New Blogs & Favourite Bloggers: Liebster Award

Liebster-Award Liebster Award? I had no idea there was such a thing until I received an email by a fellow blogger saying she just nominated me for it! This virtual award is given to newbies by other bloggers as a way to build community and exposure. Every blogger answers a short interview and passes the award on to their favourite new bloggers. I feel very lucky that Jeannine came across my blog and nominated me. A big DANKE to Jeannine for this. Jeannine’s instagram snaps are a great running inspiration, also check out her new “Everything but Weddings” blog, a great read for (newcomer) runners. And maybe you already know her from the wedding blog Vancity Bride. So here’s my answers to the “Liebster” questions.

How did you decide on the name of your blog?

I picked a name that relates to my Bavarian heritage and to my attitude towards life. Staying curious opens doors and makes the little things in life stand out.

Where does your blogging inspiration come from?

Most of my blogs are inspired by observations or experiences that I have while travelling, walking through the city or comparing my “European life” with my life here in Canada. Sometimes the topics are born through discussions with friends or Skype calls. My post about finding friends was one of those. After talking to many expats I realized that at some point everyone struggles with this. Same story with my interview about Heimat. I am blessed with many wonderfully open-minded, wandering and wondering friends that are a constant source of (writing) inspiration.

What is it that you love most about blogging?

I love the immediate nature of blogging. Getting feedback and being able to write without having to wait for an editor or the graphic team to work through your lines is pretty sweet. I’ve been writing for print magazines for years and although nothing quite compares to seeing your own words on shiny paper, having a blog with your name on it is a great feeling (and freedom) on its own. Receiving recognitions like this award are a nice side effect of blogging as well. The blogger community might seem “exclusive” and inaccessible first, but truly it is so easy to connect and engage and everyone is so positive and encouraging – people can be kind on the Internet!

What is your favorite food?

I love Thai curries and Japanese food. I could eat sushi every day and Takoyaki is a guilty pleasure of mine. In general I love trying different cuisines and writing about food is one of the most fun things about my job. It makes me truly happy to share new gems with readers and at the same time be able to support a local restaurant, bar, food truck or coffee shop that deserves recognition.

What is your favorite thing to drink? (alcoholic or not)

Well naturally, as a true Bavarian girl, my answer has to be beer. My favourite German beer would be Tegernseer Helles and Augustiner. In Canada the brews by Salt Spring Island Ale, Wolf Brewing and Mt. Begbie have impressed me the most.

What is an item you can’t live without?

My passport!

What are eleven random facts about yourself?

  1. I am Bavarian and therefore roll my “R”. People think I am from Russia all the time.
  2. I’ve been to Siem Reap twice but have never been to Cologne, Dresden or Leipzig. I need to visit more German cities!!
  3. Seinfeld is my favourite TV show ever.
  4. I hate Sauerkraut.
  5. I love Shizenya Sushi – the Yam Tempura roll is heaven.
  6. I just started using Pinterest and already regret it. So.much.to.explore.
  7. My middle name is Loni.
  8. Colour coordination is a bit of an obsession of mine.
  9. For as long as I remember I’ve been dreaming of visiting Hawaii. This year it will happen.
  10. My 87-year old granny was my bridesmaid. She’s the best.
  11. I’m terrified by the ocean (when I can’t see the ground) but I love surfing.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Vancouver is pretty much perfect. I just wish it was closer to my home country.

If you could meet anyone from history (alive or dead) who?

I would love to meet my great-grandparents.

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Hiking and Running. Anything with beautiful scenery is such a rewarding workout to me.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Happy with my life and feeling like a true Vancouverite. I will have visited Iceland, Belize and Easter Island and have a job that allows me to travel to Europe a lot. And hold a Canadian passport…ha. Who knows?

I’d like to nominate…

http://startrockin.ca/  Kristi used to blog about her life as a Canadian expat in Germany for the Vancouver Sun http://blogs.vancouversun.com/author/kristifuoco/. Her new project is a blog about climbing. A sport I have never tried but her inspiring posts sure make me want to give it a go!

https://nursedbyadventure.wordpress.com Barbara is an adventurous traveller with a background in pediatric nursing which makes her blog informative and fun at the same time.

