Home Office Tips – These Tips Will Make Working From Home Easier

Home Office Tips – These Tips Will Make Working From Home Easier

Home Office Tips – These Tips Will Make Working From Home Easier

As I have never been employed, I have personally never experienced going to the office. Home office has always been my reality – since I started my own business 11 years ago. In my case, I also have had my office in my backpack for the last five and a half years when I travel and then always rebuild it on site. But thanks to specific structures my home office is always similar – no matter where I am. That’s why I would like to share all my tips from over a decade in the home office with you now.

Structure

Giving yourself and your everyday life a certain structure is not only important for you personally, but also to use your working time more productively. The structure helps you to focus and work in a concentrated way.

 

Routines

If you were in the office until recently, you should try to keep the routine you know from there. Get up at the same time as if you had to drive to the office, make coffee, breakfast, do everything the same way you would do it on a normal working day.

If you are already working in the home office, but have not yet gotten into routines: try different things. Think about which routines make you feel most comfortable, make you most productive, or make it easier for you to balance your other tasks (maybe you have children or hobbies that need your attention at certain times) with work.

I admit that this is one of the points I find most difficult. At least when I am travelling. Different time zones, my hobbies or commitments mean that I have to change or adjust my routines all the time. But I feel the positive effects when I can stay in my routine for a while: Then I start the day with morning routine and can then relax and start working.

 

Outfit

Believe it or not, it makes a huge difference whether you sit in front of the computer in your PJs or jogging suit or whether you dress as if you were going to the office. Just give it a try! You will see that you work more efficiently if you are dressed accordingly.

 

Breaks

When I do virtually nothing else but work in the home office – as I do now in the Corona quarantine – it happens very quickly: without actually noticing it the day’s already over. At the moment I’m with my family and that’s good. Because when I’m alone, it’s suddenly midnight and I realize that after 15 hours in front of the computer when my whole body starts hurting. That can’t happen to me here. But regardless of where I am, I also know that this is actually anything but good.

It’s better to take specific breaks and thus stay mentally and physically fit.

 

Closing Time

We as remote workers don’t have closing times. But just like the breaks, the end of the day is also important! Set a time when you want to put the work aside and stick to it. At best, turn off your computer at this time and don’t turn it on again until the next day.

 

To Do List

In order to plan your day accordingly and to keep the structure you have thought about or adopted from the original office routine, it is incredibly helpful to work with to do lists. It is secondary whether you do this via an app like Trello or in the notes on your mobile phone or whether you write them down on paper.

Personally, I like to divide this into two parts: Everything that has to do with customers and includes a bigger picture, I usually have in Trello. The same way I do with long-term goals or projects and other types of lists. Short-term lists such as daily to dos I write either in my notes on my mobile phone – for example, if I’m on the road a lot that day and want to access the information from somewhere else – or on paper. I still like to take handwritten notes and write vocabulary on paper when I’m learning a language like Thai. However, I write normal notes or to do lists almost exclusively on paper when I’m staying with my father. When I am travelling, it doesn’t make sense.

I have heard and this is also how I feel about it that it has a positive influence if you have a phyical list and can cross out completed tasks. The effect on the brain is quite different when I delete an item on a list in my mobile phone when the task is done.

 

Amenities

The facilities in your home office also have a significant impact on your well-being and productivity. Here are a few things that might be worth thinking about:

 

Equipment

For me, by far the most important point of the whole list is this one. For me, my equipment is essential since this is what I usually carry with me when I’m traveling.

First and foremost, of course, is my MacBook. Last year, I invested in a big “upgrade” – now I have a new one with 2 TB of storage. This was important to me personally, because I don’t like to work with external hard drives all the time when I travel. For backups it’s ok, of course, but for my daily work processes it drives me crazy when I have to fiddle around with them.

My second most important “work tool” are my noise-canceling headphones from Bose*. I’ve had them since 2016 and wouldn’t want to miss them anymore. Wherever I am, with these headphones I can bring myself into my “bubble”, where only my work and I exist. In the home office this may be necessary to get away from neighbours, playing children in front of the door or the flatmate who is binge-watching on Netflix.

Equipment Home Office

Very practical is the laptop stand*, with which you can say goodbye to neck pain. With an extra keyboard* and mouse*, you can make sure you don’t have to look down all the time. As an alternative to the laptop stand I have, you can also buy or build a high table. The advantage of the stand is that the laptop can “breathe” on it and does not have to turn on the fan.

 

Software

For the home office, it’s also a good idea to use tools to increase productivity – at least if you work on your own laptop. I use the following:

  • SelfControl: With this tool, I can block Internet pages I have specified for a certain period of time. This way I can avoid being tempted to waste time on Facebook or YouTube during my working hours.
  • AppBlocker: With this app you can even block apps on your mobile phone. Most of the time I simply set my iPhone to Do not disturb while using SelfControl on my MacBook.
  • Trello: The application already mentioned in the to do list section not only lets me create lists of any kind, but is also a simple tool for project management. As an alternative, there is for example Asana, but I personally very much prefer Trello. I use Trello on my mobile phone as well as on my Mac. There I have it integrated into Franz, which I will describe next.
  • Franz: Franz is a tool that allows me to have all my messenger services and more in one place. It means I have fewer tabs open in my browser and all my communication channels are easy to find. Personally, I have Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype and Trello enabled, but there are many more services you can connect to. This is ideal for me and if I don’t want to be disturbed, I simply close Franz. Super practical!
  • Zoom: Zoom is something similar to Skype, except that it’s not a chat service, although there is a chat function. You can organize meetings where all participants can see each other. In the free basic version, you can have up to 100 participants. But then the call is limited to 40 minutes. With two participants the length of the call is unlimited.
  • TeamViewer: You can use it to access another computer or let someone else access your computer. This is practical in many situations.
  • Google Drive: I think the cloud service Google Drive is familiar to everyone. It’s great for sharing documents or other files. But beware: the free version is not GDPR compliant, which means it does not comply with data protection laws. For this you need the business version called G Suite, which costs 9 euros per month. As far as I know, there is no free cloud service that is GDPR compliant. Alternatively you can – if available – use an FTP server.
  • Calendly: Since I have been self-employed all my (professional) life, I am not sure if this tool is also useful for remote workers. Calendly is a tool you can use to make appointments. You can specify from when to when on which days you accept appointments and then simply send a link. Whoever has the link can then make appointments at your available time slots. This is ideal for freelancers and also works across time zones.
  • Doodle: Again, I use this very rarely because I don’t have to schedule appointments with several people very often. That’s exactly what this tool is for.

 

Furniture

Your home office furniture is also important. If you want to sit on a chair for at least eight hours, then it should be comfortable, right? A desk that you work at should be practical, don’t you think? My suggestion to you is this: Try out different things if you can. At the office, you don’t have a choice of how or where you work. At home, you do have that choice. Use this for yourself and find out in which position you are most productive and feel most comfortable.

For example, I have found out that I feel best when I can lean my head against a wall because otherwise I get neck pain and headaches. So I try to work in a half sitting, half lying position with my head leaned back. I constantly hear that it is not possible to work like this at all. But for me it works and especially when I write a lot, nothing beats this position. Whether in bed, on the couch, in the hammock or leaning against the wall sitting on a beanbag… Sitting at a table, on the other hand, I can’t work creatively and relaxed at all, I only do my daily tasks like answering emails.

But as I said: That’s me and everybody is different. So find out what is good for you and adapt your home office accordingly.

 

Internet Upgrade

Depending on what you have to do, it may be worthwhile to upgrade your Internet speed. Believe me: I can tell you from experience that there is nothing more nerve-racking than struggling with slow Internet. So take a look at the options you have and think about upgrading. You can downgrade again, if you can’t, won’t or shouldn’t work in your home office anymore after the crisis.

 

Room Arrangement

I hear all the time how important it is to separate the office area from the part of the apartment where you spend your free time or your free evening hours. If you have this opportunity, you should take it. If you have an extra room available for this, that would of course be ideal. But even if you don’t, you can declare the desk an office or even separate part of the dining table. Especially in this time of quarantine it is advantageous to have exactly defined rooms and to stick to them.

 

Plants And Light

Plants and especially light also have a great influence on your well-being and productivity. I myself cannot work well in dark places and always turn on as many lights as possible. Plants also make you feel better. They also improve the indoor climate.

 

Productivity And Focus

Who doesn’t know this: You start scrolling through your Facebook feed a bit here, go to Instagram there, read a bit in online magazines and bam… it’s in the afternoon. And your to dos for the day are far from finished. So here are my tips for more productivity and staying focused:

 

Pomodoro

Pomodoro is a time management technique designed to make you more productive. You set your alarm clock to 25 minutes. During that time, you work without distraction and with focus. When the alarm goes off, you take a five-minute break. It is advisable not to use this break for Facebook and Co. First of all, this quickly tempts you to extend the break (you just want to finish reading that post, watching that video or writing that message quickly, right?). And secondly, you should use the time to get some exercise, clear your head, get some fresh air.And that doesn’t work if you’re wasting the precious minutes on social media. After four circuits of 25 minutes (so basically after two hours) there will be a 15-minute break.

