A year in review: Our Top 2019 Personal and Travel Highlights

Happy New Year everybody and thanks so much for following along with our family adventures.

With the end of 2019 in plain sight everyone tends to look back on the previous 12 months and so do we. We had grand plans for last year – some of them failed, others succeeded.

In the end, what matters most is that we tried our best, survived all the bad days and did more things that enriched our lives.

Yes, another 12 months are gone in a blink, and what a year it has been, a year we would like to repeat! We laughed and danced. We travelled and learned and travelled some more.

When I think about all the adventures, new experiences and friends we made along the way it feels like several years got packed into one.

Being home with family over the winter holidays has given us a lot of perspective on our life in Sligo so far. We’ve both changed so much ever since moving across the country, a process, both physical and emotional.

We learned to feel grateful for being alive, and we practised the art of letting go of the things that no longer serve us, after all, it is up to us and our actions to make our lives better.

Colourful Sligo sunsets.


A year in review: Our Top 2019 Personal and Travel Highlights

Listening to the northerly winds rattle outside I closed my eyes and let my mind wander before reflecting on the last year – we travelled to fewer countries, yet we still learned, had fun and grew personally.

In brief, we went to Biarritz and visited Hossegor and Bayonne for the first time. We went home to Latvia to get hitched, visited Bratislava for the Ice Hockey Championships – and visited Munich, hiked through Slovenia and finally had a chance to explore Lake Bled.

We jumped at a chance to travel to Edinburgh and were also delighted to marvel yet again at beautiful Venice’s crumbling facades.


In 2019, we stuck to our pre-arranged schedule and successfully published a total of 52 blog posts with an average of 2000 words per post on Our Crossings travel blog.

That’s publishing once a week, and that’s what we were comfortable with producing – instead of releasing half baked travel stories, our primary focus was providing value with well-crafted and informative blog posts.

Writing consistently can be challenging, inevitably there are days when life, work and responsibilities tend to take over, yet we write every single day, even if it is just for 20 minutes.

We believe that even with demanding day jobs, we can write at least 500 words; it’s all about the discipline. We never wait for inspiration to arrive, we simply make a point to sit down and write – sometimes typing away on our laptops or scribbling down ideas in notebooks.

Growing vegetables

To satisfy our increasing appetite for something new and exciting, we took up the challenge to grow vegetables in our back garden. We started off small and planted only what we wanted to eat and were amazed by vibrant textures and juicy flavours.

We had to protect strawberries from nasty looking slugs, and we got rid of weeds with a good old fashion hand pulling. In the end – edible gardening proved to be a fun way for all the family members to take part in.

Even though slugs got away with most of the strawberries, and it was too cold for tomatoes to ripen, we ended up with plenty of fresh herbs, black radishes and lots of courgettes.

Plentiful fresh vegetables to keep us happy.

Attending Ice hockey Championship 

When the opportunity presented itself, and one of us had a chance to travel to Bratislava for an Ice-Hockey World Championship, we jumped at the chance to hop on a plane just a few days before going to France.

Ice Hockey is a holy sport in Latvia and having watched it in a local pub on a big screen for the past year, supporting our team in the Ondrej Nepela Winter Stadium alongside many other Latvians was a bucket list experience.

While in Slovakia, I made time to go on an urban adventure too – I had a chance to experience Bratislava’s tourist attractions as well as travel to Austria’s capital Vienna.

Having heaps of fun in Bratislava.

Exploring Biarritz and Hossegor

After a couple of months of poor weather, firewood chopping and short escapes to the nearby woods we planned to leave rainy Ireland behind and travel to mainland Europe.

We were super excited to see France again the last spring. Biarritz was bright, warm and our time in the city was all about letting days gently unfold.

By revisiting Biarritz we desired to explore nearby villages and towns too, so it made perfect sense to make the most of our trip – we ended up renting a car. We headed for a road trip to nearby Capbreton, Bayonne and Hossegor.

Wandering around beautiful Biarritz, France.

Getting Married

Every summer has its own story, and last year we completely fell in love with our lives even more – after 17 years together we finally made a decision to get married.

Travelling to Latvia in the last week of July to get hitched, with closest family and friends by our side, was our last year’s personal highlight. Getting married in Valters hometown just added more sentimental value to our already special day and returning back home to Sligo as a married couple was an emotional moment to remember forever.

To honour our lifelong commitment,  we started off with an intimate ceremony followed by celebrations in a beautiful outdoor setting with bonfires and live music.

