My USA packing list: review

Review: My USA packing list

Some of you might remember that I spent this year’s July in the US, on a backpacking adventure along the West Coast. This trip has been my first trip without a large heavy suitcase or backpack. I have to admit that I tend to overpack, mostly because I am always worried that I might forget something or that there will be some kind of emergency. I have shared my USA packing list shortly before my trip, so today I want to review this list – with a bit of distance on what was good to pack and what I could have left at home.

Review: My USA packing list

Three months after my last trip, I review my first USA packing list. Let’s hear what worked and what didn’t. |


Things that I forgot on my USA packing list

The most obvious thing that I forgot or more or less ignored during packing was my travel adapter/ charger. For some reason I couldn’t find mine at home and was totally sure that I would find one in Seattle very easily. Turned out that it cost me almost half a day to find a decent one because all the adapters that I could find at first, were for travelers from the US going to Europe, not the other way round. I now carry a tiny USB plug in my camera bag (even though I’m back in Germany) – just to make sure I will at least be able to charge my phone next time.

Another thing on this list would be a hoodie, or comfortable clothes in general. Germans don’t wear yoga pants or hoodies very often. If they do, it is mostly for working out or sleeping, so for some reason I didn’t bring any comfortable clothing along. Also, I underestimated the weather or rather wind and rain, so that I actually loved my warm hoodie and my yoga pants that I had to buy on my trip.

Things that I could have left at home

I still love my Lonely Planet books, but to be completely honest, I didn’t use them too much on this trip. I have read a lot about people having the ebooks on their Phones and I’m sure this is a better alternative than having to carry two travel guides in your backpack. Those books get heavy after some time! I plan to change that in the future – on Lonely Planet’s last sale I purchased a lot of ebooks that should last me for a while!

Against better knowledge and against every packing list’s advice, I also packed my small travel-sized hairdryer. It even almost made it on my must-pack list because I always get sick when I don’t dry my hair! Turns out that I didn’t use it very much. In Seattle that was thanks to the missing adapter and sharing a room with people who often slept in. In Portland, the hostel actually provided hair dryers (at least there was one in each bathroom) and San Francisco was warm enough to walk around with damp hair.

I also never wore that one dress that I brought or the leggings for that matter. Maybe I’m not a dress person, I rarely wear them at home and I feel uncomfortable when I am in one and have to walk a lot. And I did walk a lot on that trip. My advice would therefore be: Only bring clothes that you would also wear at home!

Most helpful things on my USA packing list

I really loved my Eagle Creek Pack-It cubes that I bought a few months before my trip. I didn’t think that I would be able to keep up being that organized, but it turned out just fine and I actually used them during the whole time. Although they were not cheap, I can now say that it was money well spent.

I was positively surprised by the travel towels that I brought. They really looked like they wouldn’t work for me, but after a few days I was very convinced. They pack small, dry fast and were easy to wash when needed. I also sometimes used them to separate my bed from the rest of the room.

Everything else on my packing list was useful as it was! I brought just enough clothes to last for a week, so that I had to do laundry every seven days. I’d recommend that to everyone, because it means that you’ll have enough to wear without having to worry but it also fit into a small carry-on suitcase. I’d probably research more on the weather, I didn’t bring a rain coat (for example) which would have been nice to have, but could be replaced by an umbrella!

San Francisco memories (Part I)

San Francisco Part II

My first recap last week has been incredibly long, even for my taste and my style. I actually had to cut it in half! So read on for more of my highlights in San Francisco and more of my photos!

Free tours.

I would have loved to join more free tours. It’s a great way to learn more about landmarks in San Francisco if you are travelling on a budget plus the tour guides are extremely nice and helpful in every way. One of the tours was on controversial murals in the old post office building in San Francisco. Then we did a walking tour through Chinatown which was really informative (plus I bought fortune cookies) and even visited a temple there.


If you haven’t noticed yet, I like to eat. A lot. And I crave unhealthy food almost all time. In-N-Out Burger is probably the best food I had. Next to that came the burrito that I had in the Mission District. Hands down, best burrito I ever had. And then cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. Yum. Why don’t we have that stuff here in Munich?! You might notice that I never managed to take a picture before having the first bite.

