rubber boots

I wonder who were the committee members of one should not wear rubber boots under any circumstances campaign here in Germany?

It’s pouring outside so naturally I decide to wear my rain boots. As I walk proudly through the streets thinking, ‘ah, my feet will be nice and dry’ I notice people looking at my footwear choice with great disapproval. I catch one lady actually turning around after she had passed me to check out if in fact she saw correctly that I am wearing rubber boots.

Rubber boots are considered a faux pas here in Germany and you will be stared at if you wear them. The only exception to this rule is if you are a kid. Oh, but wait a minute: bizarrely, Uggs are a huge yes..

Here is my perspective on the matter – I will continue to wear my rubber boots when it rains and not risk damaging my leather footwear and/or having cold wet feet.

Come on, you know you want to order a pair…..



Aside from surfing, Tofino is a gem for photographers, nature enthusiasts and a vacation spot for many.

I have surfed the icy ocean waters of Tofino and can say it was a special treat.


What continues to attract me to Tofino is a somber nostalgia for all those things I experience as soon as the car passes the Long Beach sign on the major road leading towards the highway. There is nothing quite like it – as I sit in the car driving along and all of the sudden the only thing I can see in front of me is a warm fog sheet covering the sky. It’s quite the sight. I’ve met a lot of people that use the word ‘depressing’ to describe Tofino, yet they all keep coming back for more.

Photographers can have a field day out there. The perfect photos appear onto your camera as though they belong.

As for nature enthusiasts, you can literally spend hours and hours walking around simply looking and taking it all in. There are many hiking routes – a popular one is the Pacific Rim National Park trails. I mean one can’t go wrong with any trail really. Once you are here everything is about fresh ocean air, animals, and watching nature just doing its’ thing.

Vacationing in Tofino is a real challenge because you never want to leave. There are many amazing spots, for example, the Wickaninnish Inn with a renowned restaurant – The Pointe – where the chef works wonders with local ingredients and storm watching is particularly personal and mesmerizing. There are also pretty unique camp grounds and private villas/huts one can rent: Ocean Village right on the water offers a romantic, secluded experience.

tofino 100a

What is one to do with all this beauty? Take it all in and keep coming back for more.

the dress

August 2013 – I was in a mad panic to find the perfect dress for a wedding I was attending on Vancouver Island. I resorted to the one store I knew would live up to all expectations. Oliver & Lilly’s, a Vancouver based clothing store – newly located at 1575 West 6th Ave. between Fir St. and Granville – I find completely utterly quaint. There is just no other store with the same kind of uniqueness and devotion.

I had a tight timeline from the time I landed to the time I was expected to attend the wedding. Initially, I had ordered the dress online and wanted it shipped before I left Toronto for Vancouver, but the store emailed me to advise that the shipment would not arrive on time. So instead, when I arrived in Vancouver, they opened the store, even though it was closed at the time for renovations. Leighann met me personally there to hand me my dress with a personalized note thanking me for my purchase. I was incredibly thrilled to be part of Oliver & Lilly’s world.

I will forever remain a loyal customer! Here is to you, Oliver & Lilly’s, for being extremely delightful!!

• Visit their store online or in person – you will not be disappointed •

images © Jamie Mann

there has been an addition to our household

No, not a baby.

After pondering and a great deal of searching we found a great low maintenance addition to our house.


There was a lovely local outdoor market last weekend right outside our door step which we were walking through. When we neared the plants section it dawned on me that this would be the answer I had been looking for, so I bought two strips of moss.

I used my fast walking pace home only to discover, once I took apart the two strips, an ecosystem with living creatures, and part of the top strip moldy.

