The Best Vacation Ever {Part 2}

Click here for part 1!

Wednesday, July 6th

Next port of call— St. Thomas!

Breakfast at Windjammer first, though.

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On land, we took a van tour around the island, checking out a view of Magen’s Bay, as well as the biggest gift shop on St. Thomas (which is not saying a whole lot, but it is big!). The driving on the island is…uh…thrilling.

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Some fresh coconut water/meat at the vantage point. It’s actually not as amazing as I thought it would be, but it was still as fresh as you can get. The guy who sold it to us climbs the coconut trees every morning himself!

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The gift shop has these “world famous” banana daiquiris (I got a virgin one, which was tastier than the rum one IMO).

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I actually tried this same banana daiquiri five years ago when my family went on a cruise after my brother’s high school graduation. #TBT, shall we?

banana daiquiri

2011

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2016

Oh look, they changed the sign to make “world famous” bigger. And Ben feat. the sweaty sling showed up this time!

Iguanas roamed the island. Think they’re the same ones we saw five years ago? This one looks kinda like old.

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Our driver took us downtown, where we ate some Caribbean food for lunch. Ben and I shared this fantastic curry chicken with plantains and steamed veggies on the side. The chicken was so tender!

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Also, on land, we always found a place with wifi. You should have seen us— at the table, all looking down at our phones. It was pretty sad and embarrassing in retrospect, but we had the whole rest of the week to talk with one another, phone-free (excuses, excuses, I know).

Then we walked over two hot and sweaty miles back to the cruise ship.

We did some more activities and relaxing before another three five-course meal. But salad and surprise celebratory cake don’t really count as courses, right? I kid; it was immense.

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The “kids”‘ favorite appetizer of the cruise: crab cakes! Christie: “I could just have ten of these for my meal.”

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salad with pears, walnuts, and blue cheese

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parsley-crusted cod with lobster sauce, veggie jasmine rice, and more veggies

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My uncle and aunt surprised my parents with an anniversary cake, so we all had a slice (it was such good cake!!)

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…and some of us had second dessert. This was a strawberry shortcake parfait of sorts.

No regrets, honestly.

If I’m not mistaken, we watched a sensational water acrobatics show called “OceanAria” that night. Crazy amazing diving, stunts, choreography, and concept.

(p.s. we also watched a marvelous ice skating show the previous night, but I forgot to include it in yesterday’s post!)

Afterwards, there was a big ol’ 70s party around the ship! Lots of hip thrusting by men dressed up as the Village People, singing, and of course, grooving 🙂 I had no 70s attire, but this denim jumpsuit was close enough.

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You guys should have seen Pop dancing to those 70s tunes. #PopMovesAndGrooves ← this will become a thing.

Our wonderful stateroom attendant folded some towel animals that made my heart happy. This anteater-crane-fish was my favorite.

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This is what I look like when I’m in my room by myself

Thursday, July 7th

St. Kitts! This was our favorite port of the three!

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had to do crow somewhere

We took another scenic taxi tour across the island. At one stop, we got to hold a monkey in a freaking diaper next to a donkey dressed in dreads and sunglasses. Everyday things by everyday people.

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Perhaps he was pooping at this instant, but I’ll never know

It was $2 for each person to take a picture with the monkey, but I think it was 100% worth it. He (she?) had really soft paws.

Next stop was Cockleshell Beach! Ugh, what a gorgeous place. Beach surrounded by mountains = the dream.

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God’s glory everywhere

If you check Instagram later, you can find some moves and grooves that Madre helped me film on the beach! (I didn’t actually do a full workout because people were staring AND I wanted to just chill.)

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Lunch at Windjammer back on the boat.

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I think a nap, rock climbing, and 16 minute workout eventually happened at the fitness center.

Dinner that night was excellent!

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seafood ceviche

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shared some of Ben’s spinach dip with chips and bread

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ricotta and spinach shell pasta (I almost never order straight up pasta dishes, but I’m so glad I did this night!)

