I know what you’re thinking…wait, where?
Well, I’m glad you asked. Gozo is a tiny, little, blip of an island that hardly any Americans have even heard of, let alone, had the pleasure of traveling to.
Located just a stone’s throw away from the larger island of Malta or about 50 or so miles south of Sicily; at only 9 miles in length, Gozo, is the second largest of the Maltese Archipelago group, and a total breath of fresh air.
Renowned, for its beautiful rolling green hills, and off the beaten path personality, this tiny island moves at a slower pace and some consider it the best-kept secret of the Mediterranean. From tranquilizing turquoise water to topographical masterpieces sprinkled all over the island. This pristine patch of land is the ultimate getaway and many of Europe’s Elite travel here to getaway and unwind.
When in Gozo, there are many must-see locations and experiences for sure, but these, I can assure, you will unlikely be experienced anywhere else on the planet. For starters, they have the oldest freestanding structure in the world called, Giganta. Dating back to somewhere between 3000 BC and 700 BC, these prehistoric rock monuments are older than both Stonehenge and the Pyramids by a few thousand years and rightfully so, this area a UNESCO World Heritage sight.
Now, once you have left the old temples, you have to check out the, not quite as old, but still old, fortified castle in the heart of the island. Known as the Citadella, this ancient area was once a thriving centerpiece for the island for thousands of years. Sadly however, in 1551, during an invasion by the Ottoman Empire, most of the islands 5000 residents were taken into slavery. Today, only 6 people live inside the Citadella.
In addition to its natural serenity and astonishing history, Gozo is also known for producing quite a few world famous products and goods as well. The first being, its world-renowned glass. That’s right, when in Gozo, you have to check out a local craft village for the finest in hand blown- art. Vases, ornaments, figurines and anything else you could hope for, all erected from sand and masterfully shaped into anything you can imagine. This skill of creating hand blown glass has been a staple here on the island for thousands of years and is a tradition that is passed down from one generation to another, and a bit part of the reason why you won’t find art like this anywhere else.
And for one more trade that has been passed down from one generation to another. Well that would be the art of selling sea salt down by the seashore. Say that 5 times fast.
Besides the couldn’t get any fresher taste. This is not your local famer’s market salt. This is hand collected sea salt straight out of the Mediterranean. In fact, the saltpans of Gozo have the same few families collecting and sorting the salt the same way they did thousands of years ago. The Gozitan saltpans are truly one of the most memorable scenes and tastes that you’ll every experience in your lifetime.
From sampling the local salt, to getting a taste of the local bar scene, if you’re looking to have a little fun while in Gozo. The Nadur Carnival is just the thing. Over on the east side of the island, in the tiny village of Nadur, the Gozo street carnival jumps off once a year. Considered one of the best celebrations in all of Europe for its fun, party mantra, this freakishly festive event is nothing like that of Venice or Mardi Gras for that matter. In fact, some would even call this experience in Nadur—grotesque.
Everywhere you look dressing up is taken very seriously and just quick walks down the street, costumes and scenes more confusing than the last. Everything goes here in Gozo, and costumes can be anything from ordinary to shocking. This “Halloween-esque,” type, street fair is the ultimate in not to be duplicated travel experiences.
From the fascinating festivities to the historically rich spots to discover, Gozo is packed with unforgettable attractions and places, perfect for your next life-changing getaway. Make sure you make it to Gozo at least once in your life. Your bucket list will thank you!
When traveling... I think it's important for one to remember that not every culture is alike... Seems obvious but I think Americans can forget this idea at times or maybe be a little naive and think that the rest of the world is just like us...(don't worry I'm not bashing the U.S. I swear lol)
BUT...That IS the reason why, before I go on any trip (even if it's out of state) let alone out of the country, I think it's important to ask around or read up on local customs, thoughts and ideals.
Lord knows you don't want to offend someone in the wrong place!
It may be obvious or common practice for someone who grew up in an Asian or Eastern influenced house hold to know some of these things I'm about to share with you, but I think for a lot of westerners or Americans specifically...this may come as a total shock or surprise, while, on the other hand...others may see it like common sense.... but as they say, sometimes common sense isn't so common!
