My fourth FAM / Press Trip to Hamburg – Holy Hamburg!

My fourth FAM / Press Trip to Hamburg – Holy Hamburg!

So Hamburg.

Yeah!

As you know, last week I told you about how I was invited to Hamburg, as a guest of Hamburg Marketing.

What you don’t know, are the details of my press trip!

BUT WHY HAMBURG?

There’s usually no time to dilly-dally in Hamburg. But this time, there was!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Hamburg – Dec 2017

Why not?

The thing is, I’ve been to Hamburg many times, but I’ve never been to Hamburg as a tourist!

Not Ever!

Why is that, you might ask?

To be honest, I simply don’t know!

But I wanted to shake things up a little, and change!

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The Hamburg stand at ITB Berlin was very busy & here’s why – An artificially intelligent tourism robot!

If you recall, almost a year ago, I went to the International Trade Fair in Berlin, otherwise known as ITB Berlin, and met up with some of the marketing people of Hamburg.

You could say, that we actually met on Twitter, ‘cos a British blogger – Eat Shoot Sleep Travel asked me about the traditional Fish Market in Hamburg, and I didn’t know!

Cringe!

The fellows at Hamburg.com saw this, reached out and said,”Hey! Come to Hamburg. See for yourself!”

She wanted to know about the Fish Market in Hamburg. Ha! Ha! I still don’t know!

So I did!

Thanks so much Hamburg Marketing!

WHY GO TO HAMBURG?

HafenCity – Hamburg – Summer in Germany – Simply the Best!

Hamburg really isn’t that big, so follow my footsteps and don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk too!

A BRIEF PIECE OF HISTORY:

Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg!

Hamburg, otherwise known as the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, is the second-largest city in Germany, and has a population of about 1.8 million people!

Just so you know, Berlin, with a population of just 3.55 million people, is the federal capital, and the largest city in Germany!

And let me tell you, it doesn’t even feel like a city…!

Hamburg: An Introduction to a Port City!

Hamburg lies in a very strategic position with Continental Europe to the South and the Nordic States to the North. The North Sea is to the West and the Baltic Sea is to the North-East.

Hamburg stretches out on the River Elbe, has many small islands and lakes, and borders the states of Schleswig-Holstein with lovely places like Lübeck and Lower Saxony.

Hamburg is the type of city that I respect because like Berlin, Manchester and London, it’s a City State and has existed since the time of the Holy Roman Empire!

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History & Glory days at the Internationales Maritimes Museum Hamburg, Germany!

Hamburg is also a member of the medieval Hanseatic League, a World Heritage UNESCO site, with signs of wealth and glory all over the region. Of course, during the Great Fire of Hamburg, and during the Second World War, the importance of the harbour made it an important target, such that many parts of the city, was destroyed.

During the 13th – 16th century, Hamburg was considered second only to the port and city of Lübeck, as a central trading hub for sea-borne trade.

With the discovery of the Americas and the emerging transatlantic trade, Hamburg exceeded all other German ports, and became the main Central European hub for freight travel, transatlantic passengers and from 1871, the principal port of trade in Germany!

Wow!

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WHAT IS A PRESS OR FAM TRIP?

Me in the Philippines, but could this be a James Bond moment!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

A PRESS TRIP is normally described as a visit to a destination, country, city, hotel, venue etc, organised for media groups.

It usually introduces and presents the best bits of a particular itinerary and is usually for a small group of journalists or bloggers, or an organised private trip.

Although a press trip could be for a few hours, it usually refers to a trip of a few days.

Should I take the train in France or not? It’s obvious though isn’t it!

A familiarization trip, or FAM TRIP as it is better known, is similar to a press trip however, it usually includes a visit to a number of sights, venues, activities, accommodations, or restaurant spots, in one area or region.

It is typically organised for travel industry professionals, to give them a better understanding of the regions and products they are trying to sell to their clients.

Lots of different activities are included so that as much as possible can be experienced. Sometimes journalists might attend a FAM TRIP too.

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At the Milk Thistle in Bristol.
©The Milk Thistle.

In both instances your costs will usually be covered, though this will vary depending on the organiser.

I categorise official FAM / Press trips as different to customised press trips.

On official FAM / Press trips, pretty much everything is paid for. Including transport, hotels, food & entertainment such as the following:

FRANCE:

My first press or FAM trip ever to Nord-Pas de Calais otherwise known as, Northern France!

ENGLAND:

10 amazing reasons why you should Visit Bristol!

THE PHILIPPINES:

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

GERMANY:

Hamburg: An Introduction to a Port City!

However, once I confirmed it, a very important client also contacted me, so I ended up arriving one day earlier than the other participants, and leaving earlier too, so I paid for my own dinner and refreshments.

It would have been ideal, but my hotel had lost the press package that should have been waiting for me, and by the time I had contacted everyone to find out where it was, all the tourist sights had closed!

I never did find my press package, but that’s a story for another day!

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The horror of Christmas shopping – Get me out of here!

