#StrongerMovie Starring Jake Gyllenhaal Opens this Friday!

What happens when we make heroes out of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances?   Find out in the new inspirational and heartwarming movie opening this Friday, September 22nd starring Jake Gyllenhaal called Stronger.

Almost everybody recognizes the photo that dominated the news after the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013.  The photo was taken of Jeff Bauman being whisked away by a guy in a cowboy hat after his legs were tragically blown off by the terrorist’s bomb at the finish line at the Marathon.  It quickly became a symbol of all that is both good and bad about mankind.  This is the true story of an ordinary Boston citizen, Jeff Bauman who became an unwilling symbol of survival and hope for not only Boston but for the world after a cruel and heartless act of terrorism.  This is Jeff’s journey through the destruction as the easy going guy with no real goals and his rebirth as a double amputee who finds himself responsible not only for his family and girlfriend but for world who wants him to be their hero.

We’ve seen the story of tragedy and perseverance before but this movie is different and special in numerous ways.  First of all Jeff is a lovable guy who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He’s every man and it’s easy to see yourself in his situation.  Jeff’s family and city are all supportive of him almost to the point of suffocating him.  Second of all and this is big, Jake Gyllenhaul’s performance is everything in this movie.  He gives a quiet but powerful and award winning performance.  He doesn’t have that much to say about the new situation he finds himself in  (Jeff is not a real emotional guy) but Jake says it all with the wide ranging of emotions that you see in his face but doesn’t have the words to say.   Jeff is suffering in a million different ways but he doesn’t want to let anyone down and your heart will break over and over for him.

The other outstanding performance is by Tatiana Maslany who plays Jeff’s girlfriend, Erin.    This is a couple that dated for a while and broke up.    Jeff wants her back so he decides to show up at the marathon that she’s running in with a sign and faithfully waits to win her back at the finish line.  That might have worked except that a huge thing like terrorism completely destroys them both.  Erin is guilt ridden beyond comprehension that it was her fault he was there.  She wants to help but feels pushed away at every attempt she makes by everyone who surrounds Jeff – his family and in particular Jeff’s long suffering but loving mother who is effectively played by Miranda Richardson.

A pivotal point in the movie is the meeting of Jeff and his rescuer, Carlos – the guy in the cowboy hat who in my opinion is the true hero of this story.  This is the guy that risked his own life and ran towards the bomb to save people and in particular, Jeff.  At times I believe Jeff wished that Carlos hadn’t saved him.  Carlos has his own tragic story of loss and regret and at last Jeff gets it.  Not only did Carlos save him but it gave Carlos a reason and purpose to redeem himself.  This is the moment that Jeff finally understands how important his story is and that he needs to find the strength to do what’s necessary to get on with life and Carlos rescues from himself this time.The director gives a voice to the survivors of this horrific act and victims everywhere.  He creates a subtle but inspirational movie that doesn’t focus on the terrorists and for that I’m glad.  It’s the very personal and inspiring story of one average guy who becomes a symbol of not only Boston’s tough survivor character “Boston Strong” but of Americans’ tenacity in the face of tragedy.  Jeff is the perfect hero for America –  he’s just like us and I’m glad he is.  Go see this important movie.

I attended a Question and Answer presentation after the Stronger Movie showing in Dallas this week with the star of the movie, Jake Gylenhaal and the subject of the story, Jeff Bauman.  The movie was attended primarily by people with disabilities, amputees, and healthcare workers.  There was a lot of gratitude in their voices and their comments that Jeff’s story of recovery as a bombing victim means so much to them.  The movie sheds a light on the difficulty and challenges of recovering from the loss of a limb or a debilitating illness.  It was a very emotional and uplifting night.    The actor and hero did not disappoint, they were both warm, authentic, and caring.   As Jake pointed out that night, we have all been through something in our lives that has challenged us. This movie sheds a light on how one man overcame what seemed to be impossible circumstances.

Website:  www.strongerthefilm.com

#STRONGERMOVIE

Stronger opens in theaters this Friday, September 22 in Dallas/Fort Worth at the following theaters (check for times):

Legacy 14                                                                   Plano, TX
Cinemark West Plano 20                                       Plano, TX
Angelika Film Center and Cafe                             Dallas, TX
North Park 15                                                           Dallas, TX
AMC Village on the Parkway                                Dallas, TX
Tinseltown 17                                                           Grapevine, TX
Southlake Town Square                                        Southlake, TX

Provost, Y’all! Chamberlain POPS UP at Addison Oktoberfest

One of the most authentic parts of Addison Oktoberfest is the amazing Chamberlain’s Brauhaus, which allows guests to enjoy the same type of VIP seating one might have in the brewery tents at the famed Munich festival. Richard Chamberlain has created a DELECTABLE menu – buy your tickets for the limited seating TODAY!Chamberlain’s Brauhaus is really an exceptional bargain – for only $55, guests get complimentary admission to the event, three-course meal paired with pairing, reserved seating with a view of the dance floor, a commemorative Paulaner stein, PLUS a $25 promotional gift card to either Chamberlain’s restaurant!

