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!

My First Spa Day

All good things must come to an end!

That’s been our motto for the past couple of days as everyone staying at our Florida home has been going back to their real homes for work and school. Mom and I were the last two left, so we spent Saturday cleaning and packing up the house and all our belongings. Despite “closing up shop”, it’s been an awesome (and super long) vacation, so there is absolutely nothing to be sad about.

Friday

Especially when you end the vacation with a spa day! This was my first spa day since I’m eighteen years old now. All my little girl dreams came true.

Pre-spa breakfast was avocado toast with a dippy egg and a banana on the side.

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We went to the Ritz Carlton spa for the day (ooh la la, I know), and the staff was incredibly kind (like, sometimes I was uncomfortable with how nice they were). They even allowed my day at the spa to be free of charge since my mom and aunt were both paying for day passes and facials.

Four thumbs up for customer service (I’m counting my toe thumbs)!!

Our spa day started with moves at the fitness center. I ran for 20 minutes on the treadmill and then completed Hillary’s arm and ab superset workout with 10-20 burpees after each superset instead of kettlebell swings.

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Thanks for creeping on me during my workout, Madre 

I was feelin’ weeeeak by the end of my workout, so a nourishing lunch afterwards was just perfect.

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“Bento box” with seared ahi tuna, mixed greens, three bean salad, and farro salad

I savored every last bite of this plate since it was all so delicious and fresh. The price was also great for all this food (look at all that tuna)!

Following lunch, we showered in the snazzy spa showers, put on the classic white robes, and then chillaxed.

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You bet I had some of those yogurt pretzels

I attempted to go into the sauna, but I only stayed for 5 minutes because I felt like a baking cookie. And the steam room…lasted 5 seconds. I couldn’t see anything and I couldn’t breathe. Nuhthanks.

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The jacuzzi on the other hand…

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…yeah I could do that. I’m such a juvenile.

I spent my time in the jacuzzi for a bit, but I dried off and headed back to the empty studio in the fitness center to stretch while my mom and aunt were getting their faces lathered and massaged. I also kept snacking on the complimentary apples and snack mix, as well as the infused water. Alllllll the day. Strawberry-infused water was my favorite!

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I had a wonderful stretching session by my lonesome, and I even did a tiny bit of ballet at the barre. Oh how I miss it!

Is it sad that I was sore from stretching the next day? I guess I deprived my muscles of oxygen for a little too long during my deep stretches (after not having stretched in forever).

Eventually, our rejuvenating spa day came to an end. (Not that I really needed rejuvenation after a two-week vacation in Florida…) We later joined the dudes for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant.

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Rice vermicelli with grilled shrimp and abundant herbs and veggies

Then we went home for ice cream to balance out all the greens eaten throughout the day. 😉

Saturday

Florida was super chilly (by Florida standards), so hot oats hit the spot for breakfast!

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½ c. quick oats cooked in ½ c. water and ½ c. 2% milk // half a sliced banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, vanilla protein powder, pinch of salt stirred in // glob of peanut butter on top

As I mentioned at the top of this post, mom and I spent the day cleaning and packing while also dropping off family members at the airport for their respective flights. We did take a shopping break at TJMaxx in the late morning though!

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I’m season-confused. I got a sweater and three pairs of shorts, and I’m going back to single-digit temperatures in Boston. Spring will come soon enough, right?

A clean-out-the-fridge lunch was in order that afternoon: avocado toast with our last egg + practically half a box of spinach with tons of feta cheese. Plus an unpictured clementine and a million veggie straws aka one of the most addicting snacks out there.

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Oh my goodness, too many leaves in my stomach. But I enjoyed this simple lunch nonetheless!

After a long day of cleaning (and church in the evening), Madre offered to take me out to dinner at Seasons 52, a restaurant we had both been wanting to try for a while. I gratefully agreed!

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To start: grilled chicken pesto flatbread

The flatbread was to die for. Everything was packed with flavor but not too salty— a balance that is hard to come by!

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Mom’s order: pork tenderloin with sweet potato mash and roasted vegetables

She shared a good hunk of pork tenderloin with me, and mannnn was it delicious. I think I closed my eyes at one point as I savored the tender, flavorful piece of meat. Dishes like these prevent me from becoming a vegetarian.

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My order: “Winter Vegetable Tasting” that included citrus farro quinoa salad, a black bean & veggie soft taco, roasted golden beets, broccoli rabe, and grilled tofu with fruit salsa

There was not a thing on this plate that we didn’t enjoy! The citrus farro quinoa salad was our favorite though. We must re-create it at home!

I totally saved room for dessert, since we kept seeing waiters and waitresses walk around to other tables with plates of dessert shots.

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They brought out an assortment of mini desserts in shot glasses from which you could choose. If I remember correctly, they had: carrot cake, chocolate peanut butter mousse, pecan pie, s’mores, caramel macchiato, strawberry cannoli, key lime pie, blueberry lemon custard, and raspberry brownie.

Talk about tough life choices.

Without much hesitation, I chose the carrot cake, and mom chose the raspberry brownie. I ended up eating all of mine and most of hers. They were mini, so it’s a little more acceptable to eat 1.5 desserts, yes?

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Thanks for the fabulous dinner, Madre!

Sunday

Since we went to church on Saturday evening, mom and I got to sleep in before doing some last minute cleaning of the house.

I was also able to squeeze in some moves outside as it started to drizzle a bit: 5 minute jump rope warmup + Purely Twins’ crazy burpee leg workout (loved this!!!) + 8 minute ab tabata.

The ab tabata was 4 rounds of 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest of weighted Russian twists, modified V-ups, crossover knee to elbow planks, and spiderman planks.

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I washed that shirt before wearing it again, promise.

As always, a day of travel calls for overnight oats!

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Now we’re en route to New York, but this time we’re taking the auto train rather than road tripping like we did on our way down to Florida. There’s snow in the northeast and I’m not sure if our bodies are ready for the temperature shock.

I’ve obviously been spoiled silly on this vacation, but I am looking forward to school, schedules, and just feeling productive. Nevertheless, I am beyond thankful for the family time and amazing experiences we’ve had in Florida!

P.S. I used so many parentheses in this post. Sorry, I love asides apparently.

So tell me:

Have you ever had a spa day?

Have you ever gotten sore from stretching? Please say yes.

What is your favorite cold-weather food?

Which of the dessert shots would you choose?