Now comes the list of ‘I had no idea’:

  • you can revive moldy moss by putting it in a dark area with water at the bottom. I was excited to see it work after a day!
  • it’s not that easy interacting with moss – if you buy freshly cut moss with earth, which I did, you should watch out for tiny creatures wanting to say hello
  • moss is known for its musty smell – something to get used to
  • you can make art with moss

Moss is ideal, due to its low maintenance, for an art piece. Stay tuned to see what I come up with…


Before (above) – After (to come)


cliché – YES…

koelsch-250Beer beer beer, oh my…

So every region in Germany has their own breweries with their own version of what a beer should taste like. Since I live in Köln I am writing about Kölsch, a Kölnian favourite.

Description of the beer: mild, crisp and should be served in a test-tube-like glass

Price: let’s just say for about €20 invested in your Kölsch, you’ll need a friend to walk you home!

Where can you find it: everywhere – there is certainly no shortage of Kölsch in Köln

One thing is for sure, I can forget about gluten-free beer in Deutschland.

Step 21

Fellow expatriate Adam Fletcher wrote a blog-post-turned-book on “How to be German in 50 easy steps”, which inspired this post.

Step 21 in Fletcher’s book is entitled “Watch Tatort”. I was eager to see what a religiously watched German detective show airing since the 1970s would be like.

So, last Sunday, I watched Tatort. This particular episode was shot in Münster, which provided for a wonderful backdrop. As for the content – it was dark, dramatic, action packed at times, and easy to follow.

The attractive part about this particular episode was the premise – a dead Chinese princess/artist who was known to deliver abstract art exposing the hidden truths of the Chinese political system. Now, I found that premise incredibly stimulating because it reminded me of a similar great revolutionary artist – Ai Weiwei.  Someone has done their homework on this show…

After spending 90 minutes watching, I think the show is quite cute, and I’ve developed an intriguement surrounding the forensic specialist by the name of Professor Boerne. Step 21, check!

ai weiwei500

 Ai Weiwei (pictured) vs. Tatort interpretation (linked)

bunch of happy happy animals right in the city

The idea of wild animals being captured in a zoo is by no means something I encourage or promote. I have seen many zoos in my life and I always leave with a sense of discouragement and feeling sorry for the captive animals.

Two weeks ago I visited the zoo right in the city of Koln in Germany. From the time I entered the premise a sense of relief surrounded me. The zoo itself is about 20 hectares, which, to put it into perspective, is about 14 times smaller than the Toronto Zoo. It is extremely clean, the animals are interactive with one another and they mate. As I walked around the different exhibits I saw many babies bouncing around their parents. Below is just one example of a baby elephant alongside the mom and dad, but you can find many more examples.

The idea of zoos is still quite daunting for me but the Kölner Zoo seems to be doing something right…




I took this photograph because it not only put a smile on my face, it also captivated me and depicted the particular perfection of working in an architecturally significant glass building – creating and keeping true to one’s pride, which in Germany, is one’s car. I will have both please!


Riding a horse for me is a personal healing experience. The experience is exhilarating and humbling. To be riding this incredibly tall, lean and fast animal makes me feel like I am on top of the world. The humbleness comes from riding these amazing creatures that have a mind of their own and unimaginable grace and composition. Horses, in my opinion, make humans look strange and ungraceful.

A sanctuary/a paradise for horses tucks itself away in Ashcroft, BC and calls itself Sundance Guest Ranch. For any horse lover out there this is the place where one can truly say, “I’ve arrived!” The trails surrounding the ranch are breathtaking. The ranch itself is situated up a hillside overlooking the wonders and beauty of the warm Okanagan desert terrain. This Ranch is a slice of paradise and rates right up there as my favourite places in world.


wurst anyone?

I believe each country has a staple which they are defined by. Germany has two staples; wurst and beer.

On a sunny autumn afternoon I was taking a walk around a neighbourhood in Delbrück. Suddenly looking up I marvel to see a vending machine full of wurst and cured meats. I needed to investigate to be able to judge for myself. It turns out the local butcher feeds the machines with meat from his shop so that people will have access to it even though his store is closed (for instance on Sundays, when everything comes to a halt here). Tasting the meat myself I can say – an organic delectable little treat.

Germany, I like you already!