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Hi there followers!

Welcome to my travel blog. Over the course of the next year (and beyond?) I will document my adventures in travel, design, self explauration, and cuisine! Have a blast explauren my page, photos, and posts!

6 Days of EAT-aly

6 Days of EAT-aly

 

As my first month in Croatia with Remote Year was coming to an end, I joined five other women on a 6-day visit to the neighboring country of Italy. As an artist, it has been a dream of mine to visit this magnificent country since I learned about the Sistine Chapel in 6th grade . Now my ultimate artist-fairy tale was becoming a reality. To my surprise, though, Italy found its way to the food-lovers-door of my heart, walked straight into the kitchen, and started cooking. 

So much pizza, pasta, wine, and gelato to try... So little time!

I jumped into this year-long journey to search for some deeper purpose within myself. At the one-month mark, Italy was the perfect place to do so some self-evaluation and reflect on what I have discovered so far. There couldn't be a better way to do that than to sit and eat through it all!

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Rome

Meat Lasagna and Tiramisu

On our first afternoon in Rome, we stopped for a late lunch in a tiny diner just a few blocks from the Colosseum. It wasn't a hard decision when it came time to order our meal, and within 15 minutes, the freshest homemade meat lasagna was placed on the table in front of me. Each bite had layers and layers of pasta ribbons, ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, ground beef, and of course more cheese! And, don't even get me started with the tiramisu we shared for dessert...

After indulging in those Italian masterpieces I thought to myself, "Wow, I have a lot in common with that fantastic slice of lasagna and bowl of tiramisu!" I, too, am built of many layers. I'm a complex being with a never-ending flow of emotions, feelings and memories... And that's 100% OKAY. I will not let that define me. Feelings are temporary, and it's essentially up to me to decide what to do with them.

I've always perceived my layers of emotion as a weakness, but it's time to embrace it. A bite of homemade lasagna or tiramisu doesn't reach it's tasteful potential without a little part of each layer. By the same analogy, I wouldn't be "Lauren" without each of my delicate layers as well.

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Firenze

 

Bruschetta and Limoncello

Shortly after arriving to our Airbnb apartment in Firenze, we discovered another tiny restaurant where we all tried a variety of Italian tapas. I ordered the bruschetta. This particular bruschetta was literally larger than than my face, and there was a massive mountain of fresh tomato, cheese cubes, and basil sitting on top of the crispiest piece of toast I've ever bit into.

Going in for my second bite, however, the giant bruschetta tilted just enough to cause an avalanche of tomatoes and toppings to come tumbling all over the table.

Sometimes my life is equivalent to an avalanche of tomatoes falling off a piece of toast. Mistakes, unfortunate events, and embarrassing moments happen at ever corner of my life. Some bigger than others... It often feels as if everything is crumbling to the ground, and it gets messy for little while.

Over these past months, it has really resonated with me how important it is not to worry so much about the negative things that happen. Accept it, pick up the pieces, move on, let it go, and toast to new beginnings with a shot of limoncello.

When something distressing happens, I now ask myself, "Will I still be thinking about this while sitting on my front porch drinking sweet tea at the age of 86?"... Probably not.

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Tuscany

Pumpkin Risotto and Sweet Herbal Tea

On our drive in the Tuscan hills, we stopped for a meal in the small town of Volterra. With the higher altitude, the colder temperatures creeped up on us. What a perfect opportunity to order a warm meal of pumpkin risotto and sweet herbal tea! Every bite hugged my insides, and by the last spoonful I felt alive and content.

I honestly couldn't help but look around the table at my 5 new friends with a stupid grin on my face. That pumpkin risotto gave me the same fulfilling feeling that my friends had already been giving me. I was surrounded by so much love, support, encouragement, inclusion, and attention. I am incredibly grateful for these women, who never came close to expressing a grain of judgement in my weakest moments. Everyone deserves some pumpkin risotto-like friends in their life, and I think it's safe to say that Italy fed me well. In the end, my tummy was full, and so was my soul.

That's what is so special about Remote Year. It's the relationships that we are building and the feelings of companionship we are sharing that provide such a strong network of endless love and support. There's always a hug waiting to be embraced, a shoulder ready to be leaned on, and over a hundred hands willing to jump in and help you. 

I look forward to every challenge I may face from here on out because I know it's just another opportunity to grow, and I will always have that safety net of "tramily" (tribe+friends+family) to catch me if I fall.

That's all for now! It's time to go reflect on my first month in Split, Croatia and begin "explauren" in Prague, Czech Republic!

Croatian Change

Croatian Change

43 Hours and 15 minutes in Paris

43 Hours and 15 minutes in Paris