The musical rebirth of Gaelle Boudier – Singer and vocal coach in Austin, Texas.


We had the pleasure of interviewing Gaelle Boudier, an Austin, TX based singer and vocal coach. Singing, Coaching, and Teaching, are three words which accurately reflect her world.
Her strong connection with music led her to study several instruments and graduate from the French Conservatory of Music.

Gaelle became a skilled vocal and musical coach, as well as a professional singer starting in the south of the France, to San Francisco Bay Area, and now in Austin.

Gaelle, how did you become a vocal coach and singer?

My story? At first, it’s no different from anyone who is dreaming about music. A song, an instrument, a chord, a moment of life…. everything is linked.

As far as I can remember, I was always attracted to music and dance. During my childhood, my parents and grandparents loved to listen to music. I started singing along all the hits I found in their music collections. I was fascinated when my grandfather played the harmonica. Even though he had experienced a major stroke, he still managed to find the strength to play. Music was such an important part of his life.

My parents had a big house in the South of France with three floors, a grand staircase, and many little nooks. There were multiple areas with a big echo – like the stairs or in a little bathroom. That’s where I loved to sing and invent melodies and lyrics… I was dreaming of the day I would be in front of a mic singing for a crowd!
At the age of four, I was giving “my first singing classes” to my dolls and my family. Everybody in the house, even my parent’s friends had a private lesson, haha.
By chance, I found at the back of the house, an old and dusty Bontempi organ. It was my first musical instrument – I was trying to play and sing at the same time.

Later, I joined a school choir. It was a revelation! I took a test and was admitted to the Conservatory of Music. I started studying music in college alongside my music school classes. After high school, I was supposed to enter nursing school. However, the day I returned my registration form, I changed my mind. I knew all I wanted was to dedicate my life to making music.

Instead of nursing school, I was happy doing what I loved: singing, playing, studying ten to twelve hours of music a day. I shared my time between philharmonic and harmonic orchestra, choir, classes, internships and shows.

My career was on track…

Do you feel you are more a singer or a vocal coach?

I couldn’t choose between my public and my students. I’m doing both by choice. I love to share, whether on stage or in a classroom.

When you sing or play in front of an audience, feeling this energy is totally amazing. All my senses are awake, all my emotions are multiplied. I like to perform and see my public on this musical journey with me, giving joy by offering them a moment of escape, a musical break. It’s fascinating!

I feel complete when I’m passing on my knowledge, it is a true vocation. Teaching people to improve their voice by not only doing some vocal technique but also a real exchange. Taking into consideration the student’s unique voice and according to their individual needs, instructing confidence by overcoming shyness and receiving in return is an every day gift. I like to think that I can give this breath of freedom to my students.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

After studying classical music for several years in middle school and high school, one of my teachers opened me up to other musical tastes. I experimented with different music styles such as baroque, modern, rock and jazz. I even took part in a gospel choir at some point.

Today, my choices and main inspirations come from singers such as Eva Cassidy, Dany Brillant, Diana Krall, Nougaro or from bands like Muse or Queen… I discovered that I love playing with vocal colors and singing jazzy lounge, bossa, rock songs and the great classic French songs.

One of the greatest inspirations in my life is Serge Martial, the singer of Route 66. I had the opportunity to meet and work with him in San Francisco. His philosophy in life was to Live, Laugh& Love… He enjoyed each moment in his life. I became a workaholic, because of the pressure I felt from the classical music world where all has to be perfect. He became a mentor to me, he gave me the confidence and lightness that allowed me to truly open myself again and become the person I was hiding for so long.
He took part in my musical rebirth.

My musical rebirth? Can you share a story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

My career has had two important and decisive turning points.

The first was during my university years, I had graduated with honors and was on a path to becoming a music teacher, a professional musician and singer. To become a certified music teacher in France, you have to pass a final entrance exam.
I worked very hard to prepare for this, refusing to go on vacation or to my friend’s parties I knew that despite all my skills or knowledge, my main weakness was self-confidence.

Against all odds, despite my hard work and my good grades in all my school curriculum, and because it’s a competition, I failed the oral test. Only 9% of the candidates were accepted. I was totally stressed out, crying a few minutes before entering my exam room. It felt like my entire life was going to be played out over these few hours.

I was too far out of my comfort zone. I was unable to be myself during this crucial oral exam. I put too much pressure on myself. This blunt judgment on my capacity to manage my stress, more than my singing and musical skills and my desire to share, spoiled the image I had of myself. It opened the door to fear the judgement of others.
The consequence of this failure lasted almost 15 years.

However, I couldn’t imagine life without music or songs. No exam was going to take that away from me. I was still singing and performing in bands, teaching private lessons, working as a substitute teacher in French national education, and as singing teacher in an association of Performing Arts.
My classes, students and shows were successful. But still, I had the feeling of being an ‘imposter’. The fear of feeling judged by others made me incredibly nervous…. It’s crazy how failing an exam can undermine your self-esteem!
So alongside my musical activities, I started working as a manager for a famous luxury brand in France until moving to California in 2013.


The second turning point was my expatriation.

It was a life changing experience to live in a foreign country. I was out of my comfort zone all the time. I didn’t speak English at all. I was far from my family, my friends, my habits. So I had to trust my abilities to make it work for me, but also for my family who always supported me. I had no other choice but to reinvent myself. Singing played an essential role, taking back its rightful place in my new life, and it has been my buoy.

In the French community, several people asked me to start teaching them how to sing. It gave me such pleasure that I also started to give some classes, as a volunteer in a French Association. It was a breath of fresh air. I felt really happy to go back to my roots.

The desire of singing in front of an audience never left me.

You know, that unforgettable utopia feeling of performing in front of people? In 2018, when I heard about an event with live music and vendors, called The French Fair in the Bay of San Francisco ( around 5000 to 6000 people attend) I decided to apply. I presented my work to the manager who then hired me to perform there. The event was a success. When I left the stage, I had three proposals for other events, a wedding cocktail, a Christmas party of the Alliance Francaise of San Francisco and the next French Fair.

It’s not without any emotion that I can tell you today, that at that time, I felt very proud of what I had accomplished, full of energy, and finally at peace with myself.

How does this experience serve your professional life?