Exploratorium at night

What an awesome experience! It’s a science museum where you can do fun experiments. On some Thursday nights they stay open late and offer drinks. No small kids, but many adults turning into children again! I’d certainly recommend going! We skipped standing in line for drinks and instead tried out as much as we could.

Wave organ, i.e. being close to water!

Having grown up closer to mountains than to the sea people always assume that I like hiking or taking walks in the mountains. I don’t! I’m a sea person, I like water and the salty air, the wind and boats. One afternoon my friend Julia and I took a bus to the wave organ which depending on the waves and winds is supposed to make music. Although it was rather chilly, it was a nice enough to take a walk and look at the city from a far.

Enjoying the hills of San Francisco!

It’s the best workout that you can get, simply take a walk. I spend one day wandering around rather aimlessly, simply exploring the neighborhoods. Whenever I saw something or some place that I liked, I stopped and took a break to soak it all in. I climbed hills and Coit Tower to find the best views over the city which was exhausting, but worth it. No photo could capture all the impressions that I had!

Of course that is not all of it! So many cool things may have slipped my mind right now, every now and then I remember stuff that I should maybe write about, but then again, memories are beautiful when they come and go!

Talk to you very soon again,


San Francisco memories (Part I)

San Francisco memories (Part I)

Guys, San Francisco was truly amazing. It has been almost three months since I have been back to Germany and I am still missing being there or rather being a traveler. It’s a serious case of wanderlust or travel addiction. Back home things got crazy again very fast, that I came back with a severe cold didn’t help, too. I’ve been wanting to write this post for the last three months, but it never felt right: I was always too tired, too unfocused, too lazy. Does it even make sense to write about something that has happened so long ago I wondered a couple of times? Shouldn’t I just skip this post and focus on something else (maybe my PhD thesis)? Do I even remember enough of what I did there to write about it? Nonetheless, I really want to share my San Francisco memories with you!

Maybe I have forgotten some things, some details, but maybe I have gained some distance or a different perspective of my stay there. This post will certainly be different to all the other posts before that I typed on my phone in my bed, just to share some pictures and some of my adventures. This quite long introduction is probably proof enough!

Again: San Francisco was awesome – it had its ups and downs, but all the ups made the downs feel small and unimportant.

Arrival in San Francisco – Longest train ride of my life

I arrived in San Francisco bright and early after a very long and cold train ride (17 hrs!!!). The first impressions were overshadowed by my exhaustion – all I really wanted was a hot shower, sleep and some breakfast. It took me a while to get used to big city life again, after Portland San Francisco was loud and busy. I walked to my hostel which was a couple of blocks away, simply because I was too tired to find out which bus to take and afraid to fall asleep while on it. The staff at my hostel was generous enough to let me take a shower and store my luggage so that I could go for a walk and get some breakfast. Most expensive pancakes that I ever had, but it felt good to get some food!

On planning and being adventurous

The first day was then really uneventful: I checked in, met up with my friend Julia who had arrived from Portland the day before and unpacked my packages from amazon that I had ordered. I also made plans with my friend for the next day. Since it was my third stay in San Francisco, I didn’t have many fixed plans beforehand, which can be very relaxing and made me feel adventurous. My friend Johnathan, who is from San Francisco, made me a google map with fun places to visit (if you read this, thanks again!).

My down(s)

The biggest down happened after my first night in San Francisco. I was stupid and naive enough to pack my daybag the night before and when my alarm clock sounded, I jumped out of bed and into the shower. Either during the night or at some time during my shower one of the three girls who stayed in my dorm opened my bag and stole all my money. I only found out later when after a free tour I wanted to tip the tour guide and simply couldn’t. Turned out that whoever did this took all my cash and thankfully left my other valuables such as my credit card, passport and camera!

Very stupid of me – I should have locked it away – and very mean of whoever did this. It took me a few hours and a phone call home to get over this. After some thinking I decided against calling the police and only reported it to the hostel front desk because I didn’t want to spend any more time dealing with this. Lesson learned: Always lock your stuff away because people can be mean!

