When I first got the letter saying I was chosen to go on the Adventure to the Capitals trip, I was so happy I screamed and cried with happiness. I was so grateful to all those who supported me. When my parents were driving me to the hotel in Richmond, I was so excited to meet the other girls I was going to spend my 2 weeks with. Then, I said an emotional goodbye to my family, then headed into the hotel lobby. I just knew we were going to have so much fun! When we got together in the hotel lobby, I felt a little shy but all the girls were super friendly and kind. They made me feel at ease for the trip yet to come.
We got our room keys and all of us got into one room and bonded instantly. It was so cool how I got the opportunity to meet all different girls from different areas from all over BC and I still couldn't believe that I was able to be a part of it.
All of us talked about our lives and our different Pathfinder units and what we did. We just met, but it felt I've known them since forever. All of us were so excited for our first plane ride together tomorrow, and we didn't think we could have slept that night. At dinner, we got to know even more about everyone and talked about safety, the expectations, and what to expect during the trip. We decorated our trip t-shirts by getting everyone's signatures on it. We laughed and talked about what we all had in common, the love of Guiding and adventure!
We had a quick breakfast and boarded a shuttle to the airport. When we got to the airport, we signed in,and got ready to board the plane. When it was time to go on, we carried our bags onto our plane.
On the plane, the view was magnificent, especially during landing. We all had a tight grip on our cameras and took pictures of the view. We had landed in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada.
We took a bus to our hostel (the Ottawa Jail Hostel) We were on the top, the ninth floor (no elevator) so we lugged our suitcases all the way up. We got an excellent workout! The hostel used to be a jail, so we were sleeping inside an historic building that played a role in the city's history. The showers used to be jail cells and our room used to be a hospital!
Some of the most memorable things we did in Ottawa were: we got to tour inside our country's Parliament building! We learned a lot about the history of Canada and how the government works. We got to look inside the library inside the Parliament building and the room was so grand! So many books! We learned that the library was the only part of the original Parliament building that survived the fire because the iron doors closed off the library from the fire. It is the oldest part of the Parliament building today. It was very interesting.
Another highlight in Ottawa was meeting the Pathfinders of Ottawa. I made a really close friend from Ottawa and we both shared the love of anime. Together with the Pathfinders of Ottawa, they showed us around the city, the marketplace, the oldest cathedral in Ottawa, and we had lunch together. We even toured around our jail hostel together and learned about what happened back when the hostel was an operating jail. We said goodbye, and I nearly cried seeing my new friends go.
We also got to visit the Royal Canadian Mint and learned about how collector and circulation coins are made. We even got to lift up a bar of gold!
On July 1st, we all woke up early to get a spot for the Canada Day celebrations held at the Parliament. There was a live concert featuring Canadian artists including Kieza and MAGIC!. Stephen Harper even gave a speech (live!) on the stage. It was my first concert I've ever gone to so I was happy to spend it with my friends. We also met a group of Girl Guides from Alberta that were in Ottawa for a trip as well. Together we laughed and joked around.
We even got to walk across a bridge from Ottawa to a close town in Quebec. I found it really cool that we could walk across a bridge to another province. We also got to take a tour around Ottawa and Quebec by boat. The scenery was beautiful.
Then, we had to wake up early to go to the airport to Washington, DC. In Washington we went to countless memorials and toured around the Mall. We took pictures in front of the White House. I felt really pumped up during the Independence Day celebration because Lang Lang performed. The fireworks were hard to see with the damp weather we had earlier, but still were pretty.
In Montreal, we had a picnic with the food we bought in town earlier. Grocery shopping was fun, especially going to local bakeries. We went to many local shops including a place where they blew up glass to make creations. One of our group's favourite shops was where they sold foods made of maple syrup. The gelato was especially good and it melted in your mouth leaving you with a sweet aftertaste.
Then we took a train to Quebec City. On the train, you can see a lot of the Quebec province out your window. I was fascinated with the the beautiful rivers and blue skies. It reminded me of the time when I lived on the eastern coast. We got to go see performances at the music festival that is held every summer in Quebec City. I was so happy to try using French for a change and it provided a valuable experience for me.
One the way home, we each gave out our contact info so we can all keep in touch. We were sad to leave everyone, but glad to see our families after the long trip. I am very thankful that I was able to go, and I look forward to other opportunities in Guiding in the future!