Imagine being on the road somewhere in the middle of nowhere, in a foreign country, when the world declares the current pandemic. Imagine you have to leave the country, but none of the neighbouring ones will let you in and there are no available flights back home. Imagine you are travelling with your own vehicle, there is no way to ship it elsewhere and you don´t want to just leave it behind. Imagine quitting your job and moving out of the place you´ve been living at just weeks before this global pandemic and then having to cancel everything you were planning, saving for and dreaming about for the last years. Yes, to many, this might still sound like first world problems. But trust me, these are no easy situations and crucial decisions sometimes have to be made in minutes. Some of us have therefore completely changed our plans for 2020 and the following years. Some have managed to return home while they still could. But some decided to stay and continue what they were doing. Even though this surely meant new arrangements and route changes. In this post, I´ve gathered 8 of my favourite people, couples or families which are currently on the road, responsibly travelling in different parts of the world during the pandemic. Most of them have already been on their journeys when it all happened almost a year ago, but some have only just started theirs a few months ago. Here are their stories.
Itchy feet anyone? Mine sure are, but even almost after a year since the world stopped in terms of travel it doesn´t really seem like everything will be the same soon. Although we managed to escape here and there for a short time during this past year, we mostly spent it at home. Especially if I compare it to what we had planned for and to how our previous years looked like as well. And who knows, maybe it will be the same this year. I sure hope not, but who knows? After being stuck at home for the first month or two during the pandemic last spring I wrote a blog post about all the things we can do at home while in self-isolation, quarantine or lockdowns, but here is another, slightly more specific post on how we can actually travel virtually without leaving our home. For all travel enthusiasts. Surely you have tried some of these ideas in recent months, but maybe someone else gets new ideas about how to satisfy the desire to travel at least virtually.
English muffins are popular round, flat smaller breads, usually eaten for breakfast and brunches with sweet or savoury toppings. Despite their name, they are actually an American invention (first made by an English immigrant), but are now commonly eaten especially in Canada, Australia and UK as well. The word „English“ is simply used to distinguish them from plain muffins, which are larger and sweeter. Funnily though, in the UK they are called „muffins“ and the larger sweeter muffins are called „American muffins“. In Germany they are called “Toastbrötchen” and are easy to get in supermarkets, but they just taste so much better when you make them at home. We love them because they can be used to prepare many different dishes, from a simple and quick breakfast or brunch, to tasty burgers, small pizzas, sandwiches for road trips and more. Get our recipe and more toppings ideas in this post and try it out for yourselves.
In Africa, there are so many national parks, nature reserves and protected areas which offer amazing safari experiences, but which places and parks are the best? Where can you see the famous big 5 and which have the most stunning landscapes? Well, it is really difficult to choose just a few, sometimes seeing the animals also has something to do with the luck factor and it also depends on how many days you spend exploring each park. Since I´m still a little bit disappointed that we had to cancel our African adventure to Kenya and Tanzania last summer, but incredibly grateful I was already able to visit some of the other parks, I put together a list of the best African safari parks which might give some of you an idea where to go next, or simply give you another reason for daydreaming about distant lands and natural wonders. Based on my personal experiences and online research, here are my top ones.
All this extra time on our hands the last few months made me also think about many travel related issues. Not just about how travelling will change after the pandemic but also about how do we as individuals travel. What do we do and how do we act in order to keep our planet as safe and intact as possible. Trust me, I know we´ve all been there in one way or another and we maybe did some things while travelling we are now not proud of anymore. Maybe we rode an elephant, forgot a plastic cup at the beach, disregarded the local dress code, bought an inappropriate souvenir or similar. It was probably not intentionally, but simply just because we didn´t know any better. The tourism might be stagnating at the moment more than ever in the last decades, but surely this is just temporarily. We will all travel again, so let´s make sure we do it as responsibly as we can – to help you get some ideas and make you re-think the way you actually travel, here are my 30 suggestions.
