Our new Meet the Travel Blogger Series continues this week with Cheryl Howard of cherylhoward.com .
Our goal is to continue featuring leading travel bloggers from around the world. We’ve lined up some amazing bloggers for this series and hope that you enjoy the series. If you know of a travel blogger that would be an awesome addition to the series, let us know.
As the official venture focused on developing tourism in Jerusalem, we place great efforts in positioning Jerusalem as a primary international tourist destination.
(Last time, we interviewed Kalie Moore)
Who is Cheryl Howard?
I’m a travel writer and photographer living in Berlin, Germany.
When I’m not working (I’m a project manager for a local start-up), I travel. Day trips, weekends, extended holidays … whenever and wherever I can get away.
I have grand plans to spend the rest of my life travelling the world every chance I get. So far, I’ve been to 29 countries and explored different parts of North America, South America and Europe.
You can read more about my travels and expat life in Berlin over at my blog cherylhoward.com.
How did you get started on your blog?
I started travel blogging entirely by chance. When preparing for a big trip to Brazil and Argentina, I began writing about my travel plans — like how to get the tourist visa for Brazil or what I thought about the fancy backpack I just purchased. While in South America, I wrote daily updates.
I’m sure no one save my mom or my cat even read the posts. Some of my friends made fun of what I was doing and some even told me I was wasting my time.
Shortly after my vacation to South America, a couple of things happened. I sold my house and ended up getting laid off from my job. With the proceeds from the house and severance, I suddenly found myself in an enviable position and went on a sabbatical that lasted the better part of two years. During that time, I travelled a lot and eventually found myself living in Berlin.
Along the way, I learned that travel blogging was actually a real thing. I started following the more established blogs, took a travel writing class, attended travel blogging conferences, etc. Over time, I was able to grow my blog and social media following into what it is today.
What inspired you to go out and travel the world?
It was a couple of things.
I’ve had wanderlust since I was a young girl but never had the means to really and truly travel until I was in my late 20s. When I started travelling, I just didn’t want to stop. It’s been travel itself that inspired me to travel even more. It’s addictive, really!
Another thing was the death of my father almost 10 years ago. The time following his passing was an extremely difficult one and motivated me to book my first international trip. I spent 3 weeks cruising the Galapagos Islands, hiking the Inca Trail and flying over the Nazca Lines.
He was an enthusiastic traveler himself, so I guess it was only natural to follow in his footsteps!
Favorite travel destination in terms of style and unique flavor?
Some of my favorite things to do there are walk along Andrássy Utca, enjoy the baths (Gellert and Szechenyi are top notch), drink cheap beers in the ruin bars and eat vast amounts of goulash.
Best Hotel you’ve stayed at is …
Hotel Rivalago in Italy. The views of Lake Sulzano and the surrounding mountains are to die for!
Favorite City …
Berlin, of course, as this is my new home after having spent the majority of my life in Toronto, Canada.
(all photos shared with permission by Cheryl)
It’s hard for me to put into words why I love Berlin so much, but it’s where I’m happiest and feel most at home.
A photo posted by Cheryl Howard (@cherylhowardblog) on
When starting your travel blog, when you were squeezing in your job, and getting geared up for your first solo travel did you have any anxiety or fears?
Of course. I feared for my safety in a third world country and was not sure how to overcome the language barriers. I prepped myself by buying phrasebooks, talking with others who’d been there and researching online.
I also played it smart. When in Rio de Janeiro, I only went out during the day. At night, I’d relax in my hotel room and read. I finished at least six novels during my two weeks there!
I had other fears relating to the blog as well. I was scared people would make fun of me for what I was doing, and I as mentioned earlier, some did in the beginning.
I even got my first hate mail this summer from a “fan.” As such, you need to develop a thick skin and realize that when the hate mail arrives, you’ve made it “big”!
What are some of the most important things you have learned along your journey?
I’ve learned to go with the flow! Every destination (especially those in less developed areas of the world) has the potential to surprise you and not always in the most pleasant of ways.
I’ve also learned that travelling alone is never really lonely. Some of my best memories have come from chance meetings with strangers when I’ve been on the road. One night I went for dinner in Montreal and met three really cool people while sitting at the bar alone. They asked me to join them for dinner and then later to a really cool jazz bar. We drank cocktails, talked travel and listened to music for hours on end.
With 29 countries under your belt, were there any big highlights? Any downsides or unexpected complications?
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of cool, even crazy things that I never would have thought possible for myself. Highlights include hiking the Inca Trail, paragliding in the Italian Alps, and cave diving in Budapest.
I’ve had tough moments along the way, like getting robbed in Barcelona and getting stranded in a small Polish town for the night.
You live in Berlin now, what attracted you to there and is there anything that could be replicated in other European cities?
I came to Berlin for work and the chance to live in a European capital. Berlin has a great start-up scene so it’s exciting and fun to be part of that community.
As for blogging, that could be done anywhere so long as you have the option.
As you know, Israel is known as the Start Up Nation, even within Jerusalem there are major startup hubs, ventures and an ecosystem that is continuously growing. Are there any interesting tourist related opportunities for the startup world?
No comment for this one.
Your blog has shifted towards weekend or 4-5 day visits to cities. What are you looking for in those 4 days?
I always try to find weird and offbeat things to do — like visit a cat boat in Amsterdam or check out river surfing in Munich. I also love to hunt down street art, chill in cool cafes and find a trendy restaurant for a good local meal.
My absolute favourite thing to do is to just wander, get lost, walk for hours, take photos and watch life happen around me. It’s a great way to get to know a city!
Urban tourism. What does that mean for you and what attracts you to a city?
I really like getting to know a city through the eyes of locals. One of my favourite ways to get to know a city is to do a food tour, for example, like a recent one I did in Amsterdam. We sampled different types of cheese, apple pie and even Indonesian food!
What adventures do you have planned for the remainder of 2015, what can we look forward to?
I’ll soon be heading to Thailand for a week, which will take me to Asia for the very first time!
I’m also hoping to spend my birthday at a surfing camp in the Canary Islands this summer, where I’ll surely find out that I’m totally not a cool surfer.