Wednesday, March 4, 2020

don’t be so afraid of life that you forget to live

Yesterday afternoon I arrived in The Hamptons/Montauk—
I say both, because where I’m staying is smack dab in the middle. I’ve wanted to come here for as long as I can remember, particularly in the summer, but this week the occasion arose…and here I am. Did I mention I brought my dog?

 So, after five hours in the car, here we are in a cozy Airbnb in The Hamptons. 

As soon as we were all checked in, I poured a glass of wine and off to the ocean we went. I have never been on a beach where there was no other human in sight. I was able to let Peanut off his leash and man did he run wild. He rolled around in the sand like it was snow (that was fun when we got back to the house).

Have you ever had a real pull to be near the ocean? To see it? To hear it? To touch it? That’s kind of what inspired this trip. Many people say the ocean is healing for them and I totally relate to that. Some of the best memories of my life involve the ocean in some capacity or another. 

Someone once quoted, “The person you think of when you stand in front of the ocean. That’s the person you’re in love with.” This morning at 7am, back out on the beach, with no makeup and my natural curly-cue hair…I thought about that, I thought about a few people, and I thought about myself. I am attracted to the raw, real, unfiltered, unguarded, messy versions of other people, but sometimes I have a hard time accepting that about myself. I am a social butterfly, talk-to-anyone, make small talk with a stranger kind of person, but when it comes to letting people truly “in,” I’d rather go swimming with sharks. I tell people just enough, but never too much. An arm’s length away is where I tend to keep people. I am so open to love, yet terrified of it at the same time. Ironically, the very thing that I want most is the very thing that I’m afraid of—to be accepted, to be loved, to be seen.

From experience, I’ve learned that the more people know, the more they can hurt you. And even worse? The possibility that they leave. That’s my biggest fear—getting close to someone and then watching them leave. However, as I get older, I’m realizing that living life with fear is really no life at all. Fear paralyzes you. Fear steals your joy. Fear takes away anything meaningful. Fear takes away possibility. 

As I walked along the beach this morning, I looked at all of the shells that had washed up on shore during low tide. Some big beautiful shells, still in tact. Some with missing pieces. Some scratched and worn looking. Some with other shells and seaweed stuck to them… each shell so uniquely different, each shell beautiful in their own way. However, when I go back this afternoon during high tide, they’ll all be gone. Collected back into the ocean for another go around—a lot like life. 

We are all here on earth, so completely different from one another, thrown into the game of life. Each one of us has a different story, a different “scratch,” all sorts of baggage stuck to us. Just like the ocean, the tides of our life will always rise and fall—we’ll be sucked in, only to wash up on shore once again—but no matter what, the water keeps moving. 

Sometimes I need that reminder—that life keeps moving whether you’re living it or not. 

I am slowly learning how to embrace my fears. It’s certainly not easy, and at times, it can be painful… but nothing is as painful as missing out on the joys of life, simply because you’re afraid. 

Don’t be so afraid of life that you forget to live.
XX, Laura

Friday, February 28, 2020

1 month without social media

This weekend marks 1 whole month without social media (Instagram and Facebook). It’s not the first time I’ve deactivated my accounts, but it’s the first time I’ve ever gone a full 30 days. It feels like just yesterday I decided to take a break. Now, here I am, 4 weeks later. 

I’m not going to lie, the first week was hard. Not hard in the sense like, “OMG I miss social media,” but hard in the sense that I didn’t realize what a habit social media was. Bored—check social media. Wake up in the morning—check social media. Laying in bed at night—check social media. A free minute to spare—check social media. After not having it for 4 weeks, I look back and think holy f, that’s a lot of time spent on social media. 

So what’s been the takeaway from 30 days without social media?

Wasted time 
Damn, I think we’re all guilty of this, but I think we all waste a lot of precious time on social media. I started to think about how much of my everyday life is spent scrolling through these little cyber worlds that, for all intents and purposes, are not real life. When you think about it, are we ever going to look back and think, “Wow, I really enjoyed all those hours I spent on social media.” Of course not! I will admit, social media does have its perks. I’ve actually learned a lot about health and fitness, nutrition, psychology, fashion, business, etc. from some of the accounts I follow… but it still doesn’t substitute for real life. Without social media, I’ve been more apt to pick up a book, get out of the house to do something new, and honestly, I’ve slept more soundly not checking social media right before I go to bed. As much as I hate to admit it, social media is a lot of wasted time. 

