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January 2017 In Review: My Start As A Digital Nomad

My apartment lease ended at the last day of 2016 but my flight out of Germany was on the 10th of January. I used this as an opportunity to invite myself to friends visit friends. Starting with the 1th of January 2017 I am living out of a backpack that fits into hand luggage of an airplane. My first visit was at friends near Munich, followed by a visit of friends near Cologne. The airport security at the Munich airport took their time to inspect the content of my backpack. The plane to Cologne was not even half-full at the last flight of the evening that I took.

Over the ocean to Los Angeles

My first real destination was Chiang Mai in Thailand, which is for many people the capital of Digital Nomads. I got an invitation from my friend Rick to visit him in Los Angeles in January. He owns a house near Malibu, an area that has been famous for red swimsuits. With that invitation, the accommodation problem was settled in an otherwise expensive area. I had no problem doing a detour to California from Europe.


It was not hard to leave Germany, which was bogged in Snow when I left. I knew that a way warmer weather was waiting for me half a day later. The flight with Norwegian Airlines from Berlin to Los Angeles had a stop in London. The airline is noticeable a low-cost airline, but the problem on my flight was rather my seat neighbor. During the whole flight he was chewing and spitting 2 packages of seeds. After I arrived in L.A. it took quite a while to get through customs and out of the airport.

The differences between the US and Germany

An important topic for me is: Food

  • The prices on the menu are without taxes.
  • The quality of service is better, you get the feeling that the waiter put more effort in to make the customer happy. They even introduce them self by name.
  • The portions are really large. If you finish your breakfast plate you can skip lunch. Leaving half of the plate is such a waste of resources. I hope that they will shrink the portions for the health of people and the environment. It is more common here to pack the leftovers into a Doggy Bag.
  • Non-alcoholic drinks at the table are refilled free of charge.
  • You learn to miss the German bread. The target audience of the local bread seems to be toothless people.
  • B.B.Q. – wow. Nothing more needs to be said.

Other observations:

  • The country is really large, but the public transport is underdeveloped. To get around you need a car.
  • The speed limit on the streets is pretty low at 70 mph (113 km/h). That does not stop people with enough money to have cars that could drive 3 times that fast.
  • The police is doing speed controls also by airplane.

Wine Tour to Napa Valley

Napa is a drowsy little town, that is a good starting point to the surrounding vineyards. If you do not want to spit out the wine that you taste, you can rent a bike or use a shuttle service to get around. To visit the higher classed winemakers you should make an appointment upfront.

A landslide happened a day before we arrived, which made the road to our tasting appointment at Lokoya not passable anymore. Luckily, one of the employees moved the tasting to the winery of Cardinale. This tasting was the highlight of our tour. I learned to appreciate the quality of Napa wines. I had the opportunity to taste wines from the same winemaker which was grown on different mountains in this area. This way I could learn to taste the terroir difference and find my favorite style and mountain.


These wines have been amazing, the price of one of these bottles Lakoya is at 350 Euro / 370 Dollar quite an investment. When we visited other winemakers, I learned that there is also wine produced here that I would rate as only average. The price of this wine was still 50 Euro / 52 Dollar, which shows you the general price level of this area.

Stopover in San Francisco

On the route from Napa back to L.A. we took the coastal route. This way we could spend half a day in San Francisco. On our way in the morning we went through the common fog in this area.

San Francisco

When we arrived in S.F. the sky cleared up, which does not happen here too often. From the port we had a nice view of Alcatraz, for a visit of it there was not enough time. The seals lay in the sun on the pier and did not care about the tourists. The costs for parking a car near the port of 27$ show how expensive living or even just being here is.

San Francisco

Back in Los Angeles, I explored the area a bit. Close by there is the outdoor filming location for the TV show M.A.S.H. At the meeting with Ricks friends we had some excellent Rhône themed wines. I brought an uncommon German Shiraz, which no one here ever tried or had heard of.

One week in Shanghai

Shanghai offers a free 144-hour transit visa. Geographically it is located on the route from Los Angeles to Thailand. I used this as a chance for a visit and to get to know a small part of China. In Shanghai my nomadic life really started, that means 8 hours of work every day. The rest of the day I could use to explore the city. I stayed in a part of the city where I did not see another foreigner in my time there. The communication with the locals was difficult, even the people working in the hotel did not speak much English beside Hello and Mister. Translation apps on my phone helped for a basic communication.

China blocks access to all google services, you should get and install a proxy or VPN before coming here if you want to have an unrestricted internet access.

The drive from the airport to the city with the Shanghai Maglev train was a nice experience. At a top speed of 300 km/h (190 mp/h) the ride was over too fast. With food, I had a harder time here, rarely any menu had pictures or an English translation. I ordered my meals by pointing at a random Chinese written item on the menu. Most of the time I got something decent that I could identify. One time it was not the case:

Shanghai Soup

A soup with pieces of meat where I could not figure out what body part or kind of animal it belonged to. The consistency of it was gum-like. It was definitively something that I had never eaten before. One month later I met a Chinese person in Thailand that told me what the meal I ate was: Frog-Soup.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Cornel! Alles fit? How about you write a bit about the logistics of your new life? How you found an apartment from 5000+km away, work situation etc. I imagine those are the main challenges that hold people back from that nomad life.

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