10 Things to Do in Milan, Italy

milan-italyBuon Giorno, Milan, Italy! Milan’s name has for many centuries been recorded as Mailand, which is still the German name of the city today. It comes from the Celtic Mid-lan (meaning “in the middle of the plain”) and was known as “Mediolanum” by the Romans. An Italian proverb compares the cities of Milan and Rome and roughly translates, “Rome is a voluptuous woman whose gifts are very apparent, while Milan is the shy, demure girl whose treasures are plentiful, but discovered in time.” We all know that Milan is the fashion capital of the world, but did you also know these 10 things?

1. View the Duomo
The Duomo di Milano, one of the most famous buildings in Europe, is a large and elaborate Gothic Cathedral on the main square in the center of Milan. It is the second largest Roman Catholic cathedral after the cathedral of Seville. Note: Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome is not a cathedral. Measuring 157 meters long, the Duomo can host 40,000 people comfortably. The main spire is 109 meters high and the great windows of the choir are the largest in the world.

2. Tune into the Teatro alla Scala
Typically Milanese, the discreet, neo-classical façade of Teatro alla Scala, the world’s most famous opera house, featuring acres of red velvet and gilded balconies. You can tour through this opera house museum during non-performance times.

3. Drink up the coffee culture
Don’t expect to the strong, bitter, pungent taste of Italian espresso in Milan. Milanese tend to drink their coffee quite long, with added water. This is no doubt to help them linger over the amazing array of pastries and cakes that the city has to offer. We highly recommend stopping by Pavé (Via Felice Casati 27), where you get the both of both world – delicious coffee and homemade sweet treats.

4. Be inspired by The Last Supper
In the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, you can see one of the most famous paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper. Tickets must be reserved months in advance, so as soon as you book your plane or train tickets, you better purchase these. You have 15 minutes to examine the expressions of consternation, hostility and despair on the faces of the disciples, just as Jesus reveals his imminent betrayal. Because of Leonardo’s experimental technique, the fresco has faded through the years – but that doesn’t detract one iota from the experience of seeing it in the “flesh.” The room is humidity-controlled and non-flash photography is allowed.IMG_5157

5. Grab a gelato
Milan is full of gelaterias, serving flavorful, fresh gelato made from natural ingredients. Here’s the scoop on the ones we recommend. 😉 Grom uses only organic, fresh ingredients from around Italy: Sfusato lemon from Amalfi, and the Leonforte peach, for example. They have a central farm where all the raw ingredients are mixed, ensuring their high standards are met. Close by the main train station, Duomo Gelatieri is always fresh and made daily in the ice cream parlor with natural ingredients, no chemical ingredients and preservatives. Plus, they have a €1 cone available for children. You cannot beat that price, especially on a warm Italian day.IMG_4958

6. Marvel at the Pirelli Tower
Built in 2011, its illuminated spire evokes the Duomo, whilst stretching its height those extra few inches, making it Milan’s tallest building at 231 meters. This is the highest Italian skyscraper. The on the basement and ground floor, you will find restaurants, a bookstore and clothing stores.

7. Shop in style at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
With its glass-and-iron dome, magnificent mosaics and marble floors, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is definitely one of the world’s most glamorous and oldest (built in 1867) shopping malls. The first Prada store opened here in 1913. Note: You may see visitors come to spin their heels in the famous bull’s testicles, part of a floor mosaic said to bring good luck.Galleria_Vittorio_Emanuele

8. Lunch with the locals
Try the legendary panzerotti – a fried pastry triangle stuffed with tomato and oozing mozzarella – originally from Puglia, but definitely one of Milan’s most recognizable treats.

9. Discover Castello Sforzesco
The Sforzo Castle is the picture of the renaissance, with its rounded turrets, spacious courtyards and secret passageways. It also happens to be home to one of the city’s most precious, yet often overlooked, artworks: Michelangelo’s final, uncompleted sculpture, the Pietà Rondanini. We highly recommend picnicking on its lawn with an Italian sandwich during a beautiful, sunny day.

10. Eat the perfect plate of risotto
The saffron-laced risotto alla Milanese originated in the city and is rooted in its culture. Legend has it that on September 8, 1574, the daughter of Valerio di Fiandra, a craftsman making the stained-glass windows of the Duomo, was getting married. One of the apprentices, who used saffron to color the glass, came up with the idea of taking the white risotto that was to be served at the wedding banquet and turning it gold like his windows by adding the spice. The taste and golden color of the new dish was a hit with the guests and the addition of saffron to rice was widely adopted.

