In view of global crises, wars and catastrophes, I am almost afraid to say that 2022 was a good year for me personally. I tackled a lot of new things and learned a lot. In writing this 2022 Year in Review, I've come to realize that it was primarily a year of personal growth and development for me. I learned WordPress, built my website, discovered many fascinating places and spent time with my loved ones.
This year, I turned 60, and statistically speaking, I have a good chance of still having a third of my life ahead of me. I feel full of beans and ready to embark on a great phase of my life. It's too early to be hanging out on the sofa, drinking red wine and eating cake, although I do indulge in that in between ...
After the two Corona years, which were somehow a time of disorientation, I am filled with the desire to once again create something new and live my creativity - without the pressure and constraints that I constantly felt during my 37 years as an employee. In 2022, I paved the way for a new adventure as a blogger - and I am very excited to see where this path will lead me.
Thank you, 2022!
What were my resolutions for 2022? And how did it go?
- I wanted to launch my website by summer at the latest. This deadline was clearly too ambitious. But by the end of the year I had made it, and I'm proud of that. I couldn't have known beforehand how many new things I would learn in the course of this project!
- 2000 Instagram followers by the end of 2022. Has not quite worked (as of 30.12.2022 there are 1883 followers). In the meantime, it is more important to me to become independent of social media and to gain reach with my blog.
- Finally another trip abroad with my travel buddy Paula ✅ We spent a wonderful vacation together in Gran Canaria - albeit with obstacles.
- Celebrate my friend Jutta's 60th birthday together with her and my daughter in Innsbruck.✅ The header photo was taken on that beautiful trip.
- I wanted to do at least one longer road trip and many short trips in Germany to collect photos and material for my blog. ✅ In July I toured northern Bavaria with my car, in December I did a Christmas market tour in southern Germany, all year round I did many day trips and short trips.
- I wanted to continue to take care of my health (at least every other day an exercise session = 30 minutes of yoga or an hour of walking). ✅ I haven't really tracked it, but according to my health app, I've walked more steps this year than I did in 2021, and my gut tells me I've stuck to my resolutions.
My 2022 Year in Review
A travel blog! But how do I manage that?
The idea of starting a travel blog had been on my mind for a long time - maybe already since my rehab in 2018. After my burnout, it was clear to me that I only want to do things in my life that bring me joy. Above all, I didn't want to be externally driven anymore, as is inevitable in an employee relationship. You're driven by project plans and deadlines, and the pressure can become unbearable.
Travel, writing and photography have always been my passions, which can be creatively combined in a travel blog. Already in 2019 I had started extend my knowledge - first with books and podcasts, later with online courses - in the fields of online marketing and starting a business as solopreneur.
Carina Herrmann's blog for women traveling alone, Pink Compass, had inspired me significantly to try starting a travel blog. Carina also had a podcast for female entrepreneurs, the latest edition of which I was eagerly awaiting for every week. So it was a no-brainer to sign up for an online course for aspiring female entrepreneurs with her as well. In Carina's Femininjas Academy I developed the idea for this travel blog. However, I got stuck with the technical realization. The sheer mass of WordPress themes to choose from overwhelmed me, and I just couldn't decide on one.
That's when I came across an advertisement for a live webinar by Birgit Hotz, where she presented her Website Master Class to create a website with the Divi theme. After the webinar, I was convinced that with Birgit's online course and Divi, I would be able to create my own website.
The course started in January 2022. I started quite naive and hoped that my blog could go online after the four months of the course. Most new bloggers probably underestimate the complexity of WordPress. After the course, I booked a few months of additional coaching with Birgit and finally achieved my goal of publishing my own website in 2022. Yippiiiieeee!!!
Scatterbrain! My day trip to Ulm ends in the emergency room
Thrilled with the idea of focusing on Germany as a travel destination in my travel blog, I set off for Ulm on a bright February day. I hadn't been there in 30 years and wanted to see how it had changed. I parked my car centrally in the parking garage at the town hall. I climbed the cathedral, marveled at the painted facade of the Renaissance town hall, wandered through the fishermen's quarter, and looked for the spot where Einstein's birthplace once stood. In between I enjoyed coffee and cake in a cozy café. It was a successful day all around. Just before I drove back home, I bought some groceries at a supermarket including a half-liter bag of liquid cream.
