2014 Recap: The Gift Year

I know that by this time, we've all stopped rehashing 2014 and have started looking ahead to 2015. But I can't just summarize last year with pretty photos of Paris and Europe - I need to pause and share my reflections of a special year.

21 Trains
19 Flights
5 Buses
5 Rental cars
14 Countries
21 houseguests
131 blog posts
2 camels 
And countless sheep

2014. I think of this year as my “gift year.” That’s not to say that every day we get on this earth isn't a gift, because it is. I mean it in the sense that when I think about 2014, I think “we shouldn't still be here.” Michael had a contract to work on an assignment in Paris for almost two years, ending in December 2013. Except by the end of that year, we had realized that Paris wasn't merely the home base for our travels throughout Europe. We had somehow built a life here, entered into community, and fell in love with life in the city. Things were looking bleak for a while and it seemed that we did in fact have to move back to the US as planned. Until things turned around and we were able to stay. We weren't supposed to still be hanging around the City of Light this year, but somehow in the end we were gifted with more time.

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Canvas-Worthy Europe, 2014 edition

Last Wednesday I shared my round-up of my favorite photos taken in Paris in 2014. Now it’s time to see the year in review through a collection of my canvas-worthy contenders from our European travels outside of Paris. Here’s where I traveled to during the year!

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Simply Sara's Ultimate European Christmas Market Round-Up

I’ve been making a list and checking it twice...and am ready to reveal which European Christmas markets made the naughty or nice list. This by no means is a conclusive list of markets throughout Europe, but it’s my thoughts on 20 markets spanning 8 European countries. So without further ado, here’s the breakdown by country:

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A Different Side of Prague

Travel has a way of teaching you things about yourself that might not have surfaced in a “normal” environment. It faces you with new situations, brings you out of your comfort zone, and expands what you know of the world.

Let's pause right there. Don’t worry if you’re not in the mood to read a heartfelt, emotional post. Because in Prague, I discovered something interesting about myself. I love modern statues.

Prague has a reputation for its Old World charm with the beautiful castle perched over the city and its romantic Staroměstské náměstí (Old Town Square). But there was something that resonated with me in discovering the more modern sculptures throughout the city. Perhaps it was just a reminder that Prague is more than the beautiful, old buildings but also very much alive and changing in the present. Whatever it was, I loved Prague the first time I went almost two years ago, and was reminded last month of just why it is one of my favorite places in Europe.

Let me show you the statues I found beyond the ones that line the Charles Bridge:

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A-Z of Christmas Markets

Last year I had the joy of experiencing a Christmas tradition throughout Europe: the Christmas market. It started with one in Paris on the Champs-Elysées, certainly the most touristy one I visited. Then I embarked on a trip with my husband to Strasbourg, France; Vienna, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic; and four German cities: Berlin, Nürnberg, Dresden, and Leipzig. Here is my A-Z list to illustrate what I found and why I love Christmas markets!

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