Well, guys, the first month of the year is officially over. I had an incredible 2015 and I’ve already got a suspicious feeling that 2016 is going to be even better. It’s already off to a glorious start, that’s for sure–ringing in the new year on the banks of Kungsholmen (one of Stockholm’s many islands) was just the beginning.
In January 2016…
I was reminded what real winter is like.
Coming to Stockholm in the winter was a divergence from my typical pattern of bouncing from one tropical locale to the next and only hitting up the northern latitudes in the summer. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m happy to report that for the most part, I’m faring just fine.
I worried that seeing the sun go down at 2:30 every afternoon would have a profound effect on my mood, and I’ll admit, this was the toughest thing to adjust to when I first arrived. But this month I realized that as long as I got my bum out the door for a little while every day to soak up what little sunshine I had, those early sunsets wouldn’t be so terrible after all.
One pleasant surprise about winter here in Sweden is that because of the sun’s low position during the day and the prolonged sunrises and sunsets, there’s never any shortage of soft lighting–you know, the kind that’s perfect for photography. And don’t even get me STARTED on the sunsets.
I’ve also been reminded what it feels like to lose sensation in all of your extremities, have tears and snot freeze to your face, eat popcorn for dinner because walking to the grocery store is the LAST thing you want to do, and to shiver at any given time of the day no matter how many layers you pile on. But hey, at least now I can tolerate just about any temperature above freezing, so there’s that!
I hit some new blogging milestones.
This month I hit a record high for blog traffic! I love seeing my stats trending upward and traffic, in particular, has been a really slow burn in terms of growth, so it’s been very exciting to finally hit a new milestone there. Additionally, I finally got around to something else that’s been bouncing around in the back of my mind for several months now–I launched a second website! It’s far from ready for the public as of yet, but the foundation is there and over the next several months I’ll be churning out content both here and on my new site. I was starting to feel burned out a little bit by travel blogging and the travel blogging community and so I thought it would do me some good to branch out and write about something entirely different to get my creative juices flowing again. It has done wonders to reenergize me and I’m absolutely thrilled to have a new project to work on.
I got to revisit a city I’d been dying to explore.
I’ve just returned from a 6-day jaunt to one of the cities I promised myself I’d revisit this year, London! It was an absolutely fabulous week of exploring and eating and exploring some more, and I wouldn’t change any part of it. I saw many of the famous sites like the Tower Bridge and the Tate Modern museum as well as a few cool local spots including a basement comedy club tucked away in Covent Garden and one of London’s oldest pubs, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, re-built in 1667 following the Great Fire of London in 1666. And did I mention the weather was just perfect the whole week? I couldn’t believe my luck!
My priorities became clearer than ever.
You already know that I plan to travel a bit more slowly in 2016. The other goal I’ve got in mind is to spend more time with the people I care about most. This means spending more time in Washington with family and planning the rest of my travels around seeing my nearest and dearest, whether they be friends from college, blogging buddies, or friends I’ve made traveling. Making new friends is wonderful and all, but at this point in time, I’m looking to prioritize the relationships and the communities that I already have in my life over creating new ones.
And now a few fun extras…
My Most Popular Blog Posts
My Best Instagrams
A Few Things I’m Loving
Blogs that aren’t solely about travel – I’ve recently rediscovered some of the blogs I fell in love with when I got involved in this whole blogging mess in the first place, and while many of them do feature travel sections, that’s not always the focus. Here are just a few I’ve been poring over lately:
This Swedish Instagrammer – Guys, do yourself a favor right now and go follow the account of Jonna Jinton. This ‘grammer from the north of Sweden is absolutely KILLING it with her mesmerizing, whimsical, magical images. I seriously can’t get enough.
Spotify – I’m not sure how it took me this long to hop onboard the Spotify train, but now that I’m on it, there’s no getting off. It’s officially an obsession (and coincidentally also the reason I’m now a #Belieber). Also never knew Spotify was a Swedish company until I got to Sweden…fancy that!
That’s it for January…onward and upward!