The Army has taught me a lot of things over the years but one thing you never get used to is moving. It’s honestly not even the packing everything you own and starting over in a new place that is hard. It’s the friendships and family that you make along the way and have to leave behind.
We would have loved to stay in one spot and have the same group of friends for years to come and maybe someday eventually that will happen. For now though, it’s really hard making such incredible friends and saying goodbye so quickly. I like to say you make friends hard and fast by moving so much.
A part of you is tempted not to invest so much of your life and time in people along the way. Then you’ll meet the most hilarious, giving, selfless people that make you love them. Making these incredible friendships always leads to heartbreak when you have to move away.
I’ve learned to thank God when this happens because life would be so boring without them. These friendships help us grow and even if we just had you for a season of life, we are thankful. We are better people because of you. We love you guys! 😭❤️😭
Dan got home from deployment in January, seriously one of the happiest days of my life. I knew he would be hungry after the long flight so I left super early (if you know me well, you know without a doubt this is WAY out of character for me). I stopped at Chipotle prior to going to the airport. It’s one of our favorites, so I wanted to surprise him with it.
He texted me when he landed saying he was just waiting for his bags. I lied to him and told him I would be late. (Not unusual for me, haha). Little did he know I was standing on the other side of the terminal exit impatiently waiting.
When he walked out he was shocked and relieved to see me. I asked him if he was hungry. He said “Nahhh lets just go home.” I winked at him and said cheerfully, “OK cool, I’ll eat my chipotle AND yours.” He laughed and life felt so normal already. It surprised me that after 9 months of being apart it took about 30 seconds to slide right back into our usual humorous banter.
Nevertheless, it felt so amazing to have him back. We had a welcome home dinner with our close friends. We traveled back to Philadelphia to see his family and friends. His brother and sister in law threw such an amazing surprise welcome home party for him. It included all of his favorite things: friends, Eagles football and Yuengling.
This experience taught us a lot about love and life. Without a doubt life is more fun and incredible together.
Ps. Our last date was at the golfing range of course 🙂
I read an inspiring Instagram post about narrowing your goals for the next year into one word. I thought long and hard about this. How could I possibly choose just ONE word to represent my goals for the next year? After a day or two of considering what I would choose, I decided on the word brave.
Dan and I have a LOT of challenges in our near future. Not only are we moving internationally but we are also moving twice within five months. I’m essentially quitting my job and starting graduate school. It’s going to be hard. We will be making friends and finding community in a completely different city.
As I closed my eyes every night for the last few months I prayed “Wherever you lead me, I will go.” As crazy as that sounds, I know wholeheartedly that this journey is going to be full of uncertainties and unknowns but I also know its going to be so GOOD. That is the life we were promised to live. So BRAVE is my word for 2018. What word would you choose? I hope it’s something that scares you because the biggest dreams are often the most terrifying.
Happy New Year.
ps. These are some of my favorite memories from 2017 because y’all know I couldn’t pick just nine.
Spain. Switzerland. USA. Portugal. Germany. Amsterdam. Italy. Formenterra. France. Austria and wherever else in the world life takes us ❤️
I met Erin in 2012 while we were learning all about ARDS, CKD, MODS, sepsis, “The Sugas” and may other intensive care things we were cramming into our brains at the time. She was the quiet, (almost) front row sitter and I was the notorious back row sitter that talked far too much. #somethingsneverchange
A few months later, we finished the ICU course, packed our things and moved away. I moved to Georgia and she moved to south Texas. Never in a million years did I think the first time I walked into my new job in Germany in 2015… that Erin would be the one sitting behind the desk in the ICU.
Since then we have been cracking jokes and keeping each other entertained when we go “camping.” She’s always been my right sided bunk mate and my ICU bestie. She makes me laugh just as much as Dan does. She’s so selfless and gives more than anyone I’ve ever met. She’s the friend that buys tickets or covers dinner for the entire group… then proceeds to try and convince you she owes you money. 😂 But I’m on to her! She can’t trick me.