Getting married in Aluksne.

Being amazed by Slovenia

Travelling to Slovenia, a beautiful country in Central Europe, was a trip to be remembered  – surrounded by full life cycles and beautiful landscapes I was greeted by friendly people and gorgeous autumn colours.

One of the main reasons I eagerly wanted to set foot on its soil was to capture its natural beauty, hike through the Triglav National Park – a place where mountains are full of treasures to be discovered – and visit Lake Bled.

It took me two trains, one flight and 72 hours to reach my first stop Lesce but I quickly became to the realisation that the journey was 100 % worth it. Slovenia has everything you would want for a perfect European getaway – exciting history, pretty landscape and beautiful castles.

Also worth mentioning; the entire downtown area of its capital Ljubljana has been transformed into the pedestrian zone only. It has been awarded the European Green Capital of 2016 – which is a big deal for us eco-conscious travellers like us.

One of the many beautiful spots in Slovenia.

Growing pine trees from seed

With Amazon Rainforest continuing to shrink and with the forests all over the world in rapid decline, we desired to take on the challenge of growing trees. Yes, we are aware that one tree might not make any difference at all, but we strongly felt the need to do some good and imagine an impact if 20 people would follow our example and do the same?

Two years ago on a sunny fall day, we collected a couple of pine cones from the nearby forest in Sligo, brought them home, laid them out at room temperature and patiently waited for seeds to be released.

We then sowed the seeds in pots and with the power of unconditional love and care managed to grow two beautiful pine trees that now are approximately 20 cm tall.

Top Tip*  To help conserve biodiversity,  mainly collect seeds from trees native to your country, and if you wish to plant them, avoid buying imported trees that bring with them a risk of disease. You also need to think about how well a tree would grow and how big it would get.

Planting trees in Sligo.

Wandering around Munich

Wandering around Munich, a lovely gateway for travellers within Europe as a flight is easy to come by, I was enjoying my introduction to Bavaria’s capital.

Within my 24 hours, I had a chance to check out its river breaks popular with surfers, visited many tourist attractions and witnessed preparations for the world-famous Octoberfest.

Although Munich is known as a getaway to the Bavarian region and everything it has to offer, for me, it was a getaway to Slovenia. I took a train from the central railway station in the city and after four hours arrived in Lesce.

Exploring Germany by visiting its third-largest city – Munich.

Returning back to Venice

Renowned for impressive architecture, beautiful canals, art and picture-perfect corners, Venice is pretty much on everyone’s bucket list as there is so much beauty to capture.

It doesn’t matter how many times you have seen photos and heard stories about the floating city, being there in person and seeing its alleys and churches will leave you full of high-spirited delight. 

Visiting  Venice whose Old Town has been World Heritage Site since 1987, was a part of my multi-city trip in September. After days spent exploring Slovenia, I boarded the bus and travelled to Venice, where I made it my mission to wander around its quiet locations like Cannaregio and Castello.

Visiting beautiful Venice and admiring its unique facades.

Seeing more of Ireland 

Before our move to Sligo, we made a simple yet powerful promise to only say yes to things and places that excite us.

In search of inspiration, we made a conscious decision to swap round-the-world adventures for local ones and were delighted to extensively explore Ireland and write about it.

Some of the most impressive places we have seen on our travels around Ireland were made by mother nature, and we were delighted to cross off a couple of bucket list adventures we always wanted to do.

Visiting Fanad Head Lighthouse, cycling through Glenveagh National Park,  surfing in County Clare and climbing Croagh Patrick were just a few highlights from our last year’s Irish adventures.

Capturing autumn sunsets at Rosses Point, Sligo.

Visiting Edinburgh

My heart warmed as I caught the first glimpse of Edinburgh’s skyline with the burnt orange leaves of autumn adorning the trees from the upper decker bus.

The Scottish capital is a place I have been revisiting for the past 10 years and always managed to find new and exciting things to see and do. After all – Edinburgh is a centre of culture and the arts and is especially known for its festivals.

I was looking to enhance my travel experience to Edinburgh by listening to the Scottish folk tales, catching up with my Scottish friend and by exploring every nook and cranny of this ridiculously good looking city.

I wandered around elegant Georgian neighbourhoods and narrow winding lanes of Old Town and enjoyed the slower path and more relaxed atmosphere that comes with changing seasons.

One of many pretty corners in Stockbridge, Edinburgh.

