Oh hi there, 2019… I didn’t hear you knocking at the door.
Feels familiar? Time flies. Is it because I’m getting older? Is it because I pack too many things in one year and don’t reflect enough? Or is it just because that’s life and time flies?
I can’t remember the last time I’ve been bored. I always have something to do, somewhere to go or something to think about. Especially last year. 2018 was a year of many changes. From Canada to Belgium and Italy, from Georgia to France, and in between of that a splash of New Zealand.
1. A cold start: Canada
I’ll be honest. The year started on a low for me. New Year’s Eve plans fell through when the freezing cold (I’m talking about – 40 degrees Celsius here) decided to numb our car. We got stuck at an AirBnb in a small village with nothing around (not even a bar) and nowhere to go. After a few months in the cold in Canada you start to understand how cold it gets. Especially because at the beginning of winter we were still road tripping in our van. I’m not going to lie, it was tough sometimes.
There were also a lot of good moments, especially when we headed out to explore the gorgeous scenery. I was made sure to wear multiple layers, otherwise you will really freeze some limbs. Be prepared if you plan on visiting Canada in winter! Find some information on what to wear here:
One of our highlights was 3 day trip to Lake O’Hara. Experiencing Lake O’Hara in winter was pretty amazing. Compared to the crowded summer, it was peaceful with almost nobody else around. Such a beautiful location!
2. Our temporary home: Canmore
For most people Canmore doesn’t really ring a bell. It’s a lovely, small town in the Rocky Mountains nearby the more famous Banff. Nico and I based ourselves a few months in Canmore, since travelling around in a van was just too cold.
I highly recommend visiting it. It feels a bit unique than touristy Banff. We enjoyed the little town and in between our freelance work Nico and I climbed some peaks.
One of those crisp and cold days we hiked up Lady Mac, the famous mountain you see from the centre.
3. Back to the sun in May
When the first magic of the Canadian winter wonderland fizzled out and with temperatures continuing to be under -15 (with peaks to -40) for more than 2 months, we decided to leave Canada. We were just over the cold and snow.
The summer in Canada had been amazing, but turned out winter wasn’t our cup of tea. At the same time spring was starting in Europe, with warm temperatures and beers on terraces. So on my birthday in April we decided to leave Canada later that month. Our trip in Canada ended after 9 months. It was definitely an adventure, but we were ready to go back to Europe.
But not without a quick stopover in San Francisco and Yosemite!
San Francisco is kind of the city of my dreams. I’m attracted to the vibrant community, the progressive thinking and the creative scene. The fact that Yosemite isn’t too far away doesn’t hurt either.
Yosemite will always stay special to me. I just let my friends in San Francisco know I’m visiting and lucky me, they organise a hiking weekend in Yosemite. I absolutely love that about these times, that you have friends and a network all over the world.
4. Wine and cheese, please!
In May I arrived in Europe. Since cheese is quite expensive in Canada, I let myself go those first few days in France at Nico’s family home. Wine and cheese, cheese and wine, a croissant, baguette… It also felt great to feel the sun touch my face and not having to wear five layers of clothing.
I went to Bordeaux, Montpellier and Saint-Emilion. The south of France is lovely and a thought popped up: “It wouldn’t be so bad living here…”
5. Adventure in the mountains
Before choosing a place to live in Europe it was time to travel and work. I teamed up with Decathlon and Audi Belgium for a trip to the Dolomites. Nico at the same time was working with Osprey and Exped. Those two weeks in the Dolomites were amazing and a bit exhausting. The area is incredible (go visit!!), but we had a full schedule to get our shots and content.
We had so much fun. This via ferrata was one of my highlights. I like climbing, hanging on ladders and a good dose of adventure.
6. Exploring Georgia
From Italy we flew almost directly to Georgia. Yes, the country. What an experience! Arriving in a country where you don’t speak the language is amazing. It feels much more like travelling than when you go to English-speaking countries. The people were the kindest, the nature was beautiful and the capital is vibrant. I can’t wait to share my Georgia posts later this year.
7. Back to the south
You know how I said that I wouldn’t mind living in the south of France? Well, turned out that that idea would be put into action. I took an editor job at a travel company in Aix-en-Provence – a lovely little city in the southeast of France.
Having our base in Aix we were able to discover the region little by little. Less than half an hour away you find Marseille, the Calanques and the Mediterranean Sea. We also did a hike in Gorge du Verdon, a climber’s paradise.
I’ve never experienced such a nice fall and winter as I have in the south of France. Those sunny days and warmer temperatures really make a difference.
8. New Zealand bound
In October Nico flew two months to New Zealand to work on a big project. The lucky bastard… But actually this was for me the perfect excuse to visit New Zealand too. One year and a few months after leaving New Zealand I was ready to visit it again. I had my list of hikes ready and people I wanted to see.
It was a busy (and unfortunately short) trip, but I loved every second of it. It felt like I had never left. The people were still as lovely and nature still as amazing.
9. Ending 2018 with a bang
Back in Europe the editor work came to an end and I got a new exciting freelance project for a Belgian company. Sometimes life runs so smooth. The project was (and is, because I’m still doing it while I’m writing this) mostly remote, with a few project meeting in Brussels. This tied in perfectly with the timing of the year: Christmas! I’m a family person and deeply enjoy spending time with my amazing family.
For New Year’s Eve I wanted something different though. We checked if any of our European friends wanted to do something different for the end of the year. Check! We ended up meeting friends in Cologne for the perfect end of a busy and interesting year.
As you can see, I didn’t sit still in 2018. I’m already excited and curious about 2019.