Movie Makin’

**We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for BREAKING NEWS**

I MADE A MOVIE!

It’s no secret, I love writing. I even love photography. But video? To be honest, I don’t have much experience in that field. So I decided to change that.

While I was abroad, I had the pleasure of borrowing my best friend’s GoPro and shot some snippets of my adventure. A little editing, chopping, and voice recording later, we have my finished product.

I’d like to extend my utmost thanks to the various people who made my semester abroad so meaningful; from all the friends I made, to all the people I met. To my family who made the trip possible, and even all the Italian cooks who made my stomach so happy. So to absolutely everyone, Gracie.

And without further ado, my video:

 

xoxo, your lil ExpLaurer

Week 5: The Weekend I Went Turin around Italy

All right–well– fair reader, let me tell you something: if you’re ever in Milan, there are two things you must do.

1) Visit the Duomo. That’s a must. And don’t just look at it… go inside. It won’t bite,  I promise.

2) Go to PRINCI and try a bit of everything. I kid you not–everything.

But wait what’s Princi, you ask?  Don’t worry, I gotcha covered:

I know, I know I know. Yum.

And you wanna know the best part? It didn’t just look incredible, it tasted incredible too. But see, my stomach wasn’t the only happy-camper that day. No, not at all.

. . .

Did you know it’s my “not-so-secret-fantasy” to own a European bakery one day? Oh, if only I were kidding…

So while the food was great and my tummy was happy, it really was my soul that was smiling that day. Because in my book, there’s really nothing better than sitting in a bakery. There’s just something sexy about the stillness. The savory smells. The soft sweets. Oh gosh, it really is my favorite pastime.

The dog was an added plus.

But on a more serious note, I really do love the atmosphere of European bakeries. The beautiful languages spoken. The quality of the ingredients. The presentation of the food. The array of people. All of it. Absolutely all of it.

 

But enough from my bakery brain; you wanna hear about my 5th weekend abroad.  Right, sorry, lets expLaur 🙂

Alright, so week 5. Oh boy week 5…

In hindsight, the motto for the weekend should have been expect the unexpected. At the time, however, I went for the good old fashion yolo.

With that being said, let me start out with a little piece of advice for anyone studying abroad.

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Go to a concert; be spontaneous. Trust me, do it.

Seeing artists perform live is a blast– even at home. But there’s just something to be said about seeing a show abroad. You really get a feel for the culture.

And it’s strange. You make this weird connection. You start to see that even though you’re a thousand miles from home and surrounded by strangers who don’t even speak your language…. there you both are, singing the same songs and dancing to the same beat. It’s quite a universal experience, but at the same time a very cultural one as well.

And that’s what I love most about traveling. Those types of epiphanies right there.

So yeah, Week 5 let me cross an event off my bucket list. I saw a concert abroad; I ventured out to Turin for a surprise concert and saw the Chainsmokers. Who would’ve thought I’d ever do that?

What a thrill, what a thrill.

But to be honest, my weekend didn’t start out all that thrilling. Actually, by the time the end of the school-week rolled around, I was ready to just… take it easy.

And hey, all my friends were going to places I’d already been anyway. So I decided to just stay home– alone. I don’t mind being alone, I really don’t. I actually quite enjoy it sometimes.

I’d explore Verona. Catch up on some sleep. Relax. Write. You know, chill. Find a few bakeries and just be still. I was actually kind of excited for my weekend alone…

But then this guy decided to crash my party.

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If you couldn’t tell from the awkward picture of him covering up the extra “e”… that’s  Michel. And don’t worry. He’s not some random Italian I picked off the street; we were in school together. Anyway, he decided his friends’ plans didn’t quite appeal to him that weekend either.So we ended up making our own plans instead.

We’d take some day trips we agreed. Milan one day, maybe Padua. Lake Garda or Parma even. Nothing too crazy, just casually touring nearby towns. And hey, it would be nice to get to know someone else on the program outside my immediate group of girls.

So after over an hour of planning and chatting in my room, we had our weekend all planned out. It was going to be another great weekend and I was excited to just…take it easy.

So I got under my thin, coarse covers, happy and content with the plan. As my eyes were shutting after a long day, I got a text.

It was Michel; he had a new idea.

“Change of plan. The Chainsmokers are playing in Turin Saturday night…you in?” he asked with an excitement that bled through the phone. A link to the music festival followed.

And just like that, my calm, relaxing weekend turned into something quite different. But I’m oh so glad it did.

To my delight, however, the weekend did begin pretty calm and relaxing. It was Friday, and we decided to splurge on the 9 euro bus fare to go to Lake Garda. Not Lake Como (thanks George Clooney for confusing my readers…) but Lake Garda. It’s quite similar to Lake Como, but apparently even more beautiful, or so say the locals in Verona.

Here, take a look:

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It was only about an hour away, so we figured, why not?

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Plus we heard so many great things from other people who had been there already. So now it was our turn.

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The two of us just strolled around with nothing planned at all. No sights to see, really. No prior knowledge about much. No restaurants looked up. Nothing. Just the two of us and our feet, taking us along the beautiful crystal clear coastline.

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Oh, and my four different cameras. Michel made fun of me. But I didn’t care. He’d thank me later. The pictures would be well worth the awkward lengths taken to get them. Or so I hoped.

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And so we just roamed around and expLaured the town.

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It was an overcast kind of day, but for some reason that made it all  the more beautiful. The sky was dramatic and bright. It almost looked like sunset, but ah, the sky lies. It was only mid-day.

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The ocean was clear and clean. Pink rocks lined the shore. I made Michel look for heart shaped ones for about 15 minutes. Really, I did, ask him. And though he’d never admit it,  I think he kind of enjoyed it too. I found two cuties and slipped them in my pocket. I’d find them a few weeks later and smile.

But actually though, the two of us had a great time there, strolling around at a leisurely pace, the sea breeze flying through our long hair, just you know, getting acquainted. Learning each other’s life story. And you know what? Turns out we had a lot more in common than you’d think.

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Well, for one thing, we both love indulging in deep conversation. So you can imagine we had some fun. And we did.We hummed and sang some random songs; one would start a verse, the other would finish. We’d talk about our past, present and future. Stuff like that.  I’d found a wonderful friend, I thought.

Speaking of wonderful friend, when Michel and I decided to go further up the coast and go to Malcesine, we met this friend on the bus:

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His name is Pietro and yes, he is Italian. He actually lives not too far away from where we planned on going. He enticed us to visit his town rather than Malcesine, for he spoke of his home town’s natural beauty. And who’s to argue with an Italian? So we did it. When the driver stopped at Malcesine, we kept riding along, off to Riva.

