On Saturday afternoon, my dad and stepmom threw Fabio and me the most amazing (co-ed) bridal shower BBQ. It was so much fun and everything was absolutely perfect! In addition to all the hard work from my dad and stepmom, my cousins and bridesmaids helped to make the day a success, complete with amazing favors and decorations. Of course it wouldn’t have been a party without everyone who made the trip out to come celebrate with us. We are so thankful to have such amazing people in our lives! Here are my photos (with just a few words/captions) from the day!
Signs courtesy of my little sister. 🙂
Opening up gifts from Grandma and Grandpa. They are too generous!
My Maid of Honor!
Bridesmaids! (Some of them, anyway. I have 10!)
And of course, the handsome groom!
The cutest grandparents. 🙂
Sloppytown gurlays and our guys!
A boomerang in the making.
Friends since first grade <3
Matching with the flowers 🙂
And here comes our baby…
…and his tongue. LOL!
Time to party!
My amazing friends hung up a bunch of pictures of Fabio and me together, some of which went back to our first couple of dates in 2008.
We had so much fun looking at them all!
My cousins put together these amazing mason jar favors with our names and wedding date etched onto them. Each one also had a recipe card and the ingredients to make a delicious batch of chocolate chip cookies! (I can tell you they are delicious because we wound up making ours on Sunday!)
Then Fabio and I played a newlywed Q&A game with white boards.
We “cheersed” and kissed before we got started. Haha!
Then it was game time! It was actually pretty hard, and we got a lot wrong. Hopefully that doesn’t mean anything about our upcoming marriage?! Lol!
I love that Fabio guessed “Saturday” Night Lights for what TV show I binge watch when I’m by myself. Good guess, honey! Haha!
When it came time to guess Fabio’s favorite Yankee player, I really thought I had it in the bag with Mickey Mantle. Which, obviously, you can tell by my face. Haha!
When I sent this picture to the best man (who wasn’t able to attend the BBQ), he said he would have guessed Mickey Mantle too. Maybe we know Fabio better than he knows himself, haha!
Hi mom and Aunt CC!
After the game, the party continued! Fabio’s family came from all over for the party, with some of them even flying in from South America (specifically Colombia and Bolivia). It was so, so wonderful to celebrate with them.
Diane and Alex were there with their little guy, Charlie…
Hi friends! I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the recaps of what I learned at the nutrition conference last week! If you missed my first recap, find that here. It was a really fascinating meeting, and I’m so thankful that my job allowed me to go and learn so much! Here’s my final recap of what I learned. 🙂
On Resistance Training and Macros
This was my favorite session of the whole meeting! In this presentation, a doctor and a registered dietician from George Washington University (right in DC!) gave an overview of their weight loss center that focuses on a combination of strength/resistance training and nutrition plans that focus on macros.
First, the duo talked about their recommended exercise program, which focuses solely on weight training. They explained that during a cardio session, you will burn more calories while you are exercising, but then your body recovers and pretty much goes back to normal as soon as you’re done. When you do strength training or resistance training (basically, anything with weights) your body might burn fewer calories at first, but will continue burning them throughout the rest of the day.
Strength training will also raise your metabolic rate more than cardio will, so you’ll be able to lose more weight over time and eat more than you would if you were just doing cardio.
They also stressed the importance of pushing yourself to lift heavy weights – while being safe of course – and to always try to improve and lift more than you did last time. It takes a lot of energy for your body to repair your muscles after strength training, and that’s what burns those calories! I loved this discussion and thought it made a lot of sense.
Next they talked about nutrition, and how adjusting your macros to meet your specific needs can help shed excess fat. In their program, they analyze each participant with a fancy machine that shows exactly how much fat is in their body, and then they prescribe target macros depending on your body’s particular makeup.
For example, they explained that most participants are supposed to aim for somewhere around 20% daily calories from fat, 45% daily calories from protein, 35% daily calories from carbs. Each participant gets custom targets based on their individual needs. They then work with you to determine how many grams of each food type you should be eating each day to meet these targets, and encourage you to carefully track your meals.
The biggest thing they stressed is that most people don’t consume enough protein. They said that eating more protein each day can reduce your percentage of body fat even if you don’t change anything else in your fitness routine or diet. Wow!
I thought everything they said was so interesting, and am definitely going to be picking up heavier weights and eating more protein from now on.
On Portion Size
We’ve all heard the advice to use smaller plates to eat less, right? But does that advice actually work? One of the presentations at the meeting was about portion sizes and whether using smaller plates really does make a difference in the number of calories you consume. The researcher giving the presentation has examined lots of existing data and completed a few studies herself, and she found that sadly, that advice doesn’t make much of a difference.
First, she explained that people are likely going to eat almost all of the food that is put on their plate. So, if someone is given a big plate with a lot of food vs. a smaller plate with less food then yes, that should make a difference in how much someone eats. However, if you are at a buffet or in a setting where you are serving yourself, choosing a smaller plate doesn’t make much of a difference in the number of calories you consume. Womp womp.
