Road Warrior Fitness: 20-Minute Hotel Body-Weight Workout

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Last month I had a flight that got cancelled and pushed out a day due to all the storms on the East Coast. The upside was that there are worse places to be stuck than in Florida…but the downside was that I would be missing a favorite workout class that I had signed up for in Portland to keep myself motivated and productive after a half day of travel.

But rather than let it derail my fitness routine (or keep me in a gym when I’d rather be catching some final rays of sun), I created a quick 20-minute body-weight workout that could be done in the comfort of my hotel room. It’s the best of both worlds — a mix of cardio and strength that comes in an efficient, yet effective, package.

The workout consists of four rounds, with four exercises in each round. The first exercise in each round is always a cardio move, followed by moves that target the upper body, lower body and core in the second, third and fourth exercises, respectively.

Allow yourself a minute or two to recover between rounds, and you’ve got yourself a great way to get a full-body workout in before you hit a full day or meetings (or an afternoon at the beach)!

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How do you stay fit while on the road? 

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Highlights from last week’s IDEA World BlogFest with SweatPink

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As I sat down to write this post yesterday, I saw that my sister had forwarded me an article from the Detroit Free Press about how a specific group is sparking the nation’s running craze. And what started off as a way to procrastinate for a few minutes to cure my writers’ block actually ended up giving me a clearer perspective on the past few days.

According to the article, Running USA recently released some interesting stats: A record-setting 19 million people finished U.S. running events last year, which is great news because it’s an increase of 300 percent since 1990. But the best part? Women made up 10.8 million, or 57 percent of participants, the highest ever.

Some other fun facts from Running USA: For the first time in 2013, 61 percent of U.S. half marathon finishers were women. Women also competed in record-high numbers in full marathon events, making up 43 percent of finishers.

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So what, exactly, does this have to do with me heading down to Anaheim last week with the SweatGuru/FitApproach team to co-host the first-ever Blogfest with SweatPink? Well, there are a few insights and observations from the event that I thought were worth sharing:

  1. Women are stepping up to the plate and inspiring others to live healthier lives
  2. We truly are redefining the phrase “like a girl” through actions, not just words
  3. Using fitness as a tool, women can empower themselves, as well as each other
  4. Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be an exercise in restraint; it can be fun
  5. Wellness is going social: Being active is “cool,” and workouts are the new “it” activity

That’s why I’m proud to be part of the SweatPink community, and it’s also why we wanted to be a part of the world’s largest fitness conference, IDEA World. Regardless of gender (see top photo with my buddy, Pavement Runner, who knows that real men “sweat pink”), we’re’re all for the thrill of the challenge, for looking great, but feeling even better. And we’re committed to finding our best “fit,” whatever that may be, and making it stick.

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Throughout the past few days we had the chance to connect with bloggers, fit pros and healthy living mavens and exercise enthusiasts. Of course, this all began with a group fun run, which wouldn’t be complete without a few mega-selfies to document our route through downtown Disney.

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Later at the convention kickoff, we heard from some pretty amazing speakers. One particular pair  — Lynne and Augie Nieto — moved the entire audience to tears with their story. Augie is the founder of Life Fitness, a leading fitness equipment company, and was diagnosed with ALS in 2005. Despite a grim prognosis, however, he’s beat the odds and since doubled his life expectancy. His wife Lynne spoke about their project, Augie’s Quest, which strives to drive awareness and raise funds for ALS research.

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And after Diana Nyad was presented with the Jack LaLanne Award, she walked us through her journey of how, at age 62 and after four failed attempts, she finally conquered the 100+ mile swim Cuba to Florida, sans shark cage. She was once challenged to swim as if she couldn’t go a “fingernail’s length faster” in the pool, and it’s clear she lives her life with that very same mission, so she encouraged us to do the same.

