Saturday, March 16, 2013

ITB Berlin 2013 Travel Trade Show

Saturday, March 16, 2013
As well as many other travel bloggers and general visitors, I attended ITB Berlin travel trade show this year. They have already published some impressive statistics: there were 188 countries represented with altogether 10,086 delegates. About 60,000 regular visitors came to the show. 6,000 accredited journalists from 80 countries and about 250 travel bloggers came to feature the event. Political significance was attached to the show as 350 diplomats and politicians, 77 ambassadors and 47 foreign ministers visited the event. I have put together a small photo story to share the best impressions. I spent 2,5 days at the show.

Poland greatly advertised itself for wellness and spas. Honestly speaking, that didn't impress me much as I'm not a spa-going person in general, but I did like their exhibit to advertise The Tall Ships Races 2013 . I am actually going to see one tall ship in April: the famous Kruzenshtern is to thrown anchor in Klaipeda (former Memel), Lithuania.

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The UK stand chose to advertise their famous museum with Barack Obama's wax figure.

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I stopped at the UK stand to pick up some information about visiting Giant Causeway in Ireland and puffin watching in Scotland. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it is possible to go puffin watching not far from Edinburgh, to which Vilnius is served with cheap flights. Unfortunately, visiting Giant Causeway is far more complicated due to its location. Yet, I'm working on it.

Romania was represented by a number of stands but the most popular one was the one offering drink degustations.

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Stronger drinks were tasted at the stand you see in the picture above while wines were poured at another stand. You can find more information about their wines from www.liliac.com . This degustation also served as an eye-opener as to why so many exotic-looking people speak German so fluently: they are simply ordinary Germans with the right features representing this or that country. I wanted to ask the wine lady if there was a famous tourist attraction in the region she was representing but she couldn't tell as she was German, not Romanian. Go figure. ( OFF TOPIC: one Russian lady complained that visitors complained at the lack of information printed in English and she said that if you want it in English, go to London. Bwuah....)

The Belgian stand treated their visitors with hot waffles coated in chocolate from a very chocolate-running fountain. Mmmmm...delicious.

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For the first time, probably, Satan had his representatives to promote Hell tourism. Either that, or they were looking for a skiing resort to chill down.

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The Hungarian stand was busy making their delicacy called "kurtoskalacs".

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It is also known as "chimney cake" or "Hungarian wedding cake". I had a great opportunity to sample it along with Hungarian wine as I got to talk to an Austrian person from Vienna who wanted to find out more about visiting my city, Vilnius. It can also be sampled in Budapest, check out  www.kurtoskalacs.com for more information.

Those who attend ITB Berlin regularly do know where to head for the best freshly-made juice and that is Spain's section for the Canary Islands.

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A lady from Northern Cyprus was making coffee on the sand. As that Turkish proverb goes, coffee should be black as Hell, strong as death and sweet as love, right? They also had some free samples to take away, which I did.

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You can find more information about their coffee at http://www.ozakahve.com

A real stomach fiesta was organized by Piedmont region in Italy in addition to sponsoring Speed Dating for bloggers. I had a rare opportunity to taste truffles!

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I had never considered Piedmont region as a point of interest before this day, but they were really working hard to promote themselves. Taking into consideration that Vilnius and Milan are served with cheap flights, it might be a destination to consider. Here are some useful websites if you want to research this region in more detail: www.centroestero.org , www.piemonteonwine.it , www.langheroero.it and www.italiandelights.it

Malta catered for our palate with wine and snacks, and for out eyes-by putting together an exposition of their food.

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Maltese wine was AH-mazing. I was surprised by how good it was because I had been to Malta a few years ago and the wine we had there was the most horrible wine ever. This time I had a great tasting experience and I can highly recommend "Tanit" from Tal-Massar Winery , 2012.  Tanit was a Phoenician moon goddess, did you know?

The Portuguese stand let their visitors sample their food and wine.

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For the first time in my life I tried oil degustation: there was some bread with which people picked up some of olive oil. That's not something people usually try, so at first I only thought it was just an exposition of oils. I was so delighted by the food that I braced myself and asked for the recipe. I was taken to see the lady-chef who told it to me. What I didn't understand, she brought from the kitchen to show me (apparently, nobody else calls red sweet peppers "paprika" but us). The recipe I got was for Bacalhau com grao de bico. 