Ostello Bello Grande Feels like Home, Not Hotel

ostello_bello_grandeVintage-style furniture, geometric motifs and sophisticated taste, Ostello Bello Grande in Milan caters to contemporary travelers, who look for a “home” to stay in, as well as a dynamic location, in which details are well taken care of, places that might also become themselves a part of their travel experience.IMG_4943Their first Ostello Bello, located very close to the Duomo Cathedral, has been the hipster go-to place for a while, for all the visitors who want to live a local experience, coming into contact with the local culture and style. The same team recently opened another location near Stazione Centrale, restoring old hotel Florida: the new branch’s self-explanatory name is Ostello Bello Grande (Italian for “Beautiful Large Hostel”).OBGWith 6 floors, 55 rooms and about 500sqm of common spaces with vintage furniture, made for getting together, chatting, listening to music, Ostello Bello Grande provide you with breakfast and “aperitivo,” which is pretty much dinner in American circles. 😉 The basic idea of this project, started by 3 young Milan locals, is to create an active center for cultural life. This is why the suites of the old Florida were converted into a common kitchen and a reading room, with guitars and a piano made available for anyone who wants to play them. Their rooftop hosts a relax area with lounge chairs and tables.IMG_4944I was first recommended by this place from friend and Budget Traveller, Kash Bhattacharya. I was reluctant to even consider this place because it is classified as a HOSTEL. I mean, I just turned 40 and travel with my family, BUT Ostello Bello Grande is a new type of hostel popping up around the world. Kash has even listed it as one of the top LUXURY HOSTELS in Europe. This seems like an oxymoron, BUT I am so glad that I took his advice.IMG_4949My kids absolutely loved this place with Foosball table, piano, hammocks and bunk beds (each with their own light, electrical and USB outlet). My husband loved the outdoor patio, the kitchen where you can prepare your food from their FREE FOOD bins, and he also loved the hammocks. The room was quiet, and we had our own bathroom. I was reminded at check-in that it is a hostel by having to put a deposit down for towels and our key card, BUT they also offer a MIFI for guests who want WIFI as they explore through Milan.IMG_5024Overall, I will tell anyone over the age of 30 to consider staying in a hostel. Do your research, of course, but do not only explore Airbnb when traveling through Europe and beyond. Ostello Bello Grande feels like your home away from home, not just another hotel or hostel.

Why I Want to Attend LEAP Summit Zagreb? #LEAPzg

AttendLEAPSummitThere are so many great ways to learn and sharpen your skills these days: you can read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch how-to videos on YouTube, and attend webinars, just to name a few. Why bother with the time and expense of attending LEAP Summit in Zagreb, Croatia?

If that’s your attitude, then you may be missing out on one of the best opportunities to take your game to the next level. LEAP Summit provides a unique learning and career building opportunities that you just can’t find anywhere else.

Below you’ll find 5 reasons why you should attend LEAP Summit and consider sending your students and employees to conferences as well. 🙂

1. Iron Sharpens Iron

“As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend. ” Proverbs 27:17 in the Bible. Stephen Covey also lists it as his sixth habit of highly effective people. To put it simply, “two heads are better than one.” Synergize is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. People bring all their personal experience and expertise to the table, and together, they can produce far better results that they could individually.

I always return from a conference with new ideas and approaches that make me more effective and efficient at work. When people begin to interact together genuinely, and they’re open to each other’s influence, they begin to gain new insight. Don’t be “a dull axe” while your competition is being sharpened by others.

2. Meet Experts & Influencers Face-to-face

While not every conferences offers you the opportunity to meet people that you have been following online for years, your chances are greatly improved when you’re sharing the same space.

Sometimes it’s about taking a selfie with someone who’s influenced you, or sharing a business idea with someone you admire, or making a connection that can lead to finding your next mentor. This will never happen from an online success summit.

3. Networking Opportunities

Social media keeps me connected to people who are both local and live and work far away. However, there’s no substitution for meeting someone in real life.15271832_1040722436038580_8717944597149496358_oLEAP Summit has opportunities for attendees to mix and mingle, form new relationships, and strengthen existing ones. Over coffee or lunch, you may make a connection with the perfect provider or prospect. At a breakout session, you may find yourself sitting next to your next customer or mentor. Or, if you don’t go, maybe your toughest competitor will be sitting in your seat.