Starters
* Locally-made Pretzel with Reisling Honey Mustard Sauce
* House Made Bavarian Ham, Leek, Potato and Vegetable Soup

Entrées (Guests will receive both)
* Paulaner Hefeweizen Beer Braised Pork with Horseradish Mustard and Roasted Onion Potatoes
* Bratwurst, Grobe and Weisswurst Sausages and Local Kobe Bacon-Braised Red Cabbage

Dessert
Warm Bavarian Cherry Strudel with Port Wine Cherry Compote

Seatings are limited and are available the following times:
* Thursday, September 14 – 7 p.m.
* Friday, September 15 – 6:30 & 8:30 p.m.
* Saturday, September 16 – 5:00 & 7:30 p.m.

Make your reservations for Chamberlain’s Brauhaus here: www.chamberlainssteakhouse.com/ticketsAddison Oktoberfest information and other packages are available at AddisonOktoberfest.com.

Cannot wait for Oktoberfest to come mid-September?! Then, we have the recipe for you from Richard Chamberlain. This comfort food will get you ready and sustain you throughout the fall season. 🙂

Chamberlain’s Brauhaus Roasted Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
12 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions
1. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, sauté the onions in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
2. Transfer to a blender and process until blended; set aside.
3. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once at a rapid boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, or until tender enough to pierce with a fork. Drain the potatoes well.
4. Place potatoes in a mixer and add in the roasted garlic cloves, butter, sour cream, cheese, heavy cream, salt, pepper and onion mix. Beat potatoes until light and fluffy. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Get Ready to LEAP + Summit Packing List

get ready to leap + summit packing listOne week from today, we will all be together in Zagreb, Croatia. Jump head first. Stepping out of your comfort zone. YES, I am ready to LEAP into action as an official LEAP Summit blogger and life learner! Are you ready?

Get Ready to LEAP!

LEAP is an action verb. The main focus of the conference is on themes connected to innovation, IT and modern technologies, entrepreneurship, career development and life-changing stories. LEAP stands for Learn, Engage, Act, and Progress. Of course we all LEAP in our own ways and in our own time, every day, through our stories, our pursuits, our endeavors. We have different backgrounds, goals, and passions, but we all LEAP together, and that is when we are at our best. And we will be all together on Thursday to hear keynotes and attend many sessions. Get ready to LEAP into action!

Packing List

Can you believe LEAP Summit is just one week away? 1 week, guys! Thinking about that got me in the mood to par-tay. You in? Here’s a suggested packing list as you mingle with other changemakers.

Chambray top: A classic chambray button down is great for layering–as a base layer or second layer, and it’s basically a neutral.

Cardigan sweater: You want to pack at least one cardigan sweater, again, because you want as many layering options as possible. Weather in spring anywhere is unpredictable. I prefer cardigans in either grey, or black, as they go with anything you layer over them.

Black v-neck sweater: The v-neck sweater is slightly more versatile than the crew neck. Why? Crew necks can look dowdy if you layer certain things over them–such as a blazer, for example. They’re also harder to dress up. But a v-neck shows a bit more skin, and can be dressed up for a night out to dinner, and also looks great layered under a blazer, cardigan or any other type of jacket.

Striped long-sleeved tee: You’re not going to believe me, but this is going to be the one top you’ll reach for over and over again. Stripes just make your entire outfit cuter–it’s that simple! I love the long sleeved tees for travel, because they keep you warmer, but you can always roll the sleeves if you get hot.

Classic blazer: No-brainer, obviously. Layers. LAYERS. You get it, right? A blazer is an ultra-polished outer layer that works great if your weather is warmer than planned, and also is a great under layer below a coat if necessary. It also looks extra sharp for conferences like LEAP.

Black v-neck tee: Again, a black v-neck is about the most versatile item you can pack. You can get away with wearing a black v-neck with your statement earrings and chic ballet flats for dinner. Another color, however, is much harder to dress up. (For example, pink? No way.)

Dark skinny jeans: Dark skinnies are a must, because they show the least amount of dirt, and are also great for going out at night. You can easily get away with one pair of jeans the whole time.

Boyfriend jeans: I like the extra “oomph” that boyfriend jeans lend to an outfit. I think they have a lot more personality than regular skinny jeans, and at times, are certainly more comfortable.

Ponte pants: They feel like leggings, but are significantly more durable and polished looking. They’ll keep you much warmer than leggings, and again, can look significantly more dressy when you don’t want to wear jeans.

Striped shift dress: A nice alternative to jeans, I’d recommend throwing at least one shift dress in your bag–they’re perfect for LEAP Summit. Make sure to choose a style that looks great with all three of your footwear options, and throw in a pair of opaque tights in case it gets chilly.

