How Virtual Tourist Opened My Eyes to Inspiration

This is a guest post I wrote back in November 2011 for Canada’s Adventure Couple – Dave & Deb it was published on their super fab site earlier this week. This was my first guest post I’ve written and was great to see my post on their site.

How Virtual Tourist Opened My Eyes to Inspiration

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Confucius.

Sometimes, in life there are too many ‘what if’ moments. Moments where we find ourselves questioning motives, desires, yearnings, personal histories, and the what if I do, do it. What then?

Confucius was right in his statement. To become a traveler, you must take that first step. After that, the adventure is yours.

It’s only hindsight we see the error of our ways and I wasn’t about to make that same mistake twice when I decided to book a month-long adventure touring Europe. I wanted it all, big cites, private havens and a beautiful hot oasis.

I  also wanted to meet people, who like me, love to travel and have made travel a passion and even a career, as in past years I’ve spent my travels alone. This time I wanted to experience the adventure with others, to share in the sunsets and late night dances, to hike up volcanos with strangers and salute the Grecian nightfall with new friends.

Ready to hear who and what changed me from a lazy backpacker to an inspired traveler who loves to write about the adventures?

Who inspired me?

The people behind the places® inspired me. They made me into a smarter, wiser and more inspired traveler. They showed me that you don’t have to see the worlds best sights alone, that it’s okay to meet complete strangers in a strange new land and be inspired by the movement.

The people behind the places® taught me to share my travel experiences with the world. This is how I came to write about what I love most in life: travel. They opened me up to the world of travel forums, where others, just like me, gather to talk all things travel. This is where I learned about travel meetings that Virtual Tourist holds all over the world.

There was big talk about the next big meet in Europe and it didn’t take long to find the sign up board where I quickly added my name with eighty other Virtual Tourist members. I had never done something so bold as to meet eighty strangers in a foreign land. I was excited, no ecstatic. Are we almost there?

I was looking for solid, concrete, unbiased advice on places in Europe, and Virtual Tourist was the place I sought and still seek advice from. They are the people behind the places®, and I have joined them in some of the great (mis)adventures.

Here’s one tale of how meeting other virtual tourists opened my world to the possibilities of endless dreams.

What inspired me?

Santorini, Greece inspired me. With her stunning sunsets, miles of dark sandy beaches that await your winter white feet and where the iconic symbol of Santorini sits nestled among thousand-year old lava; the small, blue domed churches that are every photographers dream.

How did Santorini inspire me? Santorini made me believe that anything is possible, that dreams do come true.

Santorini or Thera in Greek is a tiny island in the Southern Aegean Sea and is the site of one of the worlds largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history.

This tiny island oasis was the setting for the 2007 Virtual Tourist EuroMeet and this is where I met 80+ virtual tourist members from around the world.

The climate year round is hot, and is one of the few places in Europe with a climate comparable to the desert. For a lounge lizard like myself, this was a perfect setting to meet other like-minded travelers.

My flight arrived in the late afternoon. Well beyond the first meeting time with the other Virtual Tourist attendees. I checked into a true to tradition blue and white hotel to find that my three bedroom loft style room had a private pool. See, the dream is coming true.

Ripping a page from my travel journal, I scribbled down in black magic marker – Are you a Virtual Tourist? And I went walkabout in the land of Gyros and Mythos with my sign pinned to my t-shirt.

It didn’t take long to find the other virtual tourist members. Sitting in a tiny open air bar on the small cobblestone streets of Fira. I found four VT members washing away the airplane blues with a good pint of Mythos.

We exchanged hands and cheeks, hellos and to your health. Mythos were ordered and we began the wonderful decent into discovering who is that person behind the profile picture.

Minutes turned to hours, and hours turned to days as new-found friends hiked Nea Kameni, rode donkeys up steep cliffs to an awaiting traditional Grecian lunch, dined by the seaside as Virtual Tourist bigwigs said speeches and gave away loot bags, we patiently waited in line, and spent our money in the local markets.

We snapped picture after picture and vowed to make a tip, review or even a travelogue out of the adventure, once we got back home. As for now, we were discovering new-found relations in a new-found land.

Have you begun your journey? How many miles have you walked? How did you feel after that first step?

12 thoughts on “How Virtual Tourist Opened My Eyes to Inspiration

  1. Loved it!! I love traveling to new places but have not done much of it. Fell in love with Santorini as soon as I read this post. I will make sure that I make a trip out there sometime in my life! Thanks for this wonderful post!

  2. Hi Jennifer: I read this before on the other site and really enjoyed it! My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Greece and traveled around for three weeks. We loved Santorini the best as it was so incredibly beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I agree totally with this, my mantra is “Have suitcase will travel” and I already start planning my next trip, whether its a weekend away or a month away before I even get home. And, of course, when I am at home, I love to read about all the places I still need to visit which is why I am a compulsive travel blogger reader and hope too that people will be inspired by my blog to stop procrastinating and get out and see the world.

  4. Life is an adventure with either your eyes open or closed!!!! A great friend of mine said that to me once.

    One of the things I love most about being an expat in China is the friends I’ve met online through various sites. They help me make travelling possible and exploring the country. They make their city/town/village more interesting making me want to pick up and visit. That never would have happened without meeting people online!!! So yeah, I love meeting the real person behind the avatar!!!!

  5. Nice post, Jennifer. My wife complained to me the other day, ‘You never want to go anywhere except to get a story.’ Since I started travel writing, there’s some truth in that.

    But getting a story means going somewhere interesting, meeting people and finding out about the culture and history of the place.

    That makes the whole travel experience richer and I enjoy then sharing that story with others, putting it into my own words and remarking on the odd quirky thing which I noticed that others may have missed.

    Hence my compulsive blogging!

Your comments are greatly appreciated, thank you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.