Archive for the ‘Past Trips’ Category


A view across Chain Bridge to the Buda side of the Danube!

I ordered a sparkling water and a glass of rosé, to go with my goulash. And apparently this is ‘the’ typical daytime beverage of choice for the Hungarian people. Mixing sparkling avec gas frizzante water, which was invented in this spectacular country, along with their rosé wine. This is pretty much how my life seems to go these days. Everything fits perfectly. Obviously I am full of stories, always true and generally funny… usually with some sort of cringed image of whatever mischief I’ve managed to bump myself into. Unintentionally.

The same unintentional theory is still applicable now, it’s just that it’s all suddenly perfect. 😁 Remember the intro scene to ‘Meet The Parents’ with Ben Stiller? Leaving Chicago with everything sorted out and on time. The weather is perfect. A taxi happens to be right outside, every traffic light flashes green as they approach, random upgrades to first class at the airport. Everything is ‘just so’. ✨ It makes me laugh because I don’t think anyone, myself included, could ever use the descriptive words ‘just so’ with regard to me. Hmm… at least not pertaining to my personal life, to be fair. It’s quite bizarre to live in this world of random perfection for over a month, continuously. Or am I just viewing the world now through rosé-coloured glasses? 😉 Non… il est: “ce sentiment qu’on appelle l’amour”. 😍

What little bit of Budapest I’ve seen thus far, blows doors on several other destinations, especially Prague! But not in a sustainable way, like my new French home in Bordeaux. Budapest is alive, a bit gritty, quite cold out, breathtakingly beautiful and one of the most authentic cities I’ve ever visited. The people are warm and inviting, the food is incredible everywhere, and the culture is rich with a light buzz and true depth. Now that I’m thinking about it, perhaps it’s a little bit like New York! The New York of Europe!!! This place has got heart… and the goods to back it up. I had a soft, mellow arrival. The apartment is perfect, well located and I’ve not broken any keys in the five doors and locks required for entry. I had a head cold probably caught in chilly Munich, and some devastating news from Switzerland. 😪 I took it easy in preparation for all the excitement that will take place in my short time here.

Perhaps I am the only idiot in the room, but honestly… I needed to answer the “what is goulash” question upon my arrival. Which just happened to be the 1956 Revolution Memorial Day, and start of a long national holiday weekend. Not yet certain of the logistics, such as: where can I buy wine? 😉 I sauntered over to the Four Seasons where I knew they would accept my sick puffy-eyed disheveled presence. Wow! Goulash is amazing!!! And it’s got a kick, it perked my little pathetic ass right up! Hello Budapest! 😃 I was all warm and fuzzy inside and had seen just enough magical castles across the lit-up Chain Bridge (if you like that sort of thing) 😉 to go back to my apartment and hibernate for a few days.

Now that I’m healthy again and realise I’m carrying an extra 5kg 😣 of Italian gluten and French happiness… now it is back to reality! Squats and jogs and Hungarian Mud Body Wraps for me. How convenient, there are several gyms within a block in any direction, and a beautiful jogging course along the Danube. I will be ready for the half marathon in Bordeaux!! Hint hint, let’s register! 😄 I actually abstained from booking a weekend flight to visit the Illustrious Frenchman, despite how much I miss him. He will be in Budapest soon enough! 😊 sigh…

Instead I will continue this bizarro world of things like: “hmmm, I need a coat” and boom!🚦Green light… there’s the Burberry store with the trench you always wanted, cheaper than in the US and a 13.5% tourist tax refund. And… I’ve wanted to see Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte for quite some time, and boom! It’s featured this month at the extravagantly famous Opera House which my apartment overlooks. Or, “hmmm, I’ve been craving Mexican for about a hundred years now” and boom! There’s a Hungarian taqueria on Teréz kôrût about 500 meters away. 😐 It’s incredible. Incroyable. I now exercise patience (hold your laughter!) in anticipation of all that is ahead. 😁 it is not an easy thing for me: patience.

Fortunately, the lights are all green and I am consistently amazed every time “Illustrious strikes again”. 😍 Now there’s a Liz-story which is practically unbelievable💫 but very true. xx


My favourite new necklace… which needed a chain, and the first shop I walked in had the perfect match. Bizarro world continues…

Packing up Bordeaux était doux-amer

Posted: October 24, 2014 in Travels

The beautiful spa inside the Grand Hotel Bordeaux

I remember the precise moment I chose Bordeaux 🍷 as the second destination for waifdom phase III of Fabulouso 2014. It was on the plane from New York to Las Vegas in August headed to Travel Week. Sigh… who knew then all that could transpire!!? My decade-long obsession with France has been no secret, nor should it come as any surprise. Finally, the decade-long half-assed attempts to actually learn the language now pays off. I never expected to fall so deeply in love with Bordeaux… or have the overwhelming fortune of my name on a mailbox in the most beautiful flat at Gambetta Square. I just love the 18th Century Haussmann-esque beauty. I even like the red brick San Francisco-esque Toulouse, nearby. 😊 At least their weather is not shit! Only positives!

Packing up to leave was bitter sweet. Even though my staunch return is not far off. The lovely owners stored one of three Tumi at their home in Teste de la Buche… preserving all my spring-time outfits for 2015. Only seven more cities between now and December 7th… and probably 7,000 texts with the Illustrious Frenchman. 😘 Mais… tout va bien. Tres bien.