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One of BlogFest’s highlights was keynote speaker Jillian Michaels, who shared the story of her fitness journey, along with some many awesome tidbits of advice during her Q&A. Some of my favorite snippets:

  • “Fitness isn’t about building a better body. It’s a tool that helps us build a better life.”
  • “Follow the 80/20 rule for food. Don’t be extreme, eat real food!”
  • “There’s a big difference in singing your own praises versus thinking you’re better than someone else.”
  • “Empower, don’t repress to get kids to eat healthy!”
  • “Regret is the jump we didn’t make, the leap we didn’t take.”
  • “Every failure is an entry point of learning.”
  • “Work with purpose is passion. Work without passion is punishment. What is the WHY?”
  • “I got where I got because I think I DESERVE IT….we are all worth it. We have to work for it.”

Oh, and did I mention that the entire room fell in love with her? She’s not at ALL like the personality portrayed on TV; she’s hilarious, irreverent and real…and the entire room had a #girlcrush on her by the end of the hour. Including me and Bianca.

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Finally, what would a fitness convention be without some amazing workouts? Thanks to Stephanie Ring (yoga), Chalene Johnson (piyo), Tara Stiles (yoga), Shauna Harrison (bootcamp) and Moe & Caroline (bootcamp), we got to break a sweat between the expo and educational sessions. Here we are doing the famous “piyo flip” with Chalene.

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So there you have it — and incredible few days working and working out alongside some of the most passionate people in the business. We were beyond honored to be a part of it, and I hope that seeing the shots of everyone in action inspired you, as well.

I also took with me a renewed commitment to share this passion via my little corner of the Internet here at KineticFix. My hope is to not only hold myself accountable in making healthier choices and redefining my own limits, but also to challenge you to think about how you can find whatever that best “fit” is in your life, as well.

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How will YOU empower yourself to live a healthier life and, in turn, inspire others? 

No sleep ’til Seaside…or Calistoga

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Every runner has a bucket list, whether it’s to cover a certain distance, reach a specific time goal or sample a new kind of event to keep yourself feeling challenged. And while the first two are usually moving targets (read: works-in-progress), the third is actually something you can feel the satisfaction of checking off the list.

That’s precisely why, when I was asked to join two 24-hour relays — one in Oregon and one in California — this summer/fall, I jumped at the chance for both.

Now, my idea of a fun weekend isn’t exactly jumping into a van with strangers, then depriving ourselves of sleep and running without showering three times over so we can cover 200 miles together… But you know what? I’ve heard that it’s a bonding experience, a chance to make new friends and create some pretty cool memories, so it’s something I’ve always wanted to try.

And I guess now I’ll just have twice the tales to tell afterward!

What is Hood to Coast?

The “Mother of all Relays,” Hood to Coast is one of the longest and largest relays in the world with 12,600 runners (1,050 teams of 12) tackling a 200-mile course that runs from Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mount Hood, the tallest peak in Oregon, through the Portland metropolitan area, and over the Oregon Coast Range to the beach town of Seaside on the Oregon coast.

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Hood to Coast began in 1982 with eight teams and has filled the team cap on the opening day of registration for the last 16 years straight.

There’s even a whole documentary dedicated to the event, the Hood to Coast movie, which covers four unlikely teams on their epic journey to conquer the race. I watched it a few years back, and was instantly hooked; check out the trailer here.

What is Ragnar? 

As the Ragnar Relay Series’ official “run now, wine later” race, Ragnar Relay Napa Valley is set in — you guessed it — Northern California’s wine region during harvest season. Teams start from San Francisco and race across the Golden Gate Bridge, then experience the rolling hills and farmland of Petaluma before heading toward the Valley of the Moon.

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Just as with Hood to Coast, teams of 12 are split evenly into two vans. Only one runner hits the road at a time, and each participant runs three times, with each leg ranging between three and eight miles and varying in difficulty. As they say, “Some call it a slumber party without sleep, pillows or deodorant.”

Yep. It’ll be run, drive, eat, sleep (?), repeat for 200+ miles as we trek through my old stomping grounds. Check out the promo video for the event here.

Two 24-hour relays in two months…are you crazy?!

The short answer: Quite possibly. But you already knew that, right?

The long(er) answer: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious about taking the plunge on not one, but two. I mean, I like my sleep, and if given the choice I’d prefer not to stink up a van with five others as we hang out in our filth for a whole day.

