Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Happy New Year friends! I don’t know about you, but I always feel somewhat nostalgic at the end of the year because I suddenly become so aware of time’s relentless march. On the one hand it feels as if it was only yesterday that I packed up my life into an empty suitcase and moved halfway across the world to Germany, but on the other hand, the vast breadth of experiences I’ve had as a result of this move is felt acutely. 2014 was a mammoth year by all accounts and before I say goodbye and begin focusing on the boundless possibilities that a new year always brings, here’s a little look back.

The highlights reel of 2014:

January

Hibernation

Back in Australia, we usually welcome the new year with road trips down to the beach, picnics in the park and barefoot summer barbeques. In Germany, beginning 2014 in the middle of the fierce European winter was not so welcoming. I woke one morning to check the weather on my phone, discovering with horror that it was -14°C out — the stuff of nightmares for an Australian! Needless to say, January was spent hibernating indoors with woollen socks, ginger tea and too many Shameless episodes. This Instagram snap of Berlin’s frozen river Spree explains why.

Spree in winter, Berlin


February

Moving

We saw very little snow fall in February, which we didn’t mind so much as we were in the process of moving flats. It was a busy few weeks of packing, cleaning and then setting up our new Airbnb apartment, which quickly became home.

Morning light, bedroom window, Berlin


March

Visiting Home: Australia

With a serious case of the SADs (seasonal affective disorder) from the long European winter, I almost ran onto my flight bound for Melbourne in March, I was that eager to escape the seemingly never ending chill! My days were spent hanging out with favourite people and indulging in all of the home comforts I missed now that I had moved abroad.

Carlton Gardens, Melbourne

We headed down the coast with a few of these favourite people for a few glorious, recharging days in that blissful Australian sun (more here). Time flew and before we knew it, we were back on the plane heading ‘home’ to Europe once again.

Portsea beach, Australia

As you can probably guess, I was more than a little relieved to be welcomed back to Berlin by spring’s fresh blooms.

Spring, Berlin


April

Istanbul, Turkey

I was spoilt rotten in April with a five-day trip to Istanbul as my birthday gift from Ben. We always gift a travel experience to one another on our birthdays — the best kind of gift! I immediately lost myself in the city’s vibrancy and energy. We spent our days exploring Istanbul’s 10 must-see sights.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

In particular, the Basilica Cistern ignited the fire of my imagination, conjuring images of Indiana Jones’ adventures.

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

Taking one of the ferries up the Bosphorus Strait was the perfect way to relax after a busy morning sightseeing.

Bosphorus Ferry, Istanbul

Of course, there was much over-indulgence of the city’s Turkish delights, including these delicious, fresh mackerel burgers served on the waterfront in the late afternoon.

Fish Burgers, Istanbul


May

Barcelona

With a friend from the States flying into Barcelona for work over a weekend in May, was there a better excuse for a weekend away in Spain? Nope. We spent our days wandering around El Born’s winding alleys and indulging in some of Barcelona’s best tapas.

El Born, Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona Tapas

As well as soaking up that Spanish sun at Barceloneta beach!

Barcelona beach


June

Belgrade, Serbia

June saw two of our best friends tie the knot in Belgrade, so of course we flew in for the big celebration. Can you believe that the Belgrade Fortress was the location of their wedding after-party? Too cool.

Belgrade Fort, Serbia

Rome, Italy

Later that month we jetted off again to celebrate Ben’s birthday. His choice of destination: Rome. Where else?

Trastevere, Rome. Italy

The heavens may have opened on us during that weekend, but Rome in the rain also meant one thing: fewer tourists! Most of them had gone into hiding so the city was mostly ours.

Pantheon in the rain, Rome


July

Playing tourist guide

The arrival of the good weather also coincided with the arrival of some friends from Australia who were travelling around Europe on their honeymoon. It’s fun playing tourist guide because you get to re-discover your adopted city all over again. We gave Berlin’s beer gardens a bit of a work out.

