Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

That moment you pass security

Posted: May 31, 2017 in Travels

When life throws you lemons…

I wait for the hotel shuttle. Wander through the great depths of Schiphol. Linger in the enormous queue for security. 🙄 My irritation level elevated quickly, thinking I’d have no time for a bite and a Heineken 😣 Then there’s that glorious moment when you’ve passed security and realize there are no further obstacles to conquer! Ahhh, the luxury of the EU. Et voila! Tournez à gauche et il y a le champagne bar. 🥂

I’d be lying if I said that my unexpected missed connection (sans one cute french husband) was an abhorrent nightmare. An inconvenience, yes. But not an abhorrence.

After what was a long trip in Buenos Aires, followed by an especially challenging week at home, followed by a long holiday weekend with friends, my slight overnight derailment in Amsterdam doubled as a long overdue mini-adventure for myself and my Envizage. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my husband dearly but somehow I think his business class flight home last night without me, without work, or any kids was mildly appreciated “at the end of the day”. 😉 My husband thinks there is no french equivalent for “at the end of the day”, but I think we all get the gist. I couldn’t help but embrace this derailment in the most positive of terms: by getting him securely home, finding my way to a quasi-Pulitzer Hotel site inspection, slash, coffee-shop pop-in à Amsterdam 😉 with a Toulouse flight home le prochain après-midi.

Given all my unexpected excitement, I mustn’t fail to mention the wee beautiful discovery that led to this derailment: Edinburgh with my illustrious husband. 😍 Aye! What a lovely little city that was! (yes insert Scottish accent there) 🇬🇧🇪🇺 They weren’t as hard to understand as I originally suspected, and the genuine jubilance emanated by the Scottish people was truly a delight! Alongside our wonderful french amis, we toured the museum, gardens and castle; ate haggis and drank scotch whiskey. We indulged a ghost fettish and joined the late night Day of the Double Dead tour 👻. And leave it to me, who found a delicious Mexican 🌮 called Wahaca which conveniently has shops in Manchester, Leeds and London! 😋. Sadly, we saw no sheep. As is usual for moi et mon amour de mari, the weather could not have been better. We relished in clear sea views and 27 degrees with cool breezes… practically unheard of in Edinburgh, so I’m told.

On departure day from Scotland, fortunately I packed our workout gear in my carry-on. Despite the Ibis Hotel facial/body/shampoo bubbles shower, j’etait prêt et frais… on my way home! Just one flight and an airport-baggage-plea standing between me and the Tisséo airport tram to home! Home to four french kids, tutors and mon mal de gorge!😷

It’s been a while since I got derailed on my own time. Without having to worry about french kids, someone’s boss or any real obligation to anyone else! Though I wouldn’t change anything in the world, it reminds of the good ol’ days and suddenly I urge for Positively 4th Street to blare on my B&Os.😎

Yesterday in Amsterdam was phenomenal. I’ve never seen it in 27 degree heat, bold sunshine, and with an American holiday buffering my normal sense of obligation. It felt nice. My ever-incredible husband unwaveringly appeased my suggestion to taxi into the Red Light District for just an hour of Dutch Asian noodles, before his miracle ‘last-seat’ flight home. Thanks to his amazing travel-agent wife 😇 life could go-on ‘as normal’ for him yesterday. I totally sacrificed! 1) a night in Amsterdam on my own in a hotel, versus 2) home with spin class, four kids, laundry, a tutor, and préparation de la repas. Pizza for dinner! 🍕

And even more unexpectedly now, I pack up for an impulsive tryst à Dubai! When Kirkie calls, we answer! 😍

Our Scottish whiskey experience!

And so it goes…


Aix marks the spot… NOT to go!

Posted: October 31, 2016 in Travels

Married to my frenchman!

After what was a whirlwind week of family, logistics and friendly fun, I am now extremely content in wedded bliss. Da daa da daaa: I now pronounce me Liz Georjon. 😍

Our wedding was amazing, if I do say so myself. We had been running around like crazy the week leading up to it, but our day was filled with excitement, ease and nothing but smiles. We succeeded to bring the French and English together, enjoyed the moment with happy kids and truly relished in our ‘special day’. ☺️ Or a few special days really! 😉 The taco truck outside our Toulouse 5th Avenue flat the day after was absolute brilliance. 🌮 It was El Taco Fancyoso indeed.
The week after our wedding left us with still a few Americans in Toulouse and we finally were able to relax, take it eeeaaaaaasssyyy 🎶 and shop a little, tour a little and eat at our favourite restaurants. Although sadly my illustrious husband had to return to work. 😞

Given it was the birthday of my most favourite témoin and auntie… us gals decided to discover a very well-touted part of southern France that we’d not seen before. I’ve listened to countless stories about the beauty and charm of Aix-en-Provence. We should’ve gotten the hint from the moment our metro journey began that morning… how we failed to join each other until Matabiau Train Station was just silly. 🚇Though we managed to persevere and pop! 🍾 went the champagne.