My ups

Pretty much everything else was great. I’ll do better explaining with photos! And I’ll try to explain some of the things deeper later. I really plan on doing that because my stay in Portland and Seattle still seemed too short as well!

Very non-San Francisco related, but I genuinely enjoyed playing Pokémon Go which I had downloaded there. San Francisco was full of Pokestops and other people playing on Union Square or on every corner of the city. You would know who played by looking at them and people would come up and ask which team you joined.

Museums, museums, museums

I visited the SFMOMA where I had been in 2010 before it closed and now right after it opened. I originally planned to spend only 2 hours there which is my personal max. time in a museum before my brain freezes and I start walking around aimlessly. After 3 hours I looked at my watch and was surprised how fast the time had flown by. On the day that my money got stolen I visited the de Young Museum. It calmed me down and cheered me up at the same time.
It’s surprising what art can do to you!

I’ll leave it with this revelation for today and I will continue this post next week: It is all too much for one post!

Have a wonderful day,



My days in Portland

Ooops, there has been so much stuff going on that I totally forgot to write about it. Very often I went to bed before 11Pm which is something I would never do at home. Let me tell you about my days in Portland, OR!

My last day in Portland I did a walking tour that I really should have done earlier. The guide, Eric, was entertaining, informative and pointed out a lot of cool places and things to do. Some of them I had already done, some of them unfortunately not. Oh well, maybe next time, Portland is a place that you want to come back to.

After some more shopping I attended a Portland Thorns match at Providence Park. It was nice to see so many people cheering for a women’s soccer club. Even though they lost, the atmosphere was amazing and fun. I originally had bought tickets to an arena football game but since it was all across town I decided to walk five minutes to the soccer game. Did not regret that!

My train ride to San Francisco was relatively uneventful. Except that it was so long and cold that I could hardly bear it! 17,5h to Emeryville and another 30 minutes to San Francisco. I found a nice older lady as a travel companion sitting next to me. As we shared our travelling stories a lot of time went by very fast and besides that I even slept a few hours! The view was interesting, you pass so many different landscapes. Good to do once but I’ll certainly fly next time!
I’ll post more on San Francisco and my adventures later, now it is time to sleep and recharge my energy for my last day tomorrow! I’m quite sad to leave already!

Talk to you later,


Happy in Hipster Portland

I have been remarkably busy here in Hipster Portland, hitting my pillow always around 10PM and being asleep within a few moments.

Portland is as the title of this post suggests a very hip town. I don’t think that I have ever seen so many vegan/organic places or a food aisle that long with just organic products. I’m still very fond of supermarkets, there is a Trader Joe’s nearby that I will probably visit tomorrow to buy snacks for my long train ride.


Yesterday, I spent a good portion of the day with some other people from the hostel watching the Euro Championship. I hated to see Germany lose against France but also felt it coming during the game. Nevertheless, we had a good time. Portland is famous for its microbreweries, so we watched in a local pub. I didn’t try the beer though as it was noon and I had planned to do more sightseeing later.

Powell’s book store

Unfortunately I only made it to Powell’s Bookstore that day. Powell’s is this huge and very famous bookstore with the size of a block (imagine a Karstadt full of books). They actually give you a map for that place as it is oddly sectioned. It took me a while to navigate and after looking for one book for half an hour I asked someone and was handed actual directions! Very friendly staff! I then had to turn around because it started to rain and I hadn’t brought my umbrella (silly me, I was so sure it wouldn’t rain).

Street markets

I later went to an art festival in the Pearl District with my roommate Julia. This time with an umbrella. Rain in Portland is different from rain at home, very often just a light warm drizzle. Still it becomes annoying after a while.

weird ice cream flavors

Later that night, I joined a group of people to this very special ice cream place where they have all those funny flavors such as olive oil or cinnamon snickerdoodle. It was a very nice dessert!

My day today started a little late, I had just installed Pokemon Go and I am already really addicted. Most of this morning I had to catch Pokemons and level up! It is so much fun!

