Stop to Smell (Like) Roses – My quick visit to Monaco

I want to share with you my recent trip to Southern France where I was invited by the iconic Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Le Labo fragrances. The trip which was special for two reasons. One, I finally learned how perfumes are made. Two, I spent an amazing three days in awesome company of amazing  girls – @LichiPan, @Polabur, @NotJessFashion and @LionintheWild.

We flew into Nice from Miami on a rainy Tuesday morning and after a 40 min drive, we checked into Fairmont Monte Carlo in Monaco. (for those who slept through Geography classes, Monaco is a small country situated East of Nice on the Mediterranean Coast). The funny thing is I actually visited this hotel a year earlier with my mum when visiting Monaco and thought it would be amazing to stay there and here I was. The Fairmont is the only water front hotel in Monaco and it’s a classic mostly because of it’s super convenient location for the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix (apparently George Lucas rents the same room for the last 15 years!).

Anyways, the reason we came to Monaco was to learn more about the recent collaboration Fairmont had with Le Labo Frangrances. Since 2011, Farimont provides Le Labo toiletries in all of their rooms and suites. 

On our first day, we got to relax in our rooms (which were built to resemble a boat cabin) and then enjoyed an hour Signature Rose Facial at hotel spa (which was more like a hour face massage and it felt amazing! – exactly what my face needed after an 12 hour transatlantic flight). 

That evening, we had dinner at the famous Nobu restaurant (best cocktails!). What makes Nobu so unique in Monte Carlo is the fact they don’t serve Tuna since it’s endangered and Prince Albert, who is a huge environmentalist, doesn’t allow selling Tuna in entire Monaco.

The following day, we started our day early and drove the local airport to literally jump into a helicopter to get on a 15min flight to the area of Grasse. Grasse is world famous hub for making perfumes and it was my first time there (def not the last!) It’s kinda embarrassing to admit but I have never put too much thought into how perfumes are made.

Centifolia Rose harvest happens only once a year and it’s one of the rarest roses in the world.  Centifolia is so delicate that can’t be used in bouquets because the petals would fall off right away, but it has a very strong ‘odor’ as our guide described, which makes it perfect for perfume making. Centifolia is the main ingredient for Le Labo Rose 31 which we were gifted (I absolutely loooove the smell and have been using them ever since!).

We first walked to the rose fields where the rose pickers just started picking petals and they were picking them up so fast they literally looked like they were sped up 😉 

Then bags full and full of petals were transported to a small factory nearby (it’s super important that the petals are fresh and picked in less that 20-24 hours). When we arrived at the factory, we first smelled different perfume samples and I literally guesses zero of them, but it was actually a lot of fun!

On day 2, after an amazing #BreakfastGoals at Nikki Beach, we had a chance to attend a flower workshop and had a chance to see how flower crowns are made (and make one ourselves). All the girls looked like they are about to want down the aisle and I was even joking it got so romantic I almost proposed to them haha.

What do you think of my crown? What’s your favorite perfume smell? Let me know in the comments below!

Thank you Fairmont Monte Carlo & Le Labo Fragrances for a trip of a lifetime!

 

 

 

 