My visit to Hamburg was a press trip.

Once the Press trip officially started, we didn’t have to pay for a single thing!

Of course, if you suddenly fancied a spot of your finest whisky, Monsieur. Or felt that snacks and drinks from the minibar were perhaps included. You’d be wrong!

Your hefty bill and service charge, would be all on you!

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HOW DID I GET INVITED?

I absolutely love walking! ©Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I absolutely love walking!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro

Well, my first big break came just five (5) months after I started writing as a blogger.

To be quite frank, I have been extremely lucky to be at the right place, at the right time.

In 2014, I happened to be at the Sony Centre in Berlin where I got chatting to a PR person who promised to put me on the guest list of the Berlin Music Video Awards. She did, and even though, I never saw her again, my pro-active activity coupled with an outgoing personality, and a genuine interest to get involved, opened the door to being invited into the VIP section, a glimpse into the media world, and a whole host of people who had a friendly eye, and were willing to help me in my quest for knowledge and information.

Press documentation for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week - Autumn/Winter 2016.
Press documentation for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week – Autumn/Winter 2016.

A press card and a TV documentary about me came about because of the simple matter that when I undergo to write a piece, I make a thorough job of it.

People really like my personality, so I’ve often been an invited guest of city-destinations in which trips have been organised and customised to my own personal requirements. This is the best type of press trip to have, so I consider myself extremely lucky and very honoured. You can read more about them here.

However, on every group FAM trip, I’m usually either the only blogger in vicinity, or the only European there!

You can imagine my  anxiety.

It's embarrassing. I had no idea who I would be meeting, I just knew that I would be going to France!
It’s embarrassing. I had no idea who I would be meeting, I just knew that I would be going to France!

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WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO BE DOING ON THE HAMBURG PRESS TRIP?

Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg!

The point of this PRESS trip was to introduce the region as not only an interesting place to visit, but a historical cultural one too. A destination that would hit all the right spots for someone like me.

And ultimately, someone like you!

This press trip was a three (3) day exploration, starting from Friday and finishing on Sunday.

I didn’t have any information as to who was going to be there, and what type of bloggers would be attending.

You tend to get a little anxious that you’re going to be too shy, people aren’t going to like you, you’re not going to like them, you end up being that blogger, or that you’re going to be completely out of your depth and thus, comfort zone.

I also felt a little nervous about the sleeping arrangements.

WOULD I GET MY OWN ROOM ON A PRESS TRIP?

Don’t laugh! Would I get my own room on a press trip?

Don’t laugh.

I always do of course, but still, I constantly worry, and it brings me out in a sweat since nobody actually tells you!

And because I arrived one day (1) day before the others, I was placed in a grown-up more corporate-like hotel called the Scandic Hamburg Emporio, while the others were in a young-ish boutique hotel called the Fritz im Pyjama Hotel.

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My bedroom at the Scandic Hamburg Emporio Hotel!
My delicious breakfast at the Scandic Hamburg Emporio Hotel!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Hamburg – Dec 2017

At first, I was a little disappointed not to be placed in the same hotel as everyone else, but when I saw my room at the Scandic Hamburg Emporio, I soon forgot all about it!

Yes, I know.

Silly isn’t it, but there you have it!

Book Scandic Hamburg Emporio, the Fritz im Pyjama Hotel, or your own Hamburg Hotel here!

WERE WE GIVEN ANY DETAILS AT ALL?

Marvellous news. I’m doing a radio programme with the BBC. And other stuff!

Yep!

The Host was Hamburg Marketing. They were highly organised and thoroughly fantastic.

On this press trip we were expected to be doing the following:

HAMBURG PRESS TRIP – HOLY HAMBURG!

Hamburg: An Introduction to a Port City!

NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: 12

DEPARTURE: December 1st

RETURN: December 3rd

A DESCRIPTION:

My fourth FAM / Press Trip to Hamburg – Holy Hamburg!

SPEICHERSTADT AND HAFENCITY: TRADITION AND MODERNITY

Located in the very heart of the city, the innovative architectural design of HafenCity on the waterfront, make it well worth exploring.

You will find the historic Speicherstadt warehouse district with its beautiful canals, red-brick facades, winding bridges and picturesque views, which together with the Kontorhaus district and Chilehaus, were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2015.

Speicherstadt is the world’s largest coherent warehouse complex and includes a number of interesting museums and exciting exhibitions!

Hamburg is a city with a rich choice of top-class cultural events for all lovers of culture, renowned orchestras and theatres, a vibrant museum landscape with spectacular exhibitions, as well as experimental dance theatre and world-class ballet productions that reflect Hamburg’s great cultural diversity.

Hamburg has plenty to offer.

All are welcome in Hamburg. And depending on when you visit, not crowded at all!

Yep!

I was excited!

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MEDIA TRIP PROGRAMME:

DAY 1

My bottled beer at the Störtebeker Braumanufaktur – Elbphilharmonie
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Hamburg – Dec 2017

Eek!

