Sincere apologies if you opened and read the version of this ezine I sent earlier today - it wasn't finished and 'escaped' before it was ready! THIS is now the correct version... so I'd like to ask you now...Did you know that 1 January is the most crowded day at the gym? Not surprising.
After all that over-indulgence over Christmas (and I do hope you had a great holiday!) many of us are making resolutions and eating less. And thinking of getting into shape. Having gained a bit of weight over the holidays I know I need to do something about it because my clothes are pretty tight right now.
Recovering from the end of the year is a challenge that could use some help, whether you go to a day spa just to get back on track or spend an entire week being pummelled and kneaded. I love spas and if I were rich I'd probably hire a personal masseur or masseusse! But since I can't do that I'll settle for the occasional visit instead. Oh, what to choose?
Before we head for the spa I wanted to share some news with you: beginning in a few weeks, I'll be blogging once a month about my very own region in France, the Rhone-Alpes! I've partnered with the tourist board here and told them I'd like to share some of the beautiful places in my own backyard with my readers so get ready for it. Once a month through 2013, I'll be posting a different look at 'My Rhone Alpes!' Please come along for the ride and get to know this amazing place I'm fortunate to live in.
Women on the Road NEWS: Contents for Issue #59
- Spa Time Around the World
- Connecting with Women on the Road
- Women on the Road Recommends
- Travel News from Across the Web
- Cause of the Month: Men Against Violence Against Women in India
This just might be the most common of spas: walk in for a treatment or two and leave refreshed, relaxed, feeling lighter, younger and more gorgeous. Nuff said.
Weight Loss Spas
These are probably as ubiquitous. Even in my small corner of France you can find a weight loss spa. Seems as though staying healthy and maintaining a logical weight somehow escapes us. I suspect this type of spa needs little introduction (just Google weight loss spa and you'll see what I mean: 29,700,000 results).
Hot springs are magical pools of water with naturally hot water (the water is heated geothermically, by the earth) so you'll find many of these in countries with a lot of volcanic activity. My most memorable are the onsen in Japan, many of which are traditional and incredibly atmospheric. Have a soak to get rid of your stiff muscles or hype up your skin. In Iceland, hot springs like the Blue Lagoon draw visitors from around the world but you can find them everywhere, from Albania to Zimbabwe. They can be extremely hot and you can burn yourself so make sure you're guided properly and follow instructions.
Known locally as a hammam, this was the public bath before people had one at home and date back to Roman times. I've tried these in both Istanbul and Moscow and both times I've thoroughly enjoyed myself. The Turkish bath is a combination of sauna and steam bath and massage and soaping but the result is pure bliss, the kind in which your body tingles for a long time afterwards. In Moscow it was freezing outside and by the time I'd finished I was so warm and toasty I never noticed the winter. Prudish persons be forewarned: the entire process takes place without clothes.
Balneotherapy is basically the use of mineral water from natural springs to clear up certain conditions or cure specific diseases, like skin ailments or arthritis - in other words, healing with water. Many establishments are in the mountains, where water is considered particularly 'pure' and filled with minerals that are good for the body, but mountains are not a prerequisite and these days balneos are easy to find pretty much anywhere in the world. They're great for detoxing and ramping up your blood circulation, and excellent for joints or muscle pains. I've visited the one at Aix-les-Bains several times (I live half an hour away) and even after a few hours, you come out feeling new and youthful.
This is quite similar to balneotherapy, although it uses salt water and is therefore usually on the coast. Its spas have become equal measure pleasure and cure, and you'll be able to relax, lose weight and de-stress even if you have no particular illness. The sea's proximity allows thalassotherapy to use all the sea's products, like algae and mud, their minerals being absorbed by our skin. I've tried a few of these along the French coast (there are literally dozens) and I've left at the end of the week feeling ten years younger after a combination of hosing, pummeling, massaging and wrapping. This approach was pioneered in France and is far less common elsewhere.
Mostly found in Italy, this is therapy using mud or clay, which are filled with minerals. You're wrapped or soaked in it, it is rinsed off and the feeling is like no other. Not only is it good for the skin but it also has benefits for arthritis and is used to treat a range of ills from tuberculosis to muscle pain.
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian science of healing designed to prevent illness and strengthen our immune system and the term ayurveda means 'science of life'. More than just the body it also reaches out to the mind and soul in an effort to achieve total harmony, hence the use of yoga, for example. Most centers are in India, with many located in the southern state of Kerala. You can experience ayurveda in a resort for a few days or a week, or in an ayurveda hospital over several weeks for a more in-depth experience. This isn't a quick fix and is considered a respected science using centuries-old treatments.
As its name implies, a doctor is involved in a medical spa. Usually medical spas treat conditions that are visible, using laser, botox or chemical treatments. If your beautician can't do it and you need something a little more medical - say to remove surface growths or veins or do a peeling - then a medical spa is probably where you'll end up.
This is not an 'official' category of spa but is becoming increasingly popular. These spas can be for a single day or for days but rather than center on health they center on beauty and youth - face peels, skin scrubs, body wraps, anything and everything that rejuvenates and beautifies. They're among the most expensive and are sometimes attached to major cosmetics or beauty concerns, using their products exclusively.
