Bacon. Wrapped. Bananas.
I thought I had found the epitome of awesomeness when my friend Krista introduced me to bacon-wrapped dates at Café Babareeba nearly a decade ago. But then along came bacon-wrapped bananas at the opening party of TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) in Girona, catered by none other than El Celler de Can Roca – the second best restaurant in the entire world.
I admit I was initially skeptical but as soon as I bit into this surprising combination, I was completely sold. In fact, I completely forgot the number one rule for food-consuming travel bloggers: snap before you eat. I quickly grabbed another. And I may have snatched another from an unsuspecting waiter later in the evening as well.
But bacon wrapped bananas weren’t the only thing I discovered while in Girona, Spain for TBEX. I made a few other discoveries as well, such as:
1. I want to spend more time in Europe. Prior to my recent trip, about 90% of my travel was in Europe. Nonetheless, visiting Girona makes me want to see more. I have seen plenty of big city Europe – Paris, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, etc. But I haven’t spent much time seeing the more intimate side of Europe – the smaller towns with winding streets, cute little cafes and tons of character. I enjoyed some of that at TBU in Umbria as well and while there are a gazillion other places I am dying to visit, exploring more of small town Europe is moving up the list.
2. I don’t love Spanish tapas. I love tapas. At least I thought I did. Some of my favorite restaurants in Chicago are tapas places but sampling the tapas in Spain, I realized they just aren’t the same. And I hate to say it, but I prefer the Americanized versions. Aside from the amazing food at the opening party, everything else I had was so-so. The biggest disappointment? The patatas bravas. In Chicago, these are roasted potatoes topped with a spicy tomato sauce. In Girona, they were French fries with ketchup. Not impressed.
3. I need to get a smarter smartphone. Between hearing multiple digs at Blackberry users and listening to Kirsten Alana extol the virtues of Instagram, I left convinced I needed to upgrade my beloved Blackberry to an iPhone or Android. I even went so far as to start testing out other people’s phones and, sure enough, on my first day back in the United States, I said buh-bye to the Blackberry and hello to an iPhone. Life will never be the same.
4. Publishing an e-book may not be as daunting as I thought it might be. The one session that excited me the most was about creating revenue through publishing. The thought of writing an e-book related to my recent trip has been growing stronger in my mind but the one thing holding me back was the fear that actually publishing and distributing it might be too costly and difficult to make it worth my while. After hearing about some of the different options out there, though, I have more confidence that I could make it work. Now I just need to sit down and start writing…
5. I don’t want to turn my blog into my business. This was probably my biggest takeaway of the weekend. I never started this blog with the intent of making money from it and throughout my year of traveling I have maintained that I do not want to be a digital nomad. Likewise, after talking to so many bloggers in Girona who are trying to make a living from their blogs, I know 100% that is not something I want to try to do.
I love writing this blog and I appreciate the opportunities that have come my way because of it, but I don’t want it to become my business. I think as soon as I start viewing it as my business, I would stop enjoying it. I don’t want to become obsesses with checking my statistics and I don’t want to feel like I have to publish a certain number of posts per week just to keep my traffic up. And, I don’t want to feel like the only way I can afford to travel is to go on press trips or blog trips where everything is complimentary. I want to keep traveling, but I want to do so on my terms and go where I want to go the most. Now, that isn’t to say I won’t accept opportunities to work with companies or tourism boards, but I will only do so if they are places that really interest me.
In the end, Girona was the perfect end to my 13 months of travel.
I was able to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. I learned some valuable things at the conference sessions. I gained new insight into what I want to do with this blog. I found additional motivation and inspiration to start writing an e-book.
And of course, I discovered bacon wrapped bananas.