Another Life Is Possible – Escape The City – Rome 2017

Another Life is Possible

Another life is possible and in September 2017, I was invited by Escape The City to share my story from former Senior Project Manager at Amazon EU to Social Media Strategist and Content Creator around the world.

Many people who couldn’t participate in person to the event, asked me to stream the event, but because that wasn’t possible, I’ve decided to share with you the main points here.

Life 1.0 – My Previous Life

After graduating from Economics at the best faculty in Italy (Padova), I took an internship in London at an American management consulting firm with several offices around the world. The internship became a full-time, permanent contract and after 3 and half years with the same company and a 2-year assignment in Milan, I decided to join a smaller agency in London. After 3 more years, I switched to corporate life and joined Amazon’s European Centre of Excellence where I applied my previous experiences to the Ops team of this tech giant.
Another Life is Possible But one day in November 2014, something happened and turned my life upside down. Time was suddenly more important money, success, career. Time was more important than anything else. As Jep Gambardella said in the fantastic movie “The Great Beauty”:

My most important discovery is that I no longer can waste time doing things I don’t wanna do. 

Jep Gambardella

Another Life is Possible

 

Fear as the engine for change

I’ve been asked about a million times if I was scared when I left my safe and well-paid job in London. The short answer is “Hell, yeah!”. The longer answer is here and the way I used to use my fear as an engine was answering this question:

 

What’s the worst thing that can happen? 

 

The answer for me was to die without having at least tried. To test if another life was possible.

Another Life is Possible

And so I decided to take a 6-month sabbatical which turned into a 25-month trip. Which turned my life upside down.
Once again.

WATCH MY 2 YEAR TRIP AROUND THE WORLD IN 90 SECONDS

 

 

Life 2.0 – Another Life is Possible 

Today, I am a Social Media Strategist and Content Creator (you can read more about what I do here). I’ve been on the road full-time since September 2015 and I have no intention to stop. I help my business clients to be successful online and I help my personal clients to be successful offline and make it remarkable through tailored coaching programmes.
One of the channels I use for my clients is Instagram, where I promote products and services as well as help them to grow their accounts.


 

Another life is possible
Make it remarkable

 

If you wish to book your first coaching session and understand how you can also change your life, feel free to email me directly (using the contact form here

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Relais & Châteaux Il Borro – A place like no other

Il Borro

Set in the middle of a superb 700-hectare Tuscan estate, the Relais & Châteaux Il Borro is an oasis of charm in the form of a mediaeval village with a villa, a farm, many traditional shops, a modern SPA and farm buildings. Vineyards, gardens, tennis courts and horse fields surround this incredible Tuscan paradise where wines and olive oil are produced by traditional methods and are an integral part of the landscape of the region. The property mixes ingredients like art, style and haute cuisine to the old traditions of the best wine-making creating a combination of sublime perfection that is best appreciated when spending a few days at Il Borro.

 Il Borro was the third hotel of our The Art of Wine Living press trip among some of the most stunning Italian Relais & Chateaux properties was. I only wish I could have stayed there for a week. Or two. Or forever.

Relais & Chateaux - Il Borro

History and traditions OF Il BOrro

The story of Il Borro estate starts as a fortress built to defend a strategic area crossed by stretches of the Clodia and Cassia, two important Roman roads which made it the object of contrasts and disputes between local factions and noble families. In 1254, the Marquis Borro Borri, then mayor of Arezzo, bought the property but it was only in the 16th century, under Alessandro del Borro that the village took his current shape and look.

In the mid-Fifties, Il Borro passed to Duke Amedeo of Savoy-Aosta and in 1993 the Duke sold the entire property to the Ferragamo family during what Ferruccio Ferragamo often called “an enduring act of faith”. He and his son, Salvatore spent more than a decade restoring and refurbishing the ancient place while taking care and preserving its old traditions and history.

Relais & Chateaux - Il Borro

Today, walking around the medieval village and passing by the old shops and artisans’ workshops you can clearly feel and breath the values that the Ferragamo family wanted to protect and preserve: the atmosphere of the past times taken to today and to the future generations.

The borgo still features the ancient church which two times a month is still used for the religious function which attracts locals, guests and the staff. The integration with the local community is vivid and alive in all the aspects of the resort.

 

 
The art of WIne-making at Relais & Chateaux Il borrO

The winemaking revival at Il Borro begins in 1995, two years after the Ferragamo family bought the estate. Ferruccio decided to make the most of the temperate climate and the excellent exposure of the vineyards combined with an ideal soil for the cultivation of the vine.

In 2012 the estate converted to biodynamic agriculture with the aim of obtaining an even more fertile soil and an ever-better quality product with no use at all of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The whole production at Il Borro is organic since 2015 and in the same year, Il Borro produced the first two organic certified wines: Borrigiano and Petruna.

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world” Ernest Hemingway

Relais & Chateaux - Il Borro

Thanks to its eco-sustainable choices, biodynamic principles and respect for the environment, Il Borro is an example of sustainable agriculture and development as well as a zero carbon footprint estate.

A tour of the Il Borro Cellars is a journey to the heart of Tuscan wine-making tradition and a chance to learn more about this “art”. Here, in one of the oldest cellars in Italy, the first ever Chianti wine was produced, and today as then, the magic of winemaking continues with the same passion and commitment. Accompanied by experts you will see the different steps that turn simple grapes into fine wines and the vats, barrels and barriques that make this possible.

The labels produced at Il Borro are:

IL BORRO – 50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet, 10% Syrah, 5% Petit Verdot
ALESSANDRO DAL BORRO – 100% Syrah
POLISSENA – 100% Sangiovese
PIAN DI NOVA – 75% Syrah, 25% Sangiovese
LAMELLE – 100% Chardonnay
OCCHIO DI PERNICE VIN SANTO DEL CHIANTI – 100% Sangiovese
BOLLE DI BORRO – Classic Method Rosé, 100% Sangiovese
GRAPPA DEL BORRO – 100% organic Petit Verdot
BORRIGIANO – 35% Syrah, 40% Merlot, 25% Sangiovese
PETRUNA – 100% Sangiovese
ROSÈ DEL BORRO – 100% Sangiovese

We were lucky to be at Il Borro during their Winederful Harvesting Day 2017 and, after learning the ropes of grapes cropping, we were spoiled by a fantastic BBQ which we washed away with some of the delicious wine produced right in the estate and mentioned above.

Il Borro

 


SUSTAINABILITY & TRADITIONS 

Sustainability and respect for the local community and the territory are the guiding principles in everything Il Borro does. The Ferragamo family made a commitment to respect the local ecosystem so that every product would be a real expression of the territory. These principles are also applied to the production of Extra Virgin Olive Oil which began in 1996. The harvest is done manually and a biodynamic approach is used during the crushing and pressing phases.

Relais & Chateaux - Il Borro

Another great example of Il Borro’s sustainable approach is the Orto del Borro which takes an entire hectare of the property. It was certified as organic in 2014 and it employs centuries-old practices like crop rotation which allows the land to regenerate. The produce is used in the kitchens of the resort creating km-zero and tasty dishes.

With its constant focus on the ecosystem, in 2014 Il Borro also decided to welcome bees. 30 hives were set up in the natural reserve for the entirely organic production of honey and since 2015 they also have 200 chickens for the production of organic, free-range eggs.

FOOD & TAste At RElais & Chateaux, Il borro

Il Borro features three restaurants each with its own identity and style but all under the direction of the Executive Chef Andrea Campani. His cuisine is based on the idea that every dish deserves a special emotion and that eating should involve all our senses. The venues are open also to non-residents and aim to satisfy the tastes of all guests.

The Osteria del Borro is a gourmet restaurant where Andrea Campani offers the unique opportunity to discover the traditional Tuscan cuisine with a touch of futuristic taste. The venue features elegant and refined rooms making the place the perfect spot to enjoy a mouthwatering dinner. 

