I’m all about that fresh freshness. Whether it’s scent, feel, or taste. And as you may know, I’m all about interior design and spas. Welcome to my blog. So, because I am educated in the design of interior spaces… and consider myself an aficionado of spas (you bet I deemed myself) … I think it’s interesting to talk about an important topic I have yet to touch on: maintenance (and service) upkeep in a spa business.

I bring this up because 3 years ago I visited the most adorable spa in Amsterdam called The City Street Spa. It was a dream. Literally. From the city itself, to the experience of getting there by bicycle, to the atmosphere, ambiance, quality of treatment and visual aesthetics of the spa, it was amazing. My girlfriend Shaina and I have talked many times about how we would love to own something this very size. It was bright, sunny, airy, had its private spaces, a good range of services and the treatment(s) I had were incredibly carried out. Zen.

Flash forward 3 years and I’m back in Amsterdam, wanting to have a couple hours of spa relaxation with my fiancé while visiting the city so I suggested we check out this place…as he is also a spa aficionado 😉

Well, to my chagrin, the spa was not still operating as it once had. Allow me to list the problem areas, then I will speak of solutions, and lastly about why you need to maintain and advance a spa concept (if it’s not obvious).

PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS:

1. We were not greeted in a timely manner. I honestly don’t care if you’re in the middle of speaking to someone on the phone – you have to acknowledge your customers who walk in your door.

When you show people (even the one you’re on the phone with) that you can multi-task, and are busy, people begin to respect your time – and the person who entered your door feels like a priority. Which they are. They pay your bills.

2. The lockers still don’t have locks. It’s not even a locker. It’s an armoire. As an expat and world traveler, sorry, but I don’t trust people. I don’t care how safe the country is. At a spa I should be able to leave my worries, and possessions behind…not bring them with me to my treatment.

3. The lounge. Two key things happened here.

A. The fur throws on the lounge chairs were the same ones from 3 years ago. Now, they’re ragged, discolored, and just look old. Yikes. & dare I say, “ew”. Replacing the 30€ throws is a simple way to keep things looking fresh.

B. I am also a tea aficionado. And call me crazy but of all places, one that is about your health and well-being, a spa should have the absolute best selection of tea. Especially!, when you’re asked to sit and wait for 20 minutes before your service. Two things would have made, and started, this part of our experience off much better.

1. A menu to choose our tea – or better yet – a selection of beverages. Options. A snack maybe even? Who wants to be hungry and parched while trying to enjoy a relaxing treatment? Not me. We were served a Lipton variety. Lipton?! Of all places Amsterdam, a city known for its trade of goods, should be supporting a local tea business.

2. Knowledgeable staff. I asked the person serving us tea what options we had for tea and she did not know. She had to go check. Come to find out we had one. These types of things perplex you as to why this happened. A well run spa has these things under control.

4. My eyes were not covered during my body scrub. Any type of service that doesn’t include a facial, your eyes should be covered. Of course, that permits the service provider to ask what you prefer. Creating darkness allows you to relax…not pop an eye open to peak at the process…or have flickering eyes etc.

That’s all I’m going to say. I don’t want to bash the place. I would still recommend it because the prices are reasonable and the staff is overall polite. It be things I’ve mentioned are easy fixes.

WHY UPKEEP IS IMPORTANT:

I think it goes without saying, now that I’ve listed my grievances, why it is important to address the aforementioned things. No matter the space, keeping things fresh makes a space last, keeps things interesting and shows you care.

The take-away points are:

  • Never forget what good customer service entails.
  • Invest in privacy for your clients.
  • Train your staff.
  • Provide beverage/snack options for your clients.
  • Collaborate with local businesses for drink/food options. Maybe even skincare products etc.
  • Always strive to create a relaxed ambiance for your client. Put yourself in their position and think of how you would want the service to play out.
Advertisements

 

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

A long time ago I read a book called “Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty”. It was a fascinating book about the study of beauty, and why we are attracted to what we are attracted to. Written by Psychologist and Harvard Faculty Member Dr. Nancy Etcoff, she “argues that beauty is neither a cultural construction, an invention of the fashion industry, nor a backlash against feminism—it’s in our biology.” In parallel to the moment in my life when I read this book, I have always been highly interested in maintaining optimal health (re: minimal drinking, no drugs, organic food, regular exercise, good skin care etc.) and then, of course, the psychology behind attraction itself – be it the Law of Attraction (manifestation) or male to female physical attraction and then most importantly a persons wavelength, if you will, that attracts you. So with all that said, daily I feel grateful for my God-given physique and DNA. Even if I’m no Gisele Büdchen. Even if I’m only 5’1″ – You name it -I still make an effort mentally and physically to remain attractive to my own self as well as others immediately around me, and then people I can effect. We tend to hyper focus-in on our disliked traits. But that would be forgetting the bigger picture…the qualities that really matter, the attitude that really makes the difference in attraction and how little some of our “woes” matter.

The other day I stumbled upon a post via @streetartglobe who posted the story that National Geographic covered about a young female in middle America who “shot her face off” and is now the 40th person, documented, to have undergone a face transplant. Yes…another person’s face was surgically adhered to her face.