It gave me the conviction to include in my classes, beyond the vocal technique, an in-depth work on self-esteem.
Learning to let go of vocals, accepting mistakes, being prepared to fail are an essential lesson to learn for every musician. No one had ever explained this to me. Performance and success were the only crucial part of my training so I didn’t have the tools to accept a failure before.
Now I know I can bounce back from any failure, and it’s very important to communicate this to my students.

When I prepare myself to do a performance, I am aware that no audience belongs to me. I realize that only a real sincere investment will make the magic work for any audience.

After doing this hard work, knowing that music always healed my doubt, I wanted to go further. I was convinced that music is an incredible gift that can help to manage emotions and express feelings. I followed a Music Therapist training which extended and completed my musical expertise perfectly. I worked for almost two years in a private clinic where I started a music therapy program. Music improved the quality of life of my patients, as a tool to build positive energy. My goal was reached.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Since I was a teen, I always gave some of my time as a volunteer in several non-profit organizations. Offering my services is my little contribution to help others.

This year, when the stay-at-home order started, I offered two free classes per week. The first for teen/adult access to music therapy by the voice. The second for kids, sharing a musical story time. I thought about doing this for 3 weeks during the lockdown, but I ended up doing it from March to July. My goal was to give back some fun and relaxing activities during this crazy crisis.

With the Covid-19 situation, I realized that families have been facing some difficulties, such as a decline in financial income. So I decided to share my knowledge for free.
I started creating several advice sheets each month, explaining some vocal technique points and proposing exercises for people who want to work on their voice to speak with more confidence or sing. It’s geared towards everybody, beginner to advanced, with or without musical instruments and/or musical skills. If someone has a question or wants to try a voice lesson, I offer a free 20 minutes lesson.

I am offering free webinars as well. On the next one, I will teach how people can fight vocal fatigue. Now that we spend most of our time using a computer, we often use our voice badly. Some of us raise the volume of their voice and we force it unnecessarily. The webinar aims to help people to avoid those problems.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m still working on new songs and I’m very keen to have the opportunity to perform in downtown Austin, the city of music! Of course, I have to wait for the end of the pandemic. In the meantime, I performed a few online concerts, it’s totally different but I really like the opportunity to stay close to my public.

I continue my vocal coaching classes, spoken voice and singing voice, with more and more students from California, Texas, France, New York, Connecticut…
I cooperate with schools to offer my class as well.
Today, with virtual classes, limits are only those you impose on yourself.

One important thing for me is to coach people. They can develop confidence in their vocal abilities. Having learned from my past, I created a full program, available since July, on the voice and image alignment.
Vocal work is not only for singers. Everybody can improve the quality of their voice. For example improving diction or reducing stress before a speech.
Unblocking the voice and gaining vocal presence to increase your self-esteem, working on the phrase to be more convincing, using your vocal color to share the right emotion, and understanding that when the voice is controlled, you will improve the quality of the message you can express.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Many of us wish we knew better when we were younger…

My first advice is, if you want to be a professional in your discipline, you must have self-confidence. Don’t be too harsh with yourself. We all make mistakes, so don’t stay stuck on your failures. Instead, remain focused on your capacity to bounce back.

My second advice is to dare to test new things, be ready to work hard.
Talent is not sufficient to succeed, there will be a lot of sacrifice. To become a professional musician is like becoming an athlete. You have to stay focused on your objective and regular work is an integral part of your progress. Don’t hesitate to share your doubts with your family, friends, and lessons with mentors that can help you see a different perspective.

My third is to start to take care of your voice, have plenty of sleep, good hydration, let your vocal cords rest if you feel you are tired and practice self-awareness of your body needs.

Next advice, if you want to make faster progress, record yourself. It can be hard at the beginning, but a recording allows you to isolate your weaknesses, and to work with precision. Take the habit to listen to yourself. Work regularly to strengthen your vocal cord, create vocals automatisms by controlling your vocal gesture.

And my last is to never forget who you are, listen to your heart, and remember your pleasure when you did it for the first time!

Where do you see yourself in five years in your life and career?

Surrounded by my family and musicians, working with composers and singing my own nsongs. But still providing vocal classes as well.

I’m a singer and a vocal coach, invested in her passion, and first of all, my place is in front of you, whether on stage or in the classroom, sharing my emotions and my musical universe.

What is the best way our readers can find and /or  follow you?

Website :
Linkedin :
Facebook :
Instagram :

Gaelle, this was very inspiring. 

Thank you so much for joining us!

Find here two YouTube link:


My First Six Months Living in Helsinki by Audrey @ LaxHel

It is such a pleasure to introduce to Audrey who moved to Helsinki in 2019. LAXHEL is a blog about her journey moving to Finland, the fascinating differences between living in LA and Helsinki, and life living abroad… and featuring her French bulldog, Rambo.   Audrey has over a decade of experience with doing marketing for LA-based tech companies who have an international presence. Having experience in marketing/ content marketing (in tech) with native English skills is a very marketable skill in Finnish job market so she had no problem getting a workpermit.

I also enjoyed reading Audrey’s article about Finland’s COVID-19 situation. I am so happy they have been doing so well despite of having no huge lockdowns for months and no mandatory masks (recommendation exist of course and Finns tend to be very careful by nature. We are no “kiss-kiss” nation.

It has been about half a year now since I’ve moved to Helsinki. It’s my first time living somewhere with actual seasons, and the leaves turning is truly a beautiful thing to see during the autumn. Although I get super homesick and I miss the LA weather, it hasn’t been as hard to adjust as I had imagined. But then again, winter hasn’t come yet, so ask me again in a couple of months.

I think a few reasons why it hasn’t been terribly hard to adjust is because the architecture of Helsinki is really modern, it’s a small city that’s easy to get to know, everything works well, the quality of life here is really high, and most people speak English, so it doesn’t feel like such a foreign country. But don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been a walk in the park either. I miss my friends and family immensely and it took some time to make my own friends here. Also, just because people speak English, doesn’t mean anything is written or spoken in English. So let’s just say I have to rely on copying movements in gym classes and my grocery runs take extremely long, since I’m constantly using the Google translate app camera function. By the way, Google translate for Finnish – 60% of the time, it works every time.

