A welcome cool breeze skimmed across the Vltava, as dozens of paddle-boat revellers and a few small ferries floated past me on excursions along the Prague waterfront. I’d arrived ahead of Cooper for our weekend in Prague for travel bloggers – or, with a creative content twist; you see, we’re on our way to another annual TBEX conference, and I couldn’t be more excited to be in the Czech Republic.
It was Friday afternoon about 6.30pm and after a scorching hot day fighting through crowds for a glimpse at the city’s famously pretty highlights, I’d stumbled into a stunning yet quite secluded spot by the water. The place was otherwise anonymous, crudely labelled ‘Riverside Bar’ on a blackboard out the back of the place.
The shabby-chic joint served cold drinks and was streaming chilled House tunes – right up my alley. Similar name as a luxe and expensive Brisbane counterpart (that admittedly I love), yet cheap, romantic, less sweaty and overlooking the city’s medieval structures including the Charles Bridge. With a flavoursome gin and tonic sparkling in my eyes and the sun beginning its descent across the Czech Republic, it occurred to me, this is the life. I could be an a$$ and hashtag it ‘blessed’, but…
For the first time in months, I’d say, I sat without thought, just observing in peace.
It’s been so so busy this year and I need this weekend in Prague. I don’t like to overuse the word ‘busy’ – we tout a saying in my team at work about how ‘busy’ has become an excuse, often meaning that actually, you believe your ‘stuff’ to be more important than someone else’s, when often we have no idea what others are up against, nor do we remember to be respectful of it.
That said, while I’ve tried hard to balance things, it’s been tough, and writing or blogging for myself and for this lifestyle and travel space is the last thing I have energy for. Yet, it’s in my heart. And away from the hustle and bustle of Prague’s overcrowded tourist centre (not to mention my ‘other’ routine life), yet with its best bits in my line of sight, I felt inspired again.
While I moan about the crowds (apparently Prague is the fifth most visited city in Europe), I must admit to having a moment on Friday afternoon. I was wandering the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage listed Old Town Square, and as I gazed around me at the colourful, historical architecture and felt energy of so many who had come before, my breath caught and tears came to my eyes. It was rather overwhelming and took me by surprise. Probably nothing to do with being deliriously tired following a work social the night before and a 6am flight.
In all seriousness, it’s as beautiful as I remember it, and more than that, how lucky are we to have the chance to be in such places, so far from home?
Beyond the selfie sticks and those taking more photos of themselves than their surroundings, the depths of crowds attempting to enter popular areas, and hundreds of tourist groups dripping in deep-fried ice-cream-stuffed doughnut cones (yep it’s a thing, although not even Czech, as I understand it), there is palpable magic in this city of red rooftops and a thousand spires, wooded hills, romantic views and influence from generations gone by.
Founded in the latter part of the 9th Century, Prague became the seat of the kings of Bohemia. The city flourished during the 14th Century and for hundreds of years was a multi-ethnic city with an influential Czech, German and Jewish population.
From 1939 the country was occupied by the Nazis and while Prague’s structures remained relatively undamaged during the war, most Jews either fled the city or were killed in the Holocaust. The German population was then expelled in the aftermath of WWII.
Most of us remember the Prague that was under Communist rule for over 40 years, rarely visited by tourists until after the Velvet Revolution on 17 November 1989. Freedom meant a huge economic boom and an influx of delighted visitors from then on, which only increased after the Czech Republic joined the European Union in 2004.
As mentioned, we’re destined for TBEX Europe 2018, in a place I’d never thought to have visited, Ostrava. That said, as travel bloggers and explorers we are very excited to see somewhere new! Preparing and in Prague for the weekend, Cooper and I wanted our schedule to be part (re)discovery, part relaxing, part planning for networking and the conference (which I blogged about for the TBEX Events site recently).
We stayed about twenty minutes walk from the city centre, at Hotel Kinsky Gardens in a quiet Prague neighbourhood, yet with the convenience of supermarkets, shopping mall, pubs, a delicious tapas restaurant called Miro, and tram stop not five minutes’ walk away.
The river precinct I came to love (including the ‘Riverside Bar’, gorgeous new waterfront restaurant opening this week Kalina Kampa and Belle Vida Cafe) was just ten minutes walk from our accommodation, and is perfect for anyone who has done the central Prague tourist bit and is happy to indulge in the views away from the chaos.
On Saturday night I hosted my very first TBEX meet-up (this is my sixth TBEX conference so I’m excited to have taken this step).
