Large group of people on a mountain above a lake
Croatia,  Lens-Artists,  Montenegro,  People,  Travel galleries

Gallery: only connect

E.M. Forster, Howards End

I’ve posted previously, several times in fact, about how my travels have brought me into contact with different people around the world, enabling me to see what we have in common and better understand our differences:

Magic moments while travelling

Breaking boundaries while travelling

So today, for Donna’s Lens Artists theme of ‘Connections’, I thought I’d take a different approach. I’ve just returned from the annual Virtual Tourist Euromeet, held this year in Kotor in Montenegro. No doubt over the coming weeks and months I’ll be sharing lots of photos and information about the different places I visited. But what makes these meetings special isn’t just where we go, it’s who we go with. When we meet people from other countries on our travels, it’s usually a fleeting connection at best; valuable but not sustained. My involvement with Virtual Tourist, however, has enabled me to make genuine friends all over the world, and the Euromeets are our opportunity to get together and connect each year.

To celebrate the old friendships rekindled and new ones made at this year’s meet, here are some of my favourite moments spent connecting with other VTers, as we call ourselves.

This post is also a thank you to our hard-working host Valentina. I’ve hosted a meet myself (in Newcastle in 2022) and I know just how much is involved. Thank you Val! And thanks too to my friend Shelagh who took most of the photos in which I feature.

Split and surroundings: pre-meet

Ahead of the main meet I spent a few days with friends (most from the UK) in Split, before travelling to Kotor via Dubrovnik, by ferry and road:

Kotor – main meet

My remaining photos are from the main Euromeet, and to give you an idea of the number of countries represented by members, I’ve captioned them with country name rather than personal name:

I’ll finish with some memories of a particularly enjoyable day, with a boat trip on Skadar Lake in beautiful weather. That’s just one of many places I plan to share in a future post; for now, here are some photos taken on the boat:

Altogether the following countries were represented at the meet: USA, England, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, Romania, Latvia, India, Israel, Australia

I visited Split in May 2024 and Kotor in June 2024. All photos of people are shared with permission.

63 Comments

  • Annie Berger

    Sarah, I echo what others have said about everyone looking like they were having a lot of fun! I’m curious about virtual tourist. How did the organization get started? How did you become involved in it? I thought it was surprising that there were no chapters or anybody representing the United States at all.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Hi Annie 🙂 Here’s a cut and paste from my rather long reply to Suzanne below with a potted history of Virtual Tourist:
      We connected via a website, Virtual Tourist, which was an early pioneer in social networking, and provided a platform for travel reviews long before Trip Advisor, and for forum-based advice. What started as small get-togethers between travellers who found themselves heading to the same destination, or between a traveller and a local who had provided advice through the forum, gradually evolved into several pre-planned larger get-togethers each year, one of which was always in Europe and was known as Euromeet. It was always organised by members for members, not by the company, and when they sold out to Trip Advisor who later (2017) closed down the website (much to our dismay), many of us resolved to keep them going. We’ve done so successfully every year, apart from 2020 and 2021 of course, mainly using Facebook as a convenient way to stay in touch and post events. They are only meetings in the sense that we all gather in the same place, nothing more formal than that. The only plans are for group meals and some outings, all of which are optional. Some people come for the whole weekend, or longer, and do everything, others may come for just a couple of days and only join the meals. It’s all very flexible, very inclusive and very rewarding!

      And there are lots of US members! The company was based in California (Manhattan Beach) and the US is the first country I included in my list of countries represented at the meet. Altogether at this meet we had eight of our US members, but there are quite a few others who are very active but didn’t make it this year. And although the demise of the original website has made it a bit harder, we’re still very open to new members! So if you think you and Steven would enjoy meeting people from all over the world at a similar event, do message me 🙂

  • Tina Schell

    Well what perfect timing for this one Sarah! It sounds like a fantastic organization and what could be better than friends all over the world. Ours would be a much happier planet if everyone traveled don’t you think?!

  • Anna

    I should have been there dammit! A few more years and hopefully I’ll be back to meets! I see a few familiar faces there! X

  • Heyjude

    Well this week’s challenge really fell into you hands! What a fabulous way to meet up with fellow travellers and a great excuse to visit places all over the world. A bit like conferences without the boring bits!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      It did, absolutely 😀 I was considering a post like this while I was away and when I saw Donna’s theme it consolidated my thinking. And yes, rather like conferences without the boring bits, but much more fun!

  • sustainabilitea

    I had to read this several times because when I saw “virtual”, I thought something different from what your experience really was. It’s more like our little blogger meetups here in Arizona, but with people you’ve met from all over the world. What fun! I’ve been fortunate to meet one-on-one (or two) with other bloggers, but nothing like this. Sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

    janet

    • Sarah Wilkie

      It’s very like blogger meet-ups, and like blogging our friendships started in the virtual world before evolving into face-to-face meetings and ‘real’ friendships 🙂 We have those little meets too – for instance in August a friend is visiting London from the US and I and a few other London-based VTers will meet up with her for dinner one evening. The big annual meets evolved out of those smaller ones.

  • Suzanne@PictureRetirement

    Sarah, is photography, travel, or both the emphasis of the group and how did you initially form? Since you call them ‘meetings’, I am wondering if you have planned discussions and if so, what are some topics? How special to be ‘connected’ to a group of happy, like-minded people. P.S. Nice photos of you. You look very tall!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Hi Suzanne, and thanks for your interest in this 🙂 The emphasis is travel, although a number of us are keen photographers too. We connected via a website, Virtual Tourist, which was an early pioneer in social networking, and provided a platform for travel reviews long before Trip Advisor, and for forum-based advice. What started as small get-togethers between travellers who found themselves heading to the same destination, or between a traveller and a local who had provided advice through the forum, gradually evolved into several pre-planned larger get-togethers each year, one of which was always in Europe and was known as Euromeet. It was always organised by members for members, not by the company, and when they sold out to Trip Advisor who later (2017) closed down the website (much to our dismay), many of us resolved to keep them doing. We’ve done so successfully every year, apart from 2020 and 2021 of course, mainly using Facebook as a convenient way to stay in touch and post events. They are only meetings in the sense that we all gather in the same place, nothing more formal than that. The only plans are for group meals and some outings, all of which are optional. Some people come for the whole weekend, or longer, and do everything, others may come for just a couple of days and only join the meals. It’s all very flexible, very inclusive and very rewarding! And we’re always open to new members!

      • Suzanne@PictureRetirement

        Sarah, thanks for sharing the background regarding the group. How wonderful that you all have maintained contact and still get together. I can imagine the vast travel resources that you each bring to the table.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you John 🙂 But I may have misled you as these meetings aren’t tours. We’re all independent travellers who agree to meet up in the same location, making our own arrangements and choosing accommodation to suit us. Then one or a couple of members plans and books some activities and meals that we can share together, or sometimes members organise activities together in smaller groups. It’s all very flexible 🙂

  • wetanddustyroads

    That’s the great thing about travel – the people you meet! I’m impressed with how many different countries were present at your VT meeting … and you guys seem to have had loads of fun.

  • Wind Kisses

    Wonderful,Sarah! I am glad you featured people for connections since that is always a subject (of yours) I love. And I have enjoyed seeing your VT trips as well. Making connections with people all over the world is such a great way to enhance our lives as you show. As someone who has been lucky enough to live in many places in the world, I know the power of immersing ourselves into new places. Kotor is truly one of my favorite places to travel, so I will enjoy seeing it through your lens over the next few months or weeks. Split too is bustling, fun, and cultural. The quote: “Only Connect” is one I will remember. Fantastic post.

  • photobyjohnbo

    Such a perfect subject for this week’s challenge, Sarah! What an enjoyable outing that would be. One of the things I used to enjoy about cruising was dining with strangers at the beginning of the cruise, and enjoying the last days of the cruise with new “old friends.” Some cruise lines may still use that model, but on the ships I’ve sailed, that table sharing is gone.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      A good analogy John, but then imagine you have a chance to meet up with those new old friends on an annual basis, and maybe with some of them at other times too, until they are no longer new at all. Then add some genuinely new ones to the mix each year and you have some idea of what these weekends are like 🙂

  • Lorraine

    I’m a bit disappointed I couldn’t make it to Kotor this year. It would have been great to meet up with my VT friends again. I haven’t seen you Sarah or the rest of my other VT friends since Bulgaria Euromeet.
    Fingers crossed in will be in Malta next year and catch up with you and the others VT folk 😊

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Hi Lorraine – yes, it seems ages since we saw you! It’s definitely in Malta next year and DAO has already posted the dates on Facebook – the last weekend in May / first in June. I do hope you make it!

  • Sue

    What a fabulous way of meeting people from different cultures and getting to appreciate different ways of life! All with the common bond of travel…what’s not to love?

  • Josephine Hill

    Sarah , wonderful memories of our time in Split & Kotor.
    I have met some wonderful people through these meets . Its how I met you and we became friends 😊
    How lucky we are to be able to do this.
    Josie cx

  • margaret21

    You’re right. Those moments of connection with people from different cutures and different ways of life are so valuable and interesting, even if only brief. If sustained, as in this case, how much richer those connections are!

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