Spending yet another year without the TV

Yes, I know, getting rid of TV doesn’t change anything. Today we can watch our favourite TV shows on-demand pretty much on any device, and  I am as guilty of screen addiction as anyone out there (marathoning through all six seasons of Grimm in three weeks scared the hell out of me).

The idea of getting rid of TV was something we wanted to do for a very long time, we didn’t want a living room where all the furniture is positioned around the TV. Having lived without it for a year, we are delighted with our decision as it changed our lives and mindsets forever.

It was the most productive year in our lives! We don’t feel the temptation to sink into a sofa for hours as soon as we get home from work or switch it on first thing in the morning. Our house is more peaceful, we read more, and we engage more!

Instead of watching television shows, we prefer to explore Sligo!

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Now, over to you!

What’s your last year’s highlight? Share it in the comments below!

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

69 thoughts on “A year in review: Our Top 2019 Personal and Travel Highlights

    1. Thanks so much. 2019 was a fantastic year for our family, and we can’t wait what this one has in store for us. From all of us here at Our Crossings to you and your family, we wish you a happy, healthy and enjoyable New Year. Aiva

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much! Getting married was our highlight of the last decade! Fast forward to today, and as a happily married woman, I’m honestly surprised by how easy it was for me to transition to a committed, life-long relationship. It feels damn good! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sheree! We’re already planning the ways we can make 2020 even more memorable, and with the support of amazing people like you, we’re confident it will be. Thank you and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Have really enjoyed reading your blog. You have had an amazing year. My husband and I also love traveling and are always on the lookout for new adventures. You have given us many ideas. Hope 2020 brings you much health and happiness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for your lovely comment! Writing this blog post was a great opportunity to look back on last year’s achievements and celebrate every little milestone, no matter how big or small. Thanks for stopping by and safe travels. Aiva


    1. Thank you very much, Indi! We have similar worldviews and visions for our future, so getting married was just a matter of time, and we really had a blast on our special day. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another beautiful post. I wish I could write like you. Amazing year you guys had! Your daughter is super cute and I admire the choices you make. Congratulations on getting married after such long time. We did it the opposite way, we have been married for 17 years after getting hitched just 6 month. I cannot wait to see what adventures you’ll have in 2020. I wish you the best!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much. Getting married was the biggest highlight of the last year – we both see marriage as an exciting project, not an obligation and that’s why it was extra special. Wow, it sounds like your love story is pretty amazing – marriage is something that is created by two people, and I’m glad to hear you are still going strong. Best of luck to you and your family and thanks for stopping by. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Allan. A fact of any long-term relationship is that romance dwindles, problems need to be resolved, and life happens sometimes. So it’s best to have someone you can count on in other ways when these things do occur. People should be marrying someone who’s not just an ideal romantic partner for you, they’re also your friend, and I happen to meet one! Couldn’t ask for more. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva


    1. Thank you very much! It’s so much fun to go through all the photos and to briefly look back on everything that has happened in the last 12 month and thank the Universe! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you kindly, Mark. Even though we have been together for 17 years, getting married last summer felt like a brand new beginning. Signing those papers and celebrating our love for each other sort of puts a protective shell around our relationship. Have a good day and thanks for stopping by. Aiva


  3. What a a wonderful year! I like your mix of travel and personal growth components! Congratulations on the wedding as well. 2020 will be amazing for you all – I am sure of it! Looking forward to seeing what unfolds for you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much, Pam. Getting married in Latvia was a dream come true moment, and I’m so glad we finally made it happen. Can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us. Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you and your family a very Happy and Healthy New year. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fabulous year you’ve had with your wonderful travels, and most especially with getting married. Congratulations and may your happiness together increase as the years go by. Your travelogues are thoroughly enjoyable and informative reads, well-written and illustrated by great photography. You are an inspiration. Many blessings wished for you in 2020.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much! Although I’m super thrilled about every single last year’s highlight, and there were many more in between, getting married topped them all. I believe that celebrating our love with close friends and family and signing an official marriage license makes our relationship much stronger and meaningful than merely living together. Wishing you and your family a very Happy and Healthy New Year! Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! It was a fascinating year indeed, and I am utterly delighted by what we managed to achieve and experience in those 12 months. You must be over the moon with planning your wedding! We planned absolutely everything by ourselves, and although it’s very challenging, it is also an enriching task. The organisation is key to keeping everything on track when you’re faced with decisions, lists, deadlines, and everyday life to deal with – best of luck with everything. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You had a fruitful year! Even if you said you didn’t do as many travels as previous years, you still did quite a bit, and it’s great you got to see the beauty of Munich and Lake Bled (the latter which I’d like to visit some day!). And congrats on the marriage! Wishing you more adventures in 2020. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much, Rebecca! We had a fantastic year and are grateful for every single trip, hiking adventure and person, both online and in real life, we met along the way. Thanks so much for following our family adventures and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow what an incredible year! Congratulations on your marriage, you share a beautiful love and it sounded like a very special and meaningful celebration of it. You’ve definitely got me thinking about seeing all those stunning places one day. And I love your intentions to grow your own garden and plant trees. All the very best for 2020!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Jessica and thanks for stopping by. Yes, we had a great year, both personally and in terms of travel – we got to see man amazing places, countries and checked off a couple of bucket-list destinations. But, most importantly – we learned to prioritise what and who was important. Have a good day. Aiva


