The phone rings. It is a Wednesday evening. That is, three days ahead of the annual Austrian travel trade show “ReiseSalon” at the Palace of Schönbrunn, a truly beautiful venue for an equally unique conference. “Elena … Care to participate in our travel blogger slam still? We know it’s last minute but … we’d really appreciate your presence there.” Can’t refuse your Austrian colleagues Christina Neumeister-Böck & Thomas Reischer now, who have been preparing this event for months, can you.
So yes, I answered. Yes of course! I’ll join you. Because despite the short notice, I feel that I really have something to say and share with an audience right now …
… my love for Canada. The wonderful people I’ve met. My kind of happiness (or #Reiseglück, as we say in German). And the vibe continues: All of a sudden, the audiences & jury vote me second in the contest.!
“Let’s not win this”, my inner voice insists. Most of my other travel writer colleagues & friends have been preparing their presentations for weeks, if not months now. I do not want to appear overriding their efforts. But then, the sudden excitement from being back on stage kicks in, the tingling nerves from being among the finalists, from not being third but … second! Wow! Talking about my Canada travel magic has been honest, straight from my heart. And I believe people have felt it. To reach out and touch people’s hearts with my book … To embrace the soul of a nation, transforming the very traveller’s self … To find your place in the heart of people … My kind of happiness from travelling, or #Reiseglück, I conclude during my speech, are the people I meet wherever I go.
Standing ovations. I return from being on stage, walk over to my friends & colleagues, overcome with emotion as my friend Janett is in tears. “Elli … You were beautiful. You just … made me completely speechless. Thank you, so much.” – “Well, this is all I could have possibly hoped for”, I say to Janett, struggling to find the words for myself. “Thank you so much for joining me on this trip to Canada, and for sharing many precious moments with me there.”
Watch the entire #Reiseglück video featuring some of my speeches and presentations during the slam here:
Apart from hosting the Second Austrian Travel Blogger Slam this year, the organising committee of the ReiseSalon travel trade show came up with something even more innovative in Austria: To hire us travel bloggers as “travel ambassadors” during the event, building bridges between exhibitors, customers, and the travel savvy audience that came for the two-day show. To this end, we were each wearing different T-Shirts featuring our areas of travel expertise through Hashtags # such as: #KreativReisen, #GenussReisen, #Österreich, etc. (as the event was predominantly in German). Check this out.
To recover (and inspire ourselves), we have visited several sustainable travel & food businesses in the Austrian capital city, each distinguished with the prestigious Austrian Eco Label in (Food) Tourism.
Thanks to the Austrian travel trade show ReiseSalon taking place, we had a chance to stay in and explore Vienna under a different light: Heading out to meet the team at “Lunzer’s Maßgreißlerei“, a local food shop that is completely package-free! Andrea Lunzer is located right next to Roman Mayrhofer, who runs his family-owned & operated Hotel Der Wilhelmshof according to fully sustainable business values: “My entire family and I grew up about a hundred kilometres from here, in the Vienna Forests. There was no option, but to think and act ecologically. This is something we have always continued to do, and why not start a green revolution from the heart of the Vienna hotel industry ..!” I just love talking to, and listening to Roman’s clever speech, success and development. Whether it’s the art around the building and inside the rooms, the warm colours everywhere, the modern solar panels on the roof of the building, the clever, energy-saving wiring or the happy vibes transmitted by the team (or a complete mix thereof); I simply feel welcome here.
As we get hungry, Roman takes us to the Restaurant Labstelle, roughly translating to “refreshing food den”. This lovely restaurant is located about a twenty minutes’ walk across the inner district of Vienna, and I vow to be back sooner rather than later: The “Labstelle” is a true paradise for foodies, and has also recently been awarded the Austrian Eco Label in Tourism & Hospitality for their environmental efforts. Check this out.
Check out all of my Vienna (foodie) travel and conference photographs here:
Disclaimer: We have been supported on this trip by the Austrian Eco Label as well as Hotel Der Wilhelmshof and the entire team at the travel trade show ReiseSalon. All opinions are my own.