4. Learning in a New Space

Remember that scene in Dead Poet’s Society when Robin Williams made his students stand on a desk to get a fresh perspective?dead-poetsMany businesses have meetings off-site because it’s easy to find ourselves in a rut. Sitting in the same chair, in the same office or in the same coffeehouse, can keep us from thinking of new ideas. Taking a break out of the office, sitting in a new space, can spark us to new approaches that will grow our businesses.

5. The Energy of Like-minded Individuals

There’s nothing like being in a room of like-minded people, who are willing to take time away from school or work to learn something new and want to “better” themselves.

When you sit at the Summit, you discover that you’re not alone in wanting to improve your skills and bring something back to your office or organization. That energy is lacking in all online learning channels, regardless of how much chatter there may be around a hashtag.

LEAP Summit provides a unique convergence of networking, learning and fun into a single package. It forces you to grow and challenge yourself. Oh, and it is in Zagreb, my FAVORITE capital city in the Balkans. Just read about what you can do and see!

4 Smart Coffee Spots for a Zagreb Coffee Break
Photo Journal: Secret Walks in Zagrebarium

Next Steps

All of this has been on my mind a lot lately, as I countdown to LEAP Summit Zagreb on May 11-13, 2017.

The primary focus of the Summit is on themes connected to innovation, entrepreneurship and business development, leadership, creativity, inspiring and life changing stories, success stories and career development.

Date: 11-13 May, 2017
Place: Studentski centar, Savska cesta 25, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Cost: 300 kn (~€40) – 1500 kn (~€200), depending on when you buy tickets!

Learn More & Register for LEAP Summit Now >>

What other reasons are there for attending LEAP Summit? What lasting impressions did it leave for you? Leave your answers in the comments below…we read every one!

Business Travel: Athens, Greece

Business Travel Athens GreeceI am a firm believer in the idea of adding fun to a business trip. It’s not always easy to find free time when you’re traveling all over the place representing your company or brand, but business travelers should carve out time to enjoy themselves whenever possible. Whether you’re traveling to a new destination directly from a business trip, or spending a few extra days or hours in the city where you’re working, business travel can be a fun reward for your hard work. I have been to Athens, Greece, before with the family, but being alone changes your experience. Fortunately, Herodion Hotel and its sister-property, Philippos Hotel, hosted me for a one-night stay and a posh dinner at their establishments.

Cozy Hotel

If peaceful environment and low-key service appeals to you while you travel, the Philippos Hotel is a great choice. The 50-room hotel is located in Makrigianni, which merges into Plaka, on a peaceful side street close to the Acropolis metro station, just a 10-minute walk from the Acropolis itself. It includes a delicious buffet breakfast served at the all-day cafe. I HIGHLY recommend you try the Portokalopita, a Greek orange filo cake. I watched everyone grab a slice at breakfast, and the staff quickly replenishing. 😉orange-filo-cakeAfter sitting in a conference room all day, I basked in the my light, airy room. Drinking a glass of water and snacking on fresh fruit, I sat on my balcony that caught a glimpse of the Acropolis. The quiet street allowed me to collect my thoughts and enjoy the weather in Athens, Greece. Some but not all rooms have Acropolis views – there’s no extra charge for this, so specify if you want one, it’s totally worth it. Nearly all have balconies too, at no extra cost. The Philippos Hotel is an excellent value for money considering the location and the friendly atmosphere.Phillipos-Hotel

Naturally, Modern Restaurant

The Atrium Greek Bistrot restaurant in Herodion Hotel, Philippos’ sister property, is tucked at the back of the front lobby, where you sit under a skylight and can look up to the stars. Atrium specializes in homemade Greek recipes with a modern twist. The reviews online use words like “intimate,” “relaxing” and “magical atmosphere.”Atrium-Herodion-HotelOne of the things that I love about traveling is trying different dishes from around the world. Also, I like to treat myself while I dine, so I usually get two to three dishes to sample because why not?! 😉 Dining alone is a funny thing, some people can do it and others will not. I do not mind it, especially when you have the pleasure of an excellent server who really was a culinary host. Also, a woman, who is traveling the world, dined alone at the table next to me, and she really should have joined me since we talked together throughout our meal. After receiving recommendations from two servers at the Atrium, I started out with Loukoumades, fried cheese from Elassona drizzled in Greek honey, followed by Sea Bass on top of beans and finished with rose ice cream on freshly-made Syros Delight. The server insisted that I also try the Salmon with horseradish cream, served on fluffy “ladopsomo” bread from Kimolos Island. I am sooo glad that he did. It was amazing!Atrium-Greek-Bistrotdav

Getting There

Athens is well served with scheduled flights from Aegean, British Airways, easyJet, AirSerbia and Olympic.

