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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.

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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!

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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.

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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)!

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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


 

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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/

 

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Truthfully, I’ve never stayed anywhere that awful…bathroom wise. Have I stayed places that had really crappy bathroom design? Most definitely. And as of right now, here in the Czech Republic, my Airbnb’s bathroom ranks among one of the worst bathrooms I’ve ever stayed in. What’s funny though is that it has maybe 2 or 3 pluses. Those being: sinks that are perfect for both washing hands and washing a face (two very different ergonomic uses – which I will elaborate on in an upcoming post), a towel warmer, and having a bathtub. The downsides being: only overhead lighting, a shower head that doesn’t stay on the wall or anywhere that makes sense, no natural light or window, and a fan that sounds like a space vacune. 

So needless to say my brain has been very hyper focused, more than already, on good bathroom design. When I saw this article in my emails I felt compelled to bring the topic up as the author has put into very succinct wording the logic behind good bathroom lighting. 

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The evolution of the domestic Christmas tree is upon us! It’s pretty neat to see Prague is providing “baby trees”, as I’ll call them, as an option this holiday…as well as “intentionally culled” classic cut trees that purposefully thin the forest.

I really like that they thought about, and spoke on, how these real trees are going to handle the indoor warm apartment climate. I’d be interested to see how many trees actually survived.

Once the season is over there is a city wide planting ceremony in early April. How cool is that?

Do you know of anywhere else implementing a Christmas tree program like this and encouraging it? (Thanks for the share Candice​!)

https://news.expats.cz/community/now-sale-prague-eco-friendly-christmas-trees-afterlife/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=page_post&utm_content=now-sale-prague-eco-friendly-christmas-trees-afterlife&utm_campaign=community

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I’ve landed in this absolutely beautiful city of Barcelona and couldn’t be more in love with this place, and chapter in my life. I’ve been here for 3 weeks and 2 days now and I couldn’t have chosen a better time to be here given the state of affairs with Catalonia’s declaration of independence from Spain…and the gorgeous change in season I am witnessing. There are no words for Autumn in this Mediterranean climate.

For those who don’t know, I am pursuing an entirely remote career. And trust, it is not easy. I have some work right now but not enough to sustain myself, so I’m actively looking and I have a huge amount of faith in these kind of things (especially when you’re putting in the work) and I have a ton of backup plans thanks to all the amazing people in my life. The goal really is to live in Europe for at least a year, learn Spanish and gain a remote career(s). I am currently a freelance copywriter and doing some creative directing for a startup coffee brand. It’s definitely a switch of gears from my prior interior design career, but there’s no doubt I will circle back to it if not be able to incorporate my experience within that field into a future project. I’m really excited to see where my skills, talents and interests land me in the next year.

I knew coming here I wanted to get in the best shape of my life. All the walking here helps! & As long as things go as planned (or as close to the plan as possible) I will be training for a marathon in an undetermined destination sometime in the Spring of next year. Till then, my first priority here was finding a nice gym to pump some iron at. Checked that box and loving Anytime Fitness. However, I’m headed to Prague for a month and when I come back to Barcelona I may try other gyms, because well…that’s my thing!

So! Back to the Aqua Studio:

The other day I received a direct message on Instagram from Aqua Bike Studio asking if I was an athlete (flattered!) and if I wanted to attend a complimentary class at their studio (yes!). First off, I was flattered. Secondly, after checking out what aqua biking was I was thrilled to try this new type of fitness class! I’m not sure if it’s in the US but I know a few Europeans who said they’ve heard of it.

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

So I signed up for a Friday morning 9am class. I put my bikini on under some joggers and hoodie and made the 15 minute walk from my flat to the studio.

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

Now it must be mentioned that being in Spain, they speak Spanish, naturally; and Catalan here in the state of Catalonia. It surprises me though that “tourists” expect the locales to speak English. I most definitely give my best effort to bridge the gap with the usual “Sé solamente un poco español” (“I know only a little Spanish”) and then they ask if I’d like them to speak in English, and thankfully I say yes. The thing is, they appreciate the effort, go figure. I know during my time as a waitress in the transient city of San Diego I really appreciated people trying to speak a little English because otherwise there was no way I’d understand them besides with pointing, nods, and noises.

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

So I came with a few pre-prepared google translated sentences (helps in the learning process!) that I could use when checking in with the receptionist at the studio. Luckily Judith spoke pretty good English. Judith checked me in, gave me the short and quick tour of the facility and got me hooked up to their wifi (always a plus at any facility!). They offer massages, physical therapy, private training and the aqua bike class. I took off my sweats, grabbed my towel, locked the locker and headed into the pool.

