Entries tagged as relaxation
- Agggggh I've collapsed. Long Monday (actually it felt short) with a cold :( October 8
- I listened to 5 seconds of the first track on @TheUkes album The Secret of Life and my heart felt soothed. ♥. http://t.co/wsZquPh5 October 7
- @patheuk hiya, I was wondering if you guys have a general enquiries email address? October 7
- Terrified of flagship #Primark about to open on Oxford St. Tottenham Ct Rd will vamp into as much a tourist mess as the one by Marble Arch.. October 7
- Then I googled a phrase from my poem. 119 results came up. Namely an interview w/ singer @bethjhoughton - lovely music! http://t.co/nFJ55YKW October 6
Entries tagged as relaxation
Wednesday, October 5. 2011
Now it's drizzly and cold but continuing the streak of gorgeous weather last week, two friends and I went to the Portobello Market -- one of the most well known markets in the world, the infamous setting of Notting Hill.
We met up around 9:30 and stayed until past 5! There was so much to see, tons of antiques and fresh produce and cheap dodgy clothing stands. We had a leisurely breakfast at Mike's Cafe - not amazing but a good price. My British-style veggie breakfast:
Then we spent another few hours wandering through stands, there was just so much to see and do that we couldn't visit it all!! I ended up buying a 1929 edition of Passage to India, an E.M. Forster novel, an author I really enjoyed reading this summer. There were so many old books, I want to go an expedition for more soon!
We siesta-ed in the sunlight at The Elgin pub with a bottle of rose wine. I'm admiring my new £5 ring:
But undoubtedly the most surreal moment of the day was when the busy market was suddenly transformed into a pensive and contemplative atmosphere by some dude filming a music video. All of a sudden a guy belting out a song (no idea who he was) came strolling along with a posse behind him and a film crew in front of him. Everyone on the sidelines was like "…..???" as we turned around from our bargain-hunting. Lasted half a minute and then everything was back to the bustle of the market. Very funny!
Tuesday, August 16. 2011Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, one of the hotels of the American Express Fine Hotel and Resorts program - available to Platinum AmEx card holders. I had convinced my dad to get this card because of a remarkable 100,000 point Membership Rewards offer this summer - which incidentally has amazing perks including the special hotel program which nets us an upgrade if available, $100 worth of a special amenity, late check-out, and free breakfast every day.
The whole trip went off without a hitch: it started off with a smile by the enthusiastic employees at the car rental company, Enterprise. You could really tell they were trying to beat out Hertz in terms of customer service. The shuttle bus driver was a cheerful Vietnam vet who rattled off a helpful list of things to do in SD. A friendly rep then gave us 30% off a better car, nice start right? We had lunch at Lucha Libre which was apparently just on Man vs. Food which has made it super popular. It was filling Americanized Mexican food.
At the Lodge at Torrey Pines what we were most impressed by was the service. Especially in the restaurants you could tell they were going out of their way to help us. As one example, my dad asked for okra done the way it had been in their upstairs restaurant, and the waiter made a point of calling to find out how it was made - even when we told him it wasn't necessary. We felt confident making requests, which really helped make the stay as nice as it could be. My dad thought the hotel seemed to be striving for character it didn't have, but I think the service more than made up for it.
With the Platinum AmEx, we managed to score:
-an upgrade to an Ocean View Room from a Garden View
-$40 worth of breakfast at The Grill each morning
-stated $85 dinner credit at the A R Valentian; we paid $130 and they ended up crediting it ALL for free!
Great view, nice room (with a fire place), the turn-down service was sweet, with a chocolate/soothing sprays, slippers and a Lord Byron quote. About $310/night before tax.
The dinner was fantastic, a stylish place that really knew their stuff. I told the waiter about my food restrictions and he assured me that the chefs knew exactly how to substitute for gluten/egg problems. Although I had fish, the highlight was the vegetables cooked in savory sauces - pistachio butter beets, buttermilk potatoes, baked carrots etc. They kept bringing out free sample dishes to try: vegetables, sampler dessert plate even when we refused dessert, bread. Each dish was top quality and delicious, and the same was true at The Grill for breakfast (where I tried my first bite of gluten in 4 months with a delicious pecan butter waffle!).
On Saturday night I went to see the Mary Poppins musical for my third time. I had seen a Mary Poppins billboard during the airplane's descent and immediately checked if it was playing in San Diego during our stay. It was! It was a pretty strong production, and we had good seats, although I still prefer the original actors I saw in NYC.
Saturday morning I went to a power yoga class - with my dad, crazily enough, who has recently decided he is an exercise buff and is trying every form of fitness possible... The class was great because no one else from the hotel showed up, so it was one-on-one with a nice Swedish-Russian woman who convinced us to try a (supported!) headstand.
And on Sunday, I got an aromatherapy massage at the spa early in the morning, a fantastic way to start the day. There was almost no one there. All in all a very relaxing weekend.
