Finally, a visit back home

I can’t believe it’s been over six weeks since I returned from my visit back home with my family. Time just won’t slow down and but I am finally getting around to posting a little recap. My trip home was short and sweet and on very short notice. I didn’t even announce it here on the blog because I didn’t want to jinx it and really wasn’t sure if I would actually be able to go. Well, I went and I soaked up every minute. 

I am sure, you’re not interested in a minutely detailed account of my visit. I feel like we didn’t really “do” that much while I was there, although every day felt so incredibly FULL.

The highlights of my trip were…

 … spending time with my niece and nephew

My niece is 13 and my nephew is 12, and as you can see, they are both as tall as me now. I hadn’t seen them in 2,5 years and they’ve grown so fast (please, look at the difference!). Someone — anyone! —  slow down the time. I tried to spend as much time with them as possible in the short time I was there and it was wonderful. I hate not being able to be around more to see them grow up.

… getting to see a few other people

I didn’t see a whole lot of people outside of my family this time, partly because my time at home was short (and it had been so long!) and partly because of COVID. I still wanted to be careful and not spend time around too many people. I made some exceptions, though.

I got to spend some time with my aunt (my Mom’s younger sister), I spent a day in Köln with my uncle (my Dad’s brother) and aunt, and I also visited a family friend. I think I mentioned before somewhere that I have regular Skype dates with an old family friend (who is somewhat like a substitute grandma to me and my sister). She’s 91 years old and I am thrilled that she’s able to navigate the technology and have regular video calls with me. Still, it’s no substitute for in-person visits, and even though she lives about 2 hours from my hometown, I knew I had to go see her. While she’s in good health and spirit, you never know how many opportunities you’ll have left in life to spend time together.

… spending some time with my best friend

My best friend from high school is one of my oldest friends (we have known each other since elementary school) and she was dealt a pretty shitty hand in life. She’s been battling a brain tumor for more than a decade and has acquired a chronic pain condition on top of that. It breaks my heart to be so far away and not be able to be there and support her more on a regular basis, but I was so glad to spend some precious time with her during my visit.

… being at my childhood home

I love coming home to my parents’ house and sleeping in my childhood bedroom. I enjoyed breakfasts with my parents in our kitchen and spent some evenings just hanging out with my mom and dad in the living room, and I was so content and happy to just “be there” with them.

I realize how lucky I am to have a childhood home to go back to. Not everybody is so lucky.

I also really enjoyed being at my sister’s place. We spent a few evenings and Easter Sunday at her house and that also feels like home to me.

… going  for a run (and quite a few walks) in my hometown

I love going for a run (or walks) when I am back home. Our town is on the smaller side and therefore easily accessible on foot (or by bike. I used to bike everywhere, when I was a kid).
As you can see from the pictures, we had beautiful weather the whole time I was there! My mom said that the weather literally turned and the sun appeared on the morning of my arrival and didn’t leave until I left again 10 days later. I guess, I delivered on my promise to bring some sunshine from California. These are definitely “California-blue skies”!

… going hiking in the Eifel

The Eifel National Park is one of sixteen (!) National Parks in Germany. They might not be as well-known, diverse, or scenically impressive as some of the National Parks here in the United States, but they’re worth a visit nonetheless. I am thrilled to say that Tom is turning out to be a pretty outdoorsy guy and he was super-excited that we were going to spend a day hiking in the Eifel. He always comes well-prepared and carries water, binoculars, and other field gear in his backpack and I know he’s super-excited to visit the National parks here this summer :) Greta, in typical teenager fashion, was a little grumpy before our hike but I think she enjoyed our day together, too.

… longboarding with Tom.

Easter Sunday was a gorgeous, sunny day and Tom kept asking if I wanted to ride longboards with him He hooked me up with all the necessary gear (wrist guards mainly) and we spent an hour riding the longboards around the neighborhood. I dare say, I wasn’t too clumsy and got the hang of it pretty quickly and we had a lot of fun.

… meeting my sister’s tortoises.

Well, actually one of them belongs to my sister, one to Greta, and one “officially” to my sister’s father-in-law. Tom was very firm on the fact that he preferred the two cats in the house and didn’t want to take care of a tortoise. They are fascinating to watch though, I have to admit.

