The 2017 Wrap-Up Post

Looking back through pictures to put this post together, I find myself conflicted. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who found 2017 to be a good year, as far as the world goes. Politics, prejudice, and the tiny, trigger-happy, tweeting fingers of the person currently running my home country made for a news cycle that was unrelentingly horrible.

But.

There was a lot of good here in 2017. Work was super busy for me, which is excellent, and in between riding trains all over town, we fit in a lot of activities. We visited friends, friends visited us. Time was spent on creative projects around the house, long walks through the countryside, and of course, a decent bit of traveling. So while the world seemed in chaos, it’s hard for me to say that 2017 was a bad year in our little corner of Franconia.

Where to begin? I guess in January…

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Nine Years.

Cheers.

Today marks nine years living in Europe. At this point, it seems a bit silly to mark all these anniversaries… living in Europe, or celebrating living in Germany* specifically… what’s the difference? But I do it. Because these dates are not insignificant to me. I enjoy marking these occasions much more than say, a birthday.

These are the days that marked a shift in my life. These are the days that *I* did something. Something that is difficult, even impossible for some people to fathom. Something that can seem so easy some days, and make you want to tear your hair out on others (hello, Tax Day).

This was my first day back to work after a glorious, but inevitably too short two-and-a-half-week break for Christmas. It’s been a crazy and busy month, at the end of a fairly crazy year, and a wrap-up post is formulating, but not today. Today was sleeping in (still trying to get myself back to a normal schedule), an afternoon class, some yoga, some laundry,  a nice dinner with Sekt while cooking, and a bottle of South Tyrolean Pinot Noir that’s been knocking around the wine cabinet since our visit in May. In short, not that much different than a normal day, but the ribbon on the bottle of Sekt** gave it an air of festivity. And yes, our Christmas tree is still up and the lights are still on. Festivity abounds. Nine.

*See, six years last June..

**Shout-out to the hotel in Stubaital, who gave us the Sekt on our last visit in August. Finally got around to drinking it. 🙂

Sunday Snapshots: In Search of Sun

Tuscany, 2012

After all the excitement of the holidays, who wouldn’t want to escape to this Tuscan hillside? Especially after a doozy of a year like 2017 has been, going off-grid seems necessary. I may have to talk BV into an extra-long weekend here… we could both stand to unplug for a few days. In fact, that was part of our plan for this New Year’s, but sadly it wasn’t to be. Hopefully we can get back sometime soon though… I miss those rolling hills.

Here’s to a calmer 2018… and thanks again for reading along this year!

Sunday Snapshots: Warm, Fuzzy Memories

Prague, 2009

A little water on the camera lens doesn’t bother me too much in this case. Fuzzy pictures match my warm and fuzzy memories of the Christmas I spent in Prague. It was unconventional, in the best possible way.

Hope that everyone reading this has a wonderful holiday… wherever in the world you may be.

Sunday Snapshots: Festivity!

Wisconsin, 2016

This is what happens when your friend and her fiancé figure, “hey, everyone will be in town for the holidays anyway, let’s get married right before Christmas!”

Which is exactly what they did. Winter weddings can be so pretty, and done for a dime if a venue is already decorated to the nines like theirs was. Major wedding hack right there. Then just get all the aunties to supply the Christmas cookie bar and it’s off to the races! Win win win. 🙂

Sunday Snapshots: Who Said More Cookies?

Franconia, 2016

Way back in 2011, VillageGal and I began a tradition of baking Christmas cookies together. Back then their daughter was but a tiny mouse, and we were highly unscientific bakers. Six years later, they’ve moved, added another little lady to the mix, and I’ve brought BV to the party. We are still highly unscientific bakers though, so not everything has changed.

Now that the girls are a bit older, they’ve graduated from napping while we decorate to taking full part in the whole cookie-baking process. The cookies pictured about may not fit the traditional Christmas aesthetic (pink butterflies? Sure, why not?) but they are Kinder-approved.

Sunday Snapshots: Lebkuchen Time!

Wisconsin, 2016

Last year when BV and I traveled to the States to spend Christmas with my family, we had a few extra items packed into our suitcases. Namely, gingerbread spices, and Oblaten, the white discs pictured above. Those are the special wafers that traditionally form the bottom of Lebkuchen. I don’t recall ever seeing something like that in the U.S., so we figured it was safer to bring our own.

While this attempt at German-style gingerbread was not particularly successful, I’m hoping that when cookie time comes around this year, we’ll do better! It’s December now, so we probably ought to get going on that one…

Norway Road Trip 2017: Tindevegen, Our Road to Spiterstulen

Toll Road. What picture do those words conjure in your mind? For me, it’s the Illinois Tollway between Milwaukee and Chicago. If you haven’t driven it, it’s a thoroughly unscenic stretch of multi-lane highway. It’s nothing but office buildings, strip malls, and the occasional cheese shop near the border. Not really anything to write home about, in my opinion.

Today though, we’re going to take a look at another kind of toll road. The kind of road that would help us get from Bergen to the Spiterstulen Turisthytte. But unbeknownst to us, the kind of toll road that took more than two hours to drive its 32-kilometer length. This was down to the speed limit, the sharp curves up and down, and the incredible beauty of the landscape that called for many a photo stop. It’s called Tindevegen, and it is epic. Before that though, we had to drive through a little bit of this…

Just waterfalls everywhere.

followed by the 24.5-kilometer long (longest road tunnel in the world, Wikipedia tells me), Lærdal Tunnel, complete with light show.

Lærdal Tunnel

It even includes caverns to pull over, take photos and stretch your legs, at least for these bikers. Back in the light, more scenic kilometers rolled by outside of our windows, and eventually we reached the town of Øvre Årdal, which is where things got interesting. Click on for the usual photo overload because I cannot help myself…

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