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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?😉

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Your welcome.

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. 

jedlicka2

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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