Biergarten, Berlin

World Cup

July was also the month in which Germany won the 2014 World Cup. Celebrating on the streets of Berlin with all of the locals is an experience that won’t be forgotten soon!

World Cup 2014, Berlin


August

Dubrovnik, Croatia

With some extended time off work over Europe’s summer, it was time to soak up the sun in Croatia. Our first stop was stunning Dubrovnik (aka King’s Landing), where one of the highlights was walking the old city walls.

Dubrovnik Old City Walls

Lokrum Island, Croatia

While we were there, we made sure that a visit to nearby Lokrum island was in order.

Lokrum Island, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Split, Croatia

From Dubrovnik we headed north through Bosnia and Herzegovina to Split for a flying visit.

Split Harbour, Croatia

Hvar, Croatia

The next morning we caught the ferry to glitzy Hvar for a few days.

Hvar harbour, Croatia

Pakleni Islands, Croatia

And how could I resist a little day trip to the stunning Pakleni islands? Paradise found.

Pakleni Islands, Croatia

Zadar, Croatia

We continued further north up the Dalmatian coast to picturesque Zadar, a city steeped in history and a place not yet overrun with tourists, unlike some of Croatia’s more southerly coastal destinations.

Sea Organ, Zadar, Croatia

Dugi Otok, Croatia

Zadar was a base for exploring some of the islands off the coast and so it was onto the ferry again, bound for Dugi Otok.

Brbinj, Croatia, Dugi Otok

We were in search of one of Croatia’s best beaches (Sakarun beach), located on the island and oh my, we weren’t disappointed. Is this one of Europe’s best beaches?

Sakarun Beach, Croatia


September

Taking it slow

September was a quiet month as far as travelling was concerned. I spent my spare time writing, drinking coffee and admiring autumn’s stunning colour pallette.

Autumn in Berlin

I may very well have decided that autumn was my favourite season in Berlin and here’s why.

Autumn in Berlin


October

Girls’ Spa Weekend

October was more eventful. I started the month off right with a girls’ getaway to a region bordering on the Harz mountains. Pretty Vienenburg was our base.

Lake in Germany

A day trip to UNESCO world heritage-listed medieval Goslar was also on the cards. Stunning, right?

Goslar old town, Germany

The weekend culminated in a visit to one of Germany’s traditional spas. I can’t say that I was very well-prepared for the German spa experience. It’s pretty clear that I’m not German yet.

German spa

A roadtrip through Austria and Italy

I could hardly contain my excitement when I learnt that our best friends would be flying into Innsbruck for work. A road trip across the stunning alpine region of Austria and northern Italy was the only option entertained. We began in Innsbruck and made our way to Bolzano in Italy.

Road trip lookout, Austria

Arriving in Bolzano mid-afternoon, why not take a side trip to Lake Garda for dinner?

Lake Garda view, Italy

We briefly explored Bolzano’s old town early the next morning, collecting supplies before hitting the road again. Beginning our ascent over the Alps, we stopped off for the most spectacular alpine picnic.

Picnic in the alps

Pushing onwards, we conquered the famed Stelvio Pass, one of Europe’s most iconic mountain passes, before descending into the verdant valley of fairytale-like Bormio.

Stelvio Pass valley, Italy

Reluctantly making our way back to Innsbruck, which signalled the end of our mini-European road trip, we passed through picturesque little Liechtenstein.

Liechtenstein street


November

Barcelona (again)

It was back to Barcelona again in November, but this time for work. I can’t say that I protested too much about attending a three day conference there and I made sure that it wasn’t all work and no play.

Barcelona street, Spain


December

Amsterdam for Christmas

To top of a wonderfully rich year of travel, I spent Christmas in Amsterdam in one of the Jordaan’s charming canal houses. Check out my Instagram for more travel snaps, with blog posts coming soon.

Amsterdam Canal Houses

What a year! I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store.

What were your highlights from 2014? Share them in the comments below!