Celle is a quaint historic town just north from Hanover in Lower Saxony and despite its rather smaller size it is simply one of the most beautiful cities in terms of traditional architecture in Germany and therefore definitely deserves its own blog post. Besides its incredible old town with over 400 timber-framed houses, there is also a castle, a couple of museums, a nice larger green area which serves as a city park, many lovely streets and squares, churches and shops. We finally took the opportunity to visit it back in Spring 2020, just after the first lockdown due to the current pandemics. Read this post to see what there is to see and do and why Celle should be on your list of places to visit in Germany.
A day trip or an easy hike to Tamar glacial valley in the Triglav National Park near Kranjska Gora is one of my favorite ones in this part of Slovenia. But I am far from being the only one and Tamar is often quite crowded on sunny weekends and holidays, so it makes sense to start the hike early in the morning, or go there during the week. The trip is possible in all seasons and is also suitable for families with small children, mountain bikers, four-legged family members, and in winter also for sledding and cross-country skiing enthusiasts. The main trail ends at a mountain cottage called Dom v Tamarju, a pleasant larger hut where you can refresh yourself with home-made delicacies, or have a picnic on the meadow in front of it. Depending on your time and fitness ou can also continue hiking to some of the surrounding peaks, as well as to the source of the river Nadiža and Črne vode waterfall. In addition, at the starting point of the hike you can see the famous ski jumps in Planica and a really great Nordic center. In this article, therefore, more about visiting the ski jumps and the Tamar Valley in summer and winter seasons.
The beginning of the new calendar year is usually the perfect time for me to plan upcoming trips, buy at least one plane ticket and outline certain goals, both travel-ralated and those more personal ones. This way, I have something to look forward to and more motivation for everyday tasks. This year, of course, everything is completely different, and instead of planning trips, I prefer to focus on travel memories. I often get questions about which trip was the best so far or what was the best thing on a particular trip. I usually simply do not have the answer to such questions, because I find it impossible to point out only one destination, experience, place or adventure. That is why in this post I list those few trips and destinations that I have the best memories of – there are 8 of them so far, but I will be happy to add a few more the list in the future. It is not even necessary that I have seen the most beautiful and most famous sights on these trips. Usually, it is the feeling that makes the trip special for me. Trips can also be special because of the great companions and the exceptional atmosphere, because of unique experiences and adventures, as well as when something happens for the first time and is therefore even more interesting. They are also special, for example, when I am unexpectedly positively surprised while visiting a new place. In some places we simply feel better than in some others. Here´s my personal top travels and destinations pick.
And here it is, the first post in the new calendar year. Most of us could hardly wait to finally turn that zero into the number 1 at the end of last year and we were no exception. Even though we spent the last couple of weeks in 2020 in the best possible way. Given the current situation in Europe, the 2021 started off great for us. Almost a month on the coast of the French Atlantic is going by too fast, but it was still just enough time for us to take a mental break from some of the more difficult and challenging months of last year. Socializing with friends and family, the warm rays of the sun, the soft sand under bare feet, tasty food day after day and relaxed outside activities provided a good dose of both wanderlust as well as festive homeliness. Even though we didn’t jump in the snow, drank mulled wine or ate the traditional Slovenian potica cake for a change this year. Due to all that is happening right now we don’t have any serious travel plans for 2021, but of course there are some wishes and ideas and the first blog post of the year is a good opportunity to write about it a bit more. Since I posted about my pregnancy a couple of weeks ago, I have been getting a lot of different questions in recent weeks about what all will change for us now, so I will try to answer everything here.Read More
Every year around December, I would usually write a summary of our trips and travels, remembering all the adventures and places we visited and probably add a hint of where life will take us in the upcoming year. This year though, we all know why, this traditional end-of-year blog post will be a little different. Here´s a few words about 2020 travel, a lot about viruses, lockdowns and quarantines, and also a little extra something which basically made this year simply awesome. 2020 hasn’t quite said goodbye yet (but who else can hardly wait that we turn to 2021 on the calendar?), but I’m still publishing now as I’ll probably be more off-line during the holidays. So what’s new with us and why are we so over the moon despite this year’s chaos? Read more below.