I don’t have much to say about this article besides the fact that it’s a fascinating advancement in biomedical procedures and it’s saddening that someone would try and take their own life…something that will forever baffle me. My heart goes out to her and her family.

If you are struggling with the ability to want to live and you are my friend – please, contact me. Let’s chat. Or you can call this hotline and talk to someone 1-800-273-8255 (USA). Or if you are somewhere else in the world refer to this list for suicide hotlines in your country.

Again, I am only here to voice how thankful I am for my life, and health, every single day and never ever taking it for granted, because God knows I have my own aging and hormonal, attitude ailments. From cystic acne, to blemishes, to melasma all out in the open on my face for all to see, I know how it can feel to be extremely self-conscious and defeated. Shout out to Clinique’s 7-day Blackhead Cleanser (morning & night) & the holy grail of beauty lines: Institute Esthederm’s Proplois Serum & Cream (I use at night). To have bad skin is one thing, but to have facial muscles that don’t work is another level of tragedy and hardship. People say it about me all the time – you can read my mood by my face…I’m just one of those people. And I quite like it that way 🙂

I share this because this is one girl’s journey through a troubled time, how she dealt with it, how she is having to deal with the consequences. I hope it helps someone understand how beautiful they really are in their God-given state, and how little some of the things we hyper focus-in on really matter…whether it’s physical or just a problem in our life, and how fragile – and beautiful – this ride of life we are on is…so we need to bask in it.  People love you, and maybe they haven’t shown it in some time, but they will the second you tell them, “I need loving because I don’t feel like carrying on.” (In one way or another…tell them in your own “need love and help” way.) And if one person doesn’t pick up or message back, try another. And then try the hotline if you have to. There are people who have felt like you. It’s not an uncommon feeling. What it is, is an ebb in a flow. & This too shall pass. & Don’t forget to check on your “strong”, social-butterfly friends too. 😉

Here’s the article link: How a Face Transplant Transformed a Young Women’s Life

Here’s the list of suicide hotlines around the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines

Here’s a newer song about this very topic which means to say you aren’t alone, someone else feels lonely too, and we need to be better about connecting to one another: One Republic – Can I get a Connection

Here’s a song, that to me, is obviously about materialism & millennials but the irony of that also because love really is a currency (fact). I’m not talking a monetary currency, but a way to lift the spirit of another – a wavelength, a currency, a vibe! SO easy! Smile. Compliment. Point out something great about the day. Whatever! Choose your ‘tude! Ivy Adara – Currency

& this is my current mood (beat, not lyrics): Walker & Royce – Role Models

If there’s anything I’ve learned while being abroad, being friendly makes life easier. Spread the word. Talk to strangers. Choose your ‘tude. Oh, and…make shit happen.

 

51685028-note-de-musique-et-de-l-espace-et-les-étoiles-avec-abstrtact-fond-de-couleur

You know how music is one of those senses that can bring you back to a place and time in your life that was either incredible or actually maybe not so great? Well that’s why I love Spotify – because you can organize the sounds of your life chronologically…if that’s how you chose to do it, like I do. Let me explain.

After a few requests, I have finally uploaded a few Spotify Playlists that I have made in the past couple months. Some of you may utilize Spotify in the same way but heres how I do it: Each month I start a new playlist (ex: “August 2018”) that I add any new songs I hear, and like, from listening to different Spotify radios, stations, playlists etc. What’s cool about organizing the music I love like this is…now I can go back to last year’s playlists and listen to the music that was the soundtrack to that time in my life. It’s a nice way to document the music of your life as a memory, and a great way to not forget the music you love.

Some of my playlists are longer than others (17-58 songs per playlist) and some have more random tracks than others. It’s just all about what I was able to find, the mood I was in that month, the places I was traveling to, working in and the music I was shazam’ing. I do have other Spotify playlists that are organized more by genre, however those lists aren’t nearly as developed. My rap one though…that one’s developed. Lol. However, I have neglected it in these past few months though. I guess you could say I haven’t really been in a rap mood. I’ll add it nonetheless! & If you want to stay posted about the lists I’m making in the future, just go ahead and give me a follow on Spotify here: Sable.

Side note: Europe does not have Pandora (wth?) so I really try to make the most of Spotify here.

So, here are a few playlists I have made in the past couple months. Enjoy! & Let me know if there is anything else you want me to share or even a playlist you think I would enjoy. Thanks!

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

Karlovy Vary is known as a centuries old “spa town” about 2 hours outside of Prague, and while my Love was in town visiting me for the weekend (still living countries apart at this time) we seized the opportunity to spend one day traveling to and from, and submerging ourselves into, pun intended, the little oasis Karlovy Vary is.

While I will be the first to say that yes – it is most certainly a tourist attraction, there are still people who call this adorable place home.

Tucked into a valley of Czech Republic mountains, we chose the perfect time of year to be here…April 29….right when all of the foliage was at its peak blossoming; an absolute stunning time around this part of Europe. Lush greens, blending with soft and vibrant pinks, purples, blues, yellows, reds and oranges. The quintessential visual of thriving life.