Since I am often somewhat disoriented in unfamiliar places, I had photographed the number of my parking space upon arrival. In the parking garage, I pulled out my cell phone while searching for my car. With my shopping bag and car keys in my right hand and my cell phone in my left, I looked at the photo and kept walking. In doing so, I overlooked a curb. I fell forward - onto my shopping bag with the bag of whipped cream inside. Although it cushioned my fall, it burst. The cell phone fell out of my hand. I managed to catch myself quite well, but my forehead probably brushed a screw of the license plate of the car in front of which I fell. Two women - mother and daughter - rushed over to help me. I was lying in a pool of cream and could hardly move from fright. Blood dripped from my forehead and mixed with the cream. It looked gruesome!
My helper pulled me out of the blood and cream pool, and gave me a paper handkerchief to press against my forehead to stop the bleeding. Her daughter called the parking garage attendant, who - after a quick look at my bleeding forehead - called the ambulance. The paramedics drove me to the university hospital, where the laceration was taped. Apart from that, nothing happened to me except for a few skin abrasions. My head didn't even hurt. After I got the green light from the doctor on duty to drive the 80 km back home myself, I had a cab take me back to the parking garage. This experience was pretty hard on my nerves. Not even a day trip I could do alone without being harmed! How should it be with extended road trips, which I wanted to undertake for my blog to write about ...?
In the end, though, I was grateful that nothing worse had happened to me. It was a beautiful day, I had great photos in the box and the accident had happened only at the very end. Luck in the misfortune, right?
60 years and a little bit wise
Birthdays do not have the huge significance for me, but 60 is a huge number! A lot of things go through your mind, like whether it's ridiculous to start blogging at this age. You think about people who never reached their 60th birthday, and you feel pretty old about this. You become very aware of your own finiteness. The question of how many years I have left. Whether I couldn't do something better with them than giving myself the stress of starting a business. Just do nothing at all and enjoy life - sleep in, travel, meet friends, drink red wine, eat cake ... And finally recover from decades of drudgery.
My fall in Ulm happened at the beginning of February, my 60th birthday was March 8. I could have hit my head on the asphalt and died of a skull base fracture. It happened to an aunt of mine while she was gardening - she hit her head on a stone and died. I have every reason to be grateful. From one minute to the next, everything can be over, and I only had a laceration. Which hardly was visible by my birthday. Since the Corona winter wave was still in full swing, I celebrated in a close family circle in the beautiful restaurant of country hotel Hirsch in Bebenhausen near Tübingen.
My daughter had traveled from Innsbruck. It was a wonderful sunny day, the food was delicious and I had my loved ones around me. I would have loved to celebrate this day with my mother. She unfortunately passed away in 2016, but in our hearts she is present at every celebration.
I celebrated with my friends in stages because of the pandemic, which also had its charm. I celebrated my 60th birthday for most of the year. As birthday presents, there were nice events, for example an excursion to the castle theater festival in Jagsthausen with Ute and Eberhard. We had a good time with Monty Python's Spamalot.
The highlight among the birthday presents was a trip to Venice with my daughter and my sister. But more about that later. Overall, I have to say that the 60th birthday gave me some wonderful experiences and lasting memories. Despite the huge number, it was one of my best birthdays and I enjoyed it to the fullest. This year I realized that everything that is yet to come in life is bonus. And being aware of this makes me feel good!
Gran Canaria: Three times bad luck and still a nice vacation
In April the time had come! After two and a half years I saw my friend Paula, who lives in Melbourne, again in Gran Canaria. I have done many great trips with Paula since we met on a trip to South Africa in 2005. The last time we saw each other was during my trip to Australia in October/November 2019. For Australians, foreign travel was practically impossible during the pandemic - and it wasn't much better for us. My last trip abroad had been in October 2020, when I spent 12 days in Rhodes.
