TBU or TBEX? Travel Blogging Conferences
Before September 2012 I had never been to any travel blogging conference. I was not aware of them first, and then when I was, I was just somewhere far away from Europe/USA to attend them.
But then, when I went back to Europe to spend at least some time with my family in summer in Snina, I found out both TBU and TBEX were happening in September. And not so far away from each other. TBU in Porto 8th and 9th September and TBEX in Girona 21st and 22nd September.
To be honest I did ask some bloggers who attended both conferences about the difference in between them and to know which one to attend. Some told me to attend TBU, the others said TBEX was better.
Ok, in the end, woo hoo I decided to go to both to judge myself.
TBU in Porto
After 4 days exploring Budapest, I flew from there to Porto to attend TBU. I only knew 4 people in person out of more than 100 people attending TBU and it was my first conference of this kind, so I did not really know what to expect. But already from the first day there, it was a lot of fun meeting new people and getting to know also in person those I have been in touch with for long in online world.
During a few days of the coference, pre-TBU and post-TBU trips in Porto and surrounding areas, I did the video workshop (I wish I learned more about landscape/nature videos as I do more of those instead of food videos), attended some useful sessions where I took a lot of notes, had a few meetings wih potential sponsors, had a lot of fun every night after the conference and then I took a 2 day Geo and Medieval trip in the Northern Portugal.
I have to say that what I loved about TBU was that it was not so many of us there which made it a lot easier to get to know people. I still did not have time to speak to all of them there, and surprisingly, the other 6 bloggers who were with me at the Geo and Medieval trip were all new to me and it was the first time we got a chance to speak. It was great fun 2 days together.
Another thing I really enjoyed at TBU was food. I am almost a vegetarian (I can eat chicken breast and fish, but no other meat and no seafood) and I had no problem with food there. At the conference itself there was enough vegetarian food at both lunch and dinner every day, and even some biscuits in between which made us all survive throughout the day.
(Un)fortunately after every dinner I ended up with party people who always convinced me to go out with them afterwards. I don’t drink alcohol and I am not a party person any more, but I didn’t want to miss the chance of talking more to some amazing people out there. So each night I got hardly any sleep and even for me it was difficult to go through the whole day of sessions after and interact with people in English which is not my mother-tongue. But in the end, I was happy I did as I made some new friends and had A LOT OF FUN!!!
Then after TBU I spent a week in Barcelona which was a complete disaster. My phone started working only when it wanted to (not so often), I dropped my laptop and broke a part of it, I was sick a bit, the weather sucked when I wanted to go to the beach and I had problems with Roomorama too. Just one of those weeks when everything comes in three … or more.
TBEX in Girona
But then I went to Girona for TBEX and everything changed to good again. I was on a pre-TBEX Fisherman Villages trip which was ok and I especially loved the boat trip (you know me!)
The days of TBEX conference were a bit of a mess for me I would say.
The opening party at Sant Gregori Castle was great and I really enjoyed that place watching scary human towers and chatting with people I already met at TBU before and some new ones :) Obviously, after, we ended up in a bar so not much sleep was on the table for many of us that night.
Staying in an apartment with my friends and not in a hotel meant no breakfast as the day before I only had 20 minutes free (which I spent having a shower and changing). No time to buy any food. I just had some biscuits so having to wait until after 1pm for lunch was a never-ending story for me! I need to eat every 2, maximum every 3 hours, otherwise I feel fainting.
Half of the day there were no drinks available at TBEX conference, at least I took some water, but with green tea would have been much easier. And poor all those who drink coffee all the time, some of them were really dying without it after the tough night.
I did not eat much at the first lunch, the only vegetarian thing there had a huge amount of onion to which I am allergic, so I just had a lot of desserts to survive until dinner. Not good :( But the lunch on the second day was really delicious and I had spinach cannelloni a few times.
Having meetings with potential sponsors and talking to bloggers in between until dinner meant I was really surviving just on the water.
And the sessions themselves? Some of them were really cool (with Kash, Melvin, Nicholas, JD, Chris, C.C. etc.) and nice to listen to, the rest I attended were more for the newbies which I did not like as blogging has been my full-time job for more than a year and a half already. I think the sessions should be divided into basic/intermediate/advanced and have it in the name, so it would be easier for us to know which one to attend to learn something, and easier for the speakers probably too so they wouldn’t have to speak about the same general stuff all over again. I have to say TBEX was more professional in some ways.
The last night party behind the Cathedral in Girona was a proper mess. First I liked all the bombs there around and the place was supercool. But then it started to be too loud, and one of the organizators wasn’t sure how to get us to the party itself so she sent us all around the ruins looking for the way to get to the gardens which took us almost an hour without any light and going through the deserted ruins and forest. Once, all deaf from the bombs, we came to the party, there was no water and no vegetarian food, just beer and bread with jamon (ham).
After almost 8 hours with no food, and some 3 hours with no water, I wanted to kill someone! I was in bad mood, dizzy and starving. So we just took a photo with those funny guys from the performance and left to find some dinner. Many other people did the same and then we all met in the same bar like the 2 nights before. Let me be honest, that was NOT the way to organize the last night and because of this mess there I was not able to say goodbye to many people :(
The following day I had a trip to Nuria Valley, incredibly beautiful place but not well organized I am afraid. All of us complained as we spent more time on the bus and train than exploring the place itself. And obviously tired and with not enough food. I still enjoyed it though and took some nice shots.
Then the post blog trip Surf and Turf was really amazing, I cannot complain about anything. Had an unforgettable time there with cool people, great food and saw many breath-taking sceneries.
So just to sum it all up, next time for both TBU and TBEX: please think of vegetarians too, organize it all better, divide the sessions into basic, intermediate and advanced where possible, at the sessions we need to know facts and practice, not general bla bla theory; also give us a lot of water, coffee and tea, fruit/buscuits in between the big meals as we really do not have time to buy any food at all, some free time during/after the trips as I had to sort out the emails at 2 – 4am. And as usual good wifi is a must for all of us!
And I think there should be a city tour organized for ALL the attendees and not during the same time as some other trips/workshops as most of us don’t have time to see the town otherwise. I had the video workshop during Porto city tour at TBU so never saw Porto and then I was still on Fisherman Villages tour and as we came back to Girona late, I was never able to do Girona city tour and visit Girona. So I basically spent a few days in both Porto and Girona without even seeing anything from the cities themselves, apart from the places I had to walk through on my way to and back from the conference. And speaking with more people, I was not the only one.
I still enjoyed both TBU and TBEX and I am happy I went to both. I just came really destroyed back home from them as my food balance and biorhythm were completely changed when there. I am not even going to speak about sleep (and I don’t even drink alcohol at all, so imagine how those who do/did, felt!)
But was it worth it? Definitely!
Next year I will be going to TBEX Toronto for sure and visit Canada for a month, and if I am free when the TBU will be happening, I will go there again too :)
Have you visited the conferences? What did you think?