Sunday, November 11, 2012

Living For Today!

So it's been a while since I've made a post, at least a month ago when I was leaving Italy. In the past 4 weeks so much has happened in my life...really amazing things. I don't know where to begin but the core of it all is that I've started to learn how to live in the now. Several years ago I read a book called the "A New Earth" and, "The Power of Now" written by Eckhart Tolle. They were both quote profound and helped me become more aware of my being, bringing me to a new state of consciousness and awareness. Great books that I highly recommend for anyone on a journey to become more connected with self and bring a new understanding of your life's purpose. 

Though I thought I had become this new evolved human being, I did, but not fully, and just realized that only a few weeks ago. Why is that? What I came to realize is that there was no way for to really awaken to my life purpose if I was still being held back by my past. I was living my life filled with anger, regret, guilt, shame, pain, bitterness, self-loathe, and all because of the events of my past. I thought I had dealt with most of these painful memories but actually I just buried them deep, so deep that I couldn't even feel them anymore. Yet without me even being aware of it, my past was affecting me. 

Through searching deep within I was able to come face to face with these memories, and in the process came to realize that I wasn't a product of my past, nor was it something I could control. That I didn't have to let my past shape how I think or view or let it control my life anymore. That realization though simple was powerful, as it's allowed me to understand what it truly means to live in the present. 

When I started this blog I wanted it to be a platform in which I would share the things I love and things I don't love so much, which I still plan to do. But what I really want to do is to be able to inspire, motivate and touch other's through my sharing. That hopefully my lessons and life experiences can start a movement. A movement of healing and greatness amongst all those that I come in contact with. 

Today I leave you with these key words, "Live for today, let's not worry about tomorrow or yesterday...let's focus on right now, when you do, you will sense a feeling of stillness and calmness and you will realize how amazing life really is." 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Il Sorrento Capri Sono Innamorato di

Sorrento pretty but Capri I'm in love with...and that's the truth! I'm keeping this post short as I would rather just share with you the beautiful imagery as I've been posting some onto Instagram & Facebook. There's something about the Mediterranean that's hard to really describe unless you are there and hopefully the images will do it justice. It's also in the air you breathe, the aroma of olives, lemons, oranges, fragrant flowers captures the air. If I could just bottle it up, it would be something to that has me thinking! I didn't get to visit all the towns along the Amalfi coast which gives me more reason to come back and do it again, but I was captivated by these two towns, especially Capri. Here are some of the pics from these past two days...enjoy!
Town of Sorrento

Piazza Tasso - Sorrento
Overlooking Sorrento  
Picturesque view of Sorrento

Here are some beautiful pictures of I said you have to imagine the smells and let the photos take you to this beautiful, enchanted place...
Entering the Island...Marina Grande
Heading up the funicular...what a view!
Breathtaking...on top of Mount Solaro
Town of Capri

Floral Gardens

Green Grotto 
Lighthouse from Capri Island
Italy has been amazing and I thank you for following me on this journey...I will post my final recap of key learnings from this trip once I get back to NYC...want to settle into my thoughts on the flight over. Going to bed...have an early morning! Arrivederci Italia!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oh Napoli...

I arrived into Naples on Sunday and immediately could tell I was no longer in Rome. I had preconceived judgements on Naples as I heard from several individuals that Naples "wasn't anything great." It's true it's not's smaller and definitely a lot more grungier and pretty dirty. There was one point where I was walking down a small alleyway heading to the Naples National Archaeological Museum and it brought me back, "NYC circa 1993". Graffiti lined streets with bootleggers trying to grab the attention of anyone with their selection of Prada, LV, Gucci, and Dior hangbags/wallets...anyone interested??? 
Not sure what they are selling over there??
Bootleggers hiding their goods...the cops are coming!!!

Little side-street...should I venture??
My apartment in Naples is actually really nice, its modern decor, loft-style, very comfortable and close to the center of town. The building on the other hand is a little should have seen my face when I found Via Nardones, 48...I started to look around to make sure I had the right place...and after I asked this nosey old women looking out of her window, she confirmed for me that it was the right place! When I made it to the 4th floor and saw this white metal frame door with frosted glass it was a complete transformation from the rest of the building. Apparently the gentlemen I rented from owns that entire 4th floor and has renovated all the apartments on that floor, not bad!