MY SAILING TRIP

This blog post has been created in partnership with KLM and their #JourneyPodcast – a serious of interviews with adventures with all around the world. Check it out here.
Don’t ever have that feeling when you wished you left everything behind and just set sails into the unknown. Well, I know I did. Just at the moment when I thought I had all my life  figured out and it sounded amazing, but felt ‘meh’.
Look at me. Your first impression might be that I’m ‘just another’ cute blonde. I am petite, I smile a lot, I come across as someone’s whose biggest struggle is choosing between two different pink dresses when going out. I get it. In fact, I pride myself in my ability of loving life and staying worry-free after everything I went through, after facing death so many times and fighting for survival like most of you will never have to.
The funny thing is I didn’t really have to. I was one of ‘you’. Grew up in a city, safe and sound where my biggest adventure would be camping in a tent as a scout girl for a few days.
But then after years of trying to get my life right, of killing it, of avoiding danger at all costs, I had a feeling I will die being boring and not really trying life.
After graduating from the University, I started my first corporate job and hated every second. I hated the fancy but uncomfortable clothes, I hated the strict hours, I hated the power dynamics. I was miserable. I knew there could a better way to live this life. I knew life is meant to be spent on adventures but since my corporate life and 2 weeks of annual leave didn’t look like I would have time for those, I kept asking myself a question  ‘what can I do in my life to feel like I’m truly living?’
One day, my then-partner and I decided to change our lives in the most cliche way possible: we sold everything, quit our jobs, bought a sailboat online from somewhere in
Mexico and then fixed it and sailed it across the biggest ocean on the planet back to Australia. It’s probably worth mentioning the fact that neither of us had ever tried sailing or even been on a sailboat before, but we didn’t even care how dangerous it might be. We were just ultra desperate to leave behind the life we just weren’t crazy about.
When we told all our friends what our plan was, they first thought we were joking and then that we will never make our plan happen. They couldn’t understand why we would risk never being able to ‘cover up’ that gap year on resume. We struggled to come up with some answers that made sense because ‘sailing from Mexico to Australia sounds like a great adventure and like it could be fun’ wasn’t enough of an argument for a lot of people, especially for my parents.
The plan was simple: sail across the biggest ocean on the planet without any professional help, relying solely on ourselves. Of course we weren’t suicidal and always planned on reading guides and watching youtube videos titled ‘How to deal with a storm?’ but as the time went by, our frustration to ‘just go and figure it out later’ won and after 4 months of fixing a 30 years old sailboat bought on eBay for $10,000 named Heading Liberty – we left to cross the Pacific.
Our first leg took a little longer than expected – instead of 28, we spent over 54 days non stop at sea. Did I get sea sick? Yeah! Was I loving it? Nope, quite the opposite at that time. Was it scary? Yessss. Never knew what being afraid means until then. Did we run into storms? Omg, yes. We ran into unimaginable storms – ones I hadn’t even seen in movies. I can’t even recall how many times I thought I was going to die, but a few times I was very, very close. I still remember one storm when I was sitting in the cockpit by myself and a giant wave came up from behind me, but it was too late to do anything. The wave hit the boat so hard that I went flying out of the cockpit and into the railing. If it wasn’t for a harness I was wearing, my body would now be somewhere at the bottom of the Pacific. We managed to survive that storm, but I was too afraid to fall sleep for the next 2 days until the wind and waves were completely gone.
We spent months hopping between islands of French Polynesia. Nuku His, Tikehau, Tubuai. Spent Christmas in Bora Bora and New Year’s Eve in Tahiti. Some islands we visited, some I will always consider my second home like Tubuai, where an entire island not only save me from a tropical storm, they fed us and adopted us with all their hearts (perhaps because there aren’t really any tourists on the island.
After months in the tropics, we spent 4 weeks sailing to New Zealand – a journey where we had the roughest seas I ever experienced. It was already May at that point and it was Fall in New Zealand and already cold, which made the storms even more difficult to endure.
One of the most common questions I get about the trip is what we ate at sea for weeks at a time. Well, I learnt the painful way that even with our little fridge, most produce and fruit didn’t last more 2-3 weeks. Since one of pour crossings was 8 weeks old, we ended up eating rice cooked in ocean water with pepper and olive oil for lunch and dinner and long life milk with cereal for breakfast. It did get a little boring after a few weeks, but at that time I was so happy to have at least something to cook I didn’t complain!
And you know – it was hard and extreme and I don’t think I would go sailing for over 190 days anytime soon, but no other trip has shaped me more into a person I am total and I’m grateful for it.
Is there anything you would want to talk about that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments below!
Love,
Aggie

4 years in Lalaland

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life”, Coco Chanel.

Oh, so so true! I know you’re probably used to seeing me in the same exact hair style – long blonde hair. I don’t die my hair and throughout the years I have tend to wear it pretty long, BUT it was not always the case.

A couple of weeks ago Herbal Essences approached me asking if I ever changed my hair (color or length) due to changes in my life – new school, new projects etc. And I was like ‘of course I did!’. It hasn’t happened recently – I guess my life has been pretty ‘stable’ – even though I travel a lot, I’m in a long term relationship, I have a home in LA, I’m pretty set on what I what from life and my career – which is probably why I don’t do much with my hair.

