Monday, May 3, 2010

some small reflections on traveling

I've realized that I really am living the perfect life for me right now. Traveling, sleeping, working and exploring all on my own time. It kind of just hit me because while I am grumbling about working abroad I realize I can still do it in small spurts and on my own time. This is what gives me energy and feel free. My sleep schedule is random but I've learned with ear plugs I can sleep whenever I want. I'm not really a big party girl so having the free time and space to lead this life feels quite nice.

Because I like lists and for anyone else considering traveling here are some of the travel items that I'm so very thankful to have brought so far:
keychain flashlight - used very often at night in the room or on dark streets
padlock - perfect for locking up things and the word combo padlock makes it easy to not have to worry about keeping track of a key
cardigans, turtlenecks, sweaters, jackets & long sleeved shirts - I was worried I had packed too many but I've worn almost all long sleeved shirts or shirts with cardigans and jackets since I've arrived. It's chilly and Portland has taught me well (to layer everything). Tank top, short sleeve shirt, cardigan, jacket
mini tote bag - it takes up no space in my bag as it condenses into itself and holds an amazing amount of food/products at a store or market
Amazing teva shoes!! - I've pimped these out a few times already but they are so so comfortable
wool or sport walking socks - I only packed these socks plus 1 pair of turquoise knee highs from sock dreams. Wool socks are warm, absorb moisture, thick and can be worn for 2-3 days before washing. I love this because I always change socks daily but these have been perfect.
Microfiber towel - paying for towels sucks. This thing is perfect and dries in a couple hours
Granola bars & fruit leathers - late night snack or mid-day snack between meals

Impractical items:
Dresses and skirts - One would have been enough as they are items to wear only on occasion. I've realized that the best items to pack are ones you could use every day.
Make up - I never wear it and probably will only use mascara once or twice if i go out. Thankfully I didn't bring much but it's a waste of space
bed sheets - all the hostels I'm going to look like they rent them out for free but just ask for a 2 euro deposit. Oh well. Maybe I'll change my mind if I stay in a sketchy place.

Items I've wished I brought:
a back-up power adapter - I've almost left my adapter in plug outlets a few times now, it's just a matter of days before I lose it
a nice club type shirt - jeans and other clothes are okay but I need to look for a cute shirt to wear out dancing
a lighter, tighter pair of jeans - my jeans are already too big and they are HEAVY. I may have to splurge and buy a pair that fits better and looks nice.
a day bag - something more like a backpack or side slung bag instead of a purse. I'd like just a little bit more space to cart around items
more books! - I've gone through 2 already (Handmaids Tale - Margaret Atwood and a book on Prague) This hostel has a free book exchange but I'm quite attached to my books which is silly because they are material possessions.
printed maps for the cities - I've had to use my google phone which is helpful but expensive! And most city maps are limited or cost money. Access to printers is sparse

Waking up at 6am and feeling well rested after only 6 hours of sleep is new for me. At that hour I have the showers and restrooms to myself to leisurely get ready and find my way to the main room for some breakfast. I sit here and drink coffee, update my blog and spend some time working. It's so easy for me to work abroad, I'm amazed. I am a bit frustrated though with lack of communication as I can't just ring my boss and ask him a question. He is the type to pick and choose which emails to respond to so I might appear annoying asking him so many questions but I'm trying to stay on top of things and prove that I can work just as efficiently here.

The sun is starting to peek out from the clouds and I figure it's almost safe enough to go back to my room and not disturb my roommates. I am not disturbed when someone else moves around because of my ear plugs but I still feel bad when I'm trying to unlock my locker and gather up clothes and supplies for the shower and it's so early. I feel like maybe I should read up on hostel etiquette but I suppose being a bit loud when having people share rooms and be on different schedules comes with the territory. We slept with the window open and it was lovely. All night there was music and people chattering on the street (which I couldn't hear). The city is always alive and the energy is refreshing, even if it is coming from prostitutes.

For today I've looked up a few local markets and will try to navigate the U-bahn station as the one that looks the most promising seems like quite a bit of a walk. I've also just discovered a laundromat downstairs in my hostel (4,50 euros though!!) and I may wash some of my clothes. Wearing the same pants daily at home for work is not the same as wearing the same pants and walking around in a city. Radiators in each room though are nice for drying socks and underwear.

And finally I was a bit sad to find out I couldn't watch some movies streaming on netflix or hulu as traveling is not all about running around. Downtime is good and I do have silly TV shows I enjoy watching sometimes. My little victory came today when I downloaded a program called hotspot shield which sets up a proxy (I think) and hulu and netflix now work!

Here are a few pictures of the common room in the hostel that I'm blogging/working from. It's pretty nice.

View of the bar:
5 Elements Hostel Frankfurt, Germany

My roommate is the guy sitting at the second table from the wall with dark hair, black shirt and a laptop:
5 Elements Hostel Frankfurt, Germany

View next to me out the window:
5 Elements Hostel Frankfurt, Germany

And here is my snuggle monster which I miss dearly. I took pictures and videos of my kitties before I left to look at and smile when I get lonely.

baby chickpea

Time for me to finish up and go explore a bit more as it's my last day here then tomorrow I head to Amsterdam! I have also made it my goal to come back with vegetables and my stomach full on salad.


  1. thanks for that list.

    i bought an awesome day bag at the aaa travel store, of all places. it is super cool (there will be pics).

    i was aware, in advance, of the lack of netflix/hulu. plus, our little netbook doesn't handle video too well, so books, cards and wine will have to fill the downtime.

    flashlight is now on the list. i purchased printed vinyl and laminated maps for the cities we'll be in. i really like to familiarize myself with my surroundings. we'll have to get road maps while we're there, which should be interesting (and hopefully not too expensive).

  2. I just saw we both have the same Firefox wallpaper plugin... The lil birdies! How random :-)

  3. You are living the dream, my love!!! <3

  4. advice:

    Put a label on your power adapter with your name and email address. If you leave it at a hostel, it's rather likely to be turned in and they will often be willing to post it to the next hostel you are going to. Even better, tap a few euros to it in an envelope to cover postage. Just fold it up around the adapter and tape it down enough to ensure it won't fall off.

    When you are at a wifi spot, use google maps and take screenshots of the bits you want, then save them to your phone or email them to yourself and download them on your phone while you are in wifi range.

    Slacks take up 1/3 the space as jeans, and about that much weight.

    Europe has thrift stores too. Grab yourself some nifty euro duds while you are there!

    A daypack is something you can sew yourself while lounging about the hostel's common area, and it's a good conversation starter. You can turn those bedsheets of yours into a satchel or just get some cloth at the thrift stores.

    Also: they have dollar stores too. Good place to get thread and needles.

  5. Jamie - how are you able to see that we have the same wallpaper? haha that is so random :)

    Tori - you can stream netflix it's just a little slower. I downloaded hotspot shield and it's working pretty well! Yay books are good but heavy. The hostels I've been in so far have been nice with book exchanges though.

    Sara - yay! I'll continue to make your dream exciting then!

    Dave - thanks for the tips. My adapter is small and pretty inexpensive so I'm not too worried if I lose it, I just need to make sure I can find another 3 prong one. I never bought jeans so maybe I should ditch the pair I have and go buy another pair of rei type pants as they are what I'm wearing mostly.