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Vancouver…and what it’s really like!

The international perception of Canada lies somewhere between Arctic, lumberjack country and oh yeah, the Olympics come to mind too. No wonder tourists often seem surprised by Vancouver. It’s greener, bigger, warmer, well just completely different to what they had expected. I once was one of those clueless tourists myself but I have learned a lot over the past months…

Bears are everywhere

Yes, there are bears in British Columbia. If you live on the North Shore you might even spot one in your backyard. A more “intimate” bear sighting is generally rare but you should always be mindful of wildlife when entering bear country, especially when hiking with a dog. Stay “bear safe” by either attaching a bear bell to your dog or by keeping the dog on leash. My favourite bear rule: Don’t use floral perfumes when hiking or camping.

There is also coyotes and eagles and we do have sharks, cougars and wolves in our province. Pretty wild, eh?

It’s all lumberjacks and big trucks

This obviously depends on the part of Canada you are visiting and whether your are spending time in the countryside. Alberta yes and yes. British Columbia not really. People wear plaid and full beards but they’re more likely to work in shared office spaces and ride a fixie bike. Canadians are definitely an outdoorsy bunch and savvy on making a fire, cutting wood or attaching snow chains. Why that is? Schools offer “outdoor education” classes where kids learn such useful skills. I learned how to cheat in badminton and jump into a sandbox instead.

It’s f* cold

Canada is a big country. With big temperature differences. In March we had an early start to spring in British Columbia with temperatures between 12 and 15°C. Up on the East coast people were meanwhile complaining about freezing cold days in the minus 20s. Vancouver rarely gets snow in the city and this year even the local mountains stayed clear of snow for most of the time.

Ganges Salt Spring Gulf Islands

People love Tim Hortons

It is true, Tim Hortons is well loved for a quick and cheap caffeine fix. And for their donuts and Timbits. I tried it twice out of convenience (at the airport and at BCIT) and both times left my coffee unfinished, I just couldn’t do it. Thankfully, Starbucks is not your only alternative! Vancouverites can be proud of their coffee culture where baristas focus more on different brewing techniques and roast quality than double cream and syrups. Try Revolver, Elysian, 49th Parallel or Platform 7 coffee. On that note, a Lucky’s or Cartem’s donut beats Timmy’s anytime…

People are easy going

People are pretty laid-back in Vancouver. Most of the time, about most things. Don’t worry about forgetting spare change for the bus, smoking weed or chatting about religion or politics with strangers. There is another side though! People jumping the line, the housing market, irrational driving behaviour, constant telemarketing and Christy Clark make Vancouverites lose their calm.

Everyone owns a Kayak

…or a SUP, boat, yacht or boogie board. If you live on the coast one of those for sure. And yes, there is great surfing in Canada. Tofino is one of the most popular cold water surfing destinations worldwide. It is beautiful!

Tofino Long Beach Summer Canada

Summer is a joke

I had low expectations for my first summer. Just to find out that it rules! In Vancouver people wear Flip Flops 4 out of 12 months. Surfshorts and short running shorts even 12 out of 12. Canadians are hardcore when it comes to temperatures. Best thing about summer: City beaches like Wreck, Third and Locarno, BBQs on the beach, bike riding the seawall and amazing people watching at Kits – Vancouver is awesome in summer (Downtown not so much).

Eh?

Well, this is actually true.

VANCOUVER 178 Kathrin Kilburn

Best of Instagram: October

I can’t believe it is November already. Last winter I expected snow and ice in Vancouver. People fly out to the “Great White North” from all over the world to go skiing, I thought. Now I know better. While there is snow on the mountains, the city gets rain and grey skies, but snow – hell no! I don’t mind as long as there is enough snow for wintersports in the mountains and fun events happening in the city. And there are plenty: The Vancouver Christmas Market is a favourite (starting on November 22nd), christmas shopping at Circle Craft awaits (opening on November 11th) and the VanDusen Festival of Lights is coming up (starting on 10th of December). And my trip to Germany, Austria and Hungary in December is getting close too!