By using this technique you usually work with continuous concentration and keep body and mind fit during the work! Try it out…

 

Go With Your Flow

Depending on the area in which you work, you probably also know creative phases. For example, when I want to write something – whether it’s a blog post, a book or a client project – I need to feel it. It sounds stupid, but I can’t describe it any better. But I think every creative person knows exactly what I’m talking about. And when that happens, I can write and write and write until I’m done. If I don’t have this flow, I don’t actually need to get to work at all or better deal with other things that don’t require creativity.

Therefore my tip at this point: Follow your flow, plan your day according to it (or better re-organize it in case the flow comes spontaneously) and forgive yourself if you don’t get into the flow when you would like to or even have to finish the project. Unfortunately, you cannot force it. And if the deadline is so close that you have to force it: Be kind to yourself! It’s more likely to come if you do something good for yourself, play music that inspires you, or bring yourself back into balance through meditation or sports.

 

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting is a type of fasting where you are allowed to eat for six (stretchable to eight) hours and do not eat for the remaining 16 to 18 hours of the day. Most people who do Intermittent Fasting – and so do I – “have breakfast” around 12 and eat dinner around 6 or 8 pm. The advantage of what makes this kind of diet a real productivity hack is that the body puts its energy into the stomach while digesting. So if you have breakfast after getting up and want to work afterward, your body is actually busy digesting. The consequence? You will get tired soon and won’t be able to focus anymore. Sure, you can just try to power through and counteract this with coffee, fresh air, and exercises during breaks.

OR you could try to postpone breakfast. Get ready for work and get going. It takes a bit of practice to get through till noon when you eat your first meal. But I can tell you from my own experience: You get so much more work done in the morning by intermittent fasting that the “breakfast”, which is actually lunch, tastes much better. Ideally, you can then take a nap and then work productively for several hours again.

I personally love this, even if it is difficult for me to keep it up when I am in Germany. The reason is that I have a big breakfast with my family here on weekends and I find it incredibly difficult to change my routine. I always have to train myself and slowly increase the big break between the last and then first meal the next day. This works great when I’m travelling alone abroad, but hardly at all when I’m with my family.

 

Power Nap

You’re exhausted? At home, you can do something that is probably hard to do in the office: a power nap! I usually make power naps with an app. I can set whether I want to do a real power nap of up to 20 minutes, a recovery nap of up to 45 minutes or a sleep phase of about 120 minutes. The times are not exact times because the app wakes you up in exactly the right moment: during a whole sleep cycle it wakes you up when you have gone through the whole sleep phase. With recovery nap it wakes you up before you fall into deep sleep or after 45 minutes. And with the power nap it wakes you up before you fall into deep sleep or after 20 minutes. The app uses your movements and sounds to determine which sleep phase you are in and wakes you up in exactly the right moment.

 

Motivation

Staying motivated and focused in the home office is not always easy. Especially when you are in quarantine and virtually unable to go outside. But that shouldn’t be an excuse, because there are many ways to keep it rolling:

 

Meditation

A basic prerequisite for motivation and focus, whether in the home office or elsewhere, is inner balance. You achieve this through meditation, among other things. The easiest way to start with meditation is to download an app and start using it. I started my meditation journey with the app HeadSpace many years ago and still use it from time to time.

If you don’t feel like doing a guided meditation, you can also meditate alone. Concentrating on your own breath is a frequently used tool, which was also suggested to us during my Vipassana in the Buddhist monastery in Thailand. Many people count their breaths to keep their thoughts under control. I had to trick myself, as I still had dozens of thoughts when counting in German or English – monkey mind is what they called it in the monastery. So at some point I started to count in Thai. There I still had to concentrate so much that I don’t think about anything else but my breath and the Thai numbers.

Meditation Home Office

 

Excercise

Excercising is always important and helps to clear the head. I was actually already aware of that. But it became really clear to me with Unleash the Power Within. Tony Robbins says EMOTION IS CREATED BY MOTION on the very first day. Our feelings are strongly influenced when we get our bodies going. This has to do with the release of endorphins, for example. So there are two reasons why you should do sports every day:

  1. You bring yourself into a more positive state of mind by releasing endorphins.
  2. You are empowering yourself and giving your body what it needs.

My advice is therefore that you incorporate daily exercise into your morning routine. Be it with the app SEVEN, with which you can do a circuit training, or simply by doing 20 push-ups, 20 squats and 20 sit-ups every day. No matter what you choose: morning exercise can change your state of mind for the entire day.

As a second tip, I would suggest that in moments when you notice that you are becoming  less focused, you get up for a short time and start moving. In the best case this is a walk or even a run at the fresh air. But if your schedule or the quarantine situation doesn’t allow it, you can also just do some squats next to your workplace. Dancing is also possible. Just turn the music up and do some dance moves, it will wake you up, make you more concentrated and motivate you!

Musis

Music is something very special. It has the power to change your state of mind. With sad music, you become sad, and with happy music, you become happy. Try out which music has what effect on you while working and how this affects your productivity. I like to listen to instrumental music while working. Lyrics distract me and make me sing along. When I write, I mistype more often.

So try to use music in a way that supports you at work. If music distracts you in general, use it only during the breaks to fuel you, to take your mind off things or to clear your head. Singing along loudly during the breaks is also good for you and has a liberating effect.

 

Laughing

This may seem strange at first. But targeted laughing can work wonders. Are you in a bad mood, realizing that you’re stuck? Are you sitting there straining and tensing your facial muscles from thinking so much? Nothing helps more than a good laugh. Give it a try. There is no one there who would look in a strange way or even laugh at you for that. Laugh out loud like you just heard a hilarious joke. It may feel funny at first, but you’ll soon realize that it will make you feel better.

 

Kudos

Okay, some people need a kick in the butt. But most of all, many of us need some kudos here and there. Since you usually don’t have anyone to take care of this in quarantine or in the home office in general, sometimes you have to do it yourself. Say it yourself: “Good job, mate!” And yes, I sometimes talk to myself in the second person. Or if you’ve found the solution to a big problem, it can be a “Kudos to myself!” You have nothing to be ashamed of. Who would frown at you? There’s nobody there!

 

Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is even more important for the quarantine situation than it usually is. So try to keep negative thoughts away from you with a few little exercises:

  • If you have negative thoughts, put them in an imaginary box, one at a time, close it and put it in an imaginary closet. You close that one too. Then you will think of something positive.
  • Write a gratitude journal!
  • Again, smiling and laughing helps!
  • Filter messages! Sure, it’s important to be informed. But news don’t always help to keep you in a good mood. And negative thoughts disturb your work flow and productivity tremendously.

PS: All links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links!

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Bored? Not anymore! Things to Do in Quarantine

Bored? Not anymore! Things to Do in Quarantine

Bored? Not anymore! Things to Do in Quarantine

I must confess: I don’t have words to describe what’s happening. The world is changing right before our eyes and there is nothing we can do about it. In view of the latest developments, I have decided to put my nomadic life on hold and to go through all this together with my family. I have been back in Germany for about a week now.

Departure: unknown.

 

My Tips For The Time in Quarantine

Now, we are asked to stay home. I have to say that this is no problem at all for me personally. I am always so behind with my blog posts, books and other things I want to do that I don’t get bored quickly. And I’m working from my home office almost all the time anyway. Even if the situation were to last for two years, I’d have something to do basically all the time. But since I’m afraid that I’m the exception, here are some ideas on how to keep yourself busy during the quarantine period.

Before we get started, I would like to mention that you can and maybe should do all these things in your daily life as well. Because one thing is clear to me: this difficult time also holds opportunities. The chance to live healthier. The chance to take more care of yourself. The chance to return more to what is really important: friends and family.

Get Fit Again!

Yea, going to the gym or to the pool isn’t possible right now. But you can do a workout at home! Whether with apps, YouTube, online courses or just doing what you like… Now you can really get in shape. And there are no excuses. So grab your mobile phone, turn on the Rocky sound and get in the right mood. Your body may groan at first, but it will thank you on the long run. Because we’re not made for not using it, sitting in the office all day long and in front of the computer and at best walking to the train or the next pizza place to have some fast food. So this is the perfect moment to improve your fitness level. By the way, a friend of mine founded a Facebook group yesterday in which we do sports together every day, share our successes (and failures) and virtually kick each other in the a**. Is that amazing or what?

Go Inside!