Black ankle booties: Booties look cute, provide great support, and are durable no matter what the weather. I prefer ankle booties to riding boots personally because I think they’re a bit more versatile. You can wear them with dresses and boyfriend jeans, for example–something you probably wouldn’t be able to do with standard riding boots.

Converse sneakers: Being on your feet all day, you’ll often want to trade off the type of shoe you’re wearing each day. Converse provide a great alternative to boots, and look cute with jeans, dresses, whatever.

Ballet flats: I love the lace-up flats! If ballet flats aren’t your thing, chic loafers are another excellent option!

Backpack OR Crossbody: Something else you probably think I’m crazy for saying, but you only need one purse. REALLY. I promise. I prefer (wait for it) black, but as long as you ensure it goes with everything you’re bringing, choose whatever color you’d prefer! I would strongly recommend either a cross-body bag or a mini backpack which you can put your LEAP Summit schedule, business // contact cards and notebook for note-taking.

Simple statement studs: Bring one pair of statement studs that are still relatively simple in case you’d like to dress up your black v-neck sweater for dinner, but you’ll likely need little else.

Silk Scarf: Silk scarves are the easiest way to dress up a simple outfit. Your packing list is not complete without one! Plus, they add some extra warmth! Choose a color that compliments the rest of your items, but is enough to look pretty!

Red lipstick: Aside from a silk scarf, the best way to look polished is with a classic, red lip. Lips always have the tendency to get extra chapped and dry during travel, so you’ll want something that still provides some moisture while looking great at the same time.

PACKING TIPS: When packing, roll your clothing! You can fit significantly more clothing in your bag than with folding. Plus, it minimizes wrinkles. Don’t wait until the last minute! Last minute scrambling always results in stuffing extra items in that you don’t need! If you forget something, you can always buy it there. 🙂

Tomorrow = Last Day to secure your ticket at LEAP!

Tomorrow is the final day to buy your tickets to LEAP Summit, so don’t forget to make one the SMARTEST decision of your life, if you haven’t already. See you there! Make sure to say HOWDY, too. Don’t be shy, as I never meet a stranger. 😉

#LEAPzg // Where to Stay in Zagreb, Croatia

LEAP_Summit_HotelsFrom 11th to 13th of May, LEAP Summit #LEAPzg digital community will be taking over Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. This city is rich in cultural heritage and an array of well-established galleries and historic architecture. Read my previous post on WHY YOU NEED TO ATTEND LEAP SUMMIT. I am excited that this year I am one of their official bloggers. Join me on my journey beneath Mount Medvednica, as I will be live blogging about how you can LEAP into action from smart women like Cathy O’Dowd, Lada Tedeschi Fiorio, Ivana Grbavac and many more. As people will be gathering from near and far, here are all the hotel information that you will need to plan your travel to Zagreb, Croatia.

LEAP Summit Lodging

The Westin Zagreb
This 5-star hotel in Zagreb is within walking distance to LEAP Summit and outdoor cafés.the-westin-zagrebDistance to event: 5 min walk
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

Esplanade Zagreb – 5-Star Resort + Real Posh Favorite
This is our go-to hotel in Zagreb if you are looking for luxury, elegance and old world charm.Hotel_Esplanade_ZagrebDistance to event: 11 min walk // 12 min by tram
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

Red Carpet Apartments & Rooms
Red_Carpet_Zagreb
Distance to event: 0 min walk
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

Hostel Fancy
As an official LEAP Summit partner, you can enjoy a fancy way in a specially art-designed hostel with a great price.Hostel-Fancy-ZagrebDistance to event: 11 min walk // 12 min by tram
contact: info@fancyhostel.com
PRICE: 11 EUR price per night per person
optional: 3 EUR/breakfast/day, 6.50 EUR/lunch/day
BOOK HERE.

Hostel Old Lab
Located in the center of Zagreb, this hostel offers a café with a terrace, as well as free WiFi access.Hostel-Old-Lab-ZagrebDistance to event: 13 min walk // 10 min by tram
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

The Palace Hotel Zagreb
This traditional Art Nouveau hotel is centrally located.Palace_Hotel_ZagrebDistance to event: 16 min walk // 9 min by tram
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

Hostel 54
As an official LEAP Summit partner, enjoy this modest yet comfortable hostel set in the west part of the city of Zagreb for a great price.Hostel-54-ZagrebDistance to event: 19 min walk // 6 min by tram
Zagreb, Croatia
contact: booking@hostel54.com
PRICE: 10 EUR per night per person
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Jägerhorn
A 3-minute walk from the nearest tram stop, this polished hotel dating from the 19th-century is a great option during LEAP Summit.Hotel_Jagerhorn_ZagrebDistance to event: 26 min walk // 11 min by tram
Zagreb, Croatia
BOOK HERE.

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!!

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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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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.

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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!

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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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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.

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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

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