But in all seriousness, I feel so lucky to have the chance to live in another country and continent, actually. I’m learning so much and just trying to soak it all in and appreciate every new experience and learning. All I’ve ever known is my LA and Orange County bubble. The rest of the world is doing things differently but here’s what I’ve learned about Helsinki so far…

Top 10 Reasons I Enjoy Living in Helsinki

      1. Free Healthcare – Basic healthcare is free, and even covers dental work. Most companies also provide additional private healthcare insurance at no cost to the employee. If health is wealth, then I’m set for life here.
      2. Free Education – Meanwhile, I’m still paying for my grad school loan while Finns can get their PhD for FREE 99!
      3. So Damn Safe – People even leave their €1000+ Bugaboo strollers outside WITH the baby inside, because apparently the cold air is good for babies and can often help them sleep. But more importantly, people don’t fear their children getting kidnapped. I couldn’t even walk home alone from school, which was only a few blocks away. Here you see elementary school kids on public transportation alone, it’s wild! Oh wait, I guess that’s the opposite of wild.
      4. Public Transportation – Speaking of public transportation, there is no need to have a car in Helsinki. The public transportation here consists of trams, subways (called the Metro here), and busses. It costs €60/month for an unlimited pass, which my work paid for. So basically my transportation costs are €0, except the occasional Uber, taxi, or electric scooter. In LA with a car payment, gas, auto insurance, and tons of Ubers whenever I was having drinks, I’m sure I easily spent $1000/month just on transportation alone!
      5. 5 Weeks of Holiday (vacation) – It’s the law to get five weeks of vacation in Finland, no matter what company you work for. In California, an employer is not required to provide paid-time-off under California vacation law, although most companies provide at least 2 weeks as a job benefit. 2 weeks sounds like a joke to me now. No wonder Americans are so stressed and get burnt out easily.
      6. Work Life Balance & Benefits – The generous vacation speaks to this, but in addition, I don’t often see Finns work overtime. At the company I worked for, they paid for my cell phone which can be used for personal use as well, but it wasn’t mandatory to answer any work related emails or calls outside of work hours. Most companies also provide a lunch card, where they cover 25% of your lunch (up to €10.50) which encourages employees to go out for lunch, especially with colleagues. Lastly, most companies also provide a sports and culture benefit of up to €400/year, which can be used for gym memberships, movie tickets, concerts, etc. So far I’ve used mine for an annual museum pass (€60), rock climbing, and pilates classes.
      7. People are Smart – Everyone knows at least two languages. And the water cooler talk here is rarely about TV, the latest fashion trends, or celebrity gossip. Instead they’re about things like the “Third Industrial Revolution”. Sometimes I feel like Finns are more in tune with what’s going on politically in the US than the average American.
      8. The Library is Cool – Finland is the most literate country in the world and publishes more books per capita than any other country, except Iceland. On average, every Finn buys 4 books and borrows a dozen from the library each year. So, yup it’s definitely cool to read and hang out at the library. I’ve started reading way more and have read about 1-2 books per month since I moved here. Also, how could you not want to hang out at Oodi, our central library? Besides the beautiful architecture of the building, this library holds concerts, has music studios and instruments that you can book, an urban workshop for the DIYers like me (soldering station, laser cutter, and sewing machines included) and even digital gaming rooms. It was also voted as 2019 World’s Best New Library.
      9. Nature & Foraging – Finland has a concept called ‘Everyman’s right’. It allows everyone to roam freely in nature, eat, and pick berries and mushrooms anywhere in forests. Our fridge always has a supply of homemade berry juice, berry jelly, frozen berries & chanterelle mushrooms from Kimmo’s family forest. Also, you can camp out overnight in a tent, vehicle, or boat, as long as this causes no damage or disturbance to the landowner.
      10. Island Hopping – I love that Finland is like one big forest surrounded by the Baltic Sea. Our apartment is along a canal, and I walk Rambo by the ocean every day. There’s something so calming about just staring into the waters and feeling that ocean breeze. Finland has over 180,000 lakes and almost as many islands! I can take a 10 minute ferry or cross a bridge and be on a new island. There’s even a Dog Island for Rambo and a Zoo on an island. It’s such a nice way to get out of the city, hike in a forest, have a picnic, and even go foraging!

    Top 5 Favorite Finnish Home Things

    1. Magic Cupboard – In every kitchen, there’s a specific drying cupboard above the sink where you put clean dishes to dry. The water drops down to the sink. Ok so it’s not magical but it’s freaking genius!
    2. Sauna – If you didn’t know, Finns invented the sauna, so it’s a big part of the culture here. We have one in our bathroom. Until I came to Finland, I always thought a sauna was basically an electrically heated wooden room. I was wrong! A real sauna should have stones (heated by a wood fire or electrically) that you throw water on to create steam. The more water you throw on the stones, the more steamy and intense it gets. I was on the fence about it at first, but now we have “Sauna Sundays” at home. There are so many benefits to the sauna. It helps you recover from an intense workout, flush out toxins, relieve stress, and get a good night’s sleep.
    3. Butt Washers – Ok, they’re not called that, I made that up. I’m actually not sure what they’re really called, but I love them, and Americans need them! No more using baby wipes or wetting toilet paper, only so they can rip into shreds in your butt as you wipe.
    4. Heating – Every time I step into our apartment, it always seems to be the perfect temperature, except on the rare occasion it gets really hot, because we don’t have AC, like most homes in Finland. Over 90% of Finnish apartments are connected to a district heatingnetwork, which is part of the rental agreement as a fixed cost. District heating supplies heat from a combined heat and power (CHP) plant directly to buildings through a network of pipes carrying hot water. This means the buildings do not need to generate their own heat on site. With CHP, Helsinki saves so much energy compared with separate property-specific heating produced by condensing electricity that it would heat up to 500,000 detached homes each year.
    5. Own Blankets – I’m a little on the fence about this one because I love snuggling and playing footsies. But… not fighting over the blanket, not waking up to the blanket being pulled off of you, and Kimmo’s favorite, being able to wrap yourself like a burrito, are reasons why this one made the list.

