Back in the U.K.
Well, I got back to the land of fish of chips a few days ago (Tuesday, November 4 to be exact) but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my father’s viewing and memorial service, which has held on November 1 in my hometown (Willingboro, New Jersey).
Although I was not prepared in any way for the events of October 19, 20 and November 1 to arrive so suddenly, I am proud that the viewing and memorial service attracted a large number of attendees, especially members of his gym and former co-workers. I didn’t realize how well respected he was among those at his gym and in his office. He was pretty much considered family by the people of his gym – in fact, he was on his way to the gym when he was fatally struck by a car. Dad had mentioned to me in the last ever e-mail he sent he had so much fun visiting me in the U.K. (he had also mentioned that to my Mom) but he also relayed how much fun he had in Leeds and York to his gym mates, one of whom added my father taught him how to avoid jury duty.
I did enjoy meeting people who greatly treasured the presence of my father in their lives and it is also great to see people I hadn’t seen in a long time – I just wish this wasn’t the occasion.
As for being back in the U.K., I spent much of Wednesday and Thursday in London at the World Travel Market. While that experience wasn’t novel (I hit up the event last year), this year’s first week of November brought something new: mainly another part of London to explore. I booked a hostel in the West Ham section of Newham (a London borough) – West Ham being a name that might not right a bell unless you follow the Premier League. But I do, so it was awesome that less than 50 feet from my hostel stood Upton Park – the home of West Ham Football Club (probably for not much longer, but that’s another story).
Like many other Premier League clubs, West Ham offers stadium tours but I had no time for such an endeavor. But the most interesting aspect of viewing Upton Park from up close is that it’s located in the heart of a residential area and a short walk from apartments and numerous small shops. In constrast, in large part due to being surrounded by ginormous parking lots, many stadiums (especially NFL stadiums) seemed to be detached from residential areas.
But regarding the World Travel Market, the event ran from Monday to Thursday but I was only able to make the final two days. I wish I had been in attendance on Tuesday but I just happened to be arriving back in the U.K. that day. In any case, the World Travel Market is really a mouth-watering event for prominent members of the travel industry as it is the perfect place to network (I attended a Responsible Tourism Networking reception), promote destinations and tours and learn more about trends in the industry. Fortunately, several panel discussions devoted to travel blogging were held at this year’s WTM. Unfortunately, two of the more interesting ones (at least, according to the descriptions I read) were held on Tuesday.
That said, the two blogging-related panel discussions I attended on Wednesday – one related to the importance of content in travel blogs while the other was devoted to “video blogging and the future of travel content creation” – were interesting. Actually, one of the panelists at the latter discussion works at the PR company I’ve started an internship (That will be another topic for another blog entry) so it was great seeing her.
But the most enjoyable part of the World Travel Market is not the panel discussions or the networking opportunities – it’s the “shopping.” A large number of Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), hotels and tour providers send representatives to the event to promote their brand, and those business bring plenty of brochures (Some of them also bring bags that could be used for grocery shopping). Last year, I took several bagfuls of brochures back to Leeds and this year was no different 🙂 Brochures of some places I’m dreaming of visiting – like Brazil. And some places of brochures I’m really not dreaming of visiting – like Wyoming. But Wyoming Tourism did a good job of composing a brochure 🙂