Girls’ World Forum Day 0: Travel and Arrival

8:28 am:  Julia and I board the train in East Lansing.  Due to a last minute conflict, Ali will be joining us tomorrow morning, but it’s ok because her conflict was Girl Scout related 🙂  Our train was on time (even early) so we sleepily boarded, both wearing particularly awesome sunglasses.

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Thanks to Julia’s mom for the photo!

The train ride was great, with all the perks of NOT being a plane; bigger aisles, bigger seats, you don’t have to check your bags, a snack car, and no delays on the tarmac.  I would fully recommend Amtrak as an alternative to flying if time allows for your next vacation.

We arrived at Chicago’s Union Station on time, and immediately found the GWF volunteer waiting for us in her green shirt.  She welcomed us and introduced us to AJ, who would “help us with our transportation to the hotel”.  Little did we know what that meant.  We followed AJ around to the other side of the station, as he responded to the incoherent buzz from his walkie-talkie.  He suddenly pointed across the road and said, “there”.  I looked and saw a black towncar, only missing the embassy flags.  I thought I must be looking in the wrong place, but was amazed when he lead us to that very towncar and helped us put our bags in the back and opened the door for us.  Julia and I exchanged excited glances as we sat in the incredibly roomy black leather interior of the car, while our driver, who I half expected to be wearing a secret-service earpiece (he wasn’t) drove us to the Chicago Downtown Marriott.  It was a great welcome to the city, and we felt very official.

Once at the hotel, we did all the boring check-in things you have to do at every conference, and already have doubled the size of our baggage with all the goodies.  We got t-shirts, magazines, bags, flyers, binders….and these awesome backpacks.

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Lunch was provided, so we sat down in a hallway where a few other groups were also eating.  As we ate and perused our conference info (I finally got to see the Chaperone schedule) we met Laila, “The only Girl Scout in Jordan”.  She lives in Jordan with her family but is part of Girl Scouts Overseas, so she is a fellow member of GSUSA.  We all ate lunch together and got to know each other, and once we had finished, decided to see the city together, since we had some time to kill before our rooms would be ready.  Our hotel is walking distance from Millennium Park, and my favorite Chicago landmark is of course The Bean, so we wandered down Michigan Ave, and I thought about how different it is from the Michigan Ave in East Lansing.  I remembered the debacle about the new downtown building being four stories or five and wondered what it would be like if they decided to build buildings like this in EL.

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Here are a few pictures from the park, I’m sure I’ve already written to much and not showed enough pictures…

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The famous “Bean”

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Because no one has ever taken this exact photo before…

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Julia and Laila

Then we headed back to the hotel, of course stopping off for souvenirs first.  Our rooms were ready, so we moved our now large amount of luggage up to the 15th floor, excited to meet our roommates, but none of them had arrived to the rooms yet.  I left Julia and Laila to settle in and came down the lobby to write this.  I have a chaperone meeting in a few minutes, so I’ll finish up and let you be just as excited as I am for tomorrow!

Please forgive any typos or run-ons I may have made, I didn’t edit, just wrote!

As always, comment, share with your friends, and do a good deed every day, even if you’re not a Girl Scout!

–Ana Cristina