Yesterday, I saw a cool post that said: If you can’t go outside, go inside! And I can only agree. We’ve just entered a period of upheaval. So take a moment to reflect on how your life has gone so far and how you want it to go on from now. Is this the moment to change? I don’t know. Only you can know. But in any case, I’m sure one thing will help: Inner peace! And have you ever done sports in the morning, then meditated, took a hot (or cold, depending on your preference) shower afterwards and then had a tasty and healthy breakfast? This is the perfect start in the day! Give it a try! Or do you have something better to do right now?

Finally Read in Peace!

I don’t know about you, but I have so many unread books in my shelf and on my Kindle that I don’t even know where to start. Plus, I love audio books, so the list goes on and on at Audible. I am now firmly resolved to work through these lists. Actually, since I spent a few days in the Buddhist monastery last year, I have been thinking about taking more time for it again. Be it for half an hour before going to bed, after waking up or during an offline weekend – which I actually wanted to do once a month but never managed. Maybe now is exactly the right time. No longer addicted to Instagram and to get as many likes as possible. But addicted to the next good book that stimulates you intellectually and makes you forget tweets, hashtags or wordpress.

Watch Netflix & Chill on the Couch!

Whether it’s films, documentaries or series… Now is the perfect moment for binge-watching! Wrap yourself up on the couch or in bed and let’s go. Netflix or Amazon Prime have a lot to offer for little money. But you don’t want to watch alone? Then I have great news: there is a Chrome extension called Netflix Party. It allows you to connect multiple Netflix accounts and watch with your friends at the same time. Additionally there is a chat, so you can talk about the movie. The add-on costs from €7,99 a month. Of course, it’s not quite the same as sitting next to each other and worrying about the fate of the characters or being happy about their luck together. That is obvious. But in times like these we should be grateful for this opportunity.

Make a Zoom Party!

Have you ever heard of Zoom? It’s kind of like Skype. Only better! You can simply create a link for a Zoom session and share that link. When you click on it, you join the “meeting”. But who says it can only be meetings? Exactly… No one. So get your friends together and have a Zoom Party! It could be anything from a dinner party, having coffee together or maybe a book club. When was the last time you met with friends and had a chat without time pressure? Yesterday I met with travel blogger friends for a Zoom Party and it was so nice that I have no words for it. We were almost 30 people. Normally we meet once a year at the ITB in Berlin – the biggest trade show in tourism industry in the world – but this year it was cancelled due to Corona. The best thing about the meeting was that we ALL talked to each other. Logically, no small groups can form when everyone is in the same chat. So only one person could talk at a time and everyone else listened. Now you might think that this must have ended in chaos. But no! It was just beautiful and everyone was grateful for this opportunity to exchange ideas. Try it out and be surprised!

Note: Zoom is free but only for two people or 40 minutes. If you have three people or more joining in the call is interrupted after 40 minutes. If you want to talk longer you have to upgrade to PRO, which is around 12 euros per month.

 

Learn a language!

I know an insane number of people who download Babbel , keep studying for a few lessons and then give up. Why? No time. That doesn’t make any sense. Well, maybe… But now you have the time. Now is the time to download apps, use YouTube and maybe even get a notebook or flashcards out and finally learn the language you always wanted to learn. Honestly, I could spend half an eternity just on this topic alone. I love languages, which is why I studied three of them (Italian, Spanish and Portuguese). Apart from the fact that I would like to brush up on my Portuguese and French, I have been studying Thai since the end of last year. I am having an incredible amount of fun doing that. I learn through three ‘channels’: I bought an online course (Learn Thai from a White Guy), I have an account at Mondly and I also have a teacher. I meet her once or twice a week when I am in Bangkok. Online I take lessons less often, because I find it nicer in personal contact. But I would like to try to take a Skype lesson with her once a week. My teacher also has an Instagram channel where she regularly shares impressions from Thailand including vocabulary.

Learn an Offline Skill​!

Okay, the title sucks, I admit it. But I wanted to keep it general. Because I want you to go inside yourself and think about what you would like to be able to do, but always pushed aside. Do you have an instrument that’s just getting more and more dusty? Do you want to knit your first sweater yourself? Do you want to paint or do handicrafts? There are no limits to your imagination. But yes, it’s not easy when you’re asked half your life just to focus and give your best in everything. Maybe you just do something now because you enjoy it? For no other reason… Wouldn’t that be great?

Learn an Online Skill!

Learning how to use Photoshop properly has been on my to-do list for years. NOW the moment seems to be right! I bought an online course ages ago and hopefully I will be able to go through it soon. Besides, my father wants to teach me computer programming. Sounds crazy? Maybe it is! But we sit here together, day in, day out, in quarantine. And if there’s one thing I learned from my mother’s death last year, it’s that we should use the time we have together. I’ve said it so many times: Carpe Diem. And yes, I’ve always made an effort to be productive, to seize the day when it comes to work. Another ebook (by the way, yesterday I published my 20th City Guide*!), more blog posts, more content on Instagram. But I never saw Carpe Diem as an invitation to use every day, which could be my last, for social contacts, for my family. And no matter how crazy it is and I think that programming is not really my world: I’m as happy af to spend time with my father and make him proud. Because he has always wanted me to learn programming. And as a final note: If you are considering a WordPress course to start blogging in quarantine, feel free to contact me. I give workshops and courses on this topic and am happy to help.

Cook a Delicious Meal!

On Barbaralicious you can find all kinds of information. But culinary forays are not really my thing. Yeah, I have to eat, too. But I am one of the few people who do not attach so much importance to the fact that every meal is like a culinary treat. This is reflected in the cooking. I almost never cook. If I do I make pasta as a good half-Italian. But just because I don’t like to cook doesn’t mean that you don’t either. So, use the time to get out the kitchen utensils, which may already be dusty, and prepare something delicious.

Tidy Up And Muck Out!

Coincidentally, this is exactly the right time for a thorough spring cleaning. I, too, have already started mucking out, tidying up and cleaning the apartment. Ask yourself what you really need and what is really only catching dust or keeping space in the shelf. Do you need so much clothing? What about all those books? Or the DVDs? I actually try to clean out every time I’m in Germany with my father. But now I can do it especially thoroughly.

Revise Your Bucket List!

Uh, that’s one of my favorite things on this list! Because my bucket list is also in absolute need of renovation. Yeah, we don’t know what the new normal’s gonna look like. Probably our reality will change quite a bit. And I have been wondering for days what significance travel will have in the future. Especially long-distance travel will certainly be more of a luxury good than it has been in recent years. But that will not stop us from dreaming! So dream about the places you still want to see, about the things you still want to do and experience. And a little tip: It might make sense not to just wander off into the distance. Maybe the moment has come for all of us to explore our home country better. So start reading travel blogs again and get inspired! Whether near or far… Travel in your thoughts and pack your bags when the time comes. And anticipation is the greatest joy…

Put Ideas Into Practice!

Have you ever had an idea for a project, but didn’t realize it due to lack of time? Have you always wanted to write a book? Develop an app? Paint a painting? Well, then you might be happy to hear that now is the moment: The actually awkward situation of being trapped at home is perfectly suited to finally realize such previously discarded ideas. If that’s not a reason for to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

Get in Touch With Friends And Family​!

In everyday life most of us are constantly busy. Time for friends and family? Nope. I’m the same: I don’t really talk to my best friend on the phone anymore, we meet maybe once a year when I’m in Germany. And now? Has the moment arrived to use the situation of social distancing to make social contacts really social again? To cultivate real friendships and to talk extensively with long-time friends again… Maybe you should make a list and go through it bit by bit. I am quite sure that you will put a smile on many people’s faces. And maybe even your own…

Final Thoughts About Things to Do in Quarantine

But now I am running out of ideas, too. But I can’t imagine that there isn’t something for everyone to keep themselves busy for a few weeks.

By the way, you can also combine the different ideas with each other: Convince friends to do sports with you! Arrange a time and meet online for example at Zoom and go through the fitness program together. You want to revise your Bucket List? Isn’t dreaming together with others twice as much fun? Call a friend and go through the bucket list ideas together. Or tidy up when you’re on the phone with a friend. If you haven’t heard from each other in a long time, you probably have a lot to say and it will be a long call. You can tidy up a bit at the same time.

Yes, the idea of quarantine can be frightening. But if you focus on the many things you can do instead of the ones you can’t, the weeks will surely pass quickly.

And always remember: Together we are strong! You are not alone, even if you cannot be with others physically.

Let me know in the comments which of my suggestions you like best and which you will implement!

PS: All links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.

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The Koasa Trail – Hiking in Tyrol

The Koasa Trail – Hiking in Tyrol

The Koasa Trail – Hiking in Tyrol

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At the invitation of the Kitzbüheler Alpen St. Johann Tourism Association in Tyrol I went to Austria in June to hike the Koasa Trail there. I was able to combine it perfectly with another motorcycle trip as I wanted to go to Rovinj for the Summer Sensual Days for the second time.