The craze for fish spas is an example of these - fish nibble the dead skin on your feet, although I've read that the fish are starved to make them hungry. There are underwater spas, healing salt spas, treatments that involve snake massage and even animal excrement (no thank you). You could be massaged underwater (that's better), mud treatments or even hobnob with celebrities. Or why not a conch shell scrub, a caviar facial, or sulphur soaks (hold your nose)? There are literally thousands of treatments, products and places that are unusual or unique. As for me, I like the basics: scrub, massage, rinse. Repeat.
Best places for spas?
My own personal faves start with Thailand, which tops my list in Asia when it comes to getting great value for less money, with Bali in Indonesia not far behind. For natural springs and surroundings I'd love to try New Zealand, Iceland or Turkey, all of which have brilliant reputations. Central Europe, especially the Czech Republic and Hungary, does well for balneotherapy (these I have tried) and France and Tunisia are perfect for thalassotherapy, I know from experience. North America is spa heaven, although I have yet to try anything beyond a day spa there. I do have fantasies of one of those western weight loss spas, with yoga, pampering, good food and plenty of getting in touch with myself. Oh yes.
One thing that's been happening is that I've been busy! I think I wrote more in the last month of the year than I did in all previous months combined. The creative juices seemed to flow but I didn't get much sleep!
- Have you ever gotten off on the wrong foot at a destination? I certainly did on Senegal's Goree Island but I wonder if I handled the situation correctly...
- I wanted to share a bit of my town with you so I wrote about what it's like on the last day of the year here in Seyssel.
- I also looked back on my 2012 - the good, the bad and the ugly and did a roundup of my top 12 posts of the year (sort of).
- And I took advantage of a trip to New York to write about the Lower East Side food tour (you know I can never resist good food) and practiced being broke in NYC (I thought I had a lot more in my bank balance than I actually did).
- I also kept busy by joining the Huffington Post as a blogger, where I wrote about why 2013 is the year to visit Albania and shared some tips about hotel room safety. I also wrote about Albania on Katie Going Global, about solo travel on 50 is the New 40, and about nearly drowning off Zanzibar for ThePlanetD.
- And ladies - thank you so much for your own fantastic contributions - I love reading about your travels! Many thanks to Julia-Louise for her piece on teaching English in Korea, to Pamela for Musician by Night and to Rose for walking us through a different New York neighborhood. Please come over and share your own travel stories with us!
- Many of you are joining me on Facebook and Twitter - more than 2000 on each network so far - so if you haven't clicked LIKE yet wander over to facebook.com/womenontheroad or Twitter at
And finally - I have a little surprise for those of you who subscribed to this ezine more than a month ago: I recently redid my Ultimate Travel Packing List and all new subscribers get the new list when they sign up. Those of you who subscribed earlier should go here and download the new, revised list so you can have it too!
How to Become a Housesitter and See the World - by Pete and Dalene Heck
Fellow bloggers Pete and Dalene have put together the ultimate housesitting resource. They've been paying their way by housesitting for years and now they're sharing everything they know with you! So if you've ever wondered how you can travel and live in the lap of luxury while you do it, you'll have to read this.
Video 101: Tips and Tricks for Awesome Visual Storytelling - by Lisa Lubin
My perennial favorite by triple Emmy award winner Lisa Lubin - practical, hands on and effective, no fluff at all, just the facts: figure out your story, make it human, plan your video ahead of time, use interviews, write for pictures and edit it all together... it's all in the book. So are some priceless checklists to make sure you don't forget a thing. Best of all Lisa traveled around the world on her own for several years and she knows what it's like to share brilliant videos with friends and family back home.
And then of course there's my book for baby boomer women - I'm thrilled to say it's been well reviewed several times online by other blogs so I hope you'll hop over and buy if you haven't done that yet. If you have and you've found it useful, I would love it if you could leave a review over on Amazon - it will help a lot!
Meeting the End of the World
Why You Should Start Traveling AloneTop 10 Extreme Weather Destinations
8 Backpacker Rules for Taking a Roadtrip
WOOFing It on Your Career Break
Culturally Correct Do's and Taboos
10 Overlooked Beauty Spots in Europe
37 Most Surreal Beaches of the World
46 Quotes for Reflection
Five Things No One Ever Tells You About the Northern Lights
For food lovers...
...and lovers of other arts
If You're Visual
Men Against Violence Against Women in India
Unless you've been disconnected for the past few weeks you've heard about the gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student in New Delhi. Five men are in custody and the woman died. How did it come to this?
It is partly an endemic issue of violence against women in India. But India isn't alone and rape and murder are all too common in many countries, the result of an underlying culture of violence, harassment, discrimination and the objectification and devaluation of women.
What is particularly encouraging in India's reaction is the growing involvement of men in the protests against rape. Many have come out of the woodwork to proclaim that as men are part of the problem, they must also be part of the solution.
If you have men in your lives who would like to express solidarity against agression and see themselves as part of the solution, here are a few organizations they might contact:
Unusual But Fun Thing To Do in Winter
© Leyla Giray. All rights reserved. Women on the Road™ News is published monthly. Reproduction of any material from this newsletter without written permission is prohibited.