In the latest of The Editor’s Travels, I ruminate about spring time travels and look forward to a forthcoming trip to Romania. Plus of course there’s all the latest news from the blog…
Greetings from Barcelona. I’m back in my second home after a spell in London, and the weather forecast here for the next few days is a series of glorious bright yellow circles, accompanied by figures in double digits. Yes spring has arrived in Catalonia. A bit like a bear waking from hibernation (except slightly less hairy), these milder days have had me shaking the cold from my bones, sniffing the sweet smelling air and pawing at my globe, Twitter feed and bookmarked destinations to consider this year’s travel opportunities.
One destination that’s on the agenda already is Bucharest, as I’ve been invited by the city tourist board, along with 30 other travel bloggers, on a press trip that will see us spend five days in the Romanian capital, exploring the best it has to offer… and no doubt enjoying a glass of tuica or two. Unbelievably for someone with an obsession for Eastern European climes, I’ve never set foot in Romania, so this trip looks set to fill a hole in my travelogues and hopefully provide some great stories for the blog.
I’ll be honest… I’ve heard mixed reports about Bucharest. Many people I know who have visited have slated it, whilst even its apologists won’t claim that it’s the most attractive of capitals, so perhaps it’s no surprise I haven’t made a beeline for Bucharest up until now. But then again Warsaw for example has always had to suffer a similarly bad rep., but is currently one of my favourite places to visit in Europe (…but no need to trust my judgement, just check out our recently published city guide by Kamila Napora if you need convincing!). No doubt the local tourist board will be keen to point out their highlights, but of course I’ll be doing my best to slip off the press itinerary and use all of my street savvy to dig a bit deeper and find some fun and funky things to do that I think you guys will like. I have a hunch we’re not going to be disappointed. In the meantime I’m going to be rewatching all my favourite Romanian new wave cinema to get in the zone… do check out these amazing films if you get the chance: Tuesday, After Christmas, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and 12:08 East of Bucharest. (I’ll probably review them on my new film blog – work in progress – one of these days!).
TBEX on the Costa Brava
Talking about much maligned destinations… I was on my way from Barcelona to Tossa de Mar recently with my girlfriend for a romantic weekend when the bus stopped on the way at Lloret de Mar. As I wondered aloud at what this high-rise holiday destination might have to offer my musings were quickly shot down: “If you ever think of taking me here, you can find a new girlfriend,” said my darling belle. Needless to say she was shocked when I told her that the Costa Brava tourist board have chosen, in their wisdom, Lloret of all places to invite over a 1000 bloggers from around the world for the TBEX Europe.
TBEX, I should explain, is a massive travel media conference where all the leading lights of the blogosphere go to network, pitch to sponsors, deliver and attend seminars, and drink. And drink some more. It’s fuelled by a mix of jealousy (I can’t believe they have more Facebook fans than me!), camaraderie (are you a destitute nomad with no friends and family too…? Great, let’s hang out!) and whatever the local liver poison is. All great fun, and also a great chance for the hosting region to show off the best they have to offer to almost all the major digital travel influencers in the world at one time. You can perhaps understand my girlfriend’s shock then that the Costa Brava are hosting this event in Lloret, a Benidorm-style package holiday resort which in her words is “full of drunk German teenagers”. Oh well, guess I will have to go without her then!
I will naturally let you know more about Lloret later in the year, but for now I can say that our trip to Tossa at least (which is right next door) was met with no complaints – and we are still an item. In fact we liked Tossa so much that we went back a few weeks later! I’d strongly recommend staying at the Casa Granados, a very snazzy boutique hotel that will definitely win you brownie points with the other half. Also be sure to allocate at least one day for a hike along the pine-forested cliffs to find some of the beautiful craggy bays the Costa Brava is famous for. See below:
When I launched Urban Travel Blog in 2009 it was with an in-the-box theme (here’s a snapshot from those times!). I didn’t even have a logo! As the traffic and followers built up though I scrabbled together what cash I had to pay a friend of mine to create a much needed logo, a look, and a unique bespoke design. It took him about a year (I wasn’t paying him much to be fair!) but when it was finally ready I was chuffed with the results… it was sleek and black and “urban”, and back in 2011 I’ll flatter myself by saying it was ahead of nearly every other blog in the game. Fast forward to 2015 and I think it’s fair to say that’s no longer the case! There are some truly great looking blogs out there now, taking it to another level of professionalism… some of them look fit to sell Ferraris, let alone write up one’s latest escapades at a full moon party on Koh Phangan. A few of my favourites are Time Travel Turtle, Leave Your Daily Hell and The Blonde Abroad. Well I’ve checked the bank balance and it’s time to scrabble around again… stay tuned because I think when we relaunch in a couple of months, you’re going to like what you see! Why not subscribe to be sure of keeping in touch?
I may not have been out and about much during winter, but as you know by now, Urban Travel Blog is no one-man show and there’s been a lot going on under this domain. Not least we’ve launched a new category of posts called “Secret Sevens“. The aim is simple: to give travellers seven original, hidden or alternative things to do in any given city that will make their break extra special… think of them as natural extensions to the “Hipster’s Guide” sections of our City Guides. American expat and London-lover Chris Osburn was first to step up the plate with his suggestions on cool things to do in the capital, and since then Sasha Arms has returned to the blog with her Secret Seven Berlin tips, after spending a great deal of time there recently. Posts on Rome, Athens, Krakow and Barcelona to come in the next few weeks!
In other news Josh Ferry Woodard has returned with a second London district guide, this time to the unmissable South Bank with its multitude of cultural treasures, whilst across the channel newcomer Anna Pujol-Mazzini penned an In The Zone guide to Le Marais in Paris. Finally Marissa Tejada took an indepth look at the contemporary art scene in Athens in a tour that introduced her to the artists themselves.
That’s it for now, I’ll be back in April with a fresh update… and hopefully a fresh new look for Urban Travel Blog. And if you have any Bucharest tips for me before I go, please leave them in the comments below!