Koasa Trail – A hiking trail in Tyrol

The Koasa Trail revolves around the Wilder Kaiser, a mountain massif that is part of the Kaisergebirge. This consists of the aforementioned Wilder Kaiser, the Zahmen Kaiser and the Niederkaiser. It is located in the eastern Alps and is a magnet for hikers, mountaineers and climbers. The official Koasa Trail has only been around for a few years. It connects different hiking trails to a long distance hike of several days with a distance of 80 kilometres, so that you can easily discover the highlights of the Wilder Kaiser. Every day, a special natural setting is waiting for you, which will make the region grow ever closer to your heart.

Wegweiser Koasa Trail

And one more info in advance with a little outing: When I first read about the Koasa Trail, my inner voice elegantly emphasized “Ko-Asa Trail”. It stayed a few days until I used Google for some information and found out that Koasa is Austrian for Cesar (German: Kaiser). All I can say is: Facepalm, Barbara!

 

Koasa Trail – How to get there

Salzburg (60 km), Innsbruck (90 km) and Munich (135 km) are not far from the Kitzbühel Alps and give you orientation points for your journey. This is a quick and easy way to get to Oberndorf, where the Koasa Trail begins:
  • By plane: I recommend to travel within Europe by bus, train or if necessary by your own car. For the sake of completeness I would also like to mention that the Kitzbüheler Alps are easily accessible from three airports: Innsbruck Airport (INN) is 100 km away, Salzburg Airport (SZG) 60 km and Munich Airport (MUC) 160 km.
  • By bus or train: Unfortunately there is no Flixbus to Sankt Johann in Tirol, but you can go to Innsbruck, Salzburg, Munich or Vienna and continue by train from there. St. Johann in Tirol has a stop for an express train and Oberndorf has a stop for regional trains. From Innsbruck you can expect about 80 minutes, from Salzburg about 30 minutes, from Munich about 2.5 hours and from Vienna about 5.5 hours.
  • By car or motorbike: If you have your own vehicle or hire a car, the best way to get from Munich or Innsbruck is to take the A12 Inntal motorway and then the B178 from Salzburg via the A1 or A10 to the B178.

 

Koasa Trail – The stages

As already mentioned, the five stages of the Koasa Trail cover about 80 kilometres, where you will be rewarded for your efforts with breathtaking views of the Wilder Kaiser. Every day a highlight waits for you:

Stage 1

The tour starts at the Info Point in Sankt Johann. From there you walk down the street to the right, cross the Kitzbüheler Ache and leave the city shortly afterwards. After some time the ascent to the ridge of the Niederkaiser begins very slowly. It’s a good hour uphill – past the hermitage with the small chapel Maria Blut, where a nun shouted a happy “Grüß Gott” to me, and the Gmail chapel – until you reach the ridge at 1226 meters altitude. There you will be rewarded with a fantastic view – on your right you can admire the Wilder Kaiser and on your left you can enjoy the view down into the valley to St Johann in Tirol. On the other side it goes down again. A refreshing spritzer of herbs, peppermint or dandelion awaits you at the Bacheralm. Homemade, of course. And at more than fair prices of 2.50 euros for half a litre. From there it is not far to the small village of Gasteig. In about 1.5 hours you walk from there once around the Reitberg and then again 1.5 hours along the Kaiserbach in an idyllic scenery up to the Griesner Alm.

Highlight of the day: The Niederkaiserkamm! The view in both directions is so beautiful that I didn’t even know where to look first…

Koasa Trail Wilder Kaiser

 

Stage 2

For the second stage you can choose between two variants. The first has a length of 10 kilometers and leads you to the Hunds- and Stripsenkopf. Then you run along the ridge over the peaks Tristecken, Feldberg and Wasserlahnerkopf and over the Gamsgraben back into the valley. However, I decided for the shorter variant 2 (during my stay there was still quite a lot of snow on the route of variant 1), where you run to the Fischbachalm and from there up to the mountain. When you reach the top, you pass the Vorderen and Hinteren Ranggen Alm, both of which unfortunately offer no hospitality. Then the descent back to the Griesner Alm begins. In the airy heights of the two alps you have a perfect view of the mighty steep walls of the Wilder Kaiser. When I was there, there was still so much snow that the mountains glittered and sparkled like diamonds in the sun.

Highlight of the day: The Kaiserbachtal! But for me, the sight of the mountains that were within my grasp on this stage was also a highlight that accompanied me all the way.

Kuh am Koasa Trail vorm Wilden Kaiser Etappe 2

Stage 3

The third stage was a bit shorter for me because I spontaneously changed my accommodation. As beautiful as the Griesner Alm is, I still can’t do without Internet for two days. If you choose this accommodation, you will be stuck in a radio hole for two full days and even during the hike of the second stage you will at best have E-Net. So I moved to a hotel in Gasteig, which shortened stage 3 by about 5 kilometres. From Gasteig I went over the small village Hinterberg to the Teufelsgasse – a beautiful gorge, which the devil himself is said to have created, so that the sinful get lost in it. It had only been opened shortly before my arrival, because it had not been accessible before because of the masses of snow. Shortly after the Teufelsgasse a fantastic view of the valley opens up. After only a few bends you reach the Prostalm: a welcome refreshment is waiting for you here, along with another perfect view of the Wilder Kaiser. I took a good hour’s break before I climbed the last few metres up to the Prostkögel – the highest point of this stage. From there it was only downhill to Erpfendorf. Unfortunately I missed the turn-off because the sign had fallen down and I took a detour of about one kilometre to the neighbouring village of Weng. I admit that the descent with the detour was a physical challenge and the temperatures were around 30 degrees. I was more than happy when I finally got to the hotel and ended the day in the whirlpool.

Highlight of the day: The Teufelsgasse! The path is varied and offers a completely new landscape.

Teufelsgasse Koasa Trail

 

Stage 4

For the fourth stage you need endurance and I advise you to start very early. I started at 9am and it turned out to be quite late. The first kilometres make the stage seem harmless, as it goes through Erpfendorf and the neighbouring village without a strong ascent and then through the cool Griesbachklamm. At the end of the gorge you suddenly turn right and climb steeply through the forest. At the top, it’s not far to the Angerlalm, which not only provides the necessary refreshment, but at least has put a big grin on my lips: Several goats and a pig run around freely here and delight kids and grown ups alike. After about 45 minutes, I strapped on my backpack again and continued the ascent. It took me about 15 minutes to get to a gate that I opened. As I turned around, I saw a hiker just a few meters behind me, and I kept the gate open for him. He thanked me and immediately began to ask questions: “Where are you going?”, “Where are you coming from?”, “Are you on holiday? He quickly realized that we had the same path for a good three kilometers before he had to turn left and I had to turn right. He knew his way around incredibly well and even though his walking pace was too fast for me, I was happy about the company and his information about the trail and the surroundings. Nevertheless, I was also glad when our paths separated again. Because I was really out of breath through the fast pace uphill. When I looked into my app I got quite a shock: There were still 10 kilometres to my destination! Exhausted by the previous 9 kilometers and the brooding 33 degrees, before which I could hardly protect myself on the mountain ridge andw hen it went cross-country through the meadows, I went my way. I certainly took three more breaks, because I became more and more tired. Around 5pm I finally came to a road. At some point I met a herd of cows grazing peacefully on the side. Then I turned around the next bend. A black cow stood in the middle of the road and stared straight into my eyes. Suddenly she scratched with her hooves – like a bull ready to attack. I couldn’t really imagine that the cow would really attack, but as you know, better safe than sorry. So I flee under the fence into the high field on the other side of the road. The cow kept looking at me as I slowly fought my way through the high grass one step at a time. I was happy to leave the herd behind me and finally came near St. Johann. Shortly after 6pm I reached the hotel completely exhausted. It was my longest and most difficult hike ever.

Highlight of the day: The Griesbachklamm! Cool, beautiful and photogenic is this part of the Koasa Trail, which I liked best of all.

Griesbachklamm Koasa Trail

 

Stage 5

In consultation with my contact person from the Tirol Tourist Board I decided to take the last day slowly: Instead of the ascent I took the gondola to the Kitzbüheler Horn. The highlight of the day on stage 5 is a waterfall which you pass during the ascent. Unfortunately it was closed, so we would have had to bypass the area anyway. Therefore the gondola ride was an excellent alternative. From the gondola station to the Horn you can normally hike. However, this trail was still closed. The hard and long winter has really affected some stages of the Koasa Trail. Therefore this day trip consisted for me only of the descent to Oberndorf. Also the breaks at the two alps were nice: the Stanglalm and the Müllneralm.

Highlight of the day: Actually it should have been the waterfall as mentioned before, but as I couldn’t see it, my personal highlight was the gondola ride.