The Tuscan Bistro is a more informal restaurant, ideal to enjoy breakfast or a delicious meal with locally sourced products. The concept is also present in Florence as the Tuscan Bistro Firenze as well as in Dubai in the luxurious Hotel Al Naseem Madinat Jumeirah. The restaurant gained its Gambero Rosso Best Italian Restaurant award only 5 months after its opening.

The Vin Cafè offers light lunches, tea or a glass of wine that can be enjoyed admiring the picturesque medieval village or while sitting at the side of the infinity pool.

The Ferragamo Family: a story of fashion, style and art

In 1996, Salvatore and Ferruccio Ferragamo decided to replant the Il Borro vineyards and concomitant Ferruccio decided to start a unique and private collection of engravings with a wine theme. Today, after many years of research and scouting, some of these artworks are currently on display in the Ferragamo Museum, where visitors are taken on a journey through the Il Borro history, from Alessandro Del Borro to the Medici to the House of Savoy and the finally the Ferragamo family. The gallery includes artworks by great artists such as Mantegna, Picasso, Goya and Warhol.  

For info and booking: claudia.artini@ilborro.it   tel:+39 3665601139

 

 

 

 

 

 

WELLNESS & WELLBEING 

Right at the centre of the estate, there is an oasis of wellbeing where guests can keep in shape with gym or yoga classes, be pampered in the exclusive Spa Suite and enjoy regenerating treatments at the hands of expert therapists.

I must confess I had various massages in my life, but Valerie’s hands made miracles to my stressed back and neck. Truly, it was the best treatment ever!

Relais & Chateaux - Il Borro

Whether you are strolling through the narrow streets of the village, relaxing at the pools, enjoying treatments at Il Borro Spa or the traditional cuisine at one of the restaurants, you will experience the same pleasure: that of a particular art of living only possible at Il Borro. 

About Relais & Châteaux

Relais & Châteaux is an exclusive collection of 540 of the finest luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants in 60 countries. Established in France in 1954, the mission of the Association is to divulge its unique art of living in the world by selecting exceptional structures with fan unrivalled tradition and heritage.

Relais & Châteaux is also a family of hoteliers and Grands Chefs from all over the world who share their passion and personal commitment to give their Guests moments of exceptional harmony. Choosing Relais & Châteaux is choosing an unforgettable celebration of the senses. The signature of Relais & Châteaux reflects this ambition:

“EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD, UNIQUE IN THE WORLD”

 

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Matera, why you must visit it now

Matera

I’ll admit it. It was through Instagram that I fell in love with Matera and it became a constant, fixed, ever-present travel obsession goal. And finally, this summer – my summer of fulfilling Italian dreams and exploring my home country-  I managed to see it with my own eyes.

As much research you can do about Matera, as much as you stalk people on Instagram and Pinterest, there is not much that prepares you for seeing the shiniest Italian gem for the first time.

World-known for its famous sassi, Matera is located on the border of Basilicata and Puglia and is one of my latest (and favourite) discoveries in Italy. Walking around this cute town where the sun reflects off the white limestone is not only breathtaking but extremely fascinating because of its history but also for its stunning beauty. But things were very different not too long ago…

THE OLD ITALIAN SHAME

Matera dates back to the Paleolithic Age and once you get there, you will see that not much has changed. Matera, after Petra in Jordan, is the oldest city in the world which was continuously inhabited for more than 30,000 years. It was once considered a giant slum filled with malaria and where poor people were living in medieval conditions. In caves. Exactly as described in the controversial book ‘Christ Stopped at Eboli‘ by Carlo Levi (1945), there was no running water or electricity and people were really living in very basic conditions. Truth to be told until the 1950’s Matera was also where prisoners were sent to live (and possibly die) in horrible conditions. In 1952, after the visit of the then prime minister, the Italian government ordered its evacuation due to inhumane living conditions and the city was left behind and abandoned by everyone but the addicts and the “bad people”. The residents were offered a new apartment in the new Matera, but some struggled to live their homes, livestock and families.

MATERA TODAY

The city was never completely empty until the 1980s, but it’s only in the last two decades that the government and the local authorities and entrepreneurs have launched and managed a deep and important make over and facelift. Today, Matera has re-shaped its streets, caves and general vibe. There are luxury and boutique hotels at every corner and you can dine at some of the best Italian restaurants right in the same caves that not long ago hosted entire families and their livestock, often in the same room.

After so much general effort, in 1993, Matera was named a UNESCO World Heritage sites, which means that it is considered of ‘outstanding value to humanity and is protected to preserve the cultural and natural heritage of the area.” Matera will also be the 2019 European Capital of Culture and I think this gem is totally ready to attract thousands of visitors.

First of all, let me tell you that the sassi aren’t what you think (or what I thought!). Many people think that Matera’s caves are the “sassi”, but they’re not. The sassi (literally meaning “stones”) refer to the two neighbourhoods, Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano, made of stone dwellings in porous limestone of tufa in the ancient town. The original living quarters were primitive cave dwellings on the other side of the canyon. Gradually, the people made their way over to build the city you can visit today. 

To really get a feeling of Matera, you need to walk (and get lost) among the narrow lanes between houses.

 

 

 

How to explore the city 

Kids, there is a new way to explore a new city and this new way is an app called Aroundly (available in the App Store and google play). Aroundly allows you to tailor your visit to your preferences, whether you are alone or in a group, looking for fun or culture, this app creates an itinerary just for you takes you around Matera (or Cagliari, Erice, Catania, Trapani, Siracusa, Trieste and many other cities) and puts you in touch with locals and new friends.

Where to stay in Matera 

Sant’Angelo Resort

When I was invited to stay at the Sant’Angelo Resort in Matera, I had no doubts to say YES and immerse myself in this stunning hotel and its ancient walls and rooms. The owners took on the massive project to transform these caves that were once humble abodes, into splendid residences, suites and luxury rooms in order to redeem and restore the noble soul of an old civilization. The result is a mesmerising resort where you are constantly spoiled by incredible views over the old town and where every little detail screams luxury, but also home. I had a fantastic stay at Sant’Angelo and I am sure I’ll go back next time I am in Matera.

As I always do when I travel for work, I opted for breakfast in bed which was served in a sumptuous basked filled with all the delicacies you would expect from such a top notch hotel.

Vicolo Fiore

If you are looking for a simpler room in Matera, then Vicolo Fiore is the go to option. Only 50m from the Piazza Pascoli viewpoint, this brand new and super cute apartment features two double rooms (Barisano & Caveoso, the names of the two neighbourhoods) and a brand new kitchen that offers all you need for a short stay in town.

You will have all the comforts and facilities you will need for a short or a long stay in Matera, including (strong) wi-fi making a perfect place for fellow digital nomads looking for a place to work and stay put for a short period of time. Another plus is the free parking (which is a massive plus in Matera which is almost completely car-free).

 

How to reach Matera 

  • Train: if you want to travel by train, the easiest way is to first get to Bari which is connected to Trenitalia (the national train system and it’s a 4-hour train ride from Rome to Bari), then go to the regional train site, Ferrovie Appulo Lucane, putting in “Bari Centrale” as your starting point and “Matera Centrale” as your endpoint. The ride takes between 1 hour and 15 minutes and 1.5 hours and it is very cheap (something like 2 euros). From the train station, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the sassi of Matera.
  • Car: as part of our #fromnorthtosouthandbacksummer road trip we came by car, but parking in the centre of Matera can be quite difficult (erm…impossible!) since it’s a big ZLT area (no cars allowed except for residents), but you can still find a solution by talking to locals or parking just outside the city center.

INTEresting FACTS and tips ABOUT MATERA

  • Matera was tagged a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993
  • Here is where Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of Christ’ movie was filmed
  • Forget your heels and wear (very) comfy shoes – ideally with a good sole as the streets can be quite slippery
  • Fully charge your camera batteries and bring a wide angle lens if you have one

BOOKS & MOVIES 

  • Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi’
  • The Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson
  • Ben Hur
  • La Lupa, 1953
  • Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo 1964, by  Pier Paolo Pasolini

WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT MATERA NOW

Today, the city (still) has a great non-touristy vibe. I don’t think it will be the same next year since Matera will be the 2019 European Capital of Culture and I am sure it will attract even more visitors in the next decade and beyond. So, if you don’t love crowded places and queuing every 10 minutes book your stay in Matera now!