In anticipation of inevitable Bordeaux homesickness, I decided to celebrate my farewell with pure self-indulgence at The Grand Hotel. After all, it is my job to know how the spa treatments actually are, whether they’ve got hammam and sauna… what the temperature of the jacuzzi pool is, things like that. 😇 It is my job! 😊 and it was magnificent. Alas there was laundry to finish, Peppone pizza (and more fucking fromage) to enjoy… plus a 13:28 TGV to Paris to look forward to. Three blissful nights with Dorchester and Park Hyatt, which will never be forgotten. Nor will my gratitude ever wear thin. 😘 Experiencing Paris in my beloved and crazy industry with the Illustrious Frenchman, was the most sane, funny, grounded, loving and fabulous time I’ve had… perhaps in my whole life. 💕

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I did not squeeze in seven hotel sites a day. Of course Envizage is always my priority… perhaps this trip focused a bit more on the concierge aspects of my business. 😉 There was incredible live jazz in St Germaine de Pres, exhibits at Pompidou Museum of Modern Art, a magical sweet kiss on Pont Neuf and greasy pomme frites avec moutarde at 2 o’clock in the morning. At Le Meurice’s Dali 228, Pascal remembered me and AJ 😉 (duh) from 2011, and they now have the best gin, ginger and Tabasco cocktail. It was a fabulously unexpected French month which is best explained by Pulp’s brilliant song ‘Something Changed’. We celebrated Park Hyatt’s new Michelin-star at Pûr and it was one of the most extraordinary dinners ever. Everything cooked to perfection, reasonable portions and definitely no truffle soufflé to gag on. However I suspect a ‘run to the border’ when I am home for Thanksgiving will be rather extraordinary as well. 😁. Tu me manques France, already.

However, Budapest awaits! With hilarious visitors, French lessons and the Illustrious Frenchman to look forward to. It is strange not to have been in an airport since August, yet I feel like I’ve traveled the entire universe. November and December will more than make up for my airport love. ✈️

Each destination has delivered such incredibly different experiences. I expect nothing less from my month in Budapest, complete with a fireplace and balcony overlooking the Opera House. I am afraid it will go by quickly. For now, I am grateful for Rome (especially my last Friday night), fell unexpectedly in love in Bordeaux… oops I mean: in love with Bordeaux 😉 and intend to make the absolute most of Budapest while working seriously hard, in preparation for all the incredible events that lay ahead. And I’m still just talking about 2014!

I wonder if my French fairy tale is coming true. I wonder… 😘 🇫🇷 and thank you 🇮🇹. x and ooo


Alain Ducasse champagne and Paprika Pringles! A Le Meurice ‘must’


The Illustrious Frenchman is multi-talented…

I found my heart in Bordeaux

Posted: October 4, 2014 in Travels

The Reflecting Pool at La Bourse, along the Garonne River

Sorry Tony Bennett… I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of San Fran and I most certainly didn’t leave my heart there. And while I have vivaciously been in a New York State of Mind for several years now… I think I actually found my heart in Bordeaux. 💘 En français: J’ai trouvé mon coeur à Bordeaux. Get Benjamin Biolay on the phone STAT… I think we definitely have another hit song here in ‘La Belle Endormie’. I don’t ever want to say au revoir.

Bordeaux is not the easiest city to get to, except from maybe Paris or Toulouse 😉 I have to admit I kind of like it that way! This is no place for the faint-hearted. From the moment I dragged my 5th piece of cargo up the 67 steep stairs into my flat… I just ‘knew’. 😍 Isn’t that what ‘they’ say about love? Shortly after, I shared a vin rosé aperitif with the owners and friends to celebrate. I text them the following morning to lock in mon grand retour. Victor Hugo, a fellow Piscean and massively talented Frenchman, felt love for Bordeaux as well. My only worry is that the climate is a bit too temperate. I will miss the snow, and the palace in NYC… the one on Park Avenue. F the one in midtown! !!! I must admit to my excitement for spending Christmas-time and the winter here. Do my beloved European Christmas markets exist in the southwest of France?? Or is it too warm for vin chaud. 😳

I’ve joined InterNations, an expat community as a newbie Bordelaise! 😃 I was so disappointed to miss a dinner on Wednesday due to my invoices and end-of-month. La prochaine fois. I have started month five of the self-induced squat/tricep/ab challenge and am looking forward to working off the noticeable intake of pizza! pasta! pizza! pasta! that is unavoidable in Roma. Baguettes à la France are no help! Jogging along the qais, the Illustrious Frenchman and shopping in centre-ville will trigger motivation! Rosetta Stone and I are back to talking nightly about assiettes bleu et les poissons rouges nagent. 🇫🇷 I must improve my French.

