Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth

This week’s challenge asks us to showcase a photo that represents Depth.

Imagine this. Waking up at 5:00 a.m., opening the sliding door, sitting on a comfy chair on the balcony, taking the first sip of fresh, mountain-grown coffee and watching the spectacular hues of mother nature’s finest shows right before your eyes.

sky, cielo, amanecer, sunrise, view, Parador Resort & Spa, Costa Rica, Tiquicia, photography, travel, TS76

That’s exactly what I experienced during my stay at Parador Resort & Spa in Costa Rica last year.

Since they are 2 hours behind (Eastern Time), my body instinctively knew it was time to wake up and start rolling :)

Now I have to admit that I don’t watch the sunrise as often as I should at home. However something told me that this was going to be spectacular and it simply took my breath away. For once I was truly IN the moment! Nothing else mattered then.

It was almost like watching a movie outdoors and it was even better!

Oh did I even forget to mention that nature’s original soundtrack, composed of birds chirping, monkeys howling and the light wind rustling the leaves was music to my ears, literally :)

It is an unforgettable moment that reached the depths of my soul.

I hope you enjoyed it.

To view even more amazing captures, head over to The Daily Post.

Pura Vida!

K

Exceptional customer service during travel

”One customer well taken care of could be more valuable than $10 000 worth of advertising”

– Jim Rohn

Have you ever witnessed or received exceptional customer service during your travels? Or perhaps a random act of kindness? I sure have and in more than one occasion! These unsung heroes deserve so much more than a compliment but also recognition from the people they serve on a daily basis and their employers.

I was inspired to write something to this respect after I finished reading one of the first and best books so far this year (and I highly recommend you buy and read it too!) It is titled Fred 2.0: New ideas on how to keep delivering extraordinary results by renowned author and speaker Mark Sanborn.

There are many “normal” people who do things in an extraordinary way, every day. Such is the case of mailman, Fred Shea, the mail carrier whom Mark refers to in the book and truly is an inspiration for an entire community.

Having a regular “job” does not stop him from making a difference and help those in his path in a special yet unforgettable way! He makes a difference and creates value effortlessly. That speaks volumes and shows what great work ethic he possesses as well as personal skills.

As I recall my trips around the world, 4 events come immediately to mind and make me realize that there are unsung heroes and I would like to share with you each story!

Desmond, Greyhound Bus Driver from New York to Montreal

I was returning home to Montreal after spending two weeks in Boston and New York City. I got on board the bus, selected my seat and enjoyed the 8 hour ride.

road trip, travel, Upstate New York, road, nature, USA, photography, TS76

What was remarkable is the fact that Desmond was singing and speaking with passengers who sat at the front and I was among them. Not only he shared funny stories, insights on life and gave precious advice, he made us all feel as if it was a family trip!

Even while we waited outside at the Canadian Border upon entering Quebec, he kept his good mood and made sure everyone was alright and no one left behind.

Sadly, the trip came to an end an hour later and we all parted ways. I will never forget how much we had and what a pleasurable trip it was. He deserves an award for sure!

Staff at Premium Plaza at Vancouver Airport

After returning to Canada from South Korea I had a 5 hour layover at Vancouver Airport (YVR). Unfortunately it was not enough for me to go downtown and tour the city at my own pace, so I opted for staying inside the airport until my next flight. Prior to leaving Seoul, I had purchased a day pass at Premium Plaza which is a lounge similar to those offered by airlines where you can rest, refuel and enjoy your time before flying again.

I was already jet lagged, so I headed straight to the lounge. The service right from the start is impressive and they are very welcoming.

I explained to the receptionist that I wished to take a shower, however I was informed that there were no facilities which allowed you to because they were on the other location.

So what the receptionist did was to suggest having a bath towel delivered to me so that I can freshen up. That was a very bright idea and I immediately agreed.

While I waited at the reception, she brought me a glass of water, a magazine and asked me to be seated.

After about 15 minutes another young woman came running with a white, fluffy towel! That truly made me say “wow” you rock girl!

I can’t believe she literally went the extra mile to help me feel more comfortable! I told both of them how much I appreciated all they did.

Plane spotting, Vancouver Airport, YVR, aviation, avgeek, travel, photography, TS76

I spent a very nice afternoon doing some plane spotting while having a delicious lunch.

That was outstanding service that needs to be mentioned :)

Marjorie at Admiral’s Club at Terminal 8, JFK Airport

I was on my way to Helsinki when I had to stopover at JFK Airport.

Since I was fortunate enough to get an upgrade on Finnair, I received an invitation to