Surprised charm and molto pizza in Napoli

Posted: September 12, 2014 in Travels
IMG_4401.JPG

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! ๐Ÿ˜ 

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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! ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น 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 ๐Ÿ• 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 โ‚ฌ1,000 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 ๐Ÿ˜Š 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. ๐Ÿ˜ณ 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! ๐Ÿ˜š

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

IMG_4386.JPG

He tried to make me eat the whole thing at Gino Sorbillo, and I nearly did! ๐Ÿ˜จ Napoli style.

IMG_4318.JPG

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! ๐Ÿ˜ณ 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. ๐Ÿ’ซ

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 upโ€ฆ 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! ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ˜ 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 โ‚ฌ18 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. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s all v positive and wondrousโ€ฆ 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 โ‚ฌ35. 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 ๐Ÿ˜” sighโ€ฆ 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 placeโ€ฆ 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. ๐Ÿ˜Šย 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 theseย hot men in speedosย 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?! ๐Ÿ˜„ 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 Repubblicaย ๐ŸŽ‰ in the Piazza della Repubblica! ย xx and ooo… and I am serious: GO to Positano in your lifetime!

ย 

IMG_4299-0.JPG

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

ย 

IMG_4322-1

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
IMG_4223.JPG

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!? ๐Ÿ˜œ Fear not for we were able to pull it off with roughly five minutes to spare. Now it’s time to flee. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ”‘

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 nรบmero 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 nรบmero 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. ๐Ÿ˜

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. ๐Ÿท You can’t buy a โ‚ฌ20 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. ๐Ÿ˜ณ 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 ๐Ÿ˜š, 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! Random.com 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! ๐Ÿ˜†

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. ๐Ÿ˜˜

Nice. Enter: stalker nรบmero tres at The Grand, and no it was not the fat boy! Massimo wants to take me for a hike on Gianicolo Hill. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Love to all… x and ooo

IMG_4219.JPG

This was ‘our’ bar in 2006!

Milking it in Las Vegas

Posted: August 15, 2014 in Travels
IMG_4121.JPG

Enriching lives through human connectionโ€ฆ and a bit of chocolate.

I am constantly fascinated by my life. Is that a good thing ๐Ÿ˜ณ 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. ๐Ÿ˜ฃ If I’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s how to suck it up and focus on the positive. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

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…” ๐Ÿ˜

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 ๐Ÿ˜ƒ) 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! ๐Ÿ˜„

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. ๐Ÿ˜Š 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. ๐ŸŽ‰ ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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

IMG_4157.JPG

Love my Eden For Your World friends!

20140730-213716-77836357.jpg

Cod and chips at The Prince Albert

Happy Birthday to Envizage!!! ๐ŸŽ‰ 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 derriรจre 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. Sรฌ, 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. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ 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! ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ˜˜

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! ๐Ÿ˜† 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. ๐Ÿ˜ƒย 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. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

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 ๐Ÿ˜, 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. ๐Ÿ˜ 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

20140730-213912-77952466.jpg

Buckingham Palace, just around the bend from Taj

20140731-101753-37073068.jpg

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

20140717-213811-77891398.jpg

View from the unexpected Four Seasons SF stay

I did it! Three continents and five countries… all in one direction. After a bit of a reality check on my focusing efforts and timing expectations for the new Manhattan ‘dream’ apartment, I was meant to complete the last leg of my spin around the globe two days ago. ๐ŸŒŽ

As luck would have it, not that I necessarily believe in luck, the weather on the east coast was torrential. My flight canceled and given the karmic theme that waifdom phase II inherently assimilated, I chose to make lemonade out of lemons! Just wish I’d saved a couple for my grey goose. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But then again, who am I kidding… I can drink that shit straight. So long as I’ve got plenty of rocks! Which were far easier to come by at the Four Seasons San Francisco than Six Senses in Oman.๐Ÿ˜† I was a bit proud of myself though, as I stood with the Pilot Captain and flight attendant, that I’d been notified of our flight cancelation before they even were! Damn… I am good at my job.

