Jet Lagging For Joy

by Jenn (eating bender) on April 8, 2013

Hello there! Long time, no blog. I hope you all are well and have been enjoying the start of spring!

We arrived home from our European adventure last night and dutifully forced ourselves to stay up until our normal bedtime. Well, at least we tried to force ourselves – ultimately we collapsed into bed about an hour before usual. And although we both woke up at 2:30 am wondering why we weren’t in a hotel room, we were able to get back to sleep until 6:30 this morning – pretty impressive considering that’s 3:30 pm in Barcelona, where we were less than 24 hours ago.

I may still be a bit jet lagged, but I wouldn’t trade the feeling for anything. The past 12 days have been jam-packed with sensory overload in the best possible way. Everything we saw, smelled, tasted, heard and touched while abroad has left me feeling inspired, moved and truly fulfilled.

Of course, it’s also necessary (and funny, in hindsight) to mention the several moments of sheer panic and terror along the way. Like the part at the beginning of our trip when our flight to Paris was cancelled due to a major mechanical issue found after we had already boarded the plane, and we spent a good hour thinking that we would never make it there at all. Or the several times we got semi-lost while driving in Italy, the land of self-proclaimed “reckless” motorists.

Lest Mama Bender should panic when she reads that last part, I should add that the really hilarious part about getting lost – and I stress hilarious in hindsight – was that it always happened once inside the city, and the confusion always began when we were within only a few blocks of our hotel or the airport. Never on the highways or in the countryside, but instead once we had reached the areas where we had detailed Google and paper maps to use as our guides. Go figure. I think it’s safe to say that European grid plans are not quite the same as what we’re used to from Chicago.

But even typing about the less-than-stellar moments makes me smile when looking back on our trip, and I haven’t even told you about all of the amazing parts yet! With more than 1,500 pictures (gulp), I am looking forward to recreating our journey over the course of the next few weeks. There is a lot to share, from fascinating history lessons to fantastic food and everything in between.

I’m definitely still processing it all, but in the meantime wanted to share these small snapshots from our days spent in France, Italy and Spain. Bobby and I created them together each night we were gone as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, and it turned out to be the best way for us to visually talk through everything we had seen and done – a digital journal after long days of walking. We both enjoyed having the chance to hear what the other person loved most about each day and why – it made us feel even more grateful for this special time we had alone with each other.

Hope you enjoy the sneak peek…be back soon with all the details!

Our first view beyond the train stations in Paris after an unexpected detour through London…

Paris 1

Sights and tastes from our first day in the City of Light. Angelina’s chocolat chaud was mind blowing, as were our Sidecars from Le Harry’s New York Bar – Hemingway style!

Paris 2

Scenes from Paris, day two. Much more to share about Versailles, as we spent almost the whole day there and it was incredible. We explored the Latin Quarter with crepes in the late afternoon and had dinner at Les Fetes Galantes, which was amazing.

Paris 3

We covered every corner of Paris on our third day and despite the cold, the views were spectacular!

Paris 4

Our travels took us to Italy next, where we explored Pompeii en route to the Amalfi Coast. What amazed me was not only what Vesuvius destroyed, but more impressively what is still around since 79 A.D. As the Latin phrase “Have” says – be well!


Buongiorno from Sorrento…

Sorrento 1

…where lemons the size of your head make the best limoncello and buffaloes the size of, well, buffaloes make the best mozzarella cheese.

Sorrento 2

From Sorrento we took a road trip to Rome…and spotted a rainbow over the ruins on our first day!

Rome 1

We explored Vatican City and even saw Pope Francis sing. Pasta on the Spanish steps and dark chocolate-covered gelato were also highlights, as was sitting in the park at Villa Borghese.

Rome and Vatican

From Rome we drove our tiny, lovable Fiat still further north to the region of Tuscany. Holding up a leaning tower along the way? Pisa cake. :)


We then got ourselves into a Firenze-y over Florence. Yep. The puns just kept on coming. The candy-colored Duomo and towering David were incredible, as were the views from Piazzale Michelango.


The time then came to say arrivederci to our beloved Italian rental car. We took a plane ride west across the Mediterranean Sea to spend our last day in Barcelona and couldn’t have asked for a better ending to our vacation. From the architectural genius of Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia to the sandy beaches of Barceloneta, we added to the overflow of memories we’ll treasure forever.


Europe, you were good to us. We feel so very lucky. Ciao for now!

Embrassades, abbraccios, abraçades y abrazos,


1 Erica April 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm

ah ah ah! First off, so glad you instagram-ed. I enjoyed seeing what you two were up to. SO jealous of the delicious foods and amazing site seeing. What a trip! A few bumps in the road always makes for the best stories!
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2 Jenn (eating bender) April 8, 2013 at 7:10 pm

I couldn’t agree more – bumps in the road add character. 😉 Thank you for the sweet comments!