Nous sommes arrivées à Aix-en-Provence and spent the rainy evening in our very comfortable hotel lounge where the martinis 🍸were dry and plentiful. 😬 there was a delicious dinner from a local couple’s charming Le 18 restaurant to follow. But that’s pretty much where all the charm ended. Oh sure there was also that one big fountain in the middle of town, in the roundabout. 😅

We awoke with hangovers 😵 and massages to remedy them, which really were quite lovely. In centre ville Yelp failed us terribly (three times over) to find anything decently non-French for lunch, lest we settled for canned tomato sauce gnocchi. Inundated by the constant swarm of flies, we sat in awe regarding the weird phenomenon of aix-tra short-legged dogs and the hipsters who walked them. There’s not a whole hell of a lot else to do in Aix unless you’re super aix-cited about Cezanne, or an art student. Un petit plus du vin 🍷while dodging flies was entertainment enough for us.

The next day we roamed aimlessly until our train ride home for husband-made tacos and me in a humex-fog. 🤒 Trying to find a bottle of wine for the train was a total aix-ercise of frustration. 🙄 Trying to find the fucking train station was a total fucking nightmare. 😣 How is it, this ‘charming’ little Provence ville has big yellow signs pointing to literally everything aix-cept the gare des trains?!! And since when do the French call bus stations gares also (bastards)! 😤 It was absolutely crazy. Our only shot in hell was a taxi to Marseille, but the taxi-drivers were non-aix-istent. €65 later 🚕 we waited in line to change our seats to the later train, and found a little peace in Gare Marseille Saint-Charles… without all the flies.

I felt a little bad for having suggested this charming fucking short-legged dog village, pour l’anniversaire de ma tante, especially when there ARE truly amazing parts of France we could have just as easily 😉 gone to. But thankfully it was only a two-hour delay and just me and AJ, who aix-traordinarily masks her inner-irritation so well. 🙃😘

We finally did make it home to my incredible husband that night for leftovers and cocktails. 😃❤️🇫🇷 That’s when he finally decided to reveal that he never thought Aix was really all that interesting. 🙄😜

I love Paul Cézanne, really… but 😵😴

These martinis didn’t have any Martini Rossi

Je suis un converti de UBER

Posted: April 22, 2016 in Travels

J’adore my UBER app

What is it that turned me into a taxi sympathist?!! 🤔 I’d somehow forgotten my severe taxi blues from living in San Francisco. My beloved Nilmar is the only way I survived that taxi hell. Also buried deep was the memory of Rose Cab crazy with their $10 Santa Barbara Airport minimum and shitty red ‘beater’ cars. Somehow my years in Manhattan turned me into a taxi sympathist with the gypsy cabs, exorbitant black cars and seriously dysfunctional UBER. 😐


Whilst living in Bordeaux I felt true empathy for the taxis when they went on strike and even supportive as UBER threatened their French livelihood. How did I overlook that key phrase: ‘on strike’? 🏴 What the f*ck was I thinking?!! I suppose I didn’t pay Bordeaux taxi much attention since sleazy Jean-Luc tried to kiss me after taking my mother’s luggage up three grand flights of stairs. 😣


Not intentionally a shout-out to the brilliant job of my frenchman… but living in Toulouse pretty much never requires the thought of a taxi to enter one’s mind. Our public transportation system is divine, ridiculously clean, efficient and dirt cheap. 😉 Until those bastard taxi strikers decided to block all of it, and the roads. 😠


After a relaxing and cozy Easter avec quatre enfants in a beautiful French compagne labyrinth, we headed to Blagnac to greet our dear friend visiting from Zurich. It’s not as if the tram from just beside our flat is less convenient, but we wanted to greet my first visitor à Toulouse in person. 😊 We passed a lovely week together dans La Ville Rose. We ate cassoulet, drank champagne and wandered the winding Roman streets. We laughed with my frenchman, took the SNCF to Bordeaux 🍷 and relived unforgettable memories of our long history.


Come Friday, we were ready to kick off printemps with a little road trip to Costa Brava. Olé! The hometown of Salvadore Dali in Cadaqués is adorable. A perfect Catalan getaway, despite the rain. It is a beautiful small Spanish village which proudly displays their Catalan flags high. It must be amazing in summer! Perhaps we’ll find out because the amount we save in grey goose at the Gran Jonquera Outlet pretty much pays for the entire trip. 😉 Just before the Spain-France border is a big store where you can buy 1-liter bottles for €23, it’s un-f*ing-believable! 🍸Salut! Salud! And santé a la votre! 😲


Once home, we learned of a Toulousain taxi strike for the following morning 😠 which would block all the roads to Blagnac, and literally stop the airport tram and buses. I thought to myself “phew so lucky” since my frenchman had the day off work and could drive our Swiss Miss using all the backroads. Really, it was fairly calm and seemingly low-key. The next day was my turn to the airport for a highly anticipated cocktail lunch in Paris with an old friend. Definitely not to be missed!


But… the f*ing strike goes on. 🙄 I awoke promptly with all my Tisseo tools in hand and my frenchman on alert. It was suggested I depart at 8:00am and take metro to Compans and get on the airport bus. I did just that… except for my journey began at 8:17am. 😴 Naturally I arrived just 7 minutes after the airport bus and watched my Tisseo app slowly delay the arrival of the next one from 23 minutes to over 2 hours. 😣 With a few Americans in tow, and an adorable Swede… we raced back to the metro, changing lines and stations to get to the tram, yes: the same tram that begins just aside our flat! I realized I would never make my boarding time unless I jumped out at the closest stop and high-tailed it à pied. In the rain! ☔️


Tout est bien qui finit bien! I was last on my plane and the only thing those taxi drivers managed to strip from me was my really good-hair day! 😉 As seems to be the norm in France, the strike was quickly forgotten and our subsequent three trips to Paris were unaffected. Yet, it’s once again the taxis which irritate my memories.