But…I’m also eager to switch up my racing routine, which will keep me motivated during this marathon training cycle. And if I’m looking on the bright side of not sleeping for 24+ hours (if there is one), these races will not only allow me to get more experience running on tired legs, but I can also cross two big items off my bucket list.

Although I’ll likely need a nice, long nap at the end.

Hood to Coast is August 22-23, and Ragnar Napa Valley is September 19-20. Stay tuned for race recaps with all the details as I cover almost 400 miles with my respective teams! 

Detroit Marathon: Week 7 training recap

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This week was a whirlwind with two trips to Seattle (one for business meetings and workouts with the SweatGuru team, then another personal one with Hubby and friends).

And even though my training took a bit of a hit, it didn’t stop me from getting sweaty. We documented our adventures via the SweatGuru blog, so if you’re in need of a great studio when in Seattle, you might want to check out these spots!

  • ModBody Fitness – bootcamp with Stacey, who is doing Ironman Boulder this weekend
  • Ian Fitness – bootcamp with Abril and the energetic early morning crew
  • Troy Lucero Acme Yoga Project – challenging Ashtanga class with Troy, who got me into my first handstand
  • Parkour Visions – by the end of class, Brian had us hurdling over six feet walls
  • Sync Fitness – bootcamp with Jill, whose flow and music we absolutely loved
  • Lab5 Fitness – Roy had us feeling the burn with this Pilates-based strength & cardio class
  • Urban Yoga Spa – we topped off the trip (and pampered our tired muscles) with some hot yoga

Needless to say, I’m a little sore from all the different activities — and I definitely discovered a few muscles I haven’t used in a while.

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But there’s one thing that’s really been concerning me this week: a plantar fasciitis flare-up in my right foot. It’s something that started as a nagging annoyance during last year’s marathon training, but lately it’s been getting worse.

I’m waiting until we get to Portland and get settled to attack it professionally with some type of massage, PT, acupuncture or ART (still deciding and polling athlete friends; let me know if something’s worked well for you). I know that not running will ultimately help, but it’s not quite to that point, so I’m icing, rolling and taking Advil in the meantime.

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So rather than overextend myself by doubling up on miles, squeezing in extra workouts or switching up the schedule too much, I ended up modifying things this week by skipping the first three days of workouts while on the road. Luckily one of those days was an “off” day, but I am feeling anxious about missing the Tuesday speed work.

Other than that, training is progressing well, and I’ve got renewed faith in the program, thanks to last week’s 10K race. My “easy” run pace is slowing to somewhere in the 9:00 range, but I’m still able to maintain the tempo (8:46) and long (9:29) paces, so I feel like I’m on the right track.

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Thanks again for following along, and stay tuned for next week as I close out the second month of training! 

Virginia Visit, In Pictures

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After sharing a peek into our recent trip to Italy (here and here), I’m rounding out the “how I spent my summer vacation” series with some shots from a swing through Virginia to visit family on our way back to the West Coast.

The scenery may have changed, but marathon training continued full-steam ahead — with the addition of a few essential accessories, such as bear spray and my favorite hunting hat, of course.

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Beautiful scenery, and best of all? Fewer hills than Italy!

The flatter routes and quiet stretches were welcome changes from some of our climbs through some of those tiny, crowded, winding roads overseas.

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By this point, we were also going through a bad case of animal withdrawal after not having seen our dogs for a few weeks.

So we were a little over-eager to “rub some fur,” whether it was spoiling the horses next door with carrots or visiting these funny little fellows down the street each morning.

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After our runs, we’d sit out on the deck for what we dubbed as “critters and coffee” to watch all the wildlife in action (birds, groundhogs, deer, chipmunks, squirrels, and more).

But there was one run-in that made me think twice about tromping around the woods after seeing it up close — a timber rattler, the only rattlesnake species in the northeast.

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In between running, wildlife watching and ramping back up at work, we got our hands dirty with a few projects around the house.

My favorite was this anti-erosion wall, which required equal parts brains and brawn to haul the rocks and then piece them together like a huge puzzle.

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Another bonus of being out in the countryside, practically in the middle of nowhere? Getting to shoot stuff!

Hubby’s a crack shot when it comes to blasting clay pigeons with his shotgun, while I prefer to use my 17 caliber rifle for a little target practice.

