2021 in a Nutshell
Holy crap, what a year 2021 has been. And it ended with a big bang, too! While I was – frankly – pretty depressed and anxious when 2021 hit, not knowing, what to expect, and first and foremost feeling very trapped on the tropical island aka Singapore, in Q2, a major turning point happened that abruptly woke us up from the vegetative state we had been in.
When we finally left Singapore in June, we had no clue we would spend almost three months in Europe. That’s why – although we did make the most of it – our travels and trips that we did during that time, may seem a little random and uncoordinated. They were! Since we had only anticipated being in Berlin for maybe a couple of weeks, we had also only packed two pieces of baggage each for some summer days in Germany’s capital. We did know we would go to Austria for our wedding anniversary, but that was supposed to be hot and sunny too. When we still found ourselves in Europe by the end of the summer, we pretty much had to pick our holidays based on proximity, weather, and obv the coronavirus pandemic with its restrictions. Overall, I can’t say we didn’t have a fantastic summer in Europe with way more trips than I could have ever dreamed of (at the beginning of the year anyway) and even more time to explore after we finally moved to the US.
JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH – NOTHING HAPPENED, REALLY.
From January to March 2021, nothing happened, travel-wise. I did, however, spend a lot of time exploring Singapore, including a visit to a local gin distillery, and indulging in pretty much every brunch spot there is on the tiny island state.
APRIL: THE CRUISE TO NOWHERE
For my birthday in mid-April, we were finally brave (or desperate?) enough to book our first trip in what had been about 15 months. With the ongoing restrictions in Singapore and no actual travel insight, the only possibility we had was the “Cruise to Nowhere” – Singapore’s get-away cruise that leaves Singapore only to come back to the same port two or three days later (depending on the route). Since it was my birthday, and we wouldn’t consider ourselves as cruise persons at all, we splurged on “The Palace Suite” – an all-suite class with its own dedicated pool area, jacuzzis, spa, gym, and dining options including happy hour. With all that, I must say I had a fantastic birthday experience, waking up in the middle of the ocean with a bottle of chilled champagne waiting for me.
MAY, JUNE: FLYING TO BERLIN, AND EXPLORING AUSTRIA’S COUNTRY-SIDE
For the most part of May and June, we were busy organizing our big move from Singapore to the US. And since that wasn’t as easy as originally anticipated, we ended up going through Europe, while our furniture and household were meanwhile stored in a warehouse on the tropical island state.
After flying from Singapore to Berlin and spending a little over a week with family and friends (which was incredible after all that time!), we made a trip to the Austrian countryside. Frankly, after that long time in the pandemic and with all the confusing restrictions going on, we were simply too afraid to book another flight to another country. Austria seemed like the perfect getaway for a couple of days, in terms of proximity, restrictions, costs, their excellent wine, and also the flexibility it provided.
JULY: A LAYOVER IN PRAGUE, FLYING TO CROATIA, AND VISITING SANTORINI AND MYKONOS
Since we had a rental car and no obligations in Germany anyway, we ended up visiting Prague on our way back from Austria to shorten the driving time and tick another country from the bucket list.
After not more than a week in Berlin, we hit the road again. This time, we took a plane, though. Both of us hadn’t been to Croatia yet and it had been on our list for a long time. Since Covid-restrictions and cases were pleasantly low at that time, we booked a round trip to Dubrovnik and stayed in Lapad, a peninsula at the northern tip of Dubrovnik known for its luxurious hotels and beach clubs. Although the food, wine, and beach clubs were nice, the absolute highlight was our boat trip around the Elaphiti Islands (I wrote a blog post on that, unfortunately, it is only available in German at this time). We had an absolute blast and may have set the foundation for a beautiful friendship, too.
Croatia certainly awoke our travel bug and once we were back in Berlin and hadn’t heard any information on when and how we would finally get to the States, we splurged on another flight. This time, though, we didn’t book a round trip, but a multi-stop-route to the Greek Cyclades, or, better said: Mykonos and Santorini. Both dream destinations and an absolute highlight in our Summer 2021. We hit off the week in the Aegean Sea with Mykonos, where we spent three fantastic days with incredible beaches and inspirational designs on every corner. From there, we took the ferry to Santorini, to experience the magical sunsets in Fira and Oia on our own and tested a lot of tasteful white wines in the local wineries.