    Finnish Things I’m still Getting Used to:

        1. Light (too much & too little) – During the longest summer nights, the sun doesn’t go down until almost midnight. But during the winter, there might only be a couple hours of daylight. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is definitely a thing here, so I’m loading up on Vitamin D pills and having coffee in front of my happy (aka SAD) light. If you’ve never heard of one, these therapy lamps mimic sunlight to enhance mood, energy, sleep, and focus – but without the UV rays
        2. No tipping – Since I’ve worked in the food service business, it has always been ingrained in me to tip. In Finland, and most of Europe, it’s not customary to tip, unless you get exceptional service, and even then it’s not required.
        3. How small it is – Although Helsinki is the capital and biggest city in Finland, it’s still pretty small. The population is about 630k (LA is 4 million) so even though I only know a handful of people here, I still run into people all the time. To give you some context, the day I moved here, I ran into 2 people I knew during the train and tram ride from the airport to the apartment. And at that time I knew like 10 people! Back home in LA, I could meet someone, and never see them again for the rest of my life.
        4. The language – Like I mentioned earlier, everything is written in Finnish. The second official language of the country is actually Swedish. So most signs are in Finnish and Swedish, which doesn’t help me either way. I started taking a Finnish course twice a week, and boy is it hard. Besides the words being ridiculously long, and there being a hundred different ways to say something, I find it confusing that there is no intonation. The language sounds pretty monotone, since your tone should always go down at the end of a sentence, even if it’s a question or has an exclamation point at the end. You can imagine how hard this is for an animated speaker like myself.
        5. No small talk – Finns don’t like small talk and I actually appreciate this. Meetings tend to start and end on time since you don’t spend the first 10 minutes small talking. And if you ask a Finn how they are, be careful because they might actually tell you.

      My current fall & winter morning routine with a happy light, vitamin D pills, and my Finnish language course textbook.

      So that’s what I’ve learned during my first six months living here. I’m not sure I agree that Finland is the happiest country in the world (more about Finns in a future post) but it probably has the highest quality of life. Stay tuned for the next six months…

    This article was originally written by Audrey and published in Oct 2019 on Audrey’s blog  called  LAXHEL

. Make sure to check her blog out!!

Fly with Nimbus – Meet The Spaniards in San Diego


Every story has its own beginning.

Nimbus story begins in Barcelona, where 3 economics and computer science students come together with the same purpose: give life to an idea.
Borja, the CEO, was studying at the University of Texas and wanted to explore the country but escaping from the main touristic attractions.
That’s when he realized there was an opportunity for both Americans and tourists to explore the country in a different and more exciting way; planning trips to unknown places, where the customer gets to know the destination 2 days before flying.

Once in Barcelona, Alex, Albert, and Borja decided to pack their things and embark on this new adventure called Nimbus. The three of them started working day and night in San Diego, California.
They had to face all kinds of problems so they ended up realizing that it was not going to be easy. Being an entrepreneur is complicated, even more if you’re not in your own country, but they knew that perseverance would help them achieve their dream and little by little they shaped their idea.


Their main idea was to give the opportunity to everyone in the US to discover their country for a really good price. In the end, they managed to have destinations in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Nimbus has now been admitted to an incubator program by ThinkTank San Diego supported by IBM and they plan to be in more than 20 cities and 100 surprise destinations by 2019.

Fly Nimbus LLC
Follow Us Instagram @fly.nimbus

How to survive in Finland – get a job!

Sanna Kröger (Fredrikson)  works as a Partner in executive search in Finland.

Finland has been a topic of discussion as a welfare state or as a happiest country in the world .

Maybe you have even heard a story about babies who sleep in a box. .

Now the biggest news are that Finland must attract up to 35.000 skilled foreign workers by 2023. . “Finland can restore a world-class research and innovation funding system, where businesses, researchers and funders together seek solutions for major challenges.

Digitalisation and artificial intelligence can be harnessed to benefit Finland,” says Jyri Häkämies, the CEO of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK).

But how is it to work in Finland and especially to get a job in Finland.
In my work in executive search I have been fortunate to meet and interview several non-native Finns about the work life in Finland.
These lists are based on my discussions and my 18 years of experience on company structures and leadership styles.


1. Work-life balance
2. Unique, honest leadership style
3. Flat organization, credibility
4. Result-driven, ambitious
5. No politics
6. Opportunities to grow as a leader

WHERE TO LOOK? Research companies, industries:

1. Look at leadership team, a diversified team a plus
2. Global, international service/product/client list
3. English as a corporate language
7. Build personal network, ex-patriate circle, Linkedin connections, referals
8. Entry-level jobs harder to get, established middle and senior executives have it easier

When in Finland – HOW?

1. Build personal network, by origin, interest group, cultural events, start-up events
2. Tell your story to everyone who listens, what can I offer
3. Be prepared to grind, help, participate, volunteer, meet people, even work for free

Once in Finland, what do they miss? Ambition, dreaming big and wider career opportunities. Finnish environment can be small and domestic for a global citizen.

Contact Sanna at Linkedin
Looking to move to Finland? Email Sanna here

Meet Igor Orlovsky, from the USSR to Entrepreneur & Art Dealer at the Chelsea Art Group

I had the pleasure of interviewing Igor Orlovsky, Golden Keys Concierge at Baja Off the Grid & Art dealer at the Chelsea Art Group.

What is your “backstory”?

I Immigrated from the USSR as a Jewish Refugee in 1980 from Kiev, Ukraine. When I was 17 I got a scholarship to Georgetown to Study Linguistics. After completing my studies at Georgetown, I (then) went to Paris to study Art at the Sorbonne.

After studying art, I ran the Russian Language Program for the National Geospatial Agency (CIA of Satellites) and then moved (back to the states) to Los Angeles be more creative and got a degree in Graphics and Brand Management.

My first job after I got my degree was as a Jr. Designer. I quickly moved up in the ranks and became the Creative Director at Smart Planet (Manufacturer of Kitchen Wear & Appliances). While I was at Smart Planet I was recruited by the Chelsea Art Group and became a high end art dealer.

Ten years ago I fell in love with Baja and started taking care of Baja Off the Grid on the weekends and on vacations. Three years ago I had the privilege of became the Concierge and Property manager.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

Currently, I am designing and supervising the expansion of Baja Off the Grid, as well as implementing our new summer camp and converting the property into a 5 star resort and wedding destination.

What is your definition of success?

Building a legacy that shifts global perspective one guest at a time.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Everyone who comes to Baja Off the Grid leaves transformed in one way or another.