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warm chocolate cake a la mode

GUYS. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but this warm chocolate cake was the most moist and heavenly chocolate cake of my life.

We watched the headliner show of the week, which was an incredibly talented a cappella group called VoicePlay (← check out their Youtube channel!). I loved them! I wanted to take a photo with them, because they’re superstars in their own right, AND they might be mega famous one of these days 😉

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Dancing, game shows, walking around and/or karaoke spectating probably happened later on.


Last part coming tomorrow!

So tell me:

Have you ever held a monkey or other exotic animal before?

What is the best chocolate cake you’ve ever eaten? What is the best show you’ve seen in the past year?

What did you eat for lunch yesterday?

The Best Vacation Ever {Part 1}

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…I was wondering if after all these days you’d like to meet. To go over…EVERYTHING.

I couldn’t get it out of my head, I’m sorry. I’m done with that joke now.

But seriously, HELLO! I am no longer cruising through the deep blue sea, but I’m happy to be back to a routine. My family and our close friends were on the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas last week for a fantastic vacation. That ship is a city on water, guys. A freaking masterpiece.

Without further ado, here’s part one of three (maybe four?) recaps of just the highlights of what I deem to have been the best vacation ever. Grab some popcorn if you so wish.

Friday, July 1st

Pop and I had a 9 pm flight that was delayed for three hours (guess that’s a lowlight, not a highlight).

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We killed a little bit of that time by walking through the parking lot with our luggages. This was actually Pop’s idea! #PopMovesAndGrooves

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Saturday, July 2nd

Madre and Ben picked us up at the Orlando airport at around 2 AM. I was half asleep and groggy, but Pop was basically sprinting out of the gate to find them. In my head: “Pop, 2 AM is NOT a time to have pep in your step.”

Breakfast at around 9:30.

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quick cook steel cut oats with peach, banana, and nuts

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sunny egg

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a piece of “banana bread” (a strange but satisfying texture)

3 rounds of this circuit workout with a 36# bar. That Florida humidity makes me feel like a soggy vegetable.

Lunch before heading to Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park with Ben. He worked there last summer, so he got some free park pass perks, and I got to mooch off the benefits.

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There was a 1.5-hour thunderstorm safety closure, so Ben and I were sitting out in pouring rain in our bathing suits for a while, because we were wet anyway (we also forgot towels because we’re geniuses). But we still managed to ride all the slides once they reopened!

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Showered and dried myself with a single tank top.

Dinner at Crazy Buffet (pronounced cuh-RAZY, according to Ben) with good family friends! I ate one plate of real food, dessert second, and then another salad last. Needed to make sure I had room for dessert, ya know?

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Sunday, July 3rd

Early wake-up to drive to Fort Lauderdale for Mass before boarding the ship.

Once we met up with our family friends, we boarded and booked it straight for the lunch buffet. We were a little excited for the cruise food.

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The first of many. Lunches were usually all the veggies, some sort of curry with rice…

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…and a dessert that I really did NOT need to eat.

Our tiny stateroom was cozy, and our balcony overlooked the “Boardwalk” area of the ship. So cool.

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Of course, we had to explore this monster of a ship. I still don’t think I covered the whole entire thing over the course of a week.

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Pop was walking on the track at this time, I think #PopMovesAndGrooves

Oh man, this is where I start feeling sad because I miss it.

We were served a three course meal for dinner every. single. night. It was decadent and so delicious. You would think that I would feel full and bloated during the trip, but nay! On the contrary (ew, okay I’ll stop talking like that), my stomach felt GREAT the whole vacation. And I don’t care about having a flat belly, but it was actually flatter than ever.

Know what that means?

  • I’m not lactose-intolerant (I had so much ice cream on the cruise).
  • My bloating/GI discomfort comes from stress and eating as quickly as I can during my busy day.

Will work on that. But back to this cruise food. Three courses for EACH PERSON (sometimes even four if we were feeling two appetizers, because it was all included ← dangerous). Night 1:

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eggplant artichoke puff pastry tart

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orange “mojo” sauce pork chop

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carrot cake!