She conducted one study with men and women at a buffet, where one group was given small plates and the other group was given big plates. What she found was that people with the small plates went back to the buffet over and over again, and wound up filling their plates multiple times and eating just as much as the group that had big plates (BTW – the men also consumed way more than the women!).
She also conducted another study where she analyzed what was going on the plates, and she found that with smaller plates, vegetables were the first thing to go. I guess they’d rather use that valuable real estate for the mac ‘n’ cheese and other goodies! (I mean…really who can blame them? 😉 haha)
In her opinion, the most effective way to manage portion sizes and eat less is to focus on filling at least half your plate with vegetables (not something calorie-dense like sweet potatoes) and then use the other half of your plate for the rest of the food. Sadly, she doesn’t think the size of the plate matters much.
Anyway, those are the most interesting sessions from the meeting in my opinion! There were a few others that I enjoyed hearing about – including how effective apps and fitness trackers are for losing weight – but I didn’t think they were interesting enough to write a whole blurb on them here. I’m happy to talk about them in a different post though; just let me know if you want to hear about it!
Hi friends! I thought today I would take a little break from packing to tell you about my vacation in Jamaica last week! This post is going to be very picture-heavy, so I’ll try to keep the words brief!
Although this was my sixth (yes – sixth!) time to Montego Bay, Jamaica, this was my first time staying at the Iberostar Rose Hall resort.
It was an all-inclusive hotel, which I always love because you can eat and drink anything you want without having to worry about an expensive bill upon checkout. Love that!
The hotel itself was gorgeous, and I loved the expansive staircase in the lobby that leads down to the beach/pool area. This is actually where Diane’s wedding ceremony was held since it wound up raining during the ceremony time (Boo). We were all a little sad not to be able to have the ceremony on the beach as planned, but it sure was a beautiful back up plan!
The grounds of the resort were beautiful as well, with picturesque pools and beaches.
They even had a lazy river!
Our room was nice as well – nothing super fancy but it was big enough and had its own balcony.
Here’s the view from our balcony. You could see the ocean which is always a plus! 🙂
Some mornings during our vacation Fabio and I woke up early to work out. Full disclosure: this didn’t happen too often during our trip, but even one or two workouts is better than none!
Our hotel had a pretty nice gym with a wide variety of equipment.
I especially loved the view of the ocean over the free weights. So pretty!
While in the gym, I messed around the machines a bit and then would complete a workout from the 7min workout app. I downloaded this app a long time ago but hadn’t used it in a while. Basically it gives you cues (and a timer) for completing a seven minute workout. Overall I’d say it was pretty good! At the end of it I had definitely boosted my heart rate and worked out my whole body, which felt great.
When we were done with the gym, Fabio and I would head out to the beach for a little run.
The beach was pretty windy and cloudy on this particular day (holy wind hair) but it was still a gorgeous place to run!
I think an out-and-back loop of the beach was probably right around a mile long, so while it wasn’t anything crazy it was still nice to get out there and get moving.
The beach & pool
My favorite thing to do during the rest of the day was hang out by the beach and pool!
Fabio and I arrived in Jamaica on Tuesday morning, and many of the other wedding guests trickled in throughout the week. Being on the beach and pool with all the other guests so many days in advance of the wedding really gave us the opportunity to get to know everyone. By the end of the week I felt like we left with a whole new set of friends and family members. It made the wedding so much more fun because we already knew everyone there! I absolutely loved this about the destination wedding. All this is just to say that we didn’t stray too far from the pool or beach during the day since we had such a fun time with all the friends and family around us.
One of my favorite parts of all this family time was getting to hang out with Fabio’s niece, Sofia. She is getting so big (!!) and is already much better at communicating with us. By about the second day I heard her say my name for the first time, and by the end of the trip was chanting “Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea!” Haha! What a cutie.
Fabio also made sure to spend plenty of time on the volleyball court with the rest of the groomsmen and friends. Here you can see the groom preparing to serve!
Fabio also went out to play golf one day with his dad and another guest from the wedding. I stayed behind with the ladies, but he said it was a lot of fun!
The food at the Iberostar was excellent! I’ve stayed at a lot of all-inclusive resorts, and I know sometimes the food can be kind of crappy. That being said, I was really impressed with the food here! In the morning we had plenty of items from the buffet to choose from, including tons of fruit. Look how much Fabio’s dad got! Haha!
For lunch we went to the buffet a couple times which was always good, but my favorite lunch by far was the day the hotel workers set up BBQs on the sand and had two of the chefs cook up some fresh jerk chicken for us.
The chicken was fresh and SO delicious, especially with the jerk sauce that came with it. Yum!
Dinners were delicious as well, and I enjoyed lots of tasty seafood during my stay.
The food that absolutely blew me away though was the French restaurant where I enjoyed some seriously delicious lamb (and you better believe after all the lamb-tasting I did before I left, I now consider myself an expert on that!).
