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.

#SparkMe // Where to Stay in Budva, Montenegro

Spark-Me-HotelsFrom 28th to 29th of May, #SparkMe digital community will be taking over the breathtakingly beautiful coast of Montenegro in Bečići // Budva. Read my previous post on WHY YOU NEED TO ATTEND spark.me. I am excited that this year I am one of their official bloggers. Join me on my journey up the coast, as I will be live blogging about what will SPARK me into action from smart women like Veronica Belmont, Danica Kombol 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 Budva, Montenegro.

Hotels

Hotel Mediteran – Spark.Me HQhotel-mediteranDistance to event: 0 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Splendid Conference and Spa Resort – 5-Star Resort + Real Posh Favorite
Refined accommodations in a high-end lodging featuring 3 restaurants, 3 bars, a spa & a casino.splendid-spa-resortDistance to event: 7 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Sentido Tara
Polished hotel with an outdoor pool, a spa & an international restaurant, plus 3 bars.sentido-tara-hotelDistance to event: 1 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Montenegro
Casual beach resort offering rooms with balconies, & 6 restaurants, plus a spa, 2 saunas & pools.
Distance to event: 2 min walk
Boreti, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Anitahotel-anita
Distance to event: 5 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Iberostar Bellevue
Modest rooms in a beachside property with free breakfast, plus relaxed dining, pools & a spa.iberostar-bellevueDistance to event: 6 min walk
Bečići, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Slovenska Plažahotel-slovenska-plazaDistance to event: 23 min walk
Budva, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Hotel Bracera
Distance to event: 27 min walk
Budva, Montenegro
BOOK HERE.

Why I Want to Attend Spark.me // Zašto bi trebalo da učestvujete

Why-I-Want-To-Attend-Spark-MeHosted by Domain.ME since 2013, Spark.Me brings stories on the front lines of technology, innovative business models, engaging branding strategies and world-changing initiatives.This two-day interactive conference is designed to inspire you, ignite your creativity and allow your to find your SPARK that will propel you toward the future in business and technology. Here are my top 10 reasons that you want to attend Spark.Me on May 28-29, 2016.

10. Refresh & Recharge // Osvežite se
Take a weekend off your busy work schedule to recharge. Through the provocative sessions, you will uncover some ways to refresh, re-energize and return to work reinvigorated.refresh-and-recharge-budva

9. Biggest Business & Digital Innovation Conference in Montenegro // Najveća konferencija biznisa i digitalne inovacije u Crnoj Gori
Learn the latest techniques, tools and strategies in business and digital innovation to be able to address your company’s challenge in a new improved way. Because Spark.Me is one of the biggest professional conferences in the Balkans, it is truly the best way to access innovative and disruptive content with lots of like-minded people.

8. Rub Elbows with Other Industry Professionals + More // Upoznajte se sa drugim profesionalcima industrije + više
This is the best part of the conference experience. You’ll be in touch with other professionals and experts to share your concerns, experiences and solutions.

7. Network, Connect and Reconnect with Colleagues // Poslovno umrežavanje sa kolegama
Life-long connections have evolved conferences like Spark.Me. Bring your business cards, your smile and an open-mind to Spark.Me, and you will not be disappointed in the people that you meet.

6. Learn from Each Other and Develop Professionally // Učite jedni od drugih i razvite profesionalno
We always have something new to learn from one another, and take the knowledge that you learned back to your company and to those who were not able to attend.

5. The Price is Right // Cena je prava
Spark.Me is very affordable! They offer a student rate and early-bird discounts (until March 11, 2016) between €60 – €120 for registration. As the conference gets closer, the price will get higher, so buy your tickets now.

4. Showcase Your Innovation through Startup Competition // Pokažite inovaciju kroz “Startup Competition”
Spark.me brings together successful startups in its Startup Competition. They focused on innovation, the power of ideas, the startup’s potential to grow and team diversity. Participating in the competition enables you to have access to advisors, mentors and a network of investors, industry experts and serial entrepreneurs. In order to participate, you need to apply by May 4, 2016 here.

3. Great, Dynamic Speakers // Sjajni i energični govornici
Last year, I had the honor to speak at Spark.Me, and I was blown away on the speaker lineup that Vanja and his team brought to Montenegro. The speakers and topics are as diverse as the Spark.Me attendees, which is why this conference stands above the rest in the region…and even in Europe. So far, the speakers for 2016 include Jon Bradford, Annie Machon, Everywhere Agency’s CEO Danica Kombol and my new friend Marvin Liao. Below is my talk with Real Geek Dad about Content Marketing vs. SEO called “Beauty and the Beast.”