Naples isn't completely a wash and definitely has some interesting sites, which I enjoyed. Who doesn't love visiting a Royal about excessive, but hey that's royalty! You weren't allowed to take pictures inside the Palace but I snuck a few :-) 

Grand Entrance...that's elaborate! 
Everyone should have a 100 seat theater in their home!  
I also had the opportunity to visit Castel Nuovo that was dated back to the late 1200's of which was inhabited by the royal family of that time. Naples has a rich and interesting history and as I explored more, I definitely began to appreciate it. 
Castel Nuovo
The narrow side streets are full of energy and life, people chatting and talking about their day. Children happy to get out of class and the elderly picking up some fresh basil and tomato's from the market. Naples may not rank high in some books but you have to appreciate it for what it is. It's a thriving small city with the largest historic area in Europe. The best part of course is the Pizza! You can't come to Naples and not have Pizza, the birthplace of it all. Molto Bene!! Very Good!! I meant to take a picture but ate it so time :-) Here are some more pics of the town of stop Sorrento!
Port of Naples
Galleria Umberto 1

Books anyone??


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Roma Così Grande "So Grand"

It's been a few days since I've made a post and primarily because I've been non-stop since my first night. Today is the first day that I don't have a tour planned and therefore enjoying the beautiful weather as I write to you from my terrace sipping on a cappuccino. I will definitely visit one more museum or two this afternoon and partake in some fine shopping...looking for a suit...maybe shoes and a new pair of shades :-) It's been pretty amazing so far and will give you some of my key highlights. 

I've been to Italy before, I guess ten years ago with one my best friends Eric...and we visited northern Italy and I was in love with how beautiful the country was. Now 10 years later I've fallen even deeper in love with this country as Rome is such an amazing city. I see why people say it's definitely one of their favorite places to visit. It could also be that I've been quite fortunate to have amazing weather the entire time, I think there was one shower/sprinkle when I first arrived on Tuesday but since that it's been sunny skies and mid-upper 70's...just perfect for walking. I'm a history buff, love anything ancient and this city is full of it...I also love italian food...I love walking and exploring and the people are all so nice. It's really the history of this city that has me in awe...I recall reading about this in history books, watching movies or shows like "Rome" on HBO and being so enthralled. To be able to walk the same streets that Emperors once walked - well not actually as the ancient city is several feet below the current just depends where you are...but still so cool for me. I can't get enough of the Colosseum...I think I spent 30-45 minutes in one spot just starting aimlessly onto the main stage reliving what it must have been like when Emperor Titus first opened the Colosseum. Over the past few days I've seen as much history that you would learn in a semester course of ancient Rome as well as more current periods. (Pantheon, Vatican City, Roman Forum, tons of church's/basilica's, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, tons of Piazza's and more...) 

I guess the lesson for me here is that it probably would have not been the same experience had I not done this I was really able to soak it all in, just the way I wanted...not having to worry about anyone or anything...just me. Now I can't say this has been the easiest process for me either, as I'm not one who likes to do anything struggling a bit with the language barrier and getting lost and not wanting to look like a tourist...well I got over that real quick. Yesterday I didn't was out and I was maneuvering my way around the city and the subway and definitely a lot easier then a few days ago. 

Some of the lessons I've learned is that: 

  1. Not to be afraid of doing anything alone 
  2. But more importantly not to care what other people may think b/c in reality no one really cares that what if I look like a tourist...and so what if I eat alone...that's been a big "aha" moment for me. 

Of course I miss Michael & Dexter and my friends but this is one experience I wouldn't change or want to have any other way...I'm just doing me in Rome and it feels empowering and inspiring...exactly what I wanted from this trip and I still have 5-6 more days and destinations to I'm pleased! 

Key Learnings for those that maybe visiting or planning a trip to Rome:

  1. Buy the RomaPass it grants access to two museums or historical sites for free and after your two free any other sites you visit are discounted...Plus you get three days of unlimited metro...great deal for just 30 euros. 
  2. I did a walking tour my 1st full day...great b/c you get to see the sites someone gives you the historical background, prevents you from getting lost and whatever you really want to go back and see more can do on your own...highly recommended. I usually hate tours! 
  3. I also bought a bus tour ticket which is probably in most cities...never did one before but was cool and came in handy after hours of walking...worth it! There are tons of bus tour options available. 
  4. Probably one of the best experiences so far and the most fun was a cooking class I took...I and 6 other individuals cooked an entire italian meal...also probably the best meal I've had so far. So friends be ready I will be hosting a dinner soon and showing you what I the people that I met were all great and interesting. 
Enough's some pics below from the past few days...I will probably post some more as a separate post. 

St. Peter's Basilica from the Vatican Gardens

In front of the largest fountain in the Vatican Gardens

Is it for sale??? 

Actually looks like too much work is required...

