Hi, I’m Vera. Welcome to Passports & Spice!
Wondering about the name of this blog?
Passports are for travel and spice is for food, two of my biggest passions. Plus, there may be a touch of spice in my personality as well, or so I’ve been told.
Curious about me?
I grew up in Slovenia (which was Yugoslavia at the time) and came to the U.S. 20+ years ago after meeting my American husband. My temporary move for “two years only” has been extended indefinitely, and I now call Chicago home. My husband Mark and I have two awesome kids: Jacob (14) is an aspiring international soccer star and a FIFA 18 and Fortnite addict. His sister Nina (11) loves soccer, too, but also enjoys teaching herself ukulele and has a talent for art and acting. We have traveled to more than 80 destinations, exploring, learning, eating and laughing our way around the world together.
I love to travel.
I must have been born with the wanderlust gene, because I’ve always loved learning about new places and cultures. I actually did not have the chance to travel much as a kid, but I dreamed about it all the time, and I’m definitely making up for it as an adult. As a Mom, I feel travel is one of the greatest gifts I can give to my kids and some of the best education they can get. I love planning travel adventures for our active and adventurous family, and I’m always on the lookout for unique sights and experiences to make our travels even more memorable.
Despite my type “A” personality and the fact that I walk as fast as I talk, I like slowing down and “traveling deeper”. One of my favorite things on our travels is connecting with locals, which usually happens when you steer off the beaten path and allow for some spontaneity.
And I love to cook.
My love for cooking and food also started early on. My Dad was a food scientist and my Mom a dietitian, but they were never rigid about what we ate. Fresh, healthy, and tasty food was just a way of life, long before it became “a thing”. Back then (in Slovenia), everybody grew their own vegetables and prepared their own food. As a kid, I was expected to help in the kitchen, and that’s how I learned to cook, from my Mom who did it from scratch, mostly preparing traditional Slovene food.
I became exposed to more worldly cuisine after moving to Chicago and sampling its fantastic culinary scene. This experience brought out the foodie in me and inspired me to up my own skills in the kitchen. Cooking is such a creative outlet and a great way to show love: I enjoy spoiling my family by making their favorite dishes. When I travel, I love trying local foods and taking cooking classes. One of the best ways to experience the local scene and culture!
Why this blog?
Five years ago, on a whim, I responded to a contest by Hilton Hotels & Resorts, which was looking to create a blog about real families and their travels. I’ve always enjoyed sharing travel, food, and other family fun experiences with friends, so I thought, why not? At first, I was nervous, because I’m not a writer (I have 20+ experience in marketing and consulting) and English is not my native language, but I ended up enjoying being a Hilton Brand Ambassador so much and have gotten so much positive feedback and encouragement from readers that I decided to start my own blog. Hope my love for travel, adventures, and food and my stories on Passports & Spice inspire you.