We sadly and unexpectedly needed to be in Normandy, which requires some careful logistics for the trains, planes and automobiles it requires. With just a little over an hour to get from Orly to Gare St. Lazare in Paris, the plan was to taxi between and pick up a bottle of champagne for the train.🍾 Bonne idée… until we had the world’s least aggressive taxi driver, who, happened to drive like my dear grandmother. Love you Gram but you know what I mean: there’s no one ahead for a mile yet there’s a quick press on the pedal only to abruptly let go… in a constant yet random pattern which invokes a petit case of whiplash and car sickness. 🤕 As the clock struck the hour point and the driver fumbled with his little bullshit credit card contraption, it was time for American me to be a little abrupt! I tossed him my champagne money and poked my frenchman to get the hell out of his freaking Asian-car death trap, as he said under his breath, “you really made your asshole-American.” 🙄 Haha… that was nothin’! Needless to say, we had no time for champagne. 😐


Just a couple days later with quatre enfants in tow… we were back on the Parisian streets, but this time headed east for Disneyland Paris. It was sweet, except for the severe tonsil infection 🤒 which, conveniently on a French Sunday cost €130 in car services for a run to the pharmacy! 🤑 Disneyland Paris turned out to be quite fun, yet it was soon time to show the kids a little bit of Paris. So back to les rues we went! With our home-away-from-home Le Meurice as our base, we trotted off for the Louvre, Tuileries, La Seine and Tour Eiffel. We left our fate to the hands of Le Meurice thinking it should be no problem for them to find us a van-taxi large enough for our six in rush hour on a Tuesday. But we were mistaken!


Low and behold 😃 UBER to the rescue! Just a quick click on the app and 7-minutes later our Mercedes van arrived! With nothing more than a quick exchange of enchanté, fresh water bottles and a modest bank account withdrawal… we were off to Orly in no time.


C’est la vie! C’est mon nouveau UBER vie! 😉 or is it nouvelle?!! Sigh…


Cheers to Americans in France!


The view from my room


Micky et moi


A witness to Turkey at its finest

Posted: February 28, 2016 in Travels


enjoying a ‘bubbly martini’ at Istanbul’s first hotel

Just your typical Sunday with another short and easy flight home from an incredibly exotic, culturally rich and endearing country. Yes… living in France ❤️🇫🇷 really is as fabulous as it sounds! 😊 I hate to brag 😁 but something sunk in this week whilst I was away ‘on business’ in Istanbul. I was invited to participate in an event established to educate, promote and squash any fears about tourism in Turkey.

Third time must be a charm because I have an even stronger love for the country, and especially the people. Except 😏 my latest flight attendant.😆

I was one of maybe one hundred travel sellers from all over the world… except France. Unless you count me! 🤗 I’ve never been one to think my life is better than the next guy’s, and I still don’t. But I must admit that yes, my story really is extraordinary. Magnifique! I don’t quite have my ‘rap’ down yet, especially when it comes to my business: am I representing the American market or the French? And certainly I’m not the first person ever to move to another country. Yet after answering the standard three questions nearly thirty-seven times, I realized that fuck yeah this really IS an incredible charmed life we live! I’m not arrogant… I’m truly grateful.

1. Are you American… where are you from? “Umm… New York.”

2. Wow! Do you live IN the city!? “Well… yes. I mean… I did, on the upper east side 70s. But… now I live in France.”

3. Oh! What brought you to France!? Who are your clients then? “I fell in love with a frenchman so now we live together in Toulouse… and I work from home, so my clients are the same as always.”

Honestly I never solicit opportunities to spew my information at random and am genuinely humble. But those inevitable questions consistently lead to gasps and envy, and inevitably more questions about how I got to where I am and what I am doing. And cocktails… of course!😉 So, instead of trying to downplay it… I should own it, I earned it! I am an ethically driven woman who isn’t afraid to take risks, venture new places and market my experienced set of skills. As for love, that should be in the cards for toute le monde! 🌍❤️🌎 Though if I were too shy to dine out by myself or grab every opportunity and live it to its fullest… I would never have been in that pub in Roma.😍 So yes. I live in France with a job that is stabilized, with a man who is simply remarkable, and we can travel to over 50 fascinating destinations in three hours or less, for less than the cost of a round-trip to Vegas. 😎

I was amazed by how much Istanbul has improved itself since we were there just 15 months ago. The renovations at Sofia Hagia are nearly complete, about seven new fabulous hotels have opened and the Turkish Lira makes everything affordable. The airports have even become more secure yet more efficient. The generosity and kindness of Turks is infectious. Listening to genuine sadness and empathy for the refugees who’ve overrun their borders, and their heart and pride in the wake of terrorism… it’s really quite touching 😥 if not overwhelming. I was ambivalent as I handed over my coat and purse to walk through the new metal detector at the entrance of lthe Four Seasons, where we stayed our last trip. It also struck me as odd on a Saturday sun-filled 17 degree morning how few people were around in Sultanahmet. On a freezing cold rainy December day just two years ago, the queues were deep at all the must-see attractions. My blonde self was confused at first until I realized this is what the incredible people of this amazing country have to endure now, while the world cowers in fear of a Syrian encounter or a suicide bomber.😐 And Donald Trump.🙄 That is another high topic of distress for the international community.