And we didn’t even mind…it was quite the beautiful journey.

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And a short 15 minutes later we had arrived.

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Drop dead gorgeous. I know.

But when we hopped off the bus, Pietro wasn’t looking around like Michel and I were. (It’s kind of funny how you become numb to your surroundings, you know?) Instead, he noticed Michel’s shoes… grey vans. Or maybe super dirty white ones. Who knows.

“Daaaaaaaaamn Daniel, back at it again with the white vans!” Pietro said with a smile.

…What? What did he just say?? Oh. My. God. I know. It was that viral video that everyone was watching in class the other day. How the hell did this Italian guy know it? Gosh, the world really is small, isn’t it? And oh so connected. Thanks, YouTube, you sure are fabulous. Almost as fabulous as this town.

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And thank you Pietro, for teaching Michel how to be thee most annoying human being on the planet with his new favorite catchphrase; yup, you guessed it…daaaaaamn daniel.

(just for reference…. here’s the video )

Every few steps that’s all I heard. “Damn Daniel…… daaaaaaaaamn Daniel. Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaamnnn Daniel! Back at it again with the white vans!!!”

Oh boy. This is going to be a long weekend, I thought to myself. So I jokingly rolled my eyes, laughed and kept walking. He’s lucky we already bonded or I may have strangled him. But even I’ll admit, sometimes it was pretty funny.

So once we got to the city center, we said our thanks and goodbyes with Pietro and agreed to meet up back in Verona, where he happens to go to school too. Small world indeed.

And then it was back to just me and Michel, expLauren another little town. And boy, was Pietro right. Natural beauty might be an understatement.

Here, take a look.

So we just walked around in amazement of the world’s natural beauty.

And stopped for gelato too, of course.

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Then after a few hours of aimless roaming, we rode back on one of the most ghetto busses you might ever find. Inappropriate etchings on all the seat backs. Graffiti like scratches on the windows. Torn fabric with exposed foam puffing out of the seats. Young Italian boys, being well, young, loud Italian boys. But we, or at least I, somehow managed to nap almost the whole way home.

It was just about dinner time when we got back to Verona. We stopped at good ol’ Signorvino for some wine and made our way back to the residence. On the menu for dinner: pesto pasta. Made by yours truly. Oh and Michel too.

We sat down, ate our fancy feast, clinked our wine glasses and did what we do best: talk.

 

DAY 2

Next morning was an early one. I honestly don’t even remember how early, I just remember I didn’t like it. But we were going to Milan, so there wasn’t much to complain about…. I mean…

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Oh, and did I mention Michel is Catholic? I mean like really Catholic. So it was nice to have him around; teach my little jewish self some Catholicism.

We looked around in wonderment at the Duomo and all her glory. She really was divine.

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Then I indulged in a little Milano tradition.

Don’t ask me why this is a thing. It just is. European towns have too many strange, strange traditions. Like groping Juliet’s boob in Verona, for instance. Same deal. Except this is circling around the bull’s balls…

Like I said, don’t ask me.

Then of course, it was  time for food. YAY PRINCI.

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Then, well, we were in Milan. Fashion capital of the world. So what did we do?

Yes, we went shopping. Oh, and did I mention it was Fashion Week?

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Yeah, so that was fun.

Then it was time. The moment had arrived. Turin was calling.

I may or may not have slipped whilst I was running to catch the train (what is it with me and running to trains?!) and Michel may or may not have laughed at me, but it was all good. We made our train and were off to our concert.

A few pitstops and a change of clothes later, we made it.

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Then it was concert time. And it was fabulous.

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Day 3

The next morning we went to a little coffee shop our airbnb host recommended to us called Al Bicerin.

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CUTEST. COFFEE SHOP. EVER.

I MEAN EVER. JUST LOOK AT IT IN ALL ITS GLORY.

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How adorable?! And get this: it’s from the 1700’s.

I know I went a little nuts too. It’s okay.

The place is known for their “hot drink- a mixture of espresso, chocolate ( the process is a well-guarded secret) and fresh cream,” a historic Turin classic they say.

Everything was just so darling, I couldn’t stop taking pictures…

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Bottom line is, if you’re ever in Turin, I’d get your butt over to this quaint n cute cafe. Well worth it.

So after that piece of perfection, we toured the town. A town that was never really on our radar, but definitely should have been; it was beautiful, even in the rain. Perhaps the rain made it all the more beautiful anyway.

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With the dome outlining the city’s skyline peaking out of the heavy, grey clouds, it was quite beautiful. It’s no wonder the Olympics were held there in 2006.

Then it was back to Milan.

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Before we left, we made a gelato pitstop. Because, well, you just have to.

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It was well worth it too, don’t worry.

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Oh, and somewhere along the way we ended up in china town and ate there and saw a herd of baby french bulldog puppies and the two of us almost keeled over from cuteness.

Ugh, I wish I had a picture of that moment… it really was wonderful.

And then, just like that, it was back to reality…. if you can even call Verona reality…..

 

xoxo,

Your Italian little expLaurer

 

 

Week 4: sLOVEnia

Slovenia wasn’t even on my radar. No, not at all. It just kind of happened–and I’m oh so glad it did.

I had quite the trip, quite the trip indeed. A trip, I’d venture to say, most Americans would never even think of taking in their entire lifetime, let alone at age 21.

Thoughts like these help remind me how fortunate I really am; they help me realize just how powerful my adventures really are: expanding my mind and teaching me in ways no classroom ever could. And so Slovenia goes on my gratitude list (a list I keep in my journal of things I find myself grateful for; from ideas as simple as eating my favorite food to complex as appreciating my eyes for allowing me to see the beauty all around me, my gratitude list has helped change my perspective, and for that, I am grateful too).

But anyway, okay… So… where exactly is Slovenia, you ask? It’s okay, I wasn’t too sure either.

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Slovenia is nestled in-between Italy, Croatia, Austria, and Hungary. All coincidentally, places I have been to as well. But Slovenia was different.

I think my weekend will tell you why:

First off, all the trains look something like this:

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Decorated to the dime in graffiti. And not just your ordinary spray painted letters or characters, gang signs or fowl words but beautiful drawings and pieces of art. It was strange at first, but then I began to appreciate its unique charm.