Having said that, I have been shopping en français! I’ve replenished all my vitamins and coconut oil, tried on and acheté un manteau, and made trois reservations at the train station! All in French! Unlike the lovely VP, I do not dream en français… one can only aspire! 😉 Instead I dream of a grey kitten I fret over… WTF!!? Oh jeez, that dream book mom gave me is packed up tight in New Jersey storage! Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire !!? 😆 Translation: what does it mean!? I think all of it means that I have found my heart in Bordeaux. The beauty is that I really cannot be bothered to be anything other than incredibly happy… unless le chaton gris shows up on my doorstep! Living in France is like magic. ⚡️ It’s better than a fucking fairy tale! The Costellos are all en fuego (oops wrong language). Love in Bordeaux, babies in Washington and a new career in Bangkok. Wow. I just love us! 😊

For the record… everyone can stop with the Eat Prey Love crap. I never saw the movie and couldn’t get through the first chapter of the whiny book.  Pour moi: “It wasn’t money or love I was looking for. I had a heightened sense of awareness, was set in my ways, impractical and a visionary to boot. My mind was strong like a trap and I didn’t need any guarantee of validity.” Sigh… Je t’aime Bob Dylan!

Bordeaux seems somewhere I can stand still for a bit. I’ve only got seven more fabulous cities to love before that happens. Starting with Toulouse today! 😁 Absence makes the heart grow fonder… if it’s meant to be, that is!  x


Beautiful Gare de St Jean, on route to a truly beautiful weekend in Toulouse x

Torino is bullsh*t

Posted: September 28, 2014 in Travels

Ah… j’ai pris arrivee France, just look at the beautiful view!

Arrivederci Italia! On the TGV from Turin to Paris, en route to Bordeaux (yes… through Paris!) it was cold like the Torinesi people, and foggy. Quite fittingly, after crossing the border into France through a long tunnel, we popped out the other side to chaud soleil et belle campagne! 😘 Je tu ai manqué France! Our stop in Bardonecchia Italy, to let police on the train for inspection, proved that yes I am finally arriving my favourite country… those policemen were all ridiculously gorgeous! 🇫🇷

At the end of the day, bullsh*t Torino served it’s purpose and provided a few laughs along the way. After a full 30 days in my first European apartment, I was definitely ready to go. The Roma apartment was not up to my standard but well-located for all the touristic spots a tourist is meant to visit, close to the hotels I sited, and Termini Stazione… where I wound up at least once a week. Oh yes… and just blocks from the Frenchmen in the hotel on Via Nazionale! 😉

The day I left Rome was super relaxed, I walked to Piazza Venezia to fetch my new handmade sandals admiring myself as quite the logistical wizard! ✨ I was all packed up and would take a taxi back to Via Modena to collect luggage and then be taken on to Termini. My initial solution for train journey between Roma and Bordeaux turned out to be the best path. Somehow in my mind it all made perfect sense. Italo at 14:00 to Turin, overnight in the charming Olympic city to enjoy my last Italian meal F.O.R.E.V.E.R. But, everybody there just irritated me. With the exception of the cute bartender at La Capannina and the older Carabinieri I met having a midnight martini 🍸 in the lobby of my irritating hotel. Thanks to the kindness of a sweet Nigerian man that I later completely ignored, I was at the hotel in plenty of time to get over to the OTHER train station to secure the unnecessary reservation from hell: Turin to Bordeaux, through Paris… with a changement de la station de train. So optimistic ‘sweet Liz’. 😇 Three brilliant words: Queen of Clubs. At hotel check-in I was told there is a Costello Ristorante in ‘the’ square. I don’t know which square but I never had the chance to look after my argument with the Trenitalia asshole at Porto Nuova Stazione! I wasted more time trying to get this unnecessary train reservation! After nearly being hit by several random unhappy-looking bicyclers… I’ll admit to having a nice Piemonte dinner.

All of this is a laughable faint memory now, washed away by the brilliant, extraordinary city of Bordeaux. Perhaps I am in some sort of a strange French incantation!? 😳 That’s fine by me! I’ll take it. I realise each city-move delivers its own set of circumstances, anxieties and adventure. But when everything just falls right into place, without warning or fail… it feels almost predestined. Suddenly, I’m in a warm beorgeois belle ville with a vibe I simply can’t resist. I’m able to get by with the little French I’m comfortable using and the Bordelais are fabulous. I think I have fallen in love. Sadly my deadlines and work load prevented me from much exploration, but… allons! !!! Finally, I was shown my new ‘home’ by the illustrious Frenchman, or more accurately said: possibly the kindest person I’ve ever met. After a week full of honest hard work, habituating with my flat owners, and starry-eyed nights… I discovered I am inherently well-adjusted in Bordeaux, properly toured the city, ate exceptionally well and was honoured to see ‘this’ side of the Atlantic Ocean. Wow! 😍

Bordeaux and I… well, we’ve only just begun! As the St Estephe breathes and the cannelé are savoured … this Bordelais girl looks forward to a busy productive week and a further-look east into the southwest of France.

The sensibility in Bordeaux, for me, is infectious. And I have caught whatever zest it is, massively. Where else can one be steeped into Louis XV beauty, find any cuisine (including baby cow thymus), and get the perfect épilation maillot for €11,00!!?

I hang my new French and American flags (literally) high. Sigh 😘 I could listen to French ALL day and night long…

x and ooo and bonne nuit!


The mesmerizing view from my Bordeaux flat front window… wow


The ethnic food aisle in the Carrefour Market, a site for sore Italian eyes!