Getting Downtown

There are lots of different options. Metro Line 3 serves the airport while Suburban Rail Services operate from Athens Central Railway Station (Larissis) and Piraeus. Taxis, limo transfers and Uber are also available from outside the airport terminal.

Must-See Sights

A 3km pedestrian zone has been created in the neighborhood of Plaka based around the sacred rock of the Acropolis, site of iconic architecture and art, including the photogenic Parthenon. If you travel off-season, the Acropolis is half-price, regularly €20. Give yourself an hour to climb up and take many pictures of these amazing site. Some 4,000 historical items are on show in the new Acropolis Museum, and for only €5, you do not want to miss it. Tip: Visit the Acropolis Museum before your climb to the Acropolis. You will have a greater understanding of what you are looking at, especially if you do not have a tour guide. Also, start on the top floor of the Acropolis Museum, where you can enjoy the view and take pictures of the Parthenon replica and make your way down. It will take you no longer than 2 hours to enjoy all of the museum. Take a stroll in Monastiraki with its stalls full of colorful spices and window shop on pedestrian avenue of Ermou in the center of Athens.btydav

Culture Club Creative Hub

Traveling on business and need a place to work? It’s the sharing economy to the rescue! Coworking could be just the answer you’ve been looking for, and I HIGHLY recommend checking out Bios Romantso , a cultural center, as well as a creative hub. Set in a 1930s building, it is spread across four floors. The ground level has a cafe/bar and a space for intimate performances. While the basement has a concert area, rehearsal studios and a recording studio. I attended the European Creative Hubs Network Forum here on the first floor. The remaining levels are used for workspaces.

Thank you again, Philippos Hotel and Atrium Greek Bistrot, for making my business trip more homey and enjoyable while I was away from the family.

Business Travel: Belgrade, Serbia

business-travel-belgrade-serbiaSerbia lies at the crossroads of Europe, connecting the East and West, with a diverse mix of cultures. Its landscape is sprinkled with medieval churches and fortresses, and the capital city, Belgrade, rests on the banks of the Danube. I am a firm believer in the idea of adding fun to a business trip. Whether this is your first business trip to Belgrade or you travel here often, Belgrade always reveals a little piece of its heart and soul through its food, fortresses and friendly hospitality. I have been to Belgrade, Serbia, before with the family, but being alone changes your experience.

Cool Hotels

If a small hotel with a sophisticated feel and a superb location appeals to you while you travel, Vila Terazije is a great choice. Overlooking the Terazije Square, this hotel is housed in a cultural heritage building and offers free WiFi and a flat screen TV in every room. Breakfast is served only in rooms, and you can choose what you want delivered for breakfast in bed. I recommend the burek and local coffee, a classic Serbian breakfast.TerazijeBreakfastKalemegdan and Knez Mihailova are only 500 meters away from Vila Terazije. After walking around Belgrade and sitting in a conference room all day, I collapsed in the comfortable bed. Vila Terazije is an excellent value for money considering the location and the friendly atmosphere. If you prefer to save more money, we highly recommend Cricket 2 Hostel, which is close to some of our favorite restaurants and cafes in Belgrade.cricket2hostel

Hip Restaurants

Bright yellow cranes frame the entrance to the Beton Hala, a port-side warehouse now filled with hip new art studios and restaurants. At starkly decorated Italian restaurant Comunale, you see posh businesswomen enjoying pizza, risotto and antipasti with a view of the Sava River through its double-height windows. Founder Aleksandar Rodić created an exciting and trendy space with clear design and big wooden tables and benches. As the name suggests, the idea is to encourage community gatherings or group interactions, while enjoying delicious meals.comunalepizzaMarukoshi Japanese restaurant opened in 2015 in lower part of Belgrade in the Dorćol area. It’s an authentic Japanese restaurant offering tasty Japanese dishes such as Ramen noodles, salads, gyoza, Udon noodles, curry dishes and interesting desserts. It’s a very comfy place where you can relax and enjoy Asian specialties in the heart of Belgrade.Marukoshi

Getting There

Belgrade is well served with scheduled flights from AirSerbia, Etihad Airways, Alitalia, airberlin and Aeroflot.