I also really enjoyed the chocolate pyramid I had for dessert at the French restaurant. Yum!
What made each meal better was that I got to enjoy them with so many of Fabio’s close family members, which is a really rare occurrence. Fabio’s family is spread out around the US and some even flew in from Bolivia and Colombia, so this was a big deal!
Overall the food at the Iberostar was really tasty, and I enjoyed everything we ate.
Oh, and of course the drinks were awesome too. 😉
In addition to the fun daytime activities, the wedding group got together for fun events during the evening as well. Here are the bride and groom during the white party!
The resort had a number of evening attractions including shows, a casino, karaoke, pool tables, a cigar lounge and a discotheque/club, so most nights after dinner we would all convene at one of those places.
Yes, that’s my teddy bear in the background.
It was always a lot of fun and I truly enjoyed this opportunity to get closer with so many of Diane and Alex’s close family and friends.
By the time our trip was over we were absolutely pooped, and our time in the airport looked something like this.
Haha! Overall it was an amazing vacation, and I’m so glad I was able to share this time with Fabio’s family. Now I can’t wait to tell you guys about the wedding!! Hopefully we will get the pictures soon…
Question of the day: Have you ever been to a destination wedding? Have you ever wanted to go to one or hold one yourself?
Happy Tuesday, ‘yall! For those of you in the US, I hope you had a nice Martin Luther King Day and took some time to remember what this holiday is all about. I was lucky enough to get the day off from work, so I enjoyed a nice three-day weekend. Woohoo! 🙂
Here are the highlights!
Saturday morning began with a pilates DVD in my living room. Although I’m excited to have a workout that I can actually do, I know I’m going to get bored with it quickly. It looks like I’ll have to start getting creative soon!
At around 11:00 am, I joined my best friends from home – Hana, Sam, and Bianca – at A-Town in Ballston for a brunch to celebrate Sam’s 26th birthday.
Sam had planned this brunch quite a while ago, and since it was a long weekend Hana decided to make the trip down from NYC to surprise Sam. I think it’s safe to say she was pretty surprised. 😉
When Hana walked in the door, Sam was absolutely shocked and her jaw literally fell open. Then hugs and tears ensued, and the whole thing was pretty adorable.
Such a fun birthday surprise!
We spent the rest of the morning and a good part of the afternoon enjoying mimosas and a buffet brunch for Sam’s special day.
The buffet had a great variety of food, and I had no trouble filling my plate with breakfast and lunch goodies! For my first round, I put on my peg-leg and walked up to the buffet myself. Going clockwise, my plate included home fries, a chicken empanada, caprese salad, spiced shrimp, bacon, and a waffle. It was random but delicious!
A little while later my friends went up for seconds, and I asked them to bring me back another plate with whatever goodies appealed to them. They came back with this massive plate of food, which I definitely couldn’t finish. Holy brunch plate!
This plate had a steak taco, a slice of veggie pizza, baked ziti, a meatball, a chicken skewer, potato salad, chicken, and more spiced shrimp. Phew! So much food. I wound up tasting everything, but didn’t even come close to clearing this one.
Fabio did pretty well putting away his food, and seemed especially excited about the baked ziti and meatballs. Yum!
The rest of our time at brunch was spent sipping mimosas and catching up. It was a blast!
At one point someone suggested playing Head’s Up, which was a big hit with our group. If you’ve never played Head’s Up, it’s essentially a charades game for your phone. Whoever’s turn it is to guess holds the phone up to their forehead while everyone else gives them clues as to the word that’s displayed on the phone. For example, I had “emu” as one of my words, and my friends gave me clues like “it’s a big bird” and “it’s similar to an ostrich” until I could guess what it was. It’s always a blast, and we had a great time playing.
Eventually the girls went back up to the buffet to make a group dessert plate which we all shared. Everything was delicious!
Overall it was such a fun brunch, and I’m so glad we could all be there for Sam’s special day. Happy birthday, Sam!
After brunch I hobbled back to the car on my peg-leg (Hana thought that would be the perfect opportunity for a snap chat, naturally) and then we all went back to our apartment to continue the afternoon of fun.
The rest of the day consisted of some beers and a lot more Head’s Up. It was such a fun way to spend a cold Saturday!
Fabio and I spent a leisurely Sunday morning at home watching Sons of Anarchy (our new favorite show for binge watching) before hopping in the car and driving to my grandparents’ house on the Chesapeake Bay to meet up with my dad, stepmom, and little sister.
It was a weird day – foggy, drizzly, and overcast – but the view over the bay bridge was as pretty as ever.
Once we got to my grandparents’ house I got the royal treatment; I got to sit in my grandma’s super comfy reclining chair while everyone else asked what they could do to make me comfortable. I have to say that being on crutches (or a peg-leg, in my case) is definitely annoying, but all the special treatment from friends and family has made it so much better.