Gondel Koasa Trail

 

Koasa Trail – The hotels

Hotel Penzinghof

The hotel where my hiking tour in Tyrol began and ended combines alpine love and luxury. Wood determines the public spaces. Be sure to bring your swimsuit! You shouldn’t miss the infinity pool with a view of the Wilder Kaiser. And if you prefer it dry, there is even a relaxation room with comfortable beds from which you can enjoy the panoramic view.

Hotel Penzinghof Koasa Trail

 

Griesner Alm

The Griesner Alm is a place where time seems to have stood still. There is neither WIFI nor mobile Internet, but lots of good air and good food. The Alm is ideal if you want to switch off for a few days – in the truest sense of the word. You should also be aware that if you book the trail as a package this alp is intended for two nights.

Griesner Alm Koasa Trail

 

Hotel Kramerhof

Although the Hotel Kramerhof is furnished in a rustic style, it still offers modern facilities. For the little ones there is an adjoining horse farm. But I admit that even I was quite excited to open my eyes in the morning and see some horses grazing peacefully in front of the window. I’ve never seen such a sight before.

Kramerhof Koasa Trail

 

Vitalhotel Berghof

I really liked the Vitalhotel Berghof. The name says it all, so you feel like you’re on a farm in the mountains, but the little things that make your stay unforgettable are still there: for example the spa area and the whirlpool. But also the fact that you are greeted with a cheerful smile by the boss himself makes you feel at home.

Vitalhotel Berghof Koasa Trail

 

LTI Kaiserfels

The hotel in Sankt Johann is modern and especially in winter very well situated as it has a lift directly behind the house. It is also ideal for the Koasa Trail hike. However, it is a chain hotel and not a small family business.

LTI Kaiserfels Koasa Trail

 

Koasa Trail – Conclusion

For me, the Koasa Trail was a special experience. Not only did it bring me as a sea lover closer to the mountains. It also gave me a welcome physical effort. I already mentioned in my Venice article that my mother left us a little over a month ago. Through this experience with death, I felt for the first time a certain joy to have sore muscles. It showed me that I was alive. That my body works the way it should. I also had the feeling that my mother accompanied me on this path and discovered the beauty of Tyrol together with me.

Barbara Koasa Trail

I made another experience for the first time and I was deeply surprised: Since this was my first hike for more than two days, I did not know how quickly the muscles got used to the daily effort. But already on the third day my sore muscles became noticeably less instead of more. Even after the 19 kilometres of the fourth stage, it wasn’t my muscles that failed me, but rather my general energy, which was quickly used up in the high temperatures and demanded a quieter day.

I am grateful and glad that I was able to walk the Koasa Trail and hope that I will soon return to this beautiful region to discover more hiking trails and natural sites.

PS: I was invited by the Tourist Association Kitzbüheler Alpen St. Johann in Tirol. My opinion was not influenced by this cooperation.

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Things to do in Koh Samui – My Highlights in Koh Samui

Things to do in Koh Samui – My Highlights in Koh Samui

Things to do in Koh Samui – My Highlights in Koh Samui

In January, I went to Koh Samui, where I spent a week with a friend who is also a digital nomad. The island is located in the Gulf of Thailand and is very popular with tourists. The things to do in Koh Samui make sure that you won’t get bored…

Koh Samui – Paradise for Travelers of Any Age

Koh Samui is an island off the east coast of Thailand, on the Kra Isthmus. The island belongs to the province of Surat Thani, although Koh Samui has had a municipal status since 2012 and is therefore self-governing. It is the second largest island in the country after Phuket.

The origin of the name Samui is unknown. The theory that I personally like best is that it comes from early Hainan traders. It is said to be similar to the Hainan word for “first island” or “door”. Since Samui was the first island of Thailand the traders passed by, this word became its name. Koh (or Ko) is the Thai word for “island”.

Until the end of the 20th century, Koh Samui was rather an isolated community. Until the early 1970s, there were hardly any paved roads, and the 15 km from one side of the island to the other had to be covered by foot – through the mountainous jungle.

Today, Koh Samui is heavily dependent on tourism. But also the export of coconuts and rubber are primary sources of income.

Koh Samui is popular with travelers of all ages. The infrastructure is very good, there are four hospitals on the island and the inhabitants are prepared for the tourists. This is reflected in the high number of hotels and restaurants. Last but not least, the island is popular because it simply has a lot to offer. Breathtaking waterfalls and beaches around the island are a tourist magnet.

 

Koh Samui – How to Get There

If you are not already in the country, the journey to Koh Samui usually takes you to Bangkok. From there, there are three possibilities to travel to Koh Samui:

  • By plane: Koh Samui is the only island in the Gulf of Thailand with its own airport. However, it belongs to Bangkok Airways. Due to the monopoly position, the flights are correspondingly expensive. If you are willing to pay around 100 euros for a domestic flight, this is an option. Alternatively, you can fly to Surat Thani and continue your journey by bus and ferry.
  • By Bus and Ferry: The cheapest option is the bus. For my first trip to Koh Samui in 2015, I decided to take a bus. All in all, I paid around 30 euros back then. This is probably the cheapest, but also by far the least comfortable way.
  • By Train and Ferry: I have been a big fan of trains in Thailand since I first took a night train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok in 2017. That’s why I decided to take the train in January and didn’t regret it. From Bangkok to Koh Samui you pay 1400 to 1500 Baht (about 40 Euro), but you can sleep in the sleeping compartment and arrive early in the morning in Surat Thani, from where you take the bus to the ferry station and then the ferry to Koh Samui. When booking, make sure you get a lower berth: you will have much more space!
    .

 

Koh Samui – Things to do

Koh Samui has a lot to offer. Waterfalls, hikes and beautiful beaches await nature lovers. If you want to get in touch with the Thai culture, you can visit temples and stroll through the markets. I recommend a good mix of both to get to know the island better!

 

Waterfalls

There is an incredible number of waterfalls in Koh Samui. The best known are the Namuang Waterfalls. There are two of them, which is why they are commonly referred to as “Waterfall 1” and “Waterfall 2”.

Waterfall 1 is easy to reach by scooter and not even five minutes from the parking lot.

Waterfall 2, on the other hand, is a bit tricky. First, you have to get from the parking lot to the entrance of the waterfall. Either you walk (it’s one kilometer) or you take one of the jeeps. The cars leave every 15 minutes and act as shuttles.

Jeep Tour Koh Samui

Waterfall 2 Koh Samui

From there, you will have to hike up the hill to get to the top of the waterfall. I’ve seen travelers with flip flops, but I strongly advise you to wear sturdy shoes. Also bring enough water (you will get a small bottle when you pay 200 Baht for park entrance and jeep costs), as the ascent is very exhausting in the Thai heat and you can easily dehydrate.

Once you reach the top you will have a fantastic view:

Waterfall 2 Koh Samui

If you want a little thrill, you should make a day trip to the Tartain Waterfall. The waterfall itself is rather unspectacular and the hike of about 20 minutes is not very exhausting. But the ride with the scooter is quite a challenge. The roads in the interior of the island are not in good condition and some parts are extremely steep.

In my opinion, it is still worth it, because there is not only a river and the waterfall but also a natural pool – a tiny wellness retreat – that gives the feeling of having landed on another planet in the middle of nowhere. The entrance fee is 200 Baht and you get a soft drink of your choice.

Tartain Wasserfall Koh Samui

On the way back, the road is much less frightening and I actually wondered why I sweated with fear on the way there.

You also pass the Tar Nim Waterfall & Magic Garden on your way to Tartain Waterfall. The entrance fee is 80 Baht and even if the waterfalls are small I liked the short stop.

Tar Nim Magic Garden Koh Samui

In the east of the island, there is also the Hin Lad Waterfall or the Wanorn Waterfall. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it there.

Beaches

If you like beaches, you’ll find at least one in Koh Samui that you will love. The main tourist beaches are Lamai and Chaweng in the east. Personally, I preferred the more lonely, narrow sandy beaches in the west. However, the beaches in the west are also dirtier, as the inhabitants only clean up the beaches where tourists go.

Strand Koh Samui

Also, the beaches in the north are worth seeing. Maenam and Bophut – where I had my accommodation during my first Koh Samui stay four years ago – are much less touristy than Chaweng and Lamai. Why not combine a walk along the beach with a visit to the night market? There is only one row of houses between the two. You can either walk between the houses or through a restaurant or massage studio – ideal to get pampered for an hour.

 

Buddhist Temples

Buddhist temples are an important part of Thai culture. No matter where you travel in this country, countless temples will await you. Here in Koh Samui, the Big Buddha at Wat Phra Yai Temple, which you can see on its small peninsula on arrival or departure by ferry to Koh Phangan, or Wat Plai Laem are especially popular. This complex, where the statues of the gods sit on platforms in an artificial lake, is located only 2 km from the Big Buddha, so that you can combine a visit to both temples very well with each other.

