A couple of weekends ago, I traveled to Vancouver, BC for the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) conference—a place for travel bloggers to meet and talk shop, as well as meet people in the travel industry. I was looking forward to this because I wanted to get some inspiration, and to meet some of the bloggers, and podcasters I regularly follow.
While there, I stayed at the Samesun Backpackers Hostel. The Samesun is located in the heart of downtown, and features dorm and private rooms, as well as a restaurant/bar downstairs with cheap beer and food. I chose to stay in a four person dorm, and the room was clean, the lockers solid and secure, and the bed was actually comfortable—so much nicer than what I was used to overseas. I shared the room with a British guy who was in town looking for work, and a young Eastern Canadian couple out touring the West. Of course, it is a hostel, and I had the misfortune of being woken up several times during my stay by the young couple “gettin’ busy” in the bunk above me. Note: earplugs don’t help when the whole damned bed is shaking…. Other than that, I did enjoy my stay at the Samesun.
The conference was interesting; it took place at the Vancouver Convention Center, and involved speakers and workshops during the days, and then a LOT of partying and socializing during the nights. There were parties, then after-parties, then after-after-parties. Actually, it became clear that the event was more about meeting people than what was going on during the daytime. That said, I did get some good ideas for the site, and learned a lot about blogging—mostly about stuff I need to work on to improve my writing. Oh well, I’m still learning.
The highlight was being able to talk to some of the podcasters and bloggers I follow. I met the hosts of one of my favorite travel podcasts, This Week in Travel: Jen Leo, who is also the lead blogger at the LA Times Travel Blog, Chris Christensen, who also hosts Amateur Traveler—another of my favorite travel podcasts, and Gary Arndt of Everything-Everywhere.com, which was named one of Time’s 20 best blogs of 2010. In fact, I was able to attend a live episode of the show while I was there. I also met a bunch of cool people who write interesting blogs I’d not heard of before, including Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads, and Benny Lewis of Fluent in 3 Months, to name a couple.
One thing I was not expecting on the trip was hockey mania. Turns out that game five of the Stanley Cup was being played in Vancouver that same weekend. I’m not really a hockey fan, but I figured this would be a great chance to watch a game and throw back a few Molson Canadians with some actual Canadian hockey fans. On game day, the hostel was planning to show it on the big screen in the bar. However, upon returning to the hostel after the recording of This Week in Travel, I found the bar already filled to capacity, and that I would not be able to watch the game there. In fact, I discovered I wouldn’t be able to watch the game anywhere downtown—there were lines out the door of every club, pub, and restaurant in the downtown area. The streets were blocked off, and there was a steady flow of hockey fans in Canucks gear streaming into the city.
While the game was being played, I was at a TBEX party, but afterwards, I had a chance to wander the streets after the Canucks victory over Boston. The whole downtown area was overrun with celebrating fans. It was a wild scene full of people in blue Canucks gear, screaming, singing, dancing, and waving Canadian & Canucks flags. Below is a bit of video I took while wandering about.