My family and I spent the rest of the afternoon watching all-the-football and enjoying snacks like popcorn, cheese & crackers, and white wine. You can’t really beat that!
Of course I had fun playing with my little sister too, including setting up snap chat on my dad’s phone so she can send me pictures when we’re apart. 🙂
We wound up staying at my grandparents’ house for dinner and then headed home once it was clear that the Patriots were going to win the second game. It was a fun Sunday!
Monday – Martin Luther King Day – was our day to get everything together and be productive.
In the morning Fabio and I cleaned up the apartment (aka, I unloaded the dishwasher since that’s a pretty stationary task while Fabio did everything else – what a trooper) and then in the afternoon we met my friend Lauren for brunch at Rhodeside Grill, where I ordered a delicious salmon salad.
The crispy onions on top stole the show!
Meeting with Lauren for lunch was a lot of fun, and I’m so glad we had some time to catch up!
After that I did some meal prepping and planning for the week, and then we tackled grocery shopping! Fabio offered to do the grocery shopping himself this week since I can’t walk, but I’ve always wanted to try out one of those motor scooter carts so I offered to tag along.
Unfortunately it wound up being more stressful than fun because the grocery store was so crowded and it was really hard to navigate through all the other shoppers. Ugh. At least I had fun going fast down some of the emptier aisles (I’ve never been so excited to see the cleaning supplies aisle) and I liked that when I backed up it made a beeping sound like a big truck reversing.
Haha! Even with the perks of the scooter, I think next time I’ll take Fabio up on the offer to have him do the shopping solo. Either that or maybe we will try out Pea Pod until I can walk again? We shall see!
Anyway, it was a really nice weekend with a good mix of friends, family, productivity, and relaxation. Aaaaand now it’s back to the daily grind! Hope everyone has a great week!
Questions of the day: Do you grocery shop with your significant other? Have you ever tried Pea Pod or a delivery grocery service?
Earlier this week, I met up with a bunch of my friends for dinner at El Ray in DC.
I’ve mentioned before that my friend Jess is moving to Amsterdam (she leaves at the beginning of August!! Ahh!) and my friend Vic is starting business school in a few weeks, so it was a fun night of celebrations all around.
Since it was Tuesday, we decided to order a bunch of tacos and pitchers of margaritas. Why? Because why not!
I wound up getting one steak taco, one pork taco, and one fish taco. They were all delicious and each had their own tasty sauce that dripped all down my hands. So good!
While we were there, we ran into my friend Jojo (aka Mary) who you may remember is one of my best friends from my old job. I hadn’t seen her in almost a month (!!) which was entirely too long. It was so great to catch up with her!!
Having fun events like this in the middle of the week are so much fun, and I’m so glad I have such a great group of girlfriends who like to make plans during the week. I’m going to miss Jess so much when she leaves, and I’m sure I won’t see Vic too much once she dives into school, so this was great way to spend some time with them.
Such a fun Tuesday!
Question of the day: Do you like making social plans during the week?
Hello from the Amtrak train somewhere between Baltimore and Delaware! I’m currently blogging from my iPhone (why bring a laptop to a beach trip?) so I’m going to keep things short and sweet today. 🙂
Last night Fabio and I enjoyed a nice dinner date at Jaleo together before my beach trip with the girls. Jaleo is a Spanish tapas restaurant in DC that we’ve been dying to try for months, and I’m so glad we were finally able to check it out!
Upon arriving we were immediately seated at a cute table outside. It was an absolutely perfect evening for being outside, even if the fire trucks and tour buses racing by did make for a somewhat noisy atmosphere.
Our server arrived quickly and explained the menu to us. There were a ton of different tapas available, and since Fabio and I wanted to try a little of everything, we opted to go with the Spanish classics tasting menu. This way, the chef/kitchen could bring out some of their most popular dishes and we could taste a little of everything!
Before our waiter left, he convinced us to order some of Jaleo’s popular sangria, which honestly wasn’t hard.
We were craving a drink!
In no time our food started arriving, and it didn’t stop!
I think in total we got around 15 or 16 different dishes- we honestly lost count after a while. The portion sizes were a bit smaller than a regular tapas plate, so we didn’t get too, too full.
Some of my favorite dishes included a caramelized onion with blue cheese and pine nuts (above, left) and the chicken, cheese, and potato croquettes served in a fun plastic tennis shoe (below).
There were also some tasty greens (green beans with grapes and bacon and spinach with pine nut sauce) which I loved. We had some great cauliflower and dates too!
Other tasty dishes included chicken with a spinach sauce, chorizo with mashed potatoes, and fresh crusty bread with tomato sauce. Yum!
The highlight of our meal was definitely the flan that came out for dessert, and I don’t even like flan! Even though Fabio and I were so full after all our food, we demolished that thing. It was excellent!
Alright friends- I’m off to enjoy the beach with my friends! See ya on Monday!