Wat Plai Laem Koh Samui

Wat Plai Laem Koh Samui

There are also temples in the south. In Wat Khunaram, for example, you can admire a mummified monk. The Laem Sor Pagoda is not far from there and is situated directly at the sea. Also nearby is Wat Rattanakosin.

 

Viewpoints

In Koh Samui, there are numerous viewpoints offering a wonderful view of the island and the sea. I wanted to have a look at some official viewpoints, but in the end, I never didi. I do not see it the point in paying an entrance fee for a simple viewpoint if I have at least an equally beautiful view completely free of charge from a waterfall or from the street in the hills.

If you want to visit the official viewpoints, take a look at the following:

  • Samui Viewpoint
  • Lamai Viewpoint
  • Jungle Club Viewpoint
  • Lat Ko Viewpoint
  • Wat Phra Yai Viewpoint

 

Hin Ta and Hin Yai

These two rocks, the Grandmother’s and Grandfather’s Rock, are called Hin Ta and Hin Yai in Thai and have the shape of a male and female intimate parts.

Legend has it that an elderly couple shipwrecked here and got petrified on the coast to be united forever. Although this is a tourist attraction, Hin Ta and Hin Yai are especially popular with locals. A visit is said to increase fertility and make the wish to have a child come true.

 

Walking Streets and Markets

Walking Streets and markets are as much a part of Thailand as temples and should not be missed during any stay in the Land of Smiles. In every city, there is a night market. The best thing to do is to ask at your accommodation when it will take place in the area. We stayed near Lamai Beach, where it’s especially big on Sundays. I went to the market at Bophut Beach twice. The biggest one is on Fridays.

What can you on such a market? Starting with Thai delicacies, with which you can fill your stomach for small money until you almost burst, clothing, decorative items, and souvenirs to electrical goods.

 

Koh Samui – Scoot Around the Island

If you feel safe on two motorized wheels, for me, there’s nothing better than exploring Koh Samui on a scooter. It gives you flexibility and you can easily drive to all the places I mentioned. In most accommodations, you can rent a scooter. For this, you should expect 150 to 250 Baht per day – depending on the model and the rental period. In addition, there is usually a special price for weekly or monthly rentals. I rented my scooter directly from a scooter rental company because there was no weekly price in the hotel.

If you are afraid to get lost: The orientation on Koh Samui is very easy. There is a main road around the island. From there, there are small roads leading either to the sea or inland. When you don’t know where you are, you just drive back to the main road.

You can either refuel at one of the few real petrol stations or stop when you see a cupboard with glass bottles containing a yellowish liquid – petrol – in front of a house.

I especially liked the quiet south of the island, where you can drive a while directly by the sea.

Rollertour Koh Samui

 

Koh Samui – Spots to See The Sunset or Sunrise

If you’ve been following me for a while (for example, on my Instagram account for Barbaralicious) you know how much I love sunrises and sunsets. For me, there’s nothing more beautiful than watching the sun spread its warming rays across the sea or follow the last seconds until it disappears behind the horizon. Therefore the following places were my personal highlights…

Beryl Bar

Located on the western tip of the northern coast, Beryl Bar awaits you with an exceptional view of the sunset. Because the coast is a little bent here, the sun does not set over the sea, but over the rocks of Koh Samui. Thus, it is best to be there at least one hour before the indicated sunset time in order to really see something. I didn’t know that and came just in time to photograph the last rays before they disappeared behind the rock, which was half an hour before the actual sunset time.

Beryl Bar Koh Samui

The food is super delicious and very cheap for Koh Samui and the portions are huge.

At low tide, you should consider coming even earlier. Then you can go through Beryl Bar and walk around the rocks. After about 400 meters you get to a temple in a cave where some monks live. However, I would like to ask you for moderation at this point! A temple is always a place of worship, a sanctuary. Dress accordingly and behave humbly, as is rightly required in every other temple.

Samui Sunset Garden

The Samui Sunset Garden is not quite as much of an insider tip as Beryl Bar. Here you should be there early to grab a seat or even a bean bag. The view is great, but the food… Well, let’s say the bar doesn’t need to score with the quality of the food. Apart from that, it’s tourist-expensive and the service, unfortunately, left a lot to be desired when I was there. Parts of the order were forgotten or misplaced. The best thing to do here is to plan on just enjoying a cocktail at sunset and go to another restaurant for dinner.

Sunset Garden Koh Samui

 

Four Seasons

Now it gets even more expensive…

After seeing great pictures of the Four Seasons in Koh Samui on Instagram, I thought I’d drop by and see if I could get in. The bar with pool and sea view is open to the public, even if you have to register at the reception and then get there with a buggy (the hotel area seems to be huge!). To be honest, that alone is worth it. To drive up and down the hills with the buggy with a pleasant wind and to see the wooden bungalows on your right and left, the staff on the roadside make way with folded hands and a cheerful “Sawasdee Kha”…

Arrived at the pool, you can relax nicely. Unfortunately, the pool is only available for hotel guests or for a fee, but if you are satisfied with the sight, you can spend a few relaxing hours here. My non-alcoholic juice cost 400 Baht. My friend had a cocktail for 650 baht. So the prices are quite high by Thai standards. But one afternoon you can treat yourself to it, I think.

Four Seasons Koh Samui

 

Lamai Beach

And now comes my tip for the early risers: Our hotel was right at Lamai Beach and it turned out to be perfect for sunrise photos. For me, getting up early was really worth it and I would do it again anytime.

 

Koh Samui – Hotel

I stayed with my friend at the Beluga Boutique Hotel*. This is located directly at Grandfather and Grandmother Rock on the east side of Koh Samui. Personally, I especially liked the delicious breakfast with sea view and the friendliness of the staff. I felt like home!

Beluga Boutique Hotel Koh Samui

Do you want to look at other accommodations? Then have a look at  Booking*Tripadvisor*Airbnb* or Hostelworld*!

 

Koh Samui – Where to go Next

If you’ve come from Bangkok, it’s a good idea to explore the south of the country. Possible destinations would be:

  • Chumphon: Chumphon is a province next to Surat Thani that is great for snorkeling, admiring nature in the mangrove forest or taking pictures of great photo spots. There is also a ferry between Chumphon and Koh Tao if you want to visit another island in the Gulf of Thailand before returning to the mainland.
  • Ranong: Ranong is a province bordering Chumphon. It is great for exploring secluded beaches and relaxing in hot springs and spas. From there you can easily travel on to Myanmar.
  • Phuket: Why not also explore the islands on the other side of Thailand in the Andaman Sea? The region around Phuket with Krabi and the islands Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi is a popular region for digital nomads.

Chumphon

 

Koh Samui – Final Thoughts

I think Koh Samui is very beautiful. For me personally, the island is a bit too big with too long distances, if you want to drive back and forth between the ends to watch for example sunrise or sunset. Maybe a hotel on the north shore of the island would have been strategically better so that one is in the middle and does not need that long to get to the sides. From our hotel, which was located on the east side and therefore ideal for sunrise, it takes a good hour by scooter to the next Sunset Spot. I would have liked it better to spend the time at the places instead of sitting on the scooter for several hours a day to get from A to B.

Nevertheless, I liked the island very much and I can only recommend it if you like waterfalls, temples and incredible sunsets!

PS: The links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.

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Du suchst nach einem coolen Spot für digitale Nomaden in Südostasien? Dann solltest du dir unbedingt die Hauptstadt der digitalen Nomaden Chiang Mai anschauen!

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Venice in a Day – A Perfect Day in the Serenissima

Venice in a Day – A Perfect Day in the Serenissima

Venice in a Day – A Perfect Day in the Serenissima

My mother passed away on May 17th after a serious illness. On May 25th would have been her 62nd birthday, which she would have celebrated in Venice as it was her tradition. To honor her memory and to feel close to her once again, I went with my whole family to the Italian city of bridges over the weekend. Since we went there on Friday and back again on Sunday, we basically only had one day on site: May 25th.

Read here what we have seen and what you shouldn’t miss on a day in Venice:

Venice – From Serenissima to Mass Tourism

Until 1797, Venice was the capital of the Republic of Venice and until the 16th century even one of the largest trading powers in the world. Venice had the most merchant ships, but also warships, and was thus able to maintain its supremacy over the centuries. The city was incredibly rich, which is why we can still admire immeasurable cultural treasures in the lagoon city.

During this period Venice also received the title of La Serenissima Repubblica di San Marco (the most Serene Republic of Saint Mark). The title was initially given to the Doge – the ruler of Venice – and the nobles. After some time, however, it was extended to the entire republic.