They realize how little one needs to actually be happy or how easy it is to save our planet by adding a few solar panels to your roof, or simply choosing local products with minimal packaging, OR my favorite — they wake up and realize how amazing the moment is and how beautiful life can be, if you just pay attention and are a little more mindful.

Living by the ocean off the grid and relying on Mother Nature wakes people up people and pulls them out of their routine and their the numb robot automation state.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

“The Stinkier the pile, the bigger the diamond”, my own quote.

Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Whenever something horrible happens to me, I say thank you to the universe, because I know a great gift is coming my way.

I was going through my separation and I totaled my car right in front of my office. I took it as a sign that the universe wanted me to change my life. So I quit my Creative Director job and moved to Spain with no understanding of Spanish.

Now I am fluent in Spanish, had an amazing two year adventure, am running one of the best resorts in Baja while living a fantasy that I never would have thought possible. All because I totaled my car during my separation.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started my career” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Do what you do best and pay everyone to do everything else.

2. In business, nothing is better than Opium (OPM) Other people’s money. If others won’t invest in you THERE IS A REASON WHY!

3. Be the first one in and the last one out.

4. Take a siesta every day. I used to park my car under a tree and take a siesta for 15 min after lunch. It’s like 2 days in one, a mini reset where you can do or restart anything that you didn’t in the morning.

5. Don’t come to people with problems, come to them with solutions.

Original article was published on 

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂


She is my definition of success. She has shifted global perspective more than any other person of our time. She has been an inspiration of mine for decades and she is an Aquarius just like me.

To reach Igor: and Instagram:@bajaoffthegrid

For more information on Baja Off the Grid —

Do You Know What It’s Like to Be an Immigrant in America?

Tessa Lena, who wrote this article, is an immigrant artist, writer and entrepreneur living in the East Village of New York. She is the founder of VulnerableWin, a community in a community initiative designed to restore the art of dialogue and to help people talk to each other over disagreements and cultural differences. Her motto is, “See a fellow human.”
Overnight, many of my friends have become great experts on the culture of my home country — a place they have never visited.

When I was 5 years old, my Soviet teacher announced that America wanted to nuke us for our freedom, and that a missile could hit any moment. That day, I couldn’t focus on my homework, and I couldn’t sleep at night. I was just staring at the window in fear, waiting for the nuclear missile to fly in and burn us all to ashes. I didn’t want to die.

Later on, I learned that it was a blatant lie. Nobody was trying to nuke us. When I came to the States and told this story to my American-born friends, I discovered that they, too, had lived in fear of being nuked. We laughed about the glitch, and life went on.

Fast-forward 20 years, and the Russians are at it again. Vodka-drinking GRU operatives with heavy accents are waging cyberwar against America and inundating us with fake news. I call America home now, and I don’t feel so good.

The other day somebody posted a link to a Russian restaurant with a comment, “Russian food? NO, THANK YOU.” I said nothing, and bitterly unfollowed. I guess they have never tried my mom’s borscht.

Overnight, many of my friends have become great experts on the culture of my home country — a place they have never visited. To avoid argument, I have trained myself not to interrupt them with passionate tirades against stereotyping. I am frustrated with being pigeonholed in a whole new way — the Russian bear now has Vladimir Putin’s head — yet I know that my friends are acting in self-defense. I remember.

But there is something else I will never forget: The year is 2002, and I am in the back of an immigration van, handcuffed to two young Chinese girls who are crying at the top of their lungs, scared even more than I am. Me, playing tough, and the girls, wailing like crazy.

“I hate Chinese people. Why do they come here?” These are the words the driver utters, as he makes sure to drive rough so that our helpless, chained bodies hit the walls of the van.

I feel bad for the girls. They don’t speak English, and in their eyes I can see undiluted animal fear. As for myself, what am I doing in the back of an immigration van, chained to two strange women, listening to a sadist in uniform? Why am I in shackles? Sadly, I married the wrong guy. He was kind and charming when we were dating, then turned abusive on the day we got married. When he realized that he could no longer control me, he brilliantly decided to take care of the “problem” by getting me deported. “They won’t believe you,” he said. “You are a nobody. An immigrant. I am an American.”

Do you know what it feels like when four armed men walk into your apartment, grab you by the hands, cuff you and walk you out of the door as a criminal? If you haven’t lived it, I bet you don’t.

As an immigrant fighting with teeth and claws for every set of papers, hopping from one visa to another, infinitely applying for something and infinitely waiting for something, you get used to excruciating uncertainty — you never know where you are going to be tomorrow, you live in-between worlds. But I know I followed the rules. I followed the rules religiously. And there I was, in the back of a van, banging my head on the hard surface with each rough turn, and listening to the screams of the young women chained to my arms.

Do you know what it feels like? You don’t, do you? Fear and uncertainty sitting heavy inside your chest. No rights. “But Tessa, this was just a mistake. Clearly it was wrong but it was just a mistake. Mistakes happen.” Reasoning sound great when it’s not about you or your family. But when you are on the receiving end, it’s hard to theorize. For a long time, I thought it was just a mistake, my individual tragedy, a one-off horror, something I was going to receive an apology for — any minute now.

But as years went by, I came to believe that the way I was treated was not an exception. Xenophobia toward subhuman immigrants is the default. That’s what they do. They teach us a lesson.

When the news began exploding with numerous immigrant tragedies in the past year, it broke my heart in a familiar way. I know every step of the process, and I know how much it hurts. I have seen this movie before anyone was talking about it. Inhumane treatment of immigrants is not new. Contempt toward caged animals is not new, either.

Yes, I’ve moved on, and when my friends make prison jokes, I laugh with them. I am no longer bleeding, but I remember. I remember crying inside of a jail cell because something is hurting unbearably, because you’re scared. After a while, a guard checks on you, and says: “There is nothing I can do now but if it still hurts tomorrow, we will take you to a hospital.”

I remember the fear of being locked up as a faceless number forever. The fear of being tortured. Food that tastes like urine. Hopelessness.

I remember sleeping on a metal bed in a cold room with next to no clothes on, begging the officer for a blanket. But no luck with that, because the officer doesn’t feel like it.

I remember the hopelessness.

You are an animal who is putting on a smile so that other people think you are not afraid. The callous federal agents who try to break you down, just like they do in the movies. “You must be kidding,” you say. “I am not working for any government. It’s my husband, it’s my cruel husband who arranged for me to be here!”

