Alright, I realize this is coming in a week late BUT I was so super sick on my birthday that I couldn’t even turn on my computer and hit publish. No joke. So the last few days of year 28 and the first few days of year 29 were total garbage. I guess it can only go up from here! Here’s year 28, my golden year, in review!
At the end of my 27th year I received this great advice from a colleague of mine. One day she said that life can get hard and when it seems difficult you must celebrate every moment of success, no matter how small, with champagne. Now, I can tell you that I am not one to turn down advice when it pertains to champagne. Life didn’t get me down in year 28 but I did take time to celebrate all of my accomplishments, big or small, with some champagne. I hold this advice close to my heart and will continue to live life by celebrating the small moments with a glass of champs!
Travels and Explorations
There was no better way to begin this year than laying on a beach soaking in the sunshine. Year 28 kicked off in Malaga and I could not have had more fun! Head on over to this post to read all about my Malaga adventure. I feel at home when I am in Spain. Not only can I speak the language and communicate effectively with those around me, I feel as though the culture suits me. I had never been to Malaga prior to this trip and I hope to return someday. It was dreamy!
Oh, to start Year 28 I also decided to switch my small nose stud out for a hoop. I have to say that I think it fit me quite well. I did end up switching to a smaller hoop but I think the hoop is here to stay!
Why limit my summer holidays to just one beach? Right before the summer holiday was about to end I ended up back in Spain. This time I returned to a place I visited in college, Palma Mallorca. There was a huge difference between this trip and the first. Eight years older and all the wiser I wasn’t visiting Palma to party until the sun comes up- I was here to relax before the remainder of summer slipped away. Read more about my time in Mallorca here.
With a rooftop pool and the beach across the street, I could not have been in a better location. Taking a dip in the sea to cool off from the summer sun was delightful. Drinking sangria while watching the sunset across the sea was breathtaking. I could not have picked a better way to relax than this vacation.
After the chaos of the school year began to die down I had to get out of Krakow for a short weekend holiday. I grabbed my teaching partner and bestie and headed to Wroclaw for the weekend. The getaway was even greater than I imagined. Not only did I get a break from thinking about work, I got to visit a beautifully charming city and a scavenger hunt for gnomes. If you didn’t read about my trip to Wroclaw please stop on over here to read about it.
The city is absolutely charming. There is so much to do and see while visiting. I would say if you visit Poland and don’t visit Wroclaw you are missing out! Most importantly, there was a restaurant that served American breakfast. A real American breakfast with pancakes and scrambled eggs and toast and bacon is something you might take for granted in the US. Here we eat American breakfasts whenever presented with the opportunity, which is not too often. Eating pancakes with freshly squeezed orange juice hit the spot and made this whole trip worthwhile.
Why not head to Warsaw for the weekend? I started Year 28 trying to visit one Polish city a month. It didn’t really work out too well but I will resume my efforts this year. Warsaw was another weekend getaway. Here I stayed in the greatest hotel and visited a palace. I love visiting palaces. I will never get tired of it. If you haven’t read about my trip to Warsaw, click here to learn more.
Warsaw is a city I need to return to in order to explore it further. With only a weekend I didn’t get to see too much but I had an amazing time!
Belgium! This was a country I hadn’t been to before and was so excited to visit. I ate the most delicious waffles. Seriously I just looked up how to make them because I’ve been thinking about these waffles for such a long time. It looks as though I don’t have the necessary materials but I’ll see what I can do. Read all about the waffles I fell in love with here.
I never got around to posting a travel guide for Brussels so I will have to do that soon. The city was amazing, the waffles were to die for, and the chocolate! Oh my gosh! Brussels charmed us in a wonderful way. Oh! I forgot to mention the fries and the churros! We ate a lot of food in Brussels. In fact, we laughed so hard while using the hashtag fatties take Brussels! Another amazing trip!
Can you tell how early it is in this photo? My eyes are barely able to open. That would be the sun rising behind me. Sometimes for the best shots you have to beat the crowds and that is just what we had to do in Brugge. If you ever visit Brugge I recommend taking a train out of Brussels at an ungodly hour an getting there as early as possible. These small yet charming cities are well known due to Instagram and it becomes packed with tourists as the day goes on. PACKED. I don’t know if social media is helping or hurting in instances like this.
There was something so magical wandering around this small town before it awoke. I seriously felt like Belle would have in Beauty and the Beast. Maybe in year 29 I should try to visit her city in France… After seeing all the touristy parts, the best part was walking around the city where there were no tourists and enjoying the day.
