Yesterday, I was fortunate enough (courtesy of my Board of Directors) to spend the afternoon at the Body Blitz Spa, in Toronto. I spent over two hours meandering between the green tea whirlpool, sauna, seasalt pool, steam room and cold plunge pool followed by a body scrub and massage. Afterwards I was close to catatonic, such was the state of my relaxed mind and body.
I am not a person who finds it easy to relax (I make lists in my head of things I need to accomplish whilst doing yoga) so my mind wandered quite a bit, even as I splashed about. It wandered back to all of the other spa experiences I've had over the years and to my two spa conspirators Kirrily and Julie. This posting is a dedication to them both.
BUDAPEST - SHOCK OF THE NUDE
My very first spa experience happened in Hungary when I was 21 years old. Kirrily and I were traveling around Europe and couldn't wait to get to the beautiful spa in Budapest that we had heard so much about. The spa itself was utterly gorgeous and looked as if it had been plucked straight out of ancient Rome with its marble pillars, mosaic floor and fresco painted walls.
We had quickly and modestly changed into our bikinis and were walking towards the spa area when we were accosted by two stern looking spa attendants. After failing to be able to talk to us (all I know how to say in Hungarian is 'hi') they started snapping the bands of our bikini bottoms and gesturing over their shoulders. It took a while to sink in, but eventually we realized that they wanted us to take our bathers off, to be NUDE. We were mortified, despite probably having the best skin elasticity we've ever had, we were consumed with normal 21-year old body consciousness. We finally complied and actually enjoyed ourselves, especially when Kirrily pointed out that all of the other ladies there were on the large side or as she called it "walls of flesh". We were officially the hotness.
ISTANBUL - SCRUB OF A LIFETIME
When Kirrily and I arrived in Istanbul we were again filled with excitement at the idea of being able to visit a hammam. By now we were a little more comfortable with the whole nude thing. We sat in another beautiful room with a domed ceiling happily splashing ourselves with water. Then we were each lead into a room with a marble slab in the middle of it, that we lay down on so that the spa attendant could expertly scrub us down with a loofa. To this day I am astounded by how much icky black grime and dead skin she was able to remove, she was a master. Afterwards, my skin felt like a baby's bottom.
ACQUA TERMINI - MUD WRAPPED FAUX INVALIDS
When I was staying in Piedmont, Italy with my relatives Kirrily flew over from London for a visit. Another spa adventure awaited us but this time it was a little more complicated. It took us over an hour to find the spa, and when we did the staff gave us funny looks when we asked where the mud baths were. Eventually, we were led into a doctor's office, who after tapping our knees and making us cough asked puzzled "What's wrong with you both". Fortunately, at that time my Italian wasn't too bad, so I was able to explain that there was nothing wrong with us, we just wanted to try out the mud baths. He shook his head, laughed and wrote us each a note that had "reumatismo" written on it, our tickets into the spa. We were separated into two small rooms, I kept thinking "this is what hospitals looked like in WW2", no marble or gilt this time. I was put in a bath that was filled with hot mud and then wrapped up in bandages,I resembled an Egyptian mummy. I lay there for about an hour, I have never sweated so much in my life, it was not exactly relaxing. However, after they had hosed and rubbed all the mud off I felt incredibly invigorated and my skin was all soft and lovely. It was definitely worth pretending to be an invalid.
MELBOURNE - HOLDING UP WELL AT 25
For Kirrily's 25th birthday I took her to the Japanese Bath House in Melbourne. We splashed around in the spa waters, relaxed in the sauna and steam rooms and drank green tea. After a while Kirrily jokingly, rolling her eyes, asked if my birthday present to her was the chance to see me nude again. Then a little later she whispered after looking around the room at the other women, 'You know we are both holding up pretty well", to which I replied mildly horrified yet amused "You aren't supposed to look!"
CANADIAN SPA ADVENTURES
After moving half-way across the world I was delighted to find a new spa conspirator. Although we haven't had to negotiate the 'nude' factor our shared spa experiences have been equally fabulous. Thanks to Julie, I spent one of the best Easters I've ever had at the Pantages Spa in Toronto. We also made a trip to Montreal, where we spent more money at the spa than we did on accommodation. Although not a spa our adventure with acupuncture is also a fond needly memory.
If you haven't 'spa-ed' it yet, I think you should.. soon....