Of all our adventures this one was by far my favorite. There’s something so soothing about being in the middle of God’s gorgeous handiwork cruising through the soft, fresh snow. These are my favorite moments while traveling because you realize the world is so much bigger than yourself and your life. Who you choose to surround yourself with says a lot about you. I’m so very lucky to have a friend like Erin. You make the world a better place. So this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for you and your friendship ❤️.
We drove to Austria, spent hours skiing the Stubai Glacier and laughing. Honestly, it was the best Thanksgiving ever. Thank you Erin. You’ll always be family to me.
Ps. We stopped for coffee on the drive home. When I asked for a cappuccino, The nice gentleman said “Klein cappuccino?” (Small cappuccino). Erin just started cracking up laughing. He smiled, laughed and said ahhh #thosekindofpeople … cappuccino gross (large) it is.
We might have taken the wrong bus down the mountain … but no worries we are excellent in makeshift sign language and guessing at translating foreign languages. Luckily at the bus stop there was an ATM and a step stool for the shorties.
We ventured into Innsbruck for our first Christmas Market of the year. Most of the vendors were closed because of the rain but there was plenty of food and glühwein.
Our views on the way home we’re nothing short of stunning.
As always another cappuccino 💗 Austria you are a breathtakingly beautiful place.
We had a long weekend of salt water and sangria on the beach. One of my very best friends from college, Sarah and her hubby Caleb flew across the world to see us… and I’m gonna apologize now (because it’s taken far too long to post these) #betterlatethannever. Good thing she’ll love me anyway 😉 but seriously what an incredible trip.
Crystal clear salt water, beautiful views and sunshine are just a few of the amazing things about Malta. Although, sometimes it’s not the scenery that makes you happy. It’s the company you share it with.
We explored Malta with two of our favorite couples. We went hiking together, drank sangria together and got seasick together. Ok, so it was just Krissy and I getting sea sick. Honestly, it was worth it for those gorgeous Blue Lagoon views. It was refreshing visiting a place with English as it’s primary language. The driving is pretty crazy so I would recommend just taking shuttles or taxis.
In hindsight, I wish I would have packed my Dramamine the day we went on the pirate ship to the blue lagoon… but we can’t always be on our A game, Right?!? Anyways. These are my people. I love them so much.
After an 8 hour layover in Germany, we finally made it to Amsterdam. We grabbed the rental agreement and headed to pick up the car. I told the guy we rented a convertible and he looked extremely dismayed.
Then I laughed. He said “whewwww you were kidding,” and laughed with me. Apparently the lady at the check out had mixed up someone with a convertible recently 🤷🏼♀️😂oops! I think I was just as shocked when we got into our rental. Dan is extremely frugal with travel (opposites attract right?!?). He used to rent with companies that have hidden fees and other problems we won’t mention. Anyways… when I asked him sweetly to book our rental car for us he picked Enterprise and I’m so thankful he did! They gave us this gorgeous Audi. I kept saying, “This drives like a dream.” All up until we went to park in the Radisson Blu parking garage. I couldn’t for the life of me get the car into reverse. 🤔
Naturally we spent 10 minutes figuring it out and then Sarah googled it. Apparently you have to push the stick shift vertically toward the ground prior to shifting. That’s a new one for me. Dan laughed at me as we told him our dilemma. What wasn’t so funny…. was the parking fees at the Radisson Blu Hotel Amsterdam Airport. Parking is free for the first two hours, then 3 Euro an hour after that for a max of 25 Euro per day.
Now I’m not a genius at math but it’s pretty simple to see you’re pretty much gonna pay the max parking fee if you park overnight. Good thing Dan wasn’t here or he would’ve moved the car every 3 hours 😂. I’m sure the hotel staff could see the irritation and stress on our faces and gave us coups for free wine.
