Last Saturday, I returned to the Jacob Javitz Center for The New York Times Travel Show. The day before, I had picked up a free ticket from the guys and gals at the GAP Adventures store, however I conveniently forgot it at my brother's apartment. I politely turned down the cabbie's offer to take me back across town to pick it up, which would've doubled his fare in the process. If there is one constant in this world, it is that taxi (tuk-tuk, rickshaw…) drivers trying to get as much money from their customers as possible.
Upon entering the convention center, I immediately noticed to my right that Arthur and Pauline Frommer were signing books. I seized the opportunity, and introduced myself to both of them. Pauline recognized me from Twitter as “rtwdave” which had me wondering if I should bite the bullet and simply introduce myself by my nickname going forward.
I continued walking through that area, as it was for African countries. Botswana was in the house, but no Rwanda. Ethiopian Airlines was present, and offering a contest for roundtrip airfare to Addis Ababa. I threw my name in the basket, and then canvassed the rest of the show for other contests worth entering. I cast my line for free trips to Costa Rica, Croatia, Puerto Rico, and a few others.
As 1pm approached, I ducked downstairs for the seminar called “Travel Through the Eyes of Travel Writers” which included former Lonely Planet Editor (and new Gadling contributor) Don George, author Susan Orlean (who claimed not to be a travel writer, but a writer who travels for work), and author Tony Perrottet. The discussion was moderated by another book author, David Farley.
I enjoyed hearing their travel tips, and could easily relate to much of what they said. For example, George was big on aimlessly wandering around a new town, while Orlean professed to not know much about a destination until she arrives and can explore it for herself. I never realized my cultural ignorance included such wonderful company.
After the panel concluded, I bumped into Michaela and her husband from Briefcase to Backpack, and together we wandered back upstairs. We stopped by the authors' table, and I introduced myself to Farley while Michaela picked up a copy of his new book, An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church's Strangest Relic in Italy's Oddest Town. More aimless wandering, and I saw them both off.
And then I descended to the first floor again for Julia Dimon's talk, “Beyond the Tourist Zone.” Before she got started, I met up with Gina of Warm October, who had also been at the Matador-Sosauce BBQ in Brooklyn last Summer, though we didn't manage to meet that night.
Of all the professional travel writers and gurus I've been listening to and meeting lately, Julia seemed like the one I could identify with the most. Young, well traveled, and incredibly attractive – that's us! Which is exactly why it sucked that I only had 15 seconds of her time after the talk to say “hello” while getting our photo taken by a random man with a giant SLR camera.
Gina and I walked around a little more, before catching the end of the “Travel Writing 201” panel (where Max Hartshorne of GoNOMAD.com said a bunch of things about the lack of potential for individuals' travel blogs to make money from advertising that I wholeheartedly disagreed with).
Next, it was on to meet good friends at a German bar to get the night started. This is where my recollection of events starts to grow fuzzy. I do remember my dinner consisted of deliciously greasy potato pancakes.
In addition to getting to know Gina better, I also got to spend time with my friend Naveen (from my Jersey days) for the first time in about 12 years. Joined by my brother Jon, and good friends Kai and Chris, we soon hit another bar, and another, and well, you get the point.