We met up with four locals to Prague and five visitors from as far as America, Costa Rica and another conference attendee coming from England like us. We ran the plans through the conference Facebook group and Katie (an American expat living in Prague) chose a cool pub on a hill with a view for our group’s meet-up, and Prague local Veronika assisted with finding an impromptu dining option so we could all hang out and try local cuisine.
It was immensely fun to meet other travel bloggers and content creators in Prague this weekend and part of the reason we’re so pleased we continue to develop our little corner of the web here, for love and a hobby.
Prague is easy to do as a city break – you can walk around the old town, to the castle, up to view points, catch trams to gardens, boat-ride around the Vltava, enjoy a little jazz, join a free walking tour and get cultural in museums.
A weekend in Prague: practical tips
Be careful of taxis, they can be unregulated and rip you off. Go with a pre-booked service or use the trams and trains as they are very well run and cheap, but DO buy a ticket as if you get caught without one or if you have not validated it the fines are hefty.
Try the beer (it’s the home of Pilsner, after all), and as always, get out of the tourist areas of a cheaper experience when it comes to food and dining.
Take your money out of an ATM that’s associated with a bank and be careful of the exchange outlets that say ‘zero commission’ (usually they are hiking up hidden charges).
Importantly, be curious. In our case, this weekend in Prague was for us as travel bloggers: an unexpected low-key treat and reminder of how much I’ve gained from travel – the people met, surprising and inspired moments, lands wandered at early (or late) hours, and the fulfilment that pursuing creativity provides. We are lucky, but I too am grateful.
Onwards to Ostrava…
Got a question on where to stay, how to get around or things to do in Prague? Drop us a line in the comments – we love to chat and share
Attending my fifth TBEX Future of Travel Media conference, I had the chance to also travel in Killarney and Kenmare in Ireland.
I produced a vlog on the experience to share so you can see highlights like seals, donkeys, history, nightlife, traditional dancing and much more.
Ireland is amazing! If you want to know more about TBEX and why you should go, press play, or search TBEX on this blog for learnings and adventures from over the past few years in Costa Brava, Athens, Stockholm and Dublin.
If you’ve been to TBEX or have questions drop us a line and say hi in the comments.
Often I just want to run away from a computer, overwhelmed by eight hours or more in front of one for work (perpetually in need of a Malta vacation, it seems).
Other times, when without apparatus to scribble down my thoughts, I long for anything that will enable me to record ideas.
Malta vacation – an exercise in mindfulness
Writing is an outlet and my love, and I never feel more inspired than when I’m travelling. If I’m constantly thinking and on sensory alert, am I being mindful on the road?
Despite the media craziness and the threats that would have us believe we are barely safe to leave our or homes, I am at peace when I’m exploring somewhere new.
It might sound odd that I suggest travel is the best opportunity to actually practice mindfulness – on the road we’re always looking around, getting involved with the senses and quite possibly on a device like a laptop or phone. The mind can be busy.
However, I think we can experience mindfulness in an almost pure form while travelling and feeling new things; experiences, sights, sounds, smells and tastes.
I feel blessed to be able to see the beauty in things too, without judgement. Difference is interesting, often charming.
I suppose awareness is the trick. And then, life is definitely beautiful.
I’m currently on a crowded bus in Malta that’s ferrying customers of all ages along the Sliema strip towards the capital Valletta, and then out towards where we are based in il Żurrieq.
I struggle to maintain balance, holding on for dear life up the front of the bus and scrambling to tap my thoughts down into my iPhone’s Notes app. It’s around 7pm and this particular August day’s sunset has begun it’s decent across the harbour. All I can think is:
How enchanting, I wish I could share this with my loved ones [who I wish could be here as I know they’d appreciate it].
It’s at this point it occurred to me – after Cooper and I spent hours today creating travel content (videos and photography) we are proud of – that while the likes of us are sometimes frowned upon for the time we spend staring at a screen, we might be the mindful ones.
Other digital nomads understand where we’re coming from, and if you don’t, consider for a moment that we are not just playing around on our phones and being entirely anti-social; we are consciously paying attention for the beautiful moments.
We are capturing them in the best way we know how: those landscapes, experiences, history, stories, that we can share to be inspiring, helpful, entertaining or informative (perhaps all of the above).
That’s what most travel bloggers intend.
We are consciously seeking the photo, video, words that might inform and educate your next decision or judgement on any given destination.
In this way, those of us being conscious about creating and capturing are being mindful.
And trust me, we are grateful for these moments because we are aware of just how precious they are.
We are also mindful to put the devices down and enjoy too.
There’s nothing that irritates me more than people wandering mindlessly about, noses in phones, not realising they are holding up a huge crowd behind them or missing out on something their friend is saying to them.