After three different train rides and six hours of travel, we (my four friends and I) finally made it here…. to Slovenia’s capital:

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Don’t let those clusters of consonants intimidate you. It’s pronounced: loo-blee-ah-nah. Just kind of pretend the J’s aren’t there. See? Not so bad after all.

So when we ventured out of the train station and into the town, that oh too familiar foe named exhaustion decided to pay us all a little visit. He seems to be a package deal with my best friend travel, and I’m not too happy about it. The two are inseparable lovers, for I can’t seem to get one without the other. But that’s okay, nothing some sleep couldn’t fix.

After a well rested night, the morning began with a walk around the town.

It started at this cute little coffee shop called Lockal Bar:

 

Located on (stick with me here) Petkovškovo nabrežje, the cafe is quiet and quaint; its gives off this strange feeling of comfort and camaraderie that almost any traveller would appreciate.

The shop is open 07:30-24:00 and though they don’t have a website,  here’s more information about them from TripAdvisor if you’re interested in checking them out. I’d recommend it for sure.

Their warm flakey croissants are filled with fresh marmalade while their hot chocolate is so thick, you’d think you’re eating pudding. Both delicious and divine, and I’m not just saying that. I ordered two croissants since the first was so good… but are you even surprised?

Speaking of good food, after breakfast we walked over this bridge with love locks like Paris and stumbled upon a market in the center of town.

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Here’s a little taste of the extremely local Slovenian experience:

 

After that lovely sales pitch, we found a jewelry vendor who was a little more my style. Not crazy, but kind.

I even bought myself a ring from him. Oh, and I got my mom a present. He made all the jewelry displayed and explained the significance behind the design/stones of the piece I picked out:

(MOM DO NOT WATCH THIS, unless you want to see your gift before I give it to you!)

 

After roaming around a bit more we found this sweet, little apple man who didn’t speak much English at all:

Language barriers are tough, you can’t really go wrong with hand gestures but we were still lucky he was so sweet.

The weather was getting chillier by the minute, standing out there in the morning breeze. Lucky for us, however, the market continued inside.

Being the bakery coinossiour that I am, I was, of course, attracted to this particular section of the market: the bakery.

Contrasting this young guy to the older man selling apples, it’s easy to see how globalization and English is spreading across younger generations. I appreciated his impeccable English because he helped me pick out which dessert to try.

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It was a little buckwheat cookie with raspberry filling shaped like a heart. It was adorable and I enjoyed it. Although to be honest, it was more enjoyable to look at than eat.

Then we ventured to this chapel where we found this beauty, and an unexpected friend.

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Sitting quietly inside the chapels doors, was a calligrapher and his young daughter.

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He saw us admiring the chapel’s ceiling and asked us where we were from. Answering America led to much discussion and next thing I knew he was writing down all of our names and these latin sayings that I liked to call “fortunes” for everyone in his beautiful, perfected craft.

My fortune was this:

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Love conquers all, it says. Being the romantic that I am, I began to think this really was my fortune.

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I talked to him to him for over an hour and got so close that he even let me do this:

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It was fun to say the least.

Then we wandered around the beautiful town just a bit more

 

Went up to an ancient castle, shopped, ate (of course), and eventually found our way back home.

Home, let me mention was an apartment complex we found through airbnb. The small room with two beds, a couch, a kitchen and a shower were great for what we needed. The twist, however, was that in order to use the toilet, you had to go out of the apartment, into the main hallway, which was shared with the owner’s mother. She was a mystery, for we only saw her head peak out from the door at times, but never any more. I was actually kind of sad, because I think it would have been fun to talk to her as well. But I guess I had met enough Slovenians for the day.

And just like that Slovenia Day 1 was over and Slovenia day 2 was about to begin.

Day 2 was taken over by a day  trip to one of Slovenia’s more famous and popular attractions: Lake Bled.

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Obscure name I know, but it’s beauty couldn’t be argued with.

There was a beautiful, fantasy-like church out on the middle of an island in the lake.

At first, we just admired from afar on the dock.

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It was serene and sunny and silent. Just the birds chirping and families playing, dogs roaming around. Alright, so not silent at all, but my mind was still like the water, and once again, I had yet another thing to add to my gratitude list.

Then we decided to get a closer look at the beautiful church…. and yes, this is going exactly where you think it’s going….

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Yes, indeed. We took a little row boat all by ourselves. Five girls, one boat, and a whole lot of confusion. Turns out they elected me, or rather I happened to sit exactly where the “rower” sits. That means I was the entire boats man power. Funny thing is, however, is that I have never rowed a boat in my life, and other than watching the canoe scene of the notebook about 100 times, I had no idea how to even begin rowing a boat…

I guess something went wrong in my childhood, but there I was, at 21, flustered and holding the paddles the wrong way going negative miles per hour toward the itty bitty church in the distance.

We decided to switch and put others in charge. Ergo, I was fired as the rower. Oops.

Once I had my hands free, I did manage to capture a bit of the ride a little later on.

Here’s a tiny clip:

 

Once we slowly managed to make our way over to the island, we walked up old steps made of earth, all the way up to the church.

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Once we were up there, a few euros and a gift store later, we saw the church and it was basically the same as we saw before from the dock. Not that much exciting going on in the inside, but it was an fun experience nonetheless.

It was cold and we were paying for the boat by the hour, so we didn’t spend much time out there and made our way back to town.

After returning home, we made it out to this SUPER HIPSTER part of town. There’s not many words to describe it so I’ll just show you my pictures, first.

 

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It’s called Metelkova Mesto, and quite an interesting form of an “urban squat town” as the place is called. The location used to be an old army base, filled with barracks and all.

The Guardian has this to say about the hipster town on the rise:

“Sprawled across 12,500 sq m of an abandoned army base, the self-proclaimed city has become the leading centre of underground music and art in the region. Vivid, cracked-tile mosaics adorn the walls of the complex’s galleries and studios; rusty sculptures, fashioned from broken bike frames and upturned oil drums, cover its concrete gardens. And at night thousands of students and artists congregate to revel in its streets and bars.”

And yes, we did go out here at night to experience what it would be like to be a part of the scene. It was honestly one of the most unique experiences I have ever had. People of all ages, as young as high school and as old as mid- 40’s gathered in the abandoned barracks where loud music was accompanied by dark rooms. People were drinking and smoking, dancing and singing all around. There were clear signs stating no smoking allowed, but they didn’t seem to care. Kids were roaming from barrack to barrack, a different feel and scene in each one of seven. One was themed like an arcade, while another was simple with just music and lights a bar and a stage.

