WAN-IFRA – Heading back to Lisbon!

WAN-IFRA is an organisation of newspapers and news agencies from around the globe. Each year they have a big gathering – for 2018, this was in Lisbon, Portugal.

WordPress VIP were a gold sponsor for the event, including sponsorship of the WAN-IFRA phone app, so I returned, for a second time this year, to Lisbon. This time with shirts.

Tuesday 5th June

For once, I don’t have an early flight. Taking off at 6pm, I’m due in at Lisbon airport around 8:45pm. A quick, last minute haircut and I headed off to Manchester airport around 1:30pm. There were no delays on the road or at the airport but, sadly, a delay on the flight (by half an hour) so I ended up spending 3 hours in Manchester.

Apart from a number of young, noisy children on the flight, it was otherwise fine. Only the lateness of the hour was a problem – all my colleagues were already at the AirBnB, and they’d already eaten. It was 10:30pm by the time I got there and everybody was either out (2 had gone to a special pre-conference meal hosted by the President of Portugal) or asleep.

The one remaining room in the villa was a kid’s room (oddly, I had the kid’s room when in Portugal back in February… I’m sensing a pattern here).

The view from my bedroom window isn’t too shabby

Wednesday 6th

After a rubbish night’s sleep, I finally managed to catch up with everyone as they all headed for our villa (which was the main one of the two). We made plans for the day – we didn’t have access to the conference until this afternoon to get everything set-up.

Musannif and I ended up going out to lunch together at Boulan Tea Room before heading to the beach, which was just a short walk away.

I love the design of the houses in the area, which are extremely pretty.

In the afternoon, we headed over to the conference and “manned our stall” for a few hours. The swag hadn’t yet turned up and we were hopefully it would turn up the next day.

Dress-attire is “business casual”, so I’m wearing suit trousers and smart shirts – not something you see from me very often.

In the evening, we headed to a nearby restaurant named “Jackpot” (it’s near a casino). The food was good, as was the company (two of my colleagues brought their partners along – one of whom works for Automattic and I already knew).

Thursday 7th

Today is the official “first day”. We’d already sorted out a rota for when we’d be be present at the booth, as there were more of us representing VIP that was needed at any one time. 

It was a long day (between 8am and 6pm) but it was worth it – we had lots of discussions, including with nearby business stalls – these included Google, Facebook (brave of them), the FT, Guardian, New York Times, etc. Sadly, the swag still hadn’t turned up.

At lunchtime, Allison did a 10 minutes talk on Gutenberg, which was excellent.

I even took the opportunity to attend one of the longer talks myself.

At 6pm, numerous events were occurring over the road with a live band and numerous food and drinks stalls.

Dinner, for those attending the conference, was at 7pm, although it didn’t get started properly until 8pm. So, we made our excuses after a while and headed back to the villa so that we could change ready for the meal. Unfortunately, it rained. A lot. And we got very wet on the way back to the villa.

A couple of Ubers later and we were at the casino. The food was great and the comedian/compere was average.

Unfortunately, the end of the evening was let down badly by this…

The person on stage is someone to do with media in Portugal, but I never caught their exact details. He apparently also made everyone sign happy birthday to him as well. The President of WAN-IFRA apologised the next day.

After the meal, the VIP went into the casino itself. Not much gambling took place before we ended up at the bar.

We are literally behind the velvet rope

Friday 8th

Still no swag.

The last day of the conference and it’s pretty quiet. Musannif has a long flight ahead of him and leaves around lunch time.

 Mid-afternoon we start to pack everything up just as… yes, you guessed it…. the swag turns up. We decided to give it out rather than return it and it’s very popular.

We spend the latter part of the afternoon drinking beer in the rear garden of the villa

In the evening, much of the group plans to head into central Lisbon for a late dinner. Andrea and I both have stupidly early flights in the morning so go for something more local and earlier. We end up at Cozinha Do Mar.

We both have Dourada (Sea Bream), which was nice but is totally whole (as in head, tail, bones, etc). The restaurant appears to be run by a married couple and attracts many locals (always a good sign).

I try heading to bed around 9pm but the food has woken me up and it takes me a long time to finally sleep, and then restlessly. I wake up just before 4am – a taxi is booked for 4:40am (which isn’t as early as Andrea, who had to leave an hour earlier). Indeed, my taxi driver was the same one who had just taken Andrea to the airport as well.

My flight leaves around 7:10am and I’m back home for 12:15pm. I’m tired and ache but it was a good week.

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