Yesterday morning I compiled a bunch of pictures from the last year to have printed and sent to my mum back in Sydney. After spending almost the entire day at the Albert Cuypmarkt and having no time to print them, Mats suggested I upload them onto an Australian photo printing website and have them sent directly to her house instead, that way she'll get them before Christmas. This morning I was getting ready to have them printed when I saw I could make a photobook instead, I chose that option and put in the dates; 12.12.08 - 12.12.09 and it hit me, yesterday had been exactly one year since I had left Sydney. One year since we recklessly boarded a plane and moved overseas with no apartment or jobs lined up. One year since I said goodbye to my family and friends, one year since I last crossed Sydney heads on the Manly Ferry. Time has gone so quick.
So here is the book that is now waiting to be printed and shipped to my mum for Christmas, here is my life in one year (click the images for a larger picture).
Christmas in Norway 2008 (Then off to London to look for work - Jan 2009)
Hiring freeze in London, off to Lisbon & Sintra, Portugal Jan-Feb 2009 to look for work and enjoy the sun where it's cheaper, but it turns out it's not that much cheaper. Back to Norway Feb-Mar 2009 to look for work again.
April 1st 2009 we moved to Amsterdam
Spent the next few months exploring Amsterdam and some of the Netherlands, several friends visited and we celebrated our first Queensday.
Mats' Brother visits us in Amsterdam and we all go on a road-trip through Luxembourg, France and Belgium.
We fly to Norway in Aug 2009 for a Summer party hosted by Mats' parents.
Back in Amsterdam we're busy meeting some really cool new people.
Oct 2009 - We celebrate that I finally found a job by spending the weekend eating delicious seafood in Brussels.
Autumn comes to Amsterdam.
Dec 2009 we head over to Germany with some friends for the Cologne Christmas Markets.
This year did not start off easy, as nice as hanging out down sunny Portugal way might sound the truth was we were freaking out about work, money and about where we were headed in life. Deciding to go back to Norway to continue looking for work was a hard decision and we regretted having to leave London, but once we moved to Amsterdam everything fell into place and everything ran smoothly, so smoothly we're convinced it was meant to be.
There is something special about Christmas in Europe, having grown up in Sydney, the days leading up to Christmas' composed mostly of humidity, bikini's and fake snow from a can on windows. But in Europe you really feel Christmas is... Christmas. Hot mugs of glühwein, the smell of cinnamon in the air, people in big coats and gloves, pepperkaker, and ice skating rinks outside, outside!
So imagine how much I was bursting with excitement on the days leading up to our weekend in Köln a weekend dedicated to checking out Christmas markets! A concept I had only heard of a few months ago. After all the excitement I am happy to report back that I was not disappointed at all. The markets, the food, the smells, the sights, the goods were soooo good and so so Christmas'y.
Doughnut men with cherry hearts
Shot 10 seconds before we all gorged on chocolate covered fruits
The Köln Christmas markets turned out to be an excellent way to start to the Christmas season. And on our return to Amsterdam all the Sinterklaas decorations had been replaced with Christmas ones, this weekend we will pick up a tree and before we know it we will be zooming over to Norway for another white Christmas.
Last Saturday Mats and I jumped into a car with Amanda and Dave and drove to Köln. I was surprised to find that it was not a pretty city at all, being almost completely bombed during WW2 most of the cities architecture is from the 1950's so it lacked a lot of the old charm many other large European cities have. But what it did have were some amazing Christmas markets (have I mentioned markets are my favourite thing of all time?), excellent tastes and a pretty good vibe.
I'm sure my body still hasn't recovered from all the delicious beer and market food I stuffed into it - delicious egg nog, yummy (and probably glutenous) potato cakes with apple sauce, currywurst, chili mushroom stroganoff, jalapeno and mango shots, deep fried brie, chocolate coated mandarin pieces and probably many, many more things my brain has conveniently repressed.