Tag: travel

New Year’s in Paris

New Year’s in Paris

I’ve been back in Shanghai for a week now and it’s time to write about our last trip of 2019 before the next one starts!

We finished 2019 and started 2020 in Paris. Our friend Rich moved there in the summer and so we stayed with him for a few days. We had 3 great days of food, wine, catching up, hanging out watching Netflix, more food and some walks through Paris.

On our first day, we went to Caves du Louvre, a cool little museum/wine cellar. It was an interactive exhibit about wine and wine making and in the end you could taste 3 French wines from different regions. Afterwards, we headed to a market to buy some spreads, cheese and baguette and then hung out at home and watched too many episodes of RuPauls Drag race. So many references I finally understand now ๐Ÿ™‚ We also had a great dinner at Jaja.

On the 31., we did a market tour with food tastings, another fun AirBnB experience. Our guide was really nice and gave us a lot of information about wine and cheese and local specialties.

For our NYE dinner, Rich had hired a great chef, who made us a lot of fantastic food. Truly a great last meal of 2019 (and there were so many!). Our spot for celebrating the new year was a little cabaret theater/bar, where Thorben was identified and mocked relentlessly as the only straight guy in sight. In summary: 2020 started with laughs, champagne, singing and dancing ๐Ÿ™‚

After a very lazy first of January, we finally got off the couch as it was getting dark and went for a walk around Paris. We checked out Notre Dame, or the damage to Notre Dame and because I’m a silly tourist, I requested to stop at the Louvre and to take a very touristy photo in front of it.

Even though I’ve already been to Paris 3 times, I had this urge to go to the Eiffel tower. Like the trip to Paris would not really be a trip to Paris without having seen it ๐Ÿ™‚ Thankfully, Thorben indulged me with this plan on our last morning, even though it meant another long walk – damn you, metro strike! We also got to see the Arc de Triomphe on the way. Trip to Paris: complete!

2019 – Another Year in Review

2019 – Another Year in Review

I had so much fun doing my 2017 and 2018 review, so here we go again, starting with the exact same sentence:

2019: it’s been a crazy year!

January

I spent half of the month in Germany combining work and seeing friends and family, while Thorben returned to Shanghai a bit earlier. He brought some North German culture with him and hosted a Grรผnkohl dinner. I also finished the planning and booking for our big 2019 vacation – a long awaited trip to New Zealand.

February

Over Chinese New Year, we explored New Zealand. We spent 1 week on the North Island and 2 weeks on the South Island and went skydiving! It was a great trip, maybe my favorite one so far, and I wish I was already planning the next one.

March

March was a food month: It was restaurant week again, and I had fun eating and also making lots of food. I also started my BonApp “career” (I’m now a power user ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). My mom turned 60, so I surprised her on the morning of her birthday and spent a fun week in Germany.

April

Spring really started in April and brought beautiful weather and even more beautiful cherry blossoms which I enjoyed with friends at Gucun Park and during Thorben’s long birthday weekend. Work took me to Wuzhen Water Town, another amazing place in China. There was lots of great food as always, for example the dumplings we made at our friends’ house.

May

As usual, May was the best month of the year because it’s my birthday, which we celebrated with lots and lots of food (surprise) and great people ๐Ÿ™‚ Other highlights were my sister and Timo’s visit and a trip to Disneyland. I also started a new job in May and Thorben went on a trip to Thailand with his colleagues for their annual outing.

June

June was filled with travel: We took a trip to Kuching to celebrate Eid and see Orang Utans and I went on a business trip to Germany which I could combine with some belated birthday celebrations and a trip to the BUGA. I also said good bye to a friend with a fun food tour through Shanghai.

July

Work, dinners, brunches, birthdays, walks with Khan … July was a pretty normal Shanghai month for me. It was hot and humid, but not as bad as the 2017 summer. Thorben started a new role in July and went to Germany for business.

August

August continued with work and food and friends and fun ๐Ÿ™‚ I also tried crayfish for the first time and talked about it on TV. The month finished with restaurant week and a party at the W, neither of which I blogged about. Oops.