I sat in roughly twenty 15-minute meetings learning about new Turkish destinations and revitalized existing ones. You could see an almost-deadened passion in each of their tear-welled eyes as they ask how our clients react now to their country, their homes. And it makes me feel angry. Seriously, don’t ever call me up and tell me you’re afraid. Perhaps I fibbed a little but I answered vehemently with what I strongly believe; that Turkey is no different than Paris… Turkey is no different than Bali. The assholes on the planet who avoid your country are avoiding everywhere they believe the Syrians to have taken-over. They’re avoiding all of Europe and the Arabic world choosing to cower in fear and teach their next generation a fear that hasn’t existed since the Cold War. And if they’re American, they’re probably voting for Donald Trump. 😤 They think they’re ‘safe’ in the SUV driving their paved streets from Applebee’s to the local basketball game… until some pissed off caucasian who got hold of a gun reminds the whole world of those frightening statistics. 😞

Maybe it won’t make any difference in this crazy world of ours… but I, for one, will travel to these places even MORE now. I will encourage my frenchman to enrich his children and travel with them as well. 😃 These ‘dangerous’ places we speak of are, as one amazing Turkish businessman put it last night, “where I take my own children to school. Where I get in my car and drive to work every day. Where we play at the park and care for my elderly parents.” Yet, out of no fault of his own… he worries for his livelihood now because the economy is seriously being affected by an outrageous and ignorant fear of travel to his country. It’s sickening. He doesn’t worry one bit about the next terrorist attack or if his daughter plays with a Syrian on the playground. Why should he? So why are people boycotting travel to such these incredible, culturally rich parts of the world? 🤔 Do you think people are going to stop traveling to Paris?!!

During my one free day which was spent working in my hotel, I dashed out to Istiklal Street to grab a quick bite. Staying in Galata really has its advantages! Within seconds I’m just a part of the people, walking the streets. Passing the kebab houses and small markets… wondering which of these delicious delis or restaurants to pop into. And then I spotted it. 😲 Shake Shack. Don’t judge me!!! 🍔 I’m an American living in France with a grueling diet looming this Monday.😁 Istanbul is still Istanbul. There is still ridiculous traffic. There are still loads of cats that randomly roam the streets. There is still Turkish delight everywhere you look and the whirling dervishes still whirl. The Bosphorus is as beautiful as ever and Katikoy is just as vibrant. But that gorgeous red flag still flies high 🇹🇷 everywhere you look.

Thank you AIDA for enriching me. Trust I will spread the word! 😘 Faites passer!


here….. kitty, kitty, kitty… !


Dolmabahçe Palace , the ‘Versailles’ of Istanbul!



Saint-Etienne sock monkey and the wine gnomes

Settling back into Toulouse in the nouvelle année, I have a sense of excitement in my every move! 😁 Seems like all the kinks have been worked out (at least the ones we can control) and all that lies ahead is total happiness, dedicated hard work in our jobs and losing our extra ‘fat day’ kilograms. Oh yeah… I suppose I should work on my French a li’l bit. 😉

After an incredible Toulousain Noël complete with an American turkey and stuffing, we bid adieu à notre famille français, stuffed our suitcases and headed for Denver… Denver, ColoRADO! That’s right folks. After a mere 15 months it was time to ‘meet the family’ ! 😆 Equipped with his hand-scratched family tree de Liz, my Frenchman stole the hearts of everyone. Why am I not surprised? 😍 In the words of our Tata on day two in Boulder… Boulder, ColoRADO: “we love him, he’s a keeper!” ❤️ His very own Saint-Etienne sock monkey pretty much sealed the deal. 

We had so much fun goofing around with three rounds of family. We explored Boulder and its breweries, then wined at the stunning new Union Station. Of course we drank beaucoup champagne and even made a little trip to a dispensary! I conceded to my frenchman’s intent regardé of the Denver Nuggets Cheerleaders from a box suite 😆 at the NBA game. We took the light rail and wandered around downtown and Tattered Covers. Ma mère made tacos with real corn tortillas.🌮 We made an inaugural visit to Costco and cuisiner homemade crêpes! Maybe now it’s easy to understand the need to lose a few kilograms! 😋

My new all-time favourite game is a French game called Dixit. 🇫🇷 There are clever and obscure cards with incredible drawings which players have to invent phrases for. It’s brilliant… we brought it along and played a few times with everyone. With another ‘Fat Day’ behind us, new pajamas and superb memories, we forge forward into my 42nd year. I always thought age 42 would be ridiculously boring, given the extreme even-number. But I suppose 44 is worse… with the double-whammy Chinese death number 4 repeated! 😳

As cozy and wonderful as it was avec ma famille ☺️ I was happy to be home, in 2016, in my Midi-Pyrénées: La Ville Rose. The cat’s out of the bag now and the time has come to really own my life in France! I will get legal and find some french potential for Envizage! With my bagful of Arm & Hammer toothpaste, beaucoup corn tortillas and Excedrin… I’ve got the best of all worlds. But everyday gets more cozy in Toulouse! My illustrious frenchman is continually more lovable, the kids and I are on a routine kiss-kiss basis, friends are plentiful, interesting travels are imminent and our jobs are propitious! 😎 This is what I call “living the dream”, complete with the luxury of ignorant bliss in the circus election that has absorbed America.