DAY 2

Our awesome Hamburg guide – Marc Müller –
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Hamburg – Dec 2017

Phew!

I managed to join the group for a quick dinner, had a glass of champagne, then took off!

DAY 3

I wasn’t able to stay, but I did have sushi at Mikawa #2!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Hamburg – Dec 2017

‘Would have been:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Free time

HAMBURG MARKETING RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES:

I spent an evening at the famous Hanseatic Gänsemarkt Christmas Market! ©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Hamburg – Dec 2017

I didn’t have time to do any of these activities, but as I arrived a day earlier, I was able to make my own way around, and spent quite a pleasant afternoon (with sprinklings of snow) at the Hamburg HafenCity, the Speicherstadt or Warehouse District, the Altona-Altstadt or Old Town, the UNESCO Kontorhausviertel, and the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, otherwise known as the Elbphilharmonie!

The Christmas Market is not to be missed in Hamburg. Or anywhere else in Germany!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Hamburg – Dec 2017

Since it was around Christmas when I went to Hamburg, I also managed to fit in the historical Roncalli Christmas Market, and the very famous Hanseatic Gänsemarkt Christmas Market, otherwise known as the Goose Market!

Mind you, I would have quite fancied going to the Hamburg Dungeon!

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SO HOW WAS IT?

I bet you wouldn’t mind calling this sexy hot German guy!

It was a pretty packed programme, but awesome!

As I write this, it’s February 10th, and so much has happened since!

ANY TIPS GOING ON A FAM TRIP FOR THE FIRST TIME?

Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner for Bild am Sonntag
©Christian Spreitz
  • Leave plenty of time for trips, tours and meet-ups both before, and after the conference
  • You don’t have to have a huge following to be accepted onto a FAM / Press trip
  • Improve your photography
  • Have great content
  • Educate yourself and if you don’t know, ask your fellow invites
  • Networking is key to putting a face to a name in the blogging / press community
  • Take your business cards
  • Try to get some sleep
  • Get comfy but smarten yourself up, if the venue demands it
  • Be punctual
  • Stay professional
  • Don’t whinge
  • Follow the programme
  • Be a team-player
  • Keep smiling
  • Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone
  • Don’t be stupid either
  • Be yourself
  • Write about your FAM trip and send it to the host or organiser
  • Thank the host or organiser
  • Have a great time

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VERDICT?

My fourth FAM / Press Trip to Hamburg – Holy Hamburg!

The staff of Hamburg Marketing (Jessica & her team), and awesome guide for the weekend –  Marc Müller – were all warm, welcoming, hilariously funny (you should hear the stories!!), but very professional.

They made sure that we were well-looked after, nobody got lost or forgot anything.  And nobody got left behind or ostracised.

There were moments of laughter, but most importantly, lots of smiling, laughing, and learning from each other.

We all got on extremely well!

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ANYTHING ELSE?

You can just about see some of the other bloggers, while we were at the Ottensen/Altona Christmas Market!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Hamburg – Dec 2017

Yep!

We were a small group of just ten (10) bloggers (including myself) from five (5) international countries.

Our job for that weekend was to visit and see the region for ourselves and hopefully, discover the many interests and joys of Hamburg, so that other travellers and visitors are encouraged to come and visit themselves.

And we did!

Victoria’s Hamburger Labskaus, which I had at Altes Mädchen. Try it!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Hamburg – Dec 2017

By the way, a Hamburger Labskaus is a speciality usually only found in North Germany.

It’s a gripping combination of corn beef or cooked salted meat, beetroot, potatoes, pickled gherkins, onions, rollmop, and a fried egg plopped on top of it all!

Gulp!

Thanks guys!

Book your hotel here!

MY FOURTH FAM / PRESS TRIP TO HAMBURG – HOLY HAMBURG!

My fourth FAM / Press Trip to Hamburg – Holy Hamburg!

This article is part-sponsored, and even though I was invited on this trip as a guest of Hamburg Marketing, Visit Hamburg, Deutsche Bahn and the Scandic Hamburg Emporio Hotel, all opinions and the hearty markets that I visited in Hamburg, are my very own!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about my visit to Belgium later in the season!

I’ll be at the UK Germany 2018 Launch Party on Valentine’s Day – on the 14th of February, 2018. Tickets are free of charge, so if you’re in Berlin, join the party!

I’ll be at Berlin’s most famous film festival – The 68th showing of the Berlin International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Berlinale, taking place between 15th – 25th February, 2018.  Everyone’s most excited! Tickets are on sale from 12.02.18.

I’ll be at the ITB Berlin or the Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin – the world’s leading travel trade show, taking place between 7th – 11th March, 2018. You can buy tickets here.

Save the Date!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in February, then move on!

February is going to be busy!

See you next week!

My fourth FAM / Press Trip to Hamburg – Holy Hamburg!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

My fourth FAM / Press Trip to Hamburg – Holy Hamburg!

