And I’m very much content with that.
One of the few occasions I actually take my camera with me are weddings and vacations (because that’s apparently what life is like when you’re lame and in your thirties, I’m only half-kidding).
And yes, I’m still sharing these photos on my blog hoping you’ll enjoy looking at them. But I’ll be okay, if you don’t comment or share — or if you don’t even like them.
Winter: From Paris to the Office
In our recently established tradition to make use of the days off of work I can take shortly after New Year’s, Steffen and I explored Paris together in early January.
Although it was my fifth time there, it felt different than my previous visits — I already wrote a lengthy blog post about it.
Other than this trip to Paris, I saw winter dreariness in Germany as a welcome distraction to lock myself indoors and get ahead with my projects at work.
The only time I did actually take my camera out in February was to shoot a maternity session with my little sister.
Spring: Yoga and Cherry Blossoms
I really poured all my energy into work in the early spring of 2018, but I treated myself to one weekend far away from the desk to attend my first ever yoga retreat in March.
The retreat took place in a 16th century castle-turned-into-hotel near Teutoburg Forest (not too far from my home town Göttingen), which made it the perfect little escape.
I met up with my undergrad girlfriends there and we had the most wonderful time catching up on each other’s lives.
Girls who major in art history and do yoga are the best!
And regarding the yoga experience itself — well, it was interesting.
Our instructor was really nice, but she was also very much into singing and that was certainly a little weird at first: Imagine holding a pigeon pose while listening to the instructor sing “The River is flowing” for three minutes straight. I have the song stuck in my head every time I do a pigeon for good now.
Forever being basic and trying to improve that dancer’s pose
And in more yogi talk: I did improve my crow on this retreat (for, like, a millisecond) and also, did you know you’re not supposed to do inversions when you’re on your period?
My retreat verdict: As much as I enjoy yoga, after 8 hours of yoga in less than 48 hours I was a little yoga’ed out and was looking forward to less zen workouts and less hip-opening.
In April, Steffen attended his first ever bike race so I had a reason to take my camera out as a part of cheering at the finish line.
And in even more random things to photograph: Taking photos of spring blooms still does feel great after a gloomy Central European winter.
I also met my new baby nephew in April who made me a four-time (!) aunt.
Oh, and I went to an obligatory spring wedding: My cousin got married in late April and his wedding was all about the Pinterest-y details.
Husband in his natural habitat
We try to get a photo of us in proper clothes for once and this is what happens.
Early summer: Bavaria, Berlin, and 15 minutes in Austria
Steffen and I established a mini-getaway tradition over the long Pentecost holiday weekend a while ago and with our newly discovered love for hiking, a trip to the Bavarian Alps seemed perfect for that.
Berchtesgaden National Park was honestly one of the prettiest regions of Germany I’ve seen yet.
It has everything you need for a soothing nature experience: Glaciers, snow-topped mountains, lakes, forests, and waterfalls.
And funnily enough, we unintentionally hiked into Austria for a couple of minutes (which is nice for my countries-traveled-to-in-2018-statistics).
Coffee with a glacier view!
Bavarians be like “Lets put a crucifix in the middle of the woods!”
Cute baby cow!
The view from Jenner summit (this photo really doesn’t do it justice)
This is Austria!
Photo proof: We crossed the border and entered Austria!
Königssee is absurdly beautiful
I also went to Berlin for a bachelorette party in May.
I didn’t bring my camera with me for the actual bachelorette event, because we were drinking (a lot of) champagne on a boat (dangerous combo for a dSLR), but we had a hilarious day and also the most Berlin night of all times (check my InstaStory highlights if you want to watch footage from a drag queen stage performance in a former subway station turned hipster night club).
I stayed with my friend Kathi again, and we caught up with the average Berlin Sunday itinerary: Vegan breakfast buffet at a collectively owned alternative café where you can choose which price to pay. Strolling through Prenzlauer Berg and watching people prepare for giant political techno-party demonstration. Waiting in line for fancy artisanal ice cream.
I joke about Berlin being so cliché Berlin, but I obviously love it there and just writing this makes me want to go back. It’s also the absolute best place on a summery weekend in May.
Urban gardening in Berlin (I swear, I’m not actively looking for toilets to photograph.)
Berlin. Summer. Love.
Summer: 40 Hours in Croatia and all of the Ice Cream
I’ve already written about why I ended up on the island of Hvar in June, but I wanted to share a few photos I managed to snap in-between wedding photographer duties.
Since I had to catch the ferry in Split where I flew into, I had an hour to quickly stroll through the old town of the famous city on the Dalmatian Coast.
A glimpse of Diocletian’s Palace in Spilt (built in 4th century AD!)
It was the briefest visit, but hey, I got to see a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Spilt and that certainly made for one of my better layovers.
While Split was pretty, the island of Hvar really blew me away. It’s absolutely stunning and I definitely have to come back!
Aside from that weekend in Croatia, June and July weren’t too eventful personally — there was a lot going on at work so I didn’t manage to do many other things.
I turned 31 in July (what.) and spent my birthday in the most fabulously unspectacular way, too: Eating three scoops of ice cream, sitting in the sun with the husband, eating Indian food.
Although it’s not very ‘blogable’, the summer of 2018 was incredible in Germany. It was hot, and sunny, and I loved every second of it. I didn’t wear socks for weeks and I ate more ice cream than in the last 10 years combined (and I don’t even like ice cream all that much).
Okay, I really did like eating ice cream in the summer of 2018!
July is the best birthday month ever when it’s warm enough for light dresses, wet hair, eating watermelon for three meals a day, and living on the balcony!
These were a few snippets of my little ordinary happy life from the first half of 2018 — it’s not spectacular, but I’m not living my life to impress anyone anymore.
(Considering it’s already November as I write this, I can promise there are many more weddings, beaches of the Balkan, and a border crossing on foot coming up in the second edition of this 2018 review.)
Where do you seek and find validation lately?