If you’re looking to check out “the stuff” I brought back from BlogHer13, check out my swag video from yesterday. If you’re more interested in the people connections I made, stop back tomorrow. Today we’re talking all about the venue.
When I talk about the venue, I actually mean a lot of different things. I mean, the actual physical location of the conference. The city, the hotel, the conference center, and all the stuff that goes on inside it. A lot to talk about? Yes. A lot to show you? I hope so. Makes the writing part a bit easier.
Welcome to Chicago, the host city of BlogHer13. I’ve been to Chicago a few times, but only very briefly. It was nice to explore a bit.
It was a joy to check out the view from 95 floors up at the John Hancock Building.
If you didn’t look too close, you could almost imagine that I was in the port city of a tropical island with sparkling turquoise waters below.
And then you get into a cab and notice a “Vomit Clean-up Fee” and know that you’re not really on vacation.
You are at BlogHer13, the largest women’s blogging conference in the world. I started my trip with an amazing dinner at The Purple Pig. A place for true pork lovers. I’m a pork liker so I was a little scared of some of the dishes but the company was fabulous.
The conference officially kicked off a day early with Health Minder Day, Pathfinder Day, and Viewfinder Day.
I chose to kick off my conference with a Relax and Explore Chicago by Myself Day. After a bit of shopping on the Magnificent Mile (starting with starry eyes in Nordstrom’s and ending with a thin wallet at Forever 21) and a lovely cup of Argo Tea all by myself, I was ready to let my introvert throw caution to the wind and I breezed into the Sheraton, the host hotel.
While life would have been easier and more convenient had I stayed at the host hotel, I was able to score a beautiful room at HALF the price at the Hyatt Regency right next to McCormick Place (the conference center).
With my greatly reduced rate, I only had to share a ROOM instead of a BED (because, frankly, I’m a little old for that). I stayed with my lovely friend Anne for the second year in a row. Can you tell which one of us is the neater sleeper (my bed is on the left)?
The Hyatt greeted us warmly upon check-in and Julie at the front desk treated us with a great deal of respect and even moved us from the 5th floor with no view to the 30th floor with a view!
I believe no good deed should go unpunished so I tweeted the Hyatt to let them know how great Julie had been (as had been all of the staff including the maintenance guys in the elevator). Not only did I get a tweet back but I got a lovely handwritten note and a box of t0-die-for chocolate toffee that I did NOT share with Anne. Mainly because it was too good to share.
Did I mention that while I was walking around all by myself like a big girl…
I got lost in the underbelly of Chicago. Turns out Chicago was actually built on a swamp and so everything at street level is actually raised.
Take my advice. Stay above ground. There’s a whole different side of Chicago down there.
But ON TO THE CONFERENCE!!!
I woke up early Friday morning to squeeze in a yoga session (unofficially) sponsored by Yasso frozen Greek yogurt bars.
Can I just say how proud I was of me? Up at 7am in a light drizzle in the middle of Chicago for some actual fitness. Turns out rain and yoga mats aren’t a good combo. They make a very slippery surface and my plans to wow the crowd with my yoga skills kind of went down the drain. Plus there were some were super skinny and flexible women all around me so I just imagined that I was rocking it.
I made it to the official conference start for… lunch. Yeah. I decided shower and make up and so on was more important so I was running late and I met up with Daune and Kristin for a lovely lunch.
Only one problem, and no, it’s not a complaint about the food. (Side note: I hate it when people complain about conference food. They’re feeding 5000 people. It’s conference food. I’m not sure Jesus could do much better feeding 5000). But I do have a legitimate complaint.
It’s spelled sustainable not susutainable. Details, people. Details.
Then the Expo Hall. I love me some Expo Hall and yet somehow, the only real picture I took was of the sexy latin dancers at the Shark mop booth. They were cute. And even made the mop seem sexy. Kudos, Shark Mop people. You got me.
Oh, and Campbell’s. Before the conference I had a chance to attend an intimate little (unofficial) event as a Campbell’s Ambassador where we talked about a new upcoming campaign. I can’t say what it is. I’m not allowed to. I’ll just say it’s about soup. And it’s adorbs.
The Awesome Party. It’s not a descriptor. It’s the actual name of the party (unofficially) sponsored by Cool Mom Picks, One2One Network, and Yappem. We had to take pictures of stuff we want to win like this Kate Spade bag.
And donuts. Mmmmmm. Donuts. And all I got out of it was a roommate who won a $12,000 shopping spree. DAMN YOU, ANNE!
But the highlight of the conference…
Here we go.
It wasn’t the great sessions I attended with the likes of Tracy Beckerman and Danielle Smith (where we talked about building community in a panel sponsored by Disqus). It wasn’t the Expo Hall where I got my fill of swag. It wasn’t the chastised off-site unofficially sponsored parties (that really were fun).
It was this moment. Waiting backstage at the Voices of the Year event.
And this moment when I went onstage and gave what looks like my best imitation of ruling with an iron fist (photo courtesy of Meagan Francis).
And then I walked offstage and asked a random stranger to take a photo of me with my big giant words.
At the end of it all, I left little evidence that I was there at all (much to the housekeeping staff’s pleasure, I would imagine).
But I took home a whole explosion of feelings that I’ve only begun to explore.
Thank you BlogHer13 and everyone who attended who made this experience amazing for me.
See you next year at BlogHer 14 in Aruba(?)