I face more comfortable challenges now. Like how to get my lovely couch, dining table and chairs out of hawk from French customs. And how to speak French well enough to say a few vows. 😍 Oh… and how to smuggle in more corn tortillas once my 100… ummm… 93 in the freezer are gone! 


Let’s go… Denver Nuggets Cheerleaders!


a flight of beers in Boulder, ColoRADO



The SoCal desert oasis by night

Who knew back in December when I quoted that stupid EXPLORE book… that I’d have taken Henry Miller so seriously! Jeez, I took: ‘all growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without the benefit of experience.’ to a whole other level! ✈️ Well, not really… it’s not so scary once you break it all down.

To be honest, I am self-aware enough to know when I need something. I’m not ever quite bright enough to get to the right answer myself… but always straggle my way to it. Like these dogs I’m meant to babysit this week. They get all antsy and wallop about like two hours before they need to eat something. Well… in dog years, that is probably equivalent to my human walloping when I realise I need to change something as well 🐶 Ha! Good journey thus far- I’m comparing my life to that of a dog’s. It’s kind of true though! 😳

My first well-wish was hilariously described as: an ‘unshackled indenture of tenancy with lease obligations’, and, ‘being a vagrant of no fixed abode’… followed by an ‘I think you’ll like it!’ I have the best friends that any person could ever wish for… 😍 Similar messages have been flowing in the last couple days since I physically left NYC. Don’t worry guys… I’m not done with NYC yet!!! Concocting and fantasising about my new space or neighbourhood is kind of fun too. 😊 Plus I’ve already got the absolute best real estate agent thinking about and discussing future potentials… she totally gets me. Meanwhile, Will Ferrell will continue to take good care of our fake child, and I look forward to surprising JG and Bistro on my NYC pop-ins. 😉. White-box chocolates for everyone! 🎉

Now that all of the flotsam has been either completely disposed of, donated, or properly organised… I must admit to feeling a bit ‘through’ a significant chunk of change. Figuratively, not monetarily. It’s sort of like: ‘okay the dogs have been fed now’. I have my new Italian cycling shoes, a meticulously calculated suitcase for this 4-week journey, and a smart focused marketing plan. Like I incessantly demand from my clients, I too must provide a ‘trip purpose’. This particular trip’s purpose is to be sporty and productive. The next trip will be primped whilst marketing. Eh, who cares. Henry said to take a fucking leap and I subconsciously chose to take note! 👀 😄 Didn’t expect to be leaping into crazy wind gusts though! Running against it today made me realise I belong in New York, as it is definitely easier to run in the snow than it is in 40 mph gusts!

My antsy wallop probably began in December. Then after the birthday, Bonnie from the Tumi store called me personally, to notify that my wine-coloured Tegra-Lite had arrived… and something just clicked. Poof 💨 here I am in the most serene and peaceful environment one could ever hope for! There is a desert oasis in my own backyard. 👸 I have chosen the most gemütlich prologue to my vagrancy: with my aunties. 💕 Yes AJ, I noticed our Le Meurice rubber ducky 🐥 in ‘my’ bathroom. I think we’ve all gone emoticon-crazy.

It feels incredible to be in such positive space, with a keen focus on fine-tuning the loose ends of the rebrand and a refresh of the business that I built five years ago. It just feels right to be free, to be wandering, to remain responsible, to be aware, and… to be ‘leaping’. My first stop is highly inspirational and the most nurturing emotional base a girl could ever dream of having. Thank you. Love you and hope my Cinco de Mayo 🎉🇮🇹🍹(how is there no emoticon for burrito, FFS?) was a worthwhile treat.

Sending love and good chi to my adventurous nephew who just arrived Thailand. I’d love to fantasise that perhaps he has a little courage and influence from his auntie, like I do mine. 😘 That kind of successive knowledge at his young age, is going to thrill me to watch. So much that I will visit him next month! Tickets booked, upgrade secured, and Four Seasons all set! This mile-whore is not wasting her 2014 privileges! Plus, I cannot think of any way to be more supportive and excited for this young man’s journey. Enjoy the ever-enchanting wai. See you soon.

And on that note, Sawasdee ka. x and ooo


And the oasis by day! o

I’m Happy With Grande Liz #5

Posted: November 4, 2013 in Travels
Paprika Pringles <3

Paprika Pringles ❤

It was my first gluten-free day in 3 days… until my Uncle Bill pulled out the garlic bread and AR sent me to ‘the border’.  But my sweet aunties really know how to baby me – Kiehl’s, a hand-painted Greek heart, and Paprika Pringles!  x and ooo.