With my renewed faith in United Airlines, I rang the 1K desk to rebook myself, and chose to leave my luggage in their hands for the night. The beauty of my travel experiences and of course my business is that I’m prepared… for the most part. A little Tide packet and an Armani store across the street, and I was all set. Time to see who was free for happy hour! ๐Ÿท

This entire journey, waifdom phase II, it has been truly soulful and quite inspirational with the most bizarre perfect timing on so many random levels. Not much went exactly as planned but could not have been planned better! Including my impromptu overnight in my oh-so-favourite San Fran. As a result of this unexpected delay, I was able to explain the amazing new itinerary delivery and management service Envizage has invested in, to a client face-to-face. Then a couple glasses of Cakebread with my Mrs. Adorable ๐Ÿ˜˜ followed by a desperately-needed 90 minute in-room massage at the Four Seasons… voila! Perfection! The amazing masseuse (whose card I have) was thankful I’d sought her out given the amount of tension and knots kinked up in my body and noggin! I’ve incorporated a tricep challenge alongside my squat challenge… but it seems I didn’t realise the toll all this globe-trotting had taken. Perhaps it’s the 27 boxes of random candies I’ve collected for Bistro that seriously weighs more than half my body weight. Needless to say, it was all v meant to be. And I’ve got a brand new Armani tee to boot.

Santa Barbara continually becomes more enjoyable as more time away goes by. We hit some fabulous spots, enjoyed quite a bit of family time… unexpectedly got to see both my aunties and sis-in-law ๐Ÿ˜Š and was able to tick a lot of the unchecked boxes off for Envizage. Onward and upward! Watch out world, because it’s only just begun! x

I descended into JFK, listening to my new incredible French rap MC Solaar with an excited and refreshed approach to finding my new NYC apartment. Thanks to the figurative slap across my face: “I don’t think the kind of apartment you’re looking to upgrade to is achievable to find in two weeks, dear”. ๐Ÿ˜ณ Gulp. But as I headed ‘home’, to the Palace, I was 100% excited! Jerry from the car service, my Polish bestie, delivered me with well-wishes and Polish vodka. It will be so fun to start looking for real and without pressure. Plus now I know what I’m doing in NYC, and know what to look for. It’s going to be exhilarating! ๐ŸŒ†

I kind of can’t believe I circled the globe and hit five countries. Even crazier is all the lovelies I was able to cherish some true quality time with in each destination. I am sorry but that is def bad ass. Oman, Dubai, Bangkok, Tokyo, Santa Barbara… and people I love so much in each of them.

Wait. I’m not sorry. I’ve decided to stop apologising for ‘being’. ๐Ÿ˜

So phase III of waifdom awaits. It will encompass an eventful trip across the pond, some serious apartment hunting, website completion and the industry show of the year. I could not be more excited to have seven days in my beloved NYC though. I am in an Empire State of mind!!!

Then what happens? Grown-up-ism? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

B.R.I.N.G. I.T. O.N.

20140717-213913-77953334.jpg

Absolutely LOVE being home in my NYC

Bangkok was good for the soul

Posted: July 6, 2014 in Travels
20140706-193235-70355124.jpg

jogging inside the gorgeous Lumphini Park

Ten days in the Middle East: check! A week in Bangkok: check! The nephew is doing really well: check! I became not only the [anti] american ๐Ÿ˜‰ ambassador for Thailand’s tourism future but for Emirates 24-hour hotel check-in program as well. I got your back Dubai. I love how I’ve managed to find the only handful of beautiful genuine people within that land full of crazies. ๐Ÿ˜š