September

In September, I finally went to visit my sister and Timo in Singapore. We had lots of great food and I enjoyed their pool. Back in Shanghai, Jana came to visit and we did a tour of a chocolate factory and ate a lot.

October

Our Golden Week trip took us to Indonesia. A few days with Marlyn’s family in Jakarta and a week on Flores: we saw Komodo Dragons and other beautiful islands close to Labuan Bajo and explored traditional villages in Bajawa.

November

In November, I baked a lot of Christmas cookies, while Thorben was on another business trip in Germany. I took advantage of 11/11 to get started on my Christmas shopping, in preparation for the annual US trip. We spent Thanksgiving in Arizona, eating, shopping and having fun with my host family.

December

The biggest event of the year happened in December: I became an aunt! Christmas parties, cookies, dinners … December in Shanghai went by really fast and on the 19th we flew to Germany to celebrate Christmas, birthdays and spent time with friends and family.

Thanksgiving in Arizona

Thanksgiving in Arizona

This year, the annual US trip was a bit slower than last time, only Arizona was on the agenda, so no crazy flying around between 3 states. We spent 7 full days with my host family, and had lots of fun and food.

Family fun

Games, charades, swimming in the pool, cooking, baking, eating together, snuggling (or yelling at) the 4 dogs, watching movies, and just hanging out talking – that’s how we spent the majority of our trip. I was lucky that I got to see 4 of my host siblings, plus my host sister’s super adorable twin girls, which let me practice my auntie skills a little ๐Ÿ™‚

Burgers & Shopping

In N Out deserves it’s own category! I managed to get 2 cheeseburger meals in, which we worked off with a day of outlet shopping. We also took a trip to Costco to give Thorben the full American experience ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was our second to last day and we spent the day before and half of Thanksgiving itself making lots and lots of yummy food. We had an awesome buffet with all the classics: a 15 pound turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes and a potato hash casserole (which I named heart attack potatoes), homemade rolls, green beans and roasted veggies. The desserts were an American-German collaboration: pumpkin pie, pecan pie bars, apricot bars and Apfel-Streusel-Kuchen plus the first round of Christmas cookies, which I’d finished just in time for our trip ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d say the 2019 US trip was a big success. As always, I wish it could have been longer and hopefully, I’ll manage to see the Utah part of the family on my next visit! Thanks to my awesome host family, it’s been 13 years now that they put up with me at least once a year ๐Ÿ™‚

Skydiving in New Zealand: That time we jumped out of a perfectly good airplane

Skydiving in New Zealand: That time we jumped out of a perfectly good airplane

We got back from New Zealand on Sunday and there is so much to tell, pictures to be uploaded, memories to be shared … but first things first: We jumped out of a plane! Voluntarily! And we lived to tell about it ๐Ÿ™‚

Originally, we wanted to jump over Fox Glacier about half way into our trip. After getting all suited up, doing the security briefing, practicing the right body shape for the jump – the banana – it got cancelled because it was too cloudy.

We didn’t take that as a bad sign and booked again a few days later in Queenstown. After signing all the documents and a 20 minute ride to the drop zone, I realized there were no clouds to take mercy on me that day ๐Ÿ˜‰ My instructor introduced himself like this “Hi, I’m Paul and I’ll be throwing you out of an airplane today.” Words I like to hear … He was really great and reassuring, I never really felt like I might die, even though I have to admit I was a teeny tiny bit scared.

We booked the 12,000 feet jump, but because some people on our plane were doing a 4-way jump at 15,000, all of us got to go from there. Paul kept showing me the altitude on his watch and at 3,000 ft I felt like we should start already because it looked so high! The last few thousand feet we even used oxygen masks. Moving to the open door of a plane and leaning out is slightly terrifying. Did I mentioned that 4.5 KILOMETERS is really high? But since we’d already paid, there was no going back at that point ๐Ÿ˜‰

The free fall took about a minute (or so they said – it felt like we were falling for a long time!) and after Paul opened the parachute I even got to steer it by myself for a bit. Overall, it was a really cool experience and I’m glad we got to tick it off the bucket list in such a beautiful place.