What did you think of press trips? Would you choose sushi with a fried egg, rollmop with a fried egg, or both? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

So last week, I told you that even though I have a lot of future posts coming up about my FAM/Press Trip to the Philippines, I was going to divert to writing about Taiwan!

Taiwan?

Yes. Taiwan!

Aha!

?/%$!!?%$§!

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?
Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

Now let’s be honest. A fortnight ago, I told you that western travellers tended not to choose the Philippines when travelling to Asia, and with Taiwan, it gets distinctly worse because.

Nobody knows where it is!!!

There are murmurs of:

Taiwan?

Do you mean Thailand!

or

Taiwan?

Is that in Turkey or something!

In fact, until last year, I thought that Taipai - the capital of Taiwan - was somewhere in Korea!
In fact, until last year, I thought that Taipei – the capital of Taiwan – was somewhere in Korea!

In fact, until last year, I thought that Taipei – the capital of Taiwan – was somewhere in Korea!

Yes. Korea!!

Was it any wonder that when I decided to add another Asian destination to my trip, I opted to choose Taiwan!

But if you’re just following my blog, and you haven’t a clue why Taiwan even came up in the first instance, here are a couple of links to remind you:

Me in the Philippines, but could this be a James Bond moment! ©Scott Herder - BoboandChiChi.com
Me in the Philippines, but could this be a James Bond moment!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

Gosh!

So let’s do some history.

TAIWAN

Taipei 101 Observatory - The world's tallest building in 2004!
Taipei 101 Observatory – The world’s tallest building in 2004!

Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia. It was founded in 1912, making it the first democratic republic in Asia!

Neighbors include the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the west, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. Taiwan is the most populous non-UN state and the largest economy outside the UN boasting a per capita income of over $45,000!

Despite its contentious relationship with China, Taiwan has thrived over the last four decades as one of the strongest economies in Asia, a population of just 23.4 million people, and a GDP of over $1.1 trillion!

16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

The history of Taiwan can be traced back to at least 7000 years!

Between 7000 and 400 years ago, Austronesians, (the ancestors of the island’s indigenous people), arrived in small groups and became the earliest known inhabitants of Taiwan.

Taiwan was initially colonised by the Dutch in the 17th century, followed by an influx of Han Chinese, including Hakka immigrants from the Fujian and Guangdong areas of mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait.

The Spanish built a settlement in the north for a brief period, but were driven out by the Dutch in 1642.

Taiwan became a colony of Japan and remained under Japanese rule for 50 years!
Taiwan became a colony of Japan and remained under Japanese rule for 50 years!

In 1662, Koxinga, a loyalist of the Ming dynasty who had lost control of mainland China in 1644, defeated the Dutch and established a base of operations on the island. His forces were also defeated by the Qing dynasty in 1683, and parts of Taiwan became increasingly integrated into the Qing empire. Following the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, the Qing ceded the island, along with Penghu, to the Empire of Japan.

The island became a colony of Japan and remained under Japanese rule for 50 years, during which time it evolved from a traditional society into a modern one.

In 1945, following the end of World War II, the Republic of China (ROC), led by the Kuomintang (KMT), took control of Taiwan.

Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).
Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).

The KMT ruled Taiwan (along with Kinmen, Wuqiu and the Matsu Islands on the opposite side of the Taiwan Strait) as a single-party state for forty years, until democratic reforms in the 1980s.

During the post-war period, Taiwan experienced rapid industrialization and economic growth, and was known as one of the Four Asian Tigers.

Wow!

How intriguing!

Singapore is also known as one of the Four Asian Tigers!
Singapore is also known as one of the Four Asian Tigers!

I was enormously impressed by Taiwan and here’s why:

16 BRILLIANT REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT TAIWAN!

16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
  1. Taiwan is an island country boasting abundant natural resources
  2. A great collection of landforms have been carved out of the Taiwan landscape, such as majestic peaks, rolling hills and plains, basins, coastlines, and other natural landscapes
  3. There are 8 national parks and 13 national scenic areas to preserve Taiwan’s best natural ecological environment, and cultural sites
  4. Taiwan has invaluable rare and endangered wildlife such as the Taiwanese land-locked salmon, the Taiwan serow, Formosan rock monkeys, Formosan black bears, Swinhoe pheasants, blue magpies, Mikado pheasants, and the Hsuehshan grass lizard
  5. Taiwan boasts excellent infrastructure, a convenient transportation system, and high-quality communication services
  6. It’s utterly and completely clean! I couldn’t believe that there was no litter or trash on the underground train. And if it’s raining, you can pick up an umbrella at the train station. For free!
  7. The fabulous food, and the Night Market. I’m going to say no more about it, until next week!
  8. So that you can pay a visit to Taroko National Park
  9. Get all sweaty and energetic with a hike up Jade Mountain
  10. To experience the wonderful ambience of Sun Moon Lake
  11. So that you can hang out where the cool kids do in the hip neighbourhood of Ximending – the  first pedestrian zone built in Taipei and the source of Taiwan’s pop subculture, cool Japanese trends, cultural-creative goods, food, and entertainment, as well as unique avant-garde fashion and style. In fact, I stayed in this region for 3 days before I moved to another part of town. More about this next week!
  12. To discover and explore a bustling modern metropolis sprinkled with quiet lanes and alleys in corners that you would never expect, as well as a unique cultural environment filled with creativity and design. One evening, we bumped into a film company making a Taiwanese soap-show, based around a red-brick cultural building, constructed in a historically preserved heritage warehouse!
  13. So that you can hop on a high-speed train and experience the Taiwan Railway Journey across the country island!
  14. Get in touch with authentic Taiwanese life by visiting the mountain region of Pingxi where you can write wishes on a sky lantern, before letting it go into the sky!
  15. Be fascinated by the beauty and serenity of the Shifen Waterfall
  16. Because Taiwan has the feel of being Chinese, but itsn’t!

