My 2020 [i.e. the good things in it]

Rainbows and hearts, Brasov, Romania

My 2020 was bad… the second-worst year of my life – I like telling the truth. 2016 was, however, far worse. And if I got through that year, I was sure I’d get through 2020.

Of course, I needed to wait it out but the energies changed. They’re much lighter and people less bitter [but that’s not the topic of this article].


What were the small things keeping me afloat in 2020?

[‘cause, let’s face it, small things count the most]


Just Dance

I discovered it in 2019, but I used it almost daily in 2020… it was a lifesaver during lockdown [when I was scared and felt insignificant and believed a lot of b***shit]. It kept me sane, I was able to exercise and limit the extra kilos a bit. Sports is always good for our minds.

My (almost) daily dance routine

Animal Crossing

As the travel sector went down, so did a lot of companies, services, and apps associated with it. One of them was Trover – my favourite app [and I still can’t believe that I can’t share my travel discoveries with the wonderful Trover travel community anymore]. So, I needed a replacement. That’s when I discovered Animal Crossing Pocket Camp. I made virtual friends there – the animals in the game, but also my human friends are helpful and generous [they are mainly Japanese… so we’re on different time zones, but we manage somehow]. Studies are showing that people playing games like Animal Crossing are happier than other people. I can relate to that. To me, it’s a bubble full of colour and Good.

Lily from Animal Crossing and our Christmas Tree

Shea butter

When we returned from Ghana, Marcel and I brought some shea butter with us. Under lockdown, I was left without body lotions, so I started to apply it daily and… wow! I’ve never seen such a hydrating product, reducing cellulitis, repairing heel skin, protecting against dangerous radiations and mosquito bites! I know that our bodies are different and that they don’t always react the same way, but to me, shea butter is the one. My ultimate beauty product.  



Even when it comes at the end of the year, you know how much you loved guavas when you can’t stop eating them. Guilty: I became obsessed [in such a good way!] with Egyptian guavas. I did have a passionate love story with blueberries this summer, I got the chance to taste Brazilian papaya [=the best!] again, but aaaah… the guavas took the trophy away.


Water and salt

Masks and thyroid issues aggravated my sinusitis. After trying all sorts of treatments [that didn’t work], I returned to the basics. A mix of water and salt to pump into the nose and clear the sinuses. Incredibly efficient. Another secret? Combine it with bedstraw oil drops (for thyroid disorders) and you’ll find a new you.


Nature never disappoints and I turned even more towards a life protecting and nurturing it.


As a special mention, I would like to also list my love for baking and the people who knew how to make me smile [and who stuck around] as strong anchors in 2020.

Baking is love


And then, there’s travel. Always travel. For a year ‘celebrating’ the death of travel, Marcel and I travelled a lot. Heck, I even travelled more than in some of the normal years of my existence on Earth.

[people should understand that absolutely nobody can tell them what to do, how to act, how to feel… there are always loopholes if one has the energy to look for them]   


Marcel and I mostly travelled through Romania in 2020 – and apart from a few highlights from the other international trips we took [we spent the month of January in South America and the end of November/beginning of December in Egypt], these national trips were our favourite.

I was telling Marcel a few days ago… ‘Why even travel to <civilised> [who even decides what’s civilised and what’s not? anyway…] parts of the world when we’ve got this gorgeous country to roam, with the animals populating it, and the kind people building up such a nice overall vibe?’ I am grateful to be a Romanian and to be living here… I wouldn’t wish to move anywhere else.

[also ponder over this – the more civilised a place, the more restrictions it’s got]


So, how was travelling through Romania this year?


I’ve long lost the desire to stick to norms and regulations, even [should I say ‘especially’?] in travel [and even if they were hidden!], and I’ve never had a thing for mass travel and crowded places. I enjoyed nature, open spaces, spots where I could marvel and learn. Romania is perfect for this and despite finding stiffness and rules in the cities, the villages never gave in to fear.  


Which were my favourite travel moments through Romania in 2020?

Reading by Stipoc Canal, in the Danube Delta

In my hammock, on a lovely June morning, with willow branches above, green water with turtles next to me… and big relief in my heart.

By Stipoc, Danube Delta, Romania


around Crişana

Close to sunset time, in the playful end-of-June light, from Remetea to Şoimuş and then Petreasa [and its delicate 18th-century wooden church] and back. Fields, mulberries, goats, and smiles.

around Ilieni

…the fishing lakes and the country roads. I first rode with my Dad by wheat fields, dodging mosquitoes, and bewildered by the mid-July sunset. Marcel joined my Dad later.

Cycling around Ilieni, Romania

around Vama Buzăului (twice!)

Because we loved it that much! One was at the end of July – during one of my favourite summers in a long time –, one was at the beginning of November – wowing at the autumnal colours –. Both with Marcel and my Dad. Both before sunset.

Autumn in Vama Buzaului, Romania

Summer in Vama Buzaului, Romania

Lake Buhui kayaking and wild swimming

A difficult dirt road ride from Anina through a wonderful forest [we even saw roedeer!] later, you reach Lake Buhui. A special place and one of my mojo moments last year. The light was wonderful, the water – warmer than it seemed from the kayak… it was the first month of my wild swimming challenge (I’m at month 6 now), Marcel joined me, and my Dad filmed it all.  

Lake Buhui kayaking, Romania

Horseback riding in the mountains around Gheorgheni

Doing your homework sometimes means getting through to the right person and place. And horse. J I loved the hours spent in the saddle at the official end of summer (and August) – I had been away from horses for too long! I intend not to let it happen again. E-mail me for details on how to directly book this wonderful experience.

Horseback riding around Gheorgheni, Romania

The end-of-October morning heat in Dobruja

While we had been wearing scarves and beanies in Braşov for some weeks, in Dobruja, summer was still happening. I enjoyed a breakfast prepared by Marcel and I from the ingredients brought from home, the company of a beautiful dog, and the 25°C on my skin. All in the courtyard of our favourite campsite in Romania.

Breakfast in Greci, Romania

♥ Kayaking the Danube and wild swimming at ‘Plaja’ [‘The Beach’]

It’s marked because it was last year’s happiest moment for me. Marcel and I kayaked from km 555 to km 558 – near Zimnicea – and arrived at this wild river beach facing the Bulgarian town of Svishtov. I got into the water. It was warm and lovely, even its twinkle was magical.

Kayaking & wild swimming the Danube, Zimnicea, Romania

♥♥ Swimming/snorkelling with sea lions in Argentina

This was for many months my favourite experience of last year. It still is one of the most emotional moments of my life. Puerto Madryn can be a wonderful base for animal experiences in all seasons. I’ve come to love sea lions even more… they are curious, affectionate, and… soft! 

♥♥♥ Sandboarding in the Sinai Desert

Wishes do come true when they’re from the heart. If my other two favourite moments of last year were spent in/on water, this one was spent on sand. I wanted to try sandboarding out for such a long time! I searched a lot until I did find a guy in Dahab [please drop me an e-mail for his number], who rented the boards to us for the day and we went dune hunting. It was wonderful and challenging. Coupled with the magic experienced at St. Catherine’s Monastery, it was a beautiful day.

Sandboarding in the Sinai Desert, Egypt


Bottom line—what have I learned from last year? [maybe they’re things that I already knew, but their effect was reinforced in 2020]

Simplicity is the key.

Not all the people in your life should stay in your life.

You don’t need to break the piggy bank or go abroad to really travel.


Do what your heart tells you to do.

I’ve always followed mine. ♥

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