It is always so cozy and fun when I get to spend real time with my aunties, uncles and cousins.  It’s hard for me to find ‘real’ time anymore and I can’t think of any place better to be when I do.  I even got my very own inanimate object ‘fifth’ (wheel) shot glass, and a sock monkey.  I love my family. Thank so many of you, for helping me help make sure grandma had a ?5th to be proud of!  We all stepped up and made her day lovely but I couldn’t do it without you making me dinners & tini’s, pushing me to go running (so I don’t drive you crazy), picking my sorry ass up and driving me around.  What do people do without people like that in their life!?  Especially my namesake (Venti though, not Grande) for bringing me a club soda as I sat feeling nauseous on the bathroom floor of the birthday venue, completely out of nowhere, and making me laugh.  I ponder what it would it be like if I couldn’t be real (and not judged) around the people I love!?  Oh wait.  I was that person before I was born at age 29.  😉  Good thing I also have short-term memory loss.  Ha ha.  Just teasing.  Really.

I am finally home sweet home and the weather has turned.  Hello winter.  I’m kind of excited and secretly like it.  I think it makes me feel bad ass.  🙂  You’ll all get to be bad ass too, in New York in February.  So exciting!  Ashlee, Mrs Jetsetter, and I nailed all the details of that little soiree last week!  I’m banning myself from talking about it though.  And yes, I did just hear the multiple sighs of relief and AJ’s “Ha!”, all the way in NYC.  It’s nice to be home, though that only lasts until Thanksgiving – for more work, work, work!!!  It’s never dull.  Even today I was met with an unexpected, albeit quick, visit from a friend.  I must like this type of lifestyle, as Ashlee points out “it changes every hour”.  It’s never dull.  😉  It is quite cozy though, in my apartment with my red wine and candles – with the uncontrollable heater officially ‘on’ until April.  Loving you up right now NYC.

I was in London two weeks ago, and had an amazing time.  Didn’t have a lot of time for reflection then, as I had to quickly move on straight to a client event with Ashlee in NYC, an unexpected personal issue to manage, and then had to pack it up to go to San Fran for the night to see my Kelly, and meet her most adorable kids.  Really.  x  It was a quickie trip and was happy to have spun before heading down to SoCal for the big 9-5.  If only it were all that easy.  I think it sounds rather logical, if I’m not taking into account that the world, my job and the weather are [literally] uncontrollable.  Literally.  🙂  But I will not bore you with the details, for once, and just leave it to your own imagination with my new bank accounts, canceled flight to Santa Barbara, last minute car service to the Four Seasons in Westlake, the freaking lasagna, swag bag assembly with the extended family and then of course, the actual party.  Thankfully the champagne was flowing along the way.  Heading home yesterday was not devoid of delays and travel chaos, which, managing with a massive hangover (thank you punk-rocker, thank you.  And your ninja turtle!), well… it kind of sucked.  But it was actually a great (long) trip to Santa Barbara.  I got back off the gluten, enjoyed many yummy SB favorites, saw more of my people than expected and had a blast just hanging!  Now how often do I say that!?  It was a good trip.  I’m a happy girl.  Funk zone, Beachside, The Palms, Zytoon (hooka), Something’s Fishy: now that’s what I call a HUGE culinary success!  Could have done without the nachos at Denny’s.  Seriously.  At least they didn’t give me any shit for bringing my funk zone red wine in a paper cup.  Hmmm.  It’s never dull when I am in Santa Barbara either.  Go figure 😉  As I laid around in agony and fog on my mom’s couch yesterday, I realized I had not had one single day to sleep in since late August.  What the hell?  And I’m a sleeper!  So amazing to think of how many people I’ve been so fortunate to see in such a really short time!  London was fabulous, so busy and good, sweet, healthy living.  Mexico was just before that, but that was after Richard’s wedding and before China.  I’m kind of tired.  Jeez now I have to plan for Cannes.  Note to self: “no jacuzzis in Cannes”.

Within my family, I have been deemed (finally… we’ll see if this one sticks) “Grande Liz”.  I’m alright with that.  I ‘get’ the references and am complacent.  I have no issues with my name, my role or my life which is a really nice feeling, I have to admit.  It’s a nice place to be.  The only issues I have is that I still cannot seem to find enough time to replace my shattered iPhone!  The glass is starting to sliver off and give me little paper-cuts so I better make space for a little Apple Store NYC time. It is such a chore and a scene but I am going to take the advice and see about dressing up, batting the eyelashes and negotiate a price for my new 5!  Even though I did not buy the insurance when I bought it like 4 months ago.  Or was it a year, I can’t remember!?  🙂  Just remember to smile.  Ha ha.