2020 is gonna be my year!
2020 should be our year. In capital letters. If you leave your job and decide that this is the year when you get to realize some long-term travel wishes, reorganize your life in another country, get married in style, spend more time with old friends and family and other things you feel like you´ve missed out on over the last years, you kind of expect it to go according to plan. After all, you have thought about it for a long time andeven taken into account some factors that you have no control over and because of which, for example, something could go wrong. Health, weather, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, political unrest, troubles in love paradise, unexpected financial problems and more and more. But a pandemic of a deadly virus? No, I surely didn’t really think of that one.
Germany, Dublin, Czech republic, Austria and suspicious flu in Slovenia
We spent January and February quite calmly actually, but when I look at it from today´s perspective, it was actually pretty eventful. We spent the holiday season in Slovenia with Lu. In Ljubljana and Piran, also visited Trieste for one day, we skied in Kranjska Gora and even in Austria. Now that I think about those two weeks, I feel like we had a great vacation. We´ve managed to be in 5 different locations in 3 different countries. No problems with crossing borders and quarantines. Oh my, the good old times.
For my 36th birthday (I know omg, I´m getting old), as always, I wanted a getaway trip instead of gifts. So we went to Dublin for 3 days. We indulged a little and had a really great time, loved the city! If we knew what was coming, we would have splurged even more haha. Once back in Germany we stayed at home until the end of January, planning spring and summer adventures. At the end of the month we tested our Defender on a short road trip through snowy Czech Republic and Austria and stayed 2 weeks back south in Slovenia. We got a visit from France and we went around the country a bit again. Actually I spent most of this time in bed, completely sick with the most horrible flu. Covid, who knows? Had a terrible headache, fever and cough. I didn’t pay much attention to the smell and taste, there was not much talking of the virus in Europe at that time, but who knows if it was really just the normal flu. I genuinely don’t remember ever being so sick.
Getting ready for skiing in Switzerland
After returning to Germany, we stayed at home once again, basically just waiting for our March skiing trip to Switzerland. I really wanted this because I hadn’t gone skiing for a whole week since at least 10 years. There are no suitable ski resorts here in the flat north of Germany, and there are no real winter school holidays either so this was always a tough one. However, they have long Easter holidays and this year they fell on the right dates – middle March. Great, skiing on the glacier, with Lu and my parents. Since this was of course not cheap, with the exception of the trips mentioned above, we really didn’t go anywhere. Not for dinner, to the movies, not even for a take-away coffee. In fact, we were unknowingly preparing for this upcoming “lockdown life” in the apartment haha. Well, it wasn’t funny at all, really.
Cancelled skiing trip and false optimistic view on the following months
I was in shock, we really can´t go skiing. A couple of days before our flight to Milan, where my parents would pick us up by car from Slovenia, they of course canceled all flight connections to Italy. Plan B was to drive on our own to Switzerland by car. This would mean extra costs of course, but the desire was big. But then, the Swiss ski resorts closed down just two days before departure. So, we comforted ourselves at home with cheese fondue and hectoliters of wine and somehow digested that shock. We were so close, but it probably turned out better this way than ending up being stuck somewhere not being able to go back home.
Getting ready for Africa
Still optimistic that all this panic would pass in a maximum of three weeks, I brought Lu to the doctor to get his yellow fever vaccination. In August, we were supposed to go to Kenya and Tanzania for two weeks. Safari. I’ve been putting this trip off all these years, since I wasn´t going to bring Lu to a malarial area, and I also really wanted him to remember all of it. So at his 8 years of age in the summer, I though he´s be ready for a true African adventure. After visiting Namibia, South Africa and Uganda, I also really wanted to step on Affrican soil once again. He was vaccinated at the doctor’s without any problems, but they told me there already that our chances on actually doing this trip are pretty slim. And I thought, what is wrong with these negative people, it is only March. We´ve already missed the skiing and since the borders were shutting down we were unable to go to Slovenia, meaning our Balkan road trip was cancelled as well. I mean, we had to at least pull off the Africa trip in August, right?!