La dolce vita è a Firenze

Posted: September 18, 2014 in Travels

a tiny pedestrian walkway on the right bank of the Arno x

The heart of Tuscany, birthplace of the Renaissance and symbolism of the fleur de lis. 😍 However I should not be allowed there without full protection… from myself, and my bank accounts! More money has been spent in Firenze in two days than the last 25 in the south of Italy. The cuisine is just incredible… far more diverse, interesting and gluten-friendly. Medici, and the Four Seasons stole il mio cuore 💘 The city is charismatic, proud and truly autentico. I would definitely have to learn Italian to stay longer than three days. The Fiorentini can be quite snobbish, as was pointed out by several local friends and colleagues. They might take a cool attitude toward yet another american defecting to their unmatched UNESCO perfection. The esteemed guidance was to live on the San Croce side of the Arno to avoid being stereotyped too much.

Given we are STILL in Italy 😳 I must blather on about the food, naturalmente!!! I stumbled upon this fresh, totally provincial and relaxed Tuscan cafe called Mangiofoco, on a quaint Via just behind the enchanting Ponte Vecchio. The products, the people and the vibe was warm and alive… but totally chill. That just seemed to be the way in Firenze. And the true locals certainly know it. I have lived an entire life without whole tomatoes, honey or pesto, yet something about Firenze revolutionised those ingredients. Bringing a little truffle love ‘home’ for Thanksgiving… despite the unfortunate soufflé experience circa 2011 in Paris! 😊

Everything is effortlessly beautiful. The art… even street graffiti, the men, the jewellery, the wine, the hotels and the Arno. Wow! I was rather fortunate to spend time in two very different hotels. One being the brand new Portrait Firenze, a Salvatore Ferragamo conquest, which ironically is how I feel about the handbag he made for me as well. 😉 The family was destined for simple perfection! Next I moved to a 15th century Renaissance palace, which is the breathtaking Four Seasons. Comprised of a Medici palace, five hectares of the most peaceful serene botanical gardens and a 16th century Conventino. Given my very special adoration for the 17th of September, a spa treatment was definitely on the menu! Hot candle wax dripped directly on my skin and then massaged perfectly for 75 short minutes… overlooking gardens that have withstood several popes, wars and centuries. It was a bit of magic, and in an indescribably different way than the magic I spoke of in Positano. Such diversity across a relatively small country!

It was a fabulous experience, and to be honest, a fair amount of work as well. Nine hotel sites in two days! Plus dinners, lunches, shopping, worldwide what’s apps and the business! Sheesh… exhausting! 😲 but I will never forget the corner shop with the non-English speaking jewellery-maker who had little rubber thingies on just his thumbs. He showed me the creative wisdom to almost every piece in his impressive showroom. While I might have become rather expert at the ‘grat-zie-a’ pronunciation of thank you, I basically speak no Italiano. Yet this lovely artist and I managed. And managed to spend a shit load of euro! 💶 👸 🔫 I deserve it.

Especially when Make You Feel My Love seems to be played in all forms everywhere I turn. Like by the piano player down in the 15th century gardens of the Four Seasons in Firenze. Sigh…

Five more sleeps and I am en route to j’adore France! Determined to make the most use of the rail pass and further enhance my logistics expertise… I will take the train from Rome to Bordeaux. 😆 It makes me laugh to see people’s reaction to that declaration! If anyone can do it, with two really big suitcases and quite a few acquired Italian treasures that simply won’t fit… it is me! I think it will be funny. Termini to Torino for an impromptu overnight at a Golden Palace… followed by ten TGV hours, including one cross-town Parisian transfer and voila! Je serai en France! Yes, it is quicker for me to go all the way to Paris to change trains than through Marseille or Lyon. Italy has been fabulous, and I’ve seen so much, eaten so much and am ready to move on… I’ve got vendange (grape harvest), an international film festival and St. Estephe patiently awaiting. I look forward to the massive upscale apartment with full professional kitchen in the heart of Bordeaux. Anxious for the loads of men in scarves, France 24, El Taco Del Diablo, and chill time with good friends. No pasta! I wonder how many doors and keys it will require to actually get into the French apartment?!! 😳

Five more sleeps here in the Piazza della Repubblica 🎉 so exciting!

x and ooo


My very first pesto at Mangiofoco… it was perfetto!


The view from my suite at the incomparable Portrait Suites Firenze

Surprised charm and molto pizza in Napoli

Posted: September 12, 2014 in Travels

The view from Parco di Principe across the Mediterranean to Mt Vesuvius

I must admit that Pompeii has always intrigued me. But the whole ‘it’s too close to Naples’ thing continued to deter a visit, and my professional recommendation for anyone else to. Shame on me! 😠

Assuredly, I would not have made the one hour journey had it not been for the pure kindness and absolute determination of a friend who lives there. He convinced me that absolutely yes !!! it is a charming destination and important part of Italy to experience. Did you know they have four castles and more churches within its perimeters than… well, than a lot of places!? Like 200 of them! Huge gratitude to the enamoring Napoletani, and their ridiculously intelligent immigrato francese 😉 who made it possible to completely change the view of at least one currently-defected american. Trust I will spread the word!

