Life got the best of me and the blog hit the back burner…again. I have been BUSY! Busy making awesome memories, travel, and finishing my semester of classes with a 4.0 (by the grace of God). I went on a spa weekend with Zoe, had Gracie come visit, went to Austria, went to France, flew all the way back to the states to attend my Uncle Ryan and Aunt Leah’s wedding, went on a family reunion cruise to Honduras, Belize, and Mexico, went to Lucerne with my friend Schuyler, took my final exams, had KJ come visit for two weeks, visited many Christmas markets, went to Arosa, Switzerland for a romantic ‘wine and dine’ night on the top of a mountain at the Hörnlihütte resort, skied in Lenzerheide, and spent New Years in Copenhagen with my best friends. Phew! Did you follow all of that?? Like I said, BUSY!
I really want to be more intentional with documenting these memories on the blog this year, and since it is the season of New Year’s resolutions, let this stand as proof of my very first one! This post will be long and full of pictures of some of my favorite memories of the year. More of a photo/video dump than my usual blog posts, but I will try to do better for this new year and the rest of my time abroad. There is a lot to unpack here, so bear with me. Feel free to click down below to the highlights you care to see most 🙂
Lenk Spa Weekend with Zoe
This was an amazing, spontaneous spa weekend and I loved EVERY second of it! Zoe and I decided on a Wednesday that we needed a girls weekend, and then Saturday morning drove to Lenk, about two hours from Basel, where she had grown up going on holiday with her family. She didn’t tell me where we were going to be staying, so when we pulled into a 5 star spa resort, I was FLOORED! The place was so beautiful. We did a nice hike up the mountain before going to our room, only to find Zoe had accidentally booked us a SUITE for the night! We had two balconies, two bathrooms, a fireplace, a nice woman who delivered us chocolates and drinks…this place was amazing! Even though we were only there for the day/night, we made the most of the sauna and the resort’s infinity pool. We also had a delicious dinner that accidentally included a scary haunted house, which resulted in tears from the both of us. We hate scary things. I truly wish there was good footage of us going through that dang maze. It would’ve given us quite a laugh! Zoe is such a special friend to me, so spending this time with her will be something I cherish forever!
Gracie’s Visit / Austria Trip
Another semi-spontaneous trip! I had been really starting to feel a bit homesick, and had asked Gracie a few times if she would want to come and visit me on her Fall Break from school. After some deliberation and a cheap flight, with less than a months notice, she flew over to Switzerland to spend almost a week with me! We booked last minute tickets to Austria and explored Vienna for two days, enjoying our sister time and the new country. My mom always told us growing up that we would be best friends one day and neither one of us believed her. I am happy to have been proven wrong. I love her with my whole heart and miss her so much.
Church Retreat in France
One of my favorite parts about living here in Switzerland is the church home I have found. I have tried to plug in as much as I can, and have made such wonderful friends and found the community that I was really craving. I was thankful to be able to attend this year’s young adult’s retreat to France, where we spent two nights in fellowship, worship, and in the Word. All with my best friends! Definitely can’t beat it.
My longest awaited trip was finally here! I got to fly home to spend two weeks with my family after four months apart. I spent a week at home and in Gainesville before flying to Texas to go on a big family reunion cruise for my Uncle Ryan’s wedding. I went to two Panthers games, got surprised with tickets to the Jonas Brother’s concert with Gracie, surprised KJ up in Gainesville, saw a bunch of friends from school that are so dear to me, and really enjoyed being home with my family. I truly had forgotten what it was like to be home and sleep in my own bed, so I was grateful for every second of being there.
Ryan and Leah’s Wedding / Thanksgiving Cruise
Getting to watch Ryan and Leah vow their lives to each other in marriage was the sweetest experience! It is so clear how much they love each other, and I am so thankful to know them both. Their love is contagious and I am so happy that I was able to make the trip to be with them during the most important day of their lives! Once the wedding concluded, the best vacation begun! One whole week on a cruise with ALL my family, as well as KJ and his mom! We visited Honduras, Belize, and Mexico, spent our days up on the deck, participated in all of the competitions, including the Quest, Men’s Belly Flop, Women’s Cannonball, and Sexiest Man, and every night had a dinner with as many of the group as possible. One week wasn’t nearly long enough, but I am so grateful for all of the memories we made! (be warned…this will be the largest amount of pictures!! But some of the best!)
Lucerne with Schuyler
As soon as I got back into Basel, my long distance au pair friend Schuyler had also just arrived back into Basel and we went to dinner together and the next day took a trip to Lucerne! Schuyler splits her time between Hamburg, Germany, and Basel, so when she is local, I take advantage! She is a joy to be around, and truly radiates happiness like no other. I am glad for the friendship we have, even though we don’t see each other as regularly as we would like!
