Testing Emsculpt at the famous Kanodia Medspa

 

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to visit the famous Hollywood spa in Beverly Hills Kanodia MedSpa.

I was invited to check out the latest Hollywood craze, the Emsculpt on my stomach. It’s a non-invasive alternative to butt lifts and liposuction, because it targets problem areas like stomach and butt that didn’t respond to diet and exercise.

So many clinical studies support the Emsculpt so I decided to test it with Dr Kanodia and his team on my stomach.

It felt like I was doing crunches the setting was only on 30% but my stomach was on fire!!! I only had 1 treatment, so didn’t quite see the results – 4 are recommended to see any difference but it did feel like a proper workout for sure!

Guatemala: Volcanos, Kites & Culture

Visiting Guatemala for the first time three years ago, I didn’t expect to fall in love with the country the way I did. Guatemala turned out to be just what I had been looking for without even realizing it. It was one of my first trips as @travel_inhershoes, and I only had about 1,000 followers at the time.

 

I never would have guessed that three years later I would be invited to come experience this incredible country by the El Insituto Guatemalateco de Turismo (INGUAT) and Expedia. I am so honored that I was able to experience this beautiful country again and see more of what it has to offer.

 

Lake Atitlan (bigger)

 

Our first stop after getting a night’s sleep in Guatemala City was to visit Lake Atitlan. After an early departure from Guatemala City, we stopped for breakfast and enjoyed some huevas rancheros and, one of my favorites, plantains. From there we continued to the shores of Lake Atitlan.

 

San Juan La Laguna (smaller)

 

Once we arrived, we headed to the docks to cross Lake Atitlan to San Juan La Laguna. This area has been left mostly untouched by tourism, and I loved that. One of my favorite things about Guatemala even from the first time I visited is the way they hold on to their traditions and roots. I experienced this once again by learning how to make traditional clothing using natural fabrics. The experience was amazing and I recommend giving it a try, but it is much more difficult than it looks!

 

Clothing is not the only form of art in this area of Guatemala. After learning about the natural textiles, I visited an art museum called Galeria de Arte Chiya. The artwork is beautiful and covers the walls and ceilings. If you are looking to come to this region, Expedia offers a few day tour options to experience the culture and art in San Juan La Laguna.

 

Panajachel (smaller)

 

After a day of exploring, it was time to retire to our hotel and relax. Hotel Casa Palopo is amazing. Our room included three different terraces and a shower with a beautiful view of the lake, but then they upgraded us to a villa.

The villa included its own pool with an incredible view of the lake and volcano. It provided the perfect place to relax and take in the natural beauty of Lake Atitlan. Just when I thought the hotel could not get any more amazing, the sunset lit up the sky and reflected the colors onto the private pool. We enjoyed breakfast the next morning on our terrace overlooking the lake, taking in the morning calm before moving on to Antigua. It was hard to leave the view and the peacefulness of this hotel, but I was also excited to visit Antigua again.

Antigua

 

Antigua is a small city in southern Guatemala and was one of my stops on my previous trip to Guatemala. There are so many beautiful streets to explore and places to see including the historical monuments in the town that survived earthquakes throughout history and Parque Central, one of the more popular places in Antigua for tourists and locals.

 

Lunch that day ended my search for the perfect frijoles. Up until Antigua, I felt like Goldilocks since all of the frijoles I found were too hard or too soft. La Cuevita de los Urquizu offers lots of choices and you can pick whatever you would like to eat. I loved the frijoles and the guac there and recommend it if you are in Antigua. Cesar, our guide, also taught me quite a bit of Spanish relating to food, helping me reach my goal of learning 100 words in the language of each place I visit.

 

While in Antigua, I stayed at Porta Hotel Antigua, booked of course through Expedia. The hotel provided a place for us to get ready for Halloween. We chose Dia de los Muertos inspired makeup and headed out into the streets of Antigua to take in the celebrations. There were so many good costumes, and it was fun to experience this before a more local tradition the next morning.

 

Santiago & Sumpango

 

The Barriletes Gigantes (“giant kites” in English) festival takes place every year on the first two days of November and has been around for thousands of years. I did not know what to expect, but I was blown away. The kites are decorated throughout the year.. They are colorful, and the designs are meant to share family history as well as promote peace among the living.

 

These kites are not like the kites you might have flown on the beach or in a park; they are huge. In fact, some are over 40 feet (12 meters) in diameter. The kites are flown over the graves of family members to remember and honor them while flowers are beneath them on the ground.

 

It was an incredible sight to see all of those kites raised up and watch how they were lifted into the sky, filing the sky with color. I was even able to design my own (much smaller) kite. The larger kites are made of bamboo, paper and cloth. Once they are all lifted into the sky, it becomes a friendly competition to see which kite will last the longest. In the cemeteries on those days, you can buy the traditional food, fiambre, that is prepared for this day, drinks and all sorts of other things. This was an experience I will not forget, and I am so thankful for Expedia and Visit Guatemala sharing it with me.

 

Back to Antigua

 

We spent the rest of the afternoon taking in Antigua on our own. I enjoyed a Kombucha Gin and Tonic and veggie burger at a local vegan restaurant and then we watched the procession that ends the Dia de los Muertos celebrations. The procession goes through the streets of Antigua and signals the end of the Dia de los Muertos celebrations on All Souls Day (November 2). I even tried some street food while we were out enjoying our last night in Antigua.

 

Pacaya Volcano

 

After another night of rest at Porta Hotel Antigua, the next morning came too early with a departure at 3 a.m. to hike Pacaya. Expedia offers a few tours that include this hike, so you can take your choice of which one works best for you. The hike is of moderate difficulty, and you do not go to the crater as it is still a very active volcano.

At first our hike was a disappointment due to the weather. The volcano was covered in fog when we arrived at the highest point just before 6 a.m. We couldn’t see anything at all. Luckily we waited because about five minutes later, the fog started to dissipate. Within a few minutes, you could start to make out the volcano and see a lava stream coming from it. It is not always possible to see lava coming out of the volcano, so for the clouds to break and then the lava to be visible was amazing. After waiting a little bit longer, the sun broke through, giving us an incredible sunrise with the volcano and lava.

 

After seeing the volcano, some tours also include the thermal circuit. On the thermal circuit, you immerse yourself in several thermal pools, going from hot temperatures to cooler temperatures in a circuit. It is the perfect way to treat your muscles after hiking the volcano.

 

Guatemala City

 

Our last stop of the trip was the place where it all began. We spend our first night and the last two nights of our trip staying at the Hyatt Centric Guatemala City. Our room design was beautiful and I loved the motion sensor lights in the bathroom. I love working out when I’m staying in a hotel with a gym, and this one included some amazing healthy snacks including chlorophyll to boost your immune system and give you some extra vitamins.

 

While staying in Guatemala City, we toured the city and also got to have an extra special experience provided by the locals. I got a DM asking if we wanted to go for a helicopter ride, so of course I said yes.

 

The last day of our trip, we met Giani and Fermin who took us up in Fermin’s helicopter and to his house on the beach. The flight was amazing and included flying low over the surf along Guatemala’s beaches. His house is right on an empty black sand beach, and it was an incredible way to end the trip. The locals are always the best part of a trip, and these two made the last day of my time in Guatemala extra special.

 

***

 

Thank you to VisitGuatemala.com and Expedia for giving me a chance to return to Guatemala and explore more of this beautiful country. If you want to experience a beautiful culture, volcano adventures, stunning natural beauty, and amazing food, Guatemala is the place you have been searching for!

 

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.