So to the point already woman...here are some common courtesies--aka--tid bits of cultural customs of Hong Kong that I noticed/or was made aware of...
1. Have business cards ready for action ...although you may be going on vaycay to HK and not working...a common thing that I noticed among The locals was:
upon first introduction with someone new, they always had their business card ready to hand out! This is not only the first order of business and a sign of respect, but what I also noticed is, people take great pride in delivering their card and receiving business card with two hands. It may be a bit different than you are used to but, I actually found it quite refreshing and I felt as though whoever was receiving my business card actually cared !
2. If you can swing it, give gifts... Hong Kongers are biiiiiig into giving gifts. Probably one of the reasons I loved it so much there lol. From meals to fruit baskets and pineapple flavored hookah (at the Mira hotel) this culture, and area, loves to give gifts!!! But not just any old gift! Avoid giving things in quantities of the number 4 and also steer clear of giving away sharp objects, clocks and handkerchiefs, so I hear! Rather, stick to items like wine, money or food offerings!
3. Food and drink etiquette.....what I noticed is everyoneeeeee in HK washes their hands before a meal (which is a good clean healthy habit to begin with) but don't be dirty and start chowing down when everyone else around you is cleaning up! Also, I noticed whoever is hosting dinner, tends to over order or cook by a long shot. Heaven forbid you leave the table hungry...it would never happen at a Hong Kong table. Lastly, a spot of tea, more like a gallon or two of tea when you go to Hong Kong.... If you don't like this warm, palette cleansing beverage before your trip, you'll be a tea- sipping convert by the end of your trip! This I can assure you! And while drinking tea in HK you should know, that if your cup is empty, they will keep on filling it up! So instead of saying no.. Etc...instead gently tap the table with two fingers to signal to your pourer, thank you, that's enough tea!
5. Notice I skipped right on over number four in this list. Well that's because like in the US where the number 13 is often seen as a bad/unlucky number ...to Hong Kongers the number 4 sounds similar to the word for death.... so whatever you do...DO NOT wear your lucky #44 basketball jersey while in Hong Kong... In fact do as the locals do and just avoid this number all together! On the other hand, looking for a favorable digit? Stick with the number 8, which is considered good luck by the locals!
6. Last and most importantly .....Hospitality and R-E-S-P-E-C-T ( yes like the Aretha Franklin song ) the locals too, highly revere this practice. So no matter how jet lagged you are...put on your game face and be a courteous traveler...(and whatever you do! Under NOOOOOO circumstances...will there be ANY talking about being approached by a call girl at the lunch table.. Aye yi yi...one of my crew members...god bless him, doesn't get out much!
Recently I had the opportunity to go to Asia's world city and film an episode of my travel series, VICARIOUS ESCAPES...and it is actually (preview) airing today and premiering on Sunday, July the 20th. Besides the obvious plug that just happened and wanting people to tune in and watch ratings....(which is always great)
BUT I want to be real with you and explain EXACTLY why you should tune in and watch Vicarious Escapes Hong Kong and travel to Hong Kong for that matter!
Prior to visiting Hong Kong, I had never really been to Asia, I had been to the Middle East, but not true "Far East Asia." 1 word...AMAZING ...And I'm not just saying that to be nice either. lol.
Hmm...How to describe Hong Kong? This area is a CRAAAZY mix of NYC/ London/ Bejing /Miami and a few other cities for that matter. Its hard to quite put your finger on it, but you quickly realize why they call it Asia's world city once you go there. ( I had to keep reminding myself where I was, and I am not making that up!)
An unbelievable blend of city life with unbelievable views of all of the sky scrappers lining each side of the Harbour, mixed with miles of greenery, turquoise blue water and tropical islands.
I think for any Westerner traveling to Asia for the first time, they may or may not be a bit hesitant going to an area so far from home. However, I can assure you... Hong Kong is not what you might except. I think there were more Expats and outside cultures there, than there is in some cities in the U.S. Besides that what most people do not realize (for some of the people I talked to) is that Hong Kong was a British Colony for a boat load of years, so they really accept outsiders with open arms and know how to harmoniously blend so many elements and cultures into one area. Its quite amazing to have traditional Cantonese food and Dim Sum at night for dinner and then walk outside and hit up a British pub for after hours drinking and dancing. You really couldn't ask for a cooler mix in one city.