Thanks again to my people these last couple weeks (and always).  I love you.  It’s fun.  🙂  Happy ?5th birthday, Grandma!!!  x

My Shanghai Surprise

Posted: September 12, 2013 in Travels
Sad to leave Shanghai, on my way to Hongqiao Airport

Sad to leave Shanghai, on my way to Hongqiao Airport

Am I making smarter destination choices these days, or is it just that as my wings continue to spread, I find myself in more exotic places?  The world is getting increasingly smaller for this little Santa Barbara girl.  China wow’ed me.  And of course, especially being an American, China is a bit of an unknown.  Correction: was an unknown.  Shanghai is an absolute delight (and very green) and I am actually a bit sad to have just left!  What an amazing city… not that I got to see much of it.  At some point over this last week I just had to come to terms with the fact that I did what I came to do and let the rest go… knowing full well that I will be back, and soon.  Multiple-entry visa is good for one year!  And the Four Seasons General Manager is quite possibly the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen.  Ralph Fiennes has got nothing on you, boy!  😉

As daunting as it may sound, I do tend to enjoy these flip time zones.  Sure, I’m up until at least 3:00am, and then again early in my morning to wrap anything I missed with clients in America before the luxury of my ‘free days’ ensue.  As the business grows, my clientele is definitely global but I’m fully comfortable and quite happy with where it’s at and my path forward is more clear… of what I need to do next.  Seems to me like everyone in my world is in the same turnip truck and my worldwide friendships just keep expanding as well.

My week was fabulous although I failed miserably at truly seeing anything Shanghaian, except the hotels!  Gone are the days of 11 hotel sites in one day, but somehow my days still dissipate quickly.  Priorities are straight: clients, exercise, sites and logistics… all of which I executed beautifully.  My attempts to see the copious amount of fabulous things to do in Shanghai suffered.  I was too busy to research much in advance and relied heavily on my mates in industry for advice.  I learned quickly there is enough to do in Shanghai – as there is in New York City, if not more.  All the vastly different neighborhoods, each with its own unique panache, would have been lovely to explore.  Instead I was educated several times while sitting across the table from a hotelier with a map and tea in between us.  Pudong, The Bund, Xintiandi, Jingan, there’s so much!!!  And how amazing would it have been to see Sozhou And Hangzhou!!?  Sigh.

I strategically arranged my sites geographically so that Tuesday I could explore Xintiandi in the afternoon and the French Concession on Wednesday afternoon.  Oh and People’s Park!  I’m so disappointed not to have seen the parents in the marriage market holding signs with their children’s ‘stats’, trying to marry them off.  Next time!  I repeat: “I did what I came to do”… and then some.  What a fabulous city.  Really!  Clearly, Shanghai is begging for me to come back, as the intense thunder and lightening prohibited my attempts at exploration.  But I self-spun, ran hard and swam daily… plus visited clients.  “I did what I came to do”.

Language is definitely a bit of an issue though the Chinese have it worked out quite well, in my opinion.  When leaving the hotels, the amazing service-oriented staff would write on a ‘taxi card’ your destinations in Chinese characters, on handouts pre-printed with all the hotel information on it as well.  Of course I found myself in the mercy of a few kind souls, to help me along the way.

Last night for example, I was a bit frustrated that I’d not been outside a hotel much (although day one I did venture out to find my Chinese red bull!)… and I was deep in Puxi.  Oh, and a fun-for-the-farm fact is that Pu means ‘river’, Xi means ‘left’ and Dong means ‘right’, hence you have Puxi and Pudong on either side of the Huangpu River!  It really is fun being a blonde Southern California un-educated American.  🙂  Somehow it all works out, I’m aware and grateful for that.  Anyway, back to last night, I was at the PuLi Hotel & Spa doing my site which was cut short (damn you Christian Dior) and decided I needed to eat or see something authentically Shanghainese!  And I was in the perfect neighborhood to do just that.  The rain and lightening had different intentions but I persevered and went to a highly touted ‘local’ Sichuan restaurant.  PuLi gave me an umbrella and I just went for it.  I’m so pleased that I did.  I’m sure there was plenty of Chinese snickering at my idiocy.  However, I did it!  Even with three menus, one 30 or so pages long.  I started to get nervous as I flipped through that bullfrog and tripe might be the only offerings.  Awww, then came the Cantonese section and my sweet waiter, James.  He kept apologizing for his poor English as we sorted through my grey gooses, Sichuan pork slices, Kung Pao prawns and a bonus Szechuan wonton soup!  I should have been the one apologizing, and I was kind and open about that.  He told me that my hair is the most beautiful he’s ever seen.  🙂

Getting a taxi from Jingan wasn’t the easiest and again, I had to rely on the kindness of the restaurant host/cashier for help. I knew well enough by then that I would need someone to explain in Chinese. I wonder what all they say in those situations, the conversations are quite long and seem so involved.  Even though there’s a map on the taxi card!

But I made it.  And I miss it already as I descended upon Hong Kong.  My Hong Kong plans are entirely NOT what they started out to be earlier in the week.  But so perfect.  I love it when fate and karma unknowingly take over and guide me.  Everything just works itself out, in so many different aspects.  Am in the back seat of another Rolls Royce (because that happens every day – ha ha) en route to Tsim Sha Tsui.  So crazy.  Next trip I will pack lighter and take the 430 km/hour maglev train.  🙂

Off to discover what kind of crazy awaits me in Hong Kong!  The drive so far is ridiculously interesting and beautiful.

I survived Virtuoso’s Travel Week

Posted: August 18, 2013 in Travels
Ashlee, two hours after she left for airport, and her flight canceled!

Ashlee, two hours after she left for airport, and her flight canceled!

This year, I was prepared.  This is just my second time at this conference, and the networking that takes place at Virtuoso’s Travel Week is truly remarkable.  But I’ve been totally bed-ridden all weekend as a result!!!  I can barely move from my bed, with my thighs so Louboutin-sore, it’s not even funny.