I had a bit of a weird creepy feeling while being here. I didn’t feel like I was still in 2016 or even on planet earth to be quite honest.

With seven buildings and 12,500 m² of artistic freedom and Slovenian history, I would definitely say this site is a must-see when visiting Slovenia.

Here’s an interesting article about it from the Guardian if you’re interested in further reading. It’s history is actually quite cool.

So that was my night.

The next morning we had THE BEST PANCAKES EVER at this restaurant called Makalonca located right in the center of town at (stay with me again)  Hribarjevo nabrežje 19 1000 Ljubljana. 

What makes this restaurant special is they not only have  nutella and delicious combinations of pancakes all day/night long, but they also have most of their seating outdoors overlooking the beautiful town and river.

Our last morning in the city, there was sun shine. So we took full advantage of the opportunity at hand.

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I had apple crumble pancakes and they were amazing. You can find out more about the restaurant here but yet again, they don’t have their own website. But trust me, it was well worth it.

And just like that, as my pancakes winded down, so did my trip. So with a full and happy stomach, I had said bye to  the land of the dragons (their mascot on every corner, trash can, sewer sign, window, gift shop, post card, gate opening, statue, etc.)

Until next time sLOVEnia,

your cool calligrapher, failed boat-rower, Slovenian hipster-in-training, Lauren

 

Week 3: Across the pond…again

In the yellowish, orange world outside my window, rays of sun seep through the trees’ bare branches. It’s 4:00 P.M. and I have two more hours on this train. Streaks of white-lined clouds let me know an airplane has flown by recently. Oh look, there’s one now. That’ll be you soon, up there in the air, going on yet another adventure.

On this weekend’s agenda: England. A place I hold near and dear to my heart. A place I haven’t seen since 2012, back when I studied at the University of Cambridge; I’ve been dreaming of the day I would return – and that day has finally arrived. That day is now.

So much has happened since I left on that cool summer’s day: I’ve grown older, wiser, stronger. I’ve been on top of the world and at rock bottom. And now I’m here. Going back again, to revisit my most sacred memories. I wonder what will come back and what will simply just fade away. Funny how memories can do that.

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I’ll go back and see where I fell in love. Not necessarily with a boy, but with an experience. Back where my mind was expanded by my close friends from almost every corner of the world. Like Nikki, from Dubai. And Puja. Well Puja, she’s a little more complicated. She was born in New Zealand and has lived in Singapore, Australia, and Mumbai since then. And they are just two examples. Needless to say, I’ve learned quite a lot from all of them.

Cambridge was, and still is, somewhere I consider home; it’s my happy place. A place where I feel as though almost nothing can go wrong.

Getting off the plane to go meet Nikki and Puja, I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. After all, I haven’t seen these girls in four years. Things could have changed. But they didn’t. No, not at all.

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It was still the same; just as vibrant and wonderful as when I left it. In that split second of seeing them after so long, the sheer joy in all our faces, oh, it just doesn’t get much better than that, my friend. It just doesn’t. Within seconds of finding each other from across the room, Nikki sprinted across the square and fell directly into my tired arms. That moment was better than I imagined, and trust me, I’m quite the fantasizer. They even brought me a hot chocolate– just because they remembered I loved it. And in that moment I knew I had quite the weekend ahead of me.

And I sure did.

We sat speechless with a mixture of pure bliss and disbelief as we headed home to Nikki’s. Were we really all sitting across from each other in real life? Was this really happening? Were we really going back to Cambridge tomorrow? Yes. It was real this time.

Though it was difficult to not talk all night, we fell asleep and woke up to a morning where  Cambridge was on the agenda. BEST DAY EVER.

So we made our way over to the train station and ordered breakfast; we realized too late, however, that they were too slow. It was taking years to prepare our simple order of an egg and bacon biscuit…and we had exactly 1 minute till take off. Shoot.

So there I was, running, yet again to another train. We somehow made it, don’t ask me how. And just like that, we were off. Off to our past and future all at the same time. It was a 3 hour journey but the time flew effortlessly. We had a lot to catch up on, us three. We caught up on life and school and parents and boys and siblings and futures fears and accomplishments. How much has changed since we were last together. Yet ah, how much  was the same.

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Cambridge was exactly how we left it. The college, the crepe stand, coffee shops, tea spots, the scenery, all of it. And it was incredible. The memories flowed back to us all. Do you remember that time when….
Omg remember…..
We laughed, reminisced and made new memories all at the same time.

Going back to where we used to live, at Jesus College, was quite the trip down memory lane.

I think Nikki’s reaction says it all…

So many memories on that quad. In those rooms. In that town.

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Amongst some of the best memories, is this:

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Ah yes, Cambridge Crepes. But you see, this is no ordinary crepe stand–or crepe alone for that matter. This crepe stand was the epitome of my existence four years ago. The food at the college, in a typical English fashion, well, sucked. Atrociously awful. So, what did 17-year-old Lauren do? She went to see her good old friend John, the crepe man–EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

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There was just something about these crepes. I haven’t had one as good ever since. Until now, when I returned, of course. And the best part was…. there was John. Right where I left him. Making the best crepes this world has ever known.

And you know what? He remembered us.

He seriously remembered us. We came up to the light blue stand, sitting quietly in the exact same spot, and smiled. After a few seconds of staring, AH YES! HELLO! YOU’RE BACK! From Cambridge 2012?!!

Don’t believe me?

How he remembered the date is beyond me. But the fact that he did made us all smile. Clearly we had made just as much an impact on him that he made on us. We chatted and caught up while he made our favorite flat pancakes stuffed with whatever delicacies we desired; my heart was happy.

Speaking of making my heart happy… our next stop did just the same.

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Clowns. Yes, the coffee shop is called Clowns, and like the Cambridge Crepe stand, we ventured out to this little hole in the wall cafe just about every other day. Our favorite? Their hot chocolate. With the smoothest, creamiest whipped cream you’ve ever tasted spiraling on top of the warm, tasty chocolate.

Once again, I think Nikki’s face says it all…

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Next on our list, King’s College.

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A place of such beauty and grace within the old college town. It’s in the city’s heart, for King’s College is one of Cambridge’s most iconic sites.

Our memories continued to flow just as our conversations until we eventually decided to continue our nostalgic food tour of Cambridge.

This time, it was Auntie’s Tea Shop.

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A classic English tradition we just couldn’t pass up on while being there. On the menu today: scones with jam and cream as well as English Breakfast Tea with cream and sugar. Exactly as I ordered it four years ago.

