Thursday, October 31, 2019

Gear Review: Comfortable Day Pack for Women

I’m always on the lookout for a lightweight day pack, whether I’m racing around town and need a change of clothing for an evening event along with all my other gear for the workday, or I’m traveling and decide to do a day hike. The Thule AllTrail 25 Liter pack for women fits the bill. It weighs less than three pounds. Unlike other backpacks, this one perfectly fits my torso, something that's lacking in many packs, even those designed for women. It comes with a comfortable hip belt to take the weight off my spine. I’ve used it during drenching rain storms and it has kept my gear dry. The breathable shoulder straps work well when the weather is sweltering. There’s easy access to my gear in the sole compartment thanks to a side zipper. The lid comes with a zipper as does the hip belt, making it practical to store small items, such as keys or a flashlight. In addition, lately I've been using this bag as my sole piece of luggage when I travel no matter how far afield. It easily fits in the overhead compartment as carry on and totes all my clothing and accessories for a multi-week trip.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Photos: Guatemala

Mayan ruins pepper much of Guatemala's expanse, with the National Park
of Tikal, 
a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 900 BC, probably the most famous. 
This is an immense site that requires an entire day to explore if you want to 
check out all of the structures. You’ll likely hear or see howler monkeys 
skittering about the jungle as you stroll Tikal.
Another ruin is Kaminaljuyu or Valley of the Dead
is just two miles from the city center. This site in unique because of its
display of elaborate adobe architecture, including funerary chambers. But
perhaps the most unusual or unexpected is Quirigua, which is a site showing off
tall stone carvings (stelas) rather than grand pyramids that are more than
1,000 years old.

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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Photos: Curacao

The Curacao most people see is the one with glorious sandy beaches. The one I preferred to visit is lush with pockets of forest land, decked out with bold art objects and dotted with dramatic sea scapes.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Delighful Korean Day Spa Near Manhattan

There are dozens of day spas in or near Manhattan. But the SoJo Spa Club rises above all the others for innumerable reasons.

This multi-story spa is just a short 20- to 30-minute complimentary van ride from Midtown Manhattan. What greets guests is a Korean spa that mostly revolves around water amenities that are so numerous and so varied, especially in terms of their temperatures, you could easily spend an entire day at this barefoot facility in Edgewater, luxuriating.

To avoid crowds, arrive early to mid-week before noon. It’s no wonder crowds flick here, after all, there’s a water amenity to suit just about anyone who enjoys plunge pools, saunas and soaking pools, which are all included in the day rate as are other amenities.

One of my favorite activities was walking along the foot massage path on the fourth floor. This long rectangular pool is lined with a variety of different sorts of rocks, some smooth and flat, and others more bulky and substantial, but all are set under a shallow layer of water. This is a reflexology path that I delighted in, but it was surprising that few visitors gravitated to this pool.

Also on the fourth floor are a variety of outdoor, therapeutic soaking baths, including my favorite, the Hinoki bath that’s constructed of white cedar wood, which provides a lovely scent. This pool sits in a corner of the outdoor space, surrounded by foliage that makes the vibe quite peaceful.

The Japaneses bedrock sauna, referred to as Ganbanyoku, is on this floor as well. This is bedrock bathing where you lay on a heated black mineral slab in a room with 70% humidity

Gender segregated bath houses offer myriad baths and plunge pools that allow you to slip from a cold plunge pool into a warm or hot bath or a wet or dry sauna.
SoJo has more than half a dozen sauna rooms, including the charcoal sauna where the charcoal is made from Korean oak wood; the Himalayan salt sauna whose walls are made of salt bricks exported from the Himalayas; and the red clay sauna with the clay imported from Korea. The temperatures of the saunas range from a low of 100 degrees F in the far-infrared sauna to the hottest (charcoal sauna) with temperatures of up to 200 degree F..

Additional amenities include the volcanic sand bath with temperatures of 128 degrees F to 132 degrees F, and sand important from Japan. This is the only U.S. spa that imports its volcanic sands from Japan. You lay with other guests in a communal area where you are covered in the sands, up to your neck atop a robe, with a cool cloth around your neck.

The Halotherapy room allows guests to inhale air that’s been aerosolized with salt. This mimics what people experience in natural salt caverns in Europe.

Don’t miss the heated, rooftop infinity pool that offers postcard perfect views of Manhattan  and the Hudson River. This venue gets particularly crowded for the Instagram worthy pics.

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