Friday, September 19, 2014

Spanish Holiday: Tarragona...

After we wrapped up in Barcelona on our Spanish Holiday, we packed off for a small town, right outside of Tarragona, which we picked because of a hotel we had points for.  Tarragona, was about half an hour away and we ended up heading in twice - once to visit the city, and once to take diplo-tot to her first Cirque du Soleil performance (tots note: if you're working on getting little ones to sit through performances, cirque is a good place to start.  Performances are really only about an hour and a half w/ intermission, have fun treats, and lots of things going on and its' okay to exclaim when you see something magical)...

July in Tarragona is HOT.  No doubt about that, but the center of the city, right off the water, offers lots of cool corners to duck in for a granita while you take in the Roman ruins and the city's architecture.  And of that there is plenty, so much so that most of the historic center is a big UNESCO declared heritage site.  Tots can be pro-ruins since there's much to run around in and climb - and it's pretty spectacular that someone who is just over three years old can have so much fun on grounds that are well over a thousand...

Equally charming is the historic center itself, even outside of the ruins.  The Catalonian flag of the separatist movement seems to have quite a stronghold here and the amount of buildings and windows proudly displaying them was pretty prominent - much more so than in Barcelona for example.  I did ask a few people in stores and such who indicated that it wasn't necessarily a majority of people, but those who support the movement are quite vocal about it.  

We went earlier in the morning into town to beat the heat and found the streets pretty quiet with the exception of the cathedral. I think we just had some bad luck on timing as several buses pulled up, making the line to get in rather impossible so we settled for another walk around it.  I know there are also additional museums to see, but we kept our agenda focused on the ruins, taking in all the little winding streets with balconies, and consuming jamon and granitas...Not a bad plan if you ask me on a July day...

Thinking about Spain? Check out all the Spanish Holiday posts here, or more from different trips to Spain.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bits & Baubles...

The beauty of collecting necklaces is that they always fit - no matter which stage of pregnancy your in. Whatever trimester, whatever "development phase" your little one is in causing this shirt to fit funny or that pair of pants to just not work, a nice chunky necklace always works.  It also adds color...and sparkle...and draws your eye away from something other than your fluctuating assets.  In my opinion anyway...

I started collecting baubles that fit this premise exactly during my first pregnancy and definitely not slowing down with number two.  Since I get asked where the baubles, here are all my non-secrets.   J.Crew, Kate Spade, and Elva Fields have been go to sources, but given the amount of things on sale right now at J.Crew (30% off sale until September 24th with code SHOPFORFALL ;) ), this has practically become a one stop shop.  I don't usually go for more than necklaces but this time around couldn't resist a few bonus baubles as well.  Fall, I'm getting ready for you!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pool Day

Summer might have come to a close awhile ago here in Copenhagen, but I was determined to get in one more full of sunshine pool day.  While Copenhagen is full of places where you can sit outside and enjoy, or swim in the harbor or (very cold!) ocean, there aren't actually a lot of places where you can enjoy a pool and spa day - you know, the kind with lounge chairs, crystal blue waters and your favorite magazine.  So I was pretty excited when we found the Ilse Jacobsen spa, called Kurbadet, out in Hornbaek, which is less than an hour from where we live... Since the spa doesn't allow children, last weekend when I was all by my lonesome at the house was a perfect time to try it.


The spa is right in the town, though the town itself is tiny, so you'll find it no problem.  Also, Ilse Jacobsen owns just about half the town of Hornbaek it seems. The sun was out in full swing so I was determined to stockpile the Vitamin D before the rains come again given how August went (though we've been really lucky and had a beautiful September so far...).  A pool day here definitely doesn't come cheap at 575DKK (roughly about $100), and that's probably why it took me all summer to figure out whether I wanted to pay that or not.  There isn't much other game in town (or in country) for this kind of thing, and I figured I should give it a go at least once...