Holidays at home, first lockdown, culinary delights and weird atmosphere
What can I say. Of course we ended up not going in the end. March, April, May – we were still home in Germany. To be fair, this holiday at home did not go well for me. Spring was in full bloom, sun was shining after a long winter, our Defender was in Ljubljana, we were in Germany. In our relatively small apartment. At least we have a balcony. Broken plans, shattered dreams. Unemployed. Time was ticking and we were still here. Too much wine. Too much (otherwise very delicious) food. A strong desire to punch everyone who tells me “to enjoy the little things and to be grateful for what I have” and “oh, there’s nothing wrong with being at home, you can have a good time at home too” in their faces. If you have a house with a garden and no plan has collapsed, then yes, I understand, you garden a little, sunbathe on the terrace, renovate your home in which you will live for the next 30 years anyway, have a glass of wine with your neighbour becaus eoh well nobody checks if you´re keeping distance anyway and so on. Well, not all of us had such positive experiences with the lockdown. Definitely a horrible period for me, I just couldn’t come to terms with it.
Cancelled wedding, broken plans and visits to the court
We also canceled the planned September wedding. Well, postponed actually. Indefinitely. Because I don’t want to plan anything anymore until all this calms down for good. We would have too many guests from abroad and we simply cannot take the risk. I already had one wedding without guests, a dress and everything that goes with it, I wouldn’t want to have another one like that to be honest. As my hopes for Africa grew smaller, I had a hard time concluding that this was it. Obviously, I will not fulfill all these ideas and wishes and also quite a bit of money will go to waste as well. All these trips have more or less already been paid. And about 6 more plane tickets between Slovenia, Germany and France until September. And no, we can’t do it next year. This was immediately clear to me. Because after the wedding, we talked about to expanding the family and settling down somewhere. That’s why this desire for skiing, a longer multi-week road trip, and Africa was even greater. In the midst of all this chaos, I also had to come to terms with a bitter court decision. Lu has to stay in Germany while I have been determined for years that my time in Germany is coming to an end and I am returning back home. I do not know what to say here. It’s not easy. But that kind of fits into this 2020 horror series.
Open borders and happy summer adventures
I probably don’t need to emphasize the joy of opening the borders and finally meeting everyone at home in Slovenia and France in June. As soon as the hotels and restaurants opened we first had a great weekend in Hamburg. Then head south. Here and there around Slovenia, to the hills and to the sea. Also did a longer Defender road triparound northern Germany, and then back again to Slovenia with Lu. After all these weeks of stress, some sort of mild depression and all too many apathetic moments of staring at the wall, these trips were a real balm for the soul.
It was especially nice to be at home again in Slovenia. That nature! And everything is so close. And all the live conversations with the people you love. And all that prosciutto, olives, shellfish and vegetables from the garden. Beer on Petkovškov nabrežje in Ljubljana. Wine time in Dvorni Bar. And icy gin tonics at sunset on the terrace overlooking the sea. Soaking up the sun. Walk around Piran at half past four in the morning. The first at the mountain hut in Krnica valley in the embrace of the Julian Alps. Fresh mountain air. Pampering in Lepa Vida Spa among the salt pans. Wandering side by side with the cows on Velika Planina and a couple of shorter road trips with Defender around Slovenia. Simply priceless at that moment.
And you know what? In September, I held a positive test in my hands. Not the one for Covid. I kind of knew what was coming our way because I felt quite different from how I normally feel, right from the start. A couple of weeks later, I also guessed the gender correctly. I’m not telling 🙂 I’ll tell at the end of May. I can’t even describe how happy we are that at least one thing has come true this year. That at least one plan went the way we imagined. And most importantnly, the prime one! We will go to Africa some other time. Definitely have to wait a couple of years, but oh well, we´ll survive. We will go skiing too. Definitely next year. We will also go on a road trip. With our Defender. Not that someone thinks we´re going to replace it with a Kia SUV or something similar. Hell no. We will also continue to cook and eat well and maybe come up with a new plan to make & save some extra money for future adventures.
