Splette's Travel Blog
  • Preparation
  • April1st

    The last few days have been crazily busy and stressful due to work and last minute preparations. I’m renting out my room for the month to some Estonian girl. Perhaps I should clean it before I leave?
    But I didn’t want to do all the packing in the very last minute since I’m pathologically forgetful. So for the last few days, whenever I thought of something important that I definitely have to bring, I would just find it and throw it on the black carpet in my room. My diving license, that camera charger, the proof of my yellow fever vaccination, nose hair trimmer etc.
    Slowly the carpet filled up but when I actually packed everything into my backpack and hand luggage an hour before I left, it really didn’t seem so much.

    Here, have a look for yourself:
    Backpack contents
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  • March31st

    It’s 2014 and a year and a half have passed since I finished my great Pan-American journey, returned from my beloved Costa Rica and settled in Berlin. But like any good love story, this can’t just be over. It cries for a sequel.

    Back in January, I was chatting with my friend D. from H. one night. He has mastered the art of finding the cheapest possible deal for… just about anything, really. I once witnessed him bringing a specific vacuum cleaner back from the US in his suitcase – just because that particular model was significantly more expensive in Germany. Anyway, that night D., knowing how much I love Latin America, pointed out some extremely cheap flights he found to various Central American countries. I’d never seen anything like it before. 277 Euros for a return flight from Frankfurt to Panama?

    277 euro ticket

    For real? 277,86€

    Only few seats left. A decision had to me made right away! Pro: I really want to go and I’ll never find a cheaper ticket. Con: I don’t really have the money anyway. So, the answer was clear: I’m going, of course. I decided to go for the entire month of April, which is the last month of the dry season, during which I want to visit Panama and Costa Rica. This is one of the moments where I love being a freelancer and not having to ask a boss for permission to go on vacation. Also, I took this trip as a motivation to work hard, and it seems it worked to some degree, although I didn’t manage to finish every project in time and left a few clients slightly unsatisfied.

    I hope you are going to join me on this trip again as I plan to blog frequently throughout the month.

  • September9th

    This figure depicts the two ends of a sausage

    Fig. 1: Sausage with two ends

    As we say in Germany: “Alles hat ein Ende nur die Wurst hat zwei“. Literally: Everything has an end, only the sausage has two. (If this doesn’t make much sense to you, check out this educational video about German sausage culture and humor.)

    Until now, this journey was open-ended, only limited by my motivation and bank account balance. This has changed a few days ago when I decided to attend (and bought the ticket for) the creative arts festival OFFF in Barcelona in May 2012. It would be too expensive to fly from South America to Barcelona just for the three days of the festival. Therefore, I decided that this will mark the end of my trip. Time- and location-wise, I am about halfway there. My upcoming (and ever-changing) plans include two days in Panama, a month in Colombia (incl. a Spanish course) and four weeks of traveling through Ecuador and Peru with my temporary travel companion Wolle from Germany. After that I might continue to Bolivia and Chile, possibly fly home to Germany for Christmas via Mexico (which I skipped on my way down here) and return to South America on January to visit Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and finally Brazil. After the journey I plan to move back to Germany for the foreseeable future and concentrate on my freelance business. I haven’t decided where, though.

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  • July21st

    I lost it. Again. What? Well, usually it starts with something simple such as a towel that put somewhere in my dorm room on the hostel for drying and forget when checking out. This time the first item I lost was my Kenneth Cole body wash. Left it in the shower of my nice hostel in Washington DC. Now, several months later the list of lost items has grown considerably:

    • Lens cap of my camera (quite expensive for a piece of plastic)
    • Insanely cool Adidas SL72 sneakers
    • Favourite blue Urban Outfitter shirt with the Japanese flag
    • New Ray-Ban sunglasses I bought only 2 months ago in Knoxville
    • NIKE hoodie that my gym mates Mai and Aixiao gave me
    • Useful Swiss-made universal travel adapter

    …and three socks (needless to say, each from a different pair)

    The only item I ever lost and found again, of course, is entire value- and useless: an oversized safety pin that I used to fix the broken zipper of my jeans. I lost it one of the many times I slipped and fell during the Santiaguito volcano expedition. My fellow explorers Loreen and Rene found it during our return trip and I got it back. The jeans in turn were shredded to pieces by the many falls and I parted from then voluntarily.

    Farewell beloved Adidas sneakers

    Adidas SL72

    Adios, my insanely cool raccon eyes

    Ray-Ban sunglasses

    Good bye my dear dark-blue NIKE hoodie. I will miss your sweaty smell...