Sleeping in a cave? Where else can you experience it? I am not sure, but I think Matera is the only place in the world.

As Carlo Levi said:

Anyone who sees Matera cannot help but be awe-struck, so expressive and touching is its sorrowful beauty

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Going home after a long time…

going home after long trip

I am going home after a long time

As you are reading this, I’m finally boarding the plane that will take me home to Italy. If I planned everything really well and there haven’t been any delays, in this exact moment, I should be taking off from Bangkok and toward Myanmar, India, UAE, Germany and eventually, home. I am finally sitting on board that same plane that I’ve already cancelled and postponed 3 times. It’s bittersweet, I’m still shit at saying goodbyes to old friends, new road friends and places, despite the millions I’ve already said in the last few months. But it is time.

I’ve finally accomplished all the things I wanted to do during this long solo journey and this chapter of my life is now completed. In the best way possible in fact. I could not ask for more since the main goal has been achieved. That is becoming a calmer, wiser, slower, finest, better version of myself. The world and its beautiful people have shaped that little, scared, lonely “girl” that was desperately crying at the airport in Istanbul in September 2015. That  girl does not exist anymore and she has been replaced by a stronger, fulfilled, empowered woman who loves herself and the world around. I can travel alone. I can travel alone for twenty months (and counting). And not only I can, I LOVE travelling solo! In fact travelling solo is THE BEST and nothing compares to it.

I am ready to go home also because I’ve managed to achieve my second, accidental goal. After so much struggle and hustle, doubts and failures, today and for the past few months, I am standing tall on the tiny successes of my location independent lifestyle and since it’s been exactly 12 months that I’ve been able to travel only with the income made on the road, I can finally call myself a real digital nomad and for thsis I stick a little invisible DN badge on my chest. YAY!! I made it. I freaking made it.

The journey has been incredible and so powerful and so amazing and especially humbling. The places and people I’ve met made me the person I am today. And I gotta be honest with you, I’m having a massive crush on me right now 😍. Like my first real self love in 32 years, mate.

As I have learnt so much about myself, I realised that I was more scared of the known than the unknown. I realised that the fear that normally entangles people to stay in normal lives was what boosted and fuelled my trip. Where others remain stuck in the intricated world of doubts, fears, insecurities, I took advantage of them and decided to shape new opportunities just for myself.

And I forgave myself. I realised that all the things I did, I said, I wanted were necessary. Every single little thing. Finally, I looked up to the mirror, deep into my big brown eyes  and while hugging my naked self, I said the words: “you are forgiven”. Because in life, sometimes, you can prepare yourself, but you cannot predict what life throws at you and you can’t blame yourself for wanting more, for having bigger dreams, expectations, love for life, for loving the unexpected more than the expected, for loving freedom more than boredom. You can just be you. And I can just be me.

And I am finally ready to go home 

In the past 20 months, I have had some of the most incredible experiences of my life, I have slept in the middle of  deserts, I climbed on top of mountains, volcanos and rocks, I’ve swum with turtles, dolphins, sea lions and clown fish, I have seen countless sunrises and sunsets, I have slept in 543875426043 hostels, campgrounds, luxury hotels and in my tiny tent on the side of many Aussie roads. I have been blessed by incredible people, my time was wasted by a couple of assholes too (hello, f***ing German mechanic in Cairns!!).

I’m scared but also excited for everything that lies in front of me during this Italian summer that I’ve been dreaming for a while. I am mentally getting ready to be overwhelmed with emotions, smells and tastes. I am already physically ready to welcome all those familiar hugs, kisses and strokes I’ve been missing for so long.

649 days.

20 months.

13 countries.

4 continents.

25 flights.

15 trains.

43 buses.

6 cars.

35 scooters.

3 bicycles.

1 camel.

Everything is exactly as it is meant to be

During all this time, I have planned little, the few plans I had were normally cancelled, postponed or changed. My return couldn’t have been any different. During my journey around the world, I always tried to get off the beaten track, often missing the must-see, must-dos, must-bes. Some days I was plain lazy, others too busy with work, others too sad to leave my bed, some days I was filled with such an intense joy that I thought my heart would explode. On this trip, I learnt what pure happiness means. I was blessed by it when I was staring at the Taj Mahal while the sun rose on the horizon and my incredible friend, Prabu took the beautiful photo that symbolises my trip.

I was overwhelmed with true joy when surfing for the first time in Sydney, but also when I was lying naked and alone on a beach in Western Australia or when I hiked the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand, danced the traditional dances in Fiji and Samoa, when I first tried Muay Thai in Chiang Mai, when I relaxed tubing in Laos, or while seeing my business blossom naturally and effortlessly after so many stops and failures. I was happy surfing again in Canggu, hugging a dear friend on top of the rice fields in Ubud, or while talking about love and commitment with a long-lasting stable couple or when I realised that perfect love does not exist and we are human with another favourite couple I am lucky to call my friends. And I was happy to discover that life is all this. It’s made of little, brief moments when everything is exactly as it’s meant to be and nothing, absolutely nothing, could be any better.

Because everything is already perfect. It is as it is meant to be.

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Am I ready to go home?

Of course not. I thought I would by now, but the thing is that no one ever feels completely ready when the moment to board that last plane comes. Surely no one who has the bad habit of setting super high expectations for themselves. And I’m guilty of that, of course. Nobody feels as changed as they had planned to be when they firstly left home. Personally, I don’t know if I have truly changed or if my current conditions and mindset make me act as a different person to whom I was before. What I do know now, and I know it really well, is what freedom tastes like. And it tastes like sea water and honey, watermelon and chilli. And it tastes like Life.

During my journey, I also learnt the meaning of losing everything. Of feeling lost and really alone. Of not knowing who you are or what do you belong to. But the most important lesson of the entire trip was that Another Life is Possible. If you really lose everything, if you don’t have anything else to lose, then you gotta start all over and build something new, something amazing just for yourself. And believe that you can

I am scared. 

I know I’ve lived as much as I could. Not by ticking off things off of a list, I’ve only been to 13 countries in 20 months, but by embracing the people and the world around me. By letting it go under my skin, day by day, person by person.
I am not going home only after 20 months of travel around the world, I am going home exactly after 10 years of living abroad and away from my family and friends.

It’s freaking scary. It’s overwhelming and is frightening and exciting. As I walk down into the tunnel to the plane, there are thousands of emotion exploding inside me. While I was packing Frank (my big backpack), one more time, I had tears in my eyes. Today, I learnt to welcome all these emotions as I know they are all part of the journey, they are all part of life. And I also know that soon enough I will be going back to the other home I’ve created for myself. The one up there in the sky. Or on the road. Because I feel home everywhere. The world is my home. Because my home is everywhere and anywhere I have been. But also where I haven’t been yet.

They say home is where the heart is

But my heart is wild and free

So am I homeless or just heartless

Did I start this, did it start me

They say fear is for the brave

For cowards never stare it in the eye

So am I fearless to be fearful

Does it take courage to learn how to cry

So many winding roads

So many miles to go

(Passenger)

I am always gonna be fine

But as I went through security, as I got another exit stamp on my passport, as I am sitting on this plane, I feel stronger. Stronger than ever. Because the road taught me that I will be fine. I will be fine always and everywhere. Nothing can break me because nothing was fixed to start with. The truth is that not only I found myself. But I found that little, permanent home, just inside myself. The perfect place to rest after a long day, the cosy home I made for me only. In a world where nothing is permanent, constant, I learnt that I AM my own constant element in the equation of life.

Only me on both side of the equal sign. And it’s more than enough.

going home after a long time

Embrace Life as it comes

It’s impossible to know what might happen next. Or why. What this situation will bring to you. Or which way you will take when faced with a big decision. Why some things will be destroyed. What makes some other blossom, die or change. How people get sick, change or leave. How people can love you, make promises, break them, break your heart. Live without you. Forget you. It’s impossible to explain why children die while the sun still rises every morning. It is impossible to understand. But it is unavoidable.