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After walking around a bit more and expLauren, it was time to say goodbye to Cambridge once again.

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And hello to London

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If you’ve never been on the Tube, here’s what the experience is like:

Then we found this cool viewpoint:

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Though I had been in London once before, I had yet to see one of its most famous sites: Buckingham Palace. So that’s exactly what we did next.

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For as much of an England supporter as I am, to be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed with the whole thing. I mean, it was beautiful don’t get me wrong….

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But I couldn’t help thinking just how warn and dreary it seemed to look; maybe it was just a bad hair day for the Palace.

Did I mention it was raining all day? Typical. Oh and harsh winds. So harsh and cold to the point where we had to constantly pop into coffee shops just to stay warm and defrost.

But it was fun nonetheless. And definitely worth the trip out there.

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One of my favorite parts actually, was quite unexpected: China Town. We had come right at the time of the Chinese new year, so the place was decorated to the nines.

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Absolutely stunning. If it wasn’t so blistering cold and borderline miserable, I think we would have stayed longer. But you can only handle so much.

So a quick trip to Nando’s later, we decided to hop on the next train home.

And just like that, my weekend had come to a close.

Saying goodbye to Nikki and Puja that next morning was, well.. insanely difficult.

Until next time, ladies. Thanks for everything ❤

yours,

a bittersweet Lauren

Week 2: AmsterDAMN

Call me an awful American, but this weekend was not filled with football. Sorry Superbowl X-something something, I had other plans. But don’t fret, what I did was well worth it, trust me.

This week’s big adventure: Amsterdam. A place known for its, well, unique culture… And as for me, it’s one of the few more-famous cities in Europe that I have yet to visit (up until a few days ago at least). So naturally, this place was in my top 5 wanderlust wish-list. Yes, I do have one of those, please don’t judge me. What can I say, so many places, so little time. My new mission is to make it to 30 countries before I turn 30, but that’s a whole other story.

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Let me start backwards as I did before, and begin with my plane ride to Amsterdam.

Normally, I wouldn’t really mention the ride over; they’re usually all the same: reading books, watching movies and listening to the same 5 songs on repeat. But this time was different—this time I met a guy. But don’t worry, this isn’t going where you think it’s going, I promise. No love story here– though he did call me “bella” on several occasions, but hey, that’s just what they do here.

His name is Robbie and he taught me my new favorite Italian word: allegria. The word literally means cheerfulness (or so says Google Translate) but Robbie explained it a little differently; the way he explained it, he said that allegria means loving the life you live; enjoying; being happy. He said I had allegria. Best compliment of the year.

Here’s what he had to say:

 

(Sorry for the picture quality, the plane lighting wasn’t ideal, but I thought it’s better to let you put a face to a name)

Anyway, so then Robbie gave me some tips on what to do in Amsterdam, and among his many ideas, he said to make sure to visit the Van Gogh museum; ever since he uttered the words Van Gogh, he kept joyfully singing the same line of “Stary, stary night” by Don McLean, over and over, with his mix of Italian and Dutch accent. It was funny.

Oh and I haven’t even told you the best part! He’s a photographer based in Amsterdam, so we bonded over the fact that I literally had 4 different cameras in my purse (my Canon, polaroid, GoPro and of course, my phone). He gave me his card and said if I ever get lost or need help to give him a call.

Little did he know how lost we would get. Like literally so lost to the point where we almost ended up in Belgium. I’m not even kidding. Belgium.

But before the Belgium fiasco, I got this.

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It basically let me go to museums, ride the public transport, and go on a canal ride all in one fowl swoop. I’d say it was pretty worth it. If you’re going to Amsterdam anytime soon, I’d recommend checking out this website and think about getting a pass. But anyway, back to the Belgium story:

After we landed, my five friends and I wanted to do what any ordinary group of 20-somethings would want to do: go to our hostel and SLEEP. A simple request, right? I’d say so. But ah, traveling is never simple.

We were supposed to just hop on the subway, wait a few stops, get on a tram and then vwala, our hostel. Except there was a problem: there was a jumper. It took me a few seconds for that word to register; it made you stop and think for a minute about how insignificant your problems really are. But then we had to move on–keep going. So we asked a guard for directions and she told us to run–a phrase I would begin to hear more and more often as the weekend went on.

Huffing and puffing we barely made it before the subway doors closed; but we made it, and all was well again… or so we thought. Turns out we were going the wrong way. We were supposed to get off and transfer but that wasn’t so clear. So off we went, away from Amsterdam and toward the Eastern Netherlands. By the time we realized, we ran off, and found yet again, another guard.

“You are very VERY far from Amsterdam. This is East Netherlands. A few more stops you would have ended up in Belgium…. follow me, there is a train now…you must RUN,” she said, in her harsh, worried Dutch tone. As we ran with our backpacks flopping from side to side, our feet climbing two, three stairs at a time, we got back up to the platform only to see a train whip right passed our out-of-breath bodies.

All right, so we missed that train too. Now what? Well, it was the security woman to the rescue. Gosh, I don’t even remember her name. She told us there was another tram in about 25 minutes. She would wait with us until it arrived. Bless her, seriously, bless her.

She warned us to run, or at least very very quickly walk, once we arrived at the Amsterdam station–it was after midnight and not the safest place for a group of young girls to be roaming around at night.

But my brain was still on the jumper. So, I asked. Is this a common occurrence? How often do you see “jumpers” or people of the sorts?

“Once, maybe twice…” oh okay, twice a year, that’s not so bad, alright….. “a day,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone.

Oh.

Once a DAY?! People try to take their own lives and jump ONCE A DAY? My journalistic mind was swirling with questions like bees buzzing around a hive. But then the train arrived. And so off we went, left to contemplate that thought; off on our own dangerous journey back to Amsterdam. NOT Belgium.

Don’y worry Mom, it was all okay. We ended up making it to the hostel, showered, and slept safe and sound. It’s all good.

Then the next morning started like this:

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Yes, my first day in Amsterdam was off to a delicious start. The Netherlands is known for their pancakes. But CAUTION: when they say pancakes, they mean crepes, but I got the typical american kind anyway, and they were divine. The restaurant was charming as ever and the next time I’m in Amsterdam, you better bet I’ll be back. It was called The Breakfast Club, so that made it even better. Here’s their website.

So after the Breakfast Club, we expLaured a bit—–my favorite. Finding hidden gems in Amsterdam is quite easy, lemme tell you. Like this one:

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Oh and this:

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Then came my absolute, hands-down favorite part of the weekend. Though it may not look like much, it was the most bone-chilling and intense experience I’ve ever had. Yes, just a mere building could do that to me. Do you know where I’m talking about? I can guarantee with about 110% certainty you’ll know what it is once I tell you.