On Saturday I had my first experience with OutRun, a 90-minute “bad-ass, challenging 5K mixed with cross-training workouts at compelling and historical sites offering amazing views and hidden treasures.”
Their words, not mine 😉
As I mentioned yesterday, it usually costs $25 to join an outrun, but Roam Fitness recently changed their policy to make Saturday OutRuns free with the understanding that they would be much more challenging (uh yea, they’re not kidding).
Since Saturday’s workout mentioned it would be a cherry blossom run, I was more than game. Luckily, I had a few friends to join me!
The OutRun started at 9:00 am in the Penn Quarter area of DC. My friends and I were the first to arrive at around 8:45 am, and by 9:00 the instructor as well as about 15-20 other OutRunners had arrived. After brief introductions around the group, our instructor said it was time to hit the pavement!
We ran a couple blocks over to an empty courtyard where we began our warm-up: 30 seconds of jumping jacks, followed by 30 seconds of mountain climbers, followed by 30 seconds of high knees, followed by 10 decline push-ups. Repeated twice. The warm-up was certainly challenging and I think at this point my friends and I all realized that this workout was going to be no joke!!
After our warm-up we headed off for our first leg of the run, which was pretty short (maybe about 5 minutes running), and then it was time for the first bootcamp challenge: pyramid partner push-ups.
I partnered with Catrina and we had to get into planks, high five each other one hand at a time, and then do one push-up. Plank, high-five, do two push-ups. Plank, high-five, do three push-ups. All the way up to ten push-ups! Then we had to go back down to nine, eight, seven etc. etc. Hence the “pyramid” in this workout’s name.
As someone who doesn’t usually crank out this many push-ups all in one sitting, this bootcamp workout was really challenging!! Many of my push-ups wound up being modified (on my knees), but I still did 100 push-ups by the end, which was so. many. push-ups. Phew!
After our push-up marathon we headed off to run again, which honestly came as a bit of a relief. We ran for a little longer this time (maybe 10 minutes?) and the views were getting better and better as we headed toward the Washington Monument. The weather was absolutely perfect for an outdoor workout, and our instructor had music playing from her backpack so it was nice to just soak up the moment. It didn’t hurt that my friends were there with me too 😉
Megan, Catrina, and Fabio!
Soon we arrived at the grounds of the Washington Monument! It was kind of funny that we were just there for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler less than a week before; I don’t think we expected to be back there for another athletic activity so soon!
We also noticed that after more than a year, the monument finally had all its scaffolding removed! I assume they did it in time to kick off the Cherry Blossom Festival. Lookin’ good, monument!
At this point it was time for another round of bootcamp. Everyone divided up into three stations- one group did a duck walk, one group did squat jumps, and three people did parachute sprints.
Megan, Catrina, and I were first up for the parachute sprints. I’d never done them before and was pretty excited!
With the parachutes strapped around our waists for added resistance, we had to sprint about 100 yards and, then sprint back.
Note: The picture above also gives you a good idea of what the other stations looked like.
We sprinted as hard as we could and, if I remember correctly/if this picture is accurate, I think Megan won. Woohoo!
Just when we thought we were done with the sprinting, our instructor told us to go again. Gah! She would say that.
Finally after that we were able to switch stations and we all did the squat jumps and duck walk a few times. The jump squats weren’t too awful but the duck walk absolutely killed my quads. It didn’t help that I did that station twice in a row.
I did take a break to snap a photo of Fabio with his parachute. He was fast!
After everyone had a chance at each station, we all gathered around to some ab work in the form of “dead bugs.” Basically we laid on our backs with our arms and legs in the air, and alternated lowering opposite arms with opposite legs. Phew. It was hard!
Our instructor got a photo of us and shared it to the Facebook group, so I’ve included it below. We look so silly![Source]
Next it was time to run to the cherry blossoms! (This is another photo from our instructor)[Source]
As soon as we got there it was time for yet another bootcamp workout. This time we did some more ab work as well as some burpees right under the cherry blossoms.
There were a ton of people walking and driving around us and some were honking and yelling. It was kind of crazy, but really cool to work out with the cherry blossoms!
They’re so pretty!
After that we took a short 5 minute break to take some photos. I was quite happy for the break 😉
Here’s our OutRun group!
And my awesome friends who came out with me!! Thanks, guys!!
After picture time we high-tailed it out of the cherry blossom area since it was so crowded, and ran instead to the National Mall for one last bootcamp. This time we did some around the clock lunges tabata style, and then that was it for the bootcamps. Woohoo!
All we had to do next was run back to our starting point, which proved to be a little more difficult than our instructor anticipated. As it turns out, the cherry blossom parade had started and it was going down a road that we really needed to cross to get back.
Like, a real parade with a lot of people.