Getting Downtown

There are lots of different options. – The A1 mini-bus leaves every 30 minutes in front of the Arrivals area. The charge is 300 RSD (2.50 EUR). Taxis are also available from outside the airport terminal.

Must-See Sights

Walk around the Old Town, see the Kalemegdan Fortress and stroll along Knez Mihailova Street  – Belgrade’s main shopping street. Before it was turned into the peaceful green oasis that it is today, Kalemegdan was part of Belgrade’s fortress. The park gradually started to come into existence after Serbia’s liberation from Ottoman rule: trees were planted, paths were cleared and monuments were erected, including the Statue of the Victor (Pobednik) and the Monument of Gratitude to France. Come here for a break from work and go for a stroll on the promenade lining the Sava River.

First Coworking Space in Belgrade

Traveling on business and need a place to work? It’s the sharing economy to the rescue! Coworking could be just the answer you’ve been looking for, and I HIGHLY recommend checking out Smart Office, the first coworking space in Belgrade. Located right off of Knez Mihailova street, you walk through a hall and up the stairs to Smart Office, founded by Miroslav Mijatov. You’ll be greeted by Mira, who will make you feel like you are in your home office. With light jazz music playing in the background, you will have no problem getting to work or skyping with others in one of their conference rooms.SmartOfficeThank you, Smart Office, for making me feel a part of your community and get stuff done while I worked away from my office.

It’s Island Time – Galveston Island!!

galveston-starlogo

Looking for a great place for that next girl’s trip?!  Go to Galveston, Texas!!  It’s just a short drive or  plane ride away from all major cities in Texas and you will love it!! It’s not just a beach destination or a port to catch a cruise – it’s much more.  We discovered how much more recently when my sisters and I decided to take my mother there for her birthday weekend!

Let’s start with shopping.  Okay, my family (2 sisters and mother) love to shop.  That’s our entertainment and that’s how we bond.  Galveston has a treasure trove of cute boutique shops. I have been to the Historic Strand area of town many times before but on this trip we discovered the quaint downtown shops in the Historic 2100 block of Postoffice Street.  The Naked Mermaid (love the name!) carries very unique and chic home décor and gift items.  It’s worth a visit just to meet the adorable “shop” cats (see photo).   We also shopped at The Style Co. next door which has very cute clothes and jewelry (I bought both).    Just Add Sparkle is just across the street and carries fun Halloween/witch themed gift items.  Down the street in this area are several restaurants such as The Gumbo Bar and Rudy & Paco Restaurant and Bar.  Love this group of unique shops and restaurants!

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galveston-style-co-2

galveston-the-naked-mermaid

galveston-just-add-sparkle

We took some time out of our shopping spree on Postoffice Street and and walked down to The Shrimp Fest in Downtown Galveston.  What a fun happening that was!  Over 200 booths served samples of some of the most awesome gumbo I’ve ever had. The Festival also included  activities such as a Shrimp Gumbo Cookoff,  an official 5k, Lil’ Shrimps Parade, live music, a kid’s area, and  a Strand Merchant Walk­About.  This is just one example of some of the fun and community type happenings that Downtown Galveston hosts every year.    After thoroughly enjoying the scene we checked out some of the chic shops on The Strand such as:  Head to Footsies and The Admiralty.  Both have unique boutique clothing and sea inspired home decor, jewelry and art.

galveston-shrimpfestival

galveston-jackie

We wrapped up our afternoon shopping spree by treating ourselves with ice cream at  La King’s Confectionery on The Strand.  La King’s features a working 1920’s soda fountain serving malts, shakes, ice cream sodas, sundaes, splits, floats and fountain treats.   Don’t miss visiting this old fashioned soda fountain and confectionery – it’s a family tradition when we visit Galveston!

galveston-la-kings-2

Saturday night we had the opportunity to visit Galveston’s historic The Grand 1894 Opera House which is also on Postoffice Street.  What a jewel The Opera House is and a wonderful example of the long history Galveston has of being a major cultural center over 100 years ago. The Grand is one of the few remaining opera houses in Texas and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  The Grand hosts several musical performers and musical theater performances throughout the year.   We were very fortunate to see the incredibly talented Ben Vereen sing and dance for two hours!  To see what is coming up at The Grand go to: http://www.thegrand.com

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galveston-grand-opera

Our second favorite thing to do when we’re together is eat.  There are some incredible restaurants in Galveston and we had the opportunity to sample several.  Here are just a few that you should not miss!

