Since moving to Europe, I’ve had many people tell me how they envy our life. I’m sure it’s because they see us traveling so often but in reality, through social media, only the best days tend to be showcased. No one’s life is perfect and by all means this lifestyle definitely has its ups and downs. The harder experiences I’ve been dealt with such as losing someone or simply the challenges life may bring, has only opened my eyes to the true meaning of life. I’ve learned that the most important thing is living life it to its fullest, while embracing the most important relationships you have along the way. It’s so important never take a day for granted, no matter where you are in the world and fully enjoy everything beautiful this life has to offer. Whether it’s exploring the world or treasuring your greatest relationships. You never know what tomorrow may hold so by doing everything you can to share your love for the people you love most and try to check as many things off your bucket list as possible, will only allow you to appreciate what living life is all about.
One of my favorite ways to exercise is getting some fresh air and going on a hike to explore new surroundings, giving you a moment in time to reflect on life and take a day to observe the beauty that surrounds us. Living this life, traveling the world, it allows us to see so many cultures and different environments. When we first found out we were moving to Bavaria for Wade’s hockey season, I was so excited to hear we would be living so close to the Alps! I instantly thought how I would be able to check something off my bucket list and actually go snowboarding in the Alps! Since we moved out here in August, I would also be able to go hiking in the Alps before the snow came! Jackie and I had been talking to one of the other girlfriends on the team, who was from Germany, about having a girl’s day by going on a hike. Being that hiking is extremely popular here, she suggested a couple of options – would we like to go on a 3 or 5 hour hike? Jackie and I both laughed and suggested we start off with something more like 1 to 2 hours for our first try.
The drive to the bottom of the mountain is almost as good as the hike itself! Driving through the hills on a windy road, we drove through the most beautiful country side of Germany - seeing the greenest, grassy fields, surrounded by the most adorable German houses in small villages scattered in various groupings. She took us on a hike that resulted in over 4 hours from walking up and down the mountain! I think she thought we meant 1 to 2 hours one way. Although it was longer than expected, it was definitely worth it! On the side we hiked up on, it overlooked the country side and once we reached the top of the mountain, we were able to view the horizon filled with endless mountains – the Alps! It was truly breathtaking! Every hike seems to have a restaurant on top that rewards you with a much needed meal and a deserving beer. It’s the best way to finish off your long hike while extending your time to enjoy the epic views. We sat on the patio to do just that and watched the hang gliders takeoff, who were all previously soaring over us as we were reaching the top of the mountain.
After we finished that hike, I instantly was craving more! I had heard about another hike close by called Wendelstein, where there is a train that goes almost to the top of the mountain. Once you get off the train, you could hike the last peak, which is a narrow trail, almost on the edge of the rocky mountain. I heard about it from multiple people so thought this would be our next adventure. This time, it was Jackie, Katie and I – all of the import girls not being familiar with the area. Jackie had looked it up and saw mixed reviews on how long the hike actually was. Some people said it was only 2 hours and another review had said it took over 6 hours. We figured that review was because she went up the wrong side of the mountain - if you do the full hike, you start on one side and if you train up it, it starts on the opposite side. She must have been a tourist and walked up where the train picks you up, we thought. We gave it a shot and got the instructions from one of our German friends on where to park to do the full hike.
Once we got to the top, it was yet again, insanely breathtaking. This time, we were surrounded by the Alps in every direction! We also had an even more gorgeous day than our last hike with clear blue skies that resulted in an even more endless view. The top of the mountain had a small church called the Wendelstein Chapel that was built in the late 1800’s on a steep, rocky peak. It is considered the highest church in Germany. It’s hard to believe they were able to build something so high up in the mountains back then and be able to simply transport everything they needed to build it! After taking in the amazing views, we decided to grab something to eat and drink and sit out on the patio. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed for maintenance and they were only able to offer us coffee and a bag of cookies. Katie had only eaten a yogurt before our hike thinking it would only be 2 hours at the most. So we took them up on the offer for the bag of cookies, which later became our lifesaver! We all settled for coffee so that we could take a moment to embrace the views before heading back down.
As we enjoyed our coffee and cookies, we instantly started being swarmed by black crows. They were not intimidated in any way and acted as vultures trying to steel our food. The three of us started screaming and I instantly had flashbacks from the movie, The Birds! Almost everyone on the patio just sat there and enjoyed our show by simply laughing at us! Before heading back down, we decided to have a much needed photo op with the epic backdrop behind us. Laughing our way through our timed air jump poses to some serious meditation stances, the three of us embraced this experience and fully took in our surroundings. We finally began what we thought would be a 2 hour hike back down the mountain, just in time before the sun set. But once we were about an hour down the mountain, we realized we took a wrong turn! It seemed all familiar but slightly different. Luckily my phone was able to GPS our way through the trails but we quickly realized by taking that one wrong turn, it was adding an extra hour to our hike! There were moments we all started getting nervous since the sun was going down quickly and were still lost in a forest in the middle of the mountains. Our detour trail guided us to a street which was on the opposite side of the mountain from where we had parked. We were relieved to at least have made it out of the forest before it was completely dark and just had to suck up the extended walk back to the car along the road. The reviewer was correct on it being a 6 hour hike!
Once we got back to our cars, the three of us parted ways when I received a call from Wade. He had just found out that Tyler’s grandfather had just passed away, who he was extremely close with. We knew it was going to happen, but didn’t think it would happen the one day the guys were on a rare overnight road trip. Since none of us had service, I quickly stopped the car so that I could pass the phone along to Jackie to talk to Tyler. I felt so bad for her to find out by herself and for Tyler to have found out while being away from Jackie. I didn’t want to leave her until I knew she would be ok to go home on her own. Its times like these where you feel so helpless being on the other side of the world when you wish you could have been home to say one last goodbye or even be there for your family when you all need it most. Once I got home, I was looking back on the amazing day we had and sent Jackie one of the photos to pass onto Tyler’s mom. I told her that this is what heaven looks like! By looking at this photo, it makes it hard to not believe there is something greater than the life we live here on earth. He’s now in a greater place and has joined the love of his life at last! When I look at these photos, I think of so many things. This was around the time where our dear friends lost someone they loved. This was a moment where we had an amazing reflection on the life we live. This was also the same day my Mom got engaged!
Living this lifestyle, we are so far away from our family and friends for the majority of the year. Whether there are exciting or sad occasions going on back home, we tend to miss out on a lot of it. But it’s important for us to do what we can to make this time in our lives a time we never regret, by taking advantage of where we currently are in the world and explore it in the best ways possible. It’s so important for us to embrace the new and old friends we make along this journey, who also become a family away from home. These photos allow me to also remember the people I have lost in my life because if this isn’t what heaven looks like, I don’t know what does. To me, this symbolizes how precious life can be and will always be a reminder to continue living my life to its fullest and treasure every moment along this crazy journey!