The Greek stand made coffee for everybody who wanted free of charge, great many thanks to them. I also got another recipe from the chef.

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This time it was for Marinated octopus and lentil salad. 

The Peru stand also entertained their visitors by tasting of their drinks, which were rather badly received by my taste-buds, unfortunately.

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The Ecuador stand nearby allowed me to wash it with very good tea.

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Even Montezuma showed up for it.

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I had read beforehand that Argentina is a carnivore paradise but I must admit that such a picture of roasted meat isn't inspiring. Poor animal :-(

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The delegates from Panama as always posed in their national costumes and everybody could have their photo taken with the ladies you see. 10 points out of 10.

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African stands had a lot to offer. BTW, what's that with her legs?

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If the best juice pours from the Spanish stands, the best couscous is delivered from the Morocco stand, nothing can rival it, it's an absolute bliss.

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When in Berlin, you will want to go to "Kasbah".

In addition to stomach pleasures, there were arts and crafts people like this person from Tunisia who was weaving baskets on the spot.

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There also was a mosaic master.

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Several stands offered to write names in different fonts and alphabets, usually for a small fee.

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Burundi delegates danced, sang and...

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...treated their visitors with tea.

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The Rwanda stand sold jewellery. What this lady is holding are the ear-rings.

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If I were a genie, I'd live in this tea-pot and nowhere else.

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Islamic countries had other palate pleasures to discover like this date stand.

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At this point of the show I was already considering bringing a basket for goodies another day :-)

The Yemeni stand had a person (man? woman?) who was doing the hand-painting.

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I am still considering going on a Nile cruise in Egypt (though such an idea is heavily rivalled by a felucca ride) but prices for such cruises are still comparatively high, be it local company or not.

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The Taiwanese stands made people smile.

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The delegates from Malaysia sang and danced.

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Those who wanted to find out more about Ayurveda and treating diseases with natural substances could consult a specialist.

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Germany had their stands for each region but the bad thing was the crazy layout of the entire show. Say, if Hall A.1 is ahead of you, Hall A.2 will be in the other building entirely and two floor higher, but both of them will represent the same continent. People with whom I spoke about it all agreed that the layout of the halls was inconvenient.

Germany decided to dissect a car, well, why not?

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A short stop for a cup of tea. This kind lady eagerly posed with a samovar. For a long time I was convinced it was purely a Russian invention, apparently I was wrong.

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Slovakian artist Filip Jancik gave a concert. Those who wanted to listen to him, sat down on the sofas opposite the Slovakian stands that were meant for the Serbian stand visitors (their delegates sent us strange glances but didn't pest us away).

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More information about the artist can be found at http://www.filipjancik.com/ (do check out the video section).

Coming back to Africa was welcomed by the drums.

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An Angolan drummer and Christ the Redeemer of Rio de Janeiro? Actually, it's easy to make this mistake, but the Christ you see in the photo is from Lubango in Angola. It is one of the four statues in the world and was made from the same material as the one in Rio.

Dances did go on...

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The Japanese stand offered traditional workshops on origami folding, sushi making and calligraphy. Such things used to fascinate me some time ago but this time I gave them a miss. But they beat their drums so much that the nearby Korean delegation couldn't start their musical performance anyhow.

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Having seen so many interesting things, sampling so many delicious foods and drinks, I was very disappointed with how my country-Lithuania- was represented.

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Many stands represented themselves with food, wine, music, dance, handicrafts, etc. They managed to draw visitors to them while stands that only handed out flyers were rarely approached to, unless somebody was researching for their specific trip. The lack of money and initiative are usually the cause for attractive displays. If I had had my pick, I would have invited ladies in our national costumes to pour beer to taste under a sign  "Recommended by New York Times". I'd also would have given to try our most delicious cottage cheese, brown home-made bread, pickled cucumber, etc. I'd have invited our "verba" makers to show how such unique thing is made. I'd have also invited singers to sing the way nobody else sings- "sutartinės". And I'd would have also brought amber jewellery to sell. People must realise that handing flyers for the information people can Google at home is becoming obsolete and that if you want to attract people to your stand among 188 countries you have to stand out deliciously and aloud.

Have you visited ITB Berlin? Did you go to see your country's stand?


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