Napoli itself is a popular touristic destination for Europeans, and other non-americans. The streets were full and lively. Sure, it was a bit chaotic in its own infatuating way… but I never felt unsafe. Granted I had my very own local to show me around, and am so pleased to have done so! Now I highly recommend it! Likely as a stop-over and with the luxury of a trusted and fun guide, which Envizage can now recommend with 100% confidence. I have not experienced Italy extensively by any stretch of the word, but for those of us who actually enjoy exotic authentic destinations and want to experience true culture – Napoli is a must! 🇮🇹 Taking a bit of time to wander around the Spanish Quarter, Old Town and Il Lungomare with all its ‘corno’ good fortune, motorbikes and oh my gosh the freaking pizza 🍕 well, it’s just one of those amazing moments I will forever cherish, and likely never replicate elsewhere. Nor would I want to! Yes, you’ve got to be vigilant. But aren’t us diehard travelers always? Just zip up the fucking purse and don’t engage with the randoms!! It’s not rocket science.

There is so much more to it than the pizza, which I must admit was light, amazing and worth every part of Italian gluten I ate. It’s different than any other pizza I’ve had, in taste and consistency. Here I go, incessant about the food still! After a crash course of Napoli and all its fabulousness, I was fortunate to visit Sorrento for the day, and experience it’s stunning beauty. Naples and Sorrento are the gateway to all those seemingly complicated perfect parts of Italy that we all (or at least I did) thought required €1,000 a night for hotel, scary expensive car rental and a P.Diddy yacht to experience. Capri, Positano, Pompeii, Ischia, and Amalfi: done, done and done! Sorrento itself has a serene charm and magnifico view of the ‘sleeping’ Mt Vesuvius 😊 and gorgeous tufo rock black sand in the Mediterranean Sea. It is quite peaceful and inviting. Mt Vesuvius is the only active volcano, albeit not currently active, in Europe. A perpetual concern of the Napoletani as an ‘awakening’ could be a replication of Pompeii in AD 79.

I could go on and on, about the captivating generosity and benevolence of the Italians, my industry and enchanted experiences! Instead yet another gluten experience of a ‘lifetime’ back in Roma at JK Place awaited. Burgers. 😳 Time to get out the fat-girl clothes… except oh shoot I gave all that to the thrift store before my temporary departure from NYC. Nah it’s just time to hit Villa Borghese and the spin place on Barberini before heading to Florence for a few days next week! You better believe I will be fit in time for those hot French men in scarves! 😚

I’ve grown a little bit anxious as I realise my last days in Italy are quickly approaching. I purchased my Italo ticket for the random overnight in Torino as a last hurrah. Until Milano in November anyway. Yet like a real European… I’ve learned how to do laundry without using a drying machine! Sort of. Any pro would surely have a laugh at my rack. My clothes rack! Equally European I’ve decided, is that my fingernails have grown just barely. Not even enough to file yet!

x and ooo


He tried to make me eat the whole thing at Gino Sorbillo, and I nearly did! 😨 Napoli style.


All the Italians are so concerned this little blonde has eaten, and bring me gluten! This is the bus stop in Positano.

I caved. It started with being polite in Positano… so I completely disown all responsibility for my recent gluten-inhalation and blame poise whilst in the company of a truly acclaimed Italian family. It was bound to happen! 😳 Thankfully I have learned the natural Italian ingredients will not affect me in the same american chemically-induced (and banned from Italy) manner. Don’t get me wrong… I am stuffed to the gills, and feel it. But the fact that my perfectly coifed fingernails have not even grown a millimetre in length is quite telling. So yes, I chose to order the jeera naan alongside my highly anticipated chicken tikka. I am a a bit over Italian food at this stage and found myself yelping Mexican restaurants ‘nearby’ at 23:00 hours last night!

I’ve just started to get my bearings and know my streets now. I’ve returned from the most magical and surreal three days in Positano. There are no words to describe how incredible Positano is. When I was a young teenager watching the Marisa Tomei movie… never in a million years could I have imagined being an invited ‘guest’. It was rather enchanting. All of it. The linen shops, the steps, the winding streets, the handmade sandals… even the crazy thunderstorms, it was worth my four+ hour bus ride from Rome. Everyone should go to Positano at some point in their life. Even if it’s for one day or one night, or it’s the last $1,000 in their bank account. Go. 💫

Thankfully I brought my sneakers as I was quickly invited to climb the steps to the charming village of Nocelle, shortly after my arrival. I am so happy I did! The indescribable beauty at 1,700+ steps up… what a remarkably perfect day that was. The elevation left me with heavy breath, and then there were still 1,700 steps down. It was exhilarating and I felt justified because it was just before then that I caved to my first bit of bread with my whitefish carpaccio at lunch. Dinner was irresistible handmade ravioli for dinner, but there were only five! 😉 I do feel a bit cliche going on about the food in Italy, but it’s pretty difficult to neglect! I decided to get back on track. Day three in paradise and 230 squats, dips and abs later, I was cozied up in the garden room by the pool, innocently skype-drinking with my favorite man in the Middle East… and then boom! Mid-skype I was summoned to lunch with an insalata verde and freshly made puttanesca. 😍 These italian men like ordering for me! When I arrived back to Rome five+ hours later, I was craving cacio e peppe. Alright. So my nails may not have grown in nearly seven days, and the ingredients ARE natural… but this ends now. The fitness center at Barberini around the corner is €18 per day and I will run through Villa Borghese domani.

