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Ibiza is my new LA

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My recent trip to Los Angeles was a story not unlike ‘The Alchemist’. I went in search of something only to realise (again) that everything I’d been looking for I have right here in Ibiza… without the jet lag! Especially food wise, as almost everything I found in the healthy LA eateries I already have in my own cafes and can find in some new healthy spots on island. But I wanted to go and ‘change the air’ a bit, have some time away, far away, in the sun and experience healthy vegan food on tap. I don’t always eat only vegan food but when you’re in LA, it’s super easy as it is on every corner so I like to take advantage of that fact.

Having healthy food readily available when I travel is really important to me, so made sense to go and spend some me time in LA. But this was the best part, the availability of it. Quality wise, I was hugely disappointed on this particular trip. Maybe when I previously went there most of these foods were hardly available anywhere else. I myself was jumping on the raw vegan wagon at the time and I thought that everything was great, but now I know so much about it and can make it myself, this bubble of some foods and places I thought were great, has burst.

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I went to so many places and was enchanted by the choices and all of the interesting things on offer but once those foods hit my palate or I would just scan the freshness of it or see how much attention and finesse they were (or weren’t) made with, the excitement would fizzle out. Particularly disappointing was a popular vegan place I went to with my friend, who is an amazing chef and cookbook author, only to see stodgy dishes being served all over with five ingredients such as sweet potato, corn tacos, guacamole, black beans and cashew sour cream in 36 different combinations! Of course, it didn’t help that on this trip I was trying so hard to stick to my sugar-free diet and what this entire ‘health orientated’ restaurant offered was sugary carbs.

My friend was even less impressed than I was, hardly eating any of her food as it was totally lacking in… love and passion (her words). Another of my favorite cafes in LA that now has a few locations has also gone kind of industrial and mass produced, bland, not fresh and with one particular highlight that was the bill appearing instantly from behind the server’s back when you say you do not want dessert, with a circle around the highest option for 25% recommended tips with hearts drawn around it, kindly asking you to fork out $15 in tips for a really average meal and just two trips they made to your table. Uh, I didn’t like that.

There were few other mishaps in other places I visited but hey, let’s concentrate on positive! Mind you, overall I was expecting more from the Mecca of healthy and conscious eating, but when you expect a lot you can expect to get truly disappointed too. It’s part of the game but the good thing is that I did enjoy few highlights too.

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I thought that the raw cheese board at Plant Food and Wine was out of this world. So was their chick pea frittata. Rawvolution served me with the best coconut yoghurt ever. Au Lac simply blew my mind with vegan ‘shrimps’. I had to ask the waiter twice to confirm that what I was biting into were not actual shrimps but chef Ito’s magical creation. This is not what you call cooking, this was magic! I really loved a place called Moon Juice, with all kinds of raw vegan and high integrity ingredient-based goodies and great cold pressed juices. Another two places that served mean cold pressed concoctions were Make Out Everyday and LA Juice. Lush!

But after all vegan food galore, more often healthy but not delicious, I was craving some good old (well, not literally old!) scrambled eggs. And a good night’s sleep. The jet lag was brutal both ways! It’s nice to travel and do something different but when you have your own kind of Santa Monica (aka a long strip of sandy, beautiful Ibiza beach) outside your apartment, sunshine all year around, amazing quality produce like we are blessed with here, and soulful healthy cafes on your own island, including those where you can take your your dog with you, it is not a surprise we Ibiza residents are very hard to please elsewhere.

Peace, love, organic scrambled eggs and Ibiza.

 

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To travel is to live

People work, and want to make money (shall we say lots of it) for many reasons. For many the motivation is to buy a beautiful house, a nice car, designer clothing, a pedigree puppy… but mine is to travel.

During my experiences in the war in Croatia, I was brushed with fear that, if it all ended for me too soon, I would not get the chance to see the world. My biggest disappointment and concern was that I would not be able to experience planet earth.

I wanted to go places!

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Mind you, I’m not that adventurous and my thoughts of travel never included trekking through the Amazon jungle or climbing up Kilimanjaro, but they were all about visiting amazing cities, exotic locations, beautiful hotels, experiencing different cuisines in their native countries, absorbing beauty all around me and meeting people from all walks of life. That’s what I always wanted to do on my travels.

No one can ever take experiences away from you. I even ‘argued’ with my mum for years after I went abroad and kept sending her money – for living but also to treat herself. I was always telling her to go to the Croatian seaside on a short break or to visit a spa, but my mum’s thing was buying Zepter dishes and ridiculous amount of the latest Tupperware! It drove me mad… but kitchen utensils are my mum’s thing, so I let it be.