  7. Wow! Aiva I am amazed! You guys have had quite a busy and lovely year! I am overjoyed to read this post, this magnificent post! I am very happy for you and for your beautiful family! Now get ready for the new year, new goals, new places, new people to meet…hopefully you guys will put Valencia in your itinerary…you won’t be sorry…All the best to you and my greetings,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, my friend. Last year was an excellent year for us. Not only because we got to travel and tied the knot but mostly for every experience and lesson we obtained along the way.
      Thank you very much, Francisco for always stopping by and for leaving positive comments – getting to know our readers on a more personal level and interacting nearly every day has made our lives so much more fulfilled with happiness and gratitude. Valencia is definitely on our wishlist, who knows, we might even meet up one day, wouldn’t that be amazing! Have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello Aiva, Happy Thursday afternoon, middle of the week! I could not agree with you more reference getting to know our readers. This has been a very positive experience for me. I too find that almost daily interaction has made my life richer and as well, filled with gratitude. I have also learned much about many things, especially about travelling to different places where I have never been or even thought about. I thank your blog, an excellent blog, for allowing me the opportunity to get to know places that I had never even heard of. I think it would be wonderful if you guys come to Valencia! Definitely keep it on your list of possibilities, after all, we have direct flights to Ireland from our airport here in Valencia (I think)…anyways, it would be our pleasure to meet with you and your family should you decide one day to make the trip to the Spanish “Levante”. Have a lovely day! And by the by, it is still sunny and warm here today, 17 degrees in Valencia in the sunshine! All the best!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations on your wedding and also thank you for sharing your wedding photograph. What I loved about this blog is that you had such an eventful year and yet, you took the time out to write the blogs regularly. You talk about discipline and that is what all writing coaches tell you to do – no matter what, you have to write. It is certainly inspiring that with full time jobs, a small child, planning and executing a wedding, you found the time and discipline to document your travels and also work hard on your blog. So much to learn from you guys!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much! It feels strange to be referred to as newlyweds knowing we’ve spent nearly two decades before getting hitched! It was a fantastic day, and I’m so glad we decided to travel home to Latvia to get married – it made it so much more special.

      Self-discipline is one of the most important and useful skills everyone should possess, and I thrive on it! This skill is essential in every area of life, either you are keen on improving your sports, parenting or writing performance, but very few do something to strengthen it. Yes, there are days when I come home from work and don’t feel like doing anything at all, and occasionally I put my feet up. But on those few occasions when my motivation fated, it’s where discipline comes into light. Thanks so much for your kind words and your never-ending encouragements. Aiva


    1. Thanks so much, guys! We had so much fun last year and getting married after such a long time together was an unbelievable moment, and I’m not sure why we waited for so long! We both do not have blinders on and have spent enough time together to recognise our desire to be connected on every level possible as well grow together emotionally. Have a good day and thanks for stopping by. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Marie. We had a great year, and one of the highlights was exploring more of Ireland and meeting local people. Can’t wait to do it all again this year! Happy New Year to you and your family – I hope it brings lots of memorable moments. Love, Aiva xxx


  9. What a beautiful list. I love the combination of personal and travel highlights. Congrats on getting married. Hockey is a holy sport here in Canada too and my hubby would have jumped at the opportunity to see a live world championship game.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Caroline and thanks for stopping by. To see a live World Championship game was something one-third of Our Crossings have always wanted to do, not only to support the Latvian team but also be there for the atmosphere. Getting married was such a highlight of our lives, no better way to make our relationship even more meaningful. Have a good day. Aiva


  10. Happy new year and congratulations on your wedding guys! What a great year you had! Well, for us it was not the best (we had 4 unsucessful ivf treatments and 1 misscarriage), but we still try to remember the best things from 2019…and one of them is definitely starting our blog 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, guys! I’m sorry for your loss, and I hope you’ve got a supportive group of people you can talk to about it. Grief doesn’t have a time limit, so be gentle on yourself!