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The Sunflower Bakery and Café.  This is a must.   It’s located in Galveston’s Historic East End and 99% of their food is homemade and made with fresh local ingredients and their bakery is heavenly!   This place is a double win – after you finish eating you have the opportunity to shop at the adjoining retail store called The Bacon Farm.  They have a beautiful selection of antiques, art and jewelry.   www.thesunflowerbakeryandcafe.

galveston-sunflower

galveston-bacon-farmMiller’s Seawall Grill.  If you want some great fresh seafood go to Miller’s Seawall Grill.  It’s home cooked food and serves huge portions!  Don’t miss the homemade Italian Cream Cheese Cake – one slice will feed a family of four for sure!

Nonno Tony’s Grill.  It’s at Pier 21 and offers Italian, Asian, Creole and traditional fare and features an open style kitchen.  After dinner  you can stroll around the Pier and check out the ships and water. http://www.nonnotonys.com/

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Also worth checking out:

Tremont Hotel has a lovely rooftop bar for watching the sunset. www.thetremonthouse.com

The Olympia Grill at Pier 21 has a fantastic patio dining on the water.  The menu includes greek influenced fresh seafood.  It’s next  to the 1877 tall ship Elissa, Harbor House Hotel, and Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig & Museumhttp://www.olympiagrill.com

We had the best time in Galveston doing what we do – shopping, eating, checking out the historical flavor of the city and visiting the beach.   It was a great girl’s weekend!  A big thank you to Galveston’s Visitor Bureau for helping make our weekend a huge success!

Check out the official website of Galveston Island  to find out the many things to do during your visit: http://galveston.com

Downtown Galveston also has a website and will keep you updated on all things downtown:  www.downtowngalveston.org

Coming up in October!

  • Ghosts of Galveston
  • ARToberfest
  • Oktoberfest

Did you Know?

  • Galveston is steeped in history in the downtown area, the seaport and it’s historical homes.  Galveston was once called  the “Wall Street of the Southwest” and has been recognized as a National Historic Landmark for its outstanding collection of 19th century architecture.  You can explore on foot, ride in a horse drawn carriage and visit the many museums has to offer.  You can also tour the 1877 tall ship Elissa or the 1892 Victorian residence “Bishop’s Palace”.  Want to know more go to: http://www.galvestonhistory.org
  • Galveston has several wonderful museums!  Allow time to visit a few your next trip there:  Go to:  www.galveston.com/attractions-museums
  • Galveston has a temperate year round climate which makes it a very popular destination.  The temperatures range from winter highs in the 60’s and lows in the mid 40’s.
  • Galveston Island has over 25 miles of beaches – lots of room to find a spot for your beach umbrella and chairs!

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No visit to Galveston is complete without visiting Moody Gardens!  I have taken my kids there several times and it is definitely a great place for families.  It has a golf course and hotel but it also includes an Aquarium, Rainforest Exhibit, theaters, museum, amusement park, ropes course and zip lines and seasonal exhibits.   Want to know more?  Go to:  www.moodygardens.com

The latest addition and great family attraction is Pleasure Pier!  It features waterfront fun and entertainment with family-oriented attractions including rides, midway games, a wide selection of food venues and retail shops. http://www.pleasurepier.com/

Shops:

https://www.facebook.com/theundressedmermaid.

https://www.facebook.com/The-Style-co

https://www.facebook.com/justaddsparkle

http://www.headtofootsies.com

https://www.facebook.com/theadmiralty

galveston-its-island-time

4 Things to Consider When Moving Overseas

moving_overseasMy journey overseas began exactly two years ago for me and my family. Living overseas in a brand new country is one of the few life experiences that changes you completely. You are never going to be the same person you were back at home. So much of what we do is taken for granted, and living overseas changes your perspective on life and how you live it – mainly because you start paying close attention to what would normally seem like mundane moments and strangers. Here are four things to consider if you and your family are considering moving overseas.

#1. FOMO. Suffering from fear of missing out.
As depressed as it sounds, FOMO is a real thing, especially with Facebook and Instagram. I mean, you are reminded how you are missing out on your family and friends lives and vice versa. You will want to be there for important moments like weddings, anniversaries, baby showers, and even funerals, but you can’t. Some of your friends will get annoyed with your absence, but it’s beyond your control because you’re on the other side of the world. The distance makes you appreciate your friends and family sooo much more. I’ve learned that if there’s anything in the world that brings family and friends closer, it’s distance – that’s also the true test of relationships.