That’s all for now!

16 BRILLIANT REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT TAIWAN!

Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending 16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a part-complimentary stay at amba Taipei Ximending and amba Taipei Songshan, all opinions and the magnificent time that I had, are my very own!

Next week I’ll be writing about what I did in Taiwan, and then returning to the Philippines again later!

On November 24th – 26th, I’ll be attending the Berlin-Premiere and the 10th anniversary of British musical comedy duo – Carrington Brown at Bar Jeder Vernunft in Berlin.

On November 24th – 26th, I’ll be joining my American friends to celebrate Thanksgiving!

On November 27th, the Berlin German Christmas Market will open, and the furore of mulled wine, German sausages and green cabbage, will begin!

In December/January, I’ll be going to Holland.

The British Shorts Fillm Festival will take place from 12th – 18th January, 2017

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017.

At the end of January, I’ll be skiing in the Czech Republic.

Save the Date!

November is going to be compulsive!

Watch this space!

Please also note that there is now a Booking.com affiliate link (for the very first time) connected to my hotel. Every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my link I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself! A win-win for all!

16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

Would you like to visit Taiwan? Have you been there? Did you know that Taiwan was not a part of Thailand or Korea!! Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

My third huge FAM / Press Trip to the Philippines – How to work with #TBEX, and how to do it right!

Victoria Ade-Genschow - The British Berliner (me) in the Philippines. But could this be a James Bond moment! ©Scott Herder - BoboandChiChi.com
Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner (me) in the Philippines. But could this be a James Bond moment!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

I’m back in Europe you guys!

It’s a little sad ‘cos Asia is one of my favourite continents, but still, it’s good to be back home.

I’ve just returned from that most exotic of continents – Asia – and to a region unfamiliar to travellers and visitors – the Philippines!

BUT WHAT WAS I DOING IN THE PHILIPPINES OF ALL PLACES?

Remember when I told you that I had astonishing news! Well, that astonishing news was the introduction of my journey to the Philippines for the very first time.

As you know, I had originally planned to go to the European conference in Sweden, but a window opened up. That window was the fact that I’m taking up a new job!

Yep!

I'll soon be working for Logo Sprachenschule!
I’ll soon be working for Logo Sprachenschule!

Now you all know that I work for a British / American company as a corporate trainer, but from November 2016, I’ll be working for a German company as the Vice-School Principal. And get this.

I’ll be responsible for their English-speaking business and their Social Media Management too!

It’s a small business and will be focused on international languages. The company is called LOGO Sprachenschule, and is based in my gentrified hipster neighbourhood of Prenzlauerberg. In the best place in the world – Berlin!

As usual, I’m an advocate for smart travelling, so I’m not quitting either my travels or my job anytime soon, thanks very much!

My family & I in Thailand - All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.
My family & I in Thailand – All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.

I didn’t go to the conference in Sweden, so I decided to go to the TBEX Asia-Pacific 2016 conference in the Philippines instead!

WHAT IS TBEX ALL ABOUT?

Me at TBEX - Travel Blog Exchange Asia Pacific 2016 - The future of travel Media!
Me at TBEX – Travel Blog Exchange Asia-Pacific 2016 – The future of travel Media

Well, TBEX is the holy grail of the travel blogging world and stands for Travel Blog Exchange.

It’s the world’s largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, writers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands and social-media-savvy travel industry professionals. There are three (3) conferences held annually in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, attracting 600-1000 delegates from all over the world!

At the Travel Massive Party with Filipino bloggers, in Manila! ©Kenneth Ephraim Surat
At the Travel Massive Party with Filipino bloggers, in Manila!
©Kenneth Ephraim Surat

It’s also a medium for the creative minds of the travel industry to come together, to network, to learn, to negotiate with the travel industry, and for those who are so inclined, to take the business of blogging to the next level.

How exciting!

Last year, I went to the TBEX conference for the very first time.

And it was a disaster!

The headless main in Barcelona, Spain.
Look. No head! In Spain!!

But this year. It was marvellous!