2. Not Only Talks…A Lot of Fun // Proveselite se
During Spark.Me, you can have fun at their cocktail party, walking along the beautiful beach, eating along the breathtakingly beautiful Montenegrin coast with others from the conference or do other informal gatherings that will surely add fun during your Spark.Me weekend.

1. Experience the Breathtaking Beauty of Budva // Putujete u najlepšu Budvu
Speaking of Budva’s breathtaking beauty, Budva Old Town lies on a small peninsula and represents a treasure chest of culture heritage and a short walk from the conference. Crossed with narrow streets and squares, you can also visit many shops, cafés, restaurants and galleries in Old Town. The Budva coast is 21 km long with 17 beaches. It is among the most beautiful coasts in the world. Also, you can find a wide range of accommodation, from very affordable to exclusive and luxury.

budvabeach

Buy Your Ticket Now! Kupite kartu sada!

10 Best Beaches in Southeast Europe

best-beaches-se-europeIt isn’t hard to find the best beaches in Southeast Europe when there are so many to choose from, but rather harder to choose which beaches to leave out! Here are our top picks for the best beaches in Southeast Europe, from islands in Croatia to the off-the-beaten path islands in Greece, here is where you will find them…

#1. Egremni Beach, Greeceegremni-beachEgremni Beach on Lefkada Island is not on the popular and well-known Greek islands, but this is a beach where you can actually relax and blend in to local life.

#2. Elafonisi Beach, Greeceelafonisi-beachElafonisi Beach in Crete is another such Greek beach worth mentioning.

#3. Jaz Beach, Montenegrojaz-beachIf you’re looking for a little adventure on a sandy beach, then Jaz Beach, outside of Budva, is perfect for you. It’s one of Montenegro’s gorgeous beaches on the Adriatic coast.

#4. Lubenice, Croatialubenice-beachCres Island is home to beaches and crystal-clear coves at Lubenice, accessible by a steep path through the underbrush, so make sure to wear some good hiking shoes. Your hike to this secluded beach will be easily forgotten once you reach the beach.

#5. Navagio Beach, Greecenavagio-beachAlso known as Shipwreck Beach, this is one of the most iconic beaches to visit in Greece, and the picture certainly shows you why! This exposed cove is surrounded by crystal blue waters and trails around to catch the best view.

#6. Rana e Hedhun Beach, Albaniarana-e-hedhun-beachIn northern Albania is the wonderful beach of Rana e Hedhun (Powdered Sand). It is a pristine beach where sand dunes climb nearly halfway up the face of the mountainside.

#7. Šunj Beach, Croatiasunj-beachŠunj Beach is 1km strip of sand sloping gently into warm, shallow waters. There are two restaurants, both of which rent deck chairs and beach umbrellas, and a choice of activities from beach volleyball to tennis.

#8. Sunny Beach, Bulgariasunny-beachSunny Beach stretches 8km along the Black Sea with fine golden sand. It is also home to some of the coast’s last remaining natural sand dunes and rare plant species. Sunny Beach is across the bay from the historic town of Nesebăr.

#9. Sveti Stefan Beach, Montenegrosveti-stefan-beachSveti Stefan is one of the most renowned beaches and certainly an icon for coastal Montenegro.

#10. Zlatni Rat, Croatiazlatni-rat-beachZlatni Rat (Golden Cape) is situated near the city of Bol on the southern coast of the island of Brac. It is a narrow white pebble beach with an amazing shape that shifts with the changes in tide, currents and wind. Zlatni Rat is bordered by pine trees, where you can find remnants of ancient Roman civilization, including a swimming pool.

Montenegro: Where to Stay

montenegro-where-to-stayMontenegro is small country, which makes it an easy drive across the country in a day, but you could spend a whole month there and still have more to explore. There are plenty of posh places to stay in Montenegro – and plenty of not-so-posh places too – so we have narrowed them down to highlight our absolute favorites. From Budva to Ulcinj, we’ve got it covered.

splendid-spa-resortSplendid Conference & Spa Resort, Budva *****OUR TOP PICK
The luxurious 5-star hotel Splendid Spa Resort is set directly on a long sandy beach in the heart of Bečići, just 2 km from Budva’s Old Town. The posh spa area with heated indoor pools, saunas, hot tubs and steam baths with Swarovski crystals is at guests’ disposal. The on-site restaurant serves delicious Montenegrin and international cuisine with freshly prepared ingredients. The private sandy beach with parasols and loungers is available. Guests can relax by the pool where drinks and snacks are served throughout the day. Tivat Airport is 20 km from Splendid Conference & Spa Resort, and the Podgorica Airport can be reached within 60 km.