It took me 5 years, 1 month and 2 days to become the person I dreamed to become. To fully transform the little girl I once was into the woman I imagined I could be. I aspired to be. I ought to be. It took so much out of me. It broke me into a million little pieces, but they say that sometimes you need to smash a crumbling house in order to build a stronger one. And so I did.

Set fire to your boats

I set fire to the boats of my safe life, I scratched my title and experiences, I chose freedom while fear, hustles and struggles were burning all around me. And I fell. Oh gosh, I fell so deep. I burnt myself too.

I felt more alone than ever. It was like I was the only person remained in the universe. But that was ok too. Because alone was what I needed. What I wanted and because by learning to be alone I became much stronger, so much wider, so much better.

I no longer beg for attention, for love. I no longer need love to fix me. The waves crashing on the beach, the birds singing, the clouds moving above my head, a familiar tune in the background, a smile of a stranger, my own smile. All of this are enough. They are more than enough, they are everything.

They are everything.

My life, my wonderful life, like all lives, so impermanent, so imperfect, so fragile, yet so powerful, so mesmerising, so scary. So remarkable. So mine.

going home after long time

Live life to the fullest.

Exit your comfort zone. Feel uncomfortable, feel scared. Do something on your own. Miss your friends. Feel lonely. Eat the food you’re not used to. Pack your backpack, sweat. Sleep on bunk beds. Sleep in the middle of the desert. Don’t sleep and party all night. Rise early. And feel strong, feel connected. Lose yourself. Lose everything. Just let it be. Breath. Look at a beautiful sunset on the other side of the world. And feel at home wherever you are. Feel that you are exactly where you need to be in this moment. Live in the present, forget the past, don’t stress about the future. They do not exist. Be. Here. Now.

Make it remarkable. 

So yes, after these last 20 months exploring the world, exploring myself, loving the world, loving myself, I am ready to go home. I am ready to go home after a long time.

 

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going home after a long time

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Dear Fellow Traveller, it’s ok to feel sad while travelling

sad while travelling

Two weeks ago, I was sitting on the longest teak bridge in the world in Mandalay, Myanmar where I had a deep and intense conversation with a friend who felt lost and sad while travelling. Last week, chilling and watching a sunset on a beach here in Canggu I had a similar conversation with another friend who was also overwhelmed by sadness as an early departure had to cut her trip short. I, personally, have cried more frequently in the past 19 months on the road than in my entire life.

What’s wrong with me?

Sadness while travelling can seem illegal and dishonest because you are not supposed to be sad while travelling. For a long time on this trip, I thought I was done. I thought I had to give up because sadness and depression had taken over the joy of altogether. I knew I was ruining my once-in-a-lifetime experience but the truth is that I will always thank my ex for that. My reaction, my heartbreak, my deep fall in the hole was simply normal and I cannot blame myself too much.

Being sad while travelling sucks. And it sucks, even more, when all the people around you think you have no right to be sad. But don’t worry, accept that strangers – but also some friends – have no clue about travelling long term and they are talking without any direct experience.

If you aren’t on a two-week holiday in Australia, Malaysia or Samoa, yes, you might want to push back any feeling of sadness for a later date. But when the road becomes your home, you are a digital nomad and your lifestyle is full-time travelling like mine, then life happens wherever you are. And emotions and feelings follow.

The world does not stop when you travel. Nor does life around you.

In the year and a half, since I have started travelling, several tragic events have happened in my family and life and I was alone at the other side of the world to cope with them. Often hugging myself to bed crying and without anyone to hold me tight. Two of my uncles died, my sister got diagnosed and cured of cancer, she also got a divorce, I got cheated on and dumped by my ex [all without a face-to-face meeting after a 4.5 yrs relationship WTF] and only a few days ago my 10-year old cousin died of brain tumour after 2.5 months since the diagnosis. [we are raising money for the hospice which took so much care of him in his last weeks; if you wish to donate click here].

If family tragedies and heartbreaks aren’t enough, there are also plenty of other things going bad on the road. As I was exploring from country to country, looking for something meaningful to keep me going, I lost my identity. Professionally and personally, I fell into a massive, black hole where I did not know who I was or wanted to be any longer. Facing myself in the mirror became a daily battle because my ego was crushed, my self-confidence smashed and my lack of self-esteem was overwhelming.

I always had so many expectations and goals for myself and suddenly, leaving my public role in society, my title and losing the only thing that kept me connected to my old self just crushed me. I was a lost traveller with no direction and no plans. During the same time, my freelance gigs went from bad to terrible and I soon started losing faith and confidence which were soon replaced by fear and anxiety. Slipping into depression again was certain and before I knew it…

I was stuck in muddy waters

sad while travelling

I had a motorbike accident which could have ended in a much worse way if I was distracted. The last time I checked, my ex – in the usual selfish style – was posting pictures of this new amazing “love” in OUR favourite London spots [WTF 2], completely crushing any sort of respect for me or what we had. Once again, proving what a heartless, calculating and lying narcissist I fell in love with (and wasted SO much time for! WTF3).

As that wasn’t enough, I also bumped into a few shitty clients who decided that I was going to work for them for free, a scam job offer, another client who cut our project (and budget) by 75%. Everything was falling apart. The little things I had built slowly and with so much effort were disappearing day by day. I fell apart.

I fell apart.

I had every right to be sad.

Yet I was still travelling.

And I kept travelling because that became my personal dimension, it is my home and the “place” where I can heal my soul. A year ago I wrote one of my most-read article “No, travelling did not solve my problems ” and today, 9 months later, I’m here to confirm what I wrote there.

No, travelling doesn’t solve problems.

Yes. It’s ok to feel sad while travelling.

Remember that EVERYONE eventually gets sad travelling. It’s unavoidable and probably necessary to get back up and enjoy the rest of the trip with renewed energy and joy because exactly like the roller coasters of life, without the downhill part and the following rise back up, your travel would just be flat and boring. So, I am not telling you to fall into depression, but to feel ok when sadness hits. You are going to be OK.

It is OK to feel sad while travelling, my friend. And you know why? It is important to remember that while we are quite egocentric human beings, the world around us does change. It isn’t static as we’d like to think. The conditions and the people around us take other, unexpected ways. Nothing is permanent. You, me and the world around us. Sadness included. So, when she comes to you next time at night, welcome her in bed, hold her tight, have a little cry together and in the morning dry your tears and tell her to go. Till next time.

The road is waiting. 

Digital Nomads Trail – Stay Connected at MAADS while in Cambodia

digital nomads cambodia

Are you another digital nomad thinking to skip Cambodia because you’ve heard that the wifi is s*%t?

Please rethink.

Like most of you know, since I’ve left my corporate job in London two years ago, I’ve been doing all sort of gigs and jobs to sustain my travels while slowly finding my little niche as a digital nomad and, more recently, entrepreneur. You can read more here where I answered the question that I get asked about 43925704375943 times a week.

Time has passed since I wrote that blog post and in the meantime, I’ve religiously decided to drop anything that wasn’t very profitable, long-term or aligned to my values. To cut the story short, I’ve slowly narrowed my scope to become a remote content creator, influencerSEO specialist and yes, start-up entreprenuer. Maybe a weird mix, but one that works extremely well for me, but especially for my clients.

Since I’ve achieved the official status of digital nomad I could no longer stay in remote places or hostels with crappy wi-fi. Being connected has become essential to me and that’s why in Cambodia, a country known to lack reliable wifi I decided to get in touch with MAADS. This is a little chain of stunning boutique hotels all around Cambodia. But the peculiar aspect of each and every hotel that belongs to MAADS is that they all offer impressive comfort for us, the vagabonding digital nomads.

Not only they are impressive structures that offer all sort of services you might need, you can also rely on FAST internet and comfortable working stations.

While I was in Cambodia, I had the unique opportunity to stay at two of their properties in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Guess what? Both times, I extended my stay and I was tempted to just lock myself in the room and move in. Forever.