We also shared a lot of our food with one another, just so we could taste all the delicious flavors. Classy gluttons, I say.

I don’t remember what else we did that night, but I’m sure it was a blast.

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p.s. when we walked through this “Royal Promenade” area, there was ~included~ pizza, sandwiches, water, coffee, tea, desserts, and other snacks all day #help

Monday, July 4th

Breakfasts at the “Windjammer Marketplace” consisted of oatmeal with some combo of eggs, bacon, corned beef hash, and/or yogurt with fruit.

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topped with peanut butter later (yes, I did bring my own jar of Jif Natural)

First port — Nassau, Bahamas.

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“what do we do with it?”

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mannequin’s eyebrows impressively on fleek

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view from the ship as we sailed away

We didn’t do too much in Nassau except some walking and a little bit of underwhelming beachin’. It was a beautiful day though, and the waters were so clear!

Back on the boat, we celebrated America with some free pre-lunch flag cake that greeted the masses in front of Windjammer’s doors (not tantalizing at all for hungry tourists waiting on line for a table).

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‘Twas delicious cake, I must say.

Vegetables for lunch, please!

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salad, roasted carrots and sweet potatoes, turkey burger with mushrooms and caramelized onions

The fitness center on the ship was great. I think I was most excited about the kettlebells, which I used in my workout on Monday. There were also TRX’s, but the fitness center lady reprimanded me for using it without a certified TRX instructor.

I forget exactly what I did on Monday, but I know it involved kettlebell swings, pushups, sumo squats, Russian twists, jump lunges, and BOSU ball stuff.

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PSA: Stretch, por favor

Monday night was formal night! AKA the night Alison gets into something other than athletic clothes.

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Fun fact: We went on our first cruise ever with Christie and Monica (pictured above) and their parents 12 years ago. Naturally, we did a then and now photo.

Everyone nailed it, but I’m WAY off.

Dinner that night was delicious, but not quite as good as the first night.

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one of my favorite appetizers: “Roman Vignolo Salad” with arugula, edamame, green beans, tomatoes, prosciutto, artichokes, and parmesan

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sole with a tomato caper sauce

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butter almond ice cream

I believe we saw an acrobatics show that night— Royal Caribbean’s original “Blue Planet”. Very entertaining and impressive! Followed by a super late night comedy show, which made me laugh until my abs hurt.

Tuesday, July 5th

We were at sea all day, so we slept in before a sit-down breakfast to change it up a bit. We decided that we all liked the buffet more though (mostly because there were more options).

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smoked salmon and herb egg white omelette 

Ben, my uncle, and I gave the FlowRider a go later on. If you’ve never seen a Royal Caribbean commercial, the FlowRider is essentially a surfing simulator on the ship. There are two ways you can do it— boogie board on your stomach (easier) or surfboard on your feet (harder).

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I don’t know this girl, but this is what it looks like.

A few comments about the FlowRider:

  • It’s a lot harder than it looks.
  • 10-year-olds show me up.
  • Falling off doesn’t hurt, but being swooshed up to the top like a half-dead fish can be painful…

…and it did do some damage to my brother. Poor Ben dislocated his shoulder on his surfboard run.

I’ll spare the image for privacy reasons, but long story short: The doctor on board popped it back in (I contemplated popping it back in when he first told us about it, but…I’m not that dumb). He was given a sling to wear for a while, he lost a little bit of function (guess who cut his food the rest of the trip? :D), but he’s okay, thank God.

After all the excitement, I went to eat a late lunch by myself at Windjammer.

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A few activities and maybe a nap led us to dinner.

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Ben and I shared the caprese salad + the arancini for appetizer

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pork tenderloin with provolone potatoes (*angels singing*) and vegetables

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favorite dessert of the trip: bread and butter pudding a la mode ➔ it was like a cross between creme brûlée and bread pudding

While Madre and Pop were at the “Love and Marriage Game Show” at night, Ben and I decorated the stateroom for the ‘rents anniversary the next day. Ben was the brain behind the beauty of the setup!