#2. You become more aware.
Being transplanted to unknown places definitely heighten your senses in every way. As a result, you just become more aware of your surroundings – the people, the places and what is happening in your area. This starts to play out in your everyday life and in work. Awareness and attention to detail is never a bad thing. 😉 It is also true that you gain a better understanding on how the world looks at America. It is crazy how eye-opening some of U.S. weaknesses or challenges seem amplified when you live overseas. Maybe it is because the local people ask you a lot about why things happen in America, or they may ask you if you have the same view, as let’s say the president or people on the international news.

#3. You start to find yourself.
As cheesy as it sounds, it’s so true. You are never going to spend as much time alone as you do when living overseas. I am thankful that I can say with Romans 8:28 that God uses all things for the good of those who love him, even my times alone, actually because of these times alone, it has reminded me of my deepest spiritual need, who is Jesus Christ. You have to get over the stigma of doing things alone, like navigating an unknown territory with people not understanding you. You are going to face the most difficult times of your life, but you also come out stronger and develop an incredible sense of self identity and renewed purpose in life.

#4. I always knew I wanted to live overseas.
Whether it was through study abroad or employment, I just wanted to live overseas. I mean, I found my husband overseas, so I was bound to live here with family, right?! I don’t regret it a single day. I can’t imagine living anywhere else right now. If you’re even thinking about living overseas, I’d encourage you to GO. Run. Don’t walk.

Did I miss anything? Have you lived overseas? Please share you advice and experiences below!

Eight Road Trip Tips

Road-Trip-TipsThis weekend, my daughter and I are getting ready to take a road trip through a few countries. That’s the great thing about living in Europe, how small and close countries are to each other. What do you define as a “road trip”? For me, anything longer than 8 hours constitutes a road trip. 🙂 I LOVE road trips. Throughout my childhood, my family took TONS of them, and I looked forward to them every time. Of course not all of our road trips went smoothly. I mean, my brother got carsick, we would get lost, tire would blowout, etc., but let’s not focus on the negative. 😉 As we prepare for our trip, here are some things that I have learned on my many road trips and tips on how you can get the most out of your next one.

#1. Plan your route thoroughly first. Look at various routes and take into account tolls, construction and traffic.

#2. Have cash on hand. Stop by the ATM and make sure to have money handy. I usually have enough to fill up my car just in case the gas station doesn’t take credit card or I encounter an unexpected toll or parking spot.

#3. Pack a pillow! Don’t know about you, but long car journeys make me want to nap! Sleeping against the window is NOT comfy, so packing a pillow or blanket will make your journey more comfy.

#4. No matter what type of road trip you’re on, pack comfy shoes! For example, flip flops or walking boots will come in incredibly handy if you have to hike a little away from the road for a bathroom stop.

#5. Pack a mobile phone charger! Mobile phone batteries die so quickly nowadays.

#6. Bring bottle waters and other favorite drinks before you hit the road. Not all gas stations sell beverages, and then there is that problem about finding a place to buy something to drink when you are thirsty. 😉

#7. Pack healthy snacks! There are always plenty of places to stop for fast food, but you’ll soon discover yourself craving something a little more nutritious like granola bars, fruit, sandwiches, nuts, etc.

#8. Do most of the driving in the early morning and afternoon, so you don’t get too tired, it’s just not worth the risk! I try to begin driving before 8AM when most people are still drinking their first cup of coffee.

Am I missing any tips? Where have you taken a road trip?

Marriott Rewards Summer Travelers

DFWDT ExteriorSummer is quickly slipping away, but you still have time to be rewarded for a last-minute trip deep in the heart of Texas. Marriott Rewards® members can pack their bags and take a road trip driving to several destinations while racking up points to use at future destinations. Read more why a Marriott Rewards credit card is worth! From San Antonio’s Alamo Mission to Fort Worth’s Stockyards and renowned art museums, you can enjoy more points with more stays.

Enjoy finger-licking BBQ at Woodshed, seafood at Waters – Bonnell’s Coastal Cuisine, homegrown fresh fruit pies and hand-churned ice cream, to name a few of our summer favorite foods. Texas’ major cities offer magnificent museums such as Dallas’ Nasher Sculpture Center in the middle of the largest urban art district in the United States and Fort Worth’s incomparable Arts District, which includes the Kimbell, Amon Carter, Modern Art Museum, as well as, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.20130317_123941kimbellartamoncarter

Now through September 5, 2016, stay at a participating Marriott listed below, and Marriott Rewards® members can earn 2,000 Marriott Reward® points. It’s free to join the program and points are earned right away. Members also enjoy free standard in-room Wi-Fi and other exclusive offers and promotions just by registering for the program.