Besides the beautiful blend and melting pot of ideas and cultures, the scenery and things to do and activities are spectacular. Yes its easy for me to say this, since I got to film a show there, But Hong Kong Has so many wonderful offerings for a traveler. For example, I have been reflecting and trying to think about my favorite part of my Hong Kong trip and filming, and each day or even each minute it changes. I will say one of the top tier activities was the Ngong Ping 360. A 25 minute (3.5 mile) cable car system that takes you from Lantau Island into Ngong Ping Village, to where the Big Buddha is. This cable car not only has you flying high over insanely teal water and lush green scenery BUT the kicker is that (if you so choose) you can fly high and travel in the crystal cable car, which is completely made of glass! Besides the 360 degree views of the island and surrounding area, You can see all the way through the bottom of the car!! I'm not going to lie, at first I was a bit nervous, I think my teeth were chattering as I went in and up and was trying to do stand ups and appear releaxed....BUT I will say, I feel like I had a moment of serenity during the ride, where I literally said to myself, Wowwwww THIS is a life moment! I will never have this again! and it made me happy and sad all at the same time, that I got to experience this. I didn't even know this was on my life's bucket list until after I did it.
It may have also helped to calm me that I was looking at the Big Beautiful Buddha along the way, but I don't know how many people I have bragged to about this experience. Not to mention the fact that I took a million iPhone photos along the way. If you're looking for the Crem de la Crem in #Selfies. You should seriously consider this Cable Car. (Speaking of, I have included pics from my trip below!)
I'll end with my other favoritist part about Hong Kong (yes I know that Favoritist is not a word)....
But my other favorite part about Hong Kong...is the people.
Being from LA. it's easy to get a bit jaded and feel like people just want to use you/take advantage of you, etc.
Everywhere we went in Hong Kong, people were soooo incredibly helpful and welcoming. (Although they didn't want to go on camera usually, which I found strange, quite the opposite of LA)
The Hong Kongers were some of the nicest and most courteous people out there! From the friendly folk's at the Mira Hotel (which I might add, DONT EVEN THINK about staying anywhere else in Hong Kong, I insist that you have to stay at the Mira) .....but from the folks at the Mira to my McLaren Dealership friends , Diana and Roger at KingShip Yachts who took me to one of the best dinners of my life and countless others throughout the trip... OH and my lovely guide Fred, He and I, not only shared a love of cats but just thinking about his willingness to help us and his jolly since of humor, brings a smile to my face. (come to think of it, I'm sad I didn't get a picture with him for my scrapbook)
But, given the opportunity I would go back to Hong Kong in a second's notice or heck, I may even move there, if the situation was right. LOL ....Moral of this travel story, if I was writing a book about my life, Hong Kong would have it's own chapter.
Thank you to Hong Kong and ALL of the fine folks at the Hong Kong Tourism Bureau (Quinn, Andrew and others) who made it possible!
(PS....if you want more ideas for your Hong Kong Trip, don't hesitate to ask me or visit the link below!
I think like most people, I too have multiple sides to my personality and have multiple passions in my life. For anyone who watches my shows or online videos, they may know of my brand BOYS TOYS, that covers and highlights the hottest machines (ie. Cars, yachts, planes, etc.) out there. And as much as I LOVE me some amazing/well crafted machines...My other love in life (besides my cat of course) is Travel.
I think this love and passion for travel was fueled for a few different reasons. You see, I grew up in a family that didn't and (well ) still doesn't travel all that much. Besides the summer trips from California to Oregon and back to visit my grandparents growing up, or going to Hawaii and Turks and Caicos when I was 18, besides that, my family didn't get out much. Like most of America, they are a tight-knit, hard-working all-around American family. And come to think of it. My Grandpa (papa as I call him) still has never flown in an airplane. So because my family was so tight-knit, and unless we could drive there.... we really didn't travel. This could be part of the reason, I always wanted to get out and see the world. Instead of moving away from my family, I was and am a homebody, who loves to travel to a location and then come back home at the end of it and share the experiences with my family and friends. I think traveling makes you appreciate home that much more. And for those family members or friends who don't have the opportunity to travel because of work, or fear, or money constraints, This is part of the reason that Vicarious Escapes came about. I am traveling and hypothetically speaking, taking them along with my in my pocket. It fuels me.