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When Madre and Pop came back late that night, they were so surprised and touched. Woohoo! Happy 25th to the lovely couple 🙂


Part 2 coming tomorrow! Holy toledo, this is quite an epic recap.

So tell me:

Have you ever been on a cruise?

Does your stomach feel better on vacation, even with more food?

What did you Americans do for Fourth of July?

Have you ever dislocated your shoulder?

What was the best thing you ate last week?

More content = more questions for you. Let’s chat, please; it’s been a while!

I Don’t Just Want To Be Fed Information

My legs are so ready for this tropical vacation coming up.

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Julianna shared a photo of her burpee knees the day before on Snapchat

At least the chlorine from pool therapy is keeping my legs smooth. The chemicals are basically burning off the [already minimal amount of] leg hair that I have.

This week has been hectic, a little weird, but really great overall.

  • Hectic because of work and domestic duties (miss you, Madre).
  • Weird because of earlier wake-ups and seeing a severed squirrel on the ground one day.
  • Really great because of the little laughs/blessings that all add up. Also, SUNSHINE!

Food scenes from the week:

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nectarine banana overnight oats in a peanut butter jar

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classic ♥︎ 

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roasted green beans (olive oil, salt, pepper, and lots of garlic @400F for 25-30 min)

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overnight oat smoothie with greens added in the morning before blending

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a gigantic bag of kale cooked down into four servings (sautéed in olive oil with onions + tossed in spicy mustard, maple syrup, salt, and pepper — my favorite kale recipe!)

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impromptu baked chicken thighs (half a jar of Victoria’s tomato basil sauce, fresh basil, lots of garlic, baby carrots @ 400F for 30 min, topped with freshly grated parmesan and broiled for 5 minutes)

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leftovers for lunch

Favorite moves and grooves this week:

This Blogilates ab workout. You will be cussing her out in your head, it’s that hard. My abs don’t usually get sore, but this made my abs sore for two days. And this 16 minute workout (4 rounds, 30 seconds work, 10 seconds rest):

  • burpee tuck jump
  • up down planks
  • goblet squats
  • staggered pushups
  • burpees
  • side lunge with twist

Bonus: I got ONE strict toes to bar last night right before going to bed! It made all my muscles hurt.

The busyness and weirdness this week were dampened by the fact that my family is leaving for a tropical vacation, as mentioned above. We’re celebrating my parents’ 25th anniversary and my brother’s graduation from college. I’m obviously just along for the ride.

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I won’t have wifi, since we’ll be on a cruise in the middle of the ocean, but I’ll be sure to share the shenanigans when we return. Please pray that we have safe travels! The cruise company contacted us about the possibility of contracting the Zika virus, so *thumbs up*.

I’ll pray for you too if you have any travel plans coming up 🙂

Lastly, I have a Five Minute Friday vlog today! It’s about how I am trying to more actively stay connected with current events and worldwide issues.

link to video!

p.s. here’s one of Demi’s rant tweets:

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend and happy July!! Happy 4th to all my American friends too! (I was about to say, “May the fourth be with you,” but that’s two months off.)

Goodbye for a week or so. I’ll miss you!

So tell me:

Do you find that you let information/news/opinions be fed to you, rather than read up and formulate your own opinions?

What is your favorite way to eat kale?

What are you doing this weekend?

 

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Spill It Sunday #2: The Most Embarrassing Travel Pictures Ever

Thank God for weekends. I slept well on Friday night, which did wonders for taking the anxiety off my back. I think it had something to do with a) not having to get up early the next morning; b) having ample time to just wind down. Although the tea didn’t do much for me (I swear it made me more energetic), I’m still grateful that I can get some Zzz’s without resorting to drugs. I did drink some more last night though, and my sleep was pretty solid. I also really like how that Sleepytime tea tastes, so it was still worth it. 🙂

Another reason to love the weekend? Spill it Sundays on Arman’s blog! Last week I talked about my Asian awesomeness and Mulan, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This week is all about travel fun facts— the good, the bad, the ugly, and the awesome. Basically, this is a collection of unflattering pictures of me in my nugget stage. With some cool landmarks in the background. Enjoy!