Knowing Less
Two couples I know got engaged, someone else announced a pregnancy, and a few others posted wedding pics and baby pics…and I knew nothing, because I saw nothing. I found out by word of mouth (like the old fashioned way) through my sister and friends. Honestly, this was the most refreshing thing about taking a break from social media. Knowing less about everyone else. Sometimes I think about the fact that I’m up to date on peoples’ everyday lives that I have not seen since I graduated high school. Let me say that again, I keep up with people that I have not physically seen in 9 years. 9 friggin’ years!! That sounds crazy, because well, it kind of is (lol)! Knowing less about everyone else has felt freeing. It’s honestly kind of refreshing to see my friends and not know what they’ve been doing (or eating, drinking, etc.) since the last time I saw them. And it’s damn well refreshing not to know what everyone I’m not in contact with (including insta strangers I don’t know personally) are up to. Sometimes, less is best. 

This social media break was inspired by a guy I met this winter out at the bars. Attractive, outgoing, and a bad boy (totally my type). When I went to look him up on social media to see what he was about, he was no where to be found. He has no Facebook. No Instagram. No Snapchat. No social media. No anything. Some might find that weird, but to me, that’s hella attractive. It only made him more interesting and appealing in my eyes. I got to thinking that we as humans, are intrigued by those in which we know nothing about. Anyone and anything we don't know too much about, are always more fascinating. Mystery is sexy.

Without social media (aka keeping up with everyone else), I started to think more about me. What do I want? Who do I want to be? What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? Sometimes you can see/think/hear more clearly without the influence of millions of other people. I started making a bucket list based on what I think is cool, based on what’s important to me, based on what I want to look back on and be proud that I did. Some of it may be far fetched, some of it may be nerdy, some of it may be crazy…but you know what, it’s me. It’s what I dream about and that’s what matters.

End of the Comparison Game
We are so overly consumed with the lives, or should I say highlight reels, of everyone else…that we compare our lives, our bodies, our finances, our goals, our families, our whatever…to everyone and everything else that isn’t reality. Taking a break from social media put that in perspective for me. Like most girls my age, I am so hard on myself and my body. Social media creates so many thoughts that would have never been there in the first place—“If I don’t look like an Instagram model, then I must not be attractive,” “If I’m not traveling the world, I’m not living a cool life,” “If I’m not making millions, my job must not matter,” “If I’m not married with 2 kids by now, I’m a loser and a reject.” The list goes on. The more time I’ve spent away from social media, the more content I feel with my life. I’m not comparing my life to others, nor am I putting my life out there to be viewed or judged. It’s been freeing as f*ck. 

No Negativity 
Holy mother of pearl. This was the main reason I decided to take a break from social media, nega-f*cking-tivity. I hate negativity. I hate negative posts. I have negative people. I hate hateful people. I hate fake people. I hate fake news. I’ve learned to unfriend and unfollow the f*ck out of anyone that’s not uplifting. Anything negative, I like to live without. My world is brighter and more positive without it. Just like I like it. The less negativity, the better. Sometimes, the less social media in my life, the happier I am. 

1 month without social media and I can’t say that I’ve really missed it. I’m sure I’ll get it back at one point or antoher— could be next week, a month from now, or maybe never. But what I’ve learned after 30 days (also what I’ve known for a while), I’m an old fashioned gal, who prefers the old fashioned way of life. The simplicity of I'll see you when I see you. 

