The Great White North

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You might think that all I do lately is mope around and feel sorry for myself about my back. Not true, friends. I also buy things on the internet and do yoga. And last week, I headed to the Great White North, also known as Quebec City, and to Chicago, which is not in Canada but could have fooled me because it was cold as hell there too.Β The purpose of my trip was two-fold: 1) AJ went to Quebec City for work, and I figured it would be fun to tag along and write some reviews for Ramblen while seeing a new place and 2) Ramblen sponsored the very first Women in Travel Summit in Chicago!

Note: Chicago friends, don’t hate me for not telling you I was coming. Every minute of our day was scheduled and you’re all too much fun and I would have missed all my meetings if I saw you.

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#WITS14

But first, Canada! I have been to several parts of Canada before, but never Quebec. I was particularly excited to go there since I know they speak French and it is very different than the rest of Canada, but mostly I was really excited because my grandmother has a really deep-seated contempt (Nana hates no one) for Quebecois that no one entirely understands, so I was looking forward to sending her a postcard from there just to torment her. I am obviously her favorite grandchild.

Depending on who you talk to in Quebec, their English is really good or nearly non-existent. I learned the word for “chicken” very quickly so I wouldn’t order anything too weird on the menu. French is a lot easier to decipher than Japanese, although it is just as impossible to pronounce, but I did make an effort. Oh, and there was snow in Quebec. A lot of snow. It snowed 6 inches in like 2 hours and no one even flinched.

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#snowselfie. Despite the total lack of sun, I needed sunglasses due to the snow glare.

I really enjoyed walking around the city of Quebec, although my back and I did not particularly enjoy all the hills. It turns out that it is entirely possible for it to be snowing and very cold but for you to sweat through all your clothes and be stripping down to your base layer in the middle of the city due to near heat stroke. All the passerby looked at me quite strangely, so apparently public nudity is not a thing in Quebec.

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Part of the Old City of Quebec, also known as the place where only tourists go.

I was only in Quebec for a few days, but I’ll be headed back at the beginning of April when AJ heads back up for work. Hopefully it won’t be so cold-hot then and I’ll be able to see a bit more of the city. After Quebec, it was on to Chicago for the Summit! Oh, if only it was quite that simple. My flight out of Quebec to Philadelphia was delayed by about 2 hours, causing me to miss my connection in Philly by 4 minutes. UGH. That in turn put me on a flight 5 hours later, only to be delayed even further by the plane that blew a tire on takeoff and had its nose gear collapse. Instead of getting to Chicago at 5 pm, I got to my hotel at almost 2 am. On the plus side, my plane did not blow a tire or anything else.

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Good thing I have membership in the American Airlines and US Air lounges where beer and wine are free!

Friday was a day jam packed with meetings with some fantastic companies! Susie, one of our fabulous Brand Ambassadors, schlepped us around the city all morning We were fortunate enough to meet Samantha, one of our Brand Ambassadors who is involved with an amazing organization called Atlantic Impact. Based in Detroit, Atlantic Impact is a non-profit that helps inner-city students experience the wonder of local and international travel. Students become involved in the year-long program and attend weekly meetings and local field-trips to learn more about and become involved with their communities. At the end of the year, the students take an international trip to learn more about the importance of global connections – last year, they went to England! So cool.

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Atlantic Impact booth at WITS!

The Women In Travel Summit was a conference unlike anything I have experienced before. The atmosphere was incredible – female travelers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, etc. all convened in one place. As the Platinum Sponsors for the event, we got to do a 5 minute talk about our company before introducing the keynote speaker, which was awesome! What was not awesome was that there had been some miscommunication and I didn’t realize that we were going to be the ones talking – I thought the event hosts were! Natalie doesn’t do public speaking, so guess who does? I have no idea what I said, but I think it was coherent and people laughed at my jokes and came up to our table all throughout the expo, so it must not have been completely weird and awkward.

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Susie insisted we bring the ram hat.

On Saturday night, Natalie met her friend for dinner, so Susie and I headed to Farmhouse Tavern in the midst of all the St. Patrick’s Day bedlam. We did get to see the river dyed green and lots of people falling over drunk, which is the true spirit of St. Patrick’s Day. We got beer battered cheese curds – dyed green, of course.

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I apologized to my stomach in advance and it was still pissed at me but YOLO

After dinner, we all headed over to a WITS party at a nearby bar, but that wasn’t the most entertaining part of the evening. The most entertaining part was the train ride home from the bar. Imagine St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago. Everyone has been drinking since about 9 am or earlier and it’s now 11 pm. The train is packed. It smells like all the worst smells of a frat house (are there good smells?) – the stale beer, the sweat, possible urine, and chicken wings. Oh, and there’s a guy dressed in a Gumby costume, but with his head off. You ask him if he is dressed as Gumby, hoping to distract him enough so that he forgets that he is about to puke all over you (and you can’t escape because the train is packed). He leans in towards you, doesn’t really look you in the eye because he can’t actually focus, and then slurs “Nnnnnnnnno,” even though the answer is obviously yes. He then inexplicably announces “My throat feels like a dick.” That, my friends, is St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Chicago.