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Any ideas? It’s that brown building right there, with the long, rectangular black windows. Do you see it? There, to the right of the center building with the red shutters.

Here’s a closer look.

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Yes, it’s the Anne Frank house. The annex she hid in for two years of her short, short life was right in front of me. And I was about to go inside.

I walked where she once tip-toed. The floorboards creaked and cracked. I stood where she grew taller and taller upon a wall with scratches marking the passing time. Saw where she wrote, just as I do, in her diary. Gazed at her pictures and posters plastered on the wall just as I did at that age. I stared out the one little window in the attic that gave her that one tiny glimpse of the outside world she cherished so dearly. The entire experience was bizarre. I couldn’t help but find similarity after similarity between us.

A chill ran through my entire spine on my way up. Going up those small stairs and behind that brilliant bookcase was….freaky.  I had just re-read her diary this past summer, without knowing I would soon stand where she once stood. But there I was. A young little jewish girl, going up to see where an even younger jewish girl once lived, breathed and wrote. Where she laughed, cried, dreamed and was betrayed.

She wanted to be a journalist; a writer. And she was, she really was. Her voice is one of the most heard and remembered voices around the world, and though her end was tragic, her voice is here to stay. I love that about writing.

The Anne Frank House was the most incredible museums I have ever been to, and it really hit me hard. One of the things that impacted me the most was this quote:

“The only thing we have to remember is: all her would-haves are our real possibilities. All her would-haves are our opportunities”

That got me hard– really hard.

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There were no pictures in the museum, but I’m kind of glad. It allowed me to truly take in the moment without any interruption. But unfortunately for you, fair reader, you’re just going to have to go to Amsterdam and experience it for yourself. It’s worth it. It really is. But a word of caution: unless you can wait 4/5 hours in line to visit, I’d HIGHLY recommend making a reservation first; that way, you can go right in and skip the line. They sell out quickly, so try to plan in advance. You can do that here.

After the that intensity there was a somber, awkward stiffness to the air. We weren’t really sure what to do next. Nothing quite felt appropriate. We decided to just walk and make our way over to the museums. Anne would have liked that.

So we went to Van Gogh.

But before that, we stumbled upon this famous Amsterdam landmark: the Iamsterdam sign. It’s iconic and cool, and people climb all over it. I joined in the cause, because, well. why not.

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For the lucky ones whose name begins with any of the letters in the sign, it makes sense. For those of us unlucky enough to be plagued without such letters, we had to settle. But there was an S, so I went for my last name instead of my first….Styles. Lol okay, I know, I did it for Sloan, but it sure is convenient Harry’s last name shares the common letter.

Then I got this baby:

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It’s called a stroop waffle. It’s a classic Dutch treat filled with hot, sticky and chewy caramel inside a warm, crunchy golden-brown waffle thin. If I could have ordered the whole stand, I would have. Oh, and they make it fresh, right in front of you. And it was only 2 euro. 5 if you added a cup of hot chocolate (which I did). Ugh, I love Europe ❤

Okay theeeeennnn we made our way to Van Gogh. Finally. Sorry, we got a little distracted. But don’t worry, we eventually went and made Robbie proud.

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There were portraits and paintings galore.  So many Van Goghs, so little time. I learned a lot about the little Dutch man. And although his most famous work in the museum, the sunflowers, was currently being restored (ugh) I’m still really glad I went and got to see his impressive work.

But to be honest, I liked the Rijksmuseum more. They had more Renaissance style and famous Dutch artists of the time. Now that my friends, is my ish. I’m a sucker for that time period and my art history nerd went bazerk in there.

Even just the mere building itself was something to marvel at:

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But on the inside, wow. There was art that I had only previously saw on art history flashcards and tests—but this time it was real, and right in front of me.

REMBRANT. I SAW A REMBRANT.

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It’s called the Night Watch and is the most famous painting in the entire museum. Not sure if you can tell by the picture, but it’s also huge. it was found under a pile of soot, and they were amazed to find what was underneath. Hence why it’s called the Nightwatch.

Oh and then I saw a Vermeer. He was one of my favorites.

After that, we went to a farmer’s market called Noordermarkt. Now this was FUN. We were not only surrounded by locals, but by the best local FOOD you could possibly find.

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If you want to see more, here’s a small snippet of what being in the market feels like:

Oh, and what’s a visit to Amsterdam without some Tulips? (HI MOM!)

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(follow my foot-stagram @gelatoez for my pictures of where my feet have taken me)

So after I stuffed my face with a) best cheese and bacon quiche of my life, b) a banana nutella crepe and c) a slice of raspberry jam cake, it was time for some true amsteram culture:

First, there were the “coffee” shops:

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Warning: in Amsterdam, seeing a coffee shop does not mean a cute little cafe with coffee and pastries. No, not at all. It means weed–and lots of it.

It was so interesting and strange to see it being sold out in the open, people sitting at tables puffing away surrounded by smoke and steam and skunky smell–all just casually out in the open. Like it was no big deal at all. Because, well, there it’s not. It’s legal and a part of the culture. Nobody even blinked an eye. Except me.

And that’s not the only legal thing in this crazy city.

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Ah, yes, the infamous Red Light District. Everyone has heard of it I’m sure. But what exactly is it? Well, I learned very quickly what they mean by Red Light District.

You see, it’s like window shopping: but with real people. Real women.

It works like this: women stand in open windows when the time of night is right under a building with a shining red light. They are clothed as you would imagine any prostitute be dressed, or well, lack of dress. They aren’t leaving much up to the imagination, let’s just say that.

So they just stand there seductively, waiting for a knock on their door/window. When the knock comes, it means she has a customer. The curtains are closed and they get right down to business. When the duty is done, he steps back out and she goes back to the window, waiting for her next customer.

Oh, and I learned something else. There are some purple lights too, indicating a transgender is in the window this time.

Crazy stuff, I know. What’s crazier is some of my friends decided to actually go to a sex show–watching exactly what you think they’d be watching. But I wasn’t really about that, but thanks.

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I did go to the prostitute museum though, and that was rather interesting. It was actually very informative and helped me understand the interesting industry that is prostitution in the Netherlands.

Oh and I got another waffle right next door… hello, red lights in the background.

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It was no stroop waffle, but it was still delicious.

Amsterdam is quite the city.

