Author Archives: Mike

About Mike

I lived my whole life in a comfort zone. Comfort of a strong support network, steady job, and a halfway decent head on my shoulders. Year over year, things remained on a good track, but nothing ever changed. Change never found me, but now I forcefully took hold of it. Onwards and Upwards!

Fashionable Florence

Florence is one of the few cities in Europe where I can really see myself spending a lot of time. It offers the European charm while providing a more wholesome view of its culture without many touristy distractions like many other places.

It is a city situated on the Arno River and is home to one of the most beautiful and famous bridges in the world, the Ponte Vecchio (the Old Bridge). It is a medieval stone arch bridge, which is inhabited by countless jewelry shops, and is definitely a site to see  for those visiting Florence.

The food in Florence is also something out of this world. Italy in general has great food, but I had some of the best food I had ever eaten in the world while in this city. From blueberry steak to chocolate pasta, the creativity behind the dishes was like something I had never seen before in Europe, and I was all for it!

After we spent a few days in Florence we hopped back onto one of our favorite European train rides and headed to Milano!

A City-Wide Museum: Rome, Italy

Revisiting Rome was an interesting experience. I had visited when I was younger, however I was never able to understand what was really at play. The city is incredible in countless ways; from priceless photo backdrops to some of the best food out there, Rome caters to all sorts of people from across the globe. It’s logical that it is the most frequented tourist destination in the world; consequently, it is not an odd occurrence to hear multiple languages being spoken in what is considered to be a ‘back-street’. Rome provides a level of international exposure that few other cities in the world come close to and that is just one of the ways this city is so fascinating.

Thanks to our guys over at SPG, we were put up in a pretty incredible room for the weekend, and even our room looked like a museum!

We saw the must-see attractions such as the Colosseum, Pantheon, and the Sistine Chapel among others — and we were able to capture some pretty memorable photos!

After we were done with Rome, we hopped on the Frecciarossa and took it to our next destination, Firenze.

Video: Taking Our Talents to Barcelona

I was accompanied by my girlfriends two little sisters and we went on an adventure of our own.

We started in Lisbon but then traveled to Barcelona and Italy thereafter.

Barcelona was an incredible trip! It was fantastic revisiting one of my favorite cities in the world, and this is some of the footage we have to show for it. Enjoy.

The Return to Old Stomping Grounds

As soon as the airplane started to descend I felt a sense of nostalgia and excitement because I was returning to one of my favorite cities in the world, Barcelona, Spain. I do not know what it is about this place — the atmosphere, nightlife, people, siestas, or maybe even the sangria that puts it in a group amongst very few other cities in the world.

Situated on the north-eastern coast of Spain, this city offers respite to destination travelers, connecting tourists, and also some of the world’s cruise ship connoisseurs. It exudes culture like Paris through the likes of the Sagrada Familia and everything Gaudi, gastronomy like it’s neighboring Italy, and the liveliness of an island just off of its coast, Ibiza.

This is why I chose to study abroad in Barcelona during the summer of 2008. I suffered from a grueling schedule which incorporated morning classes and afternoon lectures all the way to midday siestas and the nightly fiestas. It was hard, but someone had to do it, and that summer it was me.

Cut-scene: Barcelona 2014

I got the chance to spend a few days in paradise with two of my princesses (Camila and Kesia — mentioned in the previous post), unfortunately the queen remained in Lisbon for work, but I wasn’t complaining … 😉 Upon our arrival, we checked into the W Barcelona where the adventure truly began.

The W Barcelona is a newly constructed beauty. It had gone up after my time studying there, but it made me always want to go back. It looks like a colossal mirror-like structure situated right next to the water. It truly stands out, and is a must see. Per usual, we met with our W Insider team to plan a memorable trip— restaurants, lounges, events, excursions, you name it. After about 1 hour I was emailed a detailed list of everything worth doing and we were off.


We explored through typical Catalan cuisine through recommended local restaurants and countless tapas. Indulged in dishes like traditional paella, seasoned rice with an assortment of seafood, pan con tomate, bread with a delicious tomato spread, the world renowned, Serrano Ham, and a myriad of bocadillos, or sandwiches.

When we chose to go out on the town we went to some pretty interesting spots ranging from local bars, one named Dow Jones, which attempted to mimic the US stock market for drinks using tickers calculating cocktail prices based on supply and demand, to posh sky-lounges with views of the entire city.

The highlight of our trip to Barcelona was not a conventional one at all. We did something that I have never done before, and never really had the desire to do, but being that I was with two other lady-adventurers we went on a hot air balloon ride around the mountainous region of Mount Serrat. As we ascended through the rocky weather, I was scared like a little girl, but it was well worth it because what we were about to see was something I had never expected.

For a few minutes I felt that I was still dreaming. The nasty weather we had previously witnessed was the staging for something surreal. We were on top of the clouds and when we looked below our little basket in the sky there was nothing else to see other than a pillowy-white snow-like surface that covered the ground. It was incredible.

We felt that we were at the top of the world. And, with that feeling we knew we had to keep the adventure alive. Next stop — Rome.

Getting Personal in Portugal

Life is all about the people you meet.
Holstee Manifesto

To say that my life has changed drastically would be an understatement. Over the past few months, I have completely uprooted my life from a 9-5, or more like 7:30am-6:30pm, desk-job-robot life to one where I now enjoy every single day by seeing new things, meeting new people, and creating new stories. My “previous life” is what made me be able to afford my current one, and is the sole thing responsible for all of these unforgettable stories I am able to now document. Everything happens for a reason, I am glad I did what I did, and learned the things I was able to learn, but I am also glad about the exact position of my life at this very second!


So far, this european expedition has been great for a multitude of reasons. For the many new people I have met and the unforgettable experiences I have been lucky enough to have, but even more so because of how much stronger my existing relationships became.

I have been living for 3 months in a european country in a place where I don’t even know the language, and it has been an incredible adventure. I live in a great apartment in the center of Lisbon with my other half, Gesy, and another couple, Guilherme and Guta. We truly have become the best of friends and are even going to play big parts in their wedding in 2015, which will prove to be very exciting! 🙂

Enter the princesses: Camila & Kesia (My Girlfriend’s Two Little Sisters)
Camila and Kesia. The two girls that make me smile the most in my life. I actually did not know Kesia prior to this trip, and, oh my … It has been such a treat to finally meet this creature (featured in the images below). And, well Camila, you may remember her from older posts such as S. Korea, or Thailand, but now we are reunited in Europe. They are incredible people both inside and out, and let’s just say that my camera has never worked so much…

The Queen: Gesy
This past year I have spent more time with Gesy than anyone else, more so than my family, friends, and even myself — if you know me, I value me-time very highly, so to be able to say that means a lot. She truly resembles my better half and I do not know what I would do without her. She is my everything, and I thank god that she can put up with my antics so well.

I’m just living and learning — that’s the name of the game … Isn’t it? Stay tuned.