“Oh we don’t care about that sort of thing,” they say. “Your husband is for you to deal with. So tell me, are you going to cooperate?”

Me, with my crushed middle-class arrogance, my useless 4.0 GPA, and too little experience in street fighting, eating it all up. You are an animal who has to put on a smile so that they don’t eat you. It’s a mob feeling. Cruel, infectious, senseless.

In my case, it ended well. I won. I am innocent. I am in America, and I am here to stay. But when I celebrated my victory, I did not think that years would pass, and other immigrants would be living my humiliation, while I would be freshly stereotyped based on my ethnicity.

Back in the day, I was saved by the power of friendship. As I was going though my ordeal, many of my coworkers at the time wrote powerful letters in my defense. Others chipped in for a lawyer. It took a village to save me, and I know I wouldn’t have been able to win without their trust and their support. I can’t help but wonder whether they would still feel good defending me if it happened today. In the age of collective anxiety and social media, would it be acceptable to trust a Russian-American? I don’t know — do you?

This article was originally published on Fair Observer. The original article

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David “Avocado” Wolfe – Nutritionist, Farmer and Motivational Speaker

EuroCircle is always looking for interesting members to feature at the website.  We had the pleasure of interviewing David “Avocado” Wolfe, known for the Nutribullet, Health & Wellness and Motivational Speaking all over the World.

If you are in New York please join us next Thursday, June 28th for our Summer Soiree which David is hosting with us.

Please introduce yourself?

My name is David Avocado Wolfe. I was born on the Jersey Shore and spent much of my first 7 years bouncing back and forth between there, New York City and Tehran. When the Shah was overthrown in 1978, we fled Tehran, and I have never been back. My grandfather worked for the Shah and we weren’t a Muslim family, so we essentially had to escape.

In the late 1970s we started visiting Southern California, where my uncle had moved. That had a profound impact on my entire life, as I planted my first avocado tree there in 1978. A few years later, we moved to San Diego, California.

How did you end up in Toronto of all places?

I first came to Toronto, which I’ll consider my current city on a trip in 1988 with childhood friends from San Diego who were originally from Ohio, but had a cottage in Ontario, Canada. Next, I came back in 1999 and started hosting events at Super Sprouts in downtown Toronto, right there near Spadina and Queen. And I used to stay right there! Those were the good old days!

What is the best and worst about Toronto for you…what is a typical day and weekend??

They say that Toronto was a place that First Nations people never lived. It is a meeting place and that’s part of its intrinsic energy, so the good side of Toronto is that it is a meeting place; a worldwide meeting places of peoples from all over the world.

The flip side of that is that the energy of Toronto is transient. It doesn’t seem like the type of place you want to set down long-term roots and they start journeying outside of Toronto looking for cottages.

What are your favorite places that someone should go to if they were to visit?

I bounce back and forth between Toronto, LA and Hawaii. Those have been my main hubs for 20 years. I love the culture of Toronto. It reminds me of how New York must have been in the 1940s. Then there are always: Peru or Iceland. I’ve traveled to both those countries at least once every two years for the last 20 years. Both sparsely populated with large tracts of wilderness.

Where did your nickname “Avocado” come from and how does that incorporate into your life?

  • I have been an avocado grower since 1978. Although I started with typical grafted Haas avocado trees back in California, it has now grown to seedling avocado trees in Hawaii. I have about 40 avocado trees on my farm at the moment.
  • I have excellent avocado hunting skills as was evidenced by numerous escapades in southern California as a teen and young adult growing up there.
  • Everybody has to have a superhero alter-ego. The name Avocado kind of stuck as my name. So I’ve kept it all these years.

How did your career in health and wellness start?

It was always there in my subconscious, I am pretty sure my entire life. It started around 1975 when I saw Jack Lalanne on The Merv Griffin Show. I knew then what my calling was, but it wasn’t until I was 23 that I finally put it all together and realized that my calling was health science, fresh raw foods, superfoods, superherbs, gardening and yoga. In November of 1994 I hosted my first health event for 100 people, and I never looked back.

What’s the best tip in health and wellness that you can share with our members?

Eat your vegetables!

You have traveled the world speaking in front of audiences about healthy living and wellness. Can you tell us an embarrassing or funny story that happened to you on your travels during one of your speaking engagements?

In answering this question, what keeps coming to mind was an event I was doing in Toronto at a health trade show in 2007. There were 300-400 people in the audience. A guy just couldn’t control himself, he jumped up on stage, tried to take the mic away from me in order to start giving his own lecture. It was a bit of mixed martial arts there for a second until security dragged him out of the event. It was hilarious, but also bizarre!

If you could meet anyone living or no longer with us, who would it be and why?

Rudolf Steiner. I am fascinated by the volume of work he left behind. His teachings are mostly from a spiritual perspective, but have real-world applications that are useful. For example, his Waldorf education system and Biodynamic farming system are some of the most interesting in their categories worldwide. My NoniLand Farm in Hawaii is a certified biodynamic chocolate and vanilla farm because of Rudolf Steiner!

What would be your ideal life – with no monetary issues to make it happen!

It wouldn’t be much different than it is now. My favorite activities include: gardening, horticulture (orchard growing), permaculture (farming), traveling, reading/writing, and water research. I absolutely love what I do. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

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Tea Ivanovic – A Washington, DC Correspondent for Oslobodjenje, the leading newspaper from Bosnia and Herzegovina

We are always looking for interesting Europeans to feature at our website. Tea happens to live in Washington, DC which is fairly unknown city to me personally. I have been there but I have very vague memories. I just recall thinking Lincoln Memorial was really impressive. Nowadays I wonder how President Trump is liking living in DC after spending all his life in New York City. But let’s find out more about TEA in her own words…

Please introduce yourself:

My name is Tea Ivanovic, I was born in Belgium, to parents from the former Yugoslavia (even though my grandparents now live in Serbia, I have roots from several countries). I lived in several different European countries (Switzerland, Greece, Turkey) before moving to the United States for college. My graduate degree at The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies took me first to Bologna, Italy, and then to Washington D.C. After completing my graduate degree, I stayed in Washington D.C where I now work as a Washington Correspondent for Oslobodjenje, the leading newspaper from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I am a Fellow for the Center for Transatlantic Relations SAIS. I studied International Relations in college, and hold a Masters degree in International Relations and International Economics.

