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.

Best of Instagram: June

Summer started early and has been going strong ever since. We haven’t had rain in weeks and after enjoying warm summer nights and beach days, Vancouver now sees a backlash of the dry and hot weather in May and June: Since Friday evening a thick smoke cloud could be spotted over Downtown and around the local mountains. Various growing wildfires outside of Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast, around Pemberton and in Kelowna in the Okanagan region are the cause of the grey fog that is getting thicker by the day. An air quality advisory has been released today for Metro Vancouver and evacuations in the affected regions are underway. The sun is blocked by the haze and rain or a change of weather is not in sight. Hopefully July will bring more rain, less fires and relief for the land.

Here’s my recap of a beautiful June, let’s hope summer can become safe and enjoyable for everyone in BC again soon.

During a beach walk below Point Grey Road I discovered this beautiful Mural by local artist Ola Volo. Check her work out here.

I am overjoyed to see that my beloved “Radler” has become a staple in the stores. Having a Stiegl brings back Vienna memories. Now we just need to introduce Almdudler, Tegernseer Helles and Aperol Spritz to the shelves.

MEC is not only a great place to shop outdoor gear, they also offer running clinics, bike events and  SUP intro courses. For only $15 (which is less than any rental place in town), you get an hour and a half training on the water, including the board. Find all upcoming events here.

Third Beach is one of my all time favourite biking destinations. Last time it involved two flat tires, but it was still worth this view.

Another favourite is Trafalger Beach, a great option for less crowded sunset dinners.

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: November

November was a very exciting month – wrapping up work projects, getting ready to head out of town to get married, spending weekends in class and…enjoying some spectacular cold days in the sun! This weekend, my Canadian and I are heading to my “Heimat” Germany. As well as Munich we will visit Bamberg, Vienna and Budapest. Stay tuned for snaps and stories from Europe. Happy Glühwein-Season and see you in 2015, Vancouver!

Mayne Island was the second Gulf island I got to check out (next to Salt Spring) and I loved it. Especially the Japanese Garden and the Springwater Lodge were worth the rough ferry trip.

The view of English Bay on a blue bird day is hard to beat. This shot was taken on the afternoon of Remembrance Day.

Running in this city rules. Passing by tourist sights, running to the sound of crashing waves and stretching at the beach makes me grateful to live here, year-round. And grateful for gloves.

Somehow we managed to get our German wedding organized from afar. On top of work and school it was a challenge at times, but we even found the time and patience to make our very own, handmade invitations.

Early December we got hit by snow. It didn’t last for very long but seeing our doodley dog go nuts in the powder was very much worth the grey mud we had to wade through for the rest of the week.

Oyama Sausage Granville Island White Sausage

6 Tips on Where to Find German Food In Vancouver

When I am asked what I miss most about Germany, I always answer with the three F’s: family, friends and food. While the latter is a pure luxury problem and I very much enjoy the range of cuisines one can enjoy in Vancouver (especially the ocean to table options!) – sometimes I crave a taste of home. That’s what comfort food means to me, feeling a little closer to home with the help of a dish. A good pretzel can make my day and when I found Krapfen (basically a jelly filled donut without a hole) and good Bauernbrot (farmer’s bread) at a local bakery, Vancouver felt a lot more like home all of a sudden. So where do you go when homesickness hits or you just want to try some German staples?

1. Bread

I kissed a lot of frogs (named German Rye, Vienna Style or Fritz Buns) until I found the amazing ‘Bauernbrot’ at Breka Bakery. It’s the first bread that tasted just like at home. With salami, mustard and a pickle for lunch or Nutella for breakfast it hits the spot. Speaking of pickles: Germans do not hang a pickle in their christmas tree. This “tradition” is basically unheard of in Germany, against all North American beliefs.

German Christmas Myth Pickle

Photo by © Jamie Anderson

2. Pretzels

Similar to my bread research, it took me a while to find the best pretzel in town. The Deutsches Haus serves expensive and dry ones, so I turned to the Swiss (!) Bakery and  found my match. The pretzels here are a bit too soft for my Bavarian preference, but throw them in the toaster and you will get a sense of what a pretzel should taste like. Pretzels and sweet mustard – something is missing here…

Swiss Bakery Pretzels Vancouver

Photo by Swiss Bakery

3. Sausages

There are amazing butchers in Vancouver. Unlike German sausages, there is a lot of experimentation going on here: Blueberry-Elk, Apple-Pork, IPA-Bratwurst – there’s no limits when it comes to “Wurst”. My favourite sausage makers are Rio Friendly Meats on Hastings and Oyama on Granville Island. The latter is selling the best white sausage in the city. This brunch sausage is equally as important to a Bavarian as Bacon is to a Canadian. White sausages are simmered and not boiled. Don’t get caught putting it on the BBQ either or you will never hear the end of it.

Oyama Sausage Granville Island White Sausage

Photo by Oyama Sausage Co.

