Tag Archives: tbu

Familiarity and Wanderlust

“You are as familiar to me as breathing.”

I’ve been in New York City now for longer than I have been in any one place, without traveling, since 2009. This is the longest I have been grounded since I began my career in travel. I have had an apartment I love, a neighborhood that fascinates me, a roommate I would die for if need be, friends who don’t work in travel and somewhat of a routine. It has been good.

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Travel Bloggers Unite Conference in Innsbruck

I’ve often wondered if the hills really were alive with music in Austria. Having grown up watching The Sound of Music to the point at which I had the conversations memorized and the songs always on my lips, it was a legitimate question in my mind.

I finally have my answer! After traveling to Innsbruck and Seefeld, I can assure you – the hills don’t sing. However, there is a symphony of sorts in the snow-capped mountains, green pastures and brilliant blue sky of Austria and its Alps. In the colorful streets of Innsbruck. In the flower-box-lined streets of Tirol.

I owe thanks to Oliver Gradwell of TBU, who flew me to Innsbruck so that I could photograph the events and share the joy of iPhoneography while teaching my fellow travel bloggers during a photo walk. It didn’t go exactly as I planned. None of TBU did, for me, yet all for the best. It was a week I’ll never forget, packed so full of experiences that by the time I was making my way back to New York through Amsterdam I could barely keep my eyes open even while standing, so sleep deprived and energy-drained was I. The classes taught were genuinely helpful and appropriate to the crowd on hand at the conference, several were scaled into different levels for varying levels of experience. The pitch-to-PR room was a smashing success and the evening events made me fear we travelers might drain Innsbruck of all its beer … we certainly gave it a good shot!

I’ll be doing a follow-up post on a few of the experiences I had in more detail. Yet, I couldn’t let any more time go by without thanking some of the people and organizations, besides Oliver, who made my trip so special!

  • Nicholas from Innsbruck Tourism who was so forthright and outgoing and who went out of his way to accomodate more than one blogger when things got sticky. I very much enjoyed sitting with him at dinner one night and hearing his frank thoughts on Austria, tourism and twitter. It has been fun to watch him be more active on twitter since TBU and I hope that was the positive influence we bloggers had on him during our visit?
  • Austrian Tourist Board who handled such a large amount of the logistics for all of us bloggers visiting Austria that I honestly don’t even know how to thank them.
  • Grauer Bär Hotel hosted the conference and all of the bloggers who spoke or taught during the conference. Thank you for giving us a home during our stay in Innsbruck!
  • Lilli Linsenmeyer from Seefeld Tourism, hosted myself and several other bloggers during our post-conference tour. Lilli was so delightful and really was the glue that made our stay so pleasant in Tirol. I cannot thank her enough for all she did for us and for all she helped us to experience. I dream about returning to Tirol weekly! Thanks Lilli.
  • Just a few of the bloggers I met for the first time at TBU, all whom I can’t wait to see again: Keith Jenkins, Melvin Boecher, John O’Nolan, Abigail King, Isabelle Kenis, Chris Richardson, Jools Stone.
  • Bloggers I saw again and never tire of: Andy Hayes (totally my partner-in-crime all week, big hugs to Andy for making sure I never ate a meal alone), Ken Kaminesky, Janice Waugh, Dylan Lowe.
  • There are so many more, if I typed out every name this post would be absurdly long. Thank you to everyone I met or saw again who made TBU a week I will never forget. See you in Umbria! If not before.

Though this trip was sponsored, as always, the views and opinions in this post are my own.



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Wish You Were Here

I’m in Innsbruck, Austria for TBU and as is true with almost everywhere I travel … I wish you were here. I mean really, I wish everyone I know and love could be here to share the beauty with me.

From the colorful houses on the water, to the quiet and peaceful streets of the old town at night, to the splendor of the art in the Hofbruck to the ethereal light in the cathedrals; this is a postcard-perfect place I’d prefer to share with every person that I care about most. Instead, I share it with a few of those I’ve come to know and love in the travel world and a few good friends I am getting to know.

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Robbed in Buenos Aires

This isn’t a story about how I was robbed in Buenos Aires. This isn’t a story about all the horrible things that can happen in Buenos Aires. Telling every detail of my trip that includes all the bad stuff – would hurt some people I care about … and in the end, I don’t want to spoil the “Paris of South America” for people who might still enjoy it by unfairly slanting their viewpoint. So …

This is a story about how being robbed in Buenos Aires changed me, broke my travel cherry and shattered a bit of innocence I still possessed with regards to travel and being a traveler.

I had high expectations for my trip to South America. Together with my dear friend Abby, we were going to attend the wedding of Andi Perullo. Together, we were going to conquer South America. I was naive enough to think that it would be the adventure of a lifetime. Even on my limited budget. I didn’t think I’d need a lot of money. There was going to be easy to use public transportation that was safe at all hours of the day and night, great food, beautiful architecture, fascinating history. It was going to be the trip that would make my career as a travel photographer and writer. See? I didn’t expect much.

The expats I met on my first night in town, told me horror stories of robberies, crooked cab drivers and scams to avoid. It did make me pause. For a minute. By the next morning I was back to feeling like a naive, plucky, excited traveler fully basking in the glow of her rose-colored glasses. That glow lasted 3 days.

What I found on only my fourth day in the city [after my iPhone was taken out of my hands and after another pair of men tried to take my purse causing me to run for my life] – was a place that felt dangerous, unpredictable and seemed dirtier than anything I had imagined. In fact, exactly like the terrible place the expats described in the worst of their stories.

I’ve been through more bad things in my life than most. I thought I could handle anything. Especially when traveling. I actually believed that as a person who has been through the ringer in her personal life – surely there was nothing any country could throw at me that would ever faze me.

Yet the city became violent and unpredictable for me, made me imagine the worst things lurking in the shadows. There was an invasion of my personal space which occurred that would have affected me less if it happened on my last day in town. Instead, it happened before I could back up all the hundreds of beautiful photographs I’d already taken. It happened while I still had more than a week to spend in a place where I felt violated both on the streets and where I was to sleep.

Looking back, I overreacted. Or simply chose the wrong reaction to the things which happened to me. For instance, instead of being thankful for the 11 photographs I do have because I uploaded them to Facebook before my iPhone was stolen – I mourned the ones that were taken from me.

Since my return, I’ve been thinking about the lessons my trip taught me. Actually, it started in the cab ride to the airport where already the feeling of loss coupled with thankfulness was overwhelming me.

People like Abby, Nathan, Lea, Allan, Jonathan, Andi and Lucas … saved the trip for me. My moments with them gave me positive memories I’ll cherish forever now that the dust is settled. If it weren’t for them all I would have is a memory of unpleasant events and a feeling of intense insecurity.

Instead, I know that traveling is a yin/yang experience. You have to take the good with the bad. You have to own the fact that stepping foot on a plane is surrendering yourself to the unpredictability of our world but that doing so is what makes life worth living. You have to realize safety is, in the end, an illusion. You must choose to get over bad experiences so you can be fully present in the happy moments.

Well, maybe you don’t have to own those truths. But I own them now,

because … of being robbed in Buenos Aires.

So I’ll get a new iPhone and use it when I teach an iPhoneography workshop at TBEX and then at TBU. My rose colored glasses may have been replaced with aviators but I don’t intend to stop traveling or be intimidated to the degree that I change who I am. Life’s too short for that!

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