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Quite the city indeed.

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xoxo,

your corrupted little expLaurer

 

 

Week 1

Maybe I’ll start backwards. Why not. There are no rules here, so let’s go expLaur–in reverse. Ready?  Alright, here we go:
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As I type, the Milan train station is getting farther and farther away and in turn, Verona is getting closer and closer.

The Italian sky out my window is a dark blue-ish gray and has a certain misty sadness to the air. I have to remind myself the cities I pass by are all someone’s homes, lives and safety. The train wheels screech and squeal like pigs in a pen, but Justin Bieber is singing to me in my little red headphones, so all is well in the world. It’s strange this train culture in Europe. Or maybe the lack of it in the states is whats strange. Whose to say–it’s all about perspective you know. Anyway signs outside tell me we’re at Milano Lambarte. Not my stop. I’m looking for Verona Porta Nuova–about an hour and a half from the current stop. This stop is where I find my new home, Verona.

Yes, Verona is home now, and I’m coming back from my first big adventure: Interlaken, Switzerland. It’s been quite the trip, let me tell you. Among many things, I’d have to say without any hesitation my favorite part was, well, this:

….Sorry, Mom

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Yup, your little expLaurer went paragliding over the Swiss alps. Quite the view, huh? Quite the view.

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If you want to see the adventure through my eyes, here’s a video of my experience:

Not bad for your first weekend abroad, not bad at all. But that’s not all I did. I strolled around the Swiss streets in the crisp, cold air and got acquainted with the town quite quickly.

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It’s actually a rather small town, with only about 5,500 resident’s making up its population (although all the study abroad students distort that number I’m sure). So we saw the city’s sites, basically lived in this Irish pub about a block from our airbnb, and of course, I expLaured. But what else is new?

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The weather, as you can probably tell, was rather dreary, but the town was beyond beautiful nonetheless.

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Just like paper postcards–but it was real. And right in front of me. I was constantly pinching myself mentally to make sure this wasn’t just an elaborate dream. But nope, I was awake and alive as ever, and taking in the (quite possibly) most beautiful view I’ve ever seen in my entire 21 years.

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I think the country’s beauty puts something in the air–because Interlaken is a place of adventure. As my four other friends went skydiving early Saturday morning, Chloe and I decided to be daring ourselves: we were gonna go paragliding. We’re in Switzerland for goodness sake; it’s our study abroad, and well, you know what they say–you only live once. So paragliding it was.

I was strapped onto this guy:

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His name is Jeff. He was born and raised in Interlaken and still lives there to this day. But guess what: he lived in Orange County for a while with his ex-wife. I couldn’t help but laugh. Who would have thought I’d be strapped to a random Swiss man who happened to live an hour from my sunny California home; I guess Disney was right– it is small world after all.

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Once we got the OK, we starting running one foot after the other, off the mountain and into the sky. One moment I was running as fast as I could, the next, I was soaring through the sky overlooking one of Interlaken’s two gorgeous lakes.

 

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The whole thing seems like a bit of a blur. It all happened so fast. The entire adventure was probably about 10-15 minutes of gliding through the air, though it truly felt more like 5.

Was I scared? That’s the question I get asked most frequently. Actually, the answer is no, not really. Before the initial decent, sure. But the second I was strapped in I felt safe; the natural beauty beneath my feet was all the distraction I really needed. I was 1400 meters up. But before I knew it, I was back on the ground and the adventure was over–at least for that moment.

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Interlaken, you’ve been good to me. And before I conclude my weekend, let me just say, the sights are not the only wonderful thing about this place.

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Cheese fondue. Lemme tell you. Good god, it was a dream. Come to think of it, so was the hot chocolate.
Speaking of food, let me return to my Italian adventure.

Alright, so you wanna know about Verona, huh? Okay, here’s my thoughts:

The town is quite different than I pictured. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to expect of it at all. It would be beautiful no doubt. But would I like it? Would it feel like my home? There were a lot of unknowns. And as I’ve learned in the past, unknowns can be scary. But Verona is nothing to be scared of at all. It’s everything I ever dreamed of and more. It’s red roofs, colorful balconies, narrow sidewalks and cobblestone streets remind me of a mix of Prague and Barcelona, both their own mix of beautiful.

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But this is Italy were talking about. And I had never been to Italy. I know, it’s weird. How has a girl whose been to Botswana never been to Italy?? Well. Somehow I didn’t. But that’s why I’m here. I wanted to expLaur and learn. And I am. One week down and I’ve already learned and grown so much. I’ve learned a little Italian. Ciao of course was a basic, hello. But grazie and prego, thank you and your welcome were new. Mi dispiace I’m sorry. Vohre pasta bolgoinese has become a common phrase of mine while ordering food: can I have….  Parle inglese? Do you speak English? A part of me always wants to hear that si(yes) but somewhat enjoys the challenge of the no. I’ve resorted to hand motions, pointing and charades at times. But overall it’s not bad. I get get by. Many speak English. I’m not so sure I like that. But it’s nice, sure.

Grocery shopping was interesting as well. Is this conditioner or body lotion? Who knows. Lucky gamble and it was conditioner like I wanted. Raspberries are a euro–praise this glorious country. People talk with their hands–a lot. And with a lot of passion. Hard to tell if someone is mad or not. Classic Italian though. Speaking of Italian, the Italian food is well, everything it’s talked up to be.

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I was nervous about it to tell you the truth, I love pasta and I wanted to make sure my expectations were in check for when I took that first bite of real Italian pasta. But don’t worry, it lived up to its reputation. At times, possibly even exceeded it. Oh, and did I mention I ate pizza? For those who don’t know–I’m not a pizza person. Me despieche. But when in rome… Well, Italy. It was as long as my 12 year old cousin and I promise you I’m not exaggerating. Here, look.

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It was good, but still not a pizza person. I’m working on it.

Hmm lets see. What else? The city itself is a dream.

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Bigger than I expected for sure. I’m not exactly sure what I had in mind but probably something more the size and navigable like Sevilla or now that I’ve seen it, Interlaken. One day in the city and you’ve become Sevilla master. But Verona–no. It’s been a week and I’m still lost. That’s okay though. I have time to get acquainted.

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The river that slithers its way through the city is called the Adige. My home for the next three months gets it’s name after this river, and is therefore conveniently called, Residence al’Adige.

In town, there is a giant Colosseum-like amphitheater right smack dab in the middle of one of the city’s beautiful squares known as Piazza Bra.

