TBEX Ostrava, Czech Republic | The Conference, The Parties, The Hot Air Balloon Crash

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When I do, it’s usually about something unrelated to blogging. On the other hand, I believe that some of you might find it interesting to read about my experience at the TBEX Ostrava conference. Consider it a look at my life as a blogger from the perspective of behind the scenes.

If you follow me on any of the social media platforms, you already know that I just returned from the Czech Republic, where I went there to attend a blogging conference called TBEX.

What is TBEX?

The Travel Blogger Exchange (TBEX) is the biggest travel blogging convention in the world. It is a two-day event that is accompanied by a large number of pre and post events that are aimed to acquaint you with a nation and provide bloggers the ability to share their experiences with readers like you.

Each year, there are many TBEX conferences hosted all around the globe, with Europe hosting one of these events annually. Ostrava, the third biggest city in the Czech Republic and situated directly adjacent to the border with Poland, served as this year’s host city for the European competition.

Because I had been to a previous TBEX conference, namely TBEX Manila, I was aware of what to expect from this one as well (or so I thought).

This year’s TBEX included a far larger number of pre- and post-conference activities than the one I attended in Manila. In point of fact, I began going to meetings in Prague, which is around 370 kilometers (230 miles) away from the conference, an entire week before the conference even started.

This may have a wholesome appearance, but it culminated in absinthe shots at two in the morning.

Pre-BEX events in Prague

Not only did we use these pre-events to get more acquainted with the area before the conference began, but they were also an excellent opportunity to network with other participants.

While registration was required for some events, others were open to anyone who wanted to attend. One of the events was a tour of the Prague airport, which also featured a sightseeing fly over the city of Prague.

The gorgeous flight was the primary reason I wanted to participate in this event; nevertheless, I ended up finding the airport tour to be far more intriguing than I had anticipated. We were given a tour of the airport’s operations and were able to see aspects of the back end that passengers seldom see. We went on a tour of the real flight control rooms as well as the enormous baggage area, where we got an explanation of what happens to our luggage after we have checked it in.

The flying above Prague was without a doubt the most memorable part of the trip. We traveled on a TINY aircraft that had room for just six passengers, including the captain and co-pilot together.

The flight above Prague was really breathtaking, despite the fact that it lasted for barely twenty minutes. Even though we were in the air, we were able to see the castle.

Following our flight over Prague, we hurriedly boarded a train (in first class) bound for Ostrava, where the beginning of the conference would take place a few days later. But before then, I had a few more pre-events to attend in the city where the conference was being held.

The Conference Itself

For many different reasons, I was looking forward to attending this conference. The fact that some of my friends from Hand Luggage Only were going to provide the opening keynote speech was definitely one of the most important reasons. I had the pleasure of meeting these gentlemen on our trip to Nepal for the press the previous year, and it was great to see them again. They are such well-known figures in the business world, but at the same time, they are real lovely people who are always up for a drink and a good time.

As a side note, they absolutely nailed the lecture, just as we were all anticipating they would.

Following that came a number of other breakout sessions. Participants were given the opportunity to choose which sessions best fit their particular areas of interest in the blogging world. We had no trouble locating seminars that were relevant to our interests thanks to the organizers’ extensive range of subject matter.

I went to a number of fantastic ones, but the presentation that Gemma and Laura of Make Traffic Happen gave was by far my favorite. They spoke about the best ways to optimize blog content in order to increase site traffic. I can’t wait to get started putting their recommendations into action.

The husband and wife team behind Hey Dip Your Toes In also presented a session during the event, during which they discussed working with companies and cultivating long-term connections. It has provided me with a lot of food for thought moving ahead.

Last but not least, the closing keynote speech of the conference was easily among the finest I’ve ever heard. Given by two local men who were unknown to me before, they are the proprietors of a well-known YouTube channel known as The Honest Guide. On this channel, they provide tourists with travel tips for visiting their home city of Prague.

They were nothing short of hilarious when performing on stage. I decided to follow them on all of their channels, so I signed up to do that. But then I (very unfortunately) found out that they take their videos considerably more seriously than they do when they are performing live.

Nevertheless, both of them are excellent travel resources for anyone who is thinking about going to the capital of the Czech Republic.

The Parties

Nightly parties are an essential component of every conference and should not be skipped. There were events to celebrate the start of the convention, the closure of the convention, beer tours, an LGBT history pub crawl (which we crashed since the list was full), and my personal favorite, a cryptomania networking event.

In order to complete that challenge, we were split up into teams and sent all across the city to solve cryptographic problems. Following the clues lead us to a surprise popup party complete with champagne.