Since Paula had the opportunity to visit her family in England in April, we decided to meet in Gran Canaria and spend two weeks of vacation together. Already on the second evening, I had a scratchy throat. First I ignored it because we had eaten outside the night we arrived, and it was a bit chilly. In the following days I had a little cough and cold, but it was hardly worth mentioning.
Two accidents in a row ...
But Saturday was ill-starred (we had arrived in Gran Canaria on Monday). In the meantime we were in Tejeda, in the middle of the mountains, in the pretty country hotel Fonda de la Tea (advertising link). It was raining and the sky looked like it wouldn't change that day. Eva, the good soul of the hotel, recommended us to drive a bit further south - in Santa Lucía the weather is usually better than in Tejeda. The road to Santa Lucía was narrow and winding. When an SUV came towards me, I swerved out of the way and our rental car grazed the guardrail. At the next opportunity, I stopped to check the damage. It looked bad - door and fender had big scratches,but nothing else had happened. The comprehensive insurance I usually buy with a rental car once again proved its worth .
In Santa Lucía the weather was actually better and we were looking forward to a little hike. Unfortunately, we did not get far. As soon as we were on the trail, Paula tripped over a boulder and cut her hand on a rock as she fell. I had plasters, bandages and Betaisadona in my luggage - but in the hotel room and not in my backpack. With paper handkerchiefs, we treated the wound makeshift. The planned hike was over. At least we could still head for a few viewpoints and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery on the way back to Tejeda.
... and on top of all that Corona!
After a wonderful dinner in Tejeda, my cold was much worse. During the night I was plagued by coughing and I could hardly sleep. I had a single rapid antigen test with me. I didn't know what to do with a positive result, but I really wanted to know after that sleepless night ... I couldn't even look as fast as the control strip turned red. I had already done some Covid tests at home every once in a while, and the result had always been negative. Now this! I immediately realized that I had been infected on the plane - it was the only possibility. I was beside myself and didn't know what to do, so I called Paula on her cell phone and asked her to bring me breakfast to my room. I told her I couldn't do anything today because I wasn't feeling well. I did not tell her about the test result. What else could we have done? We had only one more day in the mountains and then an apartment on the coast for another week.
I hoped that I would feel better quickly, that I had not infected Paula, and that I would not ruin our trip. Fortunately, it turned out exactly the same. In the afternoon we lay down on the sun loungers of the hotel terrace in the sun and I felt better by the minute. Even though we were in the car together every day, I didn't infect Paula. My symptoms improved quickly - much faster than with a normal cold (I had also been vaccinated three times). Since we had a vacation home, and we could always eat outdoors on the coast, I was no longer worried about infecting anyone. I didn't tell Paula until the very last evening that my Covid test had been positive.
My registration as a self-employed person
I was so optimistic in May: The Website Masterclass was already coming to an end and I thought, I could get my travel blog 'Angie's Travel Routes' online soon. I registered with the tax office as a self-employed travel blogger and received my new tax number in June.
I had created the structure of my pages on the website, but had not yet written a single blog post. I had learned from WordPress and Divi coach Birgit Hotz that I should not write the posts in Divi, but with the Gutenberg editor of WordPress. Since I had only dealt with the pages so far, it was now my turn to understand the Gutenberg editor.
I have to say that I had totally underestimated WordPress and Divi. Professionally, I had worked with many systems - from Microsoft Office to SAP to SalesForce and NetSuite. WordPress is new software and it takes as long to master as any other more complex software. That simply needs to be said! It's not like you can install a WordPress theme and start blogging - at least not if you want to have a visually appealing website. I had my ideas about the design of my blog and had to realize that many things could not be done without additional plugins.
Fortunately, Birgit offered further support, which could be booked monthly. I was very happy about that, because without her as a contact person for my WordPress issues I would have been lost more than once. On a weekend when everything went wrong, I shot my website while installing a plugin! Everything was gone! The pages I had created and even Divi! I wrote a desperate email to Birgit, who actually read her mails over the weekend and restored the website on Sunday morning. Once again, many thanks to my saving angel Birgit!