casa-rozalijaCasa Rozalija Bed & Breakfast, Kotor
Located right next to the Bay of Kotor, Casa Rozalija Bed & Breakfast comprises a sun terrace and provides guests with a hot tub, sauna, shared lounge and kitchen. Rooms here feature a stone wall interior and come with antique furniture, which gives this bed & breakfast soul. At Casa Rozalija, you can enjoy homemade cakes, bread, ham and cheese for breakfast. Perast Old Town and several scenic islets are a 5-minute boat ride away. The UNESCO-protected Kotor Old Town is 9.5km away. Tivat Airport is located at a distance of 12km. Free private parking is provided on site, too.

ziya-hotelZiya Hotel, Podgorica
Located in the capital, the 5-star Ziya Hotel offers a spa with a hot tub and a sauna and a modern gym. You and your family can enjoy the indoor swimming pool. Start your day with their posh continental breakfast. Free private parking is available in front of the hotel. Podgorica Airport is 13km from the hotel.

regent-porto-montenegroRegent Porto Montenegro, Tivat
Located in Tivat within a luxury yacht marina, Regent Porto Montenegro offers an outdoor pool, as well as a spa and wellness center. Built in Renaissance Venetian style, this luxury hotel offers rooms that feature either a balcony or a terrace. The Regent SPA, which is we consider to be the BEST SPA in Montenegro, include saunas, a Turkish bath, a steam room and a gym, as well as an indoor pool. Tennis and squash courts, as well as a bowling alley, are also available nearby.PortoMontenegroThe world-class marina features 250 boat berths and houses a world-class yacht club and full sailing facilities. Porto Montenegro is also a home to numerous cafés, waterfront restaurants and upscale retail stores offering both local and international brands ranging from fine wines to luxury fashion. The hotel is 4.6km from Tivat Airport and 90km from Podgorica Airport. Free private parking is provided on-site.

hotel-senatorHotel Senator, Ulcinj
Set 1km from Ulcinj’s city center, Hotel Senator is located 500m from the beach and offers an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as bike rentals and massages. The sandy Velika plaža (Long Beach) is 5 km away from Senator Hotel. Skadar Lake can be visited 9km from Hotel Senator. Podgorica Airport is 65km away.

7 Amazing Swimming Pools Around the World

Summer is here, and you know what that means – POOL TIME! One of our favorite things to do whenever we are visiting a new place is to see where there is a pool! Even when my family road tripped across Greece last month, it didn’t matter what time we arrived at St. George Lycabettus Boutique Hotel, as long as there was still some time to use the pool. We quickly checked in, and the kids changed into their swimsuits at record speed for some pool time. Our obsession with pools reached even new heights where despite living across the beach on the Adriatic Sea, we actually drove an hour away just for the infinity pool at Porto Montenegro! (It may cost to drive and utilize, but it was soooo worth it!) Oh, and we still talk about our time poolside during the Spark.Me conference at Hotel Splendid, which lived up to its name. Who said the coast is not also a great place to enjoy a pool?! 😉

Anyway, as our thoughts remember all the great pools we have visited, it is time to pull you into our obsession with splashing, cooling off and laying by the pool this summer, here are 7 amazing swimming pools around the world that will leave you reaching for swimsuit and a plane ticket to one of these amazing destinations across the world.

1. Lido Pool, Porto Montenegro, Tivat, Montenegro. It sits in Montenegro’s dramatic Bay of Kotor.LidoPool
2. St. George’s Rooftop Pool, Athens, Greece.stgeorgepool
3. Arena Badeschiff Pool, Berlin, Germany.ArenaBadeschiff
4. Berkeley Rooftop Pool, London, England.
Beyond the green leaves and scented blooms of The Berkeley’s secret garden is a pool tiled in iridescent white and gold mosaic that sits beneath a sliding roof, retractable when outside temperatures permit.TheBerkeleyPool
5. Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, Scottsdale, Arizona.HyattRegencyPools
6. Giola Lagoon, Thassos, Greece.
This is a natural pool in the Greek Islands.GiolaLagoon
7. River Bluff Water Experience, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa River, San Antonio, Texas.
It has a Cyprus tree-lined 1,200-foot lazy river, zero-entry pool with its animal-shaped fountains and five water slides.jwmarriottpool
We cannot think of a better way to spend the summer than being poolside with a good book. What do you enjoy to do in the summer? What pool amazed you around the world?

12 Places That Make Montenegro Dreamy

From the beach, bumming luxury-lover to the hiking history-buff, Montenegro is a country that’s vibrant, dynamic and filled with wild beauty that makes the country dreamy. Depending on your accommodations, choices of food and length of stay, a trip to Montenegro could be a history-filled outdoors adventure, quick and cheap holiday or a luxurious getaway – and that’s the best part about it: you can make it anything you want it to be.

Here are 12 places around Montenegro that I feel fortunate that I am surrounded by and they need to be placed on your next travel itinerary.

1. Tara Canyontara-canyon
2. Stari BarStariBar
3. Sveti Stefansvetistefan
4. Kotorkotor
5. Jaz and Bečići Beaches, Budvabudvabeach
6. Lake Skadarlakeskadar
7. Biogradska Gorabiogradskagora
8. Velika Plaža, Ulcinjvelikaplaza
9. Porto Montenegro, TivatPortoMontenegro
10. Our Lady of the Rocksladyoftherocks
11. Ostrog Monasteryostrogmonastery
12. LovćenLovcen

You’re almost completely guaranteed good weather in Montenegro in the Spring. Later on in the summer, you can expect about 12 hours of sunshine a day and temperatures in the 30s (80s – 90s Fahrenheit). You’ll also hardly see a drop of rain in July and August. Since moving to Montenegro, I am a big fan of this country in this month (April), May, September and October, when the weather is a cooler and the crowds are much smaller. You’ll still see plenty of sun, but the temperature will be more comfortable, around the mid 20s (70s Fahrenheit).

Do you have any suggestions on where to go or what to see in Montenegro? Leave them in the comments below!

Photo Journal: A Festival of Olives

IMG_6225I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few different food festivals in my day and I must say the festival of olives (Maslinijada) in Montenegro is one of my faves! This year, I was excited to experience the Montenegrin festival with some of my blogging friends and family.

At one point this weekend, I took a break and found the perfect spot on a stonewall to eat some local cheese with polenta (kačamak) and fried fish (ukljeve) with my family and friends. I had been on the move all day; listening to the traditional music, shooting photos, tasting olives and olive oil. I was ready to chill out for a sec. I could hear the bass coming from a stage off in the distance. It was calming and rhythmic. I looked around and noticed the undeniable energy. Everywhere around me I saw people laughing, smiling, eating and moving. Some were walking with linked arms, determined to make it through Old Town (Stari Grad). Others were casually lounging on chairs in nearby restaurants, sharing stories. It was beautiful and quite romantic. I couldn’t help but smile — my heart felt full. But that’s just the thing about festivals, isn’t it? People from all over the world join together in a shared experience, brought together by olives. At that point I realized, I had fallen in love with Montenegro.IMG_6213BloggersIMG_6222IMG_6223IMG_6227IMG_6229IMG_6251IMG_6260IMG_6267IMG_6297IMG_6304For more about Maslinijada, check out Stari Bar: Montenegrin Old Urban Settlement!

Most Romantic Restaurant in Montenegro

Not even one month after moving the family to Bar, Montenegro, quickly comes our 14th anniversary. Challenge accepted! Now, where is a romantic place to celebrate our anniversary? How were we going to spend a little more than normal, BUT it would be family-friendly? Fortunately, the Montenegrins are one of the most family-friendly cultures in Europe.  In the heart of the Bar, on the sea , I discovered Restoran Knjaževa Bašta (Prince’s Garden Restaurant). Yes, this would be the place for my love…and my children to celebrate this special day. 14 years of marriage produce these two amazingly fun kids and a global adventure! It seems fitting that we would celebrate it at Restoran Knjaževa Bašta built in 1880.AnniversaryFamily

Restoran Knjaževa Bašta for years carefully preserved princely spirit. With its authentic Montenegrin ambience and carefully selected specialties, it was an experience that we will remember and a feeling that we want to experience again. Restoran Knjaževa Bašta is a short journey through the history. It is part of the complex, which was built by King Nikola in the second half of the 19th century. It probably was a gift of the Italian royal family, built by Joseph Slade.

I ordered the house speciality, “Princezin” Odrezak (Princess’s Steak), which is stuffed veal fillet with proscuitto and cheese in the “princess” sauce. I love the #hashtag garnish. 😉PRINCEZINODREZAKWe also found love in Lignje na Zaru (Grilled Squid). Every bite was fresh and tender. Truly, the best squid that I have ever tasted before. The serving size was perfect, and it made me wanting more.
LIGNJENAZARURestoran Knjaževa Bašta went the extra mile to make your meal flavorful, memorable and very romantic. It all added up to an enchanted evening.