The next day we got up at 730 and started our Amsterdam adventure. We stopped first at the I Amsterdam sign and ate waffles for breakfast near the Van Gosh museum. Right after waffles it started down pouring as we walked back toward the car. Make sure you pay for street parking in Amsterdam because they track you+ticket you based on your license plate.
We drove out of the city to see the windmills. When we arrived, Sarah wanted to see the windmills and I wanted to see the shoes of course. We compromised somewhere in the middle. It turned out to be a beautiful, relaxing afternoon.
We ventured back into the city to explore. Daniel and I have driven in a lot of cities worldwide. Driving in Paris with 9 way intersections was the only city that comes to mind in comparison to how stressed I was driving here. Picture this: Sitting at a red light… you have 200 people on bikes weaving in and out of traffic, mopeds zipping next to you… AND a street tram that was lets say 4 inches from the rental car. In addition, to say that the bike riders in Amsterdam are aggressive… is an understatement. Just be careful, if you’re driving anywhere near the Anne Frank house. #praisethelord we didn’t scratch the rental! We ended our trip with some sweet goodbye cocktails and cider.
Caleb… go ahead and pack the kids up to move here. The waffles will be worth it 😉. Sarah will be waiting for you at this large red rubik’s cube in the airport! ❤️
As I’m sitting here drinking a breakfast beer, I’m reflecting on how much this new place has changed my perspective. First of all, #prost because this beer is DELICIOUS. Sagres Bohemia is absolutely my favorite amber beer I’ve EVER tried. Second of all…my plane leaves in 40 minutes and I have no idea which gate it leaves from. Dan or Marcie would be panicking right about now… but I am a low stress traveler. I’m perfectly content sipping this beer, people watching and writing this blog post.
Lisbon surprised me because the people here are so kind. Especially since my friends and I have experienced some not so friendly vibes toward Americans traveling Europe. The airport was bustling and crowded this morning. ALL of the chairs at the cafe were taken except one. It was at a table with a group of 5 gorgeous ladies speaking Portuguese. It felt like I was in the movie Mean Girls, trying to sit with the beautiful crowd. They saw me looking for another table and waved to me so I would sit with them. I think they were intrigued by my breakfast beer haha. Living in Europe I’ve learned that improv sign language is a universal language. I’ve also learned to ignore people staring at you. (And let me tell you they stare!). However, it doesn’t really bother me any more and if you ignore them eventually they stop looking at you.
So first impressions are important but my first impression of Portugal was doubtful. There was a lot of graffiti…A LOT. It was an old looking city with cramped streets and anxiety producing traffic. Marcie and I were looking at each other with wide eyes during the entire cab ride. The closer we got to our Airbnb the more charming the city became.
When we finally arrived, we walked up 5 flights of old stairs (the first flight was marble 😍). When we got to the top we were really impressed. The lighting was perfect and this two bedroom apartment didn’t disappoint. The owners even left us a bottle of local wine for our stay.
We dropped our bags and went exploring. The first day we wandered into a craft fair that was selling sangria. We sipped sangria from the market and enjoyed the music of the city. We leisurely walked through the city and plazas. Occasionally stopping to shop for summer dresses, swim suits and coverups for summer. I loved shopping with Desiree and Jaden. They make me laugh constantly. We worked up an appetite shopping, since we were starving and missing home so we stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe Lisbon. That comfort food hit the spot!
The second day we got up ridiculously early. This is the easiest way to get the best photos. We honestly just got up early due to the time change. We planned our first stop, Comercio Square. I snapped a picture of this tram and then realized it was the one we were supposed to take to see the Bélem tower 😳 so we sprinted to make the tram. A nice older man stuck his cane in the door to prevent it from shutting. We laughed as we sat down. Running before 7 am is not the norm for me on vacation. We thought it would be a long ride so we weren’t paying attention and got off on the wrong stop. However, we got to see the Jeronimos Monistary and the Monument to the Discoveries. It was so beautiful watching the sun come up. Believe it or not the silence of the mornings brings me so much peace. I talk wayyy to much for the average person so we just enjoyed this slow and quite morning. Eventually we walked down to the Belem tower and had breakfast.