We woke around 7am on Sunday, picked up our rental car around 9am and hit the road so that we could arrive shortly before our spa treatments at 12 noon. I have to mention that this was the first time in 7 months I had the opportunity to drive a car – something this lady actually loves to do. Call it a need for speed, a need to be in control or the fact I was raised by a mechanic and also recently a Lyft (taxi driver in California) – I love cars, so I was stoked. Not only stoked to drive a car but to also drive European highways! Living my best life for sure!

If you do your research you will find that parking in Karlovy Vary isn’t exactly a possibility. However, the town website offers a lot of parking options, so I did my research, and found the closest parking garage within walking distance to the spa. I believe it was about 200Kč to park for the day there (about 8€). It actually turned out to be a beautiful down hill walk into the valley of Karlovy Vary. Side note though: don’t wear any type of heel 😜

Since we were cutting it close to the time of our appointment we walked directly to The Castle Spa where we would be spending our afternoon. I also want to mention that you need to do your research when booking your spa appointment in a Karlovy Vary spa; Because this town has catered to treating illnesses for centuries and people sometimes spend weeks at a time here healing themselves, some facilities require a medical examination before booking treatments. The Castle Spa was a facility I found that offers an experience without an exam, although they do have some treatments that require an in-house exam prior to treatment.

Being an interior designer and spa-goer, and obviously someone who’s hugely partial to the AIRE experience (see my last blog here) and their overall sophisticated designs, it’s always interesting for me to enter into other facilities with an open mind. 😉

Upon arriving to The Castle Spa we ascended stairs adorned with a beautiful fountain in the center, where we then approached a pillared entrance. From a design standpoint I do not think The Castle Spa did as well as they could for the initial reception lobby for guests. It was tight quarters dated with bulky leather sofas and without a simple, “Hello, I’ll be with you in just a minute.”

After checking in with the receptionist, we were given a robe and our changing room keys: some thing I thought was a unique take on mass-ly visited spas…a room of your own to change in. We were offered to purchase the use of a towel which would have been nice in hindsight, as post-spa showering is must. Not sure if you can just bring your own, which would obviously be an even wiser decision.

The receptionist himself led us into the co-ed changing room. It was a co-ed space because it wasn’t your typical locker that you use at a spa – it was an actual changing room, like a dressing room you change in at a retail store. So it didn’t matter if men and women were in the same room. The bathrooms were separate though. I have to mention the hair dryer option was quite unfortunate – One hairdryer option was in the locker room amongst the door-lined room: noisy and loud with no privacy amongst the sexes. The other option was in the segregated bathrooms, but this option seemed as though it was from 1980. Yikes. Wet hair for the day it was for me.

After changing into our swim attire we headed into the facility. Maybe I’m “special” but I could not figure out between all the gaudy marble, glass walls, mirrors and doors with signage which room I was supposed to initially enter. My Love finally found me and led me into the main room which was actually quite beautiful… if you don’t think about the water that looks like it’s not as maintained as AIRE’s or the creepy older “large” Eastern European men gazing at you in your high-waisted side-boob one-piece bikini. Can a girl get a little privacy?! Especially when I’m with my boyfriend. 😌 A large pool was the focal point of the space with a rotunda of lounge chairs at the opposite end being drenched with sun from the skylights of the dome.

We found some lounge chairs near a rock-lined ankle-deep warm pool where there was tea was close by, so we helped ourself to a fruity aperitif while familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the facility.

On this day we opted for the (look up spas name for treatment(s))! Which included two minor treatments and access to the baths. I chose two things which I had never experienced at another spa which were: the oxygen therapy and an underwater jet message. My partner opted for the oxygen therapy and a partial 15 minute classical massage.

In the meantime we waited in the large communal warm pool to be called upon for our treatments because like other spa facilities the attendants come to notify you when your treatment is to begin.

My first treatment was the oxygen therapy which was carried out at the opposite end of the large room of the pool in the sunny area in a lounge chair. The attendant gave me a few vitamins to take with water and plugged me in, quite literally. The machine looked a little dated and the awkwardness of the nasal tubes was quite novel to me…but I endured because I wanted to see how I felt after the 30 minutes of treatment. If I had to summarize this treatment, it would be an energizing treatment. Later this evening, we went out to dinner with friends and I was quite surprised with howmuch energy I had. I didn’t even want alcohol or food! I felt great.

After I was unplugged form the oxygen tank I went over to the lounge area behind the pool and beside some arched windows where I relaxed and absorbed the sun while I waited for my next treatment.

After about 30 minutes someone came over to notify me that my jet massage was about to begin so I needed to walk across the facility to the long stairway that led to private rooms. It was actually one of my favorite features about the spa itself.

Upon getting to the top of the stairwell all I saw was doors and a few chairs to sit in, no person in sight. So I took a seat, hoping someone knew I was waiting for them.