The spa...and the pool...are indeed beautiful.  The grounds are well manicured - the grass atually feels like grass under your feet.  As the facilities are new, most things are in excellent condition, and like always, things are always designed so that they are pretty to look at a calming way.  The experience was definitely lovely, but as with many "luxury" things here, it falls a little short on the service or user experience level.  They're small things and might not matter to everyone but for those thinking about an outing, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The pool day is billed exactly as such, but really they mean "5 hours" to spend at the pool and spa so really is more like a half day package.
  • The pool day includes lunch from the menu but you eat in the garden (not the restaurant) - my understanding was that you could pick from the entire menu.
  • There is an extremely limited amount of pool lounge chairs (my day - on a weekend - there were four and they decided not to bring more even though many more people were booked and reserved throughout the day).  If having a chair is important to you, call ahead to see how busy it will be - they won't reserve them for you, but you can time your arrival to be before the groups.
  • The day includes use of the steam and sauna, and showers  - the package calls out that you'll have access to shampoo and conditioner and soap, which struck me as funny since dont' you always in a spa? But note, there aren't any lotions or anything like that so don't forget to bring what you need post shower - given that this is run by company who actually makes all those products, I was surprised that they wouldn't place more of them to encourage buying them for home.  The products do, however, all smell of sea buckthorn which you only find in Denmark but leaves you smelling pretty refreshing.
  • The day also includes fresh water and a small bowl of nuts (it advertises fruits too but I didn't see any).  These may seem like small things but normally you do actually have to pay for water in Denmark, even tap water.
  • To use the locker, you need a 10DKK coin - seems to me that at 575 they could just throw in a locker key or token, which I asked about but the spa informed me that sometimes people forgot to turn in tokens.  It struck me as a little funny since tokens are probably not that expensive to replace so it was just annoying to pay for everything, then be shown with a finger down to the spa rather than walked down, and then you find that you still need a coin and then make your way up to make change and all that, but that's more the norm here and I'm just not as used to it.


There's not really a lot of guidance on lunch, and the menus are in Danish - as it's busy at lunchtime in the restaurant, there might not be someone to translate (or take the order for awhile) but since you're at the pool, there's usually not a huge hurry ;) You can guess what a lot of stuff on the menu is anyway - had a lovely ceasar salad that was actually one of the better ones I've had in Denmark so far...

What really makes this place is the level of care in the d├ęcor and the grounds.  Unfortunately, if you book yourself only for a treatment, you can't use the spa; you book access to that separately, so be sure to clarify what your package/treatment includes when you book.  But if you're looking for a few hours of relaxation and calm in a beautiful space, followed by a walk on the ocean, then this is just the place.

Headed out to Hornbaek? Don't forget to check out the Denmark Derby post on on Hornbaek town and Ilse Jacobsen's flowers !

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cable Traffic: N.13...

A few notes and odds and ends from this past week...

1.  We're just back from Paris...This was a fun one since for a number of different reasons, it was best to bring the diplo-tot along.  I was a little nervous at first but it turned out to be a great trip, and Paris in September has a way of showing it's very best side...

2.  While we were in Paris, we dropped by the very famed Deyrolle... Inside the store they were displaying the new sheep side table based of of Dali's design and manufactured jointly by Deyrolle and BD Barcelona...when I first saw it, it struck me as quirky, but the more I think about it, the more I kind of wish we got it...We don't have pets but our home is full of animals in different forms which our daughter adores.  She'd adore it - and it reminds me of the Little Prince...

3/4.  And in other stops in Paris, we also went by Shakespeare & Co, the book store...It was a staple when I was a student in Paris and and institution for many others before that.   Amongst a few purchases, I picked up The Year of Magical Thinking for my next flight, and also The Gruffalo for the diplo-tot.  We've owned it all of two days and she's demanded we read it at least a hundred times and knows half of it by heart.  Best ten euros spent in a long time...

5.  A new read: I've been feeling a little uninspired lately with other reads but a new blog crossed my radar lately called the Daily Dilk.  A young family that packed up from Brooklyn to live in Istanbul to have an adventures with some beautiful photographs along the way...Check it out...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Spanish Holiday: Cap de Creus...

If you're already in Cadaques, you have to make the drive just a few kilometers more to Cap de Creus.  You'll think you're tired of driving...you'll wonder why such a little amount of distance is taking you such a long amount of time...you'll be sure you missed a turn somewhere and just declare you're about to abandon ship.  And then you'll get there....and I promise it will be worth it.


Cap the Creus is the point furthest East in Catalonia, and if you like the whole "craggly dramatic cliffs falling into ocean" look, then this place is for you.  Dramatic is certainly one word for it.  You end up driving through what is national parkland, and those much braver than I were making hikes in seemingly every direction, or pulling the car over and descending on foot for what I'm sure was a rewarding swim.  Still others took the "let's take the boat over" option and you'll see them docked and enjoying what is probably an equally rewarding swim.


As we driving, the diplo-husband, who doesn't always pay that close attention to when I describe place we're going to see declared, "this would be a perfect place for a lighthouse".  And indeed, that is exactly what you'll find out there.  A light house that guided many a ships away from the nasty winds that can pick up in that area.  And one that now has a little cafe and terrace outpoint for you to soak up all the views in every direction.  Even though it's not far to Cadaques, the little town will look like a tiny spec when competing with views like these...