Keep on keepin’ on—
XX, Laura

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

whatever you’re holding on to is holding you back

I am in one of those transitional times of my life again where I find myself questioning—am I happy where I’m at? Am I happy where I’m living? Am I inspired? Am I challenged? Am I having fun? Am I who I want to be? Am I doing what I want to be doing? The list goes on… 

I kind of lived in reverse from most people my age. I tried going away to college, wasn’t my thing. I came home, got my 2 year degree at a community college in my hometown. I went to work for our family business. I had my own home at age 22. I partied occasionally, went out every few months (literally once, every few months). Took a few years to soul search and figure out who I was. I spent some time in other states—a westward road trip to Colorado, ski bumming in Utah, beach bumming in Florida. Realized I hated owning a home, eventually sold it. Got my first apartment in a small city. At 26 years old, I started to party every weekend. Meanwhile, most of my friends started to settle down—engagements (if they’re not already married), buying homes, having children (if they don’t already have one or two)—and I could not be happier for them—however, that is sooooo not where I’m at. 

I am in a wild phase of my life. I know it, my parents know it, and I’m pretty sure some of my friends know it. I’ve done things this past year that I’ve never done before—including living like I just don’t give a f. Questionable decisions, questionable moments, questionable people. I threw my cell phone number around like it was a coupon. I stayed out until 3 in the morning more times than I care to admit. I spent too much time in the sun. I drank way too much wine. Threw back a few too many tequila shots. I might have gained a wrinkle or two, lost some sleep, overloaded my liver with alcohol, and spent the most money I’ve ever spent on travel…but I can happily say, I have no regrets. 

My dad taught me a lot growing up, but something that always stuck with me was, “Pay attention.” Those two, simple words, pay attention—and pay attention I did. I am always observing people around me, people I’ve known forever, people I’ve known for 5 minutes, people in the news, acquaintances in my hometown, people I observe from afar. I’ve paid attention to marriages, friendships, people in their careers, level of happiness, etc. I’ve also studied language and body language. I’ve learned a lot by observing—a lot of good, a lot of not so good. I’m never going to judge another’s life (because I haven’t lived it), but I can observe what I see (and take note) and decide that that’s never going to be me. 

I am 26 years old and all I want to do is have the time of my life. 

I am not interested in settling down, getting married (anytime soon at least), having kids, owning a home, and most importantly, I am not interested in letting the fun stop anytime soon. I realize that that's not the norm for most women my age.

So what am I interested in right now? Living my life to the fullest, based on what I want that to be. Living life to the fullest looks different to everybody, but to me…that means going after my dreams, which includes having a successful blog, a lot of traveling (my first love), a lot of good food and wine, trying fun restaurants, exploring new cities, fun parties and events, snorkeling in Fiji (or Bora Bora, the Maldives, the Great Barrier Reef), going back to Monaco to witness the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, going back to Italy to take a cooking class, going back to Greece (and hopefully on my honeymoon someday), visiting Ireland, Scotland, Germany, London (+sooo many other European counties), visiting every state in the US that I possibly can, eventually becoming a philanthropist, being the healthiest version of myself… (my long, long list goes on).

My point is, everyone has a different way of living their life. Society has a way of telling you, “this is what’s important,” but I’m telling you, f*ck society. You have to go with your heart. Go with your gut. What is it that you can’t stop thinking about? What do you want to do with your life? What’s most important? What are you afraid to do? What will make you happiest? Figure it out and find a way.

I had an hour (plus) conversation on the phone with my sister tonight and I told her my thoughts about where I’m at and what I want. She thinks I’m bat shit crazy…and I understand her point of view, but I don’t feel the same way. I never want to look back on my life and think, “I could have tried that,” or “I could have done that.” I joked with her that every crazy idea I’ve ever had, I did. Every place I wanted to move, I did. I am truly a girl with no regrets. Shit, not everything worked out in my favor… but I went for it, I tried. More often than not, I hear people say, “I always wanted to…but I never did.” In my humble, 26 year old, what does she know advice… don’t let that be you. Just f*cking go for it. Go against the odds. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” If you can deal with that consequence, then go balls to the wall with your decision. 

I’m going to end this post with a quote from my favorite bartender in Naples, Florida:
 “Whatever you’re holding onto, is holding you back.” 

Keep on keepin’ on—
XX, Laura

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

a whirlwind trip to washington, d.c.

This past weekend, the opportunity arose to take a last minute (literally down to the last minute) get out of town trip—and I went for it. I packed my bags, boarded my dog, and hit the road for 6.5 hours to head down to Washington, D.C. 