I have done a fair amount of travelling compared to most people in the space of time I have had and since I could afford it. You see, I love nice hotels. I simply cannot do crappy ones and if a holiday means staying in a crappy hotel or a dodgy apartment, I’d rather stay here in my beautiful (rented) apartment in Ibiza overlooking one of the best views a human can ask for.

It’s actually very rare that my views wherever I stay are even close to my home view in Ibiza! But as much as it is beautiful, many others are beautiful in their own way too.

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I also love to stay for longer periods of time in one country, island or city if I can. It gives me more insight into the place, the culture and the people. My ‘thing’ is still to go and live in New York, LA, Paris, Amsterdam and Sydney… for a month or so. Even London, where I lived for 13 years, is calling me to come and stay for longer yet again! The six months that I spent living in UAE, six weeks in Bali, a month in Bahia, Brazil, plus weeks in Portugal and California have all shown me what a difference it is to go somewhere for few days or to stay for longer.

Going to new places, having new experiences and meeting new people is what I personally thrive on. To my own annoyance, I’m one of those people who gets bored easily so new things to do are always something I’m looking for.

But right now I’m so busy that I do not have any time to travel. This is because I am on my business peak at the moment, and it’s all about Passion’s future plans… which means it’s hard work now, so that in a few years time I can have all the time in the world to go places – I’m planning my ‘retirement’ pretty soon. Only a few more years and then my stylish backpack will be on my back and we will go and explore some more.

I work hard now so that I can play later but whenever there is a chance to sneak three or four days away, I go on short trips like city or spa breaks. It helps me reset, re-energise, clear my mind from work and get my inspiration flowing again.

I always say we get one shot on this planet, and it is so big and beautiful that to stay in one place or not travel much at all, is to deny ourselves. Designer bag, tenth pair of shoes or a weekend in Rome – guess which one I would go for?

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Me, myself and vegas

I was back in Ibiza from Davos, and after a couple of weeks, my travelling winter feet were itching to go go go places, and my fingers were itching to click on the BOOK IT NOW button on bookings.com!

So one day, my friend Kyle Cease posted that he was doing an event in Vegas, and I just felt I had to go.

Kyle is one of the most accomplished comedians in the USA, who has recently shifted to giving inspirational talks to students in colleges and people worldwide, mostly through his Youtube videos, in order to inspire people to take their life in their hands and to help us all see our potential and the greatness within us. And, as always eager to learn and get inspired, I felt I needed to go and attend Kyle’s event knowing I’ll learn new things and also laugh my ass off…the man is funny! I also wanted to go and support him as this was one of the first events of this kind he was doing after 20 years of mainly stand-up comedy and movies.

I was in Vegas for two days in 2009, with friends who booked me into the vilest hotel I’ve ever stayed in! If you know me…I don’t do well with crappy hotels. Call me a snob, princess or whatever…I don’t do them! I’d rather sleep in a tent! I swore then and there that I would be back with a vengeance and accommodate my sweet behind in the full luxury of the Bellagio.

Knowing I would be there early December means Bellagio’s famous Christmas decorations would be up in hotel lobby, which was another bonus as they are truly the best Christmas decorations ever.

So, at the click of a button I was checked into one of the most glorious hotels in Vegas with its own dancing fountain. On my own. I did put it out there that if any of my friends would like to come and share my bedroom with me free of charge they would be welcome, (unless they are snorers!), and no one took me up on my offer. I’m sure anyone willing to come was a snorer!

So, I boarded the flight in London and was whisked to …Las Vegas baby!

Kyle’s event was great and the most amazing thing that happened was not that I actually learned anything, as almost everything Kyle and his guest speakers were saying to me, I was like…but I do that already, I think like that already, I run my business like this already, I’m like that with people already… And I am not saying here, hey I’m doing it all right way… the whole point was that for years I have been beating myself up because I’m terrible at planning, organising, strategies and do things spontaneously, on impulse, with gut feeling, from the top of my head, deal with things once they are in my face, being in the moment, being true to myself and feeling strongly what is right and what is wrong and being stubborn about it…and feeling that I was doing it all wrong. And guess what…as every single person stepped onto the stage and gave a talk, it gave me another acknowledgment that the way I am is actually how lots of people are trying hard to learn to be, and here is the army of motivational speakers who are helping them to do that. And lucky me was born this way! It was special realisation for me and it was finally ‘proven’ for me that I’m actually quite O.K. and not that screwed up after all! Kind of like I found myself again.

