Toronto & Dublin: A Snapshot of Our 2013 Host Cities


Now that we know our 2013 conference agenda, with Toronto coming up in June and Dublin just announced for October, we thought it would be nice to get a snapshot overview of our two host cities.

When was it founded?

  • Toronto sits on land purchased by the British from the Mississauga tribe in 1787, although the original city on this spot was called York. In 1834, the city was renamed Toronto and incorporated.
  • Dublin’s roots date back to the 9th century when the Vikings first established a settlement here, and it’s been Ireland’s main city since the 12th century. For a little while in the 18th century, Dublin was one of the largest cities in Europe.

Downtown Toronto

What’s the population?

  • The population of the city of Toronto is just over 2.6 million, according to the 2011 Census. The whole urban area is more than 5.1 million.
  • The population of the city of Dublin is a little more than 525,000, according to the 2011 Census. The whole urban area is more than 1.1 million.

What are the local languages?

  • English is the dominant language in Toronto, but you’ll also hear French (Canada’s second official language), as well as Chinese and Italian (owing to their large populations in the city).
  • English is spoken and understood widely in Dublin, but you’ll also hear plenty of the Irish language, too – it’s the first official language in Ireland.

Dublin city center

What’s the best airport to use?

  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is Canada’s biggest and busiest airport, and Air Canada’s main hub. Toronto also has a smaller airport, Billy Bishop City Airport (YTZ), with limited passenger flights. It’s actually located on the Toronto Islands right near the city center.
  • Dublin Airport (DUB) is Ireland’s busiest airport and the main hub for Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Aer Arann, and CityJet.

What’s the best way to get around?

  • In Toronto, there’s a subway and RT (rapid transit), as well as a network of buses and streetcars.
  • In Dublin, there’s a light-rail line called Luas, as well as an intricate network of buses.

What do they look like from space?

Weirdly similar, actually.

Fun facts about Toronto & Dublin

  • The name “Toronto” comes from the name “Taronto,” which was the name of a nearby waterway. This was an adaptation of the Mohawk word “tkaronto,” meaning “where there are trees standing in water.” The name “Dublin” comes from “Dubhlinn” in Irish, which means “black pool.”
  • Both cities are on bodies of water – Toronto on Lake Ontario, and Dublin at the mouth of the River Liffey.
  • Both Toronto and Dublin are financial centers for their respective countries.
  • Toronto has long been a publishing powerhouse of a city in Canada, while more recently new media companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Microsoft have established European headquarters or major regional bases in Dublin.
  • One of Toronto’s sister cities is Chicago (site of the first TBEX in 2009), and one of Dublin’s sister cities is Barcelona (in the Catalonia region, host of TBEX Europe in 2012).

Now it’s your turn!

Have you been to Toronto or Dublin? Or both? Tell us what you know – historic trivia, tourist tips, fun facts, or some combination thereof – in the comments below.

Creative Commons photos: Toronto by detsang on Flickr, Dublin by Ian Wilson on Flickr, Toronto satellite photo by NASA, Dublin satellite photo by Cnes – Spot Image

The Human Tower Featured at TBEX Opening Night Party


This human tower was built amidst much cheering from the crowd:

Video courtesy of Susan McKee

Girona Castle Party in Pictures


We looked forward to the opening night party at Castell de Sant Gregori for weeks, and it did not disappoint. The setting was beautiful, the food was excellent (not to mention full of surprises), and the entertainment was spectacular. Enjoy these few images from the party, with more to come in the TBEX Flickr pool and Facebook page as more people download images from their phones!

What was your favorite moment from the party at Castell de Sant Gregori?

Girona Checklist for Attendees


I dunno about you, but ’round the virtual TBEX offices we’re counting down the days until Girona. In the giddiness that surrounds an upcoming trip, however, we don’t want you to forget something important. So here’s a pre-Girona checklist to make sure you’ve done everything you need to do before you show up in Spain.

TBEX Girona Checklist

    • Have you booked your accommodation? If you’ve waited until the last minute, don’t freak out (too much). Scour this list of TBEX lodging in Girona, all of which have some pretty excellent conference discount rates, and get a bed booked. Pay attention to the instructions under each hotel/hostel listing on how to get the TBEX discount – each one is slightly different. Just to keep you on your toes.


    • Have you figured out how you’re getting to Girona? We’re going to assume you’ve booked a flight if you need one, but if you’re flying into Barcelona’s airport you still need to get yourself to Girona. There are several options for ground transportation; the cheapest is the train, which requires one change at either Barcelona Sants or the smaller Passeig de Gracia station, but there’s a bus that goes straight from BCN into Girona if your jetlaggy self will be too disoriented to manage a train change. (Also, this just in – there’s incredibly thorough information on the Barcelona-to-Girona train trip on our Facebook page now, thanks to Gary Arndt & Michael Hodson, who have made the trip recently.)


    • Have you seen the updates on the opening party at the castle? We’ve updated the party page, with new information about transportation to and from the castle.


