When I sat drinking Zombies with WordPress Wrangler Tom in Sandanista in Manchester, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to jump on a plane and head to WordCamp Europe.
WordCamp Europe was in Paris. A WordPress conference, uniting 1900 attendees from around 80 countries. There were another 1000 or so who joined via live stream. It was something amazing to behold.
I embarked on my journey. The first time I had ever travelled overseas alone, I felt so brave!
Arriving in Paris, I saw the first glimpse of my hotel. Where had I gone? Aubervilliers is where the organisers held the WordCamp. It was rough as hell! Although my hotel was considered 'boutique', my bathroom was in the hall. There was a combo lock from the outside and nothing on the inside. The combo lock had four numbers: 1234. Since my combo was 4321, I did not feel safe.
Regardless I had some new friends to meet up with, and Uber is everywhere. So, I jumped in a taxi and made my way out.
The first day was a WordPress contributor day. A contributor day is where the WordPress community get together and do productive tasks on the open-source project. Show it some love.
After a hard day's work and some new friends made, we went to Paris for a few drinks. At least I felt better after a drink or two. I spent a happy hour in a kebab shop with two Israelis, chatting about nothing. See, this is what I love about WordCamp. My list of conversations with people around the world was growing.
The next at the WordPress conference felt like WordCamp in earnest. My first stop was the Swag hall because we all love swag. I made a point of chatting to everyone I could and cramming my JetPack bag with stickers, tote bags, sunglasses, fidget spinners and anything else I could lay my hands on.
It was a hot day, and I hadn't considered this. Everybody filtered outside for lunch and sat on the grass. So, I decided to mooch around and speak to new people. I met a couple of guys from Lisbon who told me all about the city, which was great. I'm off to Web Summit in November, so it was good to get the heads up.
That night, I was still unhappy with the hotel. So I moved to the budget Ibis Aubervilliers. It was like a hospital room in prison. But at least it had AC!!
That evening, I went for a steak and a couple of mojitos with Dave and Steph, a couple I met at WordCamp Manchester. I had the loveliest night, just chilling outside a restaurant in the Parisienne streets.
It was fantastic to meet Morten Rand-Hendrikson. Someone who taught me how to use WordPress via Lynda.com. Also, Zac Gordon did the same via Treehouse. I was developer-starstruck! It was also great to watch a talk on the history of WordPress by Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg.
After the final day, it was time for the after-party. I'm sorry WordCamp Europe, but this was a huge disappointment. The Twitter feed of people wanting to leave said it all. Because the food was sparse, and it took an hour to get it. When I say sparse, we had a hot dog, so it was a bit of a letdown.