And here is the whole thing in pictures, including the amazing 360 degree views over Queenstown and the not so amazing views of me in my fetching skydiving outfit:

A little 2018 review

A little 2018 review

Happy New Year! Before kicking off the 2019 adventures, I thought I’d look back on 2018 a little.

The start of last year’s review also fits here really well: 2018, it’s been a crazy year!

January

We started the year in Germany with our first home trip. Back in Shanghai, I was pleasantly surprised by the arrival of strawberry season. We also experienced our first Shanghai winter and Thorben volunteered for a crochet charity.ย Our first trip of 2018 took us to cold and beautiful Harbin, where we almost froze but were amazed by the incredible snow and ice sculptures.

February

For our first Chinese New Year we took a much anticipated trip to Australia! It was a fantastic vacation, I can’t really decide which part was my favorite: Snuggling a koala, exploring Kangaroo Island or maybe the outback?

March

At the beginning of March we returned from Australia, me with a little souvenir: pneumonia. I spent most of the month at home on the couch recovering.

April

Thankfully, I recovered in time for spring and got to see many beautiful flowers and blossoms in Shanghai. For Thorben’s birthday, we took a trip to Tokyo. We’d missed most of the cherry blossoms there but took comfort in the awesome food. The eating continued throughout the month at our first Shanghai Restaurant Week. I also got a little crafty at a screen printing class hosted by GGI, while Thorben visited Vietnam for his department outing.

May

Our second trip within China that year was to Nanjing over Labor day. In May, we also celebrated my birthday together with our first visitors, Thorben’s parents, with whom we also took a bike tour around Shanghai. Thorben started a new hobby in 2018 – archery tag – and played in a league in May.

June

In June, my parents came to visit and we checked out a few of the Shanghai sights: M50, Jing’An Temple, Yu Garden and some parks. I also visited another new place in China, Moganshan, with my department for our team outing. My sisters had a joint birthday party in the middle of the month, so I took a trip to Germany to surprise them.

July

The next trip to Germany, this time a business trip, was just a few weeks later. 10 days for me, 2 weeks for Thorben, who also went to Inner Mongolia for work that month.

August

Our summer 2018 was filled with friends and food. The China explorations continued with a group trip to Moganshan, where Thorben and many of our friends competed in an obstacle race (I was only along for the ride).

September

Basically, the whole month of September was about food and travel. It started with a weekend in Taipei, where Jana, Ellie and I ate our way through the city. Back in Shanghai, it was restaurant week again and we got 2 more visitors, my little sister and her boyfriend. Together, we went to Luoyang, Xi’An, Chengdu and Leshan. Besides two great food tours, seeing the pandasย was definitely a highlight of the trip!

October

In October, we used Golden Week to travel some more: Thorben went to Tibet and hiked all the way to the Everest base camp, while I went to visit my American family in Utah, Arizona and California. The US marked my 4th continent visited that year (and gave me gold status for flying way too much). After a few weeks back in Shanghai,ย I took another trip to Taipei to celebrate Pride.

November

After my third Germany trip at the beginning of the month, the rest of the month was spent in Shanghai. I got a beautiful view of Shanghai from above, we went to a great event called Chi Fan for Charity andย celebrated Thanksgiving. Thorben grew a (truly terrible) mustache for Movember and played in another archery league.

December

Ellie came to visit from Taipei for a long weekend at the end of November/beginning of December and helped me finish baking the final batch of Christmas Cookies.ย To get even more into the Christmas spirit, a friend and I made our own Christmas sweaters! Finally, Thorben and I spent the last 2 weeks of 2018 in Germany and were pretty busy with 2 weddings, 2 birthdays, visiting friends and family and celebrating Christmas!

And that was 2018! I can’t wait for more trips, Shanghai adventures, visitors and dinner parties in 2019 ๐Ÿ™‚