In the meantime, here are some snaps to remember a beautiful October:

Stanley Park at it’s best. The sunny days in October brought back memories of the amazing summer we had.

Seattle is just a short train ride away from Vancouver. I love this city for many reasons – the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition and the retro-cool Space Needle are two of them.

Vancouver’s Public Art was fun in the sunshine. Now the Biennale installations bring colour to grey days. The “Love your beans” Installation at Charleson Park is one of my favourites. Watching people climbing the beans has become a favourite spectator sport on the seawall.

You know it is fall when the historic Sylvia Hotel is turning red.

My second trip to Seattle was complete with a visit to the amazing Seattle Art Museum. The current exhibitions are worth a visit. I love spending all day in the museum…

November started with a sunny morning, perfect to get some fresh air after a long Halloween night and enjoy the last fall colours at Queen Elizabeth Park.

 

 

 

My 5 Favourite Festivities in Vancouver

To get to know a city, it’s people and quirks, taking part in local celebrations is key. Vancouver has a couple of amazing, hilarious and beautiful festivities that give the city a special flavour.These are my five favourite celebrations and festivities throughout the year:

Halloween

Not all Germans carry the Carneval gene. In Munich, Oktoberfest is way more important than Karneval (ask someone from Cologne or Mainz though!). Dressing up was never one of my obsessions. But being creative is – and that’s why the contagious Halloween-fever in North America finally got to me this year. While I was half-heartedly dressed as a budget-saving “London Eye”-riddle last year (obviously no one knew what or who I was), this year I will actually make an effort to get some proper accessoires and fake blood on me. And what’s not to love about this holiday: Adorable kids dressed as Oreo Cookies and Mini-Zombies on the sidewalk, carving pumpkins with friends, eating candy, watching Beetlejuice and taking walks through the neighbourhood looking at peoples tricked out gardens transformed into graveyards and skeleton-parties. Fun.

Halloween House Shaugnessy Garden Fall

Polar Bear Swim

The Vancouverite way of starting the new year is with blue lips and clacking teeth. The Polar Bear Swim is an infamous annual hangover cure that separates the Vancouverites into three groups: The bystanders holding towels, hot chocolate and rum; the brave swimmers, partly costumed; and the whimps, those that can’t face the cold waters of English Bay. Too bad I am not in town for this years swim. Next year I will take the plunge. Maybe.

Polar Bear Vancouver Sun
Credit: Ward Perrin, PNG

Canada Day

I had no idea what an array of maple leaf accessories there were out there. On Canada Day Canadians go all out. Everyone is in their red and white gear and out on the beach, BBQ’n it up and celebrating Canada’s birthday. This year was particulary nice as the 1st of July was one of those über-hot 36°C summer days. I highly recommend going down to Wreck Beach to celebrate with the locals.Never have I seen our beloved Nudie Beach (We call it FKK in Germany, meaning ‘free body culture’) so packed. Needless to say the Canada Day costumes down there were legendary. I’ve never seen more relaxed beach cops either, playing frisbee with some Wreck regulars and ignoring the obvious cocktail pitchers (and yes, we are in North America after all. We have beach cops.). There is also a funky parade and fireworks. Which leads me to another favourite in my calendar…

IMG_7250

The Celebration of Light

I thought my New Years experience in Sydney, Australia in 2007 was hard to top. But I had seen nothing yet. The Celebration of Lights is something else, especially because it is in the middle of summer. It’s three days long and three nations compete to show who can create the best firework show. The whole city is watching, even on TV. The professionally orchestrated pyro-show is accompanied by music which you can tune in on the radio. Bring a camping chair to any high ground or make friends with someone living in a high rise with a waterfront view and you are set for the jaw-dropping celebration.

Terry Fox Run

I had never heard of Terry Fox until I moved to Vancouver. Shocking, I know. His ‘Marathon of Hope’ (1980) across the country to raise money for cancer research made him a national hero and running legend. He could not finish his run due to cancer in his lungs and when he died in 1981 at the age of only 22 the whole nation was grief-struck.

“Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me.” – Terry Fox

His legacy kept running strong. Terry has become synonymous for the fight of cancer and every year thousands of people gather in his memory to participate in running events across the country to keep his goals alive: Support Cancer research and never give up on your dreams. Read more about the Terry Fox Foundation here. Who’s joining me 2015?

Terry Fox Run Vancouver 2014
Picture: Flickr.com / RunSociety

Microcosm: Community Garden

Being from a small town in Upper Bavaria, the concept of farm to table has been something I was introduced to very early. We would get our milk from the neighbour’s cows and know exactly which field your veggies and meat came from. It was only when I moved to Vienna that I got a taste of how luxurious that lifestyle had been. Instead of researching the best way to get fresh vegetables and meat from a farmer’s market, I went the lazy route and cut down on meat and bought my veggies from the closest supermarket. I had been so used to having fresh, local produce available at all times that it didn’t occur to me that I might have to make an effort to keep eating local.

16 Oaks Community Garden Oak Street

Visiting Vancouver for the first time in September 2012 changed my perception for good. Here was a city that revolved around the “Buy local, Eat local” mantra. There were community run gardens all over the city, bee hives on top of buildings and farmer’s markets every other day. In short: People gave a sh* about what they eat.

Fascinated by the widespread attitude of conscious planting, buying and eating I read the Canadian staple “The 100-Mile diet” and came to think that growing your own food would not only make my urban life healthier and cheaper, it would also bring back the joy of knowing where things grow and when something is in season. And it would taste so much better too.

Creekside Community Centre Garden

Two years later I look back on a summer full of beets, lettuce, carrots, beans, tomatoes, peppers and hundreds of cucumbers (the lemon cucumber was growing to a frightening size).

Our community garden plot is just a block away from our home, meaning that you will be able to enjoy the most lazy shopping experience ever. But it comes at a price: You have to get your hands dirty and water regularly (nice side effect, you will suddenly appreciate living in the ‘Wet City’).

The fun of trading cucumbers with zucchini or dropping bags of produce on all your friends because you can’t possibly eat it all will make up for it though. It will give you a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude, that you discovered the best of both worlds. The perfect symbiosis of country and city life.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Kitsilano Farmers Market Heirloom Tomatoes

Put a Little Oom-pah in Your Life

Living abroad means that I sometimes crave the things that I take for granted at home. Like a German newspaper, the obligatory “Tatort” crime series ritual each Sunday, fresh pretzels and white sausages, or even things I would complain about in Munich. Like the public transport system. Or Oom-pah Music. Never in my life have I voluntary listened to bavarian music, except when driving with my granny in the car or visiting one of the region’s famous beer festivals. But things have changed. Recently I caught myself craving a good Oom-pah-pah for dinner time and studying seems to flow much better when there is a brass band playing in the background. This being the case, my excitement for Canadian Oktoberfest celebrations shouldn’t come as a surprise.

We visited the Bomber Brewing Oktoberfest in East Vancouver last weekend and my Canadian fiancé and I were buzzing with excitement. German sausages, beer kegs, bavarian music and a beer garden party – that’s what dreams are made of!  Riding my bike through the city in a ‘Dirndl’ (traditional bavarian dress) was also a highlight. Suddenly the houses looked more bavarian and even the air smelled just like home…but reality caught up with me and next thing I knew, we were standing in the craft breweries concrete ‘backyard’, fenced in with wire. The prison flair gave the beery neighbourhood party some edge for sure.

A legal beer festival outside – this is still a novelty for Vancouverites. No German would understand the excitement of drinking outside (!) but it is a big deal in this city. Any trace of homesickness was forgotten when I smelled the bratwurst on the BBQ and saw the white and blue flag flying overhead. Funny how the little things become so important when you’re living abroad. I didn’t even complain too much about the plastic stein or the unsalted pretzels. The music wasn’t particulary German either and the ‘costumes’ could have been offensive to my bavarian eyes. But I was on cloud nine. Teaching bavarian drinking chants to my friends and sharing Oktoberfest stories with locals made me embrace my Bavarianism more than ever. And I truly believe that everybody needs a little Oom-pah in their life.

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