How did you end up in Washington, D.C of all places ?

My graduate program consisted of spending a year in Bologna, Italy, and a year in Washington, D.C. After graduating, I accepted a job offer and stayed in the area.

The best and worst about DC for you. What is a typical day and weekend?

There are so many things I love about D.C.! It’s such a vibrant city with so much to offer, and it is really the center of policy-making in the world. At the same time, there is lots of green space, and it’s just a very pleasant city to live in. It’s big, but not quite as hectic as New York City.

There is no real “typical day,” as I’m juggling a few things at once. I wake up around 6 or 7am, make a cappuccino and check the news and my emails. Then, I start writing or editing – which I prefer to do in the morning. Some days I’ll be covering a live event or panel discussion, other days I’ll be organizing one. Often, I’ll be overwhelmed with articles I need to write, chapters I need to edit, or something else entirely. The same goes for the weekend – if something needs to get done, I need to get to it right away.

How do you find the lifestyle in DC compared to your hometown in Antwerp, Belgium?

Even though Antwerp is my hometown, it’s been a long time since I’ve lived there. I played tennis, so I traveled the world for tournaments before I left for college. In addition, my dad’s career took him to countries like Switzerland, Greece, and Turkey, and my mom and I often went with him. My parents live in Antwerp right now, and I go visit them as often as I can.

There is quite a bit of difference in lifestyle between Washington D.C. and Antwerp (or Europe for that matter). You can tell it as soon you leave the house – people use the car way more often than back home. Public transportation is great in Belgium – especially the trains. Admittedly, Belgium is a small, relatively densely populated country of only 11 million people, so compared to the U.S, it’s quite natural that cities are better connected there. On the other hand, roads and cars here are so big! That’s the first thing I noticed when I landed on U.S soil for the first time seven years ago – it’s rare to find an interstate that counts less than four or five lanes, and that’s just not something you see in Belgium. I always joke about this when I go home to visit my family – everything is so tiny!

How do you make your living now – and how would you like to develop that career?

I completed my graduate degree last May, and since then I’ve been doing a few different things. It’s really been a year of transition, and I’ve learned a lot about myself. Currently, I am a Washington Correspondent for Oslobodjenje, the leading newspaper from Bosnia and Herzegovina, I’m a project manager for the Mediterranean Basin Initiative, and a fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR-SAIS), the nation’s leading university-affiliated think tank. My work consists of lots of writing, whether it’s news articles, op-eds, book chapters, and a lot of event planning and digital marketing. I love it. It’s never boring, and – I know it sounds cliché – I learn something new every day.

Do you see any differences between nationalities easily – yours vs. Americans vs. other Europeans?

I really don’t like to generalize, because you can’t know someone just based on their passport or nationality. People will often say I’m European based on what I wear and the way I carry myself – whatever that means.

But to answer your question, I’m sure there are differences between the “typical” American and the “typical” European, but in the age of globalization where people are constantly moving between states, country, and continents, I feel that – at least with the people I interact with – those differences are becoming increasingly blurred.

What is the essence of DC o you – what do you absolutely want your friends to see or feel in DC vs. your country?

Washington is such a policy hub. And while that is awesome, because you meet so many interesting people on a daily basis, people tend to forgot about everything else in this city. That’s why I always like to take my out-of-towner friends to places they can’t read about in tourist guides (after we go see the White House and the Washington Monument of course).

What do you absolutely miss from your country/elsewhere  …or elsewhere?

When I talk to my European friends, we all agree that one of our favorite things is Europe is that you can travel to such diverse places in very short periods of time. When I lived in Antwerp, I could go to Paris in London in a few short hours by train, and when I was working in Milan I would go to Belgium every other weekend to see my parents.

The other thing is the food (and wine). When I lived in Bologna for my first year of graduate school, I gained about 8kg in ten months! I was living in a country where every meal is an experience. I’ve never enjoyed eating so much!

What do you miss the most – and the least from your own country?

The typical working culture tends to be quite different. From my own limited experience and from what I’ve heard from friends who have worked on both sides of the ‘pond’, European working culture tends to be a bit more “relaxed”. You work from 9-5 pm and aren’t really expected to answer to emails outside of those hours. You also get way more vacation time, and of course there is the maternity leave issue. In the U.S you are very much expected to come in early and stay late, and time off is very limited. I think it’s part of this meritocratic culture; “if you don’t work hard, you’ll never succeed.” As most things, it has both good and bad sides to it, and I don’t think there is one right answer.

At least academically, I personally found this way of thinking very helpful. My professors encouraged me to “reach for the stars.” Here I think about many of mentors in the international studies department, especially the director of my department, Dr. Stivachtis. I also think about my experience in the Virginia Tech Honors College, where our special curriculum enabled us to take extra classes, talk to professors outside class, and connect with alumni. This type of experience stands in stark contrast to what many of my peers experience in Europe, who tell me that it is not as common to find someone who will go out of their way to help guide you on your path, whether it’s academic, professional, or personal.

When you think about what did you think about life in DC before you moved there – did you have expectations that turned out to be wrong?

When you think of Washington D.C, you probably think of Capitol Hill and museums. I was very excited to move here and be in the center of policy-making, but I never thought that I would fall in love with this city. But I did, and there is just so much I’m discovering every day, whether it’s a small bistros in Georgetown, or a hiking path – there are so many hidden treasures!

Knowing more about life and having lived with your decisions for a while (like work) – would you still choose to be there and why? Why not..

It’s still too early to say. I have so much left to accomplish (I hope)! I’m very happy with the path that I chose, and while there are certainly small things that I would change, I would gladly do it all over again.

What should everyone know and understand about your country and its culture? Or the USA/your city or life here…

A lot of people I have met here know little about Belgium (I’m excluding many of my friends who know quite a bit about the country!). Guys, french fries are Belgian, our chocolate is better than the chocolate from Switzerland (I lived in Zurich so I hope I’m allowed to say this :), Belgian beer is the best (even though I only drink “Kriek”, a cherry flavored beer), and there is SO much culture in that small country – just check out the painters, tin-tin, and the Smurfs! The same thing goes for Serbia and the former Yugoslavia – where my parents are from. It’s such a wonderful area, and I wish more people would visit and see it for themselves.