But, sometimes when inspiration strikes, you need to take advantage of a 40 minute bus ride and get those words onto paper (or into a phone, whatever is handy).
Next time you find yourself confused or irritated at someone with a camera who looks like they’re trying to capture ‘just another shot for Instagram’, have a little faith that maybe they are not just another selfie-obsessed tourist; maybe, just maybe, they’re on a mission to inspire, educate and inform, like we are.
Or perhaps they’re chasing a dog, as we do too. But that story for another time.
Video blogging (or vlogging) has taken the online internet TV community by storm, and we think the industry shift from ‘blogger to vlogger’ is exciting.
Anyone with a camera, an internet connection and something to say, can vlog, and we’ve made the move from blogger to vlogger recently too.
Vlogging is a great way to showcase your experiences and personality via the video format.
Thanks to fast internet you can upload a vlog to YouTube pretty much anywhere on the planet, whether it be from a cafe in Gastown, Vancouver or at a truckstop in the middle of Outback Australia.
The great thing about vlogging is that there are so many micro-communities which allow you to connect with like-minded people who share your passion. A quick search will connect you with thousands of communities, for example, travel, cooking, dogs, craft beer and gaming.
Travel vlogging has an enormous online community. Many bloggers have made the transition too, and are sharing their experiences with the world.
The best part is that you don’t need expensive eqipment to start a travel vlog.
Many YouTubers have opted to use their smartphone or a basic digital camera.
My top five tips for travellers to help you shift from blogger to vlogger are…
Select your niche (what are you passionate about?)
The first question you need to ask yourself is what are you going to vlog about?
Choose a niche or something you really care about. This will help you focus on topics (content) that you know or are an expert on.
Mine are travel, food and dogs. Who doesn’t love eating food and patting dogs while travelling? (wash your hands though!).
When you talk about your passions people will find you more interesting because your enthusiasm easily shines through.
I can talk about food and dogs forever.
Be specific and people (your viewers) will find you.
Keep your clips short
Try and hook your viewer in the first few seconds and spark their curiosity.
Your video should share a creative story showcasing all of your best bits filmed on an adventure.
Tell the audience what they are going to see to give them a reason to keep watching. Don’t save your best bits until the end.
Current industry statistics show that for optimum engagement stick to about two to four minutes in length.
If you need more time don’t be afraid of breaking your longer videos up into digestible bits to create a series.
Practice makes perfect
Anyone who has tried moving from blogging to vlogging will know that talking into a camera lens is not as easy as it sounds, especially at first.
Practice makes perfect though!
Pick up a camera and start talking or you can sit down in front of a mirror and pretend it’s the camera.
It’s important to know the right angles and movements for you as you vlog.
As you watch yourself you’ll notice things that you can do to improve. The more you do it, the more comfortable and confident you’ll feel.
Just let your partner know in advance otherwise they might think you are to talking yourself (again!).
To build your audience you need to consistently upload high quality vlogs.
Your subscribers like to know that you are active.
Vlogs which are entertaining and engaging will always have an audience.
Don’t wait weeks or even months until you upload a new vlog otherwise your loyal fans may have moved on.
Stick to a schedule. If you regularly upload a video on Sunday at 8am make sure you meet the deadline.
Sound is important
Audio is just as important as video quality.
If your audience can’t hear or understand what you’re are saying they will move on.
If your videos always have poor sound quality, people will avoid them.
If you are filming in a quiet room, a good quality camera microphone will be sufficient.
However, if you plan on venturing outdoors a good external directional microphone will help aleviate a lot of background noise.
Browse Ebay and Amazon for options.
Alternatively, you can also record audio on another separate device like a phone or Zoom recorder.
Learn to filter your experiences through personality.
Be yourself on camera.
Viewers want to trust and connect with the person they are watching. Use this to your advantage.
Look directly into the camera and speak to the viewer.
Be friendly. Be approachable. Be yourself.
Do you have other tips or questions? Let us know in the comments.
PS an update to this – we recently had success with a vlog series filmed in Malta – take a look here
I now have loads of law of attraction success stories, which I feel fortunate about. But there was a time when this was all new. Recently, I experienced a really really terrible week. That was followed by several weeks prior that weren’t much better.
Appreciating the journey: my law of attraction success stories
I’d been faced with countless deadlines and challenging situations in all of life’s fundamental areas. Top it off with a seriously ill loved-one and me feeling generally unsupported. I hit one of those awful places in time where I was finding it difficult to get up in the morning. Inevitably something had to give, and it’s where one of my big law of attraction success stories begins.
I was stuck on where to start and how to ask for help to see things differently.
My mood matched that of the now-wintry grey English skies.