Portland Art Museum

I then walked over to the Portland Art Museum to get my dose of culture. It’s a neat place, they have a wonderful collection of Native American Art which is of course new to me, but also a smaller collection of European Art (that is on display). The Modern Art is in a connected building which I didn’t expect to be that big. I only took some pictures (plus that very weird selfie).

The rest of the day was spent on a major shopping walk though I ended up ordering half of it on Amazon (thanks Prime!). TBC tomorrow when I hopefully will know more about nice boutiques!

Portland is very very lovely, I like it a lot and would have rather stayed here longer than I did in Seattle. People are so friendly and some actually say hello on the streets.

I will now go on and relax a bit. Maybe catch more Pokemons!

Talk to you soon!


Goodbye Seattle…

… it has been great! Again, a post that I am typing on my phone. The iPad app is still a bit annoying, so this is faster. But what have I been up to in the last two days?!

Yesterday (Tuesday), I met a fellow traveler at the ferry terminal and started a day trip to Bainbridge Island. It’s a short ferry ride of 35 minutes. Normally I would have been sad, as I love to be on boats, but as it was raining/very windy/extremely chilly, I wasn’t so sad.

At least we had a very good view on the Seattle skyline (imagine that in the sun).

On Bainbridge Island a nice man handed me a map and guided me to the port and some sculptures. I was thinking he was talking about driftwood but apparently he said stone. The town of Winslow is very pretty (again, imagine that when sunny) and it reminded me a lot of Tiffin (or any small town really). Maybe it was the fact that for once there were no homeless people smoking pot on the street.

Sadly, I had missed the 4th of July celebrations there which must have been nice because you could find little leftovers everywhere. The rest of the day I spent getting coffee, reading my book and watching people before I took the ferry back to Seattle.

Skip ahead to Wednesday and I just arrived in Portland, OR, after a 4.5h trainride from Seattle.

I find it relaxing to watch the countryside fly by changing from water to forest to city and reverse. Amtrak isn’t as bad as people told me it was (so far, knock on wood), at least the seats a spacious and I can sit with my legs stretched out wearing my yoga pants/ leggings.

Let’s see what tomorrow and my first full day in Portland will bring. I definitely will watch the semi-finals (let’s feel a bit patriotic there) and explore more. I might go see a movie tomorrow night as well!

Until then,


How to handle jet lag

I know there are probably more ways to deal with jet lag than I can count. Everyone I know has his or her own way and idea what is best.

However, since I feel that I had a bad case on my hand and am now (on Monday) more or less getting over it, I decided to share how I have handled it so far.

1. Keep hydrated!

Drink, drink, drink… Water is best, so no coffee (or just a small amount). Tea is okay I guess or I have been drinking a lot of a soda that is called VitaminWater which I remembered from Ohio. It says zero calories, so not sure about that, but it tastes so good!

2. Get into a schedule!

The worst that you can do is arrive and go to bed (depending on what time it is). I arrived here around 2PM and I was naturally exhausted after being awake for almost 24 hours. I could have gone to bed at 6PM when I arrived at the hostel, but I stayed awake until 10 PM. That meant a lot of yawning and I swear I blacked out a couple of times. But it also meant that I only woke up once during the night and almost slept for 10 hours. The nights after that I would also wake up once, check the time and go back to sleep.

3. Keep moving!

It can be challenging to keep busy and not decide to go to sleep, take a nap or just chill somewhere all the time for days. I figured out that for me it is better to keep walking, see things, get my mind off of being sleepy. I do have blisters now and my feet hurt (on Saturday I walked 15km – so proud of myself), but it also meant that I was tired enough to sleep at night when it would have been hard because my body was on Munich time.

4. Eat something!

With me, jet lag means also loss of appetite. Basically it seems like my body doesn’t know what time it is and thus decides to concentrate on other things than being hungry. It is important to have regular meals with some greens and vitamins! Get on a schedule for that as well! Have breakfast, even if it means getting up earlier than you want, eat a small lunch and have dinner!

