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 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!

My must-pack items

It’s exactly 8 days until I am leaving for this year’s adventure. Since I won’t rent a car this year, but will be travelling by train mostly, I tried to plan ahead and think about what I really and absolutely need to take with me and what will be unnecessary baggage. Still, I noticed that there are a few things that I depend heavily on, especially while being abroad:

Sunscreen and skin care in general

Since I can remember, my skin has been high-maintenance. I get breakouts from almost everything such as food, dust, sun or stress. Since travelling combines many of these factors, I am careful to pack all of my skin care things. This time I will bring my favorite cleanser from Sebamed in a travel size and probably stock up on the things I used while I lived in Ohio which was mostly from Neutrogena or AcneFree. Both work fine for me.

As I have very fair skin, I usually end up with a sunburn within the first two days even if it is cloudy. Last time I went whale-watching and even though I used sunscreen, I ended up with a nasty burn and blister on my nose. It took me a week to get rid of it otherwise I would have ended up looking like Rudolph on my friend’s wedding pictures. This trip I thus come prepared: First of all Neutrogena Clear Face Sunblock Lotion with 30 SPF which I like a lot because I don’t feel like I bathed in oil after applying it to my face. The second sunscreen that I am bringing is a foundation with 30 SPF from Shiseido. It is one of the few foundations that don’t cause breakouts with me and that I can use everyday.

My Iphone and other technical stuff

I know I am a typical smartphone addict. My iPhone holds all of my everyday information that I need, all of my contacts, my calendar, my music. I have tried travelling without my phone, without service or without data, simply relying on free WiFi in restaurants or cafés. It doesn’t work for me so far. I hate having to stop somewhere to connect my phone to Wifi in order to look up some places or to google the way. I love using Twitter and/or Instagram when I’m travelling and posting pictures right away. Call me spoilt, but my Vodafone service works all over the EU which is why I decided to go with an American SIM card this time. I’ll probably be able to tell you more after the trip when I can say for certain that it worked. As of now: I ordered a SIM from SIMbee online for 30 USD. I will have unlimited texting and calls within the US, plus 300 MB of data (after that it will become slower), plus a certain amount of free calls worldwide.


Usually, I’d say that I’m a heavy sleeper. I never wake up to any noise outside because I have got used to it, I guess. When I travel, however, I feel like I sleep more lightly which means that in hostel dorms I constantly wake up due to noises. Two years ago, in Boston, I got really mad at the A/C in my dorm room that couldn’t be turned down and kept making so much noise right above my head. The staff at the hostel was very sorry and they provided me with a dozen free pairs of ear plugs. I have to admit that it takes some time to get used to them, but since then I don’t travel without Ohropax anymore.

A scarf

Be it summer or winter, I always bring a XXL scarf which I can use as a scarf, a blanket or a pillow. Air conditioning can be cold even during summer and when you have to spend some time freezing, a scarf can safe you from getting sick. Been there in Thailand where I caught a bad cold from air conditioning on a bus (didn’t have any blankets) and had to stay in bed for three days missing out on a good time on Koh Samui.

Comfortable shoes

Shoes are always a big question mark on my packing list. They take up so much space and still I can never decide on which and how many to bring. They are often the reason that I overpack. I guess gone are the days where I only brought my trusted Converse and a pair of Havaianas to walk around. Lately I had issues with my knees and I know for certain that I will need comfortable shoes on my trip if I don’t want to take an ibuprofen every night. So far (list is not finalized yet) I decided on my Bata shoes which feel like Birkenstocks but don’t make my feet look that big, a pair of sneakers with insoles and my Minnetonkas. I’ll also bring old flip flops for showering in the hostels, just to be safe. Since I like to go shopping anyways, I’ll have a reason to go if it turns out that I really need more shoes (I always do) or that one of the pairs I brought isn’t comfy enough. I was thinking about buying these sandals from Crocs which is something I thought I’d never say about anything from Crocs.

What are your must-pack items? Is there anything that you can’t live without while being abroad? I’m curious!