If there’s one thing I always have time for, its meeting readers of my blog in real life. I still remember the first time it happened – when a reader from California (her name was Elle, I hope she doesn’t mind me calling her by name) – started flagging me down on the streets of Barcelona. There I was – thousands of miles from home, as was she, and wearing a large floppy hat (of course) and sunglasses.
“How on earth did you recognise me!?” I asked in a manner of impressiveness.
“Your bag!” she proclaimed. I noticed your bag, I knew you were in Barcelona from Instagram, and when I saw you I did a double take and started yelling from down the street!
It was the first of many encounters with readers around the world and after we went for coffee and a cream-filled-croissant to chat about blogging and travelling, I soon realised this would become one of my favourite ways to spend time in a city.
So I started holding meet-ups more often.
This was the second ever meet up in New York City since I started my blog a little over 2 years ago. At the first meet-up there were 8 people in attendance. We all got froyo, chatted for an hour, and had a blast. I’ve since stayed in contact with a couple of readers from that meet up and was delighted to see two of them in attendance at the second meet-up in NYC.
Not even a year later at the second reader meet-up in NYC, there were 89 people scheduled to be in attendance. JAW – TO – THE – FLOOR.
WATCH THE VIDEO: THE NYC WOW READER MEETUP!
I think around 60 readers showed up on the day, coming and going as they could between job interviews, university deadlines and whatever else they were up to on their Saturday.
We met in Bryant Park at 12 noon and I surprised everyone with some yummy Magnolia Bakery cupcakes – actually 100 cupcakes – which I’ll have you know are particularly heavy to carry on your own, even if I only walked two blocks. Cupcakes, it would appear, have a bit of weight in them (pun??).
After an hour of everyone introducing themselves, chatting about their favourite places, asking me travel + blogging questions for the group to hear, we decided that we shouldn’t let the fun stop there. A small group of us then decided to carry on a little longer and go for lunch in the city.
Talk about having a blast.
With the leftover cupcakes, we brightened a few strangers’ days by offering them a yummy treat as we walked through the streets of New York.
We made our way to Shake Shack to grab burgers and fries – because, well, this is NY. And it wouldn’t be NY without Shake Shack.
Then, in all of our touristy delight, we took our lunch to Times Square and ate on the red steps, hanging out for a while longer, before deciding we could possibly fit in a little froyo for dessert (really, all we did was eat and chat all day long!).
No less than 6 hours later we parted ways and I said goodbye to some of the new friend I had met that day. I can’t even begin to describe how nice it is to sit down with people who read my blog and get to know them better. It’s also nice to answer all the questions they have and help in any way possible to get people out there travelling more frequently, to more different places. After all, that’s why I started the blog!
My favourite word of the day (and for all the meet-ups I’ve held) is what I call the “I” word. When people say you have inspired them or do inspire them, it is for me the highest form of flattery in the world. To hear that from so many of you on the day was truly the most elating thing. I was on cloud nine.
To hear about more reader meet-ups in your city, follow me on twitter or keep an eye on the WOW facebook page. I hope to meet more of you very soon!!