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Last week, I was contacted on Twitter to ask if I fancied attending a free Big Bus Summer Social hosted by Travel Bloggers Unite (TBU).

I’m a big fan of attending these sort of events (TravelMassive is another event which I now regularly frequent), purely because it gives you a chance to connect with other bloggers. As is the nature of blogging, so much of our work is done behind a computer screen, that it’s wonderful to socialise now and again with others who have the same passion as you. Not only do you discover some fantastic new blogs, you also get the chance to make some lovely new friends who help motivate you – bonus!

So, last night I dutifully headed towards Piccadilly Circus with the lovely Lauren from Tea and Post. The evening’s proceedings were as follows:

  • 6pm: Meet at Ripley’s Believe It or Not for drinks and a chat
  • 7pm: Hop on a Big Bus Tour for a quick trip around Trafalgar Square, Westminster and Buckingham Palace
  • 7:30pm: Drop off at Planet Hollywood for drinks and nibbles

DSC_0023Now, I’ll admit it: at first, I wasn’t sure about a Big Bus London tour. I did a similar tour (with a different company) when I first moved to London as an impressionable history student, and the whole experience just wasn’t my cup of tea – mainly because we spent most of the time stuck in traffic and straining to hear the recorded guide through our headphones. But, as soon as I hopped on board the double-decker last night, I realised this was in a completely different league.

DSC_0013I became almost giddy with excitement as we set off for on our mini-tour, hurtling round prominent tourist sites such as Trafalgar Square, Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament. I’m in London every single weekday for work, and yet the tour showed me just how much I restrict myself by just sticking in the same neighbourhood. As we whirled round the city, I was beginning to see everything through the eyes of a tourist who’s on their first trip to the Capital, seeing the intricate detailing of Elizabeth Tower, and the patches of history woven into the regal architecture.

I’m so used to gawping at foreign cities on my travels during tours, that it was so refreshing to do something in my own city. After a while, I didn’t even care that I looked like the biggest tourist going, snapping away with two different cameras and freaking out over seeing things like Westminster Cathedral!

I call this first photo “dishevelled fringe itching to leave my face and explore the sights of London:”

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DSC_0061Our guide Phil was absolutely incredible, spilling out facts and dates as easily as if he was just counting to 10. He also helped point out all the best photo shots, which always helps!

The evening rounded off at Planet Hollywood, the restaurant backed by super celebs such as Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, which, shamefully, I have never ONCE visited! Which, y’know, meant I had to do the obligatory photo taking session outside by the sign:

IMG_0267Drinks and nibbles were on hand, but the best thing about this part of the evening was that we all had the chance to mingle. I had a wonderful chat with the lovely Justine from The Dancing TravellerSophie from Your Girl is Lovely and Jacob from Jacob vs Life.

There was also the chance to win travel prizes, such as flights and a hotel stay at the TBU event in Nantes this August (spoiler: I didn’t win).

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Whether you’re a travel blogger with bags of experience or one who, like me, is just starting out, I would thoroughly recommend coming along to the Travel Bloggers Unite events. Who knows, maybe we’ll even meet next time?

A BIG thank you to Travel Bloggers Unite, Ripley’s, Big Bus Tours and Planet Hollywood for hosting us all!

Were you at the event last night? What did you think of it? Do other bloggers find these events helpful?