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

First, it’s mandatory to shower off before getting in the water.  On the sides of the pool were the aqua bikes. So I made myself over to a corner and pulled it into the circle that the others had created. And this is where the fun began – our class teacher, of course, spoke in Spanish the whole time. And actually, it could have been Catalan…I can’t quite tell the difference. Except there is a lisp in the Catalan accent, and I didn’t hear a lisp. Luckily, group classes mean you can just copy what the others are doing … you’re just a few seconds behind, ha ha!

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Photo courtesy of Aqua Bike Studio

The pedals of the bike were like rubber slide shoes, you know like those adidas or nike sport slides. That was probably my only frustration with this “sport”…my tiny feet did not fit in these huge shoes, which made the class a little difficult because when the instructor wanted us to come off of the seat but kind of squat and pedal, my feet would wind up sliding forward henceforth making me fall forward and not able to do that particular exercise for too long without sliding/loosing balance. My suggestion would be to have some sort of shoe us tiny feet people could slip on and make the bike riding more fluid… ha, get it? Fluid.

The 50 minute class began by warming up our arms and shoulders while pedaling. Then we moved into pedaling faster and faster, like a normal spin class. And from there it was a mixture of exercise varying from off-seat pedaling, no arms on handles pedaling, using foam “weights” to push against the water for a little arm workout, and then toward the end of the class we hopped off the bike and did a variety of exercises including wading, jumping, and abdominal exercises. There was a cool down at the end where we stretched out the quads, hamstrings and arms. And that was it!

I headed into the locker room, showered off, changed into some dry clothes, blew dry my hair a little, checked out with Judith, asked for pricing and that was that!

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Overall it was a very nice, modern, clean facility. There was a guy there cleaning outside the pool room as we were in our spin class so that’s always nice to see that the business cares and keeps the house clean around the clock. I love the location in proximity to where I’m living. Aqua Body Studio is on a main street here in Barcelona so that’s good for them. I’m not sure it’s a sport I would find myself doing that often because I truly enjoy lifting weights and running outdoors and my yoga but it’s definitely something I would enjoy doing at least once a month! Which is how I also feel about a regular spin class. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you locate your nearest aqua biking studio and check it out!

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Inside of the Hardrock Hotel in downtown San Diego is The Rock Spa…a quaint little tucked away, dimly lit relaxation zone. And seeing that I love all things rock related, think: music, leather, fashion, guitars, hair etc., there wasn’t much more that needed to draw me into a spa experience at The Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego. To add to the draw there was an offer for a complimentary glass of wine with a choice between 4 different spa services. I chose the massage. Nothing like a good rub down! Haha

A glass of wine and a massage sounded like the perfect way to wind down on a Hump Day so I picked a Wednesday on the calendar to look forward to. When the day came I left work at 5 in the Bird Rock neighborhood to go fight the downtown Interstate 5 traffic in order to make my 530 appointment. I made it within a minute.

I was checked in and given the key to my locker where I would find my robe and slippers in an entirely empty bathroom/locker room lounge. Because I didn’t come early to my massage I was to enjoy my wine post-massage.

When I walked into the room where I would be getting my massage my masseuse asked me what type of massage I wanted for the 25 minute treatment. I was feeling like I needed a really deep tissue massage because I’ve been working out so much but I can’t say I’ve ever had a deep tissue massage and boy was I in for an awakening or what felt like a bruising. Now to her credit she did an extremely good deep tissue massage. She asked me to tell her if she should lighten up but there is a part of me that wanted to experience how far she would take the level of deep tissue massage soon. I never asked her to lighten up however I think I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more had I. Now that I’ve done my little deep tissue experience I will probably not be asking for another anytime soon and if I did I would definitely ask them to lighten up. I’m a strong girl but I’m still small can only handle so much. 😉

After the massage the masseuse exited the room while I slipped on my robe. She waited for me in the hall w a glass of water as I came out of the room. She walked me to the lounge where I [had to ask] to enjoy my complimentary glass of wine. They sought it out, poured it up and henceforth I kicked my feet up in the lounge and sifted thru some thick coffee table classic rock photography books. Helped myself to some trail mix too since it was kind of dinner time.

I eventually made my way back into the bathroom lounge to spruce back up and to use a few of the sparse amenities. I’ve noticed that some hotels who were late to the spa game when being originally built are working with only a few amenities within their repertoire because of space limitation. (Can someone say time for a redesign?) I walked to the front counter, a small room w a wall of products. Was pleasantly checked out and that was it!