ABOUT MAADS

All MAADS hotels have a distinctive identity and each remains true to its local architectural heritage, design and atmosphere. The founders, Marie and Alexis de Suremain, are the minds behind this string of hotels, restaurants and shops in Cambodia.

Nature has always been the inspiration behind all their projects starting from the opening of the first hotel in Phnom Penh, in 2006. To today, the founders and MAADS stand for responsible and sustainable tourism.

But MAADS is so much more than this. It’s also known for:

  • respecting and actively contributing to the destination by promoting local creativity and cultural activities
  • offering more than facilities, food and a bed. People choose MAADS to immerse themselves in a dream
  • being inspired and devoted to the natural environment.

 

TEMPLATION SIEM REAP – CAMBODIA – MAADS ASIA

The property

Minutes away from the spectacular Angkor Wat and located in a very quiet area of Siem Reap away from the tourists, Templation is a true oasis of calm, silence and beauty.

The hotel features Junior Suites, Pool Suites and Pool Villas as well as a RestaurantSpa & FitnessMain Pool and the shop Cambomania.

During our stay, Ale and I had the fantastic opportunity to be the first guests to attend a local cooking class lead by the Head Chef. Set in the gorgeous garden and filled with delicious spices and tastes it was one of the highlights of our stay.

Templation Gallery

 

DETAILS

Templation is north of the new Angkor Ticketing Center, closer to the entrance to the temples, and at 9 kms from Siem Reap International Airport, avoiding congested downtown Siem Reap. A 5mns drive will get you to Angkor Wat, the National Museum or the city centre. info@templation.asia  +855 (0)63 969 345  +855 (0)92 783 622  Rok Rak Street, Modul 3, Phum Sla Kram, Siem Reap, Cambodia

TEAHOUSE PHNOM PEHN – CAMBODIA – MAADS ASIA

The property

Inspired by Asia’s love and knowledge for tea, Tea House is one of Phnom Penh most peculiar hotels. The design combines classic Chinese details with the latest technology and facilities. Once you step inside, you will feel like entering a secret garden of quiet and peace right in the middle of Cambodia capital city. The perfect place to relax and get some work done.

The hotel features a Tea LoungePoolTea GardenRestaurantSpa and a Cambomania shop.

All the rooms are simple yet stylish and you can choose from two bedroom suite to our standard double for lone travellers or couples, all include free (fast) Wi-Fi and generous buffet breakfast.

Teahouse Gallery

DETAILS

TeaHouse: info@theteahouse.asia  +855 (0)23 212 789  #32, Street 242,  Phnom Penh, Cambodia

*

If you also would like to stay at Teahouse MAADS in Phnom Penh while exploring Cambodia, make sure to use the DIGINOMAADS code when booking so that you can enjoy a 10% discount and a free 30-minutes massage. [Long/medium arrangements also available]

 

Massive thank you to MAADS, Bernard Cohen and my favourite model Alessandra.

James Ferrux – from Joke Writer to Professional Poker Player

remarkable

After the successful first 10 interviews of the series of “They made it remarkable” in Italian and because of a growing demand to translate them to English, I’ve decided to switch to this language from now on and move the future interviews here.

Welcome.

 

*

 

JOB: Poker player and writer
LIFESTYLE: Digital nomad
SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook
AGE: 32
NATIONALITY: French

 

Where are you from?

I was born in France, raised in the Antilles, Cuba, Canada, Asia, and currently still growing in Morocco

Education?

I managed to stand it only until the end of high school. I started working when I was 18.

What did you do in your previous life?

I had many jobs but the last one was joke writer, comedian assistant and baby-sitter.

What do you do today?

I play poker, travel, still write for pleasure and baby-sit myself.

Why did you decide to take the jump?

I had reached a certain goal, an apartment in Paris, a fancy job for a famous TV network, I could buy all the sneakers I wanted each month, had finally that great DVD shelf I had always dreamt of, but I felt like Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean, I didn’t have taste for life anymore, an empty vessel… So I let myself hit rock bottom, I was like in a balloon that cannot stretch anymore, I felt I needed to get out, get some fresh air. When I realized I could get out I punctured my way out, I did it the quick and noisy way!

Did you need to study something new or go back to uni to change your life?

I felt I needed to change my perspective, to take some distance, flip the microscope the other way around. Let everything go, went to Asia for a while to figure out what I would miss, what would survive in me. I understood it was all shitty because of me so I needed to work on myself. I changed my energy, I was not resisting anymore so finally I was able to see and accept the opportunities to try something different. It all started with a “group therapy” kind of thing, where I learned to reposition my ego and then I went on reading, learning meditation, travelling, putting myself first and all that cool stuff…

make remarkable

Since you’ve changed direction, have you ever thought you made a mistake?

Yeah of course, mistakes are like drafts, experiences, tests, try-outs, warm-ups, it’s just a way to learn and improve… It’s what makes great bloopers in movies so they are indispensable. Trying not to beat myself too hard for each one I make is what changed. I repeat to myself the cheesy Zen line

“it’s okay not to be okay”

What were the hardest challenges and tough moments before and after the change?

The toughest if I can call it that is what is still going on today and what has always been, it’s feeling “forced” to explain and justify the way I live, the way I think to friends and relatives and all those who think they know me better than I do. “Why the heck did you leave the herd ??” I seem to read in their eyes. So it’s always the same 20 minutes small talk to finally hear them saying:

“oh you’re probably right, maybe I too should take control of my life and do what I want before I turn into compost…”

And then they go back to their predigested life and talk behind my back like I went completely rogue.

But who cares? I’m happy.

make remarkable

And the biggest satisfactions and achievements?

Becoming a profitable poker player like I planned 10 months ago, being able to leave France for good, living anywhere I want and pretty much doing whatever I want without owing shit to anybody. I am free.

Do you think your new lifestyle is sustainable in the long run?

I completely stopped projecting myself in hypothetical futures, I am right here, right now. Whether it’s poker or something else I’ve managed to make a living so far. You know the saying,

“The bird doesn’t fear the branch he’s lying on breaks, he trusts his wings”.

There’s always a way to make it.

Considering your new life: what is more important education or experience?

To me, education sounds with “educastration”. I wouldn’t trade my years travelling in different cultures, my adventures, my disappointments, my discoveries through experience for any certificate in the world. “Diploma is the deadly enemy of culture” said some famous French guy (Paul Valery).

How important was knowing other languages for your change?

Lucky for me I’ve always loved English and I learned Spanish in Cuba so that covers pretty much a lot. I understand it can be an issue if you can’t communicate, but don’t worry you’ll find a way.

remarkable

How has your life changed since you jumped off of that plane?

Actually, I’ve never taken so many planes since I left the old me. I love to play with my senses and change decor. Everything that happens now is the direct result of my actions, no one else to blame or to thank, that’s what changed.

What would you recommend to people who are hoping to pursue a similar career to yours?

Nothing, just listen to your heart, your guts or whichever organ you like to converse with and go for it.

“Listen to your heart, there’s nothing else you can do. I don’t know where you’re going and I don’t know why, but listen to your heart before you tell him goodbye” – Roxette

Have you read any books, listened to podcasts or watched movies/vlogs that have inspired you to exit the loop?

Yes, a few classics, Eat Pray Love, The Power of Now, The Four Agreements, Liberez votre cerveau by Idriss Aberkane, to learn thinking outside the box, and probably a list of 30 more mystic books that some fellow travellers keep adding titles to…

make remarkable

Would you say your life is remarkable* today?

YES. AND IT’S ONLY THE BEGINNING…

 

*remarkable: extraordinary, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, marvellous, wonderful, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, miraculous, phenomenal, prodigious. HAPPY. 

*


If you are also tired of your life and feel as there must be something more beyond what’s “normal”, join the 
Make It Remarkable revolution on Facebook where we share successes, failures, tips and practical info to leave the cage and CHANGE your life. Yes, Another Life is Possible.

*

NOTE: Yes, the links above are affiliated to Amazon. If you chose to buy the books using them ca 0.00001% of the price goes to support this website.

