I wrote this sitting toasty warm in front of the gas heater in my apartment in Berlin on New Years Eve, having only disembarked from a plane from the Australian summer only a few hours before. I was back in Berlin after a short and whirlwind visit Downunder. It was a good time to reflect on the year that has passed, as I sat weighed down by jet lag but unable to sleep. So here goes.
As we are all painfully aware, on the world stage, politically and in popular culture, 2016 was a pretty terrible year. Personally, however, it was full of adventures and opportunities to push myself to the limits to continue discovering what I am capable of. This year I haven't faced my challenges alone, however; I've had my partner in crime, Daniel, who I picked up somewhere along the way in 2015.
2016: a recap.
2016 consisted of a lot of moving. I moved out of the home I had been living in since arriving in London in Hammersmith because the lease ended and the place, rightly so, required renovating. From here, I moved in with my boyfriend Daniel in Wimbledon. Then my UK visa ended and we made the crazy decision to move to Germany. Because yolo.
Travelling. The country a month rule still stood, with much more local travel included also:
- Spain x 2, including Ibiza for my 30th birthday for the Spanish Dirty 30 Funfest, with Dan, Al and Nat. We then went on to Seville, Madrid and Barcelona.
- Sweden, where I saw the Northern Lights
- Norway, where I caught a ferry cruise through the fjords
- Belgium, where I attended the Anzac Day ceremony in Passchendaele, the battle for the western front which saw some many Aussies and Kiwis lose their lives in World War One
- Germany - my new home
- Poland x 2, being so close to Germany, Dan and I literally pop across the border for day trips
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
United Kingdom travelling included:
- Northern Ireland
- Scotland, for the Fringe festival and Nat's birthday
- York, Scarborough and Whitby
- Cornwall, including Penzance, St Ives, Lands End and the Eden Project
German travelling included:
- Berlin, of course
Being a nutcase. With the support of photographer Dan and my awesome team mates Al and Nat, I completed my 2nd Tough Mudder. Naturally, I insisted on going through the electrocution obstacle even though, as a Tough Mudder "Alumni" I didn't have to: I ended up getting shocked in the head.
Turned dirty thirty. With friends, I celebrated my 30th birthday at Pacha in Ibiza, as I wanted to have one last chance to party before I got too old for it. Turns out, there are plenty of old fogies on Ibiza island, and I didn't bring the average age up to 22!
Anniversaries. Dan and I made it to 1 year, and what a truly incredible year it had been! We were, of course, taking a day trip to Montenegro from Croatia on that day, which was a fitting way to spend our anniversary. May there be many more years and even more adventures to follow.
Work. I wound up at The Elders, where I learnt so very much about the state of the world. I became properly interested in world events and as a result can now have proper adult conversations with people. I was sad to leave the Ducklings but we have remained in touch. Arriving in Germany, I searched tirelessly - and demoralisingly - for a job. I eventually found an incredible role doing what I enjoy. It took Dan and I both 2 months to find jobs, and we were at the point of giving up. We later learnt that 6-7 months was the average, and realised how lucky we both had been to get such great jobs in 2 of the biggest English speaking organisations in Berlin.
The difficult times. I wallowed in my own self pity at how poorly (or so I thought) the job hunt was going. I panicked until I broke down about not being able to find somewhere to live, or how to get my bank card, or how to register to live in this strange country. In the end, Dan and I pulled through though and are making the most of the time we have here.
I have become a beer drinker! After Germany and Belgium visits the year before, I decided the golden beverage was alright. Now living in Germany, we have discovered that beer is literally cheaper than soft drink, so the result is obvious. I've discovered that I enjoy the Erdinger dunkelweiss, amongst others.
I went home home for the first time since June 2014. I visited New Zealand and met Dan's wonderful family and friends for the first time, and they made me feel so very welcome. He showed me his beautiful country and I fell in love with it. We then flew across the pond and I hugged my mum for the first time in over 2 years. I cuddled my best friends' baby girls who I had never met yet. And I gave the biggest hugs to my beautiful nieces who literally pelted down the driveway on Christmas Day and wouldn't let go of Aunty Sasha all day (except when we played Crack the Egg on the trampoline, which could have easily ended in disaster).
At home, I celebrated a joint milestone year for myself (30 years old), my brother (50) and my mum on her 70th birthday surrounded by friends, family, and ensuring I got myself painfully sunburnt.
I caught up with countless friends to find out about their lives, loves, losses and laughs of the previous few years. I tried not to say things like "I can't decide if I'll be having my birthday in Paris or Portugal" and failed spectacularly.
It was more difficult to return to Berlin than when I left in the first place, and the plane journey was an emotional one. I am back now though, and many more adventures await. I feel very fortunate that, with the support of my family and friends, this is the life I have been able to carve out for myself over the last couple of years. Travel has truly become an addiction.
2017 has so much in store for it already, and it's only just begun.
So let's say Prost! to an amazing year ahead!