Traveling without any solid plan worked well. It's a philosophy I like to follow when I can (I even wrote a post about this last year that I haven't published yet). I had no idea what I was going to do in San Diego until I got there, but what I've found is that as long as I set up the framework properly the rest will follow, and this time it all fell into place quickly - the framework being the hotel program with AmEx, because otherwise we probably wouldn't have picked that hotel!
Tuesday, July 12. 2011waterproof cell phones after all). But since my family is letting me design my new bathroom from the ground up I've had the chance to implement one of my vintage loves, a claw-foot bathtub:
I love this one from VintageTub.com and am totally serious about putting this in my bathroom. I'm skeptical about how often I'll be able to visit home to actually enjoy it... but it's still gorgeous, right? This blog showcases the variety of old tubs that are out there.
These copper ones are pretty amazing too (and way more expensive):
More inspiration to be found on these lovely blogs.
Monday, November 15. 2010
Rinnoji Temple, which is known for its historic pagoda and garden, turned out to be the highlight of my one-man (-woman) trip to Sendai and Hiraizumi in the north of Japan last May.
This garden was almost impossible for me to find. What was supposed to be 10 minutes from the station ended up becoming at least an hour of wandering around a residential area squinting at my cell phone's map. I had figured there would be a sign at the station telling you how to get there - oops. It was so rural compared to Tokyo… which is quite refreshing actually. And when I finally found the temple, I came in through the back way - i.e., through the cemetery. Yeah, that was a little awkward.
But on actually getting inside this quaint garden in the middle of a residential Sendai neighborhood I was enthralled.
There was no one there but a lone gardener (whom I never saw, just heard) and a lone cat (that I followed around the garden). The gates were self-serving - stick in 300 yen and go. The day was gorgeous, a contrast to the horrible weather I'd had the day before, and I was able to just sit calmly in this deserted garden. It was peaceful and relaxing. Discovering this garden has shaped the tone of that trip, which was one of my escapes from Tokyo, in my memory.
Rinnoji Temple (輪王寺) is just unassuming enough to not be a sought-after tourist spot, which makes it a nice place to spend an hour or two.
How to get there: take the subway from Sendai Station to Kitayama Station and walk 10 minutes southeast from there -- if it takes longer than that, you're lost!
Thursday, October 28. 2010
I know people say Japan is a fast-paced, work-till-you-drop type environment. And it definitely is - especially in neon lights Tokyo. But in Japan I was also exposed to a refreshing perspective on the opposite side of the spectrum: relaxation. It's completely changed some of my thinking in settling back into my home country.
The Art of Eating
When Japanese people go to a nice restaurant, they really take the time to enjoy it. The portions are plentiful and beautiful. Even if you just go to a regular restaurant, though, you can count on the experience being just as meaningful - especially if you're with friends. When you are with others you will naturally talk and talk and relax and exclaim about how good the food tastes. It's all a given. It's not hurried. You're there for the company and the experience of eating the food.
I think the cafe culture is entirely in agreement with that philosophy. In Japan there are tons of vaguely Parisian-looking cafes which are just cute. It is entirely acceptable that you will go, pop $7 for a cappuccino or Americano, and sit and enjoy. You aren't necessarily paying for that coffee; you're paying for the experience of sitting there and savoring the atmosphere. I've been to coffee shops which gave me blankets!
This whole approach to eating - at a calm and steady pace and in a very social manner - was one that I really had to learn to appreciate.
And now I've found that I long for these types of experiences. I'm the type of person who multitasks things to death. But I've found that after a year in Japan, I'm more prone to relax when eating my food. Others will often finish eating way before me because I have been focusing on the experience of conversing, and eating, and not rushing; really focusing on the experience. I can savor things better.
I miss that experience of going out to a restaurant with a Japanese person: it always had meaning. I remember plenty of restaurant visits with Japanese friends but going to restaurants with my American friends is often a blur - because we eat in a blur.
One With Nature
Nature is a huge part of Japanese culture. Think: onsen (hot springs), greenery, gardens, Mount Fuji, deer and monkeys, more greenery. And especially more onsen. A great example is the island Yakushima in the south of Japan. I went there. It was gorgeous. And mentioning this tiny gem to any Japanese person gets a sort of amazed and envious reaction. The reason for this, I think, is that it embodies nature in the Japanese mindset. Pure and unsullied - that sort of thing.
I've found that the Japanese attitude toward relaxation is a wholehearted one. When they decide they are going to relax, they do it so earnestly that a lot of people might say they aren't even relaxing anymore!
As I've mentioned elsewhere, after feeling trapped in Tokyo it's almost essential you take that time out to detox. I was able to take long walks in nature during my time in Japan - on mini-trips escaping from Tokyo - that made me absolutely calm. I'm talking about things like: a 7km hike between centuries-old villages in the mountains; enjoying a magical garden alone; standing on top of a hill looking out at the ocean… etc. It's become ingrained in me now that these are experiences to be savored. Before Japan I never did any of that. Now there's a part of me that is ready to enjoy these things. In fact I'd probably say that my newfound fascination with yoga stems from this yearning to relax.
What do you think? Is Western (particularly American) culture anti-relaxation? Do we multi-task too much?