We wound up running down a few extra blocks in the hopes that we wound find a good place to cross, but eventually it became clear that we were just going to have to run across the parade. We waited for a group of girl scouts to go and then we sprinted across! It was kind of crazy but it worked! Eventually we made it back to our starting point after a little more than 90 minutes, and we all gladly hopped in the car and headed home for breakfast (in hind sight we probably should have stayed and stretched afterwords- we were all SO SORE on Sunday).
Even though all my friends were hot, sweaty, and tired, we agreed that it had been a really cool (and challenging!) way to start our Saturday! 🙂
Overall I really, really enjoyed this workout with OutRun and will definitely do it again. I have to warn you that when they say it’s a challenging workout they are NOT kidding! There are shorter “training” OutRuns during the week for anyone who wants to try it out but might not be up for the intense Saturday workouts yet. If you’re in the DC area definitely check them out!
Question of the day: What is your favorite and least favorite exercise? (e.g., push-ups, burpees, squats, etc.)
Happy Monday folks ;). I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! Mine was a blast and I can’t wait to tell you about it.
My friend Kristen was visiting from NYC this weekend, so on Friday a group of us got together at the Biergarten Haus on H Street to celebrate her arrival (I hadn’t been there since June 2012!! Wow!).
Megan and I got there first along with Fabio and her boyfriend, JR, and we wasted no time in ordering delicious German beers. Megan and I had no idea what to order, but JR recommended the “Franziskaner Hefe-Weizen” which was delicious! Good recommendation, JR!
We also ordered a basket of pretzel rolls to start with, which came with a deliciously spicy mustard and a bit of cheese. Yum!
Since it was Friday (and it’s Lent) Fabio I wanted to order something meatless for our entree. We decided to split the spatzle with goat cheese, which was a bit like mac ‘n cheese, along with some potato pancakes.
Although the spatzle was really good, the potato pancakes totally stole the show. I think they had some onions and/or garlic in them because they were SO tasty. Yum!!
Soon the rest of our friends arrived and we had a great time talking and catching up. Beers for everyone!
Everyone had a pretty busy Saturday ahead of them, so we took things easy and left the bar around midnight. It was so nice to have an evening catching up with so many friends 🙂
On Saturday morning Megan and JR came over to pick up their car (they had parked it at our house the night before) and we all went out for breakfast sandwiches at a delicious bagel place up the street from us. I opted for sausage, egg, and cheese on a whole wheat everything bagel and gobbled it all up before I could take a picture. Woops!
After saying goodbye to Megan and JR, Fabio and I took out our bikes for the first ride of the season! They needed a little work after being stored up all winter, so we Fabio spent a few minutes pumping up the tires, fixing the chains, etc. 😉
Then it was time to ride into DC to pick up our race packets for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler! It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect for a bike ride.
Once we got into DC, we were not surprised to see that it was totally packed! There were a ton of tourists in town to see the cherry blossoms, and I felt bad because most of them aren’t in bloom yet.
The ride to the packet pickup expo was nice and easy and we enjoyed the sights of DC along the way. By the way, I always follow Fabio when we ride bikes. I get too freaked out trying to navigate traffic by myself!
Once we got to the expo, packet pick up was a breeze. We walked around the expo for a while talking to different vendors, but we were still in and out after about 45 minutes. On our way out, we ran into Woodrow Wilson who I totally thought was affiliated with the Nationals but it turns out he is his own mascot and just travels around DC in costume. Umm…ok? Whatever floats your boat, dude! Obviously I still took a picture with him 😉
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent watching True Detective and getting everything ready for our race the next day. Eek!
The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler was a fantastic race, and in order to do it justice I really think it deserves its own post. So- recap to come! Spoiler alert: we ran the whole thing and our pace was really good, so I’m happy!
My dad came to the race to watch us and afterwords he treated us to a brunch at American Tap Room. Fabio and I have been there for dinner a number of times but we had never had their brunch, so we were pleasantly surprised!
The buffet had all kinds of options- bacon, sausage, chicken/waffles, potatoes, french toast, salmon, salads, pita/hummus, etc.- and there was an omelet station and pork carving area. I had a little of everything (well, not everything, but a lot!) and it was all great!
Mimosas were also $9 for the first one and then just 10 cents after that (or something like that), so on the menu they were called “almost bottomless.” Haha! They were great, and we all had a few.
It was so nice of my dad to join us for the race and treat us to brunch afterword, and I felt so lucky to have him there. 🙂
After brunch Fabio and I showered up and then crashed on the couch for a while, before eventually heading out to the dog park for a bit. It was just such a pretty day, we couldn’t stay inside any more!
We also made a quick trip the grocery store and prepared an easy chicken and pasta dinner before settling back on the couch for the season premier of Game of Thrones. For those of you who watched, what did you think?!
P.S. Fabio and I have recently started watching GOT with all the lights off and a few candles lit. It’s pretty nerdy but makes it more fun!!
And now it’s Monday and we are back to work. Have a good start to your week my friends!
Question of the day: Do you watch GOT or True Detectives? If you do, which one do you like better?