As for another reason I love travel so insanely much.....welll besides never really traveling when I was younger...combined with going to all of these international (and amazing) locations for Auto shows, yacht shows, etc. As much as I love that aspect about my job...Fortunately and unfortunately, I would travel to these cities for a car show for example and be stuck working inside of a convention center for a few days and never get to really see the international city that I was in. I can't tell you how many international cities that I have been to where, I never saw outside of a convention center, airport, or hotel room. I know what you're thinking, Cue the sad violin music, Boo-hoo, blondie didn't get a day off. LOL...I am just explaining why, over years of doing this, I am fueled even more now to travel and see the world. At heart, I am a sarcastic jokester who more than anything loves to laugh and tell or hear a good story. And I would say that I have a zest and curiosity for life and all that it has to offer. Part of the memory making part of traveling is the airlines losing your luggage, being exhausted because you're trying to see the entire city or area in a limited time, and bonding with the locals. Some of my most special and memory filled trips, were the ones where I was exhausted beyond words and had to wear someone else's underwear, because the airline lost my bag, but I kept going ( blood shot eyes and all) because, I knew, if I never have the opportunity to come back here, I don't want to waste a second.
Definitely easier said than done, when you're tired and jet lagged, just think about all of the memories and life experiences you are creating. I get it if Traveling isn't your thing, but for me, and for my family who lives Vicariously through me, I plan to travel like I mean it from here on out.
Since I cover a lot of cars, yachts and other interesting locations, I get asked a lot about what my favorite things are or what was the most interesting experiences i've had while on shoots...Here is a list of things you may or may not have known...
ooo this is a toughy, this kind of changes depending on the day, Design wise, I am a big fan of the Audi Nanuk Quattro Concept from 2013. I think its so interesting looking and I do love All things Audi. From a classical standpoint I love the 68' Camaro and the old type 57 Bugattis (and anything Bugatti for that matter.) From a PR standpoint and just overall niceness of the brand and great all around products, I have a deep love for the Lamborghini Teams and Ford/Lincoln. They always make me feel welcome and are great to film with! As well as put out excellent products.
I absolutely love Overmarine Group and the Mangusta Brand. This company is fine Italian Styling to its core and works with good quality materials. Beyond that their company is still family owned and operated and they put out a reliable and fantastic looking product. Benetti is another grand brand, Their yachts are always top shelf and done with immaculate taste.
Despite what anyone says about experimental aircrafts, I love the Velocity and Searay planes. They are interesting designs and unique above all else. As well as I had such a fun time filming with both companies.
Favorite toy I have ever filmed:
Believe it or not, sometimes my judgement of a toy is a bit subjective to how the company treats me. If the PR/Marketing team is nice and welcoming to my crew, they can secretly earn brownie points in my book. For whatever that is worth. And sometimes its the least likely toys that really end up winning me over. Either they are easy and fun to work with or the model ended up being surprising to me. I am not sure that I have one favorite. There has been soooo many memorable toys along the way. I'll give you a few and the reasons why:
1. Bugatti- Very few people are allowed to film their factory/atelier and I was told by a few "non-believers," that I would never be given access and they welcomed me with open arms.
2. Sportsmobile- What a great group of guys, and although we totally broke down in the middle of Pebble beach while filming, we made lemonade out of lemons and had margaritas while we waited!
3. Hovercraft/Mosquito Helicopters- Great groups/companies. So willing to do anything for us.
4. Good year Blimp- A life's bucket list!
5. So many more ugh I can't choose!
I wouldn't necessarily call it my least favorite in that it was "bad to film" however when filming the sail plane segment which is now one of my all time favorite Boys Toys Segments. But, when filming this segment, I was not only scared out of my mind at first, (because I was given ejection instructions within the first 5 minutes of being there) but once I conquered my fear and went up flying...I had motion sickness from all the backflips we did for the filming. Oh yeah this motion sickness lasted for three days afterwards, LOL. And I produce the show so I really have no excuse, I did this to myself. All for the sake of getting that perfect shot. The guys at the sail planes company were truly wonderful to work with though.