Every year, TBEX partners with fantastic destinations so that bloggers and media people get the opportunity to meet potential business partners or sponsors, meet influential bloggers, get new strategies and tips, network with each other, discover new destinations, share a new experience and well, be entertained and paaaaaaaarty like it’s 1999!

And party we did!

At the TBEX Asia Pacfic Oktoberfest Farewell Party, with local Filipinos!
At the TBEX Asia-Pacific Oktoberfest Farewell Party, with local Filipinos!

Most importantly, TBEX affords participants the opportunity to experience the destination hosted by the country itself!

You see, going to TBEX doesn’t only mean the conference weekend but actually a few days of serious jollification and pre-tours before the conference, and a week of a bit of a jolly, after the conference! In fact, even though the conference officially took place from October 13th – October 16th, many people arrived early, and some people are still in the Philippines NOW – Living the life of Riley!

Last year, I wished it had been me.

And this year it was!

TBEX 2016 Asia Pacific
TBEX 2016 Asia-Pacific “The Visayan Charms” – Cebu/Bohol – Familiarization (FAM) Tour in the Philippines

Yes, your favourite blogger – The British Berliner – was invited to participate in the TBEX 2016 Asia-Pacific – The Visayan Charms – Cebu/Bohol – Familiarization (FAM) Tour in the Philippines.

I was ecstatic!

Me!

Out of hundreds of other bloggers!

Whoop! Whoop!

WHAT IS A PRESS OR FAM TRIP?

The 50 Shades of Tan Girls - Visayan Charms - Megan Indoe, Victoria Ade-Genschow, Charlotte Anne de Peralta & Ruchika Shankar! ©Trixie Lago - the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines
The 50 Shades of Tan Girls – Visayan Charms – Megan Indoe, Victoria Ade-Genschow, Charlotte Anne de Peralta & Ruchika Shankar!
©Trixie Lago – the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines

A PRESS TRIP is normally described as a visit to a destination, country, city, hotel, venue etc, organised for media groups. It usually introduces and presents the best bits of a particular itinerary and is usually for a small group of journalists or bloggers, or an organised private trip. Although a press trip could be for a few hours, it usually refers to a trip of a few days.

A familiarization trip, or FAM TRIP as it is better known, is similar to a press trip however, it usually includes a visit to a number of sights, venues, activities, accommodations, or restaurant spots, in one area or region. It is typically organised for travel industry professionals, to give them a better understanding of the regions and products they are trying to sell to their clients. Lots of different activities are included so that as much as possible can be experienced. Sometimes journalists might attend a FAM TRIP too.

The cost is covered except for personal spending and tips. That usually means no shopping. Awwww!
The cost is covered except for personal spending and tips. That usually means no shopping.
Awwww!

In both instances your costs will usually be covered, though this will vary depending on the organiser.

In this case, I made my own way to the Philippines and paid for the conference fee and my own hotel costs while at the TBEX conference (4 days) in Manila, which was where our FAM trip week was to start.

Once the FAM trip started, we didn’t have to pay for a single thing!

Of course, if you suddenly fancied a spot of your finest whisky monsieur. That was a hefty bill, and all on you!

HOW DID I GET INVITED?

I absolutely love walking! ©Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I absolutely love walking!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro

Well, my big break came just five (5) months after I started writing as a blogger. And to be quite frank, I have been extremely lucky to be at the right place, at the right time. In 2014, I happened to be at the Sony Centre in Berlin where I got chatting to a PR person who promised to put me on the guest list of the Berlin Music Video Awards. She did, and even though, I never saw her again, my pro-active activity coupled with an outgoing personality, and a genuine interest to get involved, opened the door to being invited into the VIP section, a glimpse into the media world, and a whole host of people who had a friendly eye, and were willing to help me in my quest for knowledge and information.

Press documentation for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week - Autumn/Winter 2016.
Press documentation for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week – Autumn/Winter 2016.

A press card and a TV documentary about me came about because of the simple matter that when I undergo to write a piece, I make a thorough job of it.

People really like my personality, so I’ve often been an invited guest of city-destinations in which trips have been organised and customised to my own personal requirements. This is the best type of press trip to have, so I consider myself extremely lucky and very honoured.

However, I’ve only ever been on a group FAM trip once before, and that FAM trip was to France!

You can imagine my  anxiety ‘cos I was the only British person there, and the only blogger!

It's embarrassing. I had no idea who I would be meeting, I just knew that I would be going to France!
It’s embarrassing. I had no idea who I would be meeting, I just knew that I would be going to France!

This was only slightly different ‘cos not only was I the only British person in my group, I was the lone European too!

WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO BE DOING ON THE VISAYAN CHARMS FAM TRIP?

The Visayan Charms of the local Filipino people!
The Visayan Charms of the local Filipino people!

The point of this FAM trip was to introduce the region as not only an interesting place to visit, but a historical cultural one too. A destination that would hit all the right spots for someone like me. And ultimately, someone like you!

This FAM trip was a five (5) day exploration starting from Sunday night and finishing mid-Friday evening.

