How I Met My Best Friends George and Amal Clooney

While living in Florence, my friend Danielle suggested that we take a weekend trip to Lake Como. My initial reaction was “what dat?” But then I did some Google searching and learned of Lake Como’s dramatic views and celebrity residents (hello, George and Amal! It’s me, Nicky!!), and decided, yeah, okay, cool, let’s go.

Before I knew it, we were on a train headed to the ONLY hostel in all of Como. Yup, super quaint stuff. After a train ride, a ferry ride, and an over-priced taxi ride, we made it to our hostel in Menaggio at the strike of midnight to the sight of five European dudes sitting behind the front desk with our room key in hand (I, unfortunately, can’t tell you whether they were handsome or not because I was still frazzled after paying the taxi driver).

Either way, our Lake Como stay had begun. We woke up the next day and were greeted with those stunning views I told you about earlier.  Our day started with a “European breakfast,” which in hostel terms means free bread and orange juice.

Our hostel hosts and fellow guests were super helpful and chock full of information on what hikes to take and the best views to catch. But Danielle and I were like, "eff that!" Instead, we decided to gussy up and use our full day for an adventure out on the town. Shopping and food. Those were our main priorities.

Menaggio was cute and all, but Bellagio is the major hub, so we took a ferry and made our way up Lake Como. It seemed as though every corner of the little town had a cute shop or a delightful spot longing to be explored. On top of that were the views. You'd climb some stairs and get a whole new perspective of the surrounding lake, villages, etc. Don't believe me? Just check out some of the photos below! 

Here's a picture of my outfit: Grey H&M dress, pink Zara jacket, and comfy white converse.

Here's a picture of my outfit: Grey H&M dress, pink Zara jacket, and comfy white converse.

Photo of Bellagio by Danielle Cram.

Photo of Bellagio by Danielle Cram.

I was basically Danielle's muse for the day.Just call me Karlie Kloss,y'all. Choker: Nordstrom BP.

I was basically Danielle's muse for the day.Just call me Karlie Kloss,y'all. Choker: Nordstrom BP.

More exploring in Bellagio!

More exploring in Bellagio!

Bellagio lunch views! You jealous yet?! 

Bellagio lunch views! You jealous yet?! 

It's so flippin' Italian.

It's so flippin' Italian.

I know, I know, I know. You're totally hating on me. I don't blame you. Look at it! It's gorgeous! It's like the Italy you see in all the movies. Trust me, friends, I felt like one lucky duck. But after a few hours of exploring, eating, and shopping, we started to find ourselves turning around the same corners and bumping into the same old tourists looking for George and Amal (Just kidding! It was mostly me looking for the Clooneys). So we decided to rest on a bench over-looking the lake to regroup and decide our next move when we saw this:

We sat there mesmerized by this couple on a tiny rental boat. The dude jumped off the boat, swam to the diving board, and lived his damn life. Danielle and I sort of turned to each other and were like,

"Do you want to do that?"

"Yeah, but do you?"

"Yeah, but are you sure you want to?"

"Let's look into it and then decide."

"Good idea."

I wish the conversation were more of a "yeah! totally!" but we're ladies and we're indecisive and we just wanted each other to be happy, okay? Either way...

we DID IT.

I'm on a boat! Hi, George! Hi, Amal! Too many Clooney jokes? Okay, I'll stop. 

I'm on a boat! Hi, George! Hi, Amal! Too many Clooney jokes? Okay, I'll stop. 

Do you see that, dear reader? That on my face. Yes, there, just below the nose. That is what is called a "shit-eating grin" because, boy, I was happy!

It was surprisingly easy to rent a boat in Como, too. We just made our way back to the hostel, did some Google searching, and in an hour we we were on a boat in flipping Lake Como. It was the coolest! The dang coolest. 

Can we talk about that booty? 

Can we talk about that booty? 

That's where Anakin and Padme got married in the Star Wars Movie. Cool stuff! 

That's where Anakin and Padme got married in the Star Wars Movie. Cool stuff! 

Best way to check out Lake Como is by rental boat if ya ask me! 

Best way to check out Lake Como is by rental boat if ya ask me! 

After a tour around Como we decided to stop our boat and take a dip into the freezing cold lake water. Do you think we cared? Well, of course we did! We're two Florida girls! We like our warm beaches, people!  But, we did it anyway because we were in Italy, duh.

Feeling lucky selfie.

Feeling lucky selfie.

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We made our way back to our hostel with wet locks and stupid grins on our faces. Looking back, I wish I'd spent more time in Lake Como. I could have! Danielle had to leave the next morning for work but I guess I wasn't ready to hack it on my own, so we made our way back to Florence. Maybe one day I'll return on the behest of George and Amal. Wouldn't that be something?

Shout out to my adventure buddy, Danielle! I told you I'd use these pics one day. 

Shout out to my adventure buddy, Danielle! I told you I'd use these pics one day. 

This excursion taught me that travel isn't all about the sightseeing, the shopping, the eating, or the museums. I mean, that's definitely a major part of travel. You learn a lot that way—about history and culture. Plus, you eat a lot of good food, too. So much pasta! I mean, good pasta... but I digress.