However, today I’m celebrating my 4th year anniversary of moving to America. I spent a year in LA a few years before that in 2010 and ever since then I dreamt about calling California a home. At that time, I was studying in Sydney, Australia with no potential of making my American dream come true.

Part of it was that I was in a long term relationship with an Aussie guy who didn’t want to leave the Down Under. He loved it. I lalso oved Sydney, but I honestly couldn’t not see myself getting old there. I felt like I was on standby all those years spent in Australia, waiting to go to the ‘right’ place, my place in the world.

Finally, I also realized that I didn’t want to be in that relationship anymore. It’s a long story, but ultimately my ex and I had very different outlooks on life. He thought that ‘you should always be careful’, that ‘you can’t really trust people’ or that ‘people are mean and are out there to get you’ kind of a thing. I felt like spending my hours, days and my life next to someone like this, will change me into a person I didn’t want to become. I think it’s super easy to be mean and suspicious and way harder to see the best in people. I also think whatever you think you people, you get. So if you think people are mean, they will be mean to you. Life is just so much more beautiful when you decide to see the good in people. Anyways, back to hair, lol!

The moment I moved to LA, I cut my beautiful super long hair I grew sailing across the Pacific by 15 inches! (see at the bottom of my post) Looking back, I don’t necessarily think I looked better, I wasn’t looking to look better, I wanted a change in my life, I was just bored with my hair, with my old me. I wanted to cut that old chapter of my life away for good, I didn’t want to be that old timid Aggie who put up with certain people and stuff for way too long.

This part weekend, I visited Venice Beach – one of the very first places I visited in LA when I came as a tourist and I did what I did during my very first visit – I went roller blading! I’m still as bad as I was back then, but it was a lot of fun and brought back so many memories.

Lastly, take a look at the Let Live In video from Herbal Essences and see the stories of a few incredible bad ass women who talk about changes in their life, it’s so empowering it got me a little teary!

I honestly think that if you feel stuck in life and you know something has to change but you don’t have courage to start – start by changing your hair. You will honestly feel like a different person – a braver, more confident version of yourself who will be ready to take on the new chapter of your life 😉

 

 

 

And here is  photo of my before and after transformation from 4 years ago 😉 I have also learned since then that how doing less makeup makes me look better (and younger lol!).

I’m curious to see what you think about my transformations and if you ever ‘cut’ your hair to start a new life.

One night In Bangkok

I have heard so many things about Bangkok and watched probably (too) many movies than featured the capital of Thailand, I was very excited to be spending 3 days there as a part of ‘Women in Thailand’ campaign with the Tourism Board of Thailand.
Lisa (my bestie/travel buddy) has already been to Bangkok a few years before and it’s always awesome to travel with someone a little more familiar with the place.
In Bangkok we got split from other female journalists from our group (they went ahead to explore the food/shopping scene of Bangkok with Tippy our guide) and Lisa and I got a new guide/our new Thai bestie Peach. Peach was sooooo cute. Not only she was helping us take just the best photos, but she also would run up to be when Lisa was taking my photos and fix my hair/makeup, tell me I look beautiful etc. Haha! Peach was a terrible help when it came to ironing though. True story, but more on that later;-)
Below: one of the most favorite photos from the trip, captured by Peach the guide 😉

We stayed at St Regis Bangkok, one of the most elegant hotels I’ve even stayed at (and it was also my first time at St Regis chain). Lisa and I got a room on the 18th floor overlooking a gigantic golf course and the city. My 5 favorite things about staying at St Regis were:
1) the lobby smelled sooooo good! Like a field of lilies, every time I entered I got this awesome feeling of ‘aaaaaaa’ if you know what I mean
2) The breakfast buffet was huge and so stunning, we spent over an hour every morning tasting every single item ?
3) There were fresh coconuts in the room waiting for us when we arrived
4) The location was super convient (we didn’t use the metro because we had our own car with a driver, but the metro station was just outside the hotel)
5) last but not least (or perhaps I should say – my most favorite thing) – every St Regis, including this one, offers free butler service. What that means is that there is a butler dedicated to your room who you can call or text (even if you’re not at the hotel). You can call your butler 24/7 whenever you feel like having some tea or coffee OR to unpack or pack your suitcase (you can text him to pack your suitcase, how awesome is that?!) or he can iron your stuff. Free of charge (but don’t forget about the tip!).
Below, bathroom in one of the executive suites of St Regis Bangkok (where Lady Gaga stayed 😉