I am finding living in Italy to be quite fascinating. It blows my mind really. Did you know there is a division of the European Union, like high up on the governments priority list. It is dedicated to preserving the ingredients allowed into the foods, the products (and their chemical DNA) allowed to be imported and an overall safeguarding of the culture. At least this is how my beautiful mind interpreted it. The USDA is clearly not a member but has convinced this EU sector to take fully privatised meetings on the subject of american imports. I obviously cannot speak to the outcome or the rationale of the Italian people… but let me just say that it certainly doesn’t surprise me. And the Italians aren’t impressed either. No one here can understand why the US has organised it so no transcripts can be recorded! Of course this is my opinionated summary of a lovely conversation after several spritz and glasses of Monticello… but it resonates. I wonder how long it will be until my fingernails grow a little. 😊

Life here has been poetic. Things just fall into place. I am busy, I am responsible, and I am enjoying having my mornings free for exercise. I feel effective. Oh gosh Janice, is that the correct usage?! I hope so because I feel alive, relevant and effective with an capital ‘E’. Hopefully it’s not meant to be an ‘A’. There is no lack of activity, friends, or things to procrastinate work. 😉 It’s all v positive and wondrous… as I continue to peg away at it with clients, I can’t help but have a far more starry-eyed outlook on life. Without care how the Phillies are doing or where USC football stands in the BCS.

Instead, I am impressed by the Italian charm and hospitality which most definitely rivals Asian. I’m surprised how affordable ‘living’ in Rome is. The house is stocked gluten-free, for just €35. Wine, prosecco and Campari is on my shelves for about the same value!

Whoa and just in the blink of an eyelash, I read a friend’s Facebook post: “when a man falls in love with a woman she becomes his weakness. When a woman falls for a man he becomes her strength.” Wasn’t expecting that stinger but sadly it reminds me of my heart-wrenching reality. Or former reality. It is what I had 😔 sigh… it’s quite difficult when someone you care so much for cannot get happy.

Onward and upward: back to being impressed with these hot Italians… ha! Which will then lead me to the French, and their scarves. I’ve got pricelessly genuine and hilarious friends coming to visit which I can hardly stand waiting for. It will be incredible and during the 3rd ever Bordeaux International Film Festival, which my flat is a block from. Life keeps moving forward and positive, and karmically into place… with the business and personally as well. No solid answers for the future. How amazing is that!!? Well that’s not true, both my lovelies in NYC and San Fran agreed on appointments in the 5 hour windows I allotted. 😊 I could not have made a better decision to be in Europe, on all fronts. I am coming for thanksgiving AJ, and I will look forward to the traditional Stewart family spread (mashed, turkey, brussels and beets!) while I travel through this ridiculously perfect continent.

I had to share my iPhoto overview, it makes me laugh. My Italian friends are all too comfortable with my phone to flip though the photos I’ve taken. Only to find these hot men in speedos with blow-up alligators on my feed. Did you realise when photos are sent via What’s App they immediately save to your iPhotos log?! 😄 Well I do now and it is fucking hilarious. I wouldn’t change any piece of my life for nothing… I love it!!!

Fiesta della Repubblica 🎉 in the Piazza della Repubblica!  xx and ooo… and I am serious: GO to Positano in your lifetime!



View of Sirenuse from atop the 1,700+ steps in the village of Nocelle



Loving my iPhoto feed! No need to justify as my people know my prudish ways all too well.

Settling into the eternal city

Posted: August 27, 2014 in Travels

No attempt at a gris goose avec olives order in Italiano

Settling slowly… until this weak ass grey goose martini is gone! And then yes please, I’ll have another. Mrs Jetsetter suggested I mingle amongst the beautiful people on Via Veneto after our early morning stress out. I do believe that together we possess quite a talent… what with our time zones, currency conversions and otherworldly lives. It’s simple: between Italy and the Middle East surely we can collectively remember to book the $23k USD ticket from Australia for next week by midnight California time lest we lose the space due to the ticketing deadline passing! Ticketing deadline where!? 😜 Fear not for we were able to pull it off with roughly five minutes to spare. Now it’s time to flee. 😉 oh wait, I’m already fled so I guess we’ll have to just go on trust!

I arrived on a sleepy Saturday morning, having been only once before to this fabulous country, but never in summer. It really is true what ‘they’ say about Italy in August! It’s quiet! I remember vividly how chaotic and radical it seemed in October of 2006, on my lesbian honeymoon. Admittedly, I’m rather pleased it is ‘slow’ for my first week living abroad. A soft entry while I try to fit in and get sorted out. Five days now and I’ve finally figured out all the doors required to get into my apartment and have only broken one key lock so far. 🔑

I slept well on the plane, had a lovely breakfast at Eden Hotel and then proceeded to sleep about 33 hours after gathering a few supplies: acqua e vino. At 17:30 Sunday when I rose from my slumber, I wandered out to Fontaine de Trevi for a little sustenance. Enter: stalker número uno. After finishing an incredible meal with agreement (not a promise!) to meet the boy out front when his shift ended, I took a little stroll along a familiar road. Enter: stalker número due. At least this one was all grown up and had a motorbike. A motorbike which I so haphazardly rode on without a helmut… or his first name. 😁