    • Have you booked everything you need to stay in Costa Brava after the conference? If you’re extending your stay in Costa Brava after the conference, there are still some free rooms available on a first-come first-served basis, so if you didn’t already apply for a free post-conference room, do it today!


    • Have you sent in your RSVP for the guided tours? Be sure to RSVP for the free Girona city tours on September 20. There’s no space limit, but they need to know how many guides to send, so we need to have folks RSVP if they want to go on a free tour. Oh, and although the photo walk with Gary Arndt and Kirsten Alana doesn’t require a reservation, it’s a newer addition to the tour options, so we wanted to remind you of it here, too.


    • Have you made speed dating appointments? All registered attendees for TBEX should have gotten an email giving them access to TBEX Girona’s PresdoMatch site, on which you can schedule speed dating meetings with anyone else at the conference. (Check out these tips for speed dating at TBEX, too.) Didn’t get your PresdoMatch email? Search your email archives using the word “presdo,” and if you still come up empty, let us know ASAP. You’ll want to get in so you can make sure not to miss potential meetups with industry pros and bloggers alike. And hey, if the person you wanted to meet with already has a full schedule, or you want more than the short speed date to chat with someone, you can also set up appointments in the Open Marketplace on Friday from 4:30-6:30pm. (Remember, speed dating is included in your registration if you’re a blogger or a sponsor – all other PR/industry folks can rent a table to be involved!)


    • Have you seen the niche topic icebreakers? Also on the TBEX Girona PresdoMatch site you’ll find informal opportunities to have lunch with other people who share a common interest. There’s nothing formal or required about them, but if you don’t know many people this is an excellent and casual way to meet like-minded folks. There are six niche topics listed, so with two days you can meet two different groups of people.


    • Have you figured out which sessions you’ll go to? You can peruse the TBEX Girona schedule on the TBEX site, and it’s also on the PresdoMatch site – on the latter, you can even mark which sessions you’ll be attending, so you can customize your conference schedule. Of course, you’re not required to RSVP, and you can absolutely change your mind on the spot to attend a different session.


    • Have you figured out a plan for your mobile phone? If you don’t already reside in Spain or have a Spanish SIM card for your mobile phone, be absolutely sure you’ve talked to your mobile provider so you know what your phone bill could look like when you get home if you make calls or send tweets from Girona. Add a global plan if you want, keep your smartphone in “airplane” mode and just use its built-in WiFi, or plan to pick up a local SIM card when you get to Spain. Just don’t forget to take the necessary precautions, or you’ll be blogging about your astronomical phone bill six weeks from now. (Yes, we know plenty of you know this already, but we’ve read blog posts from experienced travelers who looked down the barrel of four-figure phone bills after a trip, so you can never be too careful.)


    • Have you got the necessary electrical converters and adapters? (Do you know this already, too? Probably, but it’s worth repeating just in case.) Again, if you’re coming from outside Spain (or anywhere else that has the same electrical system as Spain), you’ll either need converters (that change the voltage), adaptors (that allow your plugs to fit into Spanish outlets), or both. We don’t want to read tales of any TBEXers frying their gadgets or, y’know, setting fire to anything, okay?


    • Have you packed your tiara for the kick-off party at the castle? Fine, this is completely optional. But you totally get bonus points if you do wear a tiara.


Other various and sundry things to bring and/or remember include:

  • Don’t leave your passport in the safe at home
  • Remember to bring enough business cards (we’re up to more than 300 attendees!)
  • Bring a media kit or one-page handout for your appointments
  • Don’t forget all the necessary chargers for your gizmos
  • Double-check the date and time of your flight
  • Check in for flights 24 hours in advance to pick your seats

Now then – who’s ready for Girona? YOU ARE.

photo by Jo@net

El Celler de Can Roca Welcomes TBEX to the Castle


If you were excited about the opening night party at St. Gregory’s Castle, this news is really going to WOW you!  The menu and food for the evening is being prepared and served by the famous restaurant El Celler de Can Roca.

Roca Brothers of El Celler de can Roca, Girona, Spain

El Celler de Can Roca is located in Girona, and was founded over 25 years ago by three brothers.  Joan, the oldest brother, is the head chef.  Josep, the middle brother, is the sommelier.  And Jordi, the youngest brother, is in charge of desserts.  The three brothers have combined their talents in creating a restaurant honored with three Michelin stars.

But forget about the stars – perhaps even more noteworthy is that for the past two years El Celler de Can Roca has been named the second best restaurant in the world by British magazine, Restaurant.  This ranking is bestowed by vote of a panel of international chefs, restaurateurs, gourmands and restaurant critics.  In other words, the very people associated with quality dining.

So get your taste buds prepared for a taste of their life time.  See you at St. Gregory’s Castle on Thursday night.

Note:  For those of you are asking yourself, well, if El Celler de Can Roca is the second best restaurant in the world, what is the first?  The answer is Noma, located in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Photo credit:  Courtesy of Girona Tourism

TBEX Europe Heads to the Beach


Expedia beach party

After the first day of educational sessions at TBEX Europe, we’ll be heading to the beach for a party with Expedia that includes food, music, and a few surprises. We know that Expedia knows how to throw a great party, and this is shaping up to be another great event.