What cafes or restaurants do you recommend to tourists to go to in DC and why? Or to do something else.

There are quite a few places in D.C to visit. Of course, you have to see the monuments and the Mall. The W hotel has a wonderful rooftop view of the Washington monument. Georgetown is also amazing, and in the summer, I love strolling by the Waterfront, or shopping on M street. For restaurants and bars, I often go to 14th street. My favorite wine bar is “Barcelona”, I like to get tappas at “Estadio”, or French food at “Le Diplomate”. There is a lovely Belgian place called “B Too”. You’ll often find me “brunching” (another ah-mazing “culture shock” when I moved here) at “Policy” or “The Fainting Goat”. There is really not enough space here to name all my favorite places…As you can see I like to eat a lot – but I work out too, I promise!

I wouldn’t be a Washingtonian in-the-making if I didn’t mention the museums. I haven’t even seen all of them, but it’s on my list! Go see the National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum, the Newseum, or the Phillips Collection. And I personally really like the Botanical Gardens and the Renwick Gallery.

What would be your ideal life – with no monetary issues to make it happen!

One word: traveling. When I was younger I used to have a world map on my wall, with red pins for all the places I’d like to visit. You could barely even see the countries on the map because they were all covered with pins! I could, I would travel to every country in the world.

Would you move back to your country Beligium fulltime – yes or no?

I’ve always said that I will move anywhere for the right job. I really don’t even try to plan out the rest of my life; I take it one step at a time and I’ll see where that takes me!

What has been the worst social/cultural issue to deal with in DC for you?

I’ve been in the United States for about seven years now, so moving to Washington D.C. wasn’t that much of a “shock”. But when I moved here back in 2010, there were many little things I found shocking. I was very surprised to experience how friendly everyone was, and perhaps that is due to the small town of Blacksburg in mountainous Virginia where I lived at the time, but that was so wonderful. Also, having 24-hour news on TV – how amazing is that!? I didn’t own a TV in my college dorm, but as soon as I moved “off-campus” I had CNN on in the background while I was studying or cooking. Things like that were kind of a culture shock – but in a good way. And yes, I do have to mention it: the food. There is so much of it, and it’s everywhere! It’s certainly an adjustment, especially when you don’t live in a big city and there aren’t that many gourmet restaurants. But on the bright side, I had never seen such large supermarkets – I could walk around Wegmans (or Whole Foods) for hours. My mom is going to be so proud to hear this!

Anything else you would like sharing with us?

I want to applaud you for establishing EuroCircle, it is such a great initiative! I hope that Europeans will connect more, and help each other out while they are abroad. You see so many nationalities who come together when they are separated from their hometowns. I know that we Europeans have very different backgrounds and cultures, but in the end, we are all very similar – and I hope that our shared interests will connect us wherever we go!


How to connect with you:

Follow Tea:


Twitter: @tea_ivanovic

Instagram:  TeaIva


Malaga, Spain through the eyes of Anu, a Finnish expat

My (New York born) boyfriend strongly believes he lived in his previous life in Spain – he totally loves Spain. I have been once to Malaga myself but it was only an hour or so. However, my friend Marcia Raff spent a few months there as a sculptor (her work is displayed in Malaga). To me Malaga sounds more interesting than some of the more touristy cities along Costa del Sol. I was very happy to run into Anu online and find out about her Malaga project. Let’s hear in Anu’s own words what she has accomplished – and how she ended in Malaga.

Hey there, I’m Anu, a Finnish expat living since almost 30 years in Malaga, Spain.

Yes, that’s long time you must are thinking. Well, the thing is that already when I was a teenager my father always used to say that I wasn’t going to live in Finland. It’s something that my parents had present ever since I was very young, that one day I was going to spread my wings and fly away from my birth country. Luckily they were ok with that!

I was only 10 years old when I travelled alone for the first time to spend a month with a family in Devon in UK. No English lessons nor other students, just me living with a totally unknown family in a farm house and helping to take care of the sheep, horses and dogs. I have to admit that I did cry myself to sleep every night because I missed so much my mom (by the way she has kept all my heart breaking letters from that summer). However, this didn’t stop me wanting to repeat this same experience the following two summers.

During the high school I spent a year as a senior student in a US high school in Michigan. Weren`t those different times without social media, Skype or WhatsApp. We sent letters back and forth and I recorded voice messages on cassettes, which reached my family days or even weeks later… and I survived!

After finishing the high school in Finland I went to Vienna to work as au-pair. This was great for my German skills and afterwards I spend a couple of months in Germany to learn even more this difficult language.

I studied tourism in Finland and after finishing my studies I thought that it would be a good idea to learn a new language…why not Spanish?

And this is how I landed in Malaga and have lived here ever since. I fell in love with this beautiful city, its cosmopolitan yet laid back vibe and its lovely people. I married a Spaniard and I’m a mother of two teenage girls. I work at the administration in a language school and during my free time I do what I love most (besides my family of course J)…which is travelling and taking pictures. My camera is my faithful companion and I carry it along in my bag everywhere I go, which finally brings me to tell you about the digital guide I have made of my beloved Malaga.

I’m so honored to have been invited to join this amazing project called Pathport which has as a mission to give instant access to the paths of the most inspiring travelers from around the world. Pathport redefines travel content to craft guides that are visual, up-to-date and personal giving you the hotspots you’d spend hours looking for on Instragram. You can instantly purchase and download the guide to you mobile devise.

In my guide I am giving you insider tips of Malaga hotspots that normally would pass undiscovered to most of the visitors. Malaga is so much more than beautiful beaches, it is culture, art, gastronomy, history and most of all that enjoyable Spanish way of life!

If you are thinking of visiting Malaga or just wish to find out more about my guide please go to my Pathport page or to Pathport store. On the  Pathport site you can find many more interesting destinations all around the world.

At the moment I am working on my next guide taking you to discover the white villages, the beautiful nature and lovely beaches around the Malaga area.

I am also a big instragram user and my handle is anu_vee, should you wish to take a look.

Thanks and wish you all a very happy summer… hopefully some of you will come and visit my beautiful Malaga!



Anu’s guide – Malaga The Great Unknown