Where are you from and when did you start working with SWISS?
I am Swiss, born in the vicinity of Zurich. My mother is Italian and my father Croatian. I started working for SWISS back in 2007 when I was 23 years old.
What is the primary route that you are you currently flying?
I fly mixed, meaning, the whole SWISS network. Mostly I fly to Hong Kong, my favorite destination. During summer, on my off-days, I try to escape from busy Zurich and spend most of my time in Istria (the northern Croatian peninsula), where my father lives.
What are some of your favorite restaurants in each of theses cities?
In Istria: Right after a flight, I need a peaceful and quite place. Secret Garden Mediterraneo in Rovinj is the perfect place to relax and to enjoy superb Istrian cuisine. Sitting in the middle of vineyards and 200-year-old olive trees makes the jet lag disappear. I recommend trying the black-squid risotto, it’s heaven! Ask for the Gin Tonic Master after the meal, the bartender makes customized gin and tonics right by your table with selected botanicals of your choice. Another place I absolutely love is Stari Podrum in Momjan, a hidden gem in central Istria. Momjan is a medieval village, known for the superb local white wine called moscato. Do not ask for the menu, the cook, aunt Mira (that is what everybody calls her), will personally explain what’s on her daily menu. All ingredients are local and fresh. If I want it more fancy, I choose Restaurant Zigante in Livade. A multi-awarded gourmet restaurant specializing in truffle dishes. If you plan to visit Istria off-season (October), there will be the biggest truffle fair in this part of Europe just next to the restaurant (only on weekends). Try the six-course chef degustation menu, each course accompanied by a different local wine.
In Hong Kong: I like to go to Hoo Lee Fook, an Asian-fusion kitchen restaurant in Central, the heart of Hong Kong Island. Fancy, loud, and eccentric. Call for a reservation. Order many plates to share in a group. Enjoy! Uma Nota, in Soho, is a fantastic Japanese-meets-Brazilian street food place. They also offer brunch on weekends. Try their famous ceviche and ask for a recommendation of their unique cocktails. One Dim Sum, in Kowloon, is my favorite place for an easy lunch before my shopping marathon through the street markets of busy Kowloon. It’s not the fanciest place, but the dim sums are perfect. Do not go there after 7 P.M., as you may experience long waiting times for a table.
When it comes time for a smart cocktail, where do you like to go?
In Istria: Valentino, in Rovinj, is my absolute favorite bar in the world! Romantic, stylish, and the drinks are heaven! Another romantic spot is AMORE in Novigrad. Sitting directly by the sea, enjoying the sunset and sipping one of the gin tonics they are famous for while listening to the live band playing acoustic music.
In Hong Kong: The Havana Bar in Lang Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s party mile, is the place I like to go before stepping into the island’s nightlife. The music gives the perfect ambience, so you can chat while drinking an original Cuban mojito. A big selection of cigars is also available (for cigar lovers like me). The Wooloomooloo Bar is definitely a place to visit and I highly recommend it! The views are just incredible. Due its location in Wan Chai, you are able to enjoy panoramic views of Wan Chai, Happy Valley, as well as the famous Victoria Harbour. Go there before dawn to catch the best lighting for amazing pictures of the sunset over Hong Kong.
What do you do to stay in shape while traveling?
I try to stay well hydrated during my flights to prevent headaches and dry skin. My gym clothes as well as my Speedos are always in my suitcase. Whenever I can, I go to the gym or swim in the hotel pool before bedtime. That gets me exhausted enough to ensure seven hours of sleep each night. During my layover, I try to avoid taxis and metros. Whenever I can, I walk. Ten thousand steps are my daily goal. By walking, you get to see much more of a destination, and it gets you to places you would never go on purpose.
We all know how important it is to relax and rejuvenate after a long trip. Do you have a spa to recommend?
In Istria: Visit San Servolo Beer Spa in Buje. The excellent microbrewery extended its offer to a newly opened boutique beer spa where you can enjoy the beneficial effects of hops while bathing in beer. Saunas, a heated pool, and a small fitness center complete the unique experience. Do not only bathe in beer, try one their craft beers in the in-house steakhouse with a wide selection of dry-aged steaks.
In Hong Kong: Le Spa by Jan is a favorite among air crew members. Facials and massages are done in a professional way and the Spa offers a nice atmosphere with showers in each massage room. Try the LeSpa 90-minute full-body massage—perfect after a 12-hour flight.
A friend is traveling to Istria for the first time, describe the perfect weekend for them in the destination.
The day starts with breakfast in the city of Porec, sitting in one of the many boardwalk cafés directly by the sea, where you can enjoy a superb Italian macchiato overlooking the marina with all the mega yachts, right in front of you. Breakfast turns into brunch, as it’s too good to leave. After the fourth or fifth coffee, a few Rakijas (Croatian brandy, mostly made of different fruits) and three hours later, we are leaving the coast and heading toward one of the many wineries that central Istria has to offer. Malvasia, Teran, and Muskat are the local grapes, and we are trying every single wine that was made out of them. After the wine degustation (accompanied by a platter of cheese, cured ham, and olives) with a tour around the winery overlooking the green hills and the coastline we are going back to our villa for a siesta on the terrace next to the pool. We hit the shower, get ready for the night, and drive to Pula. Two cellos are playing live in the Arena of Pula (a round-shaped open-air theatre built by the Romans). The concert is over, it is time for dinner (that is when locals have dinner). Homemade pasta with truffles and a nice glass of wine in one of the harbor city’s Konobas (typical Istrian taverns who serve local dishes only). Now, it’s time for dancing the night through in one of the beach clubs. 6 A.M., time for bed. Five hours later, it’s 11 A.M., and it’s too hot to sleep. A quick coffee by the pool, and we get ready for a day at the beach. Sunbathing and swimming in the crystal-clear water of the Adriatic Sea all day long. It’s 5 P.M., Time for a cocktail or two. Hungry? YES! Fresh fish is on the menu. The weekend ends with a dinner on a terrace overlooking the old town of Porec and the Adriatic Sea.
What is your number-one travel tip to help make a long-haul flight more enjoyable?
Wear the perfect travel outfit! Wear comfortable, flat shoes you can slip in and out of. Do not forget to wear socks (think of security checks at the airport). Forget skinny jeans; wear chinos, joggers, or cloth trousers. Between airport, check-in, boarding, the flight, picking up your luggage, and arriving at your final destination, you may be looking at many hours of travel and a variety of climate zones. Wear a comfortable, longer T-shirt, a cardigan over it and carry a jumper, hoodie, or a light jacket in your hand luggage (roll it up to save space). Take a scarf with you to warm your neck. I always carry a second T-shirt with me to change before landing, so I look and feel refreshed (a cooling and hydrating facial spray is a steady companion on my trips).