This excursion taught me that travel is about the fun stuff, too. The REALLY fun stuff. The laughs, the swims, the jumps, the friends, the boats— the adventures, really. Basically, it taught me that I'm ready to incorporate more adventure into my travel itineraries! The stuff that scares you a little, you know. Sorry, mom! I know you don't like that! 

That's it for me! Besitos and well wishes! 

PS: The shoddy photos are by me. The really nice, clear, beautiful photos are by Danielle Cram Photography

Falling For Madrid (Like, Literally)

No big deal or anything, but ya girl just got back from traveling through Spain, France, and Portugal for 40 days. Yup, ya suckers. I was there, traveling all by myself for 40 days.

Also, when I say, “I just got back,” I mean that I got back about a month ago.

I’ve been procrastinating on blogging a little. So what? I needed time to process the whole thing. I’m not the type of person who comes back from a once-in-a-lifetime trip and writes about it willy nilly like that. Come on, guys. Also, I needed time to watch season two of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and all of Lemonade, along with, like, 100 hours worth of Tasty videos…

I’ve been busy.

Four weeks, a scroll through Pinterest, and about ten more Tasty vids later, I’m here to finally tell you about my experience. Here’s the thing about solo travel, dear reader: you can’t really talk about it without sounding like the lady below.

Yeah, jerks. I’m woke as hell now. It was nothing but a trip full of bourgie experiences, during which I rode donkeys. Not really ... but I did take a picture of some cute little lambs in Portugal.

Look at them! They’re so tiny!

Anyway, I’ll stop distracting you with pictures of adorable animals and funny videos and just come out and say it. Traveling on your own is kind of the best. I navigated cities I’ve never been to, met cool people, and ended up staring out into gorgeous views on top of monuments older than dust, wondering, “How did I get here?”

At the same time, traveling alone is full of mishaps and missteps that are sure to make you feel like a f*cking idiot. You'll make wrong turns, say wrong things, and fall on your face. Literally.

This is not a story about those gorgeous views, friendly travelers, or charming medieval hamlets, but rather one of me falling on my face.(I did say literally, didn't I?) Enjoy!

I was scared before I left. The reason I wanted to get into this whole travel game was because many moons ago (okay, fine, it was like a year ago), Kat Armas told me about her own solo adventures in Europe, and I thought, “I could never do that.” Nevertheless, I decided, for the sake of conquering fears and all that, that I should try it. (I know, right? I’m like insane and super brave.)

I booked my ticket, and before I had time to organize a travel plan, my take-off date had come. I tried to keep cool, but as anyone who knows me knows, I have no chill. I have negative chill (which is pretty chilly). It’s the worst. So I tried to sleep on my flight. I even used my inflatable neck pillow and earplugs, but the lady next to me was a mouth breather who kept having to stand up to go pee. Plus, the plane had turbulence and, oh my god, I was on my way to a foreign country all by myself.

So we land and I’m all nervous and sweaty and smell like the breath of the lady sitting next to me. I’m also exhausted and terrified, and did I tell you I smelled like the breath of the lady next to me? So I made the decision to take out cash and drop 30€ on a cab from the airport to the center of town.*

After a seemingly quick ride, the cab driver stopped and said, “this is the place.” So I exited the cab and thought nothing of it. Oh, except one small problem: my hostel was nowhere in sight. I was on the right street, but couldn’t physically find the name of my hostel. Like anywhere. So, I walked up and down the street, trying to spot my hostel. Right as I looked up to see a huge neon sign that read “hostel,” I fell...

over a pole...

the size of my shortest friend...

By the way, this was in Spain, pre-siesta hour, where everyone was on the street before their wine-infused lunch dates, yelling vale at each other. I ate the pavement, backpack on my back and all (my bag was huge, btw. I lovingly dubbed it ‘The Monster,’ after Cheryl Strayed’s backpack in Wild, but also because it was huge). My whole body fell onto the sidewalk. Two guys had to pick me up off the ground and put me on my feet. I didn’t even say thank you. All I said was that I hadn’t seen the huge pole on the ground.†

So my introduction to the whole solo travel game wasn’t exactly cherries and diet cokes. I walked into my hostel all shaky and crazy-eyed because I’d just experienced un tremendo golpeado.√

A few days later, I slipped on the rainy tiles of Lisbon while looking for my hostel, except this time I laughed it off. Also, there were less people on the street, and I was basically a super expert at solo traveler by this point. All it took was a couple of days! Who would have thunk!

So what's the moral of the story? Time heals all wounds? Accept the good with the bad? I don’t really know, dear reader. All I know is that my knees were scabby for a while and then they weren’t.º 

Anyway, I’m now a worldly babe, and you’re the coolest for reading this post. I’ll be back with more soon.∞ Namaste, scoobedobedo and all that. BIIIIIIII!

*Who am I? A big money baller? No, I was just that nervous and crazy that I was willing to drop money on an easy ride than deal with the metro.

† To those fine Spaniard dudes, gracias! You helped a sister out. I was understandably a little preoccupied in the moment because there was a giant travelers backpack crushing me a second before our interaction. You understand, right? Of course you do because you’re Spanish and Spanish people are cool. Bless you.

√For you gringos: a major hit to the head

º No, seriously. I think that’s just the moral of the story.

∞Maybe