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. 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.

wits-13 #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.

img_20140311_145924_336-1024x576-1-3 #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.

img_20140311_160017_737-e1395260404406-769x1024-1-3 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.

tumblr_inline_n2edn8zfn21qjwois-13 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.

wits14-booth-1024x640-1-3 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.

021-1024x766-1-3 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.

img_20140315_191749_157-e1395263519138-800x1024-1-3 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.

danielle-and-i-13 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?