 

Anyways, let me tell you a little more about our favorite spots in Bangkok. First of, the city is not as wild I as pictured it. It’s vibrant and busy, but because Lisa and I didn’t go out that much, Bangkok seemed very international and safe during the day ?
  1. Maeklong Railway Market is about a 30 mins drive out of Bangkok, but so worth the trip. Can’t remember which movie I saw it in, but I didn’t think back then it was real. But it is! I also knew that you shouldn’t stay very close to the train so when I saw it approaching slowly in the distance I wasn’t too worried until I had to back up when the train got closer to us and there was nowhere to back up too! Both Lisa and I got really scared and started nervously sweating, but survived ? I unfortunately don’t have a photo – turned out we were standing too close to capture it, but this is a shot I found online from Tie Land to Thailand.

  1. The Floating Market is another 45 mins from the railway market. It was hands down among my favorite experiences I had in Thailand. Delicious, cheap food sold on boats and from boats felt like a very authentic Thai culture experience. Lisa and I ended up renting a boat for ourselves and took a floating tour around the market. One thing we both sucked at was remembering to keep our hands inside the boat at all times and never to hand on to the edges of the boat (which is what we constantly kept doing to lean out to look around/keep balance). Our toothless skipper probably got very tired from screaming ‘hands inside’ all the time.

 

3. The ‘Hangover’ Bar I asked my ‘stories’ tribe where I could find the best skyline bar in Bangkok and the answer was unanimous – The Sky Bar at Lebua Hotel (the exact same spot where they shot the Hangover II). We first went next door to Sirocco as it opened earlier than the Sky Bar and thats where we had $20 mocktails and watched the most incredible pre sunset. Right around sunset, we moved to the Sky bar which definitely THE best rooftop bar I have seen in my life. It’s very spectacular in person. We ordered the Hangovertini drink to share (which was green) for another $20 but it was so strong we couldn’t finish it ? Once it got dark, we headed to meet up with Tippy at who promised there will be some yummy green curry waiting to us. Best $2 ever spent ?

 

4. The following night we went to check out another rooftop bar Vertigo at Banyan Tree Bangkok. It wasn’t as impressive as the Sky Bar and definitely not as elegant but it was still definitely worth a visit.

4. The unicorn cafe!!!! It’s so cute! Look at these smoothies are waffles!

5. Dinner at St Regis. I already mentioned about the breakfast at St Regis, but we also got to experience dinner there too. The dinner was a la carte with a buffet option which of course meant we ate way too much. My favorite was the Spicy lemongrass soup served in a fresh coconut which brought up a lot of flavors!

6. We only stopped at Flower Market Pak Klong Talac for an hour and it super cool to see so many flowers in our place. However, the train market and the floating definitely rank higher on my list. Below a photo from a flower museum.

On our final day, we went to the Gala dinner hosted by the Tourism Board of Thailand. It was hosted in this traditional Thai house and we were joined by Miss Universes from all around the world including Miss Australia, Miss Vietnam and Miss Thailand of course! I also got to run into my followers / other travel bloggers from other countries like Mynmar. It was a beautiful evening! Below a photo of the North America crew 😉

 

Have you been to Bangkok? What else would you add to the list?

My Big Fat Greek 30th Birthday Party & a Private Jet!

Wow, I can’t imagine not writing my birthday blog post, mostly because I really wish I could invite everyone I know (including all of you – my followers/readers) t0 share this special day together but because I couldn’t at least I’ll get to share it with you here! I love celebrating birthdays, because it’s such a great break from our routine, forces us to appreciate life and family and friends.

I really wanted to spend my time with my family, who I don’t get to see very often because they live in Poland so we all ended up meeting in Athens (Michael and I flew in from Turkey, Michael’s mum straight from the US and my family from Poland). We spent a few days in Athens and arrived in Mykonos on Sept 20th, 4 days before my birthday.

