Twipper of the Week: Cheryl Howard from Cherylhoward.com

cheryl

Current city: Berlin, Germany

Age: 30 something

Total countries visited: 32

What makes you interesting: After living the majority of my life in Toronto, Canada, I quit my job, sold everything I owned, and moved to Berlin, Germany in June 2011. I came alone, without employment, and any knowledge of the German language. During my 18 months in Berlin, I freelanced as a project manager and travel writer, as well as travelled all around the continent. For personal reasons, I moved back home to Canada for two years, where I spent all my free time eating sausage, learning German, and plotting my move back to Berlin. I returned in November 2014 and now work as an Agile Coach for a tech startup, run a popular travel and expat living blog at cherylhoward.com, host monthly expat meetups, and currently working on a book project about refugees in Berlin.

What brands do you love: I’m going to sound like a snob as their products are pretty high-end, but I love Tumi travel gear. I’ve a carry-on suitcase and a laptop bag from them which have lasted me for 5+ years now. While the laptop bag has seen better days, the carry-on still remains my favorite piece of travel gear.

What are the least appealing qualities in a travel companion: A few years back, I spent a weekend in Budapest with a guy I was dating. Budapest is my favorite city in the world (after Berlin), so I was pretty excited to be there with him. The trip turned out to be an absolute disaster. He wanted to sleep in, when I wanted to wake up early and explore. Hanging out at ruin bars was not his thing. He thought I walked too slowly and hated how I stopped to take so many pictures. He pretty much embodies all the things I don’t like in a travel companion. I need someone who wants to wake up early with me, explore as much as possible, hang out at unpretentious places, and is cool enough to let me do things on my own.  Weirdly enough, we continued dating for a while, but we made an agreement to never travel together again.

How has travel changed you or how do you hope it will change you: It’s difficult to answer such a huge question with only a handful of sentences. At the risk of sounding painfully cliché. I’d say that travel has changed me for the better as I’ve become more open minded and appreciative of what I have. It motivated me to make a concerted effort to help others and this is why I’m now working on project to document the stories of refugees in Berlin.

What are your travel rituals: A couple times, I almost missed flights due to my absent mindedness and related tardiness. Last year, I arrived for my flight to Bangkok 5 minutes before they closed the gate. As such, I now absolutely loathe being late and will get to the airport several hours earlier than needed, just so I can get through check-in, security, etc. without feeling any stress. I’ll usually buy a coffee and get some work done to pass time, before my flight’s departure.

Describe the last time you tried something new: I try new things all of the time, but the one that stands out the most for me was paragliding through the Italian Alps. I’m scared of heights, so that moment when we literally ran off the side of a mountain was terrifying. But suddenly, we were flying through the air, in this really picturesque setting. My feelings of fear were soon replaced with ones of joy and exhilaration.

Who is the most interesting person you have met while traveling: By far, the most interesting person I’ve ever met while travelling was Jorge Selarón in Rio de Janeiro. He’s an artist who transformed a dilapidated set of stairs into a beautiful work of art. The stairs are decorated with brightly colored tiles sent to him from fans all around the world. Before his death in 2013, he regularly used to change them. I was fortunate enough to meet Selarón in 2010. He asked me where I was from and showed me a tile for Canada and another for Toronto. I also bought one of his paintings, which he personally autographed. I still have this painting today and it sits on a bookshelf in my Berlin apartment.

Where did you go for your first travel experience and at what age: My first international trip happened at age 26, when I went to South America to cruise the Galapagos Islands and hike the Inca Trail.

Next travel destination: As I’m currently sorting out a new German work permit and in the process of renewing my Canadian passport, I have no plans to leave Germany over the next few months. That said, I think some weekends away to Hamburg and Munich are in order.