 

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Beautiful I know. Oh, and did I mention the floor is made of MARBLE? Yeah, it’s quite crazy honestly. But it sure is beautiful.

What else can I tell ya? Oh yes, right: Venice. I went to Venice just a few short days after I hit Italian soil. I was anxious what can I say? But hey, can you blame me?

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The world famous city was only about an hour from me. It was just too tempting. The gondolas were calling my name–so off I went.

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Here’s the thing though: I didn’t even ride a gondola. I know, I know– I did Venice wrong. How could I not? Well, first of all, I was in a little group, so it wasn’t always my agenda. Secondly, it was 80 euro, and well, that was over my budget. So no gondola ride for me. I guess I’ll just have to settle with the plain old city instead (this is where sarcastic font is 100% needed). Oh and of course, a few pictures of the gondolas, which are free 🙂

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Venice was beautiful don’t get me wrong. I mean, Saint Mark’s Basilica……

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Definitely was a wow. What they don’t tell you though is that this square is INFESTED with pigeons. Like literally everywhere you step they’re there. In the air as well. Somewhat killed the vibe, but that’s okay.

Oh and then I found this gem while just simply expLauren…

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And then we decided to go to this little island called Borano about a half an hour from Venice. Why’d we go? Well, for this:

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It looks straight out of a Disney movie, doesn’t it? It’s so colorful and happy and small. I couldn’t believe people actually live there; such a different life they must live.

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And so after Borano, we headed back home–or at least so we thought. Turns out we happened to be there during carnival, which is a festival Venice hosts every year for a few weekends in January-February. Think masquerade ball but Italian style–with some gondolas thrown into the mix.

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So, our water taxi let us off four stops too early due to the parade and we had to walk the rest on our own; not a problem, right? Well, you see it was the festival. Everyone lined the narrow streets from corner to corner and it was almost impossible to pass. So we squeezed our way passed masked italians and foreigners alike as we made our way back to the train station. I’ll admit, it was claustrophobic and dark and I was slightly afraid of falling into the canals and having my purse stolen, but it was also unbelievably fun and beautiful to see the city light up with such enthusiasm and spirit.  But we finally made our way out, caught a train back to Verona, and just like that i had seen Venice–and I mean the REAL one; none of that Las Vegas bull. It really was beautiful, but to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever need to go back. Maybe it was hyped up to much in my head, but Venice just didn’t quite do it for me like some of the other european cities I’ve visited. But hey, that’s okay. We can’t all love everything. But I could definitely appreciate the beauty.

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Did I mention I went to a real authentic European soccer match too? Yes, soccersloan has returned. But this time in Verona.

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The team is called Hellas, and well… they sort of suck. But that’s okay. They actually ended up tying the game I went to, so that was fun. There was an entire section filled to the brim with your typical devoted, European futbol fan… and then there was the other ¾ of the stadium: almost entirely empty. But it was still a great time nonetheless.

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The teams colors would make any Bruin proud: blue and yellow. And their symbol? No, not a baby bear, but a ladder. Why? A ladder is a symbol representing the Scala family, who were sort of like the Medici’s of Verona. This ladder can be found not only on the futbol teams emblem, but also on buildings throughout town. It’s a Verona thing, I suppose.

On another note, the program also took us all to a winery. And not just your average winery… it was like a BEAUTIFUL, elegant, fancy winery. And we got a tour. We took a little 20-ish (I’m honestly not exactly sure how long) bus ride (I fell asleep on the way) to Soave. This is where the winery was:

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Unbelievable, I know. This region is filled with medieval castles and churches which give the town a certain charm impossible to replicate.

After marveling at the beautiful surroundings, we climbed down a long flight of  stairs and found ourselves underground surrounded by these bad boys:

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I felt so small.

Then there were the barrels I was used to seeing

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Our guide told us they let the wines sit here for 5 years before bottling. And they sell over 30 million bottles each year.

After the wines sit in the barrels for a few years, they migrate over to the bottle and are turned ever so slightly every day–manually. Yikes.

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Then after it was the moment we’ve all been waiting waiting for: the wine tasting.

They gave us three scrumptious sips; they served the lowest quality first–sveva valpolicella superiore from 2013.

The next was Ripasso superiore 2011 which was aged 18 months and included the skin of the grapes.

And the last and final wine is known as, “The King of Red Wine” which is Amarone. They age this bottle for 5 years and dry press the grapes; they let the juice ferment and then put it in those HUGE oak barrels from the beginning and let age almost 24 months; they then refine for another 3 years in the bottle and after 5 years, they finally sell it. So it was a 2010 vintage.

Did you follow that? Kind of confusing, I know. But interesting and cool nonetheless.

They taught us to swirl the wine and watch it run and smell the various fruits and ingredients that make up each wine.

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This tasting put almost all my senses to use: I could smell the evolution bouque of flavors; tasted the intense and sweet, silky and smooth texture and recognize red fruit–black cherry plum chocolate toasted coffee, even.

We were supposed to wait one hour and let it oxygenate, but well, that didn’t happen.

Oh, and they had an alcohol content 40.5… So before we all got drunk off the tasting on an empty stomach, we all went to dinner. But this was not just any ordinary dinner. Not ordinary at all.

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It was the most elegant dinner I’ve ever had in my entire life. Four courses. Endless (and I mean endless) bottles of delicious white wine made right there in the winery, and of course, dessert.

First course was risotto cooked in a white wine and parmesan sauce. YUM. So. much. yum. Then there was pasta. It was rigatoni thick cylinder noodles thrown in some delicious oil and sauce and tossed with zucchini and peppers. Then there was chicken; so soft and tender and warm. Did I mention there was endless wine? And then of course there was dessert–and dessert wine.

Let me just say this was THE absolute best dinner all around that I have ever had in my entire life. Good God I love this country.

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And speaking of great food:

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I forgot to mention somewhere along the line I’ve eaten some pretty colorful and tasty gelato, an Italian classic.

I see a darker shade of blue out the window now. It’s almost purpley black at this point. The day is already gone, it seems. Weird how fast the days go. And just like that it’s one week down: 8 to go. I’m so excited for this journey I’ve already embarked on. I’ve already done so much, and I know there’s so much more in store. I’m doing everything I ever thought I would so far, and I’m loving every second. The traveling is tiring and my throat is starting to ache again. I do want to go back home, to Verona I mean. It’s weird how going back to “reality” is coming home to Italy. The whole experience doesn’t seem real. It’s like I’m living a dream, because well, I basically am.

Until then,

Your little expLaurer