    NIKE hoodie

    Update: In the meantime I lost more stuff: swimming trunks, ear phones

  • April24th

    The Greyhound Discovery Pass - might look cheap but it wasn't

    Greyhound Discovery Pass

    I’m on the Greyhound bus from Boston to New York. My time on the East Coast is coming to an end. It’s about time, I still have the rest of the continent ahead of me. In a few days I will be going to Chicago and from there to Knoxville, Tennessee again (yes, I know!). I plan to stay there for a week and then somehow make my way to the West coast. While my initial idea was to take the Northern Route and end up in Vancouver, I have pretty much scrapped that plan. I decided I had my share of cold shitty weather. Time for some sun.
    While I still don’t know which route to take to get to California, I had to make a decision of how to get there. Since part of my mission is not to use flights to advance my route it was clear that I’d go by car, bus or train. After comparing prices for a bit I found the Greyhound Discovery Pass the cheapest and most convenient solution. For the price of $560 I can hop on any Greyhound bus in the United States or Canada for the next two months.

  • February4th

    This isn’t the first time I write something like ‘the trip finally starts’. First I left Heidelberg for good, then I said farewell to my parents and friends in my hometown and then to my close friends in Berlin. But crossing the Atlantic and visiting Knoxville somehow did not bring the feeling of excitement you’d expect when going on a one-year backpacking tour. Knoxville feels so incredibly familiar, staying the last four weeks at Loukas’ place, visiting the Oak Ridge National Lab and by chance running into people I know at Starbucks, Borders or Market Square almost daily. It feels like I have been living here for years. But after a few days delay due to my package from Germany that I already believed to be lost, I finally said goodbye to Knoxville and friends and the real backpacking begins.
    It’s 1 am now and I am sitting in a bus to Washington DC. For the first time during the journey I feel real excitement. Amazing how a 9 hour bus ride through the night can make you feel so excited, free and happy. But for now it’s time to catch some sleep…

  • January14th

    Vaccination List

    Hmm, that’s going to be a lot of shots…

    Vaccination time, yeah!
    As the perfectly-organized German backpacker that I am it will come to you as no surprise that in preperation to this trip I went to the Institute of Tropical Medicine of the university to get my vaccinations sorted out. Vaccinations are great. They are like a firmware upgrade. Splette V1.04 to Splette V1.06!
    When I went to the tropical medicine institute I was hoping for vaccinations of some really exotic diseases such as dracunculiasis (creepy, he?). But the most exotic one I got was just yellow fever. And then there was rabies (in case I get bitten by that Anaconda during a stroll in the Amazon rain forrest…).

    One of my vaccination shots. I was such a brave boy...

    Me getting a couple of shots

    However, I shockingly realized than many of my regular vaccinations had expired over the years. I was especially concerned about Tetanus and Hepatitis B. But also Diphtheria, typhoid fever and polio had expired. Eventually I ended up getting some eight shots or so in three sessions. I feel all upgraded now…

    Vaccination Record

    All done

  • January6th


    Checkout from Germany

    Today is special. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Right now, I’m on flight Delta 79 from Berlin to New York. My sixth time in the US but this time is different. I am not on vacation. I’m leaving Germany for good. For about 10 years now I’ve wanted to move abroad. Now, that I finished my PhD I am finally free to do whatever I want. I canceled my contracts, moved out of my apartment in Heidelberg, stored my things somewhere, said Goodbye to friends and family and now I’m on my way to do that pan-american backpacking tour I’ve been dreaming of for a couple of years. (In fact, I created this website already 1.5 years ago.) The first few weeks of this trip I will spend in Knoxville, Tennessee where I am again visiting the Oak Ridge National Lab. During my last stays there, I made quite a few friends. Therefore, Knoxville feels a bit like a second home to me, although ‘parallel universe’ may be a better desciption as Tennessee is not from this world… (If you’ve ever spent some time there you know what I am talking about.) After that, I’ll be backpacking to Canada first and then Central and South America. As of now, I have not made any detailed plans about when I’ll be in which country and for how long. No pre-booking, no constraints, just a rough idea about which countries I want to see. Currently, the plan is to travel for about a year before settling down somewhere but that too may change…

    So, join me on my journey. I’m hoping for adventures, amazing places to see, new things to learn, and much more and I’ll be blogging throughout the trip to keep u up to date.

  • January4th

    I hope I won't miss this flight (wouldn't be the first....)

    Countdown to Take Off

    Here’s a condensed update on what’s been happening:
    I’ve defended my PhD thesis in mid December, had a farewell party a few days later, moved out of my flat and left Heidelberg for good, brought my stuff to my parents’ place and celebrated Christmas there and then went to Berlin for New Years.
    At last, I will start my trip Jan 5 – tomorrow morning. Take-off is 11:50 at Tegel Airport, Berlin.

  • August2nd

    Bad news for me concerning my schedule. All did not go well and I will not be able to start my trip in October as I hoped. My publication is still with the reviewers and has not been accepted, yet. Therefore the date of my PhD defense will shift to late November / early December. I will probably spend Christmas in Germany and start my trip in January. First stop: Montreal. Need to buy a warmer jacket…