Normally whenever I travel, I do a week in pictures, or at least I try to. (Go here to see all previous posts, such as pictures from Curaçao, Norway and Canada). This time, we came home from Belgium and then I just traveled for half a week. But I thought it would be nice to share the pictures anyway, since I went to TBEX, which is Travel Bloggers Exchange and THE place to be for beginner to intermediate bloggers. All sessions were in English so that’s why this time I’m only doing this post in English… it wouldn’t make sense to translate certain things into Dutch.
Sunday – our second day in Belgium. We’ve been invited by Vlaanderen Toerisme to explore the Pajottenland area, just 15 km southwest of Brussels. A new 760 km long hiking network has opened up here recently, which we are trying various parts of. We do a 14 km hike in the morning, through small villages and little hills. In the afternoon we visit a traditional Belgian brewery, which may officially not be called like that, but it’s a long explanation, which will follow some other time.
Monday – worst day of the week, as always! At least the home-made cakes of my colleagues cheered me up, sometimes I just need a stack of sugar to get me through the day. New reading material is delivered and so a day in the office passes by. Monday is also gym-time, no matter how busy, 6 pm sharp I’m there to do a Bodypump/Clubpower class. Back at home, more work and finally preparing for Athens. I’ve never been so underprepared for a trip and feel quite bad about it… When downloading and submitting payment for something I bought online, I realize my wallet is missing.
Tuesday – up too early to get to the office to make sure my wallet is there and did not get lost at the gym or the supermarket. First time of the year I cycle to the office through the pitch dark, I’m not a fan of it but hey, winter is coming, so I better get used to it. Relief upon arrival, it turns out my wallet is lying underneath a pile of stuff. Note to self: clean up desk before rushing off. That day TravMagazine gets delivered in the office and there’s a great advertorial about Alaska in it, featuring my colleague Daphne and me. Somehow, I never eat properly when busy so stuff myself with sugar. I know … Huge storms have made their way over to our country but luckily I make it home almost dry. At night I pack my stuff and get some last minute things done. By surprise, I manage to be in bed just before midnight…
Wednesday – 04.45 am: there goes my alarm! Surprisingly there’s no trouble with the trains due to the storms and I’m at the airport in time. The flight to Athens was OK, I just slept to catch up on hours, until it gets extremely bumpy and even the staff is requested to take their seats. The joys of flying… In the late afternoon I stroll through the Plaka area of Athens and make my way to the Acropolis just before sunset.
Thursday – I wake up and it’s raining. Can you believe it? I’m in Athens and it’s raining! I decide to stay in my hotel until it has cleared up a bit. Which is pretty much all morning. I spend the afternoon picking up my badge and strolling through the city center. At night I attend a rooftop get together and the TBEX opening party but it doesn’t really meet my expectations, so instead I head out for wine with fellow Dutch bloggers Karlijn and Saskia.
Friday – the first session day at TBEX! The opening keynote is very impressive and makes me eager to learn new stuff. First, I attend a session about SEO (boring subject, but necessary) and one about blogger productivity. Although that’s the one I’m looking forward to most, I end up a bit disappointed. For me, most pieces of advice are “open doors” as we would say in Dutch. I know I should switch off my phone at night and when writing. I know I should spend less time on social media and make schedules for publishing. I’ve tried it all and successfully failed. The most inspiring session of the day was by Bret Love from Green Global Travel, my personal favorite travel blog in the outdoor/eco/adventure category. He totally encouraged me (and many other bloggers as well) to continue blogging and pitching, with a story about how you can still get brands to work with you if you have a relatively low number of visitors. At night it’s, surprise, party time again, this time at the rooftop bar of Skyfall. There’s a thunderstorm going on, quite a spectacular sight above the Acropolis.
Saturday – The first smile of the day comes when the guy at the small shop in front of the metro station recognizes me as I buy Red Bull there for the 4th day in a row… Today’s sessions are not as inspiring as yesterday so I have some trouble staying awake by the end of the day. Luckily some speeddating sessions with potential brands to work with keep me sharp, as well as an amazing keynote closing session by travel writer Robert Reid. I get a chance to speak to Bret of GGT and also have my picture taken with two short fighter guys from Thailand. At night, it’s time for a street party and drinks again. And whoot, the clock is going back one hour, which means one more hour of party and/or sleep!
So – this week has passed by like crazy. By the time you are reading this, I’m either sleeping / on a metro / flying / on a train home. My next trip will be in about 2,5 weeks, still sounds very far away. When looking back in my agenda, the last time I was home 2 weeks in a row without any type of travel, was in July and before that, in February. Crazy.
Although I don’t want to talk too much about my TBEX experiences (because it’s a week in pictures after all and I’m sure other bloggers can do that much better than me) I want to end with the most important lesson that I learned over the past couple of days, which is that being a full time travel blogger would not be my thing. Maybe in another life, but not in this one. I have many reasons for this which I prefer not to share on this blog. However, if you are curious, feel free to get in touch. TBEX was a great learning experience and I can truly recommend going there if you are willing to learn what it really takes to become a great travel blogger.
That’s it for this week. Fall is here and winter is on its way. No big trips for a while and finally time for things I’ve been wanting to do forever. Such as catching up with friends (you’ll hear from me soon, promise!), sorting out pictures, write travel stories for my Dutch readers on Reisbijbel, finally finishing the first series of Breaking Bad and start reading Halldór Laxness’ Independent People (that Martijn brought me from Iceland about 3 years ago) just to mention a few things. And … making travel plans for 2015 because even though I don’t want to be a full time travel blogger, I’d still like to see lots. So time to finally send out that pitch I’ve been considering forever!
Have a great Sunday everyone!