Spending such a long time in Thailand, with locals (old and new) after such a long time in the Middle East with expert expats was an interesting transition. I feel truly fortunate for being given a life (thanks mom ๐Ÿ˜Š) and now a chosen career which allows for these experiences. It is rather empowering. Not in a power-monger way. As the VP pointed out: “you just don’t have an ego at all”, but in a positive, silver-lining and encouraging way. Honestly… think about it. Doesn’t everyone want to host a dinner-party at their house? Doesn’t everyone want their people to chill out for a bit in their neighbourhood? Doesn’t everyone want the people they love to equally want to do those things as well? Or am I the only sentimental one?! ๐Ÿ˜‡ Being a realist in certain ways, I respect that not everyone has the desire, means or courage to travel. But it is quite rewarding to provide a bit of comfort and support to kindred spirits. Perhaps that is why travel has become my way and career… and why my people accept me for who I am. The VP is so redeemed for life with his randomly wise quotes of late: “you don’t have to love everything about everyone you love”. Quite honestly and obviously ๐Ÿ˜ƒ there are a lot of things I don’t ‘get’, but there is so much beauty, love and peace knowing that I don’t need to. I just wish my bus would add that stop to his route. ๐Ÿ˜” For his own sake more than anything… pax. Sigh.

Thailand is so NOT scary. It is one of the most amazing cultures I’ve ever experienced… despite the coup d’รฉtat. Having been before, this trip was less about the newness or testing my comfort levels and more about the experiences, my business, and family. Much like Dubai, I’ve now seen and stayed in just about every bit of Bangkok and can speak articulately to it. As much as I’d ever need to, from a touristic viewpoint. The three colours of the Thai flag each have an endearing meaning. Red stands for the country Thailand, white for Buddha and blue for the King. The symbolism of the elephant is good luck, but extra good when it’s trunk is up! I learned about the extreme taxes and true wealth of many Thai people. They’ll always have their Buddhist mental wealth. But I’m talking about actual cash, amidst a country where one could live like royalty for $100 a week. I was recommended to take notice of all the locals driving Mercedes E Class carrying Coach handbags. Granted this separation of sorts exists in several major cities like Sรฃo Paulo, Jo’Burg and Mexico City. Have a look even at my own neighbour Harlem, which is brilliant… in my opinion. Life is fascinating. Meeting with 5+ star hoteliers strategising how to promote tourism to their fabulously exotic destination, then spending time with a newbie expat who just happens to be my blood: it was good for MY soul.

Within the confines of one supposedly ‘dangerous’ city, I took a 3+ hour Italian business lunch with only the finest wines and black truffle, had a genuine chat with fruit and water vendors in Lumphini Park and went on a dinner cruise with 23 local Thai selfie-loving ‘gangsters’ on the Chao Phraya River. The common theme: we all seem to love and respect life, with a genuine underlying kindness. Yes it gets overwhelming at times, especially whilst running a business. Negativity has strong arms. It’s us fortunate ones who have fabulous aunties โ˜บ๏ธ soul mates and BFFs for that comforting support and reality checks. Disappointedly, I have left Thailand once again, without seeing even one ping-pong ball. Perhaps that is yet another thing ‘meant to be’… for the better. Waifdom phase II continues to be truly inspiring.

Whoever taught me to pull chopsticks apart, like doing the splits I could never do, rather than frontward and back… you have changed my life forever. And that wasn’t the only ‘first’ you showed me! ๐Ÿ˜† Seriously though, I can work a chopstick with great precision and perfection. Heading into Japan now, it is nice without the anxiety of twisting them apart to an inevitable break. Pull, don’t twist! Where in the world were we when I so was enlightened? Definitely not Asia.

Mai pen rai, as my amazing nephew would say. ๐Ÿ˜˜ He’s in such good hands with Patama. Alright then, enough of the drippy stuff! The weekend is over here in Asia. “You got to step up your game to make it to the top… so go-o”. Time to get those contracts updated, website copy edited and social media expert hired. I can see Harold Ziddler’s ginger moustache twitch about as he sings “the show must go on” at the Moulin Rouge. I’ve still got 150 squats to fit in. ๐Ÿ˜ณ

I was surprised late last night with a perfectly heated drawn bath. After a couple great chats equal distances east and west of Bangkok, and a few text photos of Pringles cans to some place in between… it was as if someone knew exactly what I needed well before I even did. I think the Butler did it! ๐Ÿ˜… In my lavender hotel room with the candlestick.