Venice was incorporated into Italy in 1866 and has been the capital of the Italian province of Veneto ever since. It lies in the northeast of the country in the lagoon of Venice. Within this lagoon, there are 118 islands, of which only 11 are inhabited. The main island with the old town has 63,000 inhabitants, by far the highest number of all islands. Since 1987, both the city and the lagoon have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Today, Venice is more popular with tourists than ever before. Venice is on the bucket lists of travelers from all over the world and is also increasingly part of the itineraries of cruise ships. The new task is to master the balancing act between beauty and mass tourism.

 

Venice – How to Get There

  • By Plane: Venice has two airports. The city airport is called Marco Polo (the code is VCE) and is one of the busiest airports in Italy. The second one is about 40 kilometers away and is located near the city of Treviso (it has the code TSF).
  • By Train: Especially within Italy, traveling by train is cheap and fast. Venice’s train station is located at a vaporetto station, so you can get on a water bus directly if your accommodation is too far to walk to or if you want to start sightseeing immediately.
  • By Bus: Venice is easy to reach by bus and very well connected to other cities in Italy and all over Europe. I haven’t taken the bus to Venice yet, but I changed busses there already. I always use Flixbus.
  • By Car: This may seem strange at first, but since my parents came by car every single time, I want to add this possibility, too. If you drive over the Brenner Autobahn, you pay about 30 Euro motorway toll to Venice. From Mestre (one of two districts on Venice’s mainland) you drive over a bridge to the island of Tronchetto, where parking garages are waiting for the motorized visitors. These cost from 30 euros per day and you should reserve in advance. A pedestrian bridge will take you to the main island and you can either walk to your hotel or take a vaporetto – a water bus.

Venice – Sights

Since I only spent one day in Venice this time, my tips are focused on a day or weekend excursion with arrival on Friday and departure on Sunday.

The main island is the most touristic part of the city. There you will find famous sights like St. Mark’s Cathedral at St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace next to it, the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs Ponte dei Sospiri. Be prepared that all these sights are crowded during the day.

 

St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Cathedral and St. Mark’s Tower

Since you will hardly go to Venice and then skip St. Mark’s Cathedral, you will have to live with the crowd. If you want to avoid it, I have a tip for you though: If you, like me, go to St Mark’s Square at sunrise, you will basically have it almost to yourself!

By the way, the tower is the bell tower of St. Mark’s Cathedral and is therefore also called St. Mark’s Tower. With 98 meters, it’s the highest building in Venice. Its top originally served as a lighthouse so that the ships could find their way safely to the lagoon’s harbor. In 1902 the tower collapsed after several earthquakes, but this was due to the fact that metal struts had been removed on the inside in order to build an elevator. The reconstruction, which used the original pile foundations that were 1000 years old but very well preserved, took nine years. The new tower was inaugurated on St Mark’s Day, on April 25th of 1913. Today, it is possible to go up to the bell tower via an elevator. But also this is still on my bucket list…

 

The Doge’s Palace

As already mentioned at the beginning, the ruler of the Republic of Venice was called Doge. The word is derived from the Latin word dux (leader). The first Doge was elected in 726. The Doge’s Palace next to St. Mark’s Basilica was the seat of government from the 9th century onwards and is still today a sign of the wealth, size and power of the lagoon city. This can be seen not only from the outside in the outstanding Venetian architecture but also in the stucco, gilded carvings and magnificent paintings inside. It is one of the most important Gothic secular buildings.

I must confess though, I’ve never been inside of the palace. Maybe I’ll change that during my next visit to the Serenissima.

 

The Bridge of Sighs

Also the Ponte dei Sospiri – the Bridge of Sighs – has a completely different effect in the early morning hours. The water lies smooth instead of being stirred up by gondolas that always glide past. If you’re there at 6am, you can even let your thoughts wander for a moment to the prisoners who long ago walked over the Bridge of Sighs and had a last look at the lagoon before they went to prison for the rest of their lives.

During the day, there is always a traffic jam of gondolas here since they start their tours through the small winding canals just around the corner.

 

The Rialto Bridge

The Rialto Bridge is one of only four bridges that cross the Grand Canal that separates the six districts called Sestieri: San Marco, Cannaregio, and Castello are on one side and Dorsoduro, San Polo, and Santa Croce on the other.

It’s so peaceful to sit at the Rialto Bridge at 6 am and take as many photos as you wish without bothering or being bothered by others.

This is the view from the Rialto bridge in the late morning after the city and its visitors woke up:

 

Murano

We took a vaporetto around 12 o’clock and went to the island Murano.

The island is famous above all for the art of glassmaking. In the early Middle Ages, glassmakers were banished to Murano because the people of Venice were afraid of the fire. Since then, the precious glass has been produced here and has become world famous.

My mother loved the Murano glass and wanted a chandelier for our living room. I would like to fulfill this wish posthumously sometime.

 

Burano

Even if we didn’t have a lot of time left, we didn’t want to miss a visit to the island Burano. Around 3 pm we took a vaporetto which takes about 30 minutes to go from Murano to Burano. The colorful houses are simply too beautiful to miss. If you’re looking for a peaceful place away from the crowds – maybe this is the place to choose.

What is the art of glassmaking in Murano is the lace in Burano. Here you can see elder ladies making lace. This is the main theme in every shop. Whether decorative items or clothes… Here everything is made of white cloth.

My mother loved to dig her way through the shops here and it wasn’t until her last visit that she got hold of an embroidered painting of “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt, which hangs in our living room. It was a strange feeling when my father showed us exactly where she had bought it.

Around 6 o’clock we made our way back towards the main island. There we planned to do one of the highlights of the day:

 

A Gondola Ride in Venice

Yeah, it’s kitschy. But shouldn’t a little kitsch and cliché be on the agenda in a city like Venice? I do think so!

The prices for a gondola ride are as far as I know the same everywhere and not negotiable: At all gondola stations of the city, there are signs with prices saying that the small tour (called Giro Turistico) costs 80 Euro until 7 pm and afterward 100 Euro. The so-called Giro Completo costs 120 Euro or 150 Euro.

Gondelfahrt Venedig

With a little luck like us, you will catch a gondolier, who was singing a traditional song about love and longing. Simply beautiful!

 

Venice – Hotel

During the weekend we stayed in this hotel: Hotel Santa Lucia. The hotel is small, but nice and is only a few minutes walk from the train station or the multi-story car parks. But it is a long way to St. Mark’s Square. Still, in my opinion, the price-performance ratio was right. We paid 540 euros for two rooms with a total of five persons and two nights including breakfast.

You want to see other accommodation options for Venice? Check out these platforms: Booking*, Tripadvisor*, Airbnb* or Hostelworld*!

 

Venice – Where to go Next

Venice is ideal if you want to explore Italy further or if you want to travel further to the southeast of Europe. Here are a few examples of the cities that would work well:

  • Milan: Milan is the perfect destination, especially for shopping fans. But also culture enthusiasts will enjoy the Cathedral of Milan or the Scala.
  • Verona: The home of Romeo and Juliet is an ideal place for a weekend trip. Even if you are not an opera lover, the Arena di Verona is absolutely worth a visit. The atmosphere is unique and it is a very special experience.
  • Florence: In 2009, I spent half a year in Florence. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it back there to write an article about this beautiful city that is definitely in my top 3 Italian cities – with Palermo and Rome!
  • Ljubljana: The Slovenian capital is a pearl of peace. From here you can either explore Slovenia or travel further south. For example to Rovinj.
  • Rovinj: I fell in love with Rovinj when I was there for a week last year. The charming old town on its own peninsula is simply picturesque and the sunsets are a dream. From Venice, you can either take the FlixBus to Rovinj or a ferry. Alternatively, do it like me and go on a motorcycle road trip through Croatia.

And even if this is not just around the corner, as a half Sicilian I would like to mention my favorite island: Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and an absolute beauty.

 

Venice – Final Thoughts

For my family and me, this was a special and important journey where we experienced the places my mother loved so much and visited every year on her birthday. On the one hand, it was a farewell for us, but on the other hand, it also showed that we can feel close to her at any time by going to her favorite places.

But Venice is always worth a visit. I have been there three times now and even if it is crowded and in many corners anything but clean, I feel Venice is an absolute must-see in Italy and even in Europe. I continue to be impressed every time I stand in front of St Mark’s Basilica, walk through the many alleys across the bridges or take a vaporetto across the Canal Grande admiring the old walls from the water. The city is and remains unique and I hope to travel there many more times.

PS: All links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.

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Chumphon – Of Coffee Plantations, Lonesome Islands and Mangroves

Chumphon – Of Coffee Plantations, Lonesome Islands and Mangroves

Chumphon – Of Coffee Plantations, Lonesome Islands and Mangroves

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After the ITB – the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin – I got an invitation from the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways to two regions of Thailand that I had never heard of before: to Chumphon and Ranong. I have already written a post on Ranong. Therefore this article is about beautiful Chumphon. A small warning first of all: If you suffer from wanderlust, this post could lead you to book a flight to Bangkok with onward ticket to Chumphon.

