Oh 2020, the year that… was. There’s absolutely too many things to say about last year in one post (maybe ten blogs?) so I’ll be sticking to discussing allthetravelthings here.
Like so many, 2020 was a year of uncertainty, growth, and change for me. In terms of travel, in a pre-pandemic time we essentially had April-August booked to the brim with adventures in new places (the Baltics, Slovenia, the Croatian coast, Scandinavia, the Balkans) before our move from Hungary to Germany. As Covid-19 began spreading throughout Europe in the spring, those plans virtually disintegrated with each passing week.
I’ve always felt incredulous and grateful for the opportunities to see new places while living abroad and this year I was especially appreciative of the experiences I enjoyed in between lockdowns, uncertainty, and preparing to move to another country. Maybe it was the possibility of never seeing these places again or the looming date of the end of my time in Hungary creeping up the calendar, but I think this year was my proudest for saying yes to hard things and pushing myself to always be in the present.
The uncertainty, coupled with the overall feeling of “final-ness” of seemingly every moment, made me even more thankful for both the limited opportunities I did have and the amazing people in my life that encouraged me. Reflecting on 2020 I am sad for the broken plans but absolutely in love with all I did see and experience my last few months in Eastern Europe, truly the “wild wild east” of the world, as a friend noted over drinks in Budapest three years ago.
So this super-long post–mostly photos I promise–is a celebration of the wonderful places I saw, the amazing folks I spent this year with, and of course the best libraries and light trespassing opportunities I could find.
While 2020 was a dystopian hellscape in so. many. ways., I am grateful for the obstacles presented to us travel-wise in that I spent a great deal more time in nature and national parks and less in crowded places talking myself out of a maintaining-the-required-two-meters-from-the-nearest-person-panic. The restrictions forced me to rethink planning, wandering, and adventuring.
The extra lockdown time in my house–I am truly grateful for the ability to stay at home–was frustrating at times but also an opportunity to rethink new ways to interact and build community. The monthly-ish movie club I hosted transitioned from my living room to the AIM-esque Netflix Party (which I actually found to enjoy almost as much), my wonderful friend Bri–who normally organized in-person discussion groups with a group of women–thankfully continued our meetings on Zoom, and my March birthday, while at first seemed sad and depressing, was unforgettable; my Pápa friends created Tik Tok videos for me and my best friend reenacted her own version of Say Anything by playing Peter Gabriel in my front yard while chucking presents over the fence.
While feeling cooped up could be stifling at times, I was also grateful to be in a house we loved. This was the longest Chris and I ever lived in one home in the fifteen years we’ve been married and I truly adored the space we had in our little town. In this house I said goodbye to my Boston Terrier Ike, sipped wine while reading for hours on the back-porch, schemed new travel plans, hosted impromptu Beyonce dance parties, and baked bread, fried wings, mixed pimento cheese, and failed at making proper buckeyes yet again. I met some of my favorite people while in Pápa and while it was incredibly hard to say goodbye as so many moved on to new places as we did, if 2020 has taught me anything, its how to stay connected from afar.
Reflecting on travel in 2020 reminds me of just how little I wrote or published last year. Food Writer Alicia Kennedy spoke my feelings to paper in her most recent newsletter:
“…while trying to write during a pandemic, the inspiration needs to be strong. The world isn’t giving me the usual constant sparks. The world is only taking my energy from me.”
Alicia Kennedy. 2021. “On Crisis.”
I promise-ish to publish complete posts on each place (I know, I know, I am at this point two years behind… eeeeek) eventually. I do want to provide a warning that this post does contain photos and descriptions of places including memorials of concentration camps, forced labor camps, and references to the Holocaust and WWII.
I am so. fucking. grateful. for my health and the well-being of my friends and family. I am so incredibly thankful for the privilege I had to self-isolate, quarantine at home, and travel while adhering to safety measures meant to keep myself and others safe.
Here is my 2020 Travel Year in Review:
Hiša Franko (Kobarid), Slovenia:
Kanal ob Soči, Slovenia:
Kraków-Płaszów Camp Memorial, Poland:
Lake Bokodi, Hungary:
Liban Quarry, Poland:
Metelcova (Ljubljana), Slovenia:
Most na Soči, Slovenia:
Recsk National Memorial Park, Hungary:
Bükk National Park, Hungary:
Anna Sinter Cave, Hungary:
Hámori Lake, Hungary:
Kościuszko Mound, Poland:
Lake Balaton, Hungary:
Lake Bohinj, Slovenia:
Lake Czorsztyn, Poland:
Lake at Most na Soči, Slovenia:
Lepena Valley, Slovenia:
Siklawica Waterfall, Poland:
Soča River, Slovenia:
St. István Cave, Hungary:
Szinva Waterfall, Hungary:
Tatra National Park, Poland:
Tolmin Gorges, Slovenia:
Triglav National Park, Slovenia:
Ljubljana Castle, Slovenia:
Zlin (Oravský Podzámok), Slovakia:
Stay safe and wear a fucking mask 🤍
Currently: Reading: They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South (Stephanie Jones-Rogers) Watching: Bridgerton (Netflix) Listening: Good News (Megan Thee Stallion)