BACK TO LONDON
World Travel Market 2015
After having missed two major Blogger oriented events this year, one in Italy, one in Thailand (and mostly on purpose, in a way), I decided this one was the one where I wanted to be. The WTM15 in London promised to be something big. Still, I was really hesitant until the very end. No, of course I’m not mad, when you are a solo travel blogger, things are easy; when kids are part of your business, you travel and blog as a family, some members of the gang must stay home.
Coined tossed: it was my turn this time. I had to put the trade shoes on and hit the road to the airport. I took a raincoat, a good load of business cards, and tons of broad, friendly smiles.
The event took place at the ExCeL (Exhibition Centre London), this site gave me the occasion to discover the Docklands, I stayed in Newham (through AirBnB), right next to the London City Airport. I stumbled on a new London which made me fall in love with this city even more…
I just needed to walk a few meters and cross a high wooden bridge that landed me directly on the Western Terrace of the ExCeL (many visitors were happy to arrive using the Emirates Air Line as well, I loved the London drizzle on my face every morning while crossing the bridge!).
The first time my badge got scanned and I crossed the doors I was overwhelmed by a wave of cultures, colors, countries, music, foods and perfumes from all around the world. All in a minute, all at a time. Even if I had a whole itinerary planned in my diary and in my head I just had to put my papers aside, stop walking and breathe the allurement of it. It hits you. It reminds you: this is why you blog about travel, write about travel, dream about travel, speak about travel… this is why you just want to travel and do nothing but that. Diversity, smiles, knowledge, empowerment, courage all in one place. Like the best of wines, all in one bottle.
A huge hall divided Europe from the rest of the World. I didn’t care, I kept crossing that hall as if Oceans didn’t exist. Middle East conquered me with mint tea, absorbing talks, dates, figs, and amazing charm: Oman, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Ajman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, but also Jordan, Morocco and Egypt.
Moving then towards a more southern Africa, with its Senegal, Gambia, Kenya, Zambia and Uganda, where you could find rhythm, open-hearted smiles, friendliness and outstanding beauty. Coffee, chocolate, dances and joy where everywhere.
Once my soul was warm enough and the chilly temperatures of London had been left behind, I felt I was ready for one of my biggest travel loves. I crossed imaginary seas to find myself in the Aegean, swimming the dreams of Greece. Oh Greece! Your candid whites and deep blues touch my heart in a way that is hard to ignore how much I missed you this Summer, how I regret not visiting your shores. It was thrilling to just jump from one stand to another as if island hopping… from Paros to Naxos, from Mykonos to Sifnos, from Milos to Crete. Eating olives in Kalamata was a question of closing your eyes. Drinking ouzo in Santorini was simply a sigh away from my dreams.
And your men, Greece, remain as gentlemen as always.
[Tweet “Happy is the man, I thought, who before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean sea.”]
Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba, the Greek.
A few steps away from me and it is Argentina, my roots, my country, my accent. I speak my language to the chords of a tango. All of Latin America brings out emotions in the forms of colorful feathers, mountains, condors, rich chocolates, cigars, and juicy fruits. There’s place for joy, for samba, for straw hats and white beaches. From one country to another one, from one music to the next. Joy, joy, joyful South America.
This all around the World dance continues on the next day. It’s Asia time. Big Asia with big stories behind. All names sound immense, as echoing inside enormous bronze bells on the top of Tibet… It’s India, Myanmar, Mongolia, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Buthan, Vietnam, Nepal, Thailand and more. It’s all smiles and eastern respectful bows namaste, wai, rei… It’s spices, perfumes, tattoos, meditation, concentration, and inner self. It’s colorful silk, soft voices and extreme delicacy for everything.
Asia is an experience I do not want to end, I decide to sacrifice visiting even bigger countries to stay in Asia for longer times.
[Tweet “[Terzani in Asia]: I was marked for death, and instead I was reborn.”]
Tiziano Terzani, A fortune-teller told me.
The last day was devoted to the rest of Europe, so it was obviously extenuating, Southern, Northern, Eastern, Western… so much to see, taste and discuss. Agencies, air companies, official boards of tourism. It was almost impossible to see them all. Take pictures, visit stands related to services, hotels, transport, entertainment (the Making of Harry Potter was there too, how could I miss a picture on platform 9 and ¾?).
What did I miss? I missed Germany and Russia, and I am so sorry for that. I missed Spain, the U.S. and Italy. I guess I missed so much more as well. And then I missed London. I saw nothing of my dear, loved London this time either. It was full-time work, full-time travel, all in one place.
I don’t regret a bit of it. I am mentally getting ready for next year. They say it’ll be just three days in all, so shorter and faster. And day one not open for everyone. Let’s start thinking about being more practical and less emotional. The World is wonderful. But it’s also business.