Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day O in Bucharest for #wbf09

(Note: This post was actually written Monday night local time, before a bus full of bloggers all got back to the hotel, fired-up their laptops and crashed the WiFi. Bloggers!)

I’ve arrived safely in Bucharest for World Blogging Forum 2009, and really must get some rest before what looks like a daunting schedule for Tuesday but first, it being a blogging conference, I must blog.

After catching most of the first half of a fun Hockey Hall of Fame Legends game at the ACC on Sunday afternoon, I left to catch the shuttle out to YYZ for my evening flight on the Polish Airline, LOT, to Bucharest, Romania via Warsaw, Poland. I’d read some questionable reviews of Lot so I didn’t know what to expect but, really, it wasn’t that bad. Seats were cramped but I got an exit row and an empty seat beside me, so that was a plus. Free wine helped. The food wasn’t bad, a stuffed chicken breast with potatoes and vegetables that could have been hotter, but filled me up. Big strike was no in-flight-entertainment. There was the always enjoyable moving-map, but no movie or anything for over eight hours was puzzling. Luckily, sleep and a book passed the time well enough.

Transfer in Warsaw was painless with no customs to clear and the airport easy to navigate, the flight to Bucharest was comparatively brief at just under two hours, customs/passport control was a breeze and my bag actually beat me to the baggage claim, which never happens. And thankfully there was a representative from the World Blogging Forum there to meet me and some other bloggers at the airport, as I wasn’t looking forward to navigating the Bucharest transit system solo.

The drive into Bucharest from the airport was about an hour long, and it revealed a city that is an interesting mix of old and new, and of western and traditional influences. Within two minutes we passed a MacDonald’s and a giant Ikea, as well as a Jaguar dealership. There’s much construction, still a smattering of plainly communist-era edifices (mainly in the city centre) and mainly older buildings. You see this mix in most European cities but, in my first trip to Eastern Europe, many of the older buildings seemed much worse for the wear here than elsewhere. Also, there was certainly more of an eastern/orthodox influence in the architecture.

After checking-in at our hotel and dumping our bags, it was off with my fellow bloggers on the bus to the welcome party. And that brings me to another observation about Bucharest: the traffic here is crazy. Not Bangalore-bad, Bangalore was madness, but it was jam-packed and people were constantly jockeying for position, with lights only sometimes obeyed. It made for an interesting trip.

Had a great evening getting to know some of my fellow bloggers as we talked about social media, application development, sports and, of course, blogging. Met some really interesting people from the U.S, France, Holland, Hungary and elsewhere, enjoyed some Romanian wine that seemed to taste better with each glass, and enjoyed some good food, Romanian and otherwise.

And then, after more than a few glasses of Romanian wine, we learned that a) we’ll be meeting the president of Romania at the conference tomorrow, and b) we all have to give speeches to the conference tomorrow as well. That ended the festivities in a panic as we all rushed to the bus to head back and try to prepare to sound intelligent tomorrow.

I’ll be part of a panel in the morning with bloggers from China, Egypt, Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere speaking about blogs and citizen journalism, the influence of blogs on the civil society, and standing-up for the community. I’m trying to formulate thoughts, but if you have any to share on the topic, please, please do.

I’ll let you know how it goes and will hopefully have some live-blogging and tweeting from the conference tomorrow, as opportunity and WiFi permits. I think it’s going to be a great conference. Thus far the hospitality of our Romanian hosts has been amazing, and it seems like they’ve assembled a really dynamic group of bloggers and social media activists.
Really makes me wonder what I’m doing on the guest-list at times, but I shall soldier on. Perhaps I’ll speak to the president about the Romanian visa situation. Alert Minister Kenney. :)

P.S. Two lessons learned: Put your room keycard in the slot on the wall to make the lights work. And the power button on the remote turns off the tv, but channel-up or down is how you turn it on.There's a presidential election on in Romania, and campaign signs are everywhere. I think this rather stern-looking fellow (they all look stern, actually) is from some sort of "Liberal" party.

Never mind KFC, although they have that too. But they also have Bucharest Fried Chicken, or BFC. Seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Blurry from the bus at night picture of revolution square, and memorial to overthrow of communism.
Meeting Dutch blogger Ramon Stoppelenburg and two of the organizers of WBF.

Our traditional Romanian dinner.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers

1 comment:

sassy said...

Thanks for this post. I was hoping you would blog from Romania. I am especially interested in the discussion regarding the influence of blogs on civil society.

Hope you continue to enjoy the Forum.