After a few minutes a warm-aura’d woman came from one of the rooms and in Czech asked me to follow her. (Not like I knew what she was saying, but I know how these experiences go and hand gestures help 😉)

The room was basically an elevated bathtub that had jets and a hose attached. She asked me to step into the tub, sitting on my bottom first. I held onto the sides of the tub as she used the head of the water hose to apply the pressure of the water onto my body. I can imagine some people might actually find this painful. I thought it was really interesting. You always hear how good swimming is for you – so a massage under water must be good too, right?

She asked me to turn over and rest my chin on a floating pad that was strapped to either side of the tub (wouldn’t want to have to keep your head underwater would you? 🤣) and carried out massaging the rest of my backside. She concluded and left the room from the opposite door. I waded in the water for a minute or so, got out of the tub, dried off and walked down the main stairs again to find my partner resting in a lounge chair in the sun.

Our treatments were complete so we both headed to shower off and change back into our clothes for the day, which is where I ran into the drying of the hair and no towel problem. I acquiesced, got dressed and headed to the front desk to check out and return the robe and key.

All in all it was a lovely day spent in Karlovy Vary. I love me a fresh adventure even if I’m as picky as they come. You canoodling if you don’t know the bad though, right?!

We went to lunch afterward close by and then headed back to the car because we had a two hour drive back to Prague and a dinner date with friends at 8pm.

I do recommend The Castle Spa! But if you’ve tried another place and you loved it, please tell me!

& By the way…In Karlovy Vary you are meant to drink (or taste like I did) the thermal mineral water from the hot springs. It’s hot – go figure. And salty – also go figure…it’s from the earth; sulfur pools. I was it exactly ready for either so I merely “drank” a drop and was on my way. I’m healthy as it is right?😉

https://archive.org/details/The_Direct_Line

Your welcome.

Sevilla is something else. Being a California girl, I love me some sunshine, and especially cities that are close to large bodies of water (read: oceans or seas). Sevilla, (‘Sah-vee-yah’ – if you know anything about Spanish – and Seville ‘Sah-vill’ if your native tongue is English), on the other hand is not an oceanfront city. It has the Guadalquivir river running through it and due to where it is located in proximity to the equator it has plenty of sunshine at a time of year that most European countries are lacking the vital vitamin D. So you can imagine after enduring 5 very long winter months in the Czech Republic how one could be more than anxious to absorb some sun and see beautiful spring blossoms come April in Sevilla.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

My boyfriend, being Spanish, and knowing my wanderlusting and fashionista heart planned a trip to Sevilla for us both. It must be mentioned though that he is just the absolute funnest – is that a word? He kept the destination of our trip a secret until I could guess; only giving hints every other day beforehand and allowing me one question every day until I could guess the place correctly. After narrowing down that it was 1) in Spain and 2) during a very special week in this mystery city, I started my research. 

I came upon La Féria de Abril – a week long beautiful Spanish culture festival. Here is Wikipedia’s definition which is quite accurate (after having attended): 

“For the duration of the fair, the fairgrounds and a vast area on the far bank of the Guadalquivir River are totally covered in rows of casetas (individual decorated marquee tents which are temporarily built on the fairground). These casetas usually belong to prominent families of Seville, groups of friends, clubs, trade associations and political parties. From around nine at night until six or seven the following morning, at first in the streets and later only within each caseta, there are crowds partying and dancing sevillanas, drinking Sherry, manzanilla or rebujito, and eating tapas. This fair also has an amusement park that comes with it and has lots of games to play along with roller coasters to ride.”

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Now, enough about La Feria de Abril and a little more about what I’m actually here to talk about: my spa day at AIRE – even though, I’ll be sharing a lot of photos from the fair at the bottom of this post!

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I have visited two of this company’s other locations: New York (once) & Barcelona (twice). So for me to be checking out another location was quite exciting, especially because each of the locations has its own unique layout due to always being built in a historic building and in the city’s best neighborhood. The one thing that isn’t different, the incredibly surreal feeling this spa brand/concept invokes.

This time at AIRE I was accompanied by “my couple” – as my boyfriend calls me. Spanish to English term? European term? Still haven’t figured that out but I like it nonetheless! I think he means “partner”.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Upon entering, after a photo-op outside the spa in the famous alleyways of Sevilla, we were greeted by the front desk and management who gave us a warm welcome. We were then led through the sunny and quaint interior courtyard to a stairwell with a beautifully carved wood ceiling where we ascended to the second level where the entrance to the men and women’s locker room was and where we changed into our swim attire. Side note: I was distraught because I forgot my bikini. This visit, with the view and photo-op you’re about to see, was the reason I purchased it, but thank heavens AIRE has a black one piece swimsuit you can use if something like this happens. Distraught I tell you. One job, and I mess up; nobody’s perfect I guess. Anyway! 

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

After changing, my “couple” and I met at the entrance of the locker room where an attendant was waiting to escort us down into the bathing facilities which would be enjoyed prior to our individual 30 minute massages and wine bath. Yes, I said a bath in wine. 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

The baths layout was bit tighter in some walkways than in the other AIRE locations I have been in; AIRE makes up for this with the vaulted ceiling in the transparent blue and glowing warm pool whose walls are a deep burgundy red and where you can find a giant Moroccan style chandelier hanging just heads-height over the water giving an otherworldly dimension to the space.