… having some quality girl time with my mom and sister.

It was so nice to be able to spend some time with my mom and sister. We don’t get to hang out much in person, so every time we can be together is extra-special.

(The beautiful yellow flowers in the photo were courtesy of Tom, who plucked one for each of us during one of our walks).

… eating all the food

A recap of my visit back home would not be complete without drooling over all the delicious food that I was able to eat while I was there, amirite? I did not get to everything that was on my list, but everything that I did get to eat was amazing! :)

Butter pretzel at the Munich airport – Kornknacker (multigrain roll) — Mettbrötchen
German Abendbrot with potato salad, tomatoes and eggs, and bread with cold cuts — German BBQ — Reibekuchen (potato pancakes with rye bread, sugar beet syrup, applesauce, and smoked salmon (not all together, ha!))
Heringsstipp (pickled herring in cream sauce) – pizza from our local pizza place – my uncle’s homemade paella
gelato from my favorite Italian ice cream place – apple tart with whipped cream – gelato (again)

It’s hard to capture in a blog post what this time at home meant to me. I wish I was able to go see and hang out with my family more often and participate more in their daily lives (again, where’s the teleportation device when you need it?).

So but yeah, in case you couldn’t tell, I had a horrible time…. hahaha! [\sarcasm off]

  1. This post gives me all the warm fuzzies (also, your nephew has the EXACT same Yosemite shirt – including the colour – that my niece has that I just visited in the US last week; what a fun coincidence).
    I’m so, so happy you made it back to Germany and it looks like a simply wonderful time of reconnecting with family and enjoying all those special moments of daily life (being in your old bedroom, eating favourite foods) that are so nostalgic and joyful.
    I also feel like I “anticipate” travel differently now because I realize how quickly things can change. I used to take plans for granted and would get very, very excited about trips, but now I’m trying to temper my enthusiasm just in case something comes up to foil plans. So I’m beyond thrilled everything went so smoothly and you were able to go as planned (and how lovely that the weather cooperated for you)!

    1. Thanks so much, Elisabeth. It was a wonderful time… and re: the Yosemite t-shirt, I bought it here in the US and gave it to my niece and nephew as a gift. So I am not surprised to hear that your niece has the same shirt. It’s from Target :)).

  2. This is all so wonderful, San! I am so glad you were able to take the trip and that it turned out so well. Also, wow, your town is lovely!!!

    1. Thanks so much, friend. And yes, my hometown is quite cute – I can now appreciate it more than when I lived there!

  3. What a wonderful trip home! I CAN NOT BELIEVE HOW BIG YOUR NIECE AND NEPHEW ARE! Yes, ALL CAPS! I feel like you were just talking about their first communion and now they look so mature – especially Greta! She looks older than 13! Gosh kids change so so fast.

    I am so glad everything worked out and you were able to get home!

    1. Thanks friend. I KNOW RIGHT? I cannot believe how fast these kids grow up. And Greta definitely has the attitude of a full-blown teenager LOL

  4. I’m so glad you were finally able to visit home, and it looks like it was an incredible trip. You say you feel like you didn’t “do” much, but it looks like you did all the things that matter most!

  5. It is always so fun to read your home-visit recaps because I know how very happy you are and how important they are. So yeah. And all the fun things you did and could enjoy. I love the collage of the foods. Its so fun to see what home means – and lets be honest its most of all in the foods (right after the people). Also I am a bit jealous of you having tortoises in the family. I’d bee spending hours watching them.
    And I agree your niece and nephew have grown so so much in the past 2,5 years. crazy.

  6. Your trip home looks so lovely! And like Lisa, I cannot BELIEVE how grown-up your niece and nephew are. Where does the time go?! I have to giggle when you say she’s a “full-blown teenager” because my nephew (who is also 13) is definitely the same. I’m waiting for him to grow out of the ‘tude. ;)

  7. This makes me so so so so so happy to see. San, you clearly made the most of your time with your family. And it sounds like (from your IG) they are here now (since I am so. far. behind. commenting on blogs…)! So much family time to at least fill in a few of the gaps from the last 2.5 years.
    Your trip looks perfect in every way – family time, friend time, FOOD! Thank you for sharing with us. <3

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