What do you do against jet lag? Any helpful ideas out there?



Happy 4th of July!

Typing this on my phone right before bed: Happy 4th of July, you all!

Though the day was quite uneventful, the evening proved to be a lot of fun with new acquaintances from Britain and Canada, some beer and greasy food and watching the fireworks!

On our way back some lady’s car got stuck as she was trying to make an illegal u-turn. Some people helped and they managed to push it back. It involved a lot of cheering, too!

Tomorrow (well, today) I’m going to Bainbridge Island for a day to take a walk.



Seattle adventures

Hi everyone! I have arrived safely in Seattle, it is now 4th of July and since I am taking a slow and relaxing day today, I finally have time to write a bit about what I have been doing the last couple of days, i.e. my Seattle adventures.

Way to Seattle

I started my journey on Thursday after an incredibly busy week at the Munich Filmfest where I have been watching films back to back. My flight was pretty much uneventful. The safety measures in airports are understandably long and extensive. I had a bit of a scare in Munich when the very grumpy KLM lady at check-in asked for my printed ESTA slip and I had actually forgotten to print that. It took me a good 30 minutes to find proof that I had it and she was not helpful at all. I found out later that you are not required to print anything since ESTA is linked to your passport, so I don’t know why she decided to be such a bully. Everything else went fine, I didn’t miss my flight which I was scared of most.

During landing in Seattle we had to wait for clearance, so the plane circled the mountains and since it was a very clear day, I was able to take a few nice shots out of one window.

I’m really bad at geography so I have no idea what I took a picture of. But it was great seeing so much from above. From the airport it is pretty easy to get to downtown Seattle or Belltown where I am staying. 35 minutes on a train and a 10 minutes walk later I reached the City Hostel where I had reserved a bed in a female-only 4 bed en suite dorm. The hostel is conveniently located, very clean with very nice and helpful staff. They are very strict about who they let into the hostel and there are some rules which I appreciate because I feel much safer knowing that not everyone can walk in and that for example smoking inside is forbidden.

Since smoking pot is legal in Washington state, that is a big issue here. Seattle has a big homeless population (although I am told it is even worse where I am going) and many of them smoke pot and/or suffer from mental illness. It took me a while to get used to the fact that many places and people smell like pot and to ignore those who wander the streets shaking and talking to themselves. It puts the whole legalize cannabis issue in Germany into perspective.

Arrival in Seattle

On my first day in Seattle, I couldn’t do much. After I had checked in, I met my two roommates at that time with whom I had dinner that night. After that I passed out pretty early. I have been battling jet lag ever since. It’s a 9 hour time difference to Munich which is 3 hours more than Ohio/East Coast where I have been before. Thus I planned to have a relaxing first full day (and ended up doing most of the sights). And by relaxing I mean going to a museum, in that case the Seattle Art Museum.

Seattle Art Museum

The Seattle Art Museum is pretty nice, they have a nice collection and I spent almost 3 hours wandering around, reading books and taking pictures:


They had that nice exhibition of Graphic Masters with Dürer and Goya. I especially liked that they actually told you to take pictures and post about the exhibition. It is really straight forward because often you are technically allowed to take photos but you can’t be sure.

Space Needle + EMP

After a short visit to the hostel, I went to visit the Space Needle although I decided not to go up. A fellow traveller told me that it was cheaper to go up another tower in Seattle with a better view.

Right next to the Space Needle there is a museum for pop culture called EMP (Experience Music Project). Everyone at the hostel had been talking about that so I decided to go in as well. It is a lot of fun, you learn a lot about music (grunge, Jimi Hendrix etc.) and they had a nice horror film exhibition. Everything is very interactive which always takes me some time to get used to. As I went on a Friday of a long weekend it was unfortunately very busy with many families. I also enjoyed the Seattle Seahawks exhibition there (currently I am wearing my new Seahawks shirt).