Lost and Found in the South Pacific – Fiji: from honeymoon destination to singles’ paradise

Disclaimer


This is a personal, heavy and bittersweet post. I recommend you to stop here if you are not into failed relationships, cheating bastards and heartbreaking stories. I don’t often share my personal and most intimate stories here, but today I want to tell you one. Maybe because I still have some dust and detritus on my chest that I want to get rid of, or more likely because I want to tell you that it does get better. If you, like me, have been unlucky enough to fall in love with a selfish, dishonest, horrible person who broke your heart and torn your confidence apart, let me tell you, there is hope. There is always hope. I started writing this post almost two months ago when I was dancing with the devil who kidnapped my personality and self-confidence. I’m publishing this here now, from Chiang Mai, where my heart is healing, my mind is light and that person belongs to a past that I don’t ever want back. There is also loads of swearing and bad words below so readers should be older than…um… 15? Not sure, but if you mind offenses and bad words, then stop here 🙂 thank you and see you next week with my about Samoa! 

*

It’s precisely because of the pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive—or at least a partial sense of it.  ― Haruki Murakami

As you probably know, I got my heart broken (aka smashed, torn, ripped out and pierced) on November 4th (yes, today  exactly marks the 3rd anniversary, since that horrendous day when my insensitive ex decided to leave me over the phone at 15 thousands km of distance), while I was travelling around New Zealand as a guest of Pure New Zealand. The frick, after four and half years together, didn’t even had the balls to jump on a plane and tell me this in the face. No, the usual spineless human being let the message being carried on a freaking weird and long Whatsapp conversation that went on like this, while where I sobbed and begged, begged and sobbed:

 
I-still-love-you-SO-much.
I think about you every day.
When I have sex I think of you.
I imagine touching your skin and I can still recall exactly the smell of your skin. 
This new person is nothing compared to you. But.
But I wanna see what happen with this new fucking buddy because you are far and hard work for me.
And I am lazy. Fucking lazy.
 

WTF, right?

Redundant to say, that I spent my final weeks in New Zealand crying like a baby, barely eating and knocking myself to sleep with cheap bottles of horrible red wine and tons of sleeping pills passed on by a friend. I had awful thoughts. I had scary intentions. And I fell. Down, down, down that endless hole. Maybe you don’t know I also chopped my hair on a particularly drunken and freaking scary night in Franz Josef when I couldn’t stand my reflection in the mirror any longer.
Yes, my ex left me for someone else, which is the most humiliating and painful thing that can happen in life a relationship.

 

*Pro tip here: Ladies & Gentlemen, NEVER-EVER tell the person you are leaving behind that you fell in love with someone else.

 

NEVER.

 

Tell them you are confused, tell them you need time for yourself, tell them you might be gay, tell them you want to become a monk, tell a huge, fat, freaking lie. But. Do. Not. Ever. Say. There. Is. Someone. Else.

 

EVER.

 

As a last option, grab your balls and tell them you don’t love them anymore perhaps. Tell them your heart doesn’t beat the same way anymore. And yes, this is LESS painful and more bearable than been cheated on and being left behind like a bag of garbage or a used tissue.

Please. I beg you. Listen to me.

Do it for me and do it for the person you once loved/cared about.

Please.

So. I was saying that in New Zealand I was mentally and physically shattered and, at that point, dating other people was out of the question. The one and only goal was to stay afloat. AKA stay alive and nothing else. New Zealand is incredibly beautiful, but my eyes were constantly blurred with tears and the lush landscapes were filled with sad thoughts and intentions. New Zealand probably hosts the saddest memories of my life and it’s such a pity because it’s such a wonderful country. I make a promise here to you, to go back when I will be in love again, happy again to create new and remarkable memories. With someone better, someone stronger, someone worthy.

I had considered stopping my around-the-world-trip and book a very expensive flight to go home and beg my ex to love me.

One more time.

Just one more time.

But thankfully I have incredible friends and family and everyone said the prick should have run after me after all this time. And especially after ALL the chances I had already given the fucker to come back to me and the endless times I forgave already in the four and half years together.
The cheater was the one turning the back to me, not me. The lier should have run to the airport and book a very expensive flight to get me before I flew off.

But I did. I flew away.

Fiji – Expect the Unexpected

I’m not Beyonce or Angelina Jolie, but I did happen to have a few guys chasing me. For the entire time since we had been apart, in fact, I did have a few guys flying around me but I always waved them away as you would do with bees.

[I am allergic to bees BTW.]

But let’s be honest for once, I have no idea if the time on the road relaxed my London stressed and wrinkled forehead or if the tan made me more attractive because I never had so many guys running after me before. But I had a few in Fiji. More than a few actually, plenty in fact (I know my ex reads this blog so let the sucker suck a little.)

And yes, the pics below are a metaphor of the amount of human fish swimming around me in Fiji.

I have no idea why, but it was only in Fiji that, still inebriated by the incredible amount of alcohol and drugs my body had endured in the previous weeks, that I let go of all my principles, constraints and hopes.

I finally let go and life just started flowing back through my veins.

And in that moment, finally and for a while, I enjoyed being single. I have no idea how many flirts and salty kisses I had on those stunning, palm-fringed beaches, I don’t even know how many new flags I’ve added to my global collection (thanks Jon for the idea!)

What I can tell you is that Fiji is no longer a honeymoon destination, but a singles’ paradise.

Try to believe. If you are single, book your flight now and test it for yourself.

Fiji – Singles’ Paradise

Let me put this straight from start. Fiji is no longer a honeymoon destination, but quite the opposite, it’s Singles’ Paradise. Yeah, you read that right. And no, I did not know that before. And yes, I had so much fun indeed.

There, among the crystal blue waters and white, palm-fringed beaches is where I started healing my broken heart. Or maybe not, it’s just where I said F**K YOU and pressed the Pause button to my pain.

 “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ― Haruki Murakami 

I didn’t know there was one, but it does exist and it’s like the fire exit when there is a building on fire.

I knew there was something strange right from the beginning. I knew that my time in Fiji was going to be extraordinary as I met my first friends right at the airport and ended up sleeping in a stranger’s room in the wrong hostel that first night. The next morning, I bumped into some New Zealand’s buddies on the ferry to my first destination and that’s it, as soon as I landed in Waya, my life was -positively- upside down. 

I don’t know how or why it happened, but suddenly I had more guys (and girls) swarming around me than in my entire lifetime. I have no clue of how that could be possible, again I am not Jessica Alba, I can only think it was a sign of the universe (or god if you believe), telling me that the world is full of hot, interesting, smart people and the one I had lost was just a tiny person unable to love. It was the universe talking to me and telling me:

Hey Sabs, look around. First, you are not alone; second: pick and choose who you like.

And so I did.


I picked and choose.

I picked and choose.

And had fun.

Loads of fun in fact.

I was a whole. Again.

No longer half of a broken One.

I was me.

And people loved me for who I was. They did no try to change me.

From day 1 to day 22 on the gorgeous Fiji islands, I had fun, fun, fun with the sexy travelers that like Robinson Crusoe were landing on my sunbed shore. And I don’t know why, but a female, married friend who’ve met on these stunning islands told me:

 

Sabri right now, you are like a magnet, it’s impossible to stay away from you.

 

At first, it didn’t make any sense to me at all. I didn’t think my self-chopped hairstyle was attractive, nor my mosquitos-bitten legs or my far from the perfect body. It was something else.

Not only in my sexy dates but, finally liberated by the weight of a failed relationship and moved away from the burden of a person who was flat, boring, old and dishonest, I blossomed in my social life too. I suddenly remembered who I was before changing and adapting to the bastard: my energy was back, my love for life too, my interest to meet new people and get to know them was finally part of me again. And I made many friends without feeling guilty or worrying about what the cheater would think.It was the energy of my internal fuck-you-process and the consequent sense of freedom that perspired from my persona.

I think.

I can only think of this, because man, I was as shocked as you are now.