Most surprising toy I have ever filmed:
Quadski, maybe?! this machine it truly remarkable and all of the ingenuity that has gone into the design. Amazing. I have grader's remorse on this one. (Kind of like "Who's line is it anyway?" Not that my points really matte on my show either) but I gave them 14 out of 15. Looking back I think I would have made them the show's winner!
Favorite location I have ever filmed:
Although I have absolutely loved every location thus far that I have filmed (truly), There is one that really stands out above the others. I absolutely loved filming in Jamaica and the Exumas with the Island Routes team. despite what you see on tv. Each show truly is a lot of hard work and takes months of planning and most of the time, I come home feeling exhausted. This was one of those rare shoots, where I didn't want to go home. I don't think that I have ever had so much fun on a shoot. From the people, to the once in a lifetime experiences, what an amazing overall location and group of People.
Favorite part about my job:
I am a story teller and a sarcastic goofball by nature ...so that being said, I truly love meeting new people and hearing their stories or hearing the stories of a new toy. It makes me feel warm and tingly inside. Although there are little things along the way, that I may not like, I truly believe that I have the best job on the planet.
Shows that almost NEVER came together:
OOOO a few along the way. BUT my first and second trips to Dubai filming BOYS TOYS. A few days before, My first trip, my main videographer left the company, I was scrambling to find a fill in and there were some other disheartening kinks along the way.
My second trip to Dubai, I again had photog issues. I assumed my head Videographer was a US. Citizen with no visa needed. BAD assumption. I was scrambling to get him a last minute visa which didn't happen. I had to swap videographers at the last second.
Most life-changing Show that I have filmed:
There are two that come to mind. First being the Documentary I filmed on Cannabis curing cancer. Whether you believe this or not, I had people telling me that this show changed their life. I feel so humbled and grateful when someone tells me that. Its the best feeling in the world. Although I loveeee to entertain people, but hearing that my show changed someone's life, just made my life.
The second most life-changing show, was a Yacht show I filmed in Italy. Upon returning from the shoot, I got a horrible Virus (most likely caused by a mosquito or something along that line) Upon returning I had severe brain swelling and other complications and was in the hospital for a while. This made me have a whole new appreciation for life. Most people told me that they would have quit my job if they went through the same experience. But for me, I love being a tv host and producer.
Biggest misconception about my shows or me:
Easy, sometimes people assume that it's easy and I'm just some model on tv..... oh Contrer, I produce, write and research, as well as host all of my shows. I put in long days and try extremely hard, under a lot of restraints. People think it's very glamorous. Although there are MANY perks to the job. I work very hard!
Most memorable filming experiences:
Although Every single shoot is memorable. There is always something!!! Whether its loosing my bags and having no clothes or makeup on a shoot. Or it raining in the middle of the desert, and having to adjust, or meeting people on shoots, who remain life long friends of mine. Each of my shows have been unforgettable life experiences.
But I guess if I had to choose some of the moments where I thought to myself, "Wow this is a life moment."
1. The Ngong Ping Cable cars and Big Buddha in Hong Kong ( i thought wow this is a life moment)
2. The entire Caribbean shoot for Vicarious Escapes, loved this shoot.
3. The carnivale in Nadur Gozo, with my amazing guide, the salt pans of Gozo were great too!
4. Getting to ride in the Good Year blimp for Boys Toys
5. Getting to ride in the Bugatti GrandSport (the fastest/ Most expensive Car for BOYS TOYS
6. doing back flips in the sail plane for BOYS TOYS
7. so many more!
If I were to live anywhere outside of the U.S..
Dubai maybe? love the new-ness and wildness of this cities archetecture orrrrrr on a tropical island selling coconuts!
Have more questions or a good tech or travel related topic, you want me to answer? Drop me a line! Maybe it will be the subject of my next blog! Toodles~
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've been told by other people that I should have a reality show due to the number of odd and memorable (either for good or bad reasons) things that happen, either on my shoots, or in my everyday life. Its seems like just about every one of my reflective stories starts with, "you're not going to believe what happened..." So for that very reason, I thought it might be interesting to start a blog. This way I can share my personal ups and downs and memory-filled filming experiences along with other interesting things, topics and articles that come up along the way! Until we meet again....