I had been to D.C. once before with my family when my sister and I were little, but I didn't remember too much. I do remember going to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and being in awe! I was at an age when this was the first I had ever learned about The Holocaust. Other than that, I remember we stayed at the iconic InterContinental, The Willard Hotel- located just two blocks from The White House. 

This time around, I stayed at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave. I have had the pleasure of staying in many luxury hotels in my lifetime, but this one quickly became one of my favorites. Not only is it a beautiful hotel, but it was actually the Old Post Office of Washington, D.C. completed in 1899. Everything about the hotel was absolutely stunning, down to every detail—including the crystal chandeliers, beautiful (and heavenly comfortable) beds, marble bathrooms, the top shelf liquor and snacks in the room, and even the room keys (!!). Not to mention, the staff was so friendly (and happy), accommodating, and so appreciative. 

The bar in the lobby was my absolute favorite—and filled with interesting people, which always makes for an interesting night. 

The hotel was in a perfect location in downtown which made for easy exploring. Aside from walking around, on Sunday I opted to do a private guided tour of all the famous monuments and landmarks. It cost me a pretty penny, but was soooooo worth my while. You learn so much more when you’re with someone who knows all the history. We visited many of the main sights: The Capitol, Washington Monument, National Mall, Lincoln Memorial (including the reflecting pool), The White House, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial (which was so moving), Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the National Archives Museum to name a few. In my hotel itself was the Old Post Office’s Clock Tower in which you ride up a glass elevator to panoramic views of the city. It was spectacular. I had the best day. The older I get, the more I appreciate history and learning about our ancestors. 

I honestly had the most amazing time in Washington, D.C. My time there flew by so quickly, I hated to leave. Here are a few other takeaways from my weekend away:

From an older French man at the hotel bar, “If you have good weed, you don’t need expensive champagne.” 

—People remember people who are kind to them (you might even get free wine)

—The president needs an invitation to enter The Capitol building (I did not know this) 

—Get out of town, gain perspective 

—Sometimes the best therapy is a long drive and good music

—“Humility will open more doors than arrogance ever will.” 

Keep on keepin’ on—
XX, Laura

Monday, October 14, 2019

why you should be gentle with people

Every morning I wake up and the first thing I do is take my mini goldendoodle outside. I’m out there pretty early so I don’t usually see too many people. However, every so often I stumble upon men (sometimes women) sleeping on the ground—in alleyways, underneath stairs, trees, covered doorways… or mornings like today when I saw what I thought was a pile of garbage, but was actually somebody’s “blanket.” I only realized there was a person under there because I saw their feet hanging out. 

I do my best to not wake them up and hold my dog back from wanting to go over and sniff. As I walk away, I always get this weird, heavy, sad feeling. Here I am walking my dog down the street with my UGGs and matching sweatsuit outfit, only to go back to my cozy apartment where I have a king size bed, a full fridge, and an overflowing closet of too many clothes that I hardly get the chance to wear. Life has a funny way of humbling you when you need it most.

People tend to throw homeless people into categories, such as “drug addicts, failures, deadbeats.” We see these people out on the street in their dirty clothes asking for money and automatically assume that they’re some kind of lazy, no good loser. Our initial reaction is never, “How did they end up here?”

That got me thinking that we as a society tend to do this in general. 
We see what’s on the “surface level” of someone’s life and make assumptions without really knowing anything about them.

2019 has been a challenging year in my little world. However, I go about my days and deal with it, like most do. 

It makes me think—how many people go out into the world everyday and put on a brave face? How many people are out there walking around with a broken heart—dealing with loss, sadness, anxiety, depression, rejection, heartbreak—and nobody knows. How many people are out there feeling alone, feeling abandoned, feeling worthless, feeling like they have no friends, feeling like they have no where to go—and nobody knows. 

In the past six months, in my small little community alone, I know someone who lost a sibling to cancer, I know someone who got out of a broken relationship, I know someone who had a miscarriage, I know someone who became a single mom, I know someone who unexpectedly lost their dad, and another who unexpectedly lost their mom. I know a family who lost their father to a heart attack, I know someone who goes home to an alcoholic spouse every night, I know someone who’s in an unhappy relationship but too afraid to leave, and I recently met someone my age who’s estranged from their parents… all of that in the past six months, in a small, 25 mile radius. 