And maybe this sounds like bragging, and maybe it is for once, but I had never had such a success ratio in my life. LOL! But this is life, ladies (and men) the moment you really are NOT ready to open your legs arms, men (and women) from all over the place start just falling right at your feet. And it’s like this, that night after night I was feeling better and stronger and wanted and desired than ever. No longer rejected. One empty person rejected me, the world still wanted me. I could stay. Just a bit longer.

Is there better cure than slutting around when your heart and ego are broken and the person you love dumps you FOR SOMEONE ELSE? 

Perhaps. I don’t know. But for me, for those three weeks, it was a god/universe-sent break from the lying-on-the-floor, face-buried-in-the-pillow crying healing process that I had been on for weeks in NZ. 

And of course, it wasn’t just the sex, the salty kisses or the summer romances. It was putting things into perspective.

It was stopping to admire the incredible beauty that was surrounding me, it was appreciating the lucky star that allowed me to be there (instead of being home begging a selfish-cheating-human-being to love me!!!).

It was just falling in love. With life again. In all its simplicity. And with some of the most extraordinary people I’ve met in my life. Friends, flirts and my old self, most of all. If one person in this world did not want me, it didn’t mean the world was rejecting me. It was just this, one, specific, extremely selfish and horrible human who rejected me and hurt me like no one else before in my life. 

People are sent to our lives to teach us things we need to learn about ourselves. – Mandy Hale.

My Fiji realization hit me there and then. I knew I was ready for all of the things I had feared up to that moment. I sobbed once more and I realised that I want to be happy. I acknowledged I deserved to be happy. I wanted all the things everyone wants. A stable, committed, strong, faithful person next to me. Nothing more, nothing else. And I was so shocked and also deeply relieved that I’d finally gotten there.

Life and Love were all around me.

Fiji – The little things that matter

And it was embracing the little things that soothed my broken soul, day after day. 

Running on the beach when the first lights of the day were peaking through the mountains. 

Breathing in and out with consciousness at my yoga classes looking into the endless ocean at dawn. 

The hysterical laughs with Theo, Jon, Charlie, Lou and Stuart. 

The amazement in front of the miracle of every single day starting in those gorgeous islands. 

Hiking up a mountain at sunrise under a torrential rain when I kept going anyway because it’s only when you reach the top that you can see the other side.



The hours spent meditating while chasing colorful fish in one of the best reefs I’ve seen in my life.  

The newly acquired (even if unwanted) freedom that being out of a relationship can bring to the mind. 

The infinite shades of blue and orange and red and yellow when the sun was sinking into the horizon.

The sand between the toes, the hair and everywhere else.

Getting lost in dark underwater caves with a bunch of strangers. 

Katie and Steve who told me that compromises are what make love last, and Sonia and Mike who revealed that “not sweating on the small things” was the secret sauce to their +40 years marriage.

Sam and Rosie, young, beautiful and in love.

It was admiring the beautiful and perfect bodies of the local rugby player on a hot Sunday afternoon surrounded by only locals. 

And the kids on top of tree supporting their favourite handball team.

It was the incredible connection with a Dutch guy over the span of 12 hrs.

It was Mina, from China, her beautiful tattoo and the selfie stick she gave me as a gift. 

It was the hugs with Kim and Laura.

It was kayaking with Irene and Joe.

It was learning to fish with a bunch of lovely girls and a cooler full of champagne and beer.

It was the flirts, the kisses, and the meaningless sex.

It was the drinking games and one wild night washed away by far too much gin &  tonic.

It was the lightness of no promises, no expectations and there was a taste of freedom and possibility.
Of what I could have. If I could only hold on to myself and no one else for a little bit longer. 

The local dances, songs and vibe. Their incredible culture and attitude to life. 

And, just like that, by the end of the third week, I was just free. Suddenly, emotionally and happily free.

And there I was on the last day, hoping to stay just a little bit longer. To allow me to add a few more memories to the load to take away with me.

Excited about the future and what it could hold for me. Excited about the countless options and possibilities. Excited about the people I had met and their stories. No longer thinking that that fraud was my One. It definitely wasn’t.

And Fiji taught me that I deserve someone who’s excited about me, who chooses me over everybody else. Every day. Someone who doesn’t need breaks from me, someone who isn’t scared of love, someone who doesn’t only take, but gives back too. Someone without commitment issues. Someone who isn’t damaged from the past and knows how to fight. Someone who believes in us.Not forever. But forever, for now

Vinaka Vaca Levu Fiji

There is where my new life began. These are the memories I will best remember from my months on the road. Where I blossomed again like a very late spring flower. Where, like a prisoner, I was finally freed after being caged for almost 5 years.

These are stories that take the highlight of this incredible journey.This is where I found my true self again. The person I want to be. The version of myself that belongs to me and suits me so well.

No more compromises, no more faking to be someone else. 

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; 
and we travel next, to find ourselves.

 

Reading suggestion for your single holiday in Fiji:

Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed

The Power of Now, Eckart Tolle

 

All underwater pictures taken with my new baby Olympus

 

Note: there are affiliated links above. As usual, I only recommend products I have personally tried and loved. if you buy through the links above, a few pennies from your purchase come my way so that I can keep maintaining this blog <3

My Minimalist Escape – How Minimalism helped my life

 
We were never meant to live life accumulating stuff.
We were meant to live simply, enjoying the experience of life, the people of life and the journey of life – not the things of life

This is what Joshua Becker wrote in his bestseller “Simplify” and as a newly minimalism disciple I couldn’t agree more. Whether you are an avid follower of  @MarieKondo or never heard of her obsession with tidiness, you must have heard of the new “less is more” thinking trend which I already mentioned here and here.

Back in 2013 when I started looking critically at all the stuff in my wardrobe, I was still in my full-time corporate job in London. Appearance back then was crucial and I really struggled to make the first steps into a less-cluttered life. However, with the purpose to have a bigger budget to travel with, I started selling my designers’ shoes, bags and clothes on eBay, putting everything I got from the sales into my “To Travel Is To Live” Saving Account. Things got much harder when I started decluttering my sentimental and personal boxes filled with letters, books, pictures, postcards and other notes. It was much easier for me to get rid of my material stuff without a blink of the eye, but throwing away drawings of my nephew and old letters felt distasteful and rude. So…I didn’t.

I decided that there is a limit to the things I feel good without and there are less-expensive but more valuable things that I will never throw in a bin. I had to accept my personal limits. You have to find and accept yours.

Hotel Hotel

Two year ago, I stored all my remaining belongings at a friends house, (Thanks, Duncan!) and left with a 12kg backpack on my shoulders and a 5kg camera bag as a carry-on. Fast forward to a few months later and I had collected shells, books, clothes, souvenirs from all over India and Australia, which weighed me down enormously. So, once again I was faced with the tough process of letting go. But of what?

One day back in my hostel in Darwin, I pulled out all my belongings which I guess were well above 30kg by then and distributed them all over the floor. I started a rough Project333 with all the clothes I owned, realising soon that some things I bought in India were not suitable for the rest of my journey in Australia; several books (which I already read) were taking most of my bag’s space; and two pairs of shoes were so destroyed and disgusting after hundreds of miles that it was a huge relief to see them in the rubbish. I made a bag of clothes to leave in the free for all basket of the hostel, left most of my books on the exchange shelf and picked only one promising myself -once again!!!- to switch to my Kindle permanently. Since that episode, I decided to keep the number of things I own and travel with down to the same number. If I acquire a new item, I will force myself to get rid of something that’s already in my bag. This is my new rule and has been working for the past four months.

But there are many things I would do differently if I could start this trip all over again, that’s why I’m sharing the following tips to start your transition into a minimalist life b e f o r e setting off for a long trip or a relocation abroad.

DON’T PACK. JUST GO. 

I am not a pro at this minimalism game, I still struggle to let go of things while I try to accumulate/buy less, but I’ve learnt that living and travelling with less is much easier and cheaper (just think of the price of extra luggage every time you catch a plane!). First and foremost, forget all the packing tips you find online, I would just recommend you to leave home with a fraction of what you think you will need, not half as some suggest, but a 10th. It will be too impossible to resist the temptation of buying new clothes and various souvenirs  especially if you are travelling to cheap countries, so be smart and leave plenty of room in your bag right from the start, and don’t fret you will reunite with your favourite t-shirt or jumper upon your return, I promise!