Back to business for Monday! Nervous about my transportation logistics for a much anticipated personal invitation to Positano this weekend from a renowned hotel’s owners, I decided to jog to the Tiburtina Stazione and get my tickets in advance. This eternal city is bizarrely quiet. But it is perfetto as all the Italian friends are returning from holidays and my sense of direction and meetings begin to take form. I’ve figured out that wine is just cheap. Period. 🍷 You can’t buy a €20 bottle in the supermarket. And I don’t see any wine shops! I’m also unable to find grey goose for the apartment, hence my frequenting of five-star hotels like Baglioni and Jumeirah Grand. There are hot men everywhere. No squeaky pants… at least not yet anyway. Motorbikes are the way to travel and I find it kind of nostalgic that it’s always water “with gas” or “no gas”. Frizzante! Sempre frizzante.

Last night I had a lovely catch-up with a really sweet hotelier I’ve enjoyed parties with all over the world. Tomorrow the Rome sites begin and will end with dinner on the terrace above the Spanish Steps. Yes, it is a charmed life… and I am definitely grateful. Just keep in mind I am comfortable (for now) having no address and none of my ‘stuff’… which for me has been invigorating. I venture to guess it’s not something everyone would be comfortable with. Kind of like me with babies. 😳 This weekend is Positano, the week after next will be Portofino with day trips to Florence and Saturnia thrown in for good measure. Yet I love how connected I am able to stay to NYC, New Zealand 😚, the Middle East, UK, California and everywhere else in the world my traveling posse happens to be!

Sitting here at the Jumeirah Grand on Via Veneto, why am I surprised this hotel is full of Arabs? One really big young boy is eating a plain hunk of Brie with knife and fork! and good luck finding clothes to fit you when you’re twenty! He’s already at least 300 pounds. There’s my opinion for the night! I’m no one to talk though as I was so pointedly reminded that I am living in a very conservative catholic country. Trust me Jacs, if I could have taken a day-train to Germany, I would have! 😆

Tomorrow is 250 squats, 250 tricep-dips and I’ve just decided to incorporate abs into the ‘challenge’… all before America wakes up. Bordeaux and Budapest will reap those benefits! I am truly loving being abroad and still have 27 more days to acclimate to the eternal city. 😘

Nice. Enter: stalker número tres at The Grand, and no it was not the fat boy! Massimo wants to take me for a hike on Gianicolo Hill. 🇮🇹

Love to all… x and ooo


This was ‘our’ bar in 2006!

Milking it in Las Vegas

Posted: August 15, 2014 in Travels

Enriching lives through human connection… and a bit of chocolate.

I am constantly fascinated by my life. Is that a good thing 😳 or a bad thing?!! Oh wait… I don’t live my fascinating life within those limiting and rather boring parameters. I’m more of a do-er, as the ridiculous bottle service table at The Bank could attest. Pound it! Milk it! Who does bottle service at an open bar Las Vegas venue?! This little one does… apparently. But to quote my ‘already risen’ star: “what da helllll”… it’s just money and we only have one shot in this life at making ourselves happy.

I’ve not written since my London trip, and expected to be in a different frame of mind on my flight home from the amazing rendezvous at Virtuoso Travel Week. Despite the overwhelming praise, successes and charm of the week… I’m a bit bus-struck. 😣 If I’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s how to suck it up and focus on the positive. 😃

Virtuoso Travel Week was incredible! Third time is a charm!!! Maybe I’m just getting the hang of it, or know all the right people with the best attitudes, who I will forever love. My ‘already risen’ star had to suffer through travel speed-dating 4-minute appointments with my spazzy ass for four days! Especially through our Italian track, having to repeatedly listen to: “I’ll be in Rome for a month, starting next week and I’d like to site…” 😁

Honestly I think I cracked the code to a successful Virtuoso Week. I did not accept any (except Hyatt) invitations all week long, played it super mellow, exercised daily and enjoyed only last-minute one-on-ones. I’d call that fabulouso! Can’t wait to open my new corporate account number for FOUR fucking SEASONS. So random, yet poetic as well. Trying to underpin (the VP’s word 😃) a theme for the week would be nearly impossible. Fabulouso! I ‘milked it’ better than I truly ever thought I could. Envizage may not have their social media expert sorted just yet, but on a personal level… Envizage is getting sorted! “What da helllll” yeah! The human connections I made this week were invaluable. They led me to new business, new friends, security with old business, loving up my existing friends, and a schedule in Italy so full on that a month seems short. Given these ridiculously positive accomplishments, coupled with the unwarranted compliments of my beautiful colleagues… I should be on cloud nine! Not the type Boo and I used to create in my parents RV but wow! What a week!!! Milk it! 😄