Today’s recap focuses on my last full day in Bolivia, when Fabio and I watched the parade to celebrate Carnaval (in Bolivia, they call the parade the “corso”). I already told you about some of the more religious traditions associated with Carnaval, so today’s post really just focuses on just the corso, which took place about 4 days after the ceremonies.
I also shared a few photos with you from the corso in Santa Cruz, but today you’ll see why I liked the one in Cochabamba so much better!
Ready? Here we go!
The morning started off like any other day in Cochabamba- warm and beautiful. Upon waking up, I did my usual take-my-kindle-up-t0-the-roof-and-sunbathe-until-Fabio-wakes-up routine. It was glorious. I wish I could start every day like that.
Once Fabio got up, it was time to get ready for the corso! We had plans to spend the entire day watching the parade with Fabio’s cousins and their friends, and I was really excited to see what it was all about.
As soon as we stepped out of the house, we saw a dancer heading over to the parade. Obviously we stopped to take a picture 😉
When we arrived at the corso we met up with a bunch of Fabio’s cousin’s friends, and then headed over to the stands which were essentially huge bleachers crafted just for the event. We wound up sitting standing with the younger/rowdier crowd, which was a lot of fun!! Everyone was really excited for the parade so there was a lot of cheering, singing, dancing, etc. It was a blast!
Most of the dances in the parade looked pretty similar (to me) but apparently each one was a different type of traditional Bolivian dance that all the locals recognized and knew. I just liked the different costumes, lol!
Each group of dancers belonged to what they call “dance fraternities” which sound like they’re pretty similar to the sororities and fraternities we have here in the US.
To get in a fraternity you have to try out with a dance, complete an in-person interview with one of the leaders, get hazed you a bit, pay the dues, and then you belong for life. People join the fraternities from all over the world (apparently there are a lot of dancers from Sweeden!) and there are even branches of the fraternities in the US (the one near me in Virginia has about 300 dancers; that’s almost as many dancers as they have in the main chapter in Bolivia! Woah!) Think I should join?? 😉
Fabio’s cousin Ligia (who actually lives in Westchester, New York, and just happened to be visiting during the same time we were) is a member of the dance fraternity in the picture below. She didn’t dance this year because she couldn’t make it down for all the practices, but she has danced for many years in the past. So cool!
The dance fraternities also include men, which was nice to see. Here in the US there is such a bad stigma for men dancers that totally wasn’t present in Bolivia. I think everyone looked up to the dancers (women and men) and thought they were cool, which was a nice to see. The men were really good too!
Each dance fraternity was also accompanied by a band which played music for them to dance to. Some of the bands were pretty boring, but some of them came up with their own choreographed dances! They were awesome and were definitely crowd favorites.
In addition to the dance fraternities I mentioned above, there were a couple of groups that danced in more traditional costumes typical of what the Bolivian natives would wear. These groups had less intense dances, but were still really cool to watch. Check out this guy’s shoes!
I thought these costumes were pretty cool too!
This picture unfortunately came out blurry, but I loved to see little kids get involved with the dances as well. What a munchkin!
The corso was so much fun, and before we knew it we had spent the entire day there. In between dance groups, the crowd would cheer at one another and have little contests that kept everyone occupied. People were also spraying shaving cream and throwing water balloons at one another, so you always had to be on the lookout for that. Luckily we were at the top of our bleachers so I managed to stay pretty dry. Phew!
Later that evening, Fabio’s cousin Ligia invited us to the after party of her dance fraternity!! It was at Hotel Cochabamba, which is super swanky hotel in the middle of the city. The cover was pretty expensive (about $12 for us, which wasn’t bad, but in Bolivianos that was A LOT!) so it was really a party for the higher class people in Bolivia. Compared to the poverty we saw on our way to Uyuni, it was really interesting to see how the other half live.
At the party there was a live band, dancers, and plenty to drink!
Almost everyone at the party was a member of the dance fraternity, so they were all obviously fantastic dancers. One of Ligia’s friends was even nice enough to show me some steps!
Look at me go! Haha.
It was a really fun evening and I loved getting to know all of the dancers who I had watched from afar earlier in the day.
I also thought it was really cool how one minute the band would be playing a random song and everyone would be dancing their own way, and then the band would play a different song (like one from the parade) and everyone would instantly start doing the same choreographed moves. Woah! I was way out of my element dancing-wise, haha.
Oh well, the company at our table was pretty fantastic 😉
All in all it was a really fun evening, and it’s one I will always remember!!
The next morning Fabio and I had a nice lunch with his entire family (seriously, our table was huge) and then we packed up our stuff and headed back to the US! I think the corso in Cochabamba along with the after party was a perfect way to end our amazing vacation 🙂
Hey there! I’m currently writing this post from my cell phone on the train from Oruro, Bolivia, to Uyuni, Bolivia, which is where the famous salt flats are. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post this (the wifi here is pretty sporadic) but I’ll do my best! (Update: I started writing this post on Wednesday, but it’s now Saturday. I’ll set this up to post on Monday morning!)
