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2012 in pictures

2012 has blessed me with beautiful travel experiences. As I look back on them, I feel very lucky. I haven’t left Europe much for travelling – but going through my pictures I don’t regret that. There is so much to discover in close proximity to my home. Join me on a quick recap of the beauty I have experienced in 2012:

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This was Chemnitz in Saxony in March. While everyone always claims it to be rather ugly, I was surprised at how much beauty could be found there. It is much more than just its socialist past.

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Istanbul – my Place of Desire, my Sehnsucht, my love. The first words I ever wrote about it were: „Istanbul und ich, das ist die ganz große Liebe“ – Istanbul and I, that is love for life. My trip in March, the second one I took there, will be followed by many more.

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Wittenberg – the city of Luther and reformation. The church tower holds writing that says: „Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott“, a famous Luther quote translating to „A mighty fortress is our God„. I went there in April on a volunteer gathering.

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At the Elbe river in Hamburg on the Saturday before Easter Sunday, there’s Easter bonfires every year. An old tradition, pagan, driving out the evil spirits of winter. Something I grew up with and that always makes me feel like home. Also I love fire. And I love water. And when the flames are reflected in the river, it is divine beauty.

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In Szczytno, Poland, my father was born when it was still called Ortelsburg. This is one of the famous Mazurian lakes in early August summer sun. It had a touch of eternity to it.

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This is Olsztyn in Poland. I just adore red brick stone…

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… and because I love it, I loved this church in Vilnius, Lithuania!!

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But the Baltics had more to offer than city life. This is a castle park in Cesis in Gauja national park in Latvia, named after…

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… the river Gauja!!

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The Latvian capital Riga was possibly my favorite city in the Baltics. It reminds me a lot of my mother’s home town, Bremen – no wonder, since Riga was founded by monks who came from exactly that German city in the middle ages.

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Riga was followed by Estonia’s Tallinn in all its medieval beauty. This is a modern site though – the Song Festival Grounds where music festivals are held and just recently before we got there the Red Hot Chili Peppers had a gig too. Imagine all of this filled with a huge choir singing folk songs… one day I will go to the Tallinn Song Festival. High on my bucket list!

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On my birthday we went to see the Estonian National Park Lahemaa. Bogs, swamps, forests and relics of Soviet times, a lovely tour guide who explained to us about cultural and social whatabouts in Estonia as well – it was a lovely start into the new year of my life!!

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The trip to the Baltics finished in late August with a three day stay on the Curonian Spit in Lithuania. Endless beaches, deep dark forests and the lovely sounds of the Baltic Sea – my heart grows wide even at the thought of it!

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In September I discovered a small part of the deep West of Germany – this is a shot of Hambach castle, an important place for the German national movement in the 19th century and one of the birthplaces of our modern democracy.

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My finish is my discovery of the year – Gdańsk! I fell for it long and hard. There is much more to discover about Tricity and the whole Kashubian area in the North of Poland. I am nothing but grateful for the fact that 2012 has given me a place that I could love so deeply. I hope you will follow me as I explore it further!

30 Comments

  1. Interesting blog. Nice to see you liked Riga very much. I have a Latvian friend and she tells me Riga is very underrated city.

    • Oh yeah, it is one of those cities people just don’t have on their inner map – and when they go there they love it. Also, most people fall for Tallinn more than for Riga, but I usually like the places best that have an edge 🙂 Glad you like the blog, do stop by again!

  2. You visited some great places 🙂 I’ve planned my first trip to Istanbul for march 2013 and I’m really looking forward exploring this city!

    • You are bound to love it! Translating my first post on Istanbul into English is high on my blog-related to-do-list – that could hold some nice advice for you maybe 🙂

  3. WONDERFUL POSTING! I need mountains as well personally, but found your choice very interesting..

    • thanks!! yeah, for some reason it was a year with very little mountain travelling 🙂 I’m thinking Bieszczady in 2013 to make up for it – you got specific advice on them maybe?

      • I used to love going to Zakopane in the 1990s – lovely architecture there, but really enjoyed staying in mountain hostels on the Slovak side of the Tatras above Stary Smokovec. Ukraine very interesting too, in the mountains!

        • Zakopane I know, but only snowed in and I think the next trip there is reserved for summer 🙂 I’ll check out places near Stary Smokovec then. Thanks!!

  4. What a cool selection! This brings back some travel memories (Latvia, Lithuania) and memories from growing up in Poland. Gdansk is pretty cool, I got to visit it once or twice, although I spent more time traveling to Gdynia as a child.