As one to usually be able to drag myself out of feeling miserable, I found myself in a place where I didn’t know what to do next. I was depressed, teary and withdrawn.
I waited for the clock to tick down at work each day. I felt utterly awful, and even more down because usually I’m happy there. I enjoy my days and make a point of trying to make someone else’s day a bit brighter too.
Ironically, someone I turn to for genuine and useful advice was also having a terrible week. While I appreciated the odd bit of sympathy gained here and there, I basically felt really alone.
Getting out of a hard place
Seems to be the way when down times hit. I’m sure you know the feeling well – we’ve all been to this place.
There’s a difference between feeling a bit down and being depressed, and my mind wasn’t in a great place. I was depressed.
Thanks to the tools I now carry with me though – those law of attraction success stories – I knew it was up to me to crawl out of it, no matter how hopeless I felt.
Engaging with the law of attraction: small changes
I still insisted on hiding under my warm quilt covers instead of going to the gym in the mornings. But despite feeling like I was easily set-off at every tiny little thing that could be perceived to be going wrong each day, during my morning commute I endeavoured to try to lift my own spirits.
Friends know I’m a huge fan of author and speaker, Gabrielle Bernstein, and her new book, The Universe Has Your Back, had been sitting on my Kindle for a few weeks.
I felt like it might be time to open it up.
On the bus each morning, I read just a few pages at a time, absorbing one small idea a day and taking it with me into work.
The one thing that struck me in the opening pages of the book was Gabrielle’s discussion about how we are the dreamers of our dream; we are responsible for what we see.
I knew that I was feeling sad and disappointed, and that there were reasons which had led me to that place. I have learnt that it’s ok to feel down about things sometimes, for a little while.
But, I knew the way I was feeling was not how I wanted to continue feeling. I didn’t want to be taking it with me everywhere and I sure as hell didn’t want to be projecting it into the world. I’m well aware that what I put out will come back in larger doses.
I wasn’t even sure where or how to ask for help and didn’t have any idea how I’d be able to shift what I was seeing in front of me.
I highlighted in Gabby’s book:
“You don’t have to be a world leader to have a radical shift in perception. Sometimes it can be as simple as choosing to perceive your job with more gratitude or your family with more love.”
I practised this in my head and in writing, and it helped a bit.
I knew if nothing else, just trying would raise my energy (and therefore what I was attracting) just a notch.
How to ask for help and to see things differently
I was still in a horrible place and this didn’t help me move through to anywhere significantly better. I felt particularly low that I was lost and without an idea of what to do moving forward.
Which is why this next part of Gabby’s law of attraction success stories and advice was very helpful and as always, timely. It’s why I feel compelled to write a few words about it.
You see, I’ve realised in recent years that we don’t have to have the answers all the time. We don’t necessarily need to worry about figuring out what to do. (This coming from someone who feels very uneasy without a plan!)
All we need to do is ask for help.
“I need help. I want to see things differently.”
I am completely aware of this strategy but typical of being in a hopeless funk, we often forget to follow the advice we give to others.
I’ve used this strategy previously when I’ve been at the end of my options (or seemingly so). I’ve called on my law of attraction success stories and experience when I have wanted to make a difference to loved ones having a hard time.
I stop and ask for help – a miracle even. And, I must say, I’ve seen it work each time.
The part about seeking a different perspective is reasonably new to me – or at least, specifically seeking a new perspective as a strategy is novel.
But how would it work?
I wasn’t sure, but it seemed straightforward and something that I could call on even when I was feeling hopeless.
I went about making this my daily mantra – asking to see things differently.
I fumbled my way through the week still feeling like a right old miserable mess, and half feeling like my crazy self-help strategies were failing me.
But being the believer that I am, I persisted.
“Help me see things differently”.
And then it happened, out of literally nowhere, some news that changed the way I would view a scenario that was getting me down the most.
Something that had felt hugely disappointing turned out to be hopeful.
Then the next day, additional information came my way that lifted a veil of uncertainty over another upsetting situation that I’ve been holding space for.
I’d asked to see things differently. I had no idea how any of it would go, after all, that’s part of the reason I was feeling so depressed – I couldn’t see my way out of problems I was perceiving.
I kept asking to see things differently. Low and behold, that’s what happened in a relatively short amount of time from when I started asking for help!
Apparently the universe does have my back, and I’m glad to have had the chance to witness it.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper, and here we share our advice and stories about expat living in the UK; pet and house sitting around the world; wellness travel and creative living, no matter where on the planet you are. We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for 20 years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. We hope you find value in our content. Please do connect by leaving a comment or find us on social media.