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.
  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…  Kristi used to blog about her life as a Canadian expat in Germany for the Vancouver Sun 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! Barbara is an adventurous traveller with a background in pediatric nursing which makes her blog informative and fun at the same time.


Interview Series 1: Finding Heimat

Heimat is a unique term in the German language, describing more than just the feeling of being at home. It describes a feeling of belonging, a feeling of being rooted somewhere.

Heimat (pronounced [ˈhaɪmat]) is a German word with no English equivalent[1] that denotes the relationship of a human being towards a certain spatial social unit. The term forms a contrast to social alienation and usually carries positive connotations. It is often expressed with terms such as home or homeland. (Wikipedia)

Your Heimat does not have to be where you currently live or where you were born, it has individual meaning to everyone. My Heimat is the countryside in Bavaria, where my family lives and where most of my early memories are. Going to Vienna feels like “coming home” too, when I arrive in the city it usually takes me a while to grasp that I am just a visitor now.

Vancouver has grown to become Heimat for me very quickly. Being with my husband makes me feel at home and I truly connect with the mentality and lifestyle in Vancouver – I feel like I belong here. It’s the sum of places, friends, family and memories that give me a sense of Heimat. A beautiful concept: It means you are never lost.

Many of my friends and fellow bloggers have this one thing in common: They live or have lived abroad for multiple years. I am fascinated by how our notion of home and Heimat changes with the experience of being abroad, being a foreigner and searching for a home away from home.

These four people have never met and yet they have a whole lot in common.

Kemara Pol

Blogger and Photographer

Kemara Pol Photographer and BloggerWhere is your home and what does “Heimat” mean to you?

I don’t necessarily see home as something that is geographically determined. To me it has to do with a certain emotion of comfort, trust and understanding. I think home is where your people are, that could be your family you were born into, the family that you’ve created yourself or your friends you’ve become close with over the years. Home is being with people you love and trust and where you unapologetically can be your true self.  ‘Heimat’ as in a geographic area that you feel close to or connected with, isn’t really something that I think about and it’s not the way I want to go through life.

Which cities have you lived in?

I’ve lived in Berlin, Vienna, Linz, Shanghai and Bangkok.

What makes you feel at home in a new place?

For me it’s all about the people you choose to surround yourself with, your social environment, your support system, people who literally make you feel at home. Why is it that we get homesick when we’re abroad? Why do we feel isolated if we just moved to another city or even another country? Because we feel left out and we miss the people who we’ve left behind who gave us the feeling of comfort and being at home.

What do you miss about living in those places?

I miss the big city life, the challenge of conquering a metropolis, the exciting feeling of being somewhere else, exploring new horizons and adventures. I still remember the day when I moved to Shanghai as part of my exchange semester as if it was yesterday. I found an apartment for myself in just four days. On the first day I sat on the window bench in my room on the 28th floor or something and looked out the window at the amazing skyline and thought to myself ‘This city is mine now, and I’m gonna conquer it!’

Where to next – or are you staying?

I don’t know yet. I’m hoping  to move to a major city that excites me culturally as well as mentality-wise at some point in my life. My absolute priority for right now is to establish my blog and I’ll see where life will take me….




Cheryl Howard

Travel Blogger

Blogger Cheryl HowardWhere is your home and what does “Heimat” mean to you?

I now live in Berlin, Germany, which I feel is the best city on earth! While I’ve lived the majority of my life in Toronto, Canada, I feel much more “at home” in Berlin. It’s where I’m most happy and there’s no where else that I’d rather be. It’s odd how a person can move to an entirely new city and country and feel more at home there than in their native land. But I think I’ve found my place. So, I think the key to “Heimat” is simply the feeling of being happy with where you are.

Which cities have you lived in?