Typically, I’d have ‘written home’ from the plane on Friday.  But instead I sat next to a very interesting and intellectual Greek by-way-of Jersey man the whole flight home.  With what Greek male exposure I’ve had thus far, I’d say they’ve all been good, sincere people… so we shall see if tomorrow night’s plan holds up!  We spent the entire flight home realising freakish similarities, truly admiring one another’s philosophies and, um… his firm should probably become Envizage’s first new client under the exciting new rebrand.  On a personal level, I’ll have to choke on the Jersey element a little bit, but he claims to have an apartment on the upper east side as well, so that redeemed him a bit.  😉  Ugh, the west side could have been a deal-breaker.  Let’s just hope he doesn’t turn into an ‘FT2’ one day.  (AJ you might be able to read between those lines)  Stay tuned!

Back to last week in Vegas… oh gosh we started the week with a bang!  What fun!  It was Sunday, and relatively calm so cocktails and catch up and hilarity was def on the menu for Tina, E and me!  There are so many funny moments from our short time, I can barely remember them!  All I know is that I had $200, we had an unbelievable time, and woke up with exactly what I started with.  So much random in between.  A random $20 throw down somewhere on the roulette table between the 29, 32 and some other bizarre liz numbers (17, 23, 9, etc), turned into a 7-second later $105.  We were on fire.  It was really fun.  I was with the best little posse, all just down to earth people, not gamble-obsessed and FILLED with positivity and laughter.  Then they left and the reality of the conference set in.  :/  And who’s idea was it for Red Bull Total at 3:00am!?

Monday I exercised hard and relaxed as best I could, got work as sorted as best I could.  Tuesday, Ashlee arrived and the shenanigans of my agency’s appreciation party commenced.  These lovely people have known me since I was age 19.  Come on don’t you all remember Flanagan!?  Yeah well… it was in those days!  I feel very fortunate to have the extreme support and feel truly loved by my agency’s leaders.  After their appreciation party, there were several supplier cocktail parties that it is only in good form to show up for.  I fell at one of them.  But I am totally blaming that little marble edge, as that was nombres soiree une.  Apparently there was some late night room service involved, and lots of potato wedges consumed.  Despite all our debauchery, the next day, Siegel woman and I, along with a dear SB travel friend… well, we rocked our 86 meetings of the day!  I have to imagine that Ashlee’s head was spinning a little, but she did excellently!

For the sake of not making this too hilarious and long (or divulging), we had another epic night, hosted by ARIA.  Then Thursday was the last day of the conference, the big end to my second Virtuoso Travel Week.  If you remember, I had been chanting regularly for karma to remember me and have all my elephants facing my doors lately.  But, whilst at this conference, my new beloved website domain has somehow become malware.  Or suspicious.  Or something I clearly don’t understand.  I hate technology more than anything.  Ashlee wasn’t flying home until 8:00pm and worked from my room, getting Envizage Travel l Events l Concierge dialed in on Facebook and Instragram.  Serendipity hit me, as I spotted the key guy for future very important industry shows; i.e., Cannes every December.  Not sure he was so keen on my aggressive out-of-left-field pitch but at least there was Vueve to make up for it, right?  😉  Then we sent Ash on her way to airport, as I got ready for the 25th year celebratory gala.  While at the gala, Ashlee texts (as she’s updating Envizage’s social media – way to multi-task girl!) that her flight has been cancelled.  She’s been told she’ll be given a voucher for hotel and to go wait in the line.  Well, my COO and I would have none of that!  The COO had a two-bedder suite with its own bathroom, and I could change her flight from my iPhone 5.  🙂  No brainer: get back to the hotel, someone will meet you with my badge, room key and get ready, come down to ballroom in time for dessert and awards!  We were heroic.

Thursday night was random in several ways, but all I know is that my COO and I know how to have fun.  Two hot chicks capable of ruling the world, come on now… Berlin will be unreal next year.  😉  We were on the dance floor, watching all these reps I’ve come to know over the years, just getting their groove on ALL NIGHT LONG.  So much fun.  Then, after a brief and unnecessary virtual argument with the VP (WTF!?), breakfast with Armani Boy, and a sunglass-necessary walk through the lobby to check out… I arrived the lounge and got my work that had accumulated for the week done.

Then I met the Greek by-way-of-Jersey.  I wonder, are we really having dinner tomorrow night?  Our rufier flight attendant would be so disappointed if we didn’t!  He lectured me on the importance of chemistry and how most people don’t focus enough on it.  Ha… sound like me at all?  Besides, I think he should want the credence of being Envizage’s first elite client, and well… we must talk swag bag and music for the highly anticipated 40th!  Ha yes, already!  Plus… I really think he needs a nickname.

Such a productive weekend, even if it did take place from the bedroom.  Chinese visa complete, bills paid, Envizage’s photos updated, inner-China air booked, new business license forms done, future conference registrations complete, Grandma’s 95th birthday invitations ordered, Le Steak’s chocolate delivered, house-cleaner on the books this week, potential date tomorrow night, dinner and chaos scheduled pre-Ashlee arrival on Wednesday.  Damn… I am good in bed!  😉


My Lady Gaga moment?