I didn’t have any information as to who was going to be there and what type of bloggers would be attending.

You tend to get a little anxious that you’re going to be too shy, people aren’t going to like you, you’re not going to like them, you end up being that blogger, or that you’re going to be completely out of your depth and thus, comfort zone.

Yes, I know.

Silly isn’t it, but there you have it!

I knew only one person - Nathan Aguilera! ©Ajay Sood - Travelure (a.k.a. Ajay Sood)
I knew only one person – Nathan Aguilera! ©Ajay Sood – Travelure (a.k.a. Ajay Sood)

As I said earlier, I didn’t know who would be there except for one person – a crazy young American foodie blogger called Nathan Aguilera – Foodie Flashpacker.

We met on the TBEX Facebook Group page, and ended up in the same conference hotel – The Golden Phoenix.

I was so relieved to see him, and hung out with him quite a bit. I hope I didn’t stalk him too much but I don’t think so, as I ended up giving him my hotel room for free!

WERE WE GIVEN ANY DETAILS AT ALL?

Press Trip!
Press Trip!

Yep!

The Host was the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines. They were highly organised and thoroughly fantastic.

I’ve been on a FAM trip with the Germans. I should know!

On this FAM trip we were expected to be doing the following:

THE VISAYAN CHARMS

The Visayan Charms of the local Filipino people!
The Visayan Charms of the local Filipino people!

NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: 10

DEPARTURE: October 17th

RETURN: October 21st

A DESCRIPTION:

The Tarsier - the sallest monkey in the world!
The Tarsier – the smallest monkey in the world!

Cruise the river of Loboc, view the mountain trails of kisses of the Philippines known as the Chocolate Hills and do a selfie with a tarsier. Explore Bohol’s eastern side with the island’s long stretches of white sand beaches and pristine waters. Discover Lamanoc Island known for its mysticism.

Have a taste of “lechon – the best (roast) pig ever” according to Anthony Bourdain. Walk along the streets of Colon, the oldest street in the Philippines. Explore the city’s rich past with a visit to its historical landmarks such as the Magellan’s Cross, Basilica de Santo Nino, one of the country’s oldest relics. As a major trading port and site for some of the nation’s fastest-growing industries, it reinforces its multiculturalism with progression. This heady mix of urban vibes and casual provincial airs makes it a favorite destination of those seeking a showcase of the harmonious co-existence of history, culture and modernity.

ATTIRE: Light casual clothes with comfortable sandals for walking and beachwear
THEME: Nature and Culture
DESTINATION: Central Visayas Region – Cebu and Bohol

Just me and my horse in Manila!
Just me and my horse in Manila!

TOUR PROGRAMME:

DAY 1

Leave the humdrum of city life in Manila behind!
Leave the humdrum of city life in Manila behind!
  • Depart Manila
  • Arrive Tagbilaran Airport
  • Proceed to Bohol Countryside Tour
  • Loboc River Cruise with lunch
  • Drive to Carmen to see the Chocolate Hills
  • En-route, stop at the Butterfly Sanctuary
  • Arrival in Chocolate Hills view deck
  • Depart view deck then drive to resort
  • Check-in at Amorita Resort
  • Dinner

DAY 2

  • Breakfast at the resort
  • Proceed to Balicasag Island using an outrigger boat
  • Arrival at the island for some snorkelling and leisure time on the beach
  • Picnic-style lunch in Balicasag Resort
  • Depart island and return to the resort
  • Back to hotel / freshen up / Free Time
  • Arrive in South Palms Resort for cocktails
  • Dinner at South Palms
  • Back to Amorita Resort

DAY 3

Have breakfast at the Resort. And sushi!
Have breakfast at the Resort. And sushi!
  • Breakfast at the Resort
  • Check out
  • Transfer to the seaport
  • Ferry: Depart Tagbilaran to Cebu
  • Arrival in Cebu
  • Lunch at Circa 1900 featuring Cebu’s famous lechon
  • Proceed to Mactan Island Tour
  • Proceed to Shangri-La Mactan / Check-In
  • Free time
  • Dinner at Cowrie Cove

DAY 4

  • Breakfast at the Hotel
  • Proceed to Island Adventure
  • Lunch at Cow-Oy
  • Back to hotel / freshen up / Free Time
  • Scheduled Spa & Massage for the group
  • Dinner

DAY 5

Flying is safe in the Philippines so proceed to the airport! Scott Herder & Megan Indoe - ©Victoria Ade-Genschow - The British Berliner
Flying is safe in the Philippines so proceed to the airport!
Scott Herder & Megan Indoe – ©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner
  • Breakfast
  • Free time / Check resort programmed activities
  • Check out
  • Proceed to Mactan City
  • Lunch
  • Proceed to Airport
  • Depart Cebu
  • Arrive Manila

HOW WAS IT?