3 Melissa @TryingtoHeal April 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Wow, that is an AMAZINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG TRIP!! I seriously can’t wait to hear all the details and am going to ask you all the questions about how to travel there…because one day I will! AH! I’m so excited you and Bobby had a great time!!!
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4 Jenn (eating bender) April 8, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I would love to tell you everything – and then you can give me all the details for traveling to Machu Picchu, since that’s on my travel bucket list. :) Hehehe – thanks lady! I can’t wait to share more!

5 Shannon April 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm

oh my gosh, certainly an amazing trip, i’ve been loving all the photos :)
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6 Jenn (eating bender) April 8, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Thank you, Shannon!! :)

7 Nicole @ The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie April 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Eeee! You trip sounds SO amazing! I can’t wait to hear more about the places you went that weren’t on itinerary – Lance and I loved Italy and would love to do some more exploring there :)
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8 Jenn (eating bender) April 8, 2013 at 7:20 pm

I seriously can’t wait to swap stories with you! And yes I know I just said the exact same thing on your blog. :)

9 Cara (Twinthusiast) April 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Welcome home! So glad you had such a fantastic time. I’m looking forward to hearing ALL about it. These snapshots are awesome (also, you look truly stunning in them, especially the Sorrento pic of you and Bobby – total world travelers!) What an amazing time for the two of you to spend alone together.

Also, the worst we’ve ever been lost was in Rome when we were THREE blocks from our hotel, so I definitely understand what you’re saying!
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10 Jenn (eating bender) April 8, 2013 at 7:24 pm

You are so sweet – thank you! That Sorrento picture is my favorite of the two of us from the whole trip. I can’t wait to share more stories – and glad to hear that we aren’t the only ones who find it difficult to navigate the streets of Italy. We did the exact same thing while walking in Rome and then in Florence we ended up circling around the area of our hotel by car about five times before I finally went into a business to ask. They politely told me that the street we were looking for was so hard to find because it was for pedestrians only. Le sigh… 😉

11 BroccoliHut April 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm

So many gorgeous photos!! I can’t wait to hear all the stories behind them. I’m so glad you had a good trip!
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12 Jenn (eating bender) April 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Thanks, Caroline! I can’t wait to share more.

13 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner April 9, 2013 at 4:04 am

Everything is so picturesque, it hurts to look. What a beautiful trip!
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14 joelle (on a pink typewriter) April 9, 2013 at 8:05 am

Love all the pics! Welcome back – glad you had a fun time!!

15 Megan (Braise The Roof) April 9, 2013 at 11:06 am

You two really covered some ground! Sounds like an amazing trip! :)
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16 T.N. April 10, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Hi there! The photos are beautiful. The ones of the Duomo and the limoncello are making me feel all nostalgic about a trip I took to Florence in 2007. Nice work!

17 healthy women April 11, 2013 at 1:57 am

hey amazing blog..i loved the pictures thnx for sharing this blog.
lemon rice recipe

18 Samantha April 11, 2013 at 11:33 am

What a great trip, love those pics. Seems like everyone I know is going on extended vacations, Hope I get my turn soon! Glad to see you got home safe and sound.

19 Allison Schnake April 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Agh! I’m so jealous right now. That trip looks amazing! Do you have any plane booking tips????

20 Karla April 11, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Wowowowow. Such unbelievably STUNNING photos, Jenn! This looks like the picture perfect vacation. If you hadn’t mentioned those little hiccups at the beginning, I never would have guessed anything was less than impeccable! I’m glad to hear everything worked out okay and that you and Bobby were still able to have a fun time.

I can’t wait to hear more details about your trip, so I can imagine you stuffed me in your luggage and brought me along! :)
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21 Marianne April 12, 2013 at 1:43 am

Such an amazing trip. Sounds like you had a great time :)
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22 blueberryhil April 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Gorgeous photos! Sounds like an incredible trip.

P.S. You saw Pope Francis sing? I thought he couldn’t sing because he is missing a big part of one of his lungs?
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23 Jenn (eating bender) April 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Oh wow – I didn’t know that but really appreciate you telling me! I guess he was mouthing the words of the song then. There were several cardinals singing and they put him on the television screen for a bit, so I had assumed he was, as well.

24 blueberryhil April 12, 2013 at 4:45 pm

I’ve read that he speaks the parts of the mass that would normally be chanted for that reason. But maybe he can sing a bit if there are other people around to help him out with the volume? In any case, it sounds like an amazing sight in an overall amazing trip.
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25 Jenn (eating bender) April 12, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Very interesting and great to know. Thanks – it was a great trip! And it’s so nice to hear from you, Hil. I hope all is well with you!

26 Hung Branck April 13, 2013 at 6:40 am

HI Jenn, I’m happy You’re back with us :)
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27 Toronto Girl West April 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I have LOVED seeing all your pictures on Facebook – it looks like you had an absolutely brilliant time!!! :)
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