We interact with so many people like this in our day to day lives and most of us have no idea. We see them as coworkers, strangers, classmates, teachers, friends, workers, etc. 

I often think back on a time in my life a few years ago when I was in such a dark place. Ironically, it was also the same time someone complimented me on “always being such a happy person.” I remember thinking to myself, “If they only knew.”

No matter how someone appears on the surface, everyone is dealing with something.

It’s important to remember that:
You don’t know what people are going through.
You don’t know what other people have been through. 
You don’t know what burdens people in their daily lives.
You don’t know what happened to someone in their childhood. 
You don’t know what’s happened to someone in their adult life.
You don’t know what people have to go home to at the end of the day. 

Life is hard as it is. We all come with some sort of baggage, some worse than others. This is all the more reason to be kind, to be compassionate, to be patient, and most importantly, to be gentle with people.

XX, Laura 

Monday, August 19, 2019

how to be instantly more attractive

Attraction and looks is obviously important when attracting a significant other, but I totally believe there's so much more that can help attract the right person or people into your life. Here's what I've learned based on my experience: 

A genuine smile can literally light up a room. We’ve become a generation of people who have normalized the “resting bitch face.” And yeah, maybe you do have a rbf…but think about it, when you’re out somewhere.. are you ever attracted to a guy/girl that looks miserable, bitchy or angry? Hell to the no! I think when you’re generally happy and having fun, a smile comes naturally…and if it doesn’t, well think of something else that will make you smile and let it show. Someone who looks happy, friendly and approachable is instantly more attractive. 

sense of humor 
OMG—this is a top 5 for me! A guy who can make me laugh is 100x more attractive in my eyes than a guy who doesn’t. I have a guy friend who I don’t see a lot, but every time I do, he literally has me laughing out loud the whole night. I always leave him feeling so happy and lighthearted. Sense of humor is SO key—it shows that you’re fun and that you don’t take life too seriously. 

confidence confidence confidence 
This might be my #1 trait I notice in guy. Confidence is so sexy to me. Confidence (without cockiness) is how you sell yourself. When someone can show up and be who they are, own it, and exude an energy of, “I’m comfortable with me,” —that more than anything is so attractive. Someone with body confidence, good posture, a strong handshake, and just an all around good vibe helps too. Confident people are a breath of fresh air—a demeanor of coolness, an easy to be with vibe, an “I know I’m not perfect but that’s okay” kind of attitude. Confident people have an air of self-assurance that’s just attractive AF. 

a grateful stance in life 
This one has become more evident to me the older I’ve gotten, but someone who has a grateful stance on where they’re at in life is super attractive. This goes for any age, but especially your 20’s when things are confusing AF and you’re trying to figure things out and you may or may not be where you want to be, but if I meet someone and they’re okay and content with where they’re at while trying/working to get to where they want to go… totally attractive. Also, someone who realizes and appreciates the little things in life. Entitlement is the quickest way to have most people running in the opposite direction. Gratitude is everything. Living and loving life for the simple things = ultimate attraction. 

Looking at life through an optimistic view is way way waaaaaay more attractive than a pessimistic view. Someone with a bright and positive attitude is completely magnetic in my eyes. Someone with an upbeat “it’ll all work out,” kind of attitude is my kind of person. My dad and I love businessman Grant Cardone’s, “No Negativity,” saying that he stickers on his private jet. Negativity is draining. Positivity is enlightening and so attractive. 

smell good 
Literally had this discussion with my close guy friends a few weeks ago. We were pregaming before getting ready to go out and I saw one of their cologne’s sitting out. I sprayed all of them with a quick spritz of cologne and they were all like, “Lauraaaaaaa!” And I said, trust me…girls notice! And we do. As I’m sure guys do with girls as well. When someone smells good, you notice. It makes you want to linger around them a little longer. 