In my first three blog articles, I wanted to include all the design elements I thought I needed for my travel blog. It took a few more months of trying out and discarding plugins until these three blog articles were ready:
My travel summer: Innsbruck, road trip through northern Bavaria, Venice
Finally, a year of travel that deserves the name! Corona has changed everything. Never again will I lightly accept that I can travel anywhere at any time. For months, I could not see my daughter because she lives in Innsbruck. For years, I didn't see my travel buddy Paula, who lives in Melbourne. Let's remember: even within Germany, traveling was difficult. I couldn't see my friend Jutta, who lives in Lower Saxony, for ages.
Gran Canaria with Paula was just the beginning of a wonderful year of travel. In the past, that wouldn't have been enough for me - there had to be at least one long-distance trip a year. Today I know that there are still interesting places to explore close to where I live. I did many beautiful day trips this year, especially to the Black Forest,but also to the Maulbronn Monasterywhich is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is only about 50 km from my home in Sindelfingen, to the Zollernalb and to the Blautopf in Blaubeuren.
But I also went a little longer and further away.
Another 60th birthday: with my best friend in Innsbruck
Not only I turned 60 this year, but also Jutta (how good that many of my friends are in a similar phase of life 😃). I have known Jutta for about 33 years. At that time, my daughter Anna and I were still living near Delmenhorst (just under 20 km west of Bremen) and I was newly divorced. Anna also has a close relationship with Jutta. So we decided to celebrate Jutta's 60th birthday with Anna in Innsbruck.
With Anna we spent a wonderful day at Achensee, the largest lake in Tyrol, and another on the Nordkette near Innsbruck (with great distant views). On Jutta's birthday we went hiking on the Patscherkofel - Innsbruck's local mountain - (though from the cable car station, not from the very bottom - but it was still a very active day). We had earned the delicious cake at the hut at the end of our hike! And the fine dinner in Innsbruck with Anna even more so!
Solo road trip through northern Bavaria
There are an amazing number of people who don't understand how traveling solo can be fun. They look at me pityingly and think this is the price of being single. For them, it's inconceivable that you can both live alone and travel alone by choice. I am a sociable person and also enjoy traveling with people who are close to me. But like all introverts, I draw my strength from being alone. If I don't have a place to retreat for too long, I get really grizzled. Therefore, I like to be alone and travel alone - but not always!
Actually, in July I wanted to visit Würzburg with two friends for a few days. We usually (that is, before the pandemic) take a girls' trip together once per year. This year, one of them had problems with her knee and the other one had diverticulitis. So the three of us could not make our trip together. However, I decided to go to Würzburg on my own, and to use this opportunity to explore other places in northern Bavaria that I didn't know yet or didn't know well: Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Nuremberg, Bamberg, Regensburg and the Altmühl Valley (with fascinating places I had never heard of before). As in the previous year during my tour of Central Germany, I was thrilled by the beautiful cities, cultural heritage and varied landscapes in our country.
On this solo tour I shot tons of photos and collected material for many blog posts, all of which still want to be written 😀 The first one was my article about Würzburg. Would you have thought there is so much to see there?
Joy shared is joy doubled: Venice with my daughter and my sister
One of my personal highlight 2023 was the trip to Venice with my daughter and my sister. It was their gift for my 60th birthday and it started with some obstacles. Since my daughter Anna lives in Innsbruck, we had decided that she would take the train to Venice, and we would fly from Stuttgart. Two weeks before departure, Eurowings informed us of changes in flight times and routes that were absolutely unacceptable to us. The airline had changed the return flights from Venice to Stuttgart via Hamburg! We decided to cancel the flights, drive to Innsbruck by car and then take the train to Venice together with Anna.
We arrived well in Innsbruck and were able to park the car for little money in the Innsbruck train station parking garage. I had reserved a compartment for us and had small bottles of champagne in my luggage, with which we wanted to toast four beautiful days in Venice on the train. In the station hall, we looked at the departure board to see which track our train would depart from. However, no track was displayed there, instead the word "BUS" in capital letters. At first, I didn't understand what BUS meant. Anna realized immediately that instead of the train, a bus would probably take us to Venice. At the information desk we learned that exactly today in Italy the train staff was on strike, and therefore we would be taken to Verona (!) by bus. From there we could then take a regional train to Venice, as the strike was scheduled to end at 6 pm.
