At the end of October, I attended my second TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) conference. This one was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and during my week I was able to infuse a little bit of France into my stay. My website, after all, is about France and I am basically addicted to the country, if one can be addicted to a country.
Being retired has afforded me the opportunity to pursue something new and exciting: travel (to France), website creation, and writing. The last time I attended a TBEX conference was in April in Costa Brava. I met some incredible bloggers, many of whom I still keep in touch with. There is something about the blogging community that I have rarely encountered before….unbelievably supportive and encouraging. TBEX in Fort Lauderdale was no different. There was lots of opportunity to network as I attended parties at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel (Travel Massive hosted), the Museum of Discovery and Science (baby alligator included), and Diplomat Resort and Spa (but no swimming in the infinity pool).
The Blogging Community
Meeting bloggers at workshops and lunch and conversing over drinks and hor d’oeuves with bloggers who have thousands upon thousands of followers could be intimidating; however, all the folks I met were so down to earth. No big egos. Just friendly people who love to do what I do: travel and write. And meeting various companies at the “Speed Networking” (no, not dating) was a great opportunity to meet representatives who are passionate about promoting their brand.
France In Fort Lauderdale
So, how did I find a bit of France in Fort Lauderdale? I arrived a few days before the conference and did two things in particular:
I walked for 5 hours through Fort Lauderdale. Not sure if you know, but the French love to walk everywhere, so, I walked and walked and walked…..to Las Olas Boulevard. It’s a great area with unique shops and the ONE thing I wanted: a French restaurant. I found it at La Bonne Crepe which serves crepes styled from the region of Brittany, France. My waitress had a French accent and it sounded like she was also from the Brittany area. When I ordered the crepe with chicken, broccoli, and béchamel I asked about a side salad. She gave me a funny look and said, “no” and was told the crepe was large. Yes, it was gigantic!
Before starting the conference, I joined a group of bloggers where we took the “Venice of America” by storm….by Segway, that is. So what has this got to do with France? In Paris, there is a company called “Fat Tire Bike Co” and I have taken one-day bike tours with them through the streets of Paris. It is one of my favourite unique experiences to do in Paris and France. The company also runs Segway tours and I wanted to see what it would be like.
For those who don’t know what a Segway is, it is a two-wheeled motorized personal vehicle that you stand on upright, move by pressing the front or heel of your foot, and turn by leaning left and right. There are gyroscopic sensors that help do the work. Really too scientific for me. Sounds complicated? It really wasn’t once you practised. The best news: no one fell and no one crashed.
My friend, Lynn told me she had done the Segway tour in Paris and her experience was similar to mine. After a quick orientation to be sure everyone is comfortable with their Segway, we took off, single file, following the tour guide. Lynn commented that she never felt she was in danger as the tour guide navigates you through the traffic in Paris. However, she said she was preoccupied with manoeuvering the Segway and following the guide so one is somewhat distracted from the sights. In Paris, the tour takes you by the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, Musee d’Orsay, Ecole Militaire, Place de la Concorde, and many other famous monuments.
My Segway tour in Fort Lauderdale was run by Segway Fort Lauderdale and we did not pass by a lot of monuments like in Paris, but instead, our tour took us through some of the Broward County area, along the 17th Street Causeway bridge, Riverwalk, and past celebrity homes, yachts, historic sights like the Stranahan House (built in 1901), and through neighbourhoods which had many multi-million dollar mansions.
What surprised me was how interesting the area of Fort Lauderdale was. I had no idea there were canals located in this city. What also surprised me was how crazy fun it was to glide along the streets and pathways. Much more interesting than a bus tour.
My personal thanks to:
- TBEX for putting on another fabulous conference. The food, the workshops, the speakers, the parties, and opportunities to network were fabulous!
- RoamRIght (Sharon Mostyn). I won a contest with RoamRight and they paid for my TBEX conference fee!
- Kim, great blogger of StuffedSuitcase.com: I met Kim on the Pre-BEX Segway tour and she gave me invaluable advice that I will always be so grateful for. Her website is extremely successful and getting some blogging tips from her on our short bus ride was much appreciated.
- Chris Ducker, one of the Top 50 Online Influencers (Entrepreneur Magazine). His workshop “Youpreneur. The “No BS” Guide To Building The Business of YOU!” was not only filled with so many tips, but it was also humorous, engaging, and inspirational. I was able to speak with him for some time after his session and his comments to me were so positive and encouraging. He also made suggestions to help me grow my business and I thank him for that.
- Jon from SegwayFortLauderdale.com, Kerry from Finn Partners, and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau for providing the Segway tour. As always, all opinions are my own.
Have you ever done a Segway tour? What did you think of it?