be present 
Unfortunately, this is something to be mentioned nowadays with the distraction that comes from our damn cell phones. Whether you’re out at the bar, on a date, hanging out with your friends…put your friggin’ cell phone down. This is actually one of my BIGGEST pet peeves in the world. When I’m out with a group of friends at a bar and someone is on their cellphone the entire time texting/calling/snapchatting whoever is NOT with us… I find that 1) annoying AF but more 2) disrespectful AF. I’m an old fashioned gal and if I could go back to the days before cellphones I would in a heartbeat, not going to lie. Focus on the company you’re with. 

be a good conversationalist  
Being able to carry a good, engaging conversation about literally whatever is so much more attractive than not being able to communicate at all. I once went out on a date with a guy who talked about himself the ENTIRE time. Don’t be that person. Talk about something that you both, or the group, can add to. Communication in friendships + love relationships is so key. 

be passionate about something 
Passion is something you love. Being passionate about something and sharing it with the world shows that you know what makes you feel good, what makes you feel happy, and what lights up your life. Passion is addictive and contagious. When I listen to someone talk about something they love with enthusiasm and excitement, it gets me just as excited for them as it does for me, even if I have absolutely no interest in what they like to do. That’s exactly what makes someone having a passion so attractive—doing it and loving it so much even if it doesn’t make sense to someone else. 

be fun 
One of my favorite qualities about a guy I once dated was his spontaneity to literally do and plan whatever. One weekend we’d be at a dive bar playing shuffleboard and darts, the next we were at a luxury hotel in another state. Someone who can be down with whatever is so attractive. When someone says, “Hey, you want to go out on the boat?” and without hesitation someone says back, “What can I bring?” THAT is attractive. That no questions asked, doesn’t matter who’s going to be there, I’m down for a good time kind of vibe. Those are honestly my favorite kind of people. Someone who is fun and easy to be with. 

I saved this one for last because it’s one that’s more easier said than done, no doubt. Vulnerability can be hard. Women tend to be more openly vulnerable than men. Men, it comes…with time. However, vulnerability is incredibly sexy, attractive and badass. I used to be scared of vulnerability because people can be judgy AF! However, what good does it do to hide yourself from the world and from people who may potentially love you? I’m a deep person—a deep thinker, a deep conversationalist... I don’t do well with the shallow shit. Being vulnerable has literally changed my life, and when I meet someone that can return the same to me (without judging), it’s incredibly attractive. 

I hope my perspective inspired you and made you realize you're way more attractive than you thought you were. 

All my love. XOXO

Keep on keepin' on

Sunday, August 11, 2019

greece 2k19

This past month, I took a trip to Greece and it ended up changing my life. 

Let’s rewind back to March when I initially planned this trip through a group travel company for “young professionals.” It was a travel company for people aged 25-40. I have always always always wanted to go to Greece and felt like it was a good time in my life to just do it. I also love having things to look forward to. Not to mention, I love meeting new people, so I figured what better way to meet people my age that like to travel than to go on vacation with them? 

Friday, July 12th, (after a 4 hour delay and 2 glasses of wine) I took off from the United States and landed the next morning in Athens, Greece. This was my first time overseas completely by myself. Landing in a foreign airport is always a little stressful, as the first language is not your own, but you typically figure things out by following the herd of other Americans. 

I had to somehow get myself from the airport to the ferry port to meet my group in another part of the city. I grabbed a cab and gave him the address. The first question I get asked sitting in the cab was, “Do you have husband?” I was jet lagged but smart enough to answer with, “No, but my parents are waiting for me at the ferry” (They weren’t…but when traveling alone, never act like you’re alone). The ride started off with a lot of questions about my love life, but ended up being one of the most insightful cab rides of my whole life. An early 50-something year old Greek man who left his long term wife thinking the grass was greener on the other side. Turns out, it wasn’t for him. He ended up missing the love of his life for flings that came and went out of his life. However, from this, he told me, “Fall in love with as many people as you can while you’re here on this earth, because love is the only thing that matters.” We had a long conversation about love and relationships, but we also talked about life… he told me, “The days are long, but the years are short…don’t let them pass you by.” It was like the best 45 minute car ride of my life.

