The Travel Blog Exchange started bright and early at 9 a.m., so I woke up (before Suzanne!) and took the brown line downtown to the Chicago Cultural Centre. It's a long way and I'm still pretty tired, even though I got a good sleep the night before. The train takes you on a loop through the downtown core before I got to Randolph station. It's just awesome to see all the architecture sort of left there from the Depression. That's one of the best things about Chicago, it's that there's been no unguided attempts at "urban renewal" or something lame like that. Sure there's little pockets of paved-over paradise, but the whole feel of the city remains. The sense of place in Chicago is very intense and completely unavoidable. My congrats to the urban planners. Conferences are interesting beasts. You go to them, and there is an organizing committee and they plan little sessions and panels etc. etc. I find I don't learn much from these types of things, what I learn the most from is the time I spend with people before and afterwards. I think most people there felt the same way as me. Everyone seemed to be twittering while the people on the panel discussed strategies about traveling and blogging and travel blogging. Happily for me, Lauren showed up. I didn't get to meet her last time I was here, so I am glad that I met her. Rob and Ian also came to the conference. I was interested in meeting Chris Christensen from the Amateur Traveler podcast, so I was glad when he sat down right beside me. The room was hot and sticky, even though they told us to dress in layers, funny. After a while, I noticed that there were tables for us sponsors on the other side of the room. I went over to move my stuff there after one of the breaks and it worked out pretty good. At one of the breaks I asked people who want more exposure, to tell me and give me their business card so they can be profiled on the company blog (http://blog.travelpod.com) later. Lots of people came over, it was way easier to do that, than to tell everyone individually. I'd like to start a travel blog network at some point in time, just when I will do that, is the question I guess.
So, most of the conference was directed at people who are new to blogging. Stuff I've already wrapped my brain around since my life has been that for 1.5 years now. Lauren had to leave at lunch, so I said goodbye, and after the conference, I went out with a bunch of people to a beautiful restaurant right in the middle of the park with the giant silver bean thingy in it.
Who was there? Gary Arndt, of everythingeverywhere.com, Sean from Bootsnall, his soon-to-be wife, Brandy freelance writer, Jessica, Heather Poole, a flight attendant who has a hilarious blog about the industry. I was surprised she came, but I was REALLY glad she did. Pam of Nerd's Eye View was there with her friend Travellious.com and Peter Carey of Carey's Adventures. Jenleo from the Los Angeles Times was also there as well as Nomadic Matt. Also, the guys from Irish Fireside showed up. Of course, we talked about all kinds of travel gossip and the internet and blahblahblah. Lots of fun.
After everyone went their separate ways, I went with the IrishFireside.com people to the "oldest Italian restaurant in Chicago". More like "It's a Small World" for diners. The place was done up in outrageous, over the top Italian-American decorating. Glass grapes, twinkly lights built into the walls, bright garish colours all over the place. We talked and talked and ordered our meal, and talked some more, and waited and waited, nothing ever came. Finally, the waiter asked us where our meals were. We told him we were hoping he'd know. He did not. An hour later, we got our dinner. Wow! Hilarious. Anyway, we had a nice time and it was fun etc. etc. etc.
At about 9:30, I figured I'd go back to Suzanne's place to get some sleep for the ride back home. I said goodbye, and got back on the train.
Suddenly, two stops into the journey, I felt INCREDIBLY nauseous. I thought I was going to puke so I got off and waited for the next train. The next train came and I really couldn't get back on. The lady operating the train asked if I was OK.
"No, I'm going to puke."
"OK, go downstairs and ask the CA (customer assistant) to use the CLEAN washrooms."
Downstairs I go, only to be denied entry into this magical land of sparkling porcelain.
"Fine, I'll just go puke upstairs then!" I yell back at him as I climb back up the stairs, being absolutely honest.
I really don't know how I made it back to Kedzie station, I opened the plastic bag I had in my bag and had it at the ready in case something decided to make its way outside of my body through my oral orifice. I guess it helped to be distracted on the way to Suzanne's by the CRAZY drunk lady and her boyfriend going home from the bar.
"Are you OK?"
"Yeahthanksforasking", she mumble/shouted back at me. There's always someone on this earth who's worse off than you.
I started to feel better as I walked back to Suzanne's house, on top of all this, the key didn't work, so I had to in the back door, up the fire escape. No problem, it worked just fine. I emptied out her kitchen garbage can and placed it beside the bed, just in case.
Suzanne came home soon after, and I told her I might puke, but that I was feeling better. We laughed, ha ha ha ho ho ho! Oohhh woe is me.
See you in the morning Suzanne.
Travel Blog Exchange 2009
Nomadic Matt, Michael Yessis, Jen Leo, Gary Arndt
Jen, Gary, Ian
Me vs. &quot;Goose&quot; beer
Waiting with Liam and Corey
Me vs. gross sausage