It’s so strange how work tends to coincide and cooperate with my personal affairs. I chock it up to the fact that I am ridiculously kind, honest and thoughtful. 😊 Seriously though, loving my work as much as I love myself helps. That’s why I have decided to live in Bordeaux for almost a month after my flat in Rome expires. I am simply not ready to settle! And why should I!!? Am I waiting, am I escaping… no I really don’t think so. I am making the most out of my fabulouso life and sharing it with as many like-minded souls as I can. Besides, when else will I be all packed up into storage so nice and neat? I am just slightly excited to MOVE to the EU and get da helllll out of America. Everyone keeps asking ‘why’. Jeez, like I’ve got a clue!? I chose Bordeaux because St Estephe is my most favourite wine and Paris seems a bit intimidating. I can read and write French, but I can’t hear it or speak it. I’m not going to Italy or France to study, learn the language or for any bullshit eat prey love crap… I’m just going. It sounds fun. And positive. I might go to Amsterdam after. Or perhaps Berlin. So long as I continue to service my clients well and push myself out of the eight-year appetence, it’s all good! The friends I’ve collected worldwide leaves me in my own stunned admiration for very own my fascinating life. 🎉 🇫🇷

It is sure to be fun as I always am, happy, and headed into a direction that not even the most keen observer could envizage. 😉 I just need to get Bob Dylan out of my brain… which is hard to do when it is actually in your soul. My favourite quote from so far back is ridiculously appropriate:

“It wasn’t money or love I was looking for…”

Thank you, my little freak of nature, for walking me home last night! xx


Love my Eden For Your World friends!


Cod and chips at The Prince Albert

Happy Birthday to Envizage!!! 🎉 I realise it took me quite a bit of time and an entire ‘red team’ to finally decide, but I absofuckinglutely love my new logo and name. I just love it. I rewarded myself with cod and chips plus the most incredible smashy peas I’ve ever had, just next to Battersea Park. What better way to celebrate my company’s logo birth date, 28 degrees and the secured deposit of 20 people throughout the gardens of Southern England for 2015!!? Besides, I’m on round three of the squat challenge now with triceps thrown in just for fun. After admiring the derrière of my thighs recently, I decided to defy genetics and rid myself of the aggravating underarm flab that my Stewart genes so generously birthed me with.

Numero del mese tre of waifdom proved merely as validation and total reassurance that this journey is my right path. Sì, i miei amici… I will settle and at this stage believe wholeheartedly that it will be in my beloved Manhattan. I am not blind to the raised eyebrows that every extension invokes, however, I’m not done with New York… yet. I suggest everyone have a listen to MGMT ‘Time to Pretend’, even though I am forty years old. 😃 Honestly though… it feels amazing, I plan to have a stunning new apartment but am all packed up nice and neat for now. Why wouldn’t I make the most of the situation I created!? I’m just not ready to commit. Shocker! 😉 I will eventually… but not before I spend 30 days in Rome, now possibly followed by a month in London. I’ve no reason, literally, NO reason not to! I’d be a buffoon to let this opportunity slip on by. I rarely order Chinese, but my last fortune cookie stated: “Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur”. Noted!

My brave nephew seems to be doing the same, only 15 years earlier. Well done Joey. Seems we truly are kindred spirits! Sawasdee ka and Ciao Bellisimo. 😘

It’s quite difficult to describe what all this feels like on the inside. But it is definitely emotionally charged… and only in the most ridiculously positive manner. Every one-on-one I experienced this week was immensely inspiring. Seems to be the theme of my entire waifdom… fuck the phases! 😆 The endearing, courageous and highly intelligent Emma reminded me last night how beautiful life is and that we all really do have control. This was before she took the sunglasses off a sleeping man, danced around a hotel lobby, took me to Mahiki and introduced me to the ‘treasure chest’. Think: ‘jungle juice’ from an ice chest at the lake but a bit fancier. What a truly beautiful spirit that young woman effortlessly exudes, I feel privileged to call her a friend. 😃 I am certain that many perceive my waifdom as a little bit insane, but all my supposed harebrained ideas tend to serve as magic to my soul. Now how many of us can really say that? I realise what satisfies our individual souls is very subjective, but I want to shout my happiness from the rooftops!!! I will save that for my 30-day flat perfectly located between Trevi and Barberini. 🇮🇹

I had the absolute BEST time in London. It was the first time I’ve been to the UK without freezing my ass off. What a joy! Proudly, I did not once see the Strand, Trafalgar, Waterloo, Big Ben (sorry Ash, to have given your boyfriend the cold shoulder) or Covent Garden. Instead… I chilled on Kings Road, brunched at Chiltern Firehouse and walked the canals of Regents to the diverse Notting Hill. I high-fived at Electric Cinema without having to announce it 😁, discovered Battersea Park, dined in Belgravia and learned what a ‘treasure chest’ is, in Prince Harry’s favourite bar. I managed to do all this with friends, for clients and colleagues whilst (that’s for you Mrs Ince) maintaining and in fact growing Envizage!!! I am on an expedition!!! And the only thing standing between my month in Rome now is a lovely weekend NYC visit from Dubai, and an entire week in Las Vegas to participate in the industry show of the year. 😍 I’ve collected all the Berocca and Compeed I could to tide me over.

I know it sounds full on, and it most definitely is… but perhaps some of us just operate better at this level of chaos. More power to those who can truly identify and connect with their inner soul. x

We are not selfish. xx and ooo


Buckingham Palace, just around the bend from Taj


All the fabulous things you can’t get in the US