Truly the best two weeks with my best friend. Long distance is hard, but KJ makes it a piece of cake. He loves me and pursues me intentionally and effortlessly, whether in person or 5,000 miles apart. Finally being back together again was just what I needed, and spending the holidays with him filled my heart like nothing else. We did so many amazing things, visited our 8th country together, and made memories that will help us both get through the rest of this year apart. He is one in a million, and I’m so thankful he is mine. He’s also not bad to look at…just sayin’.
Arosa / Hörnlihütte Trip
As a Christmas gift, my sweet host family sent me and KJ to Arosa to visit the Hörnlihütte Ski Resort for a ‘wine and dine’ experience. This place is at the literal top of a mountain. It is four hours travel to Arosa from Basel, so we took three trains, a bus, and a ski lift to get there, but it was SO worth it. Before we took the ski lift up, it was flurrying a bit at the bottom of the mountain and I was beside myself I was so giddy! I have only seen snow fall one time in my life, so witnessing this was so magical! KJ had to try to explain to me that what was happening wasn’t real snow, but I was too excited to care. That was until we were at the top of the mountain and in the Hörnlihütte when it started to BLIZZARD! Literally so much snow we couldn’t even see the ski lift! We got on all our warm stuff and ran outside to play in the snow, make snow angels, and throw snowballs. True childlike joy, let me tell you. We were the only people at the resort that evening, besides the one staff member who stayed overnight to take care of us. It was a relaxing night full of snuggles, movies, champagne, and just good genuine conversation. We had the most amazing time.
We spent Christmas Eve with my host family after attending Christmas service with Zoe at my church. Stephie prepared a delicious dinner of fondue chinoise, and after we all opened gifts and hung out. The family went to Lenzerheide on Christmas day, but KJ and I stayed back in Basel to spend Christmas day on our own. We had Zoe over and KJ cooked us an amazing french toast brunch, and then KJ and I stayed in our pajamas for the next 36 hours, doing absolutely nothing and being lazy as can be. Truly might have been my favorite part of his whole visit, if I am being completely honestly. We are both always so busy, it is rare that we get to sleep in and just fool around with no responsibilities, especially in person with each other, so we took full advantage.
Lenzerheide Ski Trip
Two days after Christmas, KJ and I made the two hour trek to Lenzerheide (part of the Swiss Alps) to spend some more time with my host family and ski! He has never skied before, and its been five years since I have, so it was quite an adventure to remember/learn how to do it! He really got the hang of it, until we accidentally ended up on a black diamond with no way to escape except skiing down it. Not the highlight of the trip, but we are already finding ways to laugh about it. It was a gorgeous day in the mountains and we got to spend it together, which is what matters most.
Our last big trip of KJ’s stay in Europe! We booked a trip to spend New Years in Copenhagen with three of my friends. My Uncle John and his girlfriend Sarah also made the trip to Copenhagen from Amsterdam, where they were visiting for the holidays, to spend New Years with us! We explored all the main sites, including Nyhavn (beautiful 17th century waterfront canal), the Little Mermaid statue (anyone wanna take bets to how excited I was??), Kastellet (1700’s military base), Amalienborg (home to the royal Danish family!), and so much more. I loved Copenhagen and hope to go back and visit again!
Great Gatsby New Year’s Party
This was for sure a major highlight of December. For New Year’s Eve, I went with KJ, my friends Nicole, Schuyler, and Alex, along with John and Sarah to a Roarin’ 20’s Great Gatsby themed party! Dress code was required for entry, and it was very apparent that everyone went all out in their flapper attire. Truly an incredible night and experience! Sharing the start of a new decade with some of my favorite people on the planet is something I will never forget. Bring it on 2020, I am READY.
If you’ve made it this far, kudos! It has been a whirlwind over here the past three months, and I don’t plan to slow down now that the new year has started. I already have a few trips booked for January and am making plans for following months! For some reason, hitting 2020 has made me almost anxious that I am out of time here in Switzerland. While I know this isn’t true, as I still have seven months left of my journey, the first five FLEW by. I want to make the most of every opportunity I have to continue to explore Europe. I have a long list of countries I have not yet visited, so I plan to really take advantage of the cheap flights and whatever free weekends I have.
I pray this new year and new decade brings nothing but health, happiness, and positivity to everyone we love! May we all live intentionally and purposefully, always striving to better ourselves and the people around us. 2019 showed me a lot about myself. It introduced me to both intense joy and sadness, like nothing I have experienced before. Ultimately it was a time of growth and adventures, one that lead me into this new year with a supportive and amazing family, friends I will cherish forever, and a love like I have never known by my side. 2020, I am ready for you and whatever you have to offer. Bring on the Roarin’ 20s!
Much love and happy New Year,