Why did I like attending this specific event the most? Because I was on the winning team. I wish I could claim that I was the driving force behind our win, but it would be a lie.

Since one of the rewards for winning this competition was a ticket to a future TBEX, you can bet that I’ll be going to yet another conference in the not too distant future!

Post Conference Events

We all said our farewells the next morning after the closing party, and then we headed off to our own post-conference excursions. These were excursions that, similar to the one in which you flew over Prague from an aircraft, required you to submit an application. I was fortunate enough to be included in the party that traveled to South Moravia. This part of the nation is well-known across the world for the quality of its wines.

The city of Brno in the Czech Republic was our first destination. To acquire this perspective of the town below, we had to climb to the top of a tower in the center of it.

We spent the following several days seeing the area and eating at some of the area’s finest restaurants while we were there.

got exclusive tours of the castle

He traveled to many Unesco World Heritage Sites, such as the Villa Tugendhat, which is an outstanding illustration of contemporary architecture.

The most memorable part of the journey? We went on a journey in a hot air balloon that carried us above the city of Brno.

My first trip in a balloon was really a hot air balloon above Cappadocia in Turkey many years ago. This was just my second ride ever in a balloon.

The vistas were really breathtaking. Those who follow my Instagram stories, however, are aware that our landing was a little bit chaotic.

After our disastrous landing, we were dangling upside down.

To our good fortune, we had a gentle landing. Although no one was wounded, it certainly makes for some amusing tales, particularly if any of you guys watched the video of us hanging upside down.

Following that, we made our way to the neighboring town of Mikulov, where we would spend the night. There, we went on a tour of wine cellars that had been excavated into the slopes of hills and extended far beneath. These kinds of wine cellars were completely foreign to me. The wines that were made in each of the vaults ranged from simple to complex.

At every location that we stopped at, we were greeted by welcoming winemakers who were ready to offer their wares and ensure that our glasses were never empty.

On our journey back to Brno, we had a “meet the aunties” appointment set for us. That was something that eluded my comprehension completely.

When we arrived at the residence, a group of elderly Czech women were there to meet and welcome us. In my opinion, they are more reminiscent of grandmothers than aunts, but that’s beside the point. This place ended up being one of our favorites throughout the trip.

To get things started, they gave each person a shot of raki, which is a potent liquor brewed at home. After that, they showed us how they had created some of their handmade items by handing them out and passing them around the room.

You probably already know that I’m not a fan of desserts of any kind. Therefore, I made an effort to turn down the homemade baked goods that one of the aunts offered. “No, take one,” she insisted over and over again.

How could you possibly refuse to help her?

The Last Night

Saying farewell is usually a little bittersweet. We had all become such close friends, particularly after enduring our hot air balloon catastrophe together.

To our good fortune, the organizers had prepared a lovely garden party for us to attend as our send-off before we left.

There, one of the most acclaimed chefs in the city provided us with freshly shucked oysters and served us some of his all-time favorite wines from the local area.

In the end, we truly couldn’t have asked for a better manner to part ways. And everything would have been fine if it weren’t for the fact that the organizers had planned for us to spend our last night in a nuclear bunker. The bunkhouse/hotel had formerly served as a nuclear bomb shelter before being renovated.

It was just for one night, so it didn’t bother me too much, plus it makes for an interesting narrative. I have heard that some persons who have difficulty breathing were unable to remain overnight at the hotel.

Visit the post that my friend Tammilee has written if you are interested in reading a humorous description of what happened. When I reread it, it never fails to make me chuckle.

We had such a packed schedule at TBEX that it would be hard to recount all we did there. As I’ve already said, our itineraries were completely full. But these are the recollections of my time spent there that I cherish the most.

I’ve added a few links down here for all of you to look out, if that’s something that interests you. Reconnecting with other bloggers is one of the highlights of attending the TBEX conference for me. I also really like getting the chance to connect with new bloggers who are creating some very interesting content. In addition to the people whose names I’ve previously listed above, I’d like to introduce you to a few more whose work I wasn’t familiar with before, but which I’ve since begun to follow. Have a look at these! It’s possible that you will like their work as well:

Viktor from Gone Venturing produces intriguing videos. Check out his series on the Chernobyl disaster:

Jon from Here Be Barr is involved in several really interesting endeavors. I really like his vlogs regarding the expense of living in New York City, as well as his food-related vlogs, such as the most recent one he published, which is all about Mexican cuisine in the city:

What do you think was the coolest part of TBEX Ostrava? Let me know in the comments section below!