Colombia to Austria – without boarding a single plane
Everything is happening at once nowadays and I am not only talking about social media ie everything is just a mouse click away. Everyday life is very fast paced, we expect so much from ourselves and others and deadlines should have been met yesterday. We want a great job, amazing friends, a loving partner, experience adventures – and we share all of it online.
And even though social media is part of my job, a lot of special moments are lost. Where are the moments without a camera, smartphone or instastories? When was the last time you didn't ask for the wifi password in a restaurant before you even ordered your food?
When was the last time you set aside your laptop and signed off of Netflix but read a great book instead? (I am writing those lines after just having spent 9 days in the Amazon where I read a lot more than in the weeks before the trip. Even though I only just got back but I have already watched three episodes of a Netflix series and it is way past midnight).
Admitting to myself that something has to change wasn't easy at all. Taking time for myself and staying offline isn't all that simple. I want to appreciate the little thing in life again. To turn off my phone and not feel like I have to constantly post new pictures on Instagram or be available on messenger at all times. Living the moment, watching the sunrise with my own eyes and not through a camera screen – that's what I want.
I have been having those thoughts for quite a while now. But how does one go about making the changes? The easiest way would be leaving my phone, laptop and camera at home (which I will definitely do very soon) but I wanted more of an adventure and after looking at my bucket list and the world map once again it finally hit me.
I had read about it somewhere and after doing very little research my plan was set in stone. After my stay in Colombia, I wouldn't just board a plane back home to Austria, I would invest a little more time and a lot more extra mileage:
Colombia to Austria – without boarding a plane
I know what you are thinking – Viki has been sitting in the sun too long or mosquitos have given her a bad case of yellow fever – I have to disappoint/reassure you: No I haven't lost my mind. I have been thinking about this for months and have been making preparations for quite some time. It has just taken a while for me to find the right time and words to write about it here.
And yes, it is absolutely possible to travel from Colombia – admittedly with quite a few detours and extra time – to Austria without boarding a single plane. How? Like this:
Colombia –> bus – ship – bus – bus -bus -… – ship – bus /train – .. – bus –> Austria
It is fairly easy to figure out how I am going to travel by bus and train but even travelling by ship sound logical – here is my idea and the route:
Soon I will start my journey from Colombia to Panama by boat. Then I will be taking buses to Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, I will board a container ship to Europe and take the train and/or bus back to Austria.
Yes, this is how I am going to cross the Atlantic. And this will take care of the above-mentioned problem about not having any downtime. I will be sailing across the sea for two long – or short, we will see about that – weeks in my own cabin. Not sure if it is going to be with or without an ocean view. My windows could be blocked by containers – and WITHOUT INTERNET!
Some of you might think “but satellite internet has been invented already ” and you are absolutely right. BUT because it is extremely slow and expensive, hence why I will happily give it a pass.
I will be sharing the ride with the crew (and only the crew!) and have dinner with them or see them walking around on the container ship from time to time.
Again: Container ship?!
YES!!!!! My plan is to decelerate my life, to stay offline and not be connected to the www at all times. Reading, processing what's happened in the last few months, getting lost in thoughts and being excited about coming back to my absolutely wonderful country. And my own bed (very important point!). Being excited about coming home to my own flat, all of the little things in life. Spending a lot of time finding and being myself again and become aware of the distance between the two continents. That's all part of the plan.
So, now I have spilt the beans and I cannot put into words how excited I am about going on this adventure. I am a little nervous about spending two weeks on a container ship. Without the internet. without Facebook or Google – just with myself (and of course my Kindle – any and all book tips are more than welcome!)
Update – Change of Plan
I was looking forward to it so much – maybe too much. Last week I received the following email:
Dear Ms Urbanek,
we just got notified that the ship you were going to take has changed its itinerary and will no longer travel to the Caribbean as of today.
Furthermore, we regret to tell you that we don't have any alternative to offer.
After I got this, I contacted other carriers and cargo travel agents and they all told me the same: all freighters that have cabins for travellers are fully booked. There are some that would have some space but would stop in the USA. If you enter the USA on a freighter (even if you don't intend on leaving the ship) you need a visa issued by a US embassy (the ESTA visa is not enough). I neither have the time nor do I want to get such a visa.
I had planned this trip so carefully by reading many articles about it and taking care of documents and everything. I had booked well in advance back in February. I even had a list of places I wanted to visit in Panama and Costa Rica.
When I got the email I felt like a house of cards trying to resist some wind, eventually, I fell. What would be my options? I didn't want to go to Panama or Costa Rica anymore. What should I do?
I can't tell yet, but I'll find something.