Autumn epidemics and lockdowns
And you know what else? This second wave of the epidemic somehow doesn’t bother me too much. Basically, I don’t mind. It’s a bit of a weird feeling when you’re pregnant while a deadly virus plagues the whole world. And yes, it’s also pathetic that I can’t go home for the holidays right now, as well as the fact that Charlie isn’t allowed to accompany me on my doctor´s check ups. Of course, I also can’t wait for these restrictions to end. But to be honest, I don´t feel like I am missing out on anything. No one can exactly travel right now anyway. There will be no New Year’s parties either. Christmas markets are canceled, but I can’t drink mulled wine anyway so that suddenly doesnt´t seem so horrible too. I don’t have to buy piles of maternity clothes because I don’t have to go to work. I can vomit in the home toilet and not in the one in the office. I have all the time in the world for browsing the internet, writing blogs and sewing baby clothes & accessories for our new member. It’s a pity that I’m selling the apartment in the summer, so there is no point of arranging a baby room, but it´s okay, we will do that later somewhere else. I have much energy and apart from the daily vomiting for the first three months (why is it called “morning sickness” if it lasts all day long actually?), I feel downright great. Maybe all those who told me in the first wave to go deep inside myself, stop and breathe, be grateful for what I have and be happy with the little things during the first epidemic wave felt exactly this good? Well, I feel really great now. I´m enjoying the little things and little wins. But before, I really couldn’t. And I was certainly not the only. Also during this current lockdown, there are certainly a lot of unhappy and desperate souls out there. Let’s all be considerate, listen to each other, and help each other until we get through this storm together. Something that works for you may not work for others, so let them be and don´t judge their decisions.
Last few weeks in Germany
In mid-October, we got stuck in Germany again, a bit unexpectedly, but given the situation here, it’s not so bad. It hasn’t snowed yet, but we’re not too limited. Schools and kindergartens are normally opened, including all shops. Public transport works. There is no curfew. Masks outside are only mandatory on a couple of streets in the city centre. We can drive where ever we want. We can also hang out with friends and not just family members (max 5 adults plus children though). The health care system is up not falling apart here. People generally trust the government. The weather is awful, but I’m already used to it and it doesn’t even bother me at this time of year. Those rare sunny days just need to be taken extra advantage of.
All those collapsed plans from the first half of the year are behind us now. There are no new plans that could collapse. And I have no desire to make new ones. No more risks until I am sure it can be possible. Besides, right now we have other things to look forward to. Trips will be completely spontaneous and conditioned by the possibilities of border crossing and quarantine requirements. 5 more months until the baby is here, which is not so much at all! I’m almost halfway, and there’s a whole bunch of things to prepare. Unlike my first pregnancy 10 years ago, this time I’m more prepared. I know from experience what to do and what not to. On one hand, it’s reassuring, but on the other hand, I’m also a little scared because I know things can go wrong sometimes. But, I don´t worry. Everything will be just fine 🙂
Concluding this post in a positive spirit, and saying goodbye to this crazy 2020! First, it brought me a lot of frustration, anger and tears, but now towards the end, fortunately, one huge bag of joy and happinessTo be fair, I’m still glad they year is over. Upcoming holidays will also be different than usual. We will not be in Slovenia. I find it too risky as the situation over there is really bad at the moment. Plus too many restrictions to be able to have a good time. We are still deciding whether to stay in Germany or flee to France to visit. The situation regarding infections has gotten even better than in Germany over at where Charlie´s fmaily is based, so I hope we manage to pull this one off. I really hope that you, too, somehow got through this year without any major consequences and with you all the best for the next year! I have a feeling it will be a better one, don´t you think?
As already mentioned, I may take a little writing break, but you can follow via social media, there will of course be regular posts and stories on Facebooku and Instagram especially if we manage to drive over to France. I´ll be back here in 2021, hopefully full of new positive energy and ready to share more travel / food / pregnancy / other related content.
For fun, you can read this post from a year ago. In 2019, we visited as many as 18 countries – I can only hope one day I get to write another one like THIS.