20140706-193343-70423749.jpg

I walked in to the perfect bath x

Thank you, M’am Sir

Posted: June 28, 2014 in Travels
20140629-104206-38526088.jpg

On the way out of the Middle East…

Am just off a gorgeous Emirates flight from Dubai to Bangkok, and I do sort of feel as though I’ve just survived my very own ‘special-guest’ episode of a Hamish & Ando show. That is a massive compliment, as the entire week was FULL of hilarity, genuine friendships, incredible lessons, brilliant insights and just a little bit of cray-cray. ๐Ÿ˜

Fortunate opportunities… such as having guacamole and Vueve at a friend’s home pre-flight, in a far far Arabian land away, seems quite normal and more pointedly: comfortable to me. If only every phase of waifdom involved a Kirkie-bear send-off, sigh… my life would be so complete. ๐Ÿ˜˜ I left Dubai FINALLY having properly received my very own ‘thank you, m’am-sir’ and I was wanting it bad. After all the politically incorrect jokes, that were hilarious and forever seared in my mind over the last 10 days… it was so needed, and organically delivered! Mr Armani was unphased but a bit surprised by the “oh shit” that followed from the Filipino server at the Dubai Yacht Club… on the first day of Ramadan. ๐Ÿ˜… It’s early Sunday morning now in Bangkok and I’m excited to see my amazing nephew, meet his friends and have a little champagne brunch. What!? ๐Ÿ˜ณ It’s been at least seven hours since my last champagne! It is really cozy returning to one of my most favourite cultures as well. Oh yes, uh-hem… and to work and do hotel sites as well. But yeah I got the duty-free Goose. Duh. This is my first time actually going ’round the world. It kind of does make me feel ‘bad ass’. However what is overwhelmingly cool is the familiarity of the roads as I travel from airport to hotel, although I forgot they drive on the other side of the road. Oh the English… “Thank you M’am-Sir”. ๐Ÿ˜…

Life can be so, so random! Last week in Oman was truly blissful, followed by a fun-filled decadent week at the serene Park Hyatt, and then a hilarious, eventful and sun-kissed Dubaian weekend in the Marina. There are so many stories….. it quite honestly could never translate. You just had to be there. I stole a crow bar in a Muslim country! To my defence I was at ‘demolition party’ and was encouraged to pillage the entire hotel. Only in Dubai. But I admit I was relieved to learn that the girl who had glass stuck in her chin… well, she’s okay. ๐Ÿ˜ And I thought my life changed rapidly in Manhattan! Dubai operates a bit differently, and far more quickly. I definitely have my issues with the lifestyle and hypocrisy… but I have managed to discover a few of the most fabulous people anywhere on this planet.๐Ÿ˜š and yes point taken: I will stop apologising for my presence! What a nasty little habit.

What a week it’s been, yet again it is time to suck it up. I am truly excited to be here in Thailand where I can get a ‘soapy’ (ha ha!), have foot massages all week and champagne for less than our pool bill was at The Address yesterday. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Watching the risquรฉ scooter drivers weave in and out of traffic… I am reminded how much I love this country. But seriously, it’s Sunday morning… and I can’t work out how the girl in the polka-dot dress, sitting side-saddle on the back of a scooter on Rajadamri Road, does not fall off. Because she is holding onto nothing but her purse! So random. I cannot wait to find an excuse to get back in a tuk-tuk…

Cheers and x, even xx and maybe even an ooo to all you special Dubai people. Safe travels to all and thanks for making me feel so special. โ˜บ๏ธ High-five! After my very touching Pakistani taxi ride to airport last night, where I was blessed, yet again, and admired for my open-minded ness (given I’m American) to now being greeted by the infectious Thai wai, I truly cannot wait to see what lies ahead this week. Before my impulsive Tokyo pop-over. ๐Ÿ˜ณ Definitely a bit crazy. But I love it. And for the record… I never high five! (okay… well maybe once) ๐Ÿ˜‚

Oh and hey VP, just when I think you’ve properly shown me all the Manchester bands a girl could ever want… someone else introduces me to Supergrass! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sawasdee ka.