Compliments to the Austrians for this organization - in the end we arrived at our accommodation in Venice only one hour later than originally planned. In Verona we had to wait a while for a regional train to Venice, but eventually that worked out as well. We had wonderful, pleasantly warm days in Venice and a very nice, large apartment in the authentic Dorsoduro neighborhood. There were many students, small stores and restaurants and a typical Italian atmosphere. We had such a nice stay and all fell in love with Venice!
Group program with the SEO queen
I bought Sarah Depolds Keyword research course in February already, after having listened to her podcast "SEO for starters" regularly for a year. By October I was overall satisfied with my website structure and wanted to start writing blog posts, so Sarah's group online course "SEO for starters" opened just at the right time for me. What I like so much about Sarah is that she explains the complex topic of search engine optimization in a clear and easy to understand way. I just love listening to her.
At The 3-month SEO course includes weekly video tutorials, well-prepared checklists and course materials, there are regular live Q&A sessions, co-working, weekly homework and expert workshops on Google Analytics, copywriting and technology. And all this at a really reasonable price! In Sarah's course, I have learned many SEO tricks (and am still learning), and discovered that SEO is not witchcraft. I still have a few calls to go, but by mid-January this course will be finished, and I feel - given the many blog posts I want to write in 2023 - well prepared for keyword research and SEO!
New camera and photography course with a professional
I was thinking about a new camera since I started an online photo course with 22places (one of my favorite travel blogs) some time ago. So far, I had been shooting with a cheap bridge camera (and my iPhone 11). Under low light conditions, I couldn't take any usable photos with this camera. So in November - just before Black Friday - I researched the photo retailers recommended by 22 places for special offers for a good mirrorless camera - and found what I was looking for! There were big discounts on Nikon cameras! As I wanted to buy the camera from a retailer with a branch near my hometown, I ordered with Calumet which has a shop in Stuttgart.
After a few days, I was holding my brand new Nikon z fc in my hands! Now it was time to take beautiful photos with it. I have to admit that I had been shooting mostly in auto mode with my bridge camera - even after going through the excellent course from 22places. On the Calumet website I saw that there are beginner day courses on photography with mirrorless cameras - the next one already in 3 days! Wednesday my camera was delivered and on Saturday I took part in the course at Calumet held by Andreas Martin. If you live in the Stuttgart area and like photography, book a workshop with Andreas! This was one of the best live classes ever that I have attended and worth every penny! After this one day workshop, I was prepared to start up my new camera and take good Christmas market photos with it, even without a tripod. Andreas conveys even the dry topics about photography with a lot of humor, expertise and enthusiasm - the time flew by!
To all those who don't have the opportunity to take a photography course with Andreas, I can highly recommend the 22places online course. Jenny and Basti explain all topics related to photography (including photo editing with Lightroom) very clearly and entertainingly. I will also work through this course again - with my new camera I really feel like it!
Christmas market tour
During the last two years there was Corona and all the Christmas markets were cancelled, so I did not have the opportunity to take photos for a blog post about German Christmas markets. This year I decided to do a tour to some of the most beautiful Christmas markets in southern Germany . Posting a Christmas market article only a few days before Christmas - because that's when I got back from my trip - doesn't make much sense in my opinion. Therefore, you can expect this post to be published in October 2023. At least the photos are in the box already!
I visited the Christmas markets in Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Nuremberg and the Black Forest town of Calw - Hermann Hesse's birthplace. In the summer I had already visited Nuremberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber as part of a road trip through northern Bavaria. I loved both so much, and since they are famous for their Christmas markets, I knew they must be part of my tour. I had already been to the Heidelberg Christmas market several times with my friends Judith and Elvira, and I knew Heidelberg is also beautiful in the Christmas season. From Heidelberg it is not too far to Frankfurt. How often have I been to Frankfurt airport, but in the city center only for short day visits so far (the last time was about 20 years ago😮). I was excited to finally explore Goethe's birthplace in more detail. It was worth it!