Participating Summer Splash Down properties:
Renaissance Austin Hotel
Renaissance Dallas Hotel
Dallas Marriott City Center
Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center
Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria
Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Marriott
The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel *** OUR FAVORITE!!!
JW Marriott Houston
Houston Marriott Medical Center
Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental
San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk
San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter

What’s Included:
· 2% discount during midweek stays, 5% discount for weekends
· Rewards Members may earn 2,000 bonus points for every stay between May 26, 2016 and September 5, 2016, starting on the second stay
· Rewards Members may qualify for 100 prizes of 100,000 points each; a 10 million bonus point giveaway during the summer to Rewards Members

Happy Trails to You!

Can’t Stop the Feeling: Prepare for Spark.Me

Spark.me is less than a month away! And today, Justin Timberlake drops a new song that expresses how I feel. I may have modified some of the lyrics ;), but turn up the volume and dance with me.

“I got this feeling inside my bones. It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on. All through BUDVA, all through MONTENEGRO. We’re flying up, no ceiling, when we in our zone. I got that sunshine in my pocket. Got THIS good song in my feet. I feel that SPARK in my body when it drops. I can’t WAIT FOR END OF MAY, moving so phenomenally WELL. You gon’ like the way THIS CONFERENCE rocks it, so don’t stop. Under the lights when everything STARTS. Nowhere to hide when CONFERENCE getting you close. When SPARK.ME STARTS, well, you already know. So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine…SPARK.ME WILL MAKE you dance, dance, dance. Feeling good, good, SPARKING up on you. So just dance, dance, dance, come on. All those things I should do to PREPARE, but you dance, dance, dance. And YOU ARE leaving soon, so keep dancing…”

I CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! How about you? 😉

10-Tips-for-Spark-MeHere’s my TOP 10 checklist to help you prepare for Spark.Me, so you can continue to dance your way to Budva, Montenegro, on May 28-29, 2016.

  1. Search Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for anyone talking about #SparkMe. You can then determine if you want to follow them and start conversations ahead of Spark.Me. This works amazingly well for people who might be a bit shy. Make sure you are also using #SparkMe hashtag, so can people can also find and engage with you.
  2. Visit the speakers blogs or youtube channels for ideas of how things are going in their lives or in their businesses. Before meeting them, maybe you’ll read that they just closed a B round of funding, and thus might have budget for a project with you. It’s free intelligence before a conversation.
  3. Check out the partners for Spark.Me. Visit their web pages. What do you know about them? Are they a prospective vendor for you? A client? Do you see some business value in meeting any of them?
  4. Write some of your best work in the days leading up to Spark.Me and have a great post launch on the day of the event. The likelihood of people checking out your blog during or just before an event is high. JUST DO IT! 🙂
  5. Consider writing posts that might help you form conversations at Spark.Me. For instance, if you’re looking to work with startups, write a blog post about how you’d help startups get funding. Thus, people who might investigate your blog ahead of time might also know what you’re thinking about and will engage you.
  6. Consider making a video about something and posting it to your blog. Videos will give people an even better opportunity to observe you and see what you’re about. It might also help with the people recognition factor, as seeing you in motion might improve their chance of seeing you at an event. 😉
  7. If you’re going to take lots of photos or videos at Spark.Me, check your gear to make sure you’ve got everything (charger, media transfer tools, spare things, etc.). Consider any extra batteries or power supplies you might need to bring with you.
  8. Backup your laptop before you travel. You might not think about it, but there are many chances to destroy your data once you’re on the road. Make sure that’s not going to happen.
  9. Pack business casual clothes and comfortable shoes for two days and a nice black dress or button-down shirt & nice pants for the cocktail party! And, DON’T FORGET YOUR SWIMSUIT to wear while you enjoy the Bečići beach. 🙂
  10. Practice, practice, practice your elevator pitch explaining who you are and what you do. Be crisp. Make it easy to say. Be very clear. If you’re looking for work, be clear that you’re available for a few extra projects. It seems that lots of folks beat around the bush or don’t exactly know how to have a beginning, middle and end to a conversation. REMEMBER, YOU ARE AWESOME! TI SI SJAJAN/SJAJNA!

Look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. For now, make sure that we are connected on all these social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and Pinterest.