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Spa Time Around the World - Women on the Road News, Issue #059
January 13, 2013

Women on the Road NEWS #59

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.

Whether a day spa just to get on the right track or an entire week of pummelling and kneading, recovering from the end of the year is a challenge that could use some help. 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

Day Spa
It may be the most common of spas, just walk in for a treatment or two and leave refreshed, relaxed, feeling lighter, younger and more gorgeous. Nuff said.


Hot Springs
Hot springs are pools of water with naturally hot water (water is heated geothermically) so you'll find these in many countries with volcanic activity. My most memorable are the onsen in Japan, whose waters are naturally hot. 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.

Turkish Baths
Known locally as a hammam, these used to be public baths before people had one at home. I've tried these in both Istanbul and Moscow and both times I've thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a combination of sauna and steam bath and massage and cold showers but the result is pure bliss, the kind in which your body tingles for a long time afterwards. In Moscow it was cold 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 with no 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. 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.

This is quite similar to balneotherapy, although it uses salt water and is therefore usually on the coast. Its spas have become more pleasure than 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, mud 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.

Beauty Spa
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.

Offbeat Spas
Then there are the spas that don't fit anywhere else,

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. And of course, let's not forget Japan. For natural springs and surroundings I'd try New Zealand, Iceland or Turkey, all of which have brilliant reputations but which I haven't tried. Central Europe, especially the Czech Republic and Hungary, does well for balneotherapy and France and Tunisia are hot in thalassotherapy, and here I can speak from experience. Of course there are brilliant spas right across North America,

What's up with Women on the Road?

  • This month I wrote about getting off on the wrong foot on Senegal's Goree Island and about what it's like on the last day of the year in my small town, Seyssel. I looked back on my 2012 - the good, the bad and the ugly and 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 the city (after my money went mysteriously missing - temporarily thank God).
  • I also kept busy by joining the Huffington Post as a blogger. I wrote about Albania (although they replaced my great photos with far inferior ones and cut my story by two-thirds...) and shared some tips about hotel room safety. I also wrote about Albania on
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And I have a little surprise for those of you who subscribed to this newsletter more than a month ago: I recently redid my Ultimate Travel Packing List and all new subscribers get the new list. Those of you who subscribed before then should of course have the new list, so please go here and download the new, revised list!

Women on the Road Recommends

Best in Travel 2012 - Lonely Planet

Are you preparing for a trip but lacking inspiration? You know you're going - but don't know where? Lonely Planet is becoming a true master at putting out these 'overview' books as I call them, which look at the world as a whole, or broadly at a region. This latest little book (it's the size of a paperback) is as much fun as it is useful - if you like lists (I do). So if you want to know what's up and coming, you'll browse its Top 10 Countries (what's in, out, hot topic, life-changing experiences), Top 10 Regions (most bizarre sight, why go at all, regional flavors) or Top 10 Cities (recent fad, hot topic of the day). Some are predictable, but you'll find a few revelations too. How about top spots to glamp, or slurping soup around the world?

The Art of Solo Travel: A Girl's Guide

If you're getting ready to travel solo for the first time but don't quite know how to go about it, this feisty, congenial and smart e-book that will tell you everything you need to know to get out the door and on the road. Find out how to save for your trip, break the news to your loved ones, take care of those last-minute jitters, and even how to deal with coming home. It's short, light and to the point - no padding like so many other e-books.

Video 101: Tips and Tricks for Awesome Visual Storytelling

If you love moving pictures and want to make travel videos you can be proud of, maybe you need some advice from THE expert: that would be my friend Lisa Lubin, a television journalist and producer who has won THREE Emmy Awards for her broadcast work. Her book is incredibly straightforward - 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 I have

Travel News from across the Web

Meeting the End of the World
Top 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

For food lovers...

A History of Pizza Straight from Naples, Italy
My First Week in Vietnam - Delicious!
7 of Santiago de Chile's Best Restaurants
2012: A Feast of Travel
Umbria: Cook, Eat, Drink and Repeat

...and lovers of other arts

A Celebration of Music on the Niger
Landfill Harmonic in Paraguay

Best Roman Ruins of... Morocco
The African Women Who Dress Like Victorians

Destination Travel

Exploring Montenegro
Top 5 Eco-Destinations in Argentina (not in Patagonia)
The 6 Best Piazzas in Italy
Driving Iceland's Ring Road - in Winter

If You're Visual

2012: A Year of Strange Landscapes
Best Travel Photos of 2012

Top 20 Wildlife Photos of 2012
Christmas in Paris

Freiburg im Bresau

A Visual Journey Through India's Deep South
Take a Walk Around the World

And finally...

This is the Way Third-World Travelers Get Treated

Cause of the Month



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