Since I am only 15 km from Stuttgart (and also went to school in Stuttgart, lived and worked there), I know the city so well that I often no longer really look at it. When I'm out and about with my camera, it's different! I look at the beautiful historic buildings in the city center and also the fanciful decorated roofs of the Christmas market stalls much more consciously.
A real insider tip is the Christmas market in the Hesse town of Calw. It only takes place on the first weekend of advent, which is why it can get quite crowded, since the romantic market is well-known in the Calw area. A particularly nice experience, which was completely dedicated to Hermann Hesse, the city's most famous son, was a free city walk with torches, mulled wine and waffles. 🧇🍷😋 This is organized every year on Saturday and Sunday at 5 pm at the Christmas Market by the Tourist Information Calw .
Just in time for Christmas my website goes online
At least not only on December 31 ... When I started the Website Master Course by Birgit Hotz I hoped to my website up and running after four months. I had completely underestimated the complexity of WordPress and my own demands for a good structure and look of the website.
It could have taken even longer, because there is always something to improve 😉. The website is supposed to be bilingual and I first didn't want it to go online until the translation into English was finished. But then there was this review of the year challenge of the wonderful Judith Peters'who asked me directly at the top of her homepage: "How long have you been sneaking around the publish button? ..." Caught! I decided to participate and write my 2022 Year in Review and publish it on my website. It got a little stressful ... There was still one or two things to do on the website, plus I was on my Christmas market tour, and the days were filled with sightseeing and photography. The year in review is not perfect, but as I learned from Judith, I am allowed to revise blog posts after I have published them 😃 What a feeling! No more fixed deadlines - produce first, then optimize!
Because Judith's energy is so contagious and her philosophy so insightful, I chose to sign up for her annual program The Content Society My last action for 2022. Oh no, the last will be to hit the publish button for this Year in Review blog post. I still have one more day to go. Today is only December 30. 😆
My favorite own Instagram posts of 2022
From my 94 Instagram posts in 2022, these are my personal favorites:
- Isn't this photo of Tübingen, taken from the Neckar Bridge, beautiful? My Instagram followers thought so too - no other of my posts has ever gotten so many likes. Well, I had pinned it - that helps ... But I like the photo so much that I have selected it as the header photo of my website - and it's a cellphone photo!
2. I visited the monastery complex of Maulbronn with my friends Sigrid and Reinhold, who live nearby. The magnificent Cistercian abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an example of the rich cultural heritage on our doorstep. The writer Hermann Hesse was a monastery student at Maulbronn. He later wrote about his experiences in the novel "Unterm Rad" ("Under the Wheel").
3. This Nuremberg post represents my road trip through northern Bavaria in the summer, during which I was simply overwhelmed by the abundance of sights and places steeped in history that I visited on my two-and-a-half-week solo tour. Nuremberg also stands for the contradictions of German history - for the creative power of an Albrecht Dürer as much as for the horrors of the Nazi dictatorship. It was here that the inhuman Nuremberg Laws were enacted, it was here that the NSDAP party rallies were held, and it was here that the surviving war criminals of the Nazi regime stood trial. Anyone visiting Nuremberg must endure these contradictions and come to terms with them. This is the case for many places in Germany, but for few as much as for Nuremberg.
My year 2022 in numbers
Instagram followers: 1883 (was 1263)
Instagram posts: 94
Published Blog Articles: 4 (including annual review 2022)
Average steps per day: 3553
What else was going on in 2022?
My goals and projects 2023
- I will make my website bilingual (English as a second language) in early 2023.
- As a blogger in The Content Society, I will write 52 blog articles (one per week).
- I will send out at least one newsletter per month to my subscribers.
- I will develop a freebie to attract newsletter subscribers.
- I will improve my basic Spanish skills to travel to South America in 2024.
- I would like to take even better care of my health: One exercise session per day, i.e. 30 minutes of yoga or one hour of walking every day (at least). Cake only every other day 😨
- Trips I'd like to take in 2023: at least one Germany road trip, at least one trip abroad, a trip to Innsbruck (to visit my daughter Anna), a Christmas market tour.
- My motto for 2023: The sky is the limit.