20140629-104102-38462270.jpg

โ€ฆ all the way to Bangkok!

 

20140624-224237-81757423.jpg

These are Arabian memories I will never forget. These are friends who will never truly know the depth of my gratitude. This is a place that will continue to test my integrity and tolerance, but will forever hold such a special place in my heart. I knew phase II of waifdom would be spectacular… but it has completely blown my mind in all aspects and exceeded any slight expectation I may have had. And I’m still just half-way through the Dubai bit! Tomorrow I must leave the beautiful Park Hyatt at Dubai Creek, which I think is just breathtaking… despite the 45 degree weather. Americans: that’s well into the 100s. The world just seems to spin itself in mysteriously awesome ways, as I was originally not even meant to be in this neck of the woods. Turns out to be quite fabulous and chock full of lovely neighbours ๐Ÿ˜‰ nor is it lacking of kind friends who ensure I am enjoying myself. I would be hard-pressed to have an unhappy reflection of the only part of Dubai that existed prior to the fabulous 1970s: the Creek. A pedestrian bridge has now been approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to connect to the Dubai Mall side of this crazy destination. Thankfully I’ve got friends at the Dubai Government Tourism Board to keep us all apprised of the new developments! ๐Ÿ˜† Get it all sorted by 2020, my lovely mate! xx And yes I really do dislike all your freaking acronyms! I will purposely not refer to or remember your job title from here on out!

I imagine my stay in the Marina will be rather amazing in it’s very own distinct way, and have a sense that gin will somehow be involved. ๐Ÿ˜ณ sigh….. gotta love the Brits! And the Canadians and Aussies as well. And I think we liked the Omani too? They were kind to us at the border after all that ‘drama’ and the 7 bottles of alcohol we smuggled in. The weekend is still a bit fuzzy, especially after a long flight, convoy BMW drive, border-crossing, PMS and the Arabian Sea at 3:00am. No it is NOT the fucking Indian Ocean, okay!!? ๐Ÿ˜… and no I don’t feel those little lit-up planktons stinging me! ๐Ÿ˜˜ So long as there is no kracken (and plenty of gin) I am good-to-go! Apparently. I think it’s hilarious… my sea-less Santa Barbara childhood all grown-up and wading out in the midnight Arabian Sea. It was a full moon, yes… an actual full moon, not a literal one. Or maybe both. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gazing at the lights of Burj Khalifa, after stumbling upon that unbelievable Arabian sunset… I’m just proud of myself. I am 40 years old and don’t need anyone to tell me how or where to live my life, head up a business that I really do adore amidst it’s challenges and am so fortunate to travel the world. It’s not always pretty, but it is definitely learned and earned. And to loop back to where this thought began: I am so grateful for the friends I have collected that span the entire globe. It’s fucking awesome. You don’t choose your life, you live it! ๐Ÿ˜ Have decided to extend my Bangkok stay, I want to meet and chill with the fabulous Thai colleagues my nephew has convinced me I will love. Hmm. That was a hard sell, eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I’ve now incorporated a bit of Tokyo logistics and hotel-site-seeing into my journey. Hellooooo Haneda and Narita.

Here’s a little special 40-year old shout-out to my momma who ‘gets me’. Thank you. xx

Oh and for the record, I’ve been taught the rules of the esoteric x. One x is ‘cheers mate’. Two xx is ‘love ya’. Three xxx is ‘let’s get it on’ and four xxxx is… well, I think it stops at five xxxxx but I’ll let your imagination do the walking on that one! ๐Ÿ˜Š