4. Sweets

Sometimes it has to be the real thing. You won’t have any trouble tracking down Ritter Sport or Lindt Chocolate. Milka is a different story though , but it is possible to find the purple goodness (I`ve seen it at the J N & Z Deli on Commercial Drive). London Drugs offers a surprisingly good selection of Bahlsen-Cookies, Manner-Waffers (Viennese!) and Haribo Candy. Same goes for Marmelade, Mustard (Kühne Sweet Mustard) and Spekulatius (spiced cookies) which you will find at Deli Supermarkets like Meinhardts or Stongs Market. And there is even a German Sweets Foodcart in this awesome city: The “Cändy Meister” Truck sells all natural German bonbons.

Ritter Sport German Chocolate

Photo by Ritter Sport

5. Beer

Liquor stores generally offer Löwenbräu and Becks…not my first choices. But there is great German style beer from local breweries in Vancouver. Russell Brewing and Bomber Brewing make a mean Märzen and a lot of the local wheat beer and Helles are very tasty too. I love touring around breweries like 33Acres, Parallel 49 and Brassneck to sample their fresh brews. But that’s a whole different blog post.

6. German Fast Food

A good Curry Sausage can do wonders before a big night out or after a long day. Bestie is the best place in town to get your fix. And on top of that, they serve litre-porcelain steins of beer, the only legitimate size in Bavaria where a “small beer” means 0,5 litre. Sometimes they feature a Leberkäs Specials which is basically a Bavarian Meatloaf in a bun. We call it health food.

Bestie Sausage Currywurst Vancouver

Photo via Nomss.com

What’s your favourite German food?

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

10 Signs of Becoming a Vancouverite

The place you live changes you. For the better and the worse. Leaving my German “Pünktlichkeit” (punctuality) behind and cutting back on the infamous “Direktheit” (brutal honesty) has come naturally. Some things though, like addressing your employer or instructor with their first name or shouting a heartfelt “Thank you” to the Bus driver still take some courage. But I start feeling the change and despite being a “Working Traveller” on paper, I feel closer to becoming a Vancouverite already.


1. The 24/7 Yoga Outfit

To the coffee shop, to the bank, meeting a friend for lunch, at the grocery store, to the park, in class, on public transport, at the beach, in restaurants, in the pub. They are everywhere. Yoga pants are the uniform of Vancouver’s women. Casual, comfy and flattering, it fits almost any activity of the day – hard not to see the benefits of that. For me as a European this is a new definition of effortless style and it didn’t take me very long to embrace it.

Note from the author: A velour track suit or the very popular parachute style (Berlin) are definitely not accepted in public in Vancouver. If you are unsure about the rule set, consult your nearest Lululemon sales assistant.

2. No Umbrella

Big news – it rains a lot in Vancouver. But you will hardly find a local carrying an umbrella with them. You invest in good (looking) rainboots and a stylish rain jacket, but umbrellas are tourist wear. Toughen up!

Dylan King Red Umbrella                                  Source: Dylan King Photography

3. The Bacon

Maple Bacon Donuts? Eww. My first reaction was disgust. Meanwhile, about a year later, I like to eat my Sunday waffles topped with raspberries, maple syrup and some bacon. Yes, I am a convert.

4. “It’s local!”

Having people over for dinner? You better check where your beets are from. Knowing each and every origin of your dinner supplies is crucial for hosting a dinner party. Even better: Get a Community Garden lot and serve the best introduction possible “They’re homegrown”. Jackpot.

5. Own a Growler

The Growler has become a collector’s item and at the same time is a way to express your enviro-friendly self. The further your branded beer container has travelled, the more nods from bearded men you will get at the brewery.

Note from the author: I am not talking about animals here. A Growler is a 1,9l refillable jug for craft beer.

Growler at Brassneck Brewery

6. No  Smoking

Having lived in Vienna for six years I got pretty used to yellow stained walls and constant cigarette smoke around. Vancouver is the complete opposite. Vancouverites don’t smoke. Well, let’s say they don’t smoke tobacco.

7. Be Active

Run, Hike, Paddle – Vancouverites love the outdoors. And there is no excuse. Heavy rain? Pack an extra set of clothes. Snow? Throw some snowshoes on. Heat? Well. Okay. Let’s go to the beach then…

8. Kale, Quinoa and Kraft Dinner

Kale is the arugula of the 21st century. Just salad does not fulfill any yoga-triathlete-crossfit-practicer. Kale is the Vancouverite’s superfood of choice. Only quinoa might be a competition. Or Kraft Dinner. Not celery though (Have you seen this awesome Portlandia episode starring Steve Buscemi?).

9. Hike in MEC

Owning a piece of MEC is crucial to survive the daily city grind. And if you are out on trails, MEC is everywhere. Just like Germans are easy to spot in their trafficlight-coloured Jack Wolfskin gear, you will be able to identify the Vancouverite. Only their Return policy is more loved than their gear.

10. Fear the Wildlife

You’ve stopped requesting a bear sighting in the city. While tourists get very excited about spotting a bear on top of Grouse Grind or seeing a coyote warning sign at Charleson Park, you get excited if there is no wild animal crossing your path. Bears and cougars don’t really phase you much, you care more about that racoon in your garage or the skunk in your neighbour’s garden.

Bear Warning Whistler