So it’s been two years since we moved to Vorarlberg and this got me a bit reminiscent and I found myself reflecting on my time here and how much things (and I) have changed and how writing this blog has been a big part of this. Therefore this post in not about anywhere you should eat at or visit, but instead a more personal post for all those who have moved somewhere different or taken a chance on something new .
I was never really what you would call a “foodie” until I moved to Australia. Prior
to that I was either a student living off pot noodles, or at the beginning of my career and spending my small wage on decent dinners out was not high on my agenda.
However, I met a girl on my flight over to Sydney and we bonded instantly over our shared lifestyle choice of moving to the over side of the world alone (as one does). She enlightened me to a whole world of cuisines that I previously never even knew I was missing. And what better city than Sydney to do this in. Every Saturday night we tried a new place for dinner, followed by drinks at the latest bar. Breakfast on a weekend would never again be a bowl of Rice Krispies or a piece of toast, but a lazy morning spent at one of the whole host of cafes Sydney had to offer. Australia is also to blame for me being a self-proclaimed coffee snob. If you have ever tried coffee in Australia, there is seriously no going back. You will forever turn your nose up to every flat white that is not perfectly made by an eastern suburbs bearded barista.
Therefore I knew that when we moved to Vorarlberg this lifestyle would be one of the things I would struggle the most to adjust to. Yes the language was a huge barrier, but a language can be learnt. Being able to drink Campos coffee and enjoy the best French toast with salted caramel at my local café was, unfortunately, not something I could find, no matter how hard I tried.
Let’s not sugar coat things, moving to a new country is hard. I’d done it before on my own, but this time it was different. I couldn’t just go out and meet lots of people as I couldn’t talk to them. Even leaving the apartment on my own was sometimes a daunting prospect. It was a completely different culture and I could not get a job. All of my skills and experience here counted for nothing. I was in very unchartered waters and after months of writing job applications and weekly rejection emails, it began to wear me down. I needed something to get me motivated. I would regularly ask my boyfriend’s family or anyone I met what cafes and restaurants they would recommend to visit, with underwhelming responses. After endless searches online for blogs and reviews of local places, my boyfriend suggested that maybe I should just start my own blog. I, after all, had a bit of time on my hands and after meeting a surprisingly large amount of expats here, I at least knew I had a few readers who were in the same boat as me and might enjoy finding out more about this seemingly quiet and quaint Austrian state.
I had absolutely no experience in setting up and writing a blog. So with great trepidation I began a bit of research and finally launched a very basic website with my very first blog post. There is a certain amount of pressure on you to have a whole wealth of recommendations when people find out you write a food blog. It took me a long time to stop feeling anxious about whether people liked my blog, agreed with my recommendations, or were even interested that it existed. However, for me this was not about getting as many followers and likes as possible (although its nice, so tell all of your friends). It was about finding my own way here and hopefully helping a few others find theirs through discovering what this place I was going to be calling home for the rest of my life offered.
I remember the day that I realised there was a lot more to Ländle than meets the eye. We stumbled upon Hops and Malt in Dornbirn, introducing the locals to the increasingly popular craft beer culture This alone demonstrated to me that there were many little gems out there waiting to be discovered. Over the last two years, because of starting this blog, I have travelled to places in Vorarlberg I probably never would have otherwise, and I have met some of the most amazing people.
I now have the confidence to just ask to talk to the owner about their restaurant or café, in English or German, depending on how I’m feeling that day. I love learning about their backgrounds and why they decided to open up shop. These are not just chains, these are individuals who have a passion and are putting their hearts and money into sharing that passion. Vorarlberg is a proud state and there are an abundance of places showcasing its fantastic local produce in both traditional and modern ways. I enjoyed the food in Sydney, especially the variety available and I still miss that, however living here has given me such an appreciation for the produce that is used and the people behind the places I eat at.
I now work full time (in German) and finding the time to write is increasingly difficult. However, my blog is still an important part of my life and continues to help me feel more connected to the area. I still have days where I miss my old life and miss my friends and family like crazy, but then I remember how lucky I am to have had the opportunities I have had. To have lived in such beautiful and diverse places in the world and be able to immerse myself completely in the different cultures. After having lived in three different countries “home” is a hard word for me to describe. Through eating and drinking my way around Ländle though and locals taking the time to talk with me and share with me their stories, I feel I have gotten more to the heart of this area than I ever thought I would. Every day it feels more like home. Even if I have helped just one expat to discover there is more to Vorarlberg than they initially thought or just one local to try somewhere new, then I’ll settle for that. I’m looking forward to continuing my quest and sharing my stories with you.
Are you an expat in Vorarlberg or in another country? I’d love to hear from you and hear your experience in settling in, so get in touch.