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Susie and I at dinner

In conclusion, we had a fantastic and productive weekend at the Women In Travel Summit! The response to Ramblen was amazing and overwhelming, and it was great to meet Susie and get to spend some time with her. If you don’t already read her blog, do it! If you’re a female who is interested in travel in any capacity, whether you have a blog or not, definitely check out the Summit for next year! It will be in another one of my favorite cities – Boston!

LEAVE A COMMENT: What did you do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

24 thoughts on “The Great White North

  1. For the 1st time I read something that is misleading on your blog. Ahem *I*’m Nana’s favorite! The plane issue? That would’ve so pissed me off but do you have a Kindle? I make sure mine is charged when I travel or when I think I’ll have to wait somewhere.

    1. I think Chad is actually probably Nana’s favorite πŸ™‚ I have the new Kindle and I definitely read it while I’m traveling! I love it.

  2. a) Your mention of Quebec reminded me of my trip to Montreal in 2009 for a Dave Matthews Band show… we were there for barely 48 hours, but my girlfriend insisted we buy a museum pass, and hit a bunch of museums. I dragged my heels a bit at first, but it turned out to be awesome (between modern art and science stuff I actually had a good time). My way of bringing this back on topic is by saying that one day I hope to go back there to run a half marathon (or maybe marathon)… it’s a neat city!

    b) I sensed travel doom as soon as I saw the dreaded word “Philadelphia.” I can’t remember the last time I had a smooth connection there. And yes, it’s good that you weren’t on the plane that blew its tire!

    1. oh… and as an addendum to a), going back would give me another chance to eat at Chez Cora (http://www.chezcora.com/home), this awesome breakfast/brunch/lunch place that my DMB friends knew about. I ate a fruit crepe that may have been the size of my head, no joke.

      1. Ok well now I’m really sad that Chez Cora isn’t in Quebec because I really want a fruit crepe the size of my head.

        Ah, Philadelphia, where on-time connections go to die. Good thing we have to go back through there on the way to AND from Quebec for the next trip too.

  3. It looks like you had fun at WITS! Also thanks for your travel blogs about how to pack in a carry on, I am going on a trip for work and we are flying, only my second time flying, and they said I’m limited to carry ons. So, your blog post has been floating around my job lately with me and my coworkers so we can figure out how to pack for it!

  4. My employer is headquartered in QC. I head up there once or twice a year. It is beautiful to run along the St Lawrence River. Last time I saw a hot air balloon just hovering about the river. The area along the river is also surprisingly flat.

    I usually leave from Old Quebec and run out to where Le Cafe du Monde is. Behind the restaurant there is a biking/running path. From there I just run south as long as I want and turn around to run back.

    1. Thank you for the tips! I am going to check these out when I go back if I can gimp out of the hotel room long enough and there isn’t too much snow!

  5. Please come back so we can do more exploring. There is so much more to see and eat and drink πŸ˜€ I’m still sad that I won’t be able to go to FitBloggin, but alas, long laid plans are going to interfere.
    But seriously, we need to do a trip together in the future.

    1. Hell YES. I need to come back. Or we need to do a trip together, or both. OR Bretzels. And Portillos. AND ALL THE FOOD.

  6. I can’t believe you were in Philadelphia for like 5 minutes and didn’t call me. #hater #couldabeenmy90minutefiance lol

  7. St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated with an emergency trip to NJ to settle some estate issues that were being ignored. I was running late, but decided to stop by my old college to see my softball coach. Glad I did that – it was nice to see “Farmer Fred” again. Closing my eyes when he was talking to the team transported me back to when life was so much simpler. I missed my run that day, but meeting up with him and my friend who is now the coach of the volleyball team was worth it. Had to stop by a local bar to get some beer and crab legs and saved the Reuben’s for Tuesday. πŸ™‚

    I have been laughing all winter at the people here in PA acting like snow is the end of the world. Not too long ago, there were winters like this yearly. We just had a pleasant lull for a decade or so.

    1. I really want to know someone named Farmer Fred.

      I’m so glad you had a great and kidney-stone free weekend!

  8. I had cake on St. Patty’s Day! Happy Birthday to me and my grandma! I’ve always loved that everyone celebrates my birthday with excessive food and drink.

    1. I can’t decide if that would be a wonderful or horrible birthday to have, but happy birthday either way (to you AND your grandma)!

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