We alternated between pools, plunges and the jacuzzi before being escorted to a private glass-doored vault-like room that contained a wall entirely for the storage of wine bottles and, best of all, the large stone basin where we would be enjoying our wine bath. Unfortunately I was not able to get photos in the premises of the baths this time around.

A few steps up into the stone basin allowed us to descend into the deep washtub where the faucet was on and gushing red wine into the tub; pouring onto our feet and quickly around our bodies – just amazing. I felt like a goddess. The wine bath experience is paired with a shoulder, neck and head massage and then topped off with a glass of wine and healthy snack and a few extra private minutes to enjoy the wine waters.

If the current state of euphoria wasn’t at it’s precipice, it was heightened when after the wine bath we were ushered to our own room where we would then enjoy a private 30 minute massage in dark aromatic room on one of the upper levels of the building. The thing I love about an AIRE massage is the, quite literally, finishing touches. When they remove your bikini strap from off your shoulder it is a delicate and sensual removal. When they remove the towel, they slowly and intimately let the last fiber of the towel touch your skin. When they are done massaging a section of your body they almost tickle your skin with the last bit of their fingers. Dare I say it’s a bit erotic? In any case it’s gentle and is a smooth transition to the preceding action, leaving you to continue feeling relaxed.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

After being awoken back into reality, I was met in the hallway by my couple where we were then taken to the picturesque terrace that included a rooftop pool, awaiting us in privacy, with the Cathedral and Giralda Tower just off in the viewable blue-sky distance. A pair of sunglasses might have been nice at this moment though. After being in darkness for over an hour and a half and the re-immerging into a sunny atmosphere with reflective water and white architecture surrounding us, my sensitive blue eyes could hardly take in all that there was to see!

Processed with VSCO with f2 prese

One of the staff members brought us not only our choice of wine with grapes, cheese and bread bites but also two flutes of champagne. Needless to say, the state of euphoria I was in 45 minutes ago was brought to a state of ecstasy. AIRE does it again – bringing otherworldly bliss to earth. We snapped a few photos and video, shared some sweet moments together and then gathered ourself to prepare for the rest of our short stay in Sevilla.

All in all, Sevilla is incredible. I love the people all across Spain. The sunshine, the spring air was much needed. La Feria de Abril was incredible; having my partner’s friends there to experience the fair with made it all the merrier. We stayed at the Mercer Hotel which was impeccably designed (minus the squeaky bed and frames that randomly fell off the wall). I cannot wait to enjoy more time in this part of Andalusia and explore all it has to offer!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

What a dream London is. Truly, a star!

My first time in Lodnon may have well been a once in a lifetime kind of trip (let’s hope not). I have to give credit where credit is due so I don’t have to dance around the fact that this whole weekend was an early birthday present from my beau (who lives in Barcelona, Spain, and I in Prague) and a gift for us to spend more time together. I am positive I would have gone to London this year had I not met mi amore (as we call each other) but I would most certainly not have seen and experienced London in such a sophisticated way. #grateful

To skip the mushy gushy details of the weekend I will jump into the spa treatment and amenities I experienced there.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetWe flew in on Friday afternoon checked into the Mondrian London – on the Thames river(!) – …went for a walk along said river in the rain … oh yea, no mushy gushy details! 😉 We planned to have our joint spa day in the hotel’s “Agua Spa” Saturday morning. So after an incredible dinner at Sketch London (highly recommend) Friday night, we awoke Saturday, went down for breakfast in the beautiful water-front restaurant and then made our way through the hotel, down to the second level where the direct elevator dropped us off at the reception desk of the spa. We were quickly attended to and asked to sit down in the bright and white lobby and fill out a questionnaire on an iPad.

Might I mention how much I am loving these “tucked” sofas as I have been seeing them called. This had more of a banquette style than an actual sofa but the tailored and tight look of it was great.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
Anyway, shortly after we finished with the iPad we were taken back into the glowing white sinuously walled premises of the spa. Mi amore chose to have an 80 minute manicure and pedicure while I opted for an 80 minute facial. The nail salon was at the entrance to the facilities so he and I parted ways here and the attendant guided me into the women’s locker room where she showed me how to use the lock on the locker and then where to wait for my esthetician.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetI undressed, knowing my facial was going to also include my décolletage, slipped into my robe and slippers and made my way to the relaxation room.