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I received quite the sentimental birthday gift(s) from a gentleman I’d recently met. One of those being a little envelope that said on it: “another one for the blog”. Enclosed was a gift card to the revered and beautiful Coronado Hotel Del Spa. I can’t begin to express how touched I was that this man took the time to not only read my blog, where so many of my personal beliefs can be found, but went out of his way to support my passion by gifting me an experience to reflect upon here. SO thoughtful.

So it began. I booked my service for a Sunday. A Sunday after a very heavy week that needed a little, no, a lot of relaxation and reflecting. I chose to receive the Del Signature Body Scrub, “a skin softening body exfoliation that combines sea salts with a light application of aromatic essential oils that leave your skin nourished, smooth and supple.”

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Seeing as I live in the city this spa is in,  I took the 25 minute drive over to the Coronado Island, parked in the adjacent parking lot, walked around the hotel to the left of the main entrance (I called prior to arriving to ask what the simplest route to the spa was), walked past the souvenir shop, the restaurants, the pool, and that beautiful expanse of ocean, and there tucked away at the end of this walkway was the Salon & Spa.

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I arrived promptly at 3pm where I was greeted by the receptionist who checked me in, then another woman greeted me and showed me to the fairly tight locker/changing room where I slipped into my bikini and put on my robe. I was asked to meet her outside the locker room where she then walked me over to a common area to meet my exfoliator Abe. Abe said hello and walked me to my room where this little experience was to take place.
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While it had stone floors and the walls were also clad in stone, the room still had a warm and zenful feeling to it, aided by the ambient music. I believe this is because scrubs can be somewhat messy so the room needs to be easily cleanable. Before exiting the room, Abe asked that I slip out of my bikini and lie face down first. He came back in and the treatment began. He first put a few dollops of the sea salt scrub along my arms and back, then he lightly rubbed it all over that area, and followed it up with another, more vigorous, scrub. The back of my thighs, calves and feet were the next area he treated. After my backside was done he professionally, and fluidly, had me turn over (he kneeled behind a towel he held up, which he would then lay over me as he rose) and then proceeded to help cover my breasts with another towel so to be able to exfoliate my neck, chest, and stomach. After he treated those areas he proceeded with my thighs, calves and feet. At this point I was in that zen-like trance that just happens during these treatments – and I’m pretty sure he forgot to scrub my left leg, but before I could say something he was asking me to wake out of my daze and head to the Swiss Shower to rinse off. The only way I could tell my leg hadn’t been scrubbed was by touching it, and nope, no sea salt on that left thigh. Oh well.

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Abe walked me to the Swiss Shower that he turned on for me, asked me to rinse off and told me he’d be waiting in the hall with a cup of water. The Swiss Shower has 3 stacked shower heads on 3 different walls along with a handheld showerhead; quite fun if I do say so myself. So I enjoyed this for a little bit, dried off and met Abe in the hall where he walked me back to my room and proceeded to moisturizer my entire body in the same manner he exfoliated. This time he remembered my left leg. 🙂 The treatment concluded with an essential oils neck and shoulder massage that felt delightful. Abe asked if the lighting was okay and told me to take my time leaving the room. After coming back to reality, I walked into the hall where Abe was waiting with water for me again. He showed me to the locker room and mentioned all of the amenities I could take advantage of. And that I did.
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The steam room and jacuzzi were tucked back in some corner of the facility that felt like quite the little gem due to the beautiful and bright ambiance this area had about it, along with a beautiful wall of mosaic tiles. (I’m a sucker for mosaics – and stained glass.) I decided to enjoy some time in the steam room first and then I relaxed And took some time to hang out in the jacuzzi. After drying off I headed into the Relaxation Room across the way; it also being a beautifully bright room where there were my favorite flavored teas, and little bites to eat like almonds, dried berries and even apples. I made some tea and cozied up in one of the chairs where I spent quite a bit of time taking it all in.

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After I was done in the Relaxation Room I walked out to the private infinity pool area to check out how the day was progressing weather wise and then made my way back to the locker room to get back into my clothes and check out.

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All in all it was such a lovely experience. The staff was nice and professional, the facility was clean, I enjoyed the service and amenities and it was everything a spa day should be – relaxing. I really don’t have much feedback for The Hotel Del Spa besides interior design comments like maybe updating some of the light fixtures, changing burnt-out lightbulbs, upgrading artwork and maybe more chic pillows. I tend to have an eye for amelioration. 😉

I feel so grateful to have been able to experience a spa day at such an iconic (and local!) Hotel & Spa. It was much needed and the fact that there was such a considerate gesture behind my ability to be in this moment, made it all the sweeter. If you’re reading this Cowboy, thank you.