I finally met up with my group in 90+ degree heat, and at this point mind you, I’m still in the same dress and makeup I put on over 18 hours ago. Can you say, woooooof. Any who, met the group and boarded the ferry like a herd of sheep with 100+ other people while sweat was literally dripping down my back. You leave your luggage in the bottom of the ferry totally free and open with everybody else’s with hopes that the people that get off before you don’t steal it. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it, it’s a total trust system. The 4 hour ferry from Athens to the island of Milos was long, but I got to know some of the people in my group pretty well. Fast forward those 4 hours later, we arrive in Milos and check into our hotel. 

I had dinner (paid for within my group travel price) with my “young professionals” group that night at a local family style restaurant on Milos. Now, this trip wasn’t overly expensive, but it wasn’t cheap either. It was a group of mainly girls (12-15) and 2 guys. At dinner, it was a group decision on what to order for wine—the group vote ended up being a sweet ass white wine (woof) when all I wanted after a 24 hour travel day with no sleep was a nice glass of cab. Following the wine at dinner, I quickly got a sense of the vibe, the conversation, what everyone was looking for out of the trip… and I immediately felt like I didn’t fit and knew I wouldn’t last 10 days doing this. 

So, without consulting anyone, I rebooked all of my plans, my hotels, my flights, my ferries, everything, to go off and explore Greece by myself. Obviously, I called my parents and filled them in so, God forbid, anything happened they knew where I was. My mom knows me so well, she knows I will do what I want regardless, but she said, “I trust you, Laura.” But, my dad being a dad was like “Ughhh, Laura….going off on your own…hmmm…I don’t know about this.” And I told him, I had never been more sure of anything in my life. And I meant it.

The next morning, I hired a private tour guide to show me around the island of Milos. Not only was he my age, but he was sooooo cute. It was just him and I, and we spent the whole day together—oh baby! Haha just kidding, kind of. Anyway, he was so incredibly knowledgeable of the whole island. He took me to the most amazing spots around the island— Cyclades, The Catacombs of Milos, Klima, Sarakiniko Beach (Magical—OMG!!), Plaka (a fisherman’s town where I insisted we had lunch together—greek salad for me, fresh calamari for him). There’s no other way to describe it than simply amazing. Not only did my tour guide show and tell me about the island, we talked so deeply about life and relationships. It was so refreshing and insightful. He taught me a different perspective on men and how they view women—it was not what I expected, but in a good way. He dropped me back off at my hotel and I hated to say goodbye to him. I actually had the hotel owner phone him to come back (after 3 glasses of rosé at lunch—so embarrassing!) just so I could tell him what an impact he had on my life that day. He kissed my cheek and asked me out for a drink, but I was leaving early the next morning. That day, that guy…it was truly one of the best days of my life. I still think about him from time to time.

The next morning I was off to Santorini— which would in turn, turn out to be one of my favorite places in the whole world — Wow! Santorini, truly a dream! I stayed at the Rocabella Santorini Hotel and Spa. I got a deal on TripAdvisor and literally lived the dream while I was there. It was a beautiful resort with first class service. It was truly amazing. I explored Santorini a bit the first day on my own and then lounged by the pool. The next day, I hired a private tour guide again and it was SO worth it. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Alone again with a male tour guide (living my parent’s, this one was a bit older—later 30’s, early 40’s. Once again, had one of the best days of my life with him. Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegan Sea. It was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, hence how it got it’s curved island shape. He brought me all around Santorini— however, we spent the most time in the city of Oía, Santorini. Oía is the picture everyone has in their heads when they think of Greece—the white buildings with bright blue, colorful doors. Truly amazing. I did a little shopping while we were there, as he patiently waited outside for me. 

After Oía, we took off for a wine tasting at a family owned and operated well known Greek winery— Hatzidakis Winery. The winery is literally in an underground cave with stainless steel tanks, oak barrels, the whole unique shabang. My tour guide was a level 3 sommelier (he humbly told me when we got to the winery, like NBD) so he did the wine tasting with me (then spit it out into a bucket b/c he was my driver lol). I love learning about wine in general, but because it was just him and I, I was able to learn sooooo much from him! I ended up buying one white and one red to take home with me. After we left the winery (him sober, me kinda really buzzed), we went to the “black beaches” of Santorini, also known as the Perissa Beach—all black sand and black pebbles—one of the longest and most famous beaches in Santorini. Also lined with bars after bars, aka party vibes. 