Let’s pause here and talk about the relaxation room (first photo). Can you say on point? Literally! What a unique way to make a (what could be meek) space into something so sensual and artistic by way of color, sculpture, elements, textures and space planning. They brought the sinuous lines of the walls into the room by creating a stair-like and pillowed seating area in one corner of the room. And with help of angled white curtains, terry-clothed lounge chairs were segregated into their own area that viewed onto the water sculpture. And of course no relaxation room is complete without the tea and snacks console. A gorgeous use of space. It’s incredible how shapes, colors and elements can transform four walls.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetMoving on. I went into this relaxation room where my esthetician promptly came to retrieve me. She was a sweet young woman who smiled, and walked me to the room where she asked me to de-robe and lie on the facial bed face-up under the towels while she exited the room. One thing I want to mention that I appreciated was that I asked for her to grab some chapstick (as I forgot mine beforehand and did not want to sit through a facial appointment with chapped lips) and sure enough when she came in and began her techniques it was the first thing she applied. I also asked her if she could tell me what she was doing as she began a new cleaning technique or nourishment product to my face – and that she did!, in a very non-intrusive way.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetThe facial I selected was the Signature Treatment defined as “Lifting. Firming. Draining. Take that, ageing and stress.” I cannot recall the exact order of procedures or products throughout the facial but what I do know is everything was organic and natural. And I felt cleannn afterward. Two of the products I do recall was the honey mask application she used to exfoliate my skin and the toner that was full of herbs and essentials, and of course, rose water. It smelt heavenly. The honey exfoliation, which I mention because I want to try at home, was and is basically a great black head remover. Apply it like you would any other masque but throughout the time it sits on your face, you are using your [clean] fingers to dab at your face and lift the dirt out with the stickiness of the honey. Sounds yummy right? A must try for sure!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetOne, or should I say a few, of my favorite parts about a facial is when they 1) include the décolletage area 2) they massage your shoulders and neck 3) they give you a scalp massage & 4) give your face a good pressurized massage. I received all 4 favorite parts, however I would have liked her to apply a bit more pressure to those key areas of the face: temples, nostrils, sides nose ridge / eye sockets, jaw etc.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetMy facial came to an end, which mind you didn’t feel too long or too short – it was perfect timing. She stepped out of the room and told me to take my time getting up. After relishing in the moment and feeling grateful for her, this weekend, mi amore, life, my health and more…I put my robe back on and stepped out of the room where she greeted me with a glass of water. She walked me over to the relaxation room and offered me tea or coffee. I opted for the tea, of course. White tea that is. She wrapped me up into one of the lounge chairs and the sleeping bag-like blanket where I got real comfy and began my hour long lounge of editing photos, and sipping tea in peace…right in front of the beautiful water sculpture.

She had asked at the end of my facial if I would like any recommendations, which of course I always appreciate. I mean, how often does someone who studies and manages skin on the daily, study my skin for 80 minutes? Hardly ever. I’ll for sure take feedback! I do believe you can only get better (or maintain in this case) by receiving feedback.

I was extremely happy to hear her report that my skin is very “flexible and healthy.” She proceeded to ask me if I get regular facials. Um, wow – talk about a compliment! Sadly, I had to report, no. Her opinions were a relief though because I had actually been dealing with an allergic reaction exactly a week prior. And leading up to London was nursing skin that basically felt like it had been burned, which resulted in an acne flare-up (small whiteheads and red spots), and left me with dry alligator-feeling skin and spotting for a week – all a female’s worst nightmare. I have had acne, bad acne in my mid 20’s (also a nightmare), but never have I had an allergic reaction on my face to any thing. So needless to say I was minor-ly freaking out. I live in a foreign country (Czech Republic) with no health insurance quite yet, so I don’t have access to a doctor who could tell me how to help my skin. Therefore I turned to Dr. Google, friend recommendations and maintaining faith in my good regenerative health and keeping any and everything off of my skin. A week later I was doing much better. And after this facial and her comments much much better. So!, you can see why her comments made me feel quite hopeful.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetAfter lounging with my new glow for some time, I went into the locker room, changed back into my clothes and made my way out to get that afternoon pick-me-up cappuccino so we could head out and explore the beautiful city of London – traditional English weather and all!

What I loved about this spa is that it really hit home with it’s concept of being “Agua” Spa – agua: meaning water in Spanish. The mere walk into this facility invoked the feeling of the restorative power that nature’s most crucial element offers us homo sapiens, to be clean, to be nourished, and capable of thriving. Nowadays many spas call themselves something related to rejuvenation and we get it: it’s the spa thing to do. But when a spa drives home the conceptual idea from business name to the spa itself’s paradigm then to it’s interior experience, it’s something else. It’s exceptional.

Some may know and relate to this: facials come at a price…yes, the actual price but I am talking about the aftermath of a facial. Due to your face being cleaned and extracted, sometimes in the coming days you will receive the lovely gift of a pimple here and there. This is caused by the dirt in your skin having been urged to the surface by the facial and eventually showing face, quite literally. So needless to say, I had a few blemishes show up, but nothing too crazy. Thankfully!

Overall I highly recommend a visit to this spa – and hotel. They have everything you need. The location is incredible for going and doing the sights and sounds London has to offer. Service was always on point and the design was killer: modern, sexy, yet cozy.

Till next time London, cheerio!

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

 

2 and a half years ago I visited the surreal, and worldwide, spa brand AIRE Ancient Baths in Barcelona, Spain.