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We toyed with the idea of extending our stay since I work remotely and Hubby doesn’t start his job until next month…but sometimes it’s better to just rip the Band-Aid and get back to reality.

Plus, I like to look on the bright side — when one vacation ends, it means you can start planning and looking forward to the next one!

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Next up in our travels: KineticFix makes the move north to PDX! Stay tuned for all the details…

Italy Vacay, In Pictures – Part II

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In my last post I gave an overview of our summer travel in Italy — the where, if you will — but what, exactly, did we do while there?

Well, first off, marathon training on vacation — let alone finding running routes in tiny towns with some crazy elevation changes — certainly proved interesting.

But I love checking out new places on foot, and Hubby was game to tackle some hills so we could enjoy the views (the shots above and below are from Taormina in Sicily).

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And as much as we love relaxing during a good pool or beach day (believe me, we had a few of those), we also like to “adventure” around. That’s how we ended up at the crater of Mount Etna, an active volcano.

Hubby’s the figure up top, leaning his full weight into the high winds; I ventured about two-thirds of the way up before turning back around so I wouldn’t get blown off the side of the mountain.

I’m all for getting a good rush, but sometimes you just have to know your limits!

photo 3 (2)Luckily, not all of our days were as adrenaline-filled; one of our favorite parts of the trip was grabbing a cappuccino and either people-watching or scoping out the scenery — or both — like when we stopped at this cafe near a swanky hotel in Ravello.

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And you can’t help but want to take in some of the culture when traveling in Europe. We’d heard rave reviews of the art in Florence, so one of the high points of our day trip there was the Galleria dell’Accademia and its sculptures.

One of the not-so-high points? The wait to get in to see David, which was about three hours for the ticket line, plus another hour and a half for the actual entry from there.

Here’s a helpful hint: Cut that time in half by paying a little more for surplus tickets from tour companies (shhh!).

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Speaking of buying…Italy’s small towns have some of the most wonderful shops.

This linen store had every pattern and color imaginable, and the store owner was all too happy to show us the goods (Hubby also made a friend).

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But the absolute best part of traveling in Italy?

You guessed it — the food.

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With our daily morning cappuccinos, I discovered a new obsession: sfogliatelle. They’re light, flaky, crispy ricotta-filled pastries that look like seashells (see in the background below).

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The pizzas are out-of-this-world with a thin, chewy crust and the most delicately-seasoned sauces. I like to keep it simple with basil, mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil.

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One thing we weren’t expecting was the stellar seafood; I guess we take it for granted coming from the Bay Area, but this stuff was fresh.

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So fresh, for example, that this little lobster was walking around the seafood display case next to me before he was plucked out and cooked to order in Taormina.

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All the produce was super flavorful, too. In Italy, they don’t serve something unless it’s in peak ripeness, so you’ve got to try pretty hard to get a bad meal there.

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And that whole farm-to-table movement? Well, you can’t get much more local than in Tuscany.

One night, for example, the owners of the villa made us dinner, which began with bread that was baked in a stone oven and seasoned with rosemary growing on the grounds.

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Or this awesome meat-and-cheese spread from 13 Gobbi in Montefollonico where we sampled homemade mozzarella and a duo of prosciuttos, one of which was wild boar from the area.

A tip: If you go there, also order the pecorino pasta. Words don’t do it justice, so just watch this video of the owner working his magic to see what it’s all about.

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And as long as I’m on the subject of cheese, I can’t forget the lovely house-made burrata at La Porta, one of our favorite spots to frequent while in Monticchiello.

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But this dish from our day trip to Pienza featured one of my favorite things in the entire world: TRUFFLES!

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We capped off the trip with an experience that merged art and food at La Pergola, Rome’s only Michelin three-star restaurant.

From the atmosphere of the room to the table settings, from the service to the plating…it was a bucket-list kind of meal.

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And last, but certainly not least, was our gelato mission, which ended in a final tally of 15. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

As a result, we’ve got some great memories (and a few extra pounds!) to carry us until the next trip.

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In the meantime, I’m on the hunt for some authentic Italian delicacies in Portland…so if anyone’s got suggestions, I’m all ears!