Chumphon – A Province in the South of Thailand

Chumphon is a southern province of Thailand on the Gulf of Thailand. The neighbouring provinces are Prachuap Khiri Khan, Surat Thani and Ranong.

Chumphon, like Ranong, lies on the Isthmus of Kra, the narrow land bridge that connects the Malay Peninsula with the Thai mainland. To the west are the hills of the Phuket Mountains and its northern continuation, the Tenasserim Mountains. In the east, the coastal plain lies on the Gulf of Thailand. The main river is the Lang Suan River, which originates in the Phato District. With 222 kilometers of coastline and 44 islands, the Chumphon Archipelago, Chumphon has rushing waterfalls, secluded beaches, lush forests, impressive mangroves and numerous rivers.

Chumphon View Point

The province is best known for its coffee plantations, which produce 60 percent of Thai coffee.

Chumphon – How to Get There

Normally, the journey to Chumphon takes you to Bangkok first. Bangkok is a major hub in South East Asia. From there, there are three ways to travel to Chumphon:

  • By plane: Chumphon has its own airport. Thai AirAsia and Nok Air fly to the provincial capital’s airport CJN and connect Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) with the city of spas. From Souvarnabhumi, there are flights with Thai Smile.
  • By bus: Chumphon has a bus station from where you can reach Bangkok in ten hours. Tickets are available from 400 Baht (about 12 Euro).
    By train: If you went to the islands in the Gulf of Thailand before, you might have taken the night train to get there. Chumphon is one of the stops on the way south to Surat Thani. Personally, I’m a huge fan of night trains in Thailand and would always recommend choosing this option. It’s cheap yet comfortable.

 

Chumphon – The Coffee Region of Thailand

The Ban Panwal valley in the Tha Sae district is famous for its Robusta coffee plantations. More than 24 million tons of coffee are produced there every year. The Chumphon province contributes 60 percent of Thailand’s total coffee production. We visited a Robusta coffee plantation and were able to see for ourselves how the production takes place. It takes over a year from harvesting to several drying processes – with a dryer, in a greenhouse, and under the sun – to the packaging.

Chumphon Coffee Plantation

Dryer at a coffee plantation in Chumphon

At a coffee plantation in Chumphon

But what exactly is robusta coffee?

Robusta Coffee

Robusta coffee comes from the Coffea canephora plant, one of over 100 coffee plant species. After Arabica, it has become the second most popular variety in the world and it is the bean that is usually used to make the famous Italian espresso. The name says it all. The plant is much more robust than the Coffea arabica and can withstand high temperatures, for example. The reason for this is the deeper roots, which still find enough water in their depths to thrive happily even at an outside temperature of 30 degrees and the associated dry soil. Robusta plantations can also be found in the lowlands, while Arabica plantations are mostly planted in mountainous regions with temperatures between 15 and 24 degrees.

Coffea canephora tree at a coffee plantation in Chumphon

Robusta coffee tastes more earthy and stronger than its opponent and contains more caffeine (2.2 to 2.7 percent), but less sugar.

 

The Robusta Coffee Bean

The flowers are white and have a sweet jasmine scent. The fruit of the Robusta coffee plant turns deep red when ripe, which takes between six and eight months.

There are usually two coffee beans in each berry, and you can tell by the notch in the middle of the bean whether it is a Coffea arabica or Coffea canephora bean. In the former, it is curved and in the latter, it is straight.

Coffea canephora coffee beans

 

Chumphon – Islands, Beaches, And Snorkeling

Chumphon is a little paradise for you if you love lonely islands and white sandy beaches. Here you can snorkel or just relax in the sun in the sand.

 

Mu Koh Chumphon National Park

Mu Koh Chumphon is a national park consisting of about 40 very lush islands: Koh Ngam Yai, Koh Ngam Noi, La-Wa Island, and Lung-Ga-Jiw Island are the islands we have visited. The diverse landscape of each island makes the Marine Park unique, some have pristine white sandy beaches, others picturesque, though rough, rocks that rise dangerously and beautifully out of the water.

Mu Koh Chumphon National Park

Between the rocks, you can sometimes spot wooden huts that give shelter to the park rangers. If you look closely, you can see one of these huts in the next picture. Among other things, these rangers are there to take care of the nests of the birds that hide in the crevices. Our guide explained that the birds build a new nest as soon as they are finished with the old one. So they are rarely used for nesting. As soon as an old nest is finished and abandoned, the rangers come and collect it. Attention, now it gets a little disgusting: From these nests, soup is made! the Bird’s Nest Soup is a delicacy of this region!

Mu Koh Chumphon National Park

Here you can also snorkel. The rock islands are surrounded by coral reefs and offer a wonderful backdrop for the underwater world. Colorful fish cavort everywhere and come close to you. But be careful, because the water near the rock islands is often shallower than expected and you can easily be hurt.

Mu Koh Chumphon National Park

Thung Wua Lan – Chumphon’s Most Beautiful Beach

Thung Wua Lan is not only a beautiful sandy beach it is also incredibly long, so you can surely find a place here that you will enjoy. One section has bars and restaurants to enjoy the view with a delicious coconut or Pad Thai.

Thung Wua Lan - Chumphon's Most Beautiful Beach

As if it wasn’t enough to be at the most beautiful beach in the region, the weather (we were there at the beginning of the rainy season) and the sky rewarded us with a breathtaking rainbow.

Thung Wua Lan - Chumphon's Most Beautiful Beach

Before I went to dinner, I had a closer look at this photogenic palm tree. Don’t you think that such crooked palms have their own charm?

Thung Wua Lan - Chumphon's Most Beautiful Beach – Crooked Palm Tree

 

Chumphon – The Mangroves

I remember very well the trip to the mangrove forest, which is also part of the Mu Ko Chumphon National Park mentioned above. I was already in some mangrove forests, but I liked this one best by far.

Maybe we were just lucky with the tides here, while I was unlucky at the other parks. Because it was low tide here and we could marvel at the rooting of the trees.

Mu Koh Chumphon National Park – The Mangroves

In the places where there was no water at all, we could see little crabs scurrying quickly into their holes as they noticed our presence. In the water, on the other hand, there were little water monitors, most of them just curiously showing their heads. But not only flora and fauna were exciting to look at, but also the background noise. It cracked and clicked at an incredible volume. Unfortunately, I don’t know which animals make these noises, but it was somehow magical.

Mu Koh Chumphon National Park – The Mangroves

Mu Koh Chumphon National Park – The Mangroves

Mu Koh Chumphon National Park – The Mangroves

And I would like to add one comment: After we had returned from our tour through the mangroves, I bought something to drink at a small kiosk at the entrance. Normally, in Thailand, you automatically get a plastic straw with your drinks. Not so here. With hands and feet the lady who sold me the drink made me understand that she apologizes, but she wouldn’t give out any more plastic straws. She gets a thumbs up from me and this extra mention in my blog post. I am happy about every Thai (and tourist) who helps to make my beloved Thailand more environmentally friendly!

 

Chumphon – Accommodation

We stayed at the Loft Mania Boutique Hotel in Chumphon.

Loft Mania Boutique Hotel Chumphon

 

Chumphon – Onwards Travel

If you’ve come from Bangkok, you’ll be able to make a wonderful journey from Chumphon to Ranong or further the south of the country.

  • Ranong: Ranong is a province next to Chumphon that is great for exploring secluded beaches and relaxing in hot springs and spas. From there you can also easily travel on to Myanmar.
  • Koh Samui: Koh Samui is not quite around the corner, but is quite easy to reach from Ranong. If you’ve never been there before, it might be a good idea to combine these destinations.
  • Phuket: Also to Phuket it is still a good six-hour ride by car or bus from Ranong. Nevertheless, it is worth driving further south. The region around Phuket with Krabi and the islands Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi is a popular region with digital nomads.

 

Chumphon – Final Thoughts

I didn’t have Chumphon on my bucket list until I was invited on this trip. I must have traveled through several times because I was already twice in the south of Thailand and had taken a bus or train.

I am incredibly grateful that I got this insight into the traditional life of the Thais.

View Point in Chumphon

For digital nomads, I would recommend Chumphon for a stay of several days without hesitations. But be prepared that the internet here is not nearly as fast as in Chiang Mai. But if you want to take a few days off to snorkel and unwind and don’t want to spend a lot of time at one of the tourist spots, Chumphon is the perfect place.

PS: I was invited by TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) and Thai Airways to travel to Chumphon and Ranong. I did not receive any financial compensation. My opinion was not influenced by this collaboration.

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