We got picked up by the Greek Villas crew who escorted us to Villa Thelma otherwise known as Villas Sunset, which is a part of Casa Del Mar Hotel in Mykonos. 16 people villa with a private infinity pool was such a dream!!!! I was so so happy to see my mum sunbathing and swimming in such a stunning infinity pool I was super close to tears the entire time ???

 

The next day, my girls arrived. These were my favorite, closest travel ladies who I adore so much, I couldn’t imagine better company for my big day. I met Christine from Tour de Lust and Christina from The Bold Brunette on a press trip to Aruba where we were all invited and we immediately took off. I since saw Christina in Florida (that’s actually where I met Lisa from Lisa Homsy who came to the party too. I actually never met Raya from Raya Was Here but we chatted so much over DMs for months I really wanted to meet here so she came to Greece.

Now, let’s talk about the party! The theme was all white and I got these golden Greek-style crowns for everyone to wear, here is a closeup so you can see.

 

 

What I thought will be a small dinner for a few people turned out to be a party for 28! I had 10 people my family, my 5 girls, then last minute I found out that my girl crush Helen Owen and Zack Kalter are on the island and wanna come so they did with Naomi from @BookonIn who I knew over DMs before. They turned out to be super lovely!

Last but not least, there were 8 members of my Master Tribe. Master Tribe is a group I started for coaching future travel bloggers. I thought there wasn’t a course that would walk people through the travel blogging experience with guidance and all the feedback needed to grow. I ended up choosing 17 out of over 50 people who applied because I really truly believed in the potential of these 17 folks. Since April, I tried to share with them everything I know about photo editing, social media etc etc and luckily for me, 8 of my rock star ‘students’ were able to visit me in Greece.

Here is  photo of all of them and the girls. Please check out their beautiful feeds and I guarantee you’ll be in love with them as much as I am 😉 #superproud #besttribe

Below:

From the top left: Nikky from Nikky Riddy, Izabela from Regards Bella, Ania from Style of Wonders (she also did my hair for the party!), Christina, Ryan and his prettier half from Up for Adventure.

From the bottom left: Raya, Marta from Where Life is Great, Me, Christine, Kat from Her Beautiful Now, Lisa and her boyfriend James 😉

 

 

After dinner we went out to a club and were dancing till 4a at night!!! It was awesome.

Last but not least, I wanted to finish off my time in Greece in style and rented a private jet as a surprise for my family. When we showed up in Santorini and pulled up to a private jet, they couldn’t believe their eyes. It was the best feeling ever!

Here is what I said in my post about it:

“Wrapping up my time in Greece in style – just me and my family on a private jet drinking champagne ???

I have to say I was hesitating a little about this post cause I was worried about your reaction. But then I remembered I am not talking to the whole Internet over here, I am talking to you, my followers! And you are nothing short of amazing.
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I meet more and more of you on my travels and every time I realize that people that follow me are truly extraordinary. They might be doing different things in life, but my followers’ souls are of great leaders and they have potential for some grand things in life.
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You also should know by now that I strive to live life to the fullest and that as a #TonyRobbins fan, I believe that the secret to living is giving and that there is no greater pleasure than surprising and spending money on those who you love. It’s been my dream forever to treat my family to something amazing!
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I wanted to have the best birthday gift for my own 30th so I knew I have to give (instead of receive) something to those who I made me as successful as I am today. To my family and my ‘rock’ Michael.
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So I rented a private jet for all of us as a surprise. And I never even expected I would fly in one ever in my life because as a family we could NEVER afford flying even commercial!
My family didn’t suspect anything until we got dropped off right in front of the jet with a flight attendant standing there to welcome us.
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My mums face was so lit up (swipe left to see what I’m talking about!). It was the best feeling ever to see her this happy.??
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What is cheap? No. Did I get it for free? No!
But I was happy to pay for it from my own money earned from I love most of all – promoting traveling.
The idea of a real gift is that it actually costs you a lot of money, time and sacrifice of your own needs so it makes others happy.
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Last but not least, I’m sharing this not to show off but to motivate you & ask you to come up with a fun surprise for someone you love this week – go do it! Spend money on making them happy – it’s the best feeling in the world!
With so much love!
Your Aggie