Italy Vacay, In Pictures – Part I

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If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you may have seen some of the shots I posted from our recent Italy trip with Hubby’s family.

But I got a lot of questions about where we went and what we did, so I thought it’d be fun to do a little visual recap here on the blog!

Our first stop was Ischia, which Hubby and I hit solo because it was recommended by some friends of ours. It’s billed as a locals’ getaway, which means it’s just as beautiful as nearby Capri, but much less crowded.

Although it took — literally — planes, taxis (yes, plural) and a water taxi to get there, it was well worth it.

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We stayed at a family-owned resort called Giardino Eden, and since it was early in the week, we had most of it to ourselves for sunbathing, swimming in the Tyrrhenian Sea and chowing down on all the amazing, fresh local fish.

And although we didn’t get a chance to hit up any of Ischia’s famous thermal pools, we did take a day to scooter around the entire island to scope things out. Then it was back to the hotel to nap some more in the sun.

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Well-rested and adjusted to the time change, we headed to stop no. two, which took us south to a city called Taormina in Sicily. We hopped on an EasyJet for the short flight from Naples to Catania, and settled in at the Hotel Villa Diadoro.

The shot below is the view from our balcony, which overlooked Mount Etna (still active and steaming!), as well as the bay of Naxos. We did a little adventuring around this area, which I’ll share more of in my next post!

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From Sicily, we flew back to Naples and headed over toward the Amalfi Coast to Positano, which we had briefly visited while staying in Sorrento during our last trip.

This leg we decided to wing a bit, however, so we didn’t book our hotel — the Conca d’Oro — until the day before. It turned out to be a great spot, but they don’t call it the “Vertical City” for nothin’; it was 107 steps from from the street to the hotel lobby!

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It was another 578-ish (we lost count) steps down to the local beach, where we hung out during one of our days there. And there may or may not have been some good shopping done along the way… 🙂

We hit our fill of tourists pretty quickly, though, especially since it was high-season and the streets are pretty small, so the next day we decided to escape up the Amalfi Coast via scooter to Ravello, which had one of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen.

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For stop no. four, we headed to Tuscany to meet up with Hubby’s family at a villa they had rented for the week.

We’d all been to this area before together and fell in love with it, so this time we wanted to kick back, relax, explore the tiny hilltop towns and fill up on all that amazing food (and wine!) for which they’re famous.

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One of our day trips, for example, took us to Pienza, which is a village that was rebuilt by Pope Pius II into an ideal Renaissance town — intended as a retreat from Rome and representative of the first application of urban planning.

My sister-in-law and her hubby led the way as we poked around the little shops down each alley and took in the sights.

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The closest town to us, however, was tiny Monticchiello, a pretty little medieval village in the heart of the Val d’Orcia.

There’s a restaurant there called Osteria La Porta that Hubby’s family has been going to for years — and we again frequented it on this trip in the mornings for cappuccino, between jaunts for gelato and one evening for a fantastic dinner.

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Our villa itself was a remodeled 18th-century farmhouse, but the property also housed a vineyard, olive grove and several other buildings, including an old 16th-century church and rectory tucked in back of everything.

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One item on our to-do list was a day trip to Florence while in Tuscany because we weren’t able to hit it last time. But after checking two sights off  list — Michelangelo’s David, as well as the Florence Cathedral — we had enough of the crowds.

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Before we knew it, our fifth and final stop had arrived: Rome!

Last time we hit all the major highlights, so this was a quick two-night layover before our flight home.

On the schedule? One final Italian feast at Heinz Beck’s LaPergola with Hubby and his parents, which turned out to be one of the only times I’ve been so full I haven’t been able to polish off the last of my dessert.

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There was one more person we had to see, though, before we could consider our trip complete: Pope Francis.

He happened to be in town and was scheduled for his usual Sunday blessing in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican; although it was difficult to see him (upper window, second from right) and tough to understand (all in Italian), it was still a special experience for Hubby, his mom and me to share.

photo 1 (7)Those are the highlights in a nutshell, but stay tuned for my next post, which will cover more of our excursions — and eats — while overseas!