Till the next spa experience!

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I’m in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, for my 30th birthday. I’ve always felt that if you don’t celebrate yourself who will at the end of the day? – And I’m not one to put things like that into the hands of others. I booked in mid February and so here I am. Other destination options were Cuba, Costa Rica and the Bahamas but I waited too long on flights, and Puerto was somewhat close – and new to me – for a 4 day trip. Some r&r under 80 degrees sun sounded like just what I needed. 

I’d done a little, very little, research on spas that I could visit prior to my trip, however I wasn’t finding anything appealing. (…Something that made much more sense once I got here – “spas” are EVERYWHERE – even on the beach at your feet if you want. Or the street corner. Or the hole in the wall.) So I acquiesced to just scouting a spa whilst here. And I’m really glad I did. I took to using Yelp the morning of my birthday while eating desayuno (breakfast) because I had nothing else to rely on other than tourists reviews and walking by basic kind of run-down spa setups. I really didn’t want to wind up somewhere unworthy of my birthday treat. I thought of making my way to one of the corporate hotels but felt that might be a cop-out and not supportive of local life. I found a 5 star review for a place called Metamorfosis in the neighborhood (The Romantic Zone) I was staying in and right up the street from where I was having desayuno. So afterward I walked the dos quadras (two blocks) and found the small store front where a beautiful and lively woman greeted me, Angie.  

It too was quite small but looked very cared for and not only was Angie extremely welcoming but allowed me to ask for a special service that wasn’t on their menu: a 30 minute facial (quickly becoming obsessed with these) combined with a 30 minute deep tissue massage. I booked an appointment for 3:00pm so that I could head back to my room and get into my bikini and go layout for a few hours before my appointment. Angie was a love and asked what I was doing for the day which is when I mentioned it was mi cumpleanos (my birthday) and that I was hoping to find myself at a nice relaxing beach where I could grab a drink and a bite. She suggested I check out a place called Swell, so that’s exactly what I did. Thank you Angie! I’ve now stopped in here everyday where the manager, Octavio, and other employees have been ever so gracious to me …seeing as I’m like the ONLY person traveling alone. Ha.

After turning my snow-white Irish and Swedish skin into my first layer of Mexican and Cherokee red-brown tan of the season, and consuming a margarita and a delicious watermelon salad, while turning down a thousand local beach vendors who walk by and ask you to buy things, I headed up the street for my spa day. 

Angie again greeted me with water and took me straight back to my own private room (where there were two beds 🙄…still not letting myself feel alone 😌) and I was given time to get nakey and under the sheet for my masseuse. Nancy began my massage by doing one side of my body at a time. It felt so good to be touched by such a strong hand after all the intense workouts I’d been putting myself through, and sleepless night (sooo much noise at my hotel!) and not so comfortable bed. After each side of my back was done she had me turn over in order to begin my refreshing and delicious facial. They use a Japanese product called Rejuvi. Smelt like oatmeal to me! There’s something about having certain spots on your face/head having pressure applied to that relieves a lot of stress. Nancy let the masque do its magic while she began massaging each half of the front side of my body. There was more massaging?! Heaven. After, Nancy removed the masque, pulled some blackheads (ow), moisturized my face, thanked me and left the room. Turns out they let my service become an hour and a half! How sweet was that!!? I felt so appreciated. 

I got dressed, and exited the room in a daze. I grabbed more water and checked out with the delightful Angie for only $50USD! I tipped 20% (customary here just like in the US). 

Overall it wasn’t exactly a “designed” space that I like to find myself experiencing but after seeing what my options were in this city i became grateful enough just for the services that were given with exemplary customer appreciation.

A little about my time here in Puerto…not sure I’ll be back with all the other places in the world there are left to visit. I’m simply happy I got to get out of town for a few days, have some down time, self-reflect and see new sights and practice my Spanish. I have zero complaints about service, I think it’s just a very touristy, alcohol drinking town, with a lot of junk for sale and it probably wasn’t the best idea to go it alone seeing as if I was with someone I could have gone on a lot more adventures. 

A few quotes I’ve found about traveling alone that I really like:

“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” – Mae C. Jemison

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you are always in the same place.” – Nora Roberts (One of my mantras – “A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.” & “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!”) 

“It is confidence in our bodies, minds and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures, new directions to grow in, and new lessons to learn – which is what life is all about.” – Oprah Winfrey

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” – Maya Angelou

“If you don’t get out of the box you’ve been raised in, you won’t understand how much bigger the world is.” – Angelina Jolie