So far this trip has been absolutely amazing. I tried to go into this adventure with zero expectations and I think so far that has served me well.
There have been plenty of things that were way better than I expected (e.g., the weather, language, food, etc.) and a couple things that are not exactly what I had in mind (e.g., bathrooms and planning). That being said, I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts from the trip so far. Of course I’ll do full recap posts when I return, but for now I thought it would be nice to highlight my thoughts on Bolivia in general thus far.
Everyone we have met so far has been incredibly kind and hospitable to us. The Bolivians are a peaceful group that like to have fun, and so far I have not seen any acts of violence or crime.
Culturally they have different standards for cleaning up after themselves (there aren’t trash cans in public parks, for example, so they get covered in trash and there are separate workers who come clean them up) and it can be difficult to make plans since they run on “Bolivian time” (aka always late) but those are very minor character differences. Overall I have felt so welcomed and accepted by everyone, even though I don’t speak the language.
Another thing about the people that I just thought was interesting and worth pointing out is that there are definitely different classes of people in Bolivia- those who are native to the land (similar to native Americans) and those whose ancestors came from other countries. I wouldn’t say there is discrimination between the two, but there is definitely a different dynamic. For example the natives wear different clothes (sun hats and colorful ponchos) and work more demanding physical jobs (e.g. the trash pickup I mentioned earlier) whereas the other group dresses normally and tends to have more regular jobs (business owners, doctors, etc.). This is just something that I didn’t know about until I came here, which I thought was interesting.
Wow. This is one thing that has blown me away about this trip. I knew the climate in Bolivia was nice, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so absolutely perfect.
So far every day but one has been sunny and warm, without any humidity. The city we are spending most of our time in (Cochabamba) is in a valley and is surrounded by mountains, which makes for awesome scenery. Every view is picture perfect and I find myself whipping out my camera at every opportunity. The temperature is not too cold and not too hot and the sun is nice and strong.
So far I have loved waking up early and taking my book (er…kindle) up to the roof of Fabio’s aunt’s house to read in the morning sunlight. The only word to describe this weather is perfect. Honestly.
Ok you know I had to talk about the food, right?
The food here has been very delicious and fresh, and everything has been organic (except for those Oreos I just ate a few minutes ago. Whoops!). The one complaint that I have regarding the food is that it’s all very heavy on starches (potatoes, rice, corn, etc) and there are very few proteins and vegetables. The people here also drink SO MUCH Coca-Cola (seriously, a couple glasses with every meal) which, combined with a diet lacking in vegetables and heavy on starches, leads to a rather unhealthy lifestyle.
On the up side, they tend to only eat about 2 meals a day (from what I’ve seen) and usually don’t eat much past 5:00 pm. They also don’t have many sweets and sugary/salty processed snacks, so that’s good. Also quinoa grows wild in some parts of Bolivia (near the salt flats) and the people living in those regions eat a lot of it, which I think is better than the rice/potatoes diet of others.
If you are ever traveling to Bolivia or know someone who is, here are a few other random thoughts/suggestions:
– Many of the bathrooms don’t have toilet paper (and are questionable, at best) so I brought a ziploc bag full or toilet paper with me from home and I’ve been keeping it in my purse at all times. This has worked out really well for me.
-There are a lot of stray dogs in Bolivia, which breaks my heart. On the upside, the vets give free vaccinations for rabies and honestly the dogs sort of look like they’re having fun. They steer clear of the streets (mostly) and run around in packs playing with each other. I always see their tails wagging so I tell myself they are happy. Obviously I want to save them all (and pet them and feed them and snuggle them…) but it’s definitely not a good idea since some of them are really wild and could be sick or aggressive. Seeing the dogs roaming the streets definitely saddens me, so it’s just something you might want to be prepared for if you ever travel to Bolivia.
-The weather changes on a dime. During the day the weather in Bolivia (at least in Cochabamba) is typically perfect- sunny, in the 70s, and no humidity- but as soon as the sun goes down it gets chilly rapidly so you will want to be prepared. I’ve been wearing sundresses and bringing a cardigan with me for later in the evenings, and that’s been great.
-Carnaval in Bolivia is a lot of fun, and there are some really nice traditions that go along with it. I’ll explain more in another post, but if you are ever planning a trip to Bolivia I would go during Carnaval because it’s basically a week-long celebration with a ton of fun activities 🙂
Ok well that’s all I have to share with you guys so far!! As I said this has really been an amazingly fun and eye-opening trip so far, and I can’t wait to tell you all more about it!
Questions of the day: Have you ever been around lots of stray dogs, or had to carry toilet paper in your purse?
P.S. Since the wifi is pretty bad here, I can’t tell if my pictures loaded. Sorry if you can’t see them!! If they didn’t show up, not to worry. I have about a million coming your way in later recaps! UPDATE: They should be fixed now!