“So how did you meet this woman?” It was a common refrain, when I mentioned someone would be house-sitting for us, while we were on our North American Adventure.
“Well, I’ve been following her blog for about a year now and we’ve chatted back and forth via e-mail…” It was at this point I separated the non-bloggers, who gave me the what-if-she’s-a-serial-killer look, and the bloggers, who nodded and said “oh, ok.”
Since arriving in Belgium, I’ve met a lot of expats through CheeseWeb, but this summer, I met three of my fellow bloggers (none of whom were serial killers) while on vacation, starting with Sherry, my house-sitter extrordinare.
I started following Sherry’s incredible travel blog, Ott’s World, about a year ago. At the time, I was shifting the focus of CheeseWeb to include more travel articles and I was looking for great examples of travel blogs to follow. Sherry’s is one of the best. I never dreamed I would get to meet her in person, let alone have her live in my flat.
Back in April, Sherry wrote a post called, Using Your Network to Housesit Around the World. I thought it was a fantastic idea. The house-sitter gets a free place to stay and lots of insider knowledge about their travel destination and the home-owner doesn’t have to worry about their house being empty; the cats get fed, the plants get watered and the house gets cleaned.
I left a comment on the post stating if Sherry should ever want to visit Brussels, our flat was usually available for a month each summer. After a few e-mails back and forth, the rest was history.
Sherry arrived in town a few days before we were set to fly to Vegas. Miraculously, we managed to meet at Central Station without the aid of mobile phones. Sherry was warm and friendly and her personality was exactly what I expected from reading Ott’s World.
We immediately launched into travel-addict mode – “Where have you been? What did you do there? What’s your favourite destination? Food? Drink? Market?” We also talked about the business of travel blogging, who our blog heroes are and where we wanted to take our blogs in the future. Sherry is also a fantastic photographer, so I even got to geek-out with some photo talk.
I showed Sherry a few of my favourite Brussels sites, took her to a couple of my favourite local restaurants, gave her tips on what to eat, where to go and what to do during her month in Brussels. In return, Sherry cooked a fabulous meal for Andrew and I. She even taught me how to make Vietnamese spring rolls, something I had always wanted to do but felt intimidated by.
While we were away, I received regular updates about the cats and what Sherry was up to in Belgium. (I’ve had a great time reading her recent articles about her Brussels stay.) Best of all, for the first time in five years, we came home to a clean house! Not only that, but Sherry had left us a goodie bag of chocolate and info on the places she visited. I couldn’t have asked for a better house-sitter.
But Sherry wasn’t the only blogger I met up with this summer. Two odd co-incidences landed a couple more bloggers in my path.
A few months ago, Andrew discovered a great expat blog called Expat Yourself. It’s written by Jeff, an American who was living in Prague with his family. Andrew started reading just as Jeff and his family were planning a huge life shift. They decided to move to Canada and trade rolls; Jeff’s wife would go back to work, while Jeff took on the roll of stay-at-home Dad.
Here’s where the first co-incidence comes in: Jeff’s wife is from Nova Scotia and they would be living with her parents until they found a permanent place to live. Andrew offered his services in Jeff’s comments section as a NS expert. With a bit of back and forth, they discovered Jeff and his family would be living temporarily in Pugwash – where Andrew’s parents now live.
So, cosmic forces aligned, we decided to all meet at the Chatterbox Cafe (highly recommended if you ever find yourself in Pugwash). We got to meet not only Jeff and his lovely wife, but his kids and visiting parents too. We spent a lovely afternoon chatting about travel, expat life, the huge changes they were undertaking and life on the East Coast.
I’m really looking forward to seeing where this new adventure leads them and I highly recommend his blog as a great source of info if you are or are thinking about becoming an expat yourself.
My final blogger encounter happened in my own home town of Saint John, New Brunswick. The blogger – the fabulous Jeannie, otherwise known as Nomadic Chick.
I started following Jeannie’s blog around the same time I discovered Sherry and simply fell in love with her writing. Jeannie was planning a round the world career break for the up-coming autumn. Fate had other ideas for Jeannie and she found herself on the road in the spring, travelling across Canada. I commented that if she found herself on the East Coast in August, I would love to meet her.
Once again the fates aligned. It seemed one of Jeannie’s best friends lived near Saint John and Jeannie would be in town for the last few days of my visit.
Andrew and I met up with Jeannie for lunch on the board-walk. She was as cheerful and insightful in person as she is on her blog.
We talked about her up-coming trip to India (jealous I am) and where she planned on going from there. Again the travel junkie in both of us prompted us to talk about favourite destinations over several glasses of wine. Again an invite to come and visit Brussels was extended and I do hope she’ll take us up on it. Either way, I can’t wait to see where Jeannie’s travels take her.
I may never become wealthy from blogging here on CheeseWeb, but my life has been enriched by the fantastic and fascinating people I’ve met through this virtual community. I hope you check our their blogs and make some new virtual friends of your own.
Have you ever met one of your blog heroes in person? How did it go? Leave your comments below and do let me know if you check out any of the blogs listed in this post.