Six months ago, right before I set out on this journey of living abroad, I met someone in San Diego who connected me to some new friends in Barcelona who actually work for the incredible AIRE Ancient Baths. What were the odds I meet someone who knew people that are involved with the company whose concept I couldn’t be more obsessed with?! Truly lucky – or blessed as I like to believe.

After setting foot in Barcelona and introducing myself I was graciously welcomed back to the spa for a second visit as an “influencer” – which meant a VIP day of treatment. Forever grateful for the serendipity in my life!

So! Now for the VIP experience, given to me (and my German girl friend/guest, Johanna, who lives in BCN) by my new friend(s).

On this beautiful February Barcelona Sabado (Saturday) morning my friend and I made our way to AIRE Ancient Baths, around the corner from where Johanna, and I once, lived at 11am. (This was Johanna’s first time experiencing AIRE.) Due to our VIP access we were asked to arrive at a time that would allow us to enjoy privacy upon entering the locker rooms and undressing. After changing into our bathing suits and robe we made our way to the underground lair of the spa and bathing experience. After descending a glass-railed candle-lit stairwell we were greeted by a sweet employee who informed us we would be sought after while bathing when our massage appointment was to begin, and directed us to where we could take off and hang our robes.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Johanna and I began by making ourselves a cup of tea that is supplied throughout the facility on a low and wide Moroccan style, candle-lit (of course), table, along with water in the marble lined relaxation room. Shortly after a few photo ops we made our way to the Tepidarium (Warm Bath 36ºC) where we waded for quite some time. Nearby were two “Frigidarium’s” (or cold plunge pools 16ºC) (my absolute favorite), so we worked up the nerve – literally – and dipped our body’s in, neck deep for about 5 seconds (should be longer!) and then moved to the Caldarium (or hot pool 40ºC) pool to warm back up.

After this we made our way to the sauna/steam room for a good 10 minutes, followed by a few minutes in the Balneum pool (Bath of a Thousand Jets), then to the pinnacle of the experience: the ever-so-cool Flotarium (or salt bath/pool) #floating(!). We seized another photo-op here, of course. It’s actually very very faux pas to take photos during a spa experience, however, our access granted the permission to do so – so long as I did not capture any of the other guests in the shot.

We continued to bathe in the amenities, and drink tea for a total of about 2 luxurious hours while we awaited notice of our massage. Once we were retrieved for our massage appointment we were guided into our own private room of two massage beds where Johanna and I could stay and enjoy this experience next to each other.

I had reported to my new friends of AIRE that last time I was at AIRE Barcelona (see blog post here) my massage felt much more like a tickle than a deep tissue massaging; frustrating to one who is need of a very physical massage. So, this time, my dear friend of the spa requested the strongest masseuse for my second massage with AIRE. & I am happy to report the massage was incredible. It was only 30 minutes, due to the short notice of being in BCN, in combination with peak season beginning, but it felt like hours of bliss. Every touch was so thought out and sensual. From the delicate taking off of my bikini strap to the swift and delicate placement of the towel to the unabashed massaging of the hip regions, it was like a beautiful dance the masseuse performed in order to allow you to reach a level of relaxation ecstasy. True rejuvenation.

After our massage was complete our bikinis and robes were put back on us and and we were guided into the lounge area where we we were offered a selection of beverages. I chose the fresh green juice and we made our way back down into the relaxation area of the spa lair.

We sat in the relaxation area upon the marble and enjoyed the benefits of our massage and lighter feeling bodies for a bit, and then decided to call it a day. What a special spa day it was. I am so happy I was able to enjoy it with a friend, being that it was her birthday weekend and all, and also grateful to have been given such special access and treatment. I truly felt like una reina (a queen)!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Again, I highly recommend a visit to one of AIRE’s 10, and growing, locations. Chicago just recently opened, and London is scheduled to open in April of 2019. And there’s one more on the horizon that is top secret for now! You will not be disappointed in a visit to AIRE – as there is not as sophisticated of a modern ancient bathing experience that can compete with what AIRE creates for your sensations and rejuvenation.

Gracias, AIRE! ❤

“Perspective gives us the ability to accurately contrast the large with the small, and the important with the less important. Without it we are lost in a world where all ideas, news, and information look the same. We cannot differentiate, we cannot prioritize, and we cannot make good choices.”
– John Sununu


 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

It’s interesting… to summarize it generically: this whole traveling / world-away-from-home life. Like the quote above says, this perspective, this paradigm I have introduced myself into…this “discomfort” as some might choose to think of it, has made me become, quite ironically, zenful and sickeningly happy – which puts me in a place where I am enjoying the ability to internally and rationally assess the good and the bad in my life, the good and the bad that tries to come into my life, and the good and the bad that I want to either keep or let go of immediately. As well as the things that require my immediate attention in order to continue improving my life and experiences.

What’s interesting also, is how being in this season of my life, this place in the world (Prague, Czech Republic), I am able to really narrow in on the tiniest of moments that bring me happiness in a way that I never have before. It’s as if reality becomes a slow-mo and as the beautiful moment happens it’s like a glowing orb lights up within me and glows around me the size of a willow tree and just burns with pure brightness. It’s incredible. And as hippy-dippy as it sounds, it’s beautiful. On the daily, I am understanding attitude and happiness is a choice more than ever. It’s transcendental. It’s love. It’s eternity.

