Sit back, free your mind, meditate with a choral ‘ohhhmmm’… and allow me to massage your wanderlust with a rundown of rubdowns around the world.
Going to the spa is a special, ephemeral, and meditative experience that I like to indulge in especially on vacation. Sometimes travel from point A to point B; sitting on a cramped airplane in ‘fake air’ for hours on end, hoisting massive suitcases to and fro calls for a massage, facial, or other body treatment. Holiday is a time of presumed gratification, so go on...treat yourself!
I’ve been to all sorts of spas abroad and have had a mixed bag of experiences; from fabulous to frightful, ridiculous to just plain weird. The following experiences were particularly noteworthy…
The strangest and decidedly most uncomfortable massage treatment I ever received was at a Hungarian thermal bath, the last vestige of the Turkish occupation of Budapest. Some of the city’s 1,300 baths have been used for over 2,000 years and draw tourists and locals alike. The baths are built around naturally occurring hot springs and most offer spa services.
|Hungarian Thermal Bath- Budapest|
A stark contrast to the sleazy Hungarian was my very proper, professional masseuse at the luxury Four Seasons resort in Carmelo, Uruguay. Aside from being highly qualified and trained in various methods of massage, my therapist was a woman… a definite preference due to the aforementioned experience. I lay down on a terry cloth-covered massage table in a darkened room that smelled of warm citrus. Soft new-age music was in harmony with a gently trickling water fountain. The massage was so calming, it took every effort for me to not fall asleep. It was blissful.
|Four Seasons Spa Lobby- Carmelo, Uruguay|
|Pool area at Tambo del Inka where Aqua Circuit Therapy is Performed|
Sometimes spa treatments get you clean and sometimes it’s all about getting dirty! Near Marmaris, Turkey I visited the Dalyan Mud Baths, which are thermal sulphuric pools of mud that like the nearby hot spring contains radioactive elements that are believed to cure a host of ailments. Visitors wade around in the earthy liquid, laughing at one another covered in sludge. I submerged myself in the muck and resurfaced as ‘Swamp Thing’. The sulphur was very smelly (think rotten eggs) but worth it. After a high pressure shower to clean the caked-on mud, I left with skin like a baby.
|Dalyan Mud Baths|
While weird can be bad, weird can also be very good. In Koh Samui, Thailand I received a traditional Thai massage from a tiny Thai therapist who used her feet to massage my weary back and legs. She got right up and walked all over me and it was strangely wonderful. The massage was given outside on the veranda of our resort, enclosed in a shaded gazebo. The swaying palm fronds rustled in the salty sea air. The taste of the coconut water that we were welcomed with lingered on my tongue. My mind drifted away to the sweet scent of jasmine.
|Amari Palm Reef Resort|
|Product Image of Hemp Spa Robe at the Ace Hotel, Palm Springs- Yes, They're Actually for Sale|
It’s not cheap, and it isn’t always perfect, but it sure does feel good and what better way to start a vacation than to pamper yourself…or an interesting story to regale your friends and family with?
In the spirit of regaling, I begin another year of travel and writing for Faraway Pillow. My mantra for this year is to....... R-E-L-A-X... Enjoy, more than I ever have before. Let the stress of daily life melt away; truly appreciate and feel every experience, every adventure. Live. Love. Travel. ‘Ohhmmm.’
Photos: mycontinent.co/hungary, wayfaringinfo.com, tripadvisor.com, targetpropertiesturkey.com, shop.acehotel.com, brettworks.com