Portugal is one of my favourite countries in the world, so it didn’t take much convincing to get me to head over to Porto for the TBU Porto Travel Bloggers Conference!
I’ve been trying to count the amount of times I’ve been to Portugal, but I’m losing track. Including this summer’s trip to TBU Porto, I estimate I’ve visited the country 10 times, and I lived and worked in Lagos for 7 months! The first time I visited Porto though was last summer when I went port wine tasting in the port wine cellars across the river. I fell in love with the place- the food, the scenic river, the buildings, the cafes…and the hostels, they’re the best I’ve ever stayed in!
So you can understand why I was keen to go back. Here’s a little recap of what I got up to at TBU Porto:
Day 1: TBU Opening Party
I arrived in Porto the night before and happened to be on the same flight as Angie and Paul of My Postcard From so we hopped in a cab into town. I tend to be pretty loyal to the hostels I stay in, so I booked a repeat visit at Dixos Oporto Hostel. The folks who run the place are really helpful and the hostel just has that warm family-run vibe, plus it’s the closest to the river you can get!
The following day I decided to take it easy as I know how exhausting these conferences can be, so I walked to the bus stop and took the bus to Matosinhos Beach, where I managed to squeeze in a few hours of sunbathing time.
That evening was the big TBU Opening Party. We all met up at Ribeira Quay to board a boat for a sunset river cruise to the stunning Freixo Palace hotel. This 18th century baroque style palace had an incredible outdoor infinity pool with a view of the river, and we all congregated in the Italian Gardens for drinks and canapes. After we’d drunk the place dry we were transported by bus back into town, where we all ended up at La Boheme in Porto’s main party area. I would never have guessed it, but the nightlife in Porto is pumping! And we couldn’t’ get enough of the cheap Mojitos from the little serving hatch down the street!
Day 2: Travel Bloggy Awards and Gala Dinner
The conference venue for the day’s events was at the Sheraton Porto, where I went to Four BGB’s talk on “How to Work with PR” and Mike Sowden’s “How to Tell Your Own Compelling Story.”
Then after a power nap at the hostel, it was time for the big event, the Travel Bloggy Awards and gala dinner at the Alfandega Congress Centre. The waterfront venue for this event was like something out of Beauty and the Beast! There was a buffet dinner with traditional Portuguese dishes, plus plenty of free flowing alcohol.
Congrats to all the Travel Bloggy Award Winners, although I don’t know how you all fit those heavy awards into your baggage allowance for the flight back home! Here’s a pic of my mate Paul Dow from TravMonkey after winning his award for Best Innovation, he really is happy- this is his happy face
The Blonde Abroad masterminded an impromptu “Call Me Maybe” flashmob choreographed by Adventurous Kate, and I’m pretty sure the evidence is already floating around on the Internet. Those of us who were involved quietly slipped away to rehearse by the toilets, and anyone who was unfortunate enough to be walking past ended up being roped into it as well!
Afterwards we all piled into buses and went to our favourite haunt: La Boheme. Once you find a bar that’s good and reliable, it’s difficult to go anywhere else!
Day 3: The After Party
On the Sunday I went in for the afternoon sessions and sat in on a great ‘Unconferencing’ Session about Affiliate Income with Craig from Indie Travel Podcast . I stayed around for a while for the Bespoke Networking, before finally calling it a day and heading back into town with Vicky Flip Flop and Jen from She Gets Around. I can’t remember half the stuff we were chatting about, but I spent the entire afternoon in fits of giggles.
There wasn’t an official closing party that night so Budget Traveller organised a dinner and port tonics at Gallery Hostel. Portugal has the best hostels I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world, and Gallery Hostel may possibly be the swishest, swankiest hostel in existence. Check it out. From there we went to a cool bar with a live jam session and karaoke upstairs.
So there you have it! The lowdown on TBU Porto!