Sistine Chapel

Picking up some meat for the cooking class

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I've Arrived...Ciao Roma

It's been a long day...I think I've probably slept maybe 3-4 hours in the past 32 hours (since I've been up since 8am the day's currently 10pm in Rome)...but I made it safely :-) I'm ready to pop a Ambien CR (thanks BB!) and hit the bed hard for a full day of activities tomorrow. I flew Iberia (first time flying with them) with a stop in Madrid and the flight was pretty good...I had no one next to me on both flights so was able to stretch as much as economy would allow.
Ready for take-off @JFK ----> Madrid 
When I arrived into FCO (Rome's - Fiumicino International Airport) I was immediately greeted by fragrance ads on large screen TV's on the way to baggage claim (how appropriate as I give kudos to my travel retail buddies for doing a good job in catching my attention). I had to wait about 30 minutes for my luggage to surface. Boy was I getting nervous as more and more people picked up their luggage and there were less of us waiting for our bags to come around the belt...I was already having flashbacks of my trip to Malaga several years ago in which I was without luggage for two days. Luckily my bag showed up and everything was intact. The next step was finding the right trains to take me to my rented apartment that I would be staying in for the next 6 days. 
The 1st train was fine and I found it easily, which took me to Termini Station (it's the main train station hub in the center of town) to my surprise when I tried to transfer to the local train, none of them were running. It appeared that the local trains/trams/buses were all on strike (umm....well I got a taxi and 16 euros later was at my new home in the Il Pigneto section of Rome.  The apartment absolutely adorable, definitely my style in decor, with a cozy, warm feel. The host was really nice though he spoke very little english and I managed what I could speaking to him in spanish (which sorta of worked!) The apartment isn't in the center of town so I knew that for today I would be limited to my surrounding area due to the strike and not seeing a frequent supply of taxi's in the area...which was fine.  See pics below of the apartment....I love it! 

After getting settled and taking a much needed shower, I decided to walk around the town. Pigneto is sort of the lower east side/williamsburg of's artsy, young, but has a sense of the deep-rooted culture and history of it's past. There are small shops/markets and cafes/pizzerias in the area which are not heavy frequented by tourist. I went to the local market about 10 minutes away to pick up some stuff primarily for breakfast in the morning. Well the prices were pretty amazing even for euro's...I spent 14 euros for items that would have easily come out to be twice that much back home. I did have a small incident as I got a can of coke and somehow while going down the conveyor belt the side of the coke can got punctured and there was coke squirting every where...oh boy!!! It was a mess, people were of course annoyed...the cashier is talking to me in italian (not sure what he was saying!) it was the perfect way to break in my local market experience. Well at the end it was okay, no one cursed at me...I think??? Well I got home with all my groceries minus the coke. The day was a little tough but it's all part of this life experience and journey...I'm wiped!!! Bed-time! 
Groceries from the local market minus the coke! 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Am I nervous?

Everyone keeps asking me, "are you nervous about traveling alone?"...and a part of me is...but not as much as people might think. Yes there is some anxiety about going to a foreign country alone and more so when you don't speak the native tongue, but I'm more interested about how I will react in this situation. For me it's an experiment in which I'm the lab rat and scientist. I'm in a maze and I'm watching to see if and how I will find my way out. I'm a survivor by nature and I'm sure in this situation where I'm not on familiar ground, my instincts will kick in. I will adapt and of course be fine. This experience for me is about conquering something much greater. As social as people think I am and outgoing, which I can be, when comfortable...I'm actually quite shy. I can be extremely quite and very much the introvert especially when in an unfamiliar setting. I tend to retreat and become more of an observer of my surroundings. Whether it's a gathering where I don't know anyone or exploring a new country on my own. When I'm with a group or even one friend I'm totally fine, extremely social and outgoing. The test for me is coming out of my shell even when I'm not completely comfortable. I know in order for me to get the full experience of this trip I will need to do just that. So here goes to being social and coming out of my shell...all on my own! 

Here's me in Montreal this past winter...ready for my adventure! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

In Preparation...Style Alert - Americano

Milan fashion week has just started as they wrap-up day #2. In preparation for my voyage to Italy I can't help to think of a few staple items that will be coming along with me for the ride. These items can all be find at one of my favorite retailers J.CREW. It's fall and what better way to enter the season with a luxurious Italian cashmere sweater. There are few that make my list, but my absolutely favorite is the Henley, it's casual, cool and yet sophisticated: 
Slim Cashmere V-Neck Sweater $225

Cashmere Cable Sweater $298

Cashmere Henley Hoodie $298

To accompany these beautiful sweaters are these sun-faded chinos which are available in various fits...personally the slim fit does me fine. I love these colors:

484 Fit in Deep Peacock $75

484 Fit in Copper Clay $75
For the most part of my trip I plan to be as casual and relax as possible, as my friend JH always says, "easy...breezy" without the beautiful covergirl part, lol...but I do love a long sleeve tee that's soft to the touch and fits just right. Perfect for the fall season. To finish up the look and to help block those harmful UV's hitting my eyes a classic pair of Ray-Ban's compliment any look or style. That's how this american boy is going to do it in Italy...till next time!
Slim Broken-In Long-Sleeve Tee $29.50