The Big Man's World
I’ve been quite fortunate to have traveled to a ton of awesome places around the world, but these are definitely some of the top destinations:

Hawaii 2003

I used to live in California (I was born in Los Angeles), so we went to Hawaii more often than the average person I think. I lived in Kansas during this particular vacation though, and this was also our very first cruise! We went with my grandparents and our close family friends.

Highlights: Diamond Head, the beaches, the weather, the pineapples, the luaus, fun on the cruise.

Lowlights: sea. sick. ness. Ugh.

Fun facts: 

  • I was a stubborn child who didn’t have an open mind, so I was skeptical of the whole cruise situation, but when it was time to leave, I think I cried.
  • Also, my brother, my friends, and I decided to film the most ridiculous show in our cruise cabin about a Fart Museum while our parents were out for dinner or something. Yes, we still have the video. Yes, it’s as weird, embarrassing, and hilarious as you would think.

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Celebrity smiles right there.

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I’m such a tourist.

Europe (Rome, Paris, London) 2003

This was a huge trip. The main reason we went was for my uncle’s ordination to become a priest in Rome, but we just decided to make a big European adventure out of it!

Highlights: The Coliseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, seeing Pope John Paul II, Trevi Fountain, The Eiffel Tower, Versailles, The Louvre (and seeing the Mona Lisa!), Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, eating Nutella on baguette with warm milk for breakfast in Rome

Lowlights: I got a terrible eye infection towards the end of our trip, and since I didn’t know how to swallow whole pills back then, it was quite a struggle. My dad would have to crush the pills into little crumbs, and the inside of those things were NASTY.

Fun facts:

  • We climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower! I think my little cheeks almost froze off, but it was still amazing.
  • Also, don’t ever take a picture with a man dressed up as a gladiator if you’re not willing to pay for it. We learned the hard way.
  • As I previously mentioned, my uncle was ordained in Rome, and he said his first Mass in St. Peter’s! We also went to the midnight Christmas Mass there, where we saw Pope John Paul II! My mom got her paparazzo on and stood on a chair to get the awesome picture below. I think I was actually sleeping when he came out…..of course.
  • Oh, and we stayed at a convent in Rome where we happened to meet a family who lived in same town in KANSAS as us. They even attended the same church! What are the odds?! Small world, people.

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Top of the Eiffel Tower

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Garden of Versailles

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Sorry. This is just too good.

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Ben at Big Ben.

Puerto Rico 2010

When we moved to New York, we were craving some tropical weather. Since Hawaii was no longer our neighbor, we took a getaway trip to Puerto Rico for winter break!

Highlights: El Yunque Rainforest, MOFONGO (our eyes were permanently opened to a new world of flavor), the weather

Lowlights: None, really!

Fun facts:

  • Our tour guide was a super fun and kind guy named Jorge, I believe.
  • Lizards were everywhere.
  • Mofongo rocks.

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Montreal 2010

We took a road trip to the very French part of Canada that we never visit, and I totally loved it! The quaint vibe, the food, and the jazz festival were right up my alley. I actually want to go there again next summer!

Highlights: Poutine, Jazz Festival, Underground Mall, street performers

Lowlights: It was HOT (see fun facts).

Fun facts: 

  • It was the hottest summer ever in Montreal (like, 102 F!), and since that was like a whole new world for the Quebec citizens, they were all walking outside while my mom and I took weird pictures in the Underground.
  • We had lots of poutine.
  • We passed by a guy named Marc Lavigne playing piano beautifully on the side of the cobblestone streets, and we told him that Ben is also a piano player. He let Ben show his talents, and he actually got a decent audience!

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Well that’s probably enough photo overload for you all. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed embarrassing myself sharing my experiences!

So tell me: What were your favorite travel destinations? Highlights/Lowlights/Fun facts? Where do you want to travel in the future?