Click here to read more about my time in Brugge.
Winter Wonderland! Oh, I just love it! Last year I accidentally ended up visiting London the weekend Winter Wonderland opened so I stopped by. I loved it so much that I had to stop by again this year. I really do love all the different Christmas Markets. There is something magical about drinking mulled wine, surrounded by festivities, and Christmas cheer. I’m all about it. Christmas is one of my favorite seasons and Europe pulls out all the stops to celebrate. This makes this time of year amazing!
What? Natasha, I didn’t know you went to Oslo. Why didn’t you blog about it? Well, my friends this photo you see on the right here is about as good as it got in Oslo. You see, Oslo was the spur of a moment trip that we decided to take and we flew out the morning after our staff Christmas party. I stayed out dancing until probably around 3 am and left for the airport at 4:15 to catch my flight. So… it was a lot. I thought I was going to die on the flight and I was just flat out exhausted. The lesson has been learned and I won’t be out dancing until ungodly hours before taking an early morning flight again!
I returned home for the first time since I moved to Poland. Reverse culture shock is real! I rented a car from O’Hare to return to Waukesha and I felt like a new driver all over again. I haven’t driven since I’ve been here! Visiting home again was great but it also wasn’t so great at the same time. I suddenly had to adapt to American culture again. I was stranded at my parents’ house with no car and no way to easily get anywhere. It was wonderful to see my family again and get to hang out with my sister and our dog. I seriously miss those two so much in Poland!
While back in the States I got to visit my friends in Madison. It was so great catching up on life in person instead of via social media and FaceTime.
Friendships can be hard to maintain across time zones and on different continents. I’ve learned a few lessons about friendship during my time in Poland. Staying in touch is something that you have to work at but it is well worth it!
Could this be the greatest travel photo I’ve ever taken? Probably! I am so obsessed with it. It felt just as magical taking it as it looks here. Here I am being the boss… perhaps the queen!
I seriously fell in love with Edinburgh. I feel like my travel list never gets any shorter because every time I visit a place I want to return. The same was true with Edinburgh. If you haven’t already you should click here to read more about my trip.
I honestly felt like everywhere I looked was amazing. It all looked like it was out of some fairytale story. The misty rainy weather only seems to add more charm. I honestly think I could live in Edinburgh- I loved it that much.
After visiting Edinburgh I visited Glasgow again. While there I saw ED SHEERAN! That man is seriously incredible. His concert was amazing. Really I was in Glasgow for less than 24 hours. Just to see the concert and then visit the airport to return to Krakow. I did also manage to grab some coffee at my favorite place!
I absolutely loved Berlin. I think I’ll have to go back and visit again to see all of the things I couldn’t cram into this adventure. Sidenote: Did I say that about every city I visited this past year? I can’t help it! Ok, Berlin? The city is so cool. It has this ultimate chill hipster vibe.
Berlin is also a city packed with history. The history there is also very recent. The Berlin Wall? That came down in my lifetime. I was a baby but it didn’t happen too long ago. I am working on a Berlin post with tons of photos but I have been under the weather. Hopefully, I can get it finished before back to school season! We will see!
The Golden Year Highlights
Surprising my Mom at Christmas So… my mom didn’t know that I was coming home for Christmas. To be honest I didn’t even know I was coming home for Christmas until the last second. I just decided I missed my family and I wanted to see them. I arrived at my parents’ house at about 11:30 in the evening. It felt so good to walk through the front door of that house again. I may love living abroad but I do miss my Wisconsin life from time to time. When I walked into the living room only my dad and sister were still up. My mom had to work the next morning. I decided I would go wake her up and say hello. I crawled into bed next to her, tapped her on the shoulder and whispered, “Mom!” She jumped! Nothing like a gentle wake up. Then she tried to figure out what was happening because she was so tired. She said at first she thought she was dreaming. Then she hugged me so hard I thought she was going to kill me. No joke I seriously thought she was going to strangle me. I guess that is what I get for flying halfway across the world without telling my mother.
Beyoncé and Jay Z Oh my gosh! I can’t even. I wrote an entire post about my concert experience. I just love these two so much! So much! First of all, we were so close! So close! Second I almost cried several times because it was too much for me to handle. Literally too much. I didn’t tell you that I have two souvenir cups with Beyoncé and Jay Z on them. There is no doubt in my mind that these will travel on with me wherever my life takes me next. I will cherish them forever!