      Happy New Year to you too – may it be fulfilled with lots of memorable moments. Can’t believe we started the blog in the same year, that’s so exciting! When is your blogiversary? Have a good day and thanks for stopping by. Aiva


      1. Thank you sweetie! Our blogiversary was actually last week (that is when we did register our website). Still trying to learn and improve our blog. When is your blogiversary? Have a lovely day. Martina


        1. Ours was last week too – so we pretty much started blogging at the same time. We are still learning everything there is to know about blogging -starting a blog for the first time is an amazing, yet intimidating experience. Have a good day. Aiva xxx

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Writing for a blog can, at times, feel challenging. You sit down to write, and the words don’t come. That’s why, before we started blogging, we came up with a specific number of posts we wanted to write and stuck to it. Post once a week or even once every two weeks —but always say something genuinely useful—than blogs that post every day just for the sake of it. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Helen, thanks so much for stopping by – we are always excited to see new faces! Our wedding day was one of a kind, and now we even have more precious moments to remember in years to come. Have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi and thank you! Getting married after such a long time together was interesting and fun and exciting. For better or for worse, each of us has expectations about what being married will mean to the relationship. For some people, that expectation might be, “Absolutely nothing will change, other than that we’ll be wearing rings and will have had a big party.” For other people, the expectation might be, “Everything will change. Our whole relationship will be on a different level, and how we interact with the world will be radically shifted!” Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Beautiful wedding picture.
    Your year was chock full of amazing adventures.
    Small start gardening is a great way to begin. I grow a lot of veggies and preserve loads of it. It feels good. My luck with trees isn’t that good but we keep planting. Just need more rain.
    All the best in 2020.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Bernie, how are you?

      We had a fantastic year, and most of the milestones didn’t just happen rat random. We love to come up with certain challenges for each year and put lots of work and thought into making them happen. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s how life goes, doesn’t?

      Preserving vegetables is the next step I am looking to master in years to come. In Latvia, we preserve pretty much everything that grows in a garden or the forests. But after two decades in Ireland, I have forgotten how to do it. At least we can look up everything on the internet and master pretty much anything we desire. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva


    1. Thank you! Yes, courgettes turned out to be near monstrous in shape and size and we had plenty to share with our neighbors. Growing vegetables wasn’t without the challenges and I’m glad we learned quite a lot in one season. Thank you, getting married was exciting and a little bit nerve wracking at the same time; both of our families waited 17 years for this particular moment ❤️ Thanks for stopping by and have a good day 😀 Aiva


  12. This sounded like such an incredible year!! Such special memories. Congrats to getting married, you both look so happy. 🙂 And congrats on all of your amazing travels! Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a great rest of your week.

    Miles of smiles,


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you very much, Grace, getting married was the biggest highlight. I can’t deny that! I always love looking back on the past 12 months to see how far we’ve come and what can be improved. Cant’wait to see what 2020 has in store! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva xx


  13. What a fantastic year, topped off with a wedding! Funnily enough I stayed in Bayonne in 2019 and also visited Biarritz. My friend also suggesting going to Bratislava for the hockey but we didn’t get around to planning it in the end.

    Excited to see how your 2020 goes!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Jason and thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you visited Bayonne and Biarritz too, we haven’t met lots of people who were there! I hope you had a great time! Yes, getting married was the biggest highlight, hard to top that one now! Thanks for reading and safe travels. Aiva


    1. Thanks so much and right back to you. Wishing you and your family all the great things in life. Although Coronavirus is still at large, I hope we gonna enter a better world because there’s so much we learned during the never-ending lockdowns. It highlighted the importance of adequate living space and access to the outdoors. It renewed, through their absence, an appreciation of social contact and large gatherings. It showed up mass daily commuting for the dehumanising drain on energy and resources that it is. The pandemic has also underlined the extent to which digital interaction is no substitute for the real thing. Hre’s to a better and brighter future for all of us. Aiva 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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