After breakfast we used our navigation skills and with the help of Google maps we figured out the public transit system. We took trams, trains and buses in order to get to Cintra. It was a beautiful place and I loved how everything was covered in multicolored tile. EVERYTHING. Including the window for the guy selling train tickets! I would highly recommend going there if you’re ever in the area.
After a doubtful first impression, I have to say that Lisbon was a very charming city. The kindness of the locals made an impression that will stay with me forever.
Ps. A special thanks to Marcie and her family for the friendship and love we share. I’ll miss you dearly 😭 but I know our paths will cross again. 💕💋
Melissa was the perfect roommate in college. She was the one that would open my door, sit on my bed and convince me I was studying far too much for a Tuesday (Let’s binge watch Sex in the City instead). She was always positive, adventurous and fun. It’s hard to believe it’s been over 10 years since we’ve met. The time continues to pass but our friendship hasn’t changed. We both travel all over the world and when time permits we run into each other about once a year or two.
This summer she’s traveling through Europe and I’m so happy she spent a week with me in Germany! There’s no one else I’d rather eat tiramisu with in pjs as we binge watch Netflix . #somethingsneverchange
When I picked her up from the Airport we stopped in Mainz for breakfast. We happened to stumble upon an amazing farmers market. So we picked up fresh fruits and vegetables after brunch.
I learned a lot from her this trip:
1. I only own one whisk… which is definitely not enough for a chef preparing Easter dinner.
2. You can shred chicken with a kitchen aid #lifechanging moment for me.
3. I’m far more technologically incompetent than I thought I was. When Dan left, everything stopped working Haha
4. Melissa makes the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted. Who knew you can make a cake with beer!?!
5. Great friendships will grow as time passes. I am so thankful we got to spend this time together –> and I’m sorry I didn’t warn you about the crazy allergy season in Germany!
While she was here we went shopping in Trier because it’s one of my favorite cities. Trier is the oldest city in Germany. We also took a trip to Lambrecht, Germany to see where her heritage came from! It was a quiet little town, perfect for park bench sitting and gelato eating of course. At the end of the week we enjoyed Easter dinner with our closest friends.
We went on our annual ski trip with one of our favorite couples. It was about a 6-hour drive to Austria but well worth the trip. Dan blew us away with his selection of an Airbnb on this trip. The townhouse had a spa room which contained a sauna and jacuzzi. This place was incredible and after each long cold day of skiing, we thoroughly enjoyed the spa room! We even added a few drops of peace+calming to the sauna…BEST. Idea. Ever. On our way home,we stopped in Reutte, Austria and crossed the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge called “Highline 179.” We did it even though it was terrifying with how windy and cold it was that day.
Dan’s brother was in Europe for a few short days so we decided to take a quick trip to the slopes in Switzerland. Dan and Eric grew up skiing in Pennsylvania. I could tell how happy Dan was having his brother with him for the weekend. We enjoyed everything you could ask for in a perfect weekend: skiing, wine and great company.
The gondola ride to the top of the mountain had me the closest I’ve ever been to peeing my pants as an adult. I was terrified, tachycardic, sweaty and gross. Now I’d like to say that we had a nice cup of coffee at the top but straight liquor was the only thing that would calm my nerves. #illtakeadoubleplease
Meanwhile this beauty next to me was smiling and laughing and taking ridiculously great pictures. Once my heart rate slowed to about 110, we went onto the top deck to see the view.
The first day we skied the Garmish classic. Now by no means am I an advanced skier but I really enjoy it. Watching all of the snowboarders crash a million times was also incredibly entertaining. And oh my gosh a 3-year-old on a snowboard….quite possibly the most adorable thing ever.