    • Thank you, Pola 🙂 Glad you like it. Europe is really a marvelous place for travel addicts… so much to discover! I haven’t seen much of Gdynia, in fact I’ve only been to its beach – but there’ll be plenty of chances to catch up, I’m sure I’ll be in Trojmiasto more than once this next year.

  5. Sounds like you had a busy year of travelling! Tons of great pictures of some amazing places in this post. Do you have any fixed plans for your 2013 travel yet?

    • Thank you, Ryan! No, nothing is fixed yet, but I’m in the process of planning a trip in Spring – I’m thinking I might leave Europe this time… #excitingandscary 🙂

      • You definitely should! The first trip I took my wife on outside of Canada was actually the Middle East; if she survived that on her first time travels I think you’ll be fine wherever you go with all of your travel experience! Good luck and I look forward to hearing about your 2013 travels later on in the year.

        • The Middle East is so high on my Bucket List… I’d love to do that in a longer trip though. I can’t manage to take off more than two to three weeks at a time right now. But if ever I get this damn PhD finished I’m out for a couple of months again, and then it’s eastward way beyond the boarders of my lovely home continent! 🙂

  6. Looks like you’ve had an amazing year! Riga looks beautiful… I can’t wait to visit the Baltics someday, but not after I see all of the Balkans. 🙂

  7. Stunning collection, taking some notes for my travel inspiration 2013!

    • 🙂 thank you, Aggy! I love Europe for everything being so close by… Let me know if you want more information an any of the destinations!

  8. Like… 😉

  9. Looks like you’ve had some great adventures. Nothing wrong with sticking to Europe. I would love to make it to the Baltics one day.

    • bridgekeeper

      Januar 10, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      Yeah, I never get bored in Europe 🙂 The Baltics are really gorgeous, but I have to admit that I feel a bit sun deprived and want to go somewhere next from where I’ll return so tan people will take me for a gypsy! 🙂

  10. What a fantastic year – looking forward to reading about your travels this year 🙂

    • bridgekeeper

      Januar 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      Thank you Suzanne – I personally am looking forward to making the travels I then get to write about! 😀

  11. So many beautiful towns I do not know! Olsztyn looks pretty! I love Europe and Eastern Europe especially BUT I will say there is an incredible world beyond Europe and I hope you get to explore it! You may be surprised 🙂

    • bridgekeeper

      Januar 16, 2013 at 8:34 am

      Oh, believe me, I cannot *wait* to get out there and see it all! I have no intention on sticking to Europe forever. On the other hand I am not sure if any other area will ever mean as much to me. Maybe it’s because I’m German. We have a hard time being proud of our country, and even though I’ve come to really love Germany, I consider myself a proud European. Still there are a lot of places especially in Africa and Central Asia on my list that I plan to go to.

  12. This gives me such wanderlust to go to Eastern Europe! Poland is on top of the list, definitely. And that beach in Lithuania looks so gorgeous. Have you been to Bulgaria?

    • bridgekeeper

      Januar 20, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      Thank you Maria! Poland is so beautiful… I’m hoping to move there for a while soon. Yes, I have seen a fare bit of Bulgaria too. You can find it in my Places / Balkans tab in the menu, but I’m afraid the posts on it are all in German 🙁 I’m in the process of translating much of my blog though. Would you like to know anything specific about Bulgaria?

      • My German is rather beginner, but I’ll take a look at the photos, at least! 🙂
        I’ve been entertaining the idea of living in Bulgaria for a month or two, making it my base for exploring Eastern Europe. Either in Sofia, or in one of the Black Sea towns. Would you know, how easy is it to rent a place for a month? And, are there are Black Sea towns that aren’t crazy resort towns full of tourists and overpriced hotels?

        • bridgekeeper

          Januar 21, 2013 at 8:00 am

          I’ll see if I can put in more photos for you then 😉 renting a place shouldn’t be too hard I think. Let me ask my Bulgarian friend for you and I’ll let you know. When it comes to the different cities – I was there in late June, so it wasn’t *high* high season, but pretty high season, and I think unless you go to the infamous Golden Beach you should be fine in many of the coastal towns. I loved Varna, it wasn’t nearly as touristy as I thought. Burgas was nice also, much smaller though. Nessebar I only passed by, it looks gorgeous beyond belief, but I’m fairly sure that that would be rather touristy. Appearantly it becomes much quieter the closer you get to Turkey, but you would also want good transportaion for your travels from there, eh? The Black Sea Coast is of course nice if you want to be in Istanbul or anywhere in Romania, maybe Ukraine for Crimea also – but if you’d like to explore further West, like the former Yugoslavia, I’d rather stay in Sofia to save on time when taking trips. Sofia is really nice too. All of inland Bulgaria is unbearably hot between June and September though, the coast is much easier to deal with then.

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