Capitol Hill

On Saturday I met up with a Robin who I had gotten in contact with through that a nice group on Facebook called HPL (Her Packing List). She had offered to show me around Capitol Hill, her favorite neighborhood, and I had gladly accepted her offer. It is always much more fun to be shown around by a local! Capitol Hill is/ used to be the gay neighborhood but people there struggle a lot from gentrification (reminded me a lot of Munich). Fancy apartment buildings are being built and the rents go up, so that all freelancers and creative people hardly can afford to live there anymore. Still, the vibe there is unique and different to Belltown or downtown. I was listening so intensely that I hardly took any pictures, but sometimes it is more important to stop seeing things through the lens of a camera.

Above you also see the Starbucks Roastery which is located there. It’s very touristy and crowded but I went back on Sunday and had a scone there. They sell amazing (and expensive) pastry and I enjoyed people watching there so much. In the morning I had been to Pike Place Market for the first time where it had also rained for the first time. Very uncomfortable and crowded so I was glad to move on really quick.

Frye Art Museum

I also visited the Frye Art Museum on 1st Hill which was quite a bus ride away (you gladly take buses in Seattle if something is located in a neighborhood with “Hill” in its name). The Frye Art Museum certainly is a nice place if all rooms are open. Unfortunately, I chose a time when they were assembling the new Hammershoi exhibition so almost everything was closed except for one room where they restaged the hanging of the original salon with works of the Munich Secession and the Munich Künstlergenossenschaft.

I took a very long nap that afternoon and only walked for an hour that evening. Roughly I had been walking between 10 and 15km everyday on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I am a bit exhausted right now so I will probably spend today just relaxing and watching Netflix. They’ll have a barbecue later here at the hostel which I want to attend.

Tomorrow I’ll probably take a ferry to Bainbridge Island just for the sake of the ferry ride (I love boats!!) and for seeing something different. I’ll keep you posted!



PS: Totally hooked on Netflix shows: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Baby Daddy and Gilmore Girls are my favorite currently.

My US West Coast Packing List

As most of you know, I will be going to Seattle, Portland and San Francisco in a few days. I’ll be staying in these three cities for a total of 19 days. These days will be almost equally divided between these three cities where I will be living in hostels. This will actually be my first try to not pack as much as usual. I tend to overpack. First of all, I always worry too much, so I try to be prepared for all occasions. And then, I never want to do laundry, so I try to bring enough clothes. So, this time, different approach: I have read so much about different ways to travel only with carry-on and I wanted to give it a try this time. This is my US West Coast Packing List:

This time I divided my bags and I made a table to sort which bag is going to hold what:

I’ll be travelling with my Kalahari camera bag, my Herschel Backpack and a smaller Carry-On suitcase which has four wheels and has been proven to be very convenient for travelling.

Camera bag

My camera bag will fit into my backpack and is, of course, holding:

I added a plastic bag, in case it might rain. My camera bag will be my daybag as well, even though it doesn’t look that nice, it can hold all the things that I need when I’m adventuring.


My backpack will include:

  • my camera bag
  • my Apple iPad mini + Logitech case
  • all chargers and cables
  • my two Lonely Planets for Seattle and San Francisco (I just can’t leave them)
  • small notebook and pen
  • small plastic bag with medication and liquids that I want to bring on the plane with me
  • my scarf (against the cold, or to use as a blanket or pillow on the plane)
  • phone, money, tickets, passport etc.
  • small bag with an inflatable pillow, Ohropax
  • my collection of sunglasses
Carry on suitcase

I decided a few days ago to check my small suitcase simply because I am too lazy to carry it with me during the layovers that I have. I purchased Eagle Creek Pack-It cubes though to hold most of my things. I’ll be bringing:

  • shoes: Minnetonkas, Birkenstock-like sandals, flip flops for the shower
  • travel towels
  • travel-size hair dryer (it was shortly on my list to be left at home, but I get a cold very easily when I don’t dry my hair)
  • two pair of pants (1 jeans, 1 slacks)
  • dress + leggings
  • underwear+socks for a week
  • my umbrella
  • Bikini
  • seven tops
  • three cardigans or pullover
  • toiletries

Am I missing something? As always, I keep checking my list over and over again, fearing that I might forget something very important!