One night in Santorini, I was having dinner at the restaurant in my hotel. There were 4 other guys about my age that came in and sat at the table next to me. They were kind of looking at me and I was kind of looking at them…and by chance, our waitress was trying to set us up to meet each other-Haha! Long story short, we ended up going out together in Santorini that night to some high end night club. They ordered bottle service and the rest was history. The boys were such gentleman, all born and raised in NYC and now work on Wall Street. I was totally taking a chance going out in a foreign country with a ratio of 4 guys to 1 girl (every dad’s worst nightmare), but it ended up being one of the best nights of my life. Sometimes you just have to trust your instinct and go for it. 

The next morning (hungover AF, mind you), I boarded a ferry in Santorini that took me back to Athens and I spent my last few nights there. I stayed at the King George hotel which I also got a deal on thanks to Travelocity. I’m the queen of finding luxe for less—a secret talent of mine. The hotel is also known for their rooftop restaurant, Tudor Hall, that overlooks the stunningly famous Acropolis. I think I had the best meal of my whole trip here. It was the perfect ending to my trip. 

I ended my trip earlier than expected due to changing plans and spending way more $$ than intended, but it was soooooo worth it. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I will never ever regret money spent on travel.

Greece is BY FAR my favorite place I’ve ever visited. It totally knocked Italy off my #1 spot. 

My favorite things about Greece:

—The weather! It’s hot AF in the summer, but the blue skies and sunshine are so worth it. 

—The food! OMG I literally ate a Greek salad everyday—to die for. Aside from that, everything was so so fresh, especially the seafood. Not to mention, the olives, capers, and tomatoes are all grown locally and out of this world. 

—The people! Greek people are a different kind of breed. I’ve been to a few different countries in Europe, and personally, I found Greek people to be the friendliest, most appreciative, helpful, and happiest. Not to mention, they’re total romantics—OMG! I got asked out 3 times while I was in Greece (totally flattering) and all of them were so sincere, sweet, and complimentary…but I obviously knew and kept in mind I was an American girl by herself, like helloooo common sense.  

—The vibe! It’s hard to describe, but the vibe in Greece (at least the summer vibe) was so fresh and fun. 

What I learned from this trip: 

—I know exactly who I am and I don’t f*ck around or waste my time (or feel bad about it). 
-Case in point ditching my group travel. 

—Everyone, including myself, is truly looking for the same thing out of life: true love.

—Don’t try to be classy and spit olive pits into your napkin. You look like a buffoon, Laura.  Use your hands and take them out of your mouth and put them on your plate. 

—Traveling solo, you can be whoever the f*ck you want. Nobody knows where you’re from, what your background is, what your situation is…they know you for you in that moment. Liberating AF!

—You're young and free and it feels f*cking amazing. 

—You learn what you like and what you don’t like. Hence, me ditching my “young professionals” travel group. I wouldn’t have known that that wasn’t for me, had I not tried it. You live and you learn. 

—You make friends WAY faster overseas than you would at home. I don’t know if it’s the vibe, or being out of your normal element, but everyone wants to be friends when they’re traveling. 

—You don’t need to pack as much as you think you do. 
Side note: I say this now, but will probably overpack again on my next trip. 

—You don’t need another glass of wine, but you won’t regret it…because you’re in f*cking Greece! 

—Street smarts, baby. I kind of have a “baby face,” that can come across as very friendly (which I am), but when you’re in another country alone, there’s no time for mixed signals. Honestly, I walked around like a bad ass bitch, not because I think I’m cool—I’m definitely not (lol), but because I didn’t want to be a target for someone to take advantage of me. I hate to sound cold, but shit does happen to people, and you have to think that way and protect yourself the best you can. 

Lastly, the most important and meaningful takeaway from this trip:

—Problems at home don’t seem so big anymore because there’s a whole other world out there. Never forget that, Laura. 

If you made it through this long blog, WOW good for you, the real MVP. Honestly, I could have kept going with details. It was the TIME OF MY LIFE. I honestly came home feeling like a completely different person. 

 Also—if you read this, book a trip to Greece, ASAP.

Keep on keepin’ on—
XX, Laura