When looking back at the end of each year I‘m amazed how much can happen in only one year. Imagine someone would have told you one year ago about everything that‘s about to happen, the people you are going to meet, the experiences you are going to make as well as the ups and downs that you will encounter along the way. Is this what you would have imagined for yourself? Is this what you would have wished for? As John Lennon once said, „Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans“. At the beginning of each year most of us have all these great resolutions and intentions but then they slowly fade away while we‘re just living our lives. I guess that‘s one of the reasons why I stopped making plans a long time ago. I like having a sense of direction and something I can work forward to but apart from that I trust in the universe and just go with the flow. Having said that, let‘s go back to the start, in this case January 2017.
Home visit in January
As much as I would like to tell you that coming home after more than one year of travelling was one of my highlights, it wasn‘t. I went from Australian summer straight back to German winter. No wonder that I was feeling down for almost the entire month of my home visit. I love my family with all my heart but somehow I‘m never in a good place when I stay with them for too long. They are living in a small village with nothing to do apart from taking long walks and without a car one really is screwed. After a few days I already started missing my freedom, the warm weather, fun adventures and having like-minded people around. So what can one do? Make the most of the situation, bake a cake, invite two of your best (travel) friends to come visit you in this rather unspectacular village and spend a fun day in the snow together.
Family time in India
If I have to name one country that fascinates me the most it is India. Ever since my first visit two years ago it captured my imagination and I just had to go back. So why not bring my mum as well as my godmother with me for a little backpacking trip? It was the second time the three of us travelled together and once again we made a pretty great team. Some of our highlights were spending the night on a houseboat in Alleppey, sitting in busses driving up and down the insanely narrow winding mountain roads to Munnar, making some great Indian friends and bathing in the warm Indian Ocean in Goa.
One day in Bombay
After two weeks of sun, beach, nice cafés, some spiritual ceremonies and hanging out with new friends in the buzzing town of Arambol in Goa, it was finally time to say goodbye to this gem and head north. Together with my Swiss friend Luisa who was visiting at this time, and an English lad named Dan, who spontaneously decided to join us after we met at the hostel, we took the night bus to Mumbai, aka Bombay. Once we dropped off our luggage we were ready to fight our way through the crowds and honking cars in the hot streets. We met up with Alan, a sweet guy from Argentina, whom we had also met in Arambol a few days ago. Together, we strolled around the city, had a few snacks here and there and finally rounded up our day with a walk to the seaside, some attempts at acro yoga and a massage train on the beach.
Udaipur: a fairytale dream coming true
The state of Rajasthan, and especially the city of Udaipur, felt like a tale of 1001 Nights to me. Everything was so beautiful. So colourful. So enchanting. Whenever I‘m going to get married, I think this is where I want to spend my honeymoon.
A night under the stars in the Thal Desert
I think the picture below is already worth a thousand words. Let me add a few just in case. Vastness. Camel safari. Great people. Bonfire. A kiss at night. Fresh bed sheets. Best night‘s sleep. Breakfast in the desert. Pure happiness.
A Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh
The biggest gift I‘ve given myself in 2017 was completing a 200h yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world. For one month, six days a week, our days consisted of chanting mantras, meditating and practicing yoga. Next to this we learned about yoga philosophy, breathing techniques (Pranayama), Ayurveda and much more to deepen our yoga practice. This training was a great foundation for the future and one of the best experiences of my life.
The times I jumped into the Ganga
On Holi, the colourful Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of spring, I jumped into the freezing cold Ganga River for the very first time. This jump and others that followed after, all nearly took my breath away. But believe me, I always felt so alive after these refreshments, buzzing with vital energy. There‘s something magical about Mother Ganga.
Downtime in the village of Bhagsu
After my yoga teacher training I needed a break from the constant hustle and bustle in Rishikesh. I found my peace and quiet in the village of Bhagsu in Dharamsala. Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, it is surrounded by green pine forests and waterfalls. The beautiful surroundings, the relaxed vibe, the jamming sessions at night and the great people I was with made it very hard to leave after 1.5 weeks. It’s a place which I stil often reminisce about. Sweet memories!
A yoga class up in the mountains
After Dharamsala I made my way to Vashisht, a small village close to Manali. Here I once did a yoga lesson with my new friend from Austria and a nice Indian guy who we randomly met when we were looking for a good location. He directly was excited about the idea of practicing yoga and led us to a beautiful spot next to some apple trees.
A spontaneous trip to Italy
While I was working in Switzerland again last summer one of my best friends from Germany came to visit me. We both felt like a mini holiday and spontaneously decided the night before to drive down to Italy and spend two nights near Lago Maggiore. This is the view from the balcony of our B&B where we enjoyed our lovely breakfasts.
A one-night getaway at Lenzerheide
Another spontaneous mini holiday during my stay in Switzerland. Together with my „Swiss family“ I hiked up to the Parpaner Rothorn (2865m) with a lunch break at the charming Alp Sanaspans where we treated ourselves to a delicious Kaiserschmarrn. It took us 4.5h to reach the summit, rewarding us with the view of a spectacular mountain range.
October: a month filled with reunions
After a summer season in Switzerland I decided it‘s about time to catch up with friends in Germany that I haven‘t seen in a long time and travel through Germany. So I made my way to Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich and Rosenheim where I reunited with friends I made during my studies and travels around the world.
A trip to Israel
In November I was waiting for the reply of a job that I applied for. As it took them a very long time to get back to me and their final decision was delayed a few times I decided that I didn‘t want to just sit at home waiting for something to happen. So I booked a flight to a destination that I already wanted to visit for a long time: Israel. One of many reasons why I finally wanted to come here was also to catch up with a friend that I made in India. He was one of the musicians that I was listening to every evening during my time in Dharamsala. He‘s one of the most talented people I ever met and honestly has the voice of an angel. Even though we didn‘t know each other very well at the time he invited me to stay with him in his flat in Tel Aviv. He was a great host and ever since he has become a really good friend of mine whom I hope to see many more times in the future.
Floating in the Dead Sea
When one is in Israel, a swim in the Dead Sea as well as a little mudbath is almost a must-do, right? Well, this one is now officially crossed off the bucket list.
A new friendship
Sometimes you meet people where it just immediately clicks and you feel like you’ve known each other for your whole life already. You laugh about the same stupid jokes, share vodka with your Polish roommate, feel comfortable talking about anything and everything and just know that you were destined to meet. Julien and I first met in the bathroom, then stayed in the same room in a huge hostel in Jerusalem, only to discover that we booked the exact same tours for the following three days. A good friend can make travelling so much more fun.
Exploring Petra in Jordan, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World
Petra is unlike anything I have ever seen before, words can‘t even describe how breathtaking this ancient rock-carved city is. It used to be the capital of the Nabataean kingdom from around the 6th century BC and the ruins were only rediscovered by the Western World through a Swiss explorer in 1812 after Bedouins already had been living in the city. In 1985 this tribe of Bedouins had to be resettled to a new place in order for Petra to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our guide told us that one of the conditions for this was that only Bedouins from this tribe were and still are allowed to work on the site itself. If a visit to Petra isn‘t on your bucket list yet, you should definitely add it.
Looking back at 2017 I‘m filled with gratitude for the life I‘m leading, the places I have seen and the people who made this year very special to me.
Do you also want to read about my highlights of the past years? Then just click the links below. And most importantly, what were your personal highlights in 2017?