Interview with Blogger Charlotte Steggz

Vanessa: I met Charlotte in Japan many years ago and I read her blog more than any other. We have so much in common, having both studied Japanese and lived in Japan for many years and then living in Germany. We were delighted to grab an interview with her and tell you about her exciting new project: podcasts!
Blogger Charlotte Steggz

Blogger Charlotte Steggz

L&A: We love your blog. Tell us all about it!

Hehe thank you. I love your blog too! I started blogging when I was in Japan as a student. I’ve always liked telling people stories, so I found it easy to tell people stories of my life there. When people responded really well, I wanted to keep it up!
These days, my blog is about my life now that I’m back in the UK. I want it to be a tale of me readjusting to life here, of my life doing comedy and an honest representation of what it’s like here. I just started a podcast too – but it’s early days ;)
L&A: How did you go from Japan to Germany?
I was in Japan and feeling really blue. I loved my life there but didn’t like how I felt patronised all the time, and couldn’t really get respect from my coworkers in my job as an assistant language teacher. I also wasn’t ready to go back to the UK, so I applied to loads of jobs – to cruise ship jobs, teaching in Taiwan…and to a games company in Frankfurt. I found that I passed the test for the games company, and was a Japanese translator for them for a few years!
L&A: What is the most delicious thing you ever ate in Germany and why?
Schweinshaxe. I believe that if you don’t wrestle with your food, it doesn’t taste as good.
L&A: What surprised you the most about Germany?
German people are super nice. They have the rep (especially in the UK) of being boring and killjoys. But I think my German flatmates were more party-animal than I was!
L&A: Where is your favourite place in Germany?
I loved Marburg. It’s so pretty and quaint. Plus, the Brothers Grimm were from there!
L&A: Why did you decide to leave Germany?
A number of reasons. I was frustrated with me not being able to communicate easily with German people. I studied and can speak German conversationally, but there were certain situations that I was in where I just wished to be at home with my own people.
My life in Frankfurt was great but I felt my lifestyle was very unhealthy. There were great people around me, but I didn’t have very many close friends. We’d eat out and drink quite a lot and I put on a lot of weight. My life now in the UK is a lot more relaxed, and has a lot less drama in it too! This isn’t a German thing, it’s just the culture of having a small city with lots of foreigners, plus working in a massive company like I did.
L&A: What is the thing you miss most about living in Germany?
Eating out all the time and the cocktails!! ;)
Charlotte with a beer in a dirndl!

Charlotte with a beer in a dirndl!

L&A: Any plans to return to Germany one day?

I went back for the Christmas markets last year and that was great. I don’t see myself visiting back there for a while, but I do miss things there.

L&A: Why did you blog in Germany?

Because it was a huge part of my life, and also the German blogger community is so awesome. I really miss being part of it!
Thank you so much Charlotte! You can check our her blog here and find out all about what to read and watch on her new podcasts.

Friday Links

I’m tickled pink…

My friend actually contributed to this article about dating in foreign languages.

9 America habits lost after moving to Germany.

Bacon wrapped crust pizza? YES PLEASE!

Anyone up for cycling from Berlin to Denmark?

World’s most interesting bookstores!

How to make my favourite ramen at home!

How to get into Berghain… maybe…

Stereotypes of the North.

Cuckoo clocks in the Black Forest - I wanna go here now!

I always knew Indian food was the best in the world – now science has proven why it’s so insanely delicious!

A very interesting read about men getting ‘stuck’ in Japan.

AirBnB Professional Photos

Click Click Click…

We have been super popular on AirBnB recently and we used it all over America. It’s so much better than staying in a boring hotel room – you get to meet locals and stay in a place that feels like home. In New York we learnt that apartments and rooms are tiny, in New Orleans we stayed in a multi-coloured house. It was beautiful!

So when we got a random request from AirBnB offering us a free photoshoot of our apartment, we jumped at the chance. A few days later, a man came over and took some photos and a week later they were uploaded onto the website. They are beautiful – we LOVE them and we have had lots more hits since the new photos were taken – people arrive tomorrow and the day they leave others are coming and we even have someone coming for two months! Our apartment is so lovely – check it out! And pass on the information to any friends of family coming to Berlin – we are great hosts!

And if you are still not an AirBnB member, use this link to join up – it gives you €22 off your first visit! Absolutely great offer :)

What to Drink in America

We did the whole ‘Top Ten Things You Must Eat in New York‘ post and now you need to know what to drink on the other side of the pond.

1) Starbucks - Matcha Frappachino

Most of you already know I’m obsessed with Green Tea Frappachino – it’s literally the first thing I do in Japan and sadly Europe doesn’t sell this delicious morsel. America’s Starbucks do however, so we had lots of the ‘healthy’ green tea drink.

Matcha Frappachino heaven

Matcha Frappachino heaven

2) Max Brenner – Hot Chocolate

The hot chocolate was recommended by my friend and the chocolate literally makes its way through the restaurant via poles! They have special ‘hug mugs’ so you can cuddle your cup and warm your hands while you drink this delicious chocolate mixture. It feels like velvet is slowly descending your throat and I definitely left wanting more.

Hug Mug!

Hug Mug!


Chocolate delivered in pipes!

Chocolate delivered in pipes!

3) Pat O’Briens, New Orleans – Hurricane

The birthplace of the Hurricane Drink. We ordered one each and they are HUGE – and not actually very nice, but when in New Orleans, it apparently has to be done. The waiter didn’t like them either, but he spent all evening bringing them to the tourists’ tables. There is so much alcohol in it that you get tipsy quickly and in the end I think I kind of liked the flavour – but I would say share one between all of you and get something nice to drink alongside it.

“Served in a Pat O’Brien’s logo glass and garnished with an orange slice and a cherry, the fruity red concoction was created during World War II when liquor such as whiskey was in low supply. […] The name came soon after when a glass shaped like a hurricane lamp was used to serve the fruity rum cocktail.

The Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane glass is one of the most sought-after souvenirs in New Orleans.”



4) Fat Tuesday, New Orleans – Frozen Daiquires

Om nom nom! So many flavours to choose from and refreshing in the heat of New Orleans!

Frozen Daiquiris

Frozen Daiquiris

And here’s a bonus:

This is the fabulous present we all got after the boozy-wedding! What a fabulous idea – personalised bottled water for your guests :)

Wedding Water

Wedding Water

FitBit – more than just a flashy pedometer!

Cor blimey, he’s a bit fit ;)

Ever heard of a FitBit? I hadn’t until we got to America. Two of our friends we hung out with had them – one had the wrist-band version and the other friend had the pocket version. I’m just gonna say it: I got a bit fat out in America. I’ve never really had a belly, but there is definitely something hanging out there now and I’m not too sure I’m loving it.

So we had a little look into the whole FitBit thing. In Germany, most companies will give you one months bonus pay for staying loyal to them for one year. We returned from America and saw to our delight that I’d been double paid, so we went a little crazy – we booked a trip to Vienna and also bought a FitBit each. They are costly for something which is basically a flashy pedometer, but I’m trying to be more careful about my health after four months of continuous pain in my wrist, which I’m sure is down to bad posture and standing around bored at work all day.

The FitBit shows you how many steps you have done so far today.

The FitBit shows you how many steps you have done so far today.

I’m dragging Jason along with me. Our FitBits were expensive (€70 each) but our health is priceless – at least that’s how I’m looking at it. It’s making us walk more – when we’re not at the target of 10,000 we will go out for a walk. Jason will get off at the earlier bus stop and walk further. We go to look at the pigs at the nearby farm or go for a jog. We have even put on the record player and danced like total crazy people for half an hour to get our steps in.

Years ago I worked at a local Council in the Law Department. I was meant to be placed in one area, but there really wasn’t much for me to do. So I started making friends in the other departments and ended up doing work for four of them. I was still not completely satisfied and as I was still bored, I went upstairs to talk to the Health Department. A long story later, I was working on getting my colleagues in the Town Hall to join a Pedometer Competition. We managed to get 400 people wearing pedometers and instead of a casual greeting in the lift, friends were being made on the stairs. I actually did a walking course to teach people how to walk properly and we did local wanderings during lunch breaks. Different departments were in competition – instead of calling the people downstairs with a question, workers were getting up and walking to each other to get their steps in. Everyone was sharing how to walk a bit more without it becoming a chore – getting off one tube station earlier and walking to work or taking a stroll through the park after work. Not only were people getting fitter, they were becoming more social and people who hadn’t met before started meeting up and becoming friends. It was so wonderful how a tiny device stuck to your trousers could make such a difference in people’s lives.

I know you might think a FitBit is a crazy amount of money. It is. It’s literally just counting the steps, something a normal pedometer can do just as well and you can normally pick one of those up in the pound shop. The difference between a FitBit and a pedometer is that you can connect a FitBit to the internet for magical things to happen. My lovely little device counts how many floors I have gone up, how many calories I’ve burned and if you can be bothered you can add how much water you’ve had to drink, how many calories you’ve eaten – which you can then connect to how much walking you need to do to lose weight etc – and you can even track your sleep. It’s basically just a fun gadget. I love it – I don’t have any of the weight-losing things on it and after tracking my sleep twice I was kinda over the excitement as I think I was sleeping less-well as I was so stressed to get to sleep quickly.

The FitBit is tiny - it attaches to your trousers so be careful not to lose it!

The FitBit is tiny – it attaches to your trousers so be careful not to lose it!

However, I have to say it’s totally hooked me! I love it. My only advice would be that it’s easily misplaced. Jason lost his already and I think he’s going to get the bracelet version next time – that one even checks your heartbeat. Let me know if you have one and we can be friends – apparently you are much more likely to reach your goals if you have friends who you can compete against and cheer or taunt. They seem to be all over America, but I’m sure they will be massive here in Europe very soon, so get ahead of the crowd and get one now :)