20140613-124646-46006843.jpg

I might have hit peak capacity! And the week isn’t close to over yet. Sigh. I’m tired. But instead of rest, I took a surprise bus ride the other night. Somehow the universe is dropping little signals at just the right moments… right when I’m about to give up and head for the subway. I popped a little bubbly because doesn’t everyone do this on Thursday and Friday and Saturday… yes exhausted, and Sunday and Monday, and yes surprisingly again on Tuesday. And, well… shoot Thursday was an event as well. Never dull. When I’m home in New York, as pictured, things are equally lovely. I’m feeling quite fortunate. And rather pleased for the Tuesday reminder- of true love, mutual respect and the most beautiful friendship. ๐Ÿ˜š As my week ‘home’ progressed, it only got stranger and more awesome. I met up, at my favourite Cafe Pleiades, with a boy I met on a plane several years ago. Before he met his wife, married, had three kids and moved to Arizona! Bizarre, but I must admit that I am rather impressed he even remembered me. Always fun to catch up with great people you’ve not seen in a hundred years. ๐Ÿ˜˜ loving you up NYC.

I don’t know what I was thinking booking myself in Puerto Rico after a trip to Saint Barthรฉlemy at a world-renowned property, with a select small group of colleagues. I guess that explains the funny looks each one of them gave me when they learned of my post-St Barths intentions. Heyyyyy, when I was eighteen years old… I remember the charm of Old San Juan fondly! But true to Liz-random-fashion, I bailed that plan last minute just by the mere suggestion from a friend.

“Well if it’s such a shit hole, why don’t you just come home?” ๐Ÿ˜ณ

Good idea at 1:00pm on a Monday afternoon! Why don’t I?! I had dinner the night before at the BLT Steak bar at the Ritz, trying not to overhear the random Floridian couple next to me bicker and struggle for some semblance of a peaceful life with one another. After having just left St Barths with a small group of extraordinarily fulfilled lovelies, (both personally and at work) it was just an interesting dynamic. I slept terribly with a long bad dream all night, one of those where you wake up random and go right back into it. For the whole night. It was a bullying dream of sorts. ๐Ÿ˜”

I woke up to shitty weather, a shitty hotel, an air conditioning unit that maybe did or did not work, 220 squats and a full busy work day. Messaging with my buddy, I realised staying and PAYING was just goofy! Time to turn this frown upside down. I called the airline by 1:30pm and the hotel just after who agreed upon my 4:00pm check out with no penalty to leave early. Like a bat out of the mythological hell, I packed everything up and home to Manhattan I went! I purchased duty free Puerto Rican sweets for my Upper East side Bistro friends, grabbed a grey goose roadie (okay so there’s one good thing about Puerto Rico), secured my upgrade and was suddenly so excited to be home!

Having properly wrapped work up for the night into a nice little bow I was excited to re-watch ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ on the plane. The d-bag next to me in the window seat would not put his shade down. So I’m blinded in my right eye and practically deaf in my left ear. Being 40 rocks. ๐Ÿ˜† It ended up being a hilarious flight, and a new flight attendant friend was made. Four hours later when I landed I had somehow collected a little plethora of random plans to meet friends and then head into my local for a nightcap. Hmmm. Nothing like a living each day to it’s fullest! I had this Jersey taxi driver who was either totally fucked up or just really really inept at NYC driving. We were going in circles just outside of Newark… on and off the freeway ausfahrts. Trying to get up to 76th was interesting. He drove 5 mph in the Lincoln Tunnel with no traffic. That should have been my first clue. He stopped in that bendy bit of Park Avenue like down at 40th that goes through Grand Central. Stopped. WTF! He was a mess and I had to go into deal-mode! As in, “are you okay to drive?” I aggravatingly made it home, dropped the luggage and darted off for a little neighbourhood fun. All the while receiving slightly inappropriate What’s App messages. Sigh… but so hilarious ๐Ÿ˜„

My week home thus far has been unexpectedly full-on but I wouldn’t trade this life for anything… next week I’m off again for so so long. I’ve got like 17 more random scenarios to live out, as I cross the globe. I am definitely not boasting, but overwhelmed ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒ๐ŸŒ by my own brevity at times. Work, friends and even buses constantly remind me without even realising, how fabulous life is. x

I am loving Phase II of waifdom! ๐Ÿ’‹ Like Alabama Shakes say we’re ‘Always Alright’… what a great fucking song.

20140613-125930-46770969.jpg