The beach party will be held on the beachfront of the beautiful Hostal Empúries, the first hotel in Europe to receive LEED Gold certification. The hotel is located next to the Greco-Roman ruins of Empúries, the only such ruins in the area. Preserving and enhancing the heritage of the ruins is a major goal of the hotel and, combined with a desire to leave a legacy for future generations, the hotel has commitment to sustainable practices in every phase of their business.

TBEX attendees will be shuttled to and from the beach, and in between will enjoy a tapas buffet that includes delicious choices like Iberian ham, watermelon bloody mary’s, grilled vegetables, padron peppers, and a whole lot more. Along with the delectable nibbles will be a drink bar, music, and plenty of time for networking, laughing, and have a great time.

The beach party is part of the TBEX Europe registration package and is open to registered attendees only.  So if you’re not registered you’ll be missing out. Shuttle schedules will be provided on site.

A big thanks to our diamond sponsor Expedia for hosting our Friday night beach party! And, for their continuing commitment to travel bloggers.

Let’s hit the beach!


Come to the Castle for the Opening Night TBEX Party



The official TBEX Europe conference events kick off on Thursday night, September 20th, with an opening night party at Castell de Sant Gregori (Castle of St. Gregory).

What’s a castle without a whole lot of history to go along with it? The Caste of St Gregory dates back to the 12th century and was patterned after the noble town houses of the time. It was much bigger and more opulent that other houses in the area and served as one of the largest forts in the town. In the 14th century, the fort passed to the influential Margarit family, and then to the Marqis de Valderas of Madrid, before lying uninhabited and in deteriorating condition. In the 1990s, attempts were made to turn the castle into a hotel, but money was in too short of supply to make that happen. Finally, in 1999, the castle was acquired by another Girona area family with the intention of restoring it to its former condition.

Castle St Gregory, Girona Spain


Today the castle has a central courtyard that surrounds seven rooms and a lobby. The reconstruction efforts have respected the original architecture and appearance along with its historical legacy.

Best of all – YOU get to check out Castle of St. Gregory for yourself If you’re registered for TBEX and attending, that is.

Here are the details:

Date & Time: Thursday, September 20th, 2012 starting at 8 pm.

The Food: Tapas featured specialty dishes from the region.

The Drink: Local wines from the regions. (Some of you will have visited these wineries on your excursion or will be visiting on your blog trip.) Also pouring local ales and beers.

The Entertainment: Local traditions, music, and some surprises. And no, we’re not going to give away all the surprises!

The opening night festivities are brought to you by the Costa Brava Girona Tourism Board, Diputació de Girona and the Catalan Tourist Board.

interior of st gregory girona

The Opening Night TBEX Party at the Castle is open to registered attendees only. So for heaven’s sake, head on over to register.

Who’s excited to party at the castle?

UPDATED:  More information about transportation to the castle can be found here.


Photo credits:  Courtesy of Costa Brava Tourism Board

TBEX Europe Speakers Announced

Girona, Costa Brava, Spain

Joining a list of distinguished speakers that includes Peter Shankman, Amy Porterfield, Chris Guillebeau, and C.C. Chapman, we’re very excited to announce the following bloggers will also be speaking at TBEX Europe in Costa Brava:

  • Abigail King
  • Amy Moore
  • C.C. Chapman
  • Beth Whitman
  • Chris Christensen
  • Chris Gray Faust
  • Dave & Deb
  • Gary Arndt
  • J.D. Andrews
  • Jennifer Miner
  • Keith Jenkins
  • Kirsten Alana Larsson
  • Matt Kepnes
  • Melvin Boecher
  • Michael Hodson
  • Michael Turtle
  • Nellie Huang
  • Pam Mandel
  • Shannon O’Donnell

What topics will you be learning about in Girona?  We’ll have three tracks:  Content Creation, Commerce and Community, and Travel and Tourism, the latter for industry attendees.  Some topics you can expect to learn about include:  Effective marketing with your Facebook page, collaboration for better branding and profit, how to effectively use new tools like Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram, writing session, photography, podcasting, and  video sessions, and a whole lot more.

We’ll be confirming and announcing more speakers this week as well as getting the speaker bios and detailed session information posted on the Europe conference site.  Information about the customized speed dating process will be posted soon.  Only registered attendees will have access to the speed dating information.  TBEX sponsors will have tables in the Expo area and industry attendees who are not sponsors may purchase a table for speed dating for $500 per day.

We have lots more announcements coming up this week including information about pre- and post-conference day trips, blog trips, and more.

Will we see you in Girona for TBEX Europe?  Registration is still available at the discounted price of $100.

Photo credit: Michael Nyika via flickr



What The Colorado Gold Miners Ate (satire) from BadLatitudeTV on Vimeo.

Travel historians talk about the traditional fine cuisine that gold miners ate on the train that took them to the mines near Georgetown, Colo.