Materialistically I’ve also been able to narrow in on the most “basics” of my human needs…i.e. hygienic necessities, work attire, healthy food options, utilitarian clothes for a winter season, amount of space I need to live in this world and my interests. Coming from a self-proclaimed “fashionista”…it’s an experience I am appreciating very much. Having a minor in Environment & Society and approaching the time in my life I will buy a home…it’s a valuable, humbling lesson.

I’m dealing with friends unfollowing me at a rate I don’t understand. This happened last time I was traveling abroad. What am I doing to deserve that? What am I doing wrong? Not staying in touch? Doesn’t the phone/internet go both ways? Do you not like what I am posting? Some say it’s envy. I challenge that and say people need to learn to be happy for others – and figure out why they are uncomfortable sharing in others joys and change their life. After all, happiness is a choice – an inside job – a job YOU are the captain of!

So after all I said above, I can’t be bothered. Because there are people in my life who do continue to care, and who equally stay in touch and are supportive of allowing my personal/career life to live out it’s own course with no judgements or preconceived convictions. People with good vibes. And truthfully, if they bow out of the friendship that is their choice. I just have to remember their decision when and if they want to come back into my life. I’m all about loyalty. & I also believe friendships have their own course and sometimes chapter in life. What I do know is that when I have fete’s in my life that I want to celebrate, I only want people there who have never bowed out. It’s called boundaries. Just as in any relationship there are things you will tolerate and things you won’t.

Quality over quantity. Perspective above contentment.

So below are some quotes that really struck a chord within me when searching for words that I could relate to during this time in my life. And I felt like sharing!

 

Perspective Quotes:

“I believe everyone should have a broad picture of how the universe operates and our place in it. It is a basic human desire. And it also puts our worries in perspective.”
– Stephen Hawking
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
– Ernest Hemingway
“Winners have the ability to step back from the canvas of their lives like an artist gaining perspective. They make their lives a work of art / an individual masterpiece.”
– Denis Waitley

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.”
-Horace Walpole
“The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don’t have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it. “
-Chris Pine
“Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals.”
– David A. Bednar
“Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life.”
– Joni Eareckson Tada
“Never write about a place until you’re away from it, because that gives you perspective”
– Ernest Hemingway
“There are seasons in life. Don’t ever let anyone try to deny you the joy of one season because they believe you should stay in another season… Listen to yourself. Trust your instincts. Keep your perspective. “
-Jane Clayson
“Faith gives you an inner strength and a sense of balance and perspective in life.”
-Gregory Peck
“Everybody that listens to something hears it differently from their own perspective. And you can’t please everyone. Don’t even try. Please yourself first and then try to please those people around you that you feel know what you’re doing.”
-Buddy DeFranco
“Traveling gives you some perspective of what the rest of the world is like. I think that having the courage to step out of the norm is the most important thing.”
-Meghan Markle

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetI’m “traveling” right now and one of the surest ways for me to feel “at home” is to eat the things my stomach agrees with. I’m 30 so I’m pretty much at the point where I have figured out my bodies internal temperaments and I understand what keeps me lean, not bloated, and nourished. Luckily, getting lost in translation with a Slovak foreign-to-me-entirely-language, doesn’t mean food looks different – and(!) there are grocery stores here in the Czech Republic too! Who woulda thunk? 😉

I receive a lot of recipe emails because well, I love throwing my favorite things together in a new form so I’ve signed up for too many websites to send me recipes to try. And occasionally one looks so good that I have to try it and then the recipe will usually stick in my brain forever once I try it (rare. bad memory) . Hence, I love finding a reason to try new things in the kitchen. #happyplace #braincookbook

@HealthGuide sent me a recipe for Chickpea Roasted Sweet Potato and it was love at first read and sight. It became my next recipe mission.

The next time I went grocery shopping down the street (10 minute chilly walk) I picked up a few of my staples…given: I cannot tell what is organic or the most “honest”/transparent brand of food, (whatevs!…gotta pick my battles right now, and being fed at a decent level is acceptable by me for now) as well as picked up the ingredients for this super yummy recipe, aforementioned.

I was intrigued because it had roasted chickpeas – I looove anything the least bit crunchy (or burnt) and smushy like a bean. Yum! I eat sweet potatoes all week long. And can’t resist the punch a good hummus can bring. It might seem like theres a lot of “smush” going on with the potato and chickpeas but add in the soy (or almond) milk to the hummus with the minced garlic and onions, and this one gets it in the bag, literally.

Long story short, I made the recipe and it was bomb.com. Everything including the lemon pepper chicken breast that I stove top baked and the side salad I prepped took one hour. And here I am now posting the recipe to share because it. was. that. good. Trust.

Try it if you don’t believe me:

https://www.healthiguide.com/recipe/chickpea-roasted-sweet-potato/

 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset