WordCamp Europe 2019 happened on the 20th to the 22nd of June. For part of the Castos team, that week will be remembered as the first Castos Team Retreat.
Craig, Danilo and I met up in Berlin the day before WordCamp. Having worked together, but remotely, for the better part of three years, it was an amazing experience to get to meet in person. During the first few hours we learned that Danilo is officially the tallest member of the team, Craig has a penchant for beer, and I order food poorly (who orders a burger in Germany!)
After meeting at our AirBnB apartment, grabbing some lunch, and enjoying a summer shower, the three of us took a walk to the co-working space Craig had rented for us for the afternoon. We spend the rest of the afternoon planning and discussing the next set of features planned for Castos and Seriously Simple Podcasting.
Needless to say the rest of 2019 holds a lot of excitement on the product and development front. Stay tuned for some awesome updates to both the plugin and hosting platform.
For dinner that evening we met up with Stefan, a Berlin local, who introduced us to the staple of his city, that wondrous thing called a Biergarten. It would be an understatement to say that a few beers were consumed, but we did talk some shop, as we discussed how we would be implementing the next phase of our analytics platform, with planned improvements in speed, accuracy and stability. I headed back to the apartment before the others, as I had planned to attend contributor day the following day.
I soon learned that the summer sun in Germany is up pretty early, so I awoke around 6am, got up and ready and made my way to the venue for WordCamp. Craig and Danilo planned to spend the morning working, and I spent the morning contributing to WordPress. Mostly I spent my time meeting old friends and making some new ones, but I did start working on a Community Team proposal I’d planned to start before I left Cape Town.
After lunch I left to join back up with Craig and Danilo, as Craig had planned some team building for us, in the form of the biggest ziplining park I have ever seen. I managed to capture one picture, but this is only a small portion of the entire place.
Unfortunately, mother nature had other plans, and an incoming thunderstorm forced the ziplining team to evacuate the park. I never thought about how a thunderstorm might affect a place with that many tress and metal before, but it make perfect sense.
The previous evening I’d heard about a video game museum in the city, so we took a taxi there and spent about an hour enjoying some video game nostalgia, from 70’s in home consoles to the first (of what I hope will be many) Castos Daytona Rally Championship.
I could have stayed forever but I think Craig and Danilo were getting bored, so we headed back to the apartment, me to the Codeable experts dinner and Danilo and Craig headed out for some supper.
The next morning I woke up needing some recovery time after the Codeable dinner myself, so Craig headed off to day 1 of WordCamp on his own. I got to say goodbye to Danilo, who was heading home, grabbed a few hours extra sleep, got up and made my way to the venue.
Having only been to WordCamp Europe in Belgrade last year I was more prepared for what to expect. The day was a mix (again) of meeting old friends and making new ones. Craig and I were able to discuss some technical items with a few sponsors, meet some of our customers, and generally do our thing at the event. I was also privileged to be able to introduce Craig to Hugh Lashbrooke, the original developer of Seriously Simple Podcasting and my fellow WordPress Cape Town meetup organiser.
I didn’t really get to attend many talks, but I did manage to make it to Josepha Haden’s talk on change management. I had booked a podcast recording with Josepha in the afternoon, so I wanted to make sure I attended her talk.
After lunch we all packed into the main track for Matt’s Summer Update. It was mostly block focused, which was expected, and it was interesting to see some of the planned developments for he block editor. Matt also highlighted the fact that the block editor exists as a package for Laravel. As the Castos hosting platform is built on Laravel, this raises some interesting ideas for future Castos developments.
After WordCamp, Craig, Hugh and I met up at the Biergarten across from the venue for a round of beers and pretzels, which seems to be a local favourite, and just chatted about all things WordPress. It was pretty cool to be able to share a drink in person with these two chaps, who have both had such an influence on my professional life over the past three years.
That evening Craig and I had registered for the WPEngine party, but I was still feeling tender from the previous evening, so after we got back to our apartment, we dropped our bags and headed to a nearby restaurant for some food. This time I ordered a much more German meal of sausages, sauerkraut and potatoes, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Once I’d eaten, I felt a bunch better, so we headed off to the tail end of the WPEngine party, where I met and chatted with all sorts of folks, but mostly with Thijs and Remkus from Yoast and Karim from Crowd Favorite. After that party wrapped we took a walk with the folks from Delicious Brains for a few final rounds of beers, before calling it a night.
For the final day of WordCamp, both Craig and I were ready to go early, so we took the bus down the venue to enjoy the day. I had a workshop at 2pm, so I spent most of the morning sourcing swag from the sponsors, chatting to people and doing my best to introduce Craig to any WordPress folks he might be interested in meeting. Craig had to leave shortly after lunch (when my workshop was on) so I bade him farewell and went off to present my workshop.
WordCamp Europe is always an amazing experience, but it was made more special by the fact that I was able to share it with some of my amazing co-workers. There are rumours that we will be getting the entire team together next year, but that may depend on schedules and country specific differences. Whatever does happen, I feel privileged to have met both Craig an Danilo in person, and I look forward to the opportunity to see them again.