Team Visayan Charms - It's more fun in the Philippines! ©Trixie Lago - the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines
Team Visayan Charms – It’s more fun in the Philippines!
©Trixie Lago – the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines

It was a pretty packed programme, but awesome!

As I write this, it’s October 30th, and so much has happened since then.

Due to the very hot weather, the over-indulgence of wonderful food, a few sneaky gulps of whisky, and the intensity of foreign travel in a developing country, I ended up with the trots!

For the non-British people among you, I mean Delhi-belly.

Still don’t get it?

Diarrhea!

It had to happen.

It had to happen. I ended up with the trots: aka diarrhea!
It had to happen. I ended up with the trots: aka diarrhea!

Thankfully, our FAM trip had already ended when I was struck down.

And luckily, I was in the nice Belmont Hotel when it happened too!

Otherwise, it could have been rather.

Akward!

ANY TIPS GOING ON A FAM TRIP FOR THE FIRST TIME?

Arriving at Nalusuan Island in Cebu with Jonathan Espiña, Ajay Sood, Victoria Ade-Genschow (me) & Ruchika Shankar! ©Jonathan Espiña - Jon to the World
Arriving at Nalusuan Island in Cebu with Jonathan Espiña, Ajay Sood, Victoria Ade-Genschow (me) & Ruchika Shankar!
©Jonathan Espiña – Jon to the World
  • Leave plenty of time for trips, tours and meet-ups both before, and after the conference
  • You don’t have to have a huge following to be accepted onto a FAM trip
  • Improve your photography
  • Have great content
  • Educate yourself and if you don’t know, ask your fellow invites
  • Networking is key to putting a face to a name in the blogging / press community
  • Take your business cards
  • Try to get some sleep
  • Get comfy but smarten yourself up, if the venue demands it
  • Be punctual
  • Stay professional
  • Don’t whinge
  • Follow the programme
  • Be a team-player
  • Keep smiling
  • Don’t be afraid to get into the sea.
  • Don’t be stupid either
  • Be yourself
  • Write about your FAM trip and send it to the host or organiser
  • Thank the host or organiser
  • Have a great time

VERDICT?

Nobody got bitten / attacked by strange creatures of the sea in the Philippines!
Nobody got bitten / attacked by strange creatures of the sea in the Philippines!

The staff of the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines (Maria Gracia, Grace, Mary Ann, Trixie and Zyrah), were warm, welcoming, funny, and professional. They made sure that we were well-looked after, nobody got lost or forgot anything (except for me. I lost my MAC lipstick)! Nobody got bitten / attacked by strange creatures of the sea, and nobody got left behind or ostracised.

In fact, we all got on extremely well!

There were huge moments of laughter, hugging, leaping, jumping, screaming, but most importantly, lots of smiling, laughing, and learning from each other.

On quite a few nights, there were some on-the-spot-learning workshops, the sharing of tips, links, talents, and skills, and the promise of future collaboration / partnership.

In fact, I might even have got myself a new employee for my brand – The British Berliner – and once it’s all confirmed, I’ll let you know who it is, and why!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Team Visayan Charms on the way to Balicasag Island using an outrigger boat. ©Trixie Lago - the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines
Team Visayan Charms on the way to Balicasag Island using an outrigger boat.
©Trixie Lago – the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines

Yep!

We were a small group of just nine (9) bloggers (including myself) from five (5) international countries:

Nathan Aguilera – America

Ruchika Shankar – India

Charlotte Anne de Peralta – Philippines

Ajay Sood – India

Jonathan Espiña – Philippines

Scott Herder – USA

Megan Indoe – USA

Karl-Philip Vallée – Canada

Victoria Ade-Genschow – England / Germany (me)

Our job for that week was to visit and see the region for ourselves and hopefully, discover the many interests and joys of Manila, Bohol and Cebu, so that other travellers and visitors are encouraged to come and visit themselves.

And we did!

Thanks guys!

MY THIRD HUGE FAM / PRESS TRIP TO THE PHILIPPINES – HOW TO WORK WITH #TBEX, AND HOW TO DO IT RIGHT!

Delicious slices of Lechon - that tasty famous suckling pig!
Delicious slices of Lechon – that tasty famous suckling pig!

This article is not sponsored and even though I was invited on this trip as a guest of the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines and as a member of TBEX, all opinions and the tasty famous suckling pig, and beautiful landscape that I saw, are my very own!

In November, I’ll be travelling to Austria and starting a new job!

Save the Date!

October is going to be out of this world!

Watch this space!

My third huge FAM / Press Trip to the Philippines - How to work with #TBEX, and how to do it right!
My third huge FAM / Press Trip to the Philippines – How to work with #TBEX, and how to do it right!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

My third huge FAM Press Trip to the Philippines - How to work with #TBEX, and how to do it right!
My third huge FAM Press Trip to the Philippines – How to work with #TBEX, and how to do it right!

Did you know that the smallest monkey in the world is in the Philippines? Did you ever think a FAM or Press trip would be that intense? Is a suckling pig the type of thing you would have for breakfast? Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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