The second day we woke up and went up the Zugspitze gondola a second time. It’s by far one of the scariest things to me. It wouldn’t be so awful except that when the cable car went over the large towers, it stops for a moment and sways back and forth before moving further up the mountain. I’m so thankful for nondrowsy Dramamine, otherwise, it would have been a terrible ride for the 20 other people crammed in the car with us. When my feet hit hard land at the top I thanked the Lord baby Jesus for helping us make it safely to the top (and promised to take the hour long train down). Haha
We skied half of the day and then I had hot chocolate and lunch in the lodge. A nice German guy joined me for lunch and we talked about how he was teaching all four of his kids to ski. Let’s be honest, Dan will have to teach our kids someday because he is SO much better than me! I really missed him this trip because he would ski 1/2 way and wait for me but Abby and I had a blast and I can’t wait to go back next year!
Raise your hand if you’re habitually late to everything in life (except work)….. you are the ones that understand my struggles. However, I want to preface this story by saying this time…it was not my fault. I was working night shift the day before we were supposed to leave for Ireland. My hilarious, beautiful and also chronically late to everything friend Abby was supposed to be our designated responsible person for getting us to the airport. Let’s just say we left quite a bit behind schedule. 🙂
Luckily we were flying from a small airport and the security lines were pretty short. We breezed through security and made it to our gate with approximately 11 minutes to spare. Now if I had my husband with me he would have had a heart attack. Abby on the other hand just laughed and said, “See…. we still have time for coffee!” I love that about her. She is carefree and fun to travel with. We were also meeting a mutual friend Marcie, her family and friend Vera. Marcie is our “on time” friend and had been sitting comfortably in a chair close to the gate for quite some time. She also planned and organized the trip so all we had to do was book our flights. HOW easy! This made it a very relaxed weekend away. Marcie is always game for adventure, which is why I enjoy her company so much! Abby and I laughed as we watched her singing along with her headphones while waiting for the gate to open. Despite being early (or late) we all made it and boarded the plane.
When we arrived in Ireland we picked up our rental cars. FYI you have to pay extra for insurance that covers you in Ireland. If you have ever driven the curvy back roads of Ireland on the edges of cliffs, you’ll understand why. They also drive on the left-hand side of the road. Abby was amazing and picked up the left vs. right-sided driving really easily (and we didn’t have to use the expensive insurance we paid for). We rented a house via Airbnb. It was in the hills near the Ring of Kerry. On our way to the house, we stopped in Killarney a beautiful little town with a massive church. There was an outdoor wedding at the church the day we arrived and it was gorgeous. We shopped at a few stores in town including a little Irish jewelry store. The jeweler told us all about the Irish Claddagh rings. They contain hands, a heart, and a crown. She also explained how they represent love, loyalty, and friendship. Married men and women wear the heart facing toward themselves and the opposite if you’re single. We left the store and had lunch at a cafe across the street.
The next few days we spent driving around the Ring of Kerry. We had lunch at a country club that let us pour our own Guinness. After lunch, we continued our journey around the ring. We stopped at a few beaches and listened to the waves of the North Atlantic come crashing in. This was such a peaceful place. It was even more enjoyable because none of us were in a hurry to leave.
One of my favorite places we visited were the cliffs just north of the Ring of Kerry. I love seeing places like that, off the beaten path. You can travel the world and see all of the popular places the majority of people see or you can just enjoy the experiences you run into along the way. This trip was one of my favorite trips so far because we did exactly that.
We visited the Killarney National park and took a carriage ride around the grounds. Most of the rest of that day we spent at the beach sitting on massive rocks and soaking up the sunshine.
On our last day, we stopped in Killarney again! This time to purchase crystal wine glasses we saw on the first day. We also had some of the BEST waffles I’ve had yet (I thought they were better than the ones I’ve tried in Belgium). I’d be lying if I said I only had one.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Guinness prior to this trip but I loved it in Ireland. I encourage you to try it if you ever visit. Cheers my friends to another country, another adventure and to Abby for driving on the wrong side of the road!