AUGUST: A CONTRIBUTE-TRIP THROUGH EUROPE
When August arrived, we kind of knew that our summer in Europe was coming to an end. Since we didn’t feel as brave and convenient to fly somewhere anymore but were still sleeping in my aunt’s guest room—with not so much to do and not many people to meet during the week anyway—we decided to rent another car and drive through Europe. A lap of honor, if you will so.
We started the week off with Hamburg, one of my favorite cities in Germany, where we had a breezy refreshing time just us two before we drove further west, towards the Netherlands. There, we stayed in Rotterdam for two nights, in order to explore the Dutch city with the largest port in Europe that convinced us with its charms in architecture, history, and oh-so-great food.
From Rotterdam, we drove a good hour down south to Antwerp, which is technically in Belgium, although people there also speak Dutch. Antwerp was probably the city that has most won me during our road trip, with its cult status in the fashion world. It welcomed us with colorful and lively vibes, a stunning opulent-meets-streamlined city architecture, including an entire fashion district with lots of trendy yet sophisticated boutiques, fancy coffee shops, and upscale wine bars. I genuinely enjoyed our time in Antwerp and would have loved to stay a little longer. However, there couldn’t have been any better city to end our tribute trip to Europe than Brussels, the “de facto” capital of the European Union.
And then, at the end of August, it was time for us to leave Germany and finally fly off the States. We had waited for the moment for such a long time, yet, in the end, it came fast.
SEPTEMBER: SETTLING IN SAN FRANCISCO
While in the beginning, we were accommodated in Alameda County, on East Bay, we pretty shortly moved to the city of San Francisco, where we found a charming, spacious apartment in Mission Bay/Dogpatch. Since we were extremely busy exploring neighborhoods, finding and buying furniture, and setting up all kinds of things, e.g. bank account, social security number, etc, we didn’t have much time to actually travel. Although we did make trips to the nearby beaches, wine countries, and last but not least to Sacramento.
In October, we finally got to travel again. Ever since moving to California, we knew that we would take this as a chance to explore as much of the US as we could. So Seattle with its 2 hours flight time was a great city to finally kick off our plans. What I did not know before our visit, is that Seattle did not only spawn Amazon and Boeing but the world’s most famous coffee house chain, aka Starbucks, and despite not one single cuppa from there, I pretty much indulged in great barista coffee in the city up north.
NOVEMBER: ROAD TRIP THROUGH CALIFORNIA’S NATIONAL PARKS
With Thanksgiving approaching, Daniel had his first couple of days off from work, which made us eager to travel somewhere. However, plans were changed on short notice due to covid and since we unexpectedly got our own car at the end of the month, which made us spontaneously go on a road trip, down south. We had no actual plans, but the National Parks and eventually visited two National Parks (Joshua Tree Park, Death Valley) and one National Preserve (Mojave National Preserve), plus Palm Springs and Las Vegas. This is particularly impressive, considering we drove almost 2000 miles in what have been like 4.5 days.
DECEMBER: ANOTHER ROAD TRIP THROUGH CALIFORNIA
Although we had just killed a good amount of our annual milage with the spontaneous trip in November, when December approached, we had to decide to stay in the Unites States instead of going home for Christmas. That’s why we were pretty thankful when we were invited to not only one, but two Christmas celebrations in Southern California. Hence, we ended the year with another road trip through the state we call our home, where we stayed four nights in Huntington Beach, and one night in San Luis Obispo.
When we finally got home at the end of the year, we were pretty much punished for all our trips and travels during another year of the pandemic (ehemm..) This is why eventually, we were forced to stay home on New Year’s Eve. No more travels, no more trips, just us, in a – finally – furnished apartment in San Francisco. We didn’t mind some relaxing days at home at all, that we used to clear and organize the apartment, calm down, and catch up with family and friends in Germany.
One’s for sure, I am excited for the new year, to finally be able to explore the US more, hopefully, have friends from Germany (and all over the world) visiting us in our new home, and overall knowing it’s gonna be a great new year to come. We, sure enough, have planned a couple of trips already.
Stay tuned and stay healthy! Happy New Year!