SELL IT OR GIVE IT TO A CHARITY 

It’s hard to get rid of things you paid and it’s even harder to get back the money you spent on it, but my philosophy is that it’s better to have $50 rather than a $100 jacket I never use. Start slowly with a winter clear out, go through all the things you own and make groups: old-but-I-love, never-used-once, too-small/too-big, emotional-value and start getting rid of all the things you know you don’t need. Put them on eBay or Gumtree or even get down to your local market or charity shop. I got so used of using the same 5/6 outfits I own, that I love having a restricted choice to make every morning a bit like Mark Zuckerberg’s grey t-shirt and jeans work uniform.

…But Keep What Makes You Happy

As I struggled to get rid of books and things of emotional value, I’ve decided that I don’t have to get rid of everything, I can and must keep the things that bring happy memories to me, photos and letters that belong to a distant past perhaps but that still make me happy today. Some minimalism fundamentalists would shout at me for writing this, but I don’t believe in owning a set amount of items is the key to happiness, I believe in owning only things that add value to your life and this is even truer while travelling.

You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.
Joshua Fields Millburn, Everything That Remains

DO YOU REALLY NEED IT?

Before buying anything new ask yourself: do I really need it? This is something I ask myself every time I’m in a shop and I’m tempted to spend a few bucks on something. Most of the time, the answer is “Nope, I don’t” and leave the shop empty-handed but proud of myself. Something that I started practising back in London, it’s now a useful habit I cling to while browsing stores in Port Douglas, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. Here, the things I need are very few and often are just things I need to replace because they finish (toiletries, food…) or they have worn out. So, once you learn to make a distinction between what you want and what you need, you will soon realise that your life is already pretty complete and you will start saving heaps of money on useless stuff. If on your travel you see presents and things you love for your family and friends, my top tip is to pack it and mail it immediately. Don’t make the mistake to drag it with you across a country as I did, the gift will get ruined and your money will be wasted.

Clutter is a manifestation of a) holding onto the past and b) fear of what might happen in the future.
Leo Babauta, Clutterfree

BUY EXPERIENCES, NOT STUFF 

More importantly, I am a big advocate of experiences VS things. In a world where we are all submerged in stuff, unique experiences can really stand out. I remember the face of my parents when I bought them a cruise ticket for their 40th anniversary. They expected the usual material thing, but once they came back they told me it was the best experience of their life. I also bought swimming courses, amusement park tickets and dance classes to my nephews and friends. These are things that you can keep in your house, but the memories you make are going to stay with you for a very long time. What’s more important those happy moments?

The best things in life aren’t things.
Joshua Becker

DIGITAL DECLUTTERING

But minimalism is not just about material things, it’s also about our busy digital lives. Since I’ve been away, I’ve unsubscribed from most of the newsletters I once found interesting but actually never read, I consciously cleaned my Facebook wall and Instagram feed by all the negative people, cat-lovers, depressive attitudes to have my rare moments of connectivity only filled with joy, happy moments and real friends instead. And having a limited or no internet connection I quickly developed a very harsh filtering system for what emails I want to read or reply to. Similarly, I found it surprisingly easy and calming to ignore a lot of social media updates and stuff, even though that’s the industry I work in, and I’ve been amazed by the positive effects this change has had on my creativity and how much time I now have to spend on my writing, photography or simply enjoying my occasional free time instead.  The idea is that your real life is more important of your social media persona, and you should rather spend time living life rather than sharing it online.

packing

Do something incredible. Don’t tweet about it.
Colin Wright

And while it’s easier to travel with a minimalist mindset, it’s also true that travelling helps you become a better minimalist. After all this time away, I’m dreading the moment I will have to go through all the stuff I left behind and I already know that I should have binned most of it before leaving. And travelling with less is less stressful. I’m no longer scared of losing things behind (well except my camera gear, laptop, hard drive and passport) but I learnt that all other things are simply replaceable.

 BECOME A BETTER MINIMALIST WITH THESE PROS: 

BOOKS: 

  • Everything that remains, The Minimalists
  • Simplify, Joshua Becker
  • The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life, Francine Jay
  • The Power Of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential, Leo Babauta
  • My Exile Lifestyle, Colin Wright

The moral of the story: we don’t really need that much stuff both at the home and especially while travelling. You may have been forced into thinking that you need that brand new car, that you need to upgrade your phone. The truth is that you don’t. I’ve learnt to spend the money that I would have otherwise spent on buying new clothes and stuff on experiencing life and seeing the world. I couldn’t recommend you enough to do the same.

Love people, use things. The opposite never works.
The Minimalists

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A slice of tropical paradise in Port Douglas

You know I’m not a big fan of big, global, heartless hotel chains where you end up waking up in the same room whether you are in Paris, Rio or Sydney.  As you have already read here and seen on my Instagram, I’m a big fan of boutique hotels and quirky accommodations that have a personality and do things differently.

So, when I was invited by QT Resort for a stay at their slice of tropical paradise in Port Douglas, I couldn’t decline the offer!

QT is not quite what you’d think, it’s not your ordinary hotel, it’s an eclectic mix of design and art, it’s style and luxury, with a touch of quirk all in #QTstyle!

The Experience

My day started with a wonderful SPA treatment at their spaQ where my incredibly talented masseuse managed to magically soothe each and every knot around my shoulders and back after five months of wild (read uncomfortable) camping around Australia. I literally felt like I had a new body when I left.

QT ResortAfter the restoring treatment, we were welcomed for lunch at Estilo where we had gorgeous mini-burgers and smashed avocado on toast… Yum!

We later went for a few laps at the olympic pool and I once again promised myself to learn how to play tennis while watching a couple hitting hard the ball.

The rest of the afternoon was spent sipping fantastic cocktails at the pool where the young brilliant barman asked us for our favourite spirits instead of a name which made every round a nice surprise to our thirsty palates.

QT Resort

Dinner was served at Bazaar, a beautifully-designed restaurant inspired by international street stalls, souks and bodegas that recreates a traditional marketplace which offered various options of vegetables, meat and fish. I obviously went for half a dozen oysters and some fresh salad before trying a couple of those cute mouthwatering desserts. Everything was of course washed away with a beautiful South Australian sauvignon blanc. I am not a big fan of buffet especially at dinner and I would have much preferred the usual experience of ordering a la carte instead, but still the idea behind is very original, but in my opinion it would work much better at lunch time.

QT Resort

 

Breakfast was probably my favourite meal at QT since it has about five or six different types of yoghurt (HURRAH!), LOADS of fresh fruit, pancakes and hash browns, eggs, sausages and bacon, and plenty of pastry. I think that nowadays hotels which want to really stand out from the mass should offer real espresso coffee along their breakfast: it would make everything so perfect rather than the usual instant coffee…

EXTRA

While away Bookshop & Cafe
This cute little cafe quickly became my favourite in the week I spent in Port Douglas. Not only they have a great selection of books about all topics, but they also serve wonderful coffees and delicious cakes. I went back there day after day and the staff won my personal award for the most welcoming and friendly service in the whole of Australia. Well done!

THE FACTS

I was a guest at QTResort Port Douglas, all views are my own. You can book your own stay through their website here. I enjoyed my QT 2 Bedroom Villa Garden View which is $439 per night with breakfast included or $395 if you are a QT Member: it’s completely free to join and you can earn points towards FREE nights!

QT is perfect for…. stylish tropical breaks and romantic weekends away

Address: 87 – 109 Port Douglas Road, 4877, QLD, Australia

 

What do you think of this hotel? Are you planning a trip to Port Douglas and considering a stay here? If you enjoyed this post or have any questions about this hotel, please leave me a comment in the box below! x

Want to read more about other special accommodations? Check out my brand new DREAM section here

Port Douglas