And then there’s the Bellagio story…it was lovely. My mornings would start with gym, as my debt had to be paid for the upcoming post-workout coffee and the most amazing pastries EVER from Jean Pierre patisserie. The mere thought of their maple pecan cinnamon buns and cheesecake Danish makes me weep! I visited this patisserie on my previous trip to Vegas, and for years I was simply longing to go and visit it again.

I love my own space and love my travels on my own. I have a good time with myself

I’m actually not the greatest fan of fancy French dolly looking tarts and cakes which very often only look good, but here they look good and taste even better.

I have lost all my healthy star points in a week! And I didn’t care as it was an extravaganza for my taste buds. I felt bit of an emotional need to fill the gap because I’m probably the only person on their own in Vegas, and instead of looking hot and glamorous in high heels and tight dress next to my (non-existent) Mr Grey, while he’s gambling in the plush hotel casino, I was seeing Vegas shows in my comfy Juicy couture pants, sipping on Fiji water and being back in my hotel bedroom at 10 pm watching gossip channels on American TV.

But don’t get me wrong! I had a great time! I love my own space and I love my travels on my own as I can do whatever I want, anytime I want, eat when I want, don’t eat if I don’t feel like it and with no one to argue with over ‘I want to go bungee jumping and you don’t!’. I also take all the time in the world to do my shopping, stopping for tea here, juice there and observe world passing by. I have a good time with myself.

And I can eat insanely good burritos in the Cheesecake factory, not caring about table manners! They are sinfully good and over- loaded with good guacamole, salsa and sour cream. And if you ever have chance to visit the Cheesecake factory and lose your healthy stars…all I can say is…dulce de leche cheesecake. OH.MY.GOD.

Lounging by the Bellagio hotel pool was plush too, so was swimming in the heated pool, which, now being the first week of December, felt quite good…until the chlorine starts to nibble on your skin cells. That wasn’t pleasant, as no amount of my sweet almond body oil would stop the prickling. God bless Vegas and ridiculously chlorinated pools!

My flirting highlight moment was being complimented on my hair by a rather good looking gentleman as I swam towards him. I thought he was talking to someone behind me, as I was aware of a palm tree resting on the top of my head with my hair pulled up, so I stupidly giggled in a way as though he’s teasing me, only to be told he had seen my ‘stunningly beautiful hair’ down before I got in the pool. God, I have to start acting cool when complimented.

Night life in Vegas is crazy! So many places to go, so many restaurants to visit. The night clubs actually look quite good…well, when you live in Ibiza it is hard to be impressed by any night clubs elsewhere.

If you go to Vegas, make sure that you see as many shows as possible and as your budget allows. They can be pricey, depending on seats available but are truly amazing. I had the chance to see Shania Twain on the opening night concert, her first live performance in eight years. Not that I am huge fan, but it was rather cool thing to do, and Shania Twain is Shania Twain! And she had a live horse on stage who wasn’t very impressed to be there.

Before arriving to Vegas my friend booked me a ticket for Circus Soleil ‘O’show, in advance as they are usually sold out. She told me only the best seat was left available to buy (at hefty price of course), but she wouldn’t let me go to Vegas without seeing this show.

Being in the best seat meant that I decided to put my suede heels on and my designer black jeans, only for that seat to be in the very first row where you are now and then splashed by water by dancers doing pool acrobatics! And yes, it smelled of chlorine too!

I was concerned about my shoes and spent the whole performance hiding my feet under the seat!

I had my Vegas star moment there too, when all the auditorium lights and a thousand eyes were on me as a performer dressed as a clown pointed his finger at me and I had to get up from my seat in order for him to give me a flower. Me, from all the people in the front row! It was a happy moment…and the flower was a plastic sunflower which I have kept and brought home with me. It makes me smile every time I see it. The little things in life, eh?

I saw another two Cirque de soleil shows, The Beatles and the newcomer Zarkana. The Zarkana show blew my mind! The stage, the colours, the quality of performers and the insane things they do with their bodies… incredible!

There are lot of things that I haven’t done in Vegas yet, meaning I behaved way too well! Now that the Bellagio mission has been accomplished, a new seed has been planted, and this is some party time Vegas style…oh yes! And not sure I’ll be sharing that with you darlings! You know how saying goes!