I’m Canadian and have lived all over the country! I was born in Woodstock, a small city in South Western Ontario. At age 13, I moved to a tiny village in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia where I spent my high school years. Terrified at the thought of living out the rest of my life in a rural setting, the day after my graduation, I eagerly left Nova Scotia behind to spend the summer before university with my father in Brantford, Ontario. That fall, I began post secondary school in Toronto and three years later, finished my last semester in Calgary, Alberta. After graduation, I returned to Toronto to establish my career as a project manager. I then stayed in Toronto for a very long time, but longing for a new life I eventually moved to Europe, ending up in Berlin for 18 months where I started a new career as a travel blogger. For personal reasons, I moved back home to Toronto for two years. After realising how much I missed Germany, I happily moved back in November 2014.

What makes you feel at home in a new place?

When I first arrived in Berlin, I was pretty homesick. I’d never been on a vacation longer than three weeks and had never lived so far away from home before. There were a lot of Skype calls! But then I started going out and meeting people and that changed everything. I met people with whom I had more in common with than the friends I had at home. People who loved travelling, pursuing new adventures abroad and more. I really came to like the German culture and identified with it in a way that I never expected. The new friends made all the difference and made me feel at home in my new surroundings.

What do you miss about living in those places?

When I moved home to Toronto in November 2012, it seemed like the right thing to do. I missed my friends and family, was tired of freelancing and dealing with some of the difficulties of expat life. Sometimes it takes leaving a place before you figure out where your home (and heart) really are and for me, that was Berlin. My two years home were great, but I constantly ached for Berlin and for the longest time, it didn’t seem like it would happen. Thankfully, it did and now that I’m back, I don’t imagine myself ever leaving.

Where to next – or are you staying?

As I said, there’s no other place I’d rather be than in Berlin. I even plan to apply for permanent residency in about two years and may even consider citizenship at a later date.

W. D.

Recent MSc Graduate

ViennaWhere is your home and what does “Heimat” mean to you?

I’d say that I’ve had several homes throughout the years. Home is a place – certainly Bavaria, where I grew up and where my family lives, and whose traditions, music, food, fashions I relate to. I’d probably describe Bavaria as “Heimat”, too, because of these traditions, which for some reason I connect with the German word “Heimat”. However, what I call “home”, and not “Heimat” in what I see as a traditional word, has a lot to do with the people I connect with. Therefore, home is also a feeling and not just a place. My friends are my home, special evenings or days of happiness with my friends are and have been my home. When I’ve been happy in relationships I was at home when I was with my respective partner. People who make me feel good about myself are what makes me feel at home.

Which cities have you lived in?

Munich, Vienna, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, and, briefly, London.

What makes you feel at home in a new place?

Having my own flat or room, it doesn’t matter where but it has to feel like my own place. Also having a regular pub or someplace where I can easily get to talking with people in the evenings. The advantage of not being straight is often that you’ll find people in any city that has some kind of gay scene, too. It might also just be superficial encounters and chats but it helps to not feel alone when you’re completely new. I also like exploring a new place via public transport and on foot. Once I know my way around a bit, I feel much more at home.

What do you miss about living in those places?

About the places I’ve lived, I miss the specific atmospheres of those cities.
For Hong Kong, I miss the food, the contrasts between sky scrapers and expensive malls on the one hand and the smaller alleys with cheap and local food markets or diner-like places. I miss hearing Cantonese and the excitement I felt at all the differences I saw to European cities. With Sydney and Melbourne, I miss the good friends that I made there. I miss what I perceived as a much more easygoing vibe in general (as opposed to Germany, for instance). I also miss the beach and the good times I had working as a bartender. For Vienna, I miss the pubs and bars I used to go to, the Danube and going swimming there in the summer. I miss the Viennese grumpiness and special sense of humour. I especially miss the great times I had with some of my best friends there. It still feels like I only just left Edinburgh, so I don’t necessarily miss it that much – although I recently heard a bagpipe play at a festival and became nostalgic as I used to hear them play everyday outside my window in Edinburgh. London: I miss the great walks that I took there, through all the big parks, along the Thames and the canals.

Where to next – or are you staying?

Hopefully China, but via Iceland and Vancouver. It could also be Brussels or London, though, depending on job situation…

Barbara Tiedke

Paediatric intensive care nurse and Blogger

Barbara Tiedke BloggerWhere is your home and what does “Heimat” mean to you?

One of my new years resolutions for 2015 is to find a place I can call home. I truly don`t know where that particular place could be…I guess it is true: Home is where your heart is. Whereas I had a feeling of belonging during my last visit in Vancouver. “Heimat” means one thing to me: Back to the roots, back to the family. Especially my Mam`s place in Germany.

Which cities have you lived in?

I have lived and worked in a few cities for months and years. For example: Bochum and Tübingen (Germany), Whangamata (NZ), Rarotonga (Cook Islands), Brisbane (Australia), Vancouver (Canada), London (UK).

What makes you feel at home in a new place?

I adjust to new environments quite easily. I have the tendency to call a flat/room “home” quickly, even though I have no real bond with it and am basically just renting it for a while. It might be the excitement which comes with new places, people and experiences.

What do you miss about living in those places?

I wish that there would be a combination of them! Close to my family, vast and wild like Canada, sophisticated like London, and relaxed and with warm temperatures like the Cook Islands and Australia.

Where to next – or are you staying?

I have a stop over at my Mam`s for two weeks before I will hike along the Camino de Santiago. My mission is to clear my mind and think about what to do with my life, which also means where to stay or settle for more than two years. Eventually I will return to Vancouver. Who knows? There are so many beautiful places out there! So much to explore!


Part 3: Budapest – The Pest City!

“Paris of the East” – Budapest isn’t the only city that has been called this. Yet it is very fitting. Budapest has an energy to it that brought me back to creative hubs like Paris and Barcelona. Budapest has it all: You can choose a classic trip – visiting an opera, taking a cruise on the danube, enjoying some goulash, visiting the market, going to a bath…or, you can stay in the 7th district and discover the quirky side of Budapest. I loved the range of art spaces, bars and restaurants in this part of town. Creative designs, facade murials and funky bars and shops are sprinkled all across the Jewish quarter. Here are some gems we discovered while wandering through the streets around Kazinczy Utca…

1. Szimpla

The ‘godmother’ of ruin bars. Ruin bars are a big thing in Pest and this one is the biggest, quirkiest and loudest of them all. Painted and scribbled-on walls, flickering neon lights and old TV screens, a kitchen stove with records melted on to it, an old car in the middle of the courtyard to sit and enjoy a drink in, hanging gardens and party people everywhere. Unfortunately my favourite piece, the bathtub/couch has vanished – I wonder where it ended up…

2. Köleves

We were looking for modern, Hungarian food. After one week in Bavaria the thought of more meat and more bread and more potatoes was just not very appealing. Which basically rules out 90 percent of the restaurants in Budapest. But we were lucky. The dishes at the hip Köleves were creative and versatile and the menu included a great selection of vegetarian (and non-veggie), Jewish-inspired dishes and Hungarian wine. Lamps out of cheese-grinders, a great dinner party atmosphere and a look at their phenomenal outdoor beergarden space (complete with a boat) made us wish we had booked a room at their guest house. Next time!

3. Mono Design

We needed a souvenir. Paprika and Tocaji wine are classics. But we had shopped spices and wine in Austria already so we wanted something different. That’s when we stumbled across the interior design and fashion store Mono Design. This store slash gallery shows some fantastic Hungarian designers and their art and crafts pieces. Badminton Salt & Pepper Shakers, cute Budapest prints, stitched nude portraits on canvas and a rhinoceros statue were my favourite pieces.

4. M-Lamp

A lamp out of tea cups, colourful lace or filled with sugar cookies? M-Lamp designs unique, handmade lamps and shades. This little store with it’s fun and colourful designs is too cool for words and leaves you eager to start a DIY project – or  depart with a lamp under your arm.

5. A Table Boulangerie

Pistacchio & Chocolate Croissant. Enough said. This French bakery and their pastries are simply amazing. I mean, look at this… Pistacchio Chocolate Croissant Budapest A Table 6. Blue Bird Cafe

A cute and colourful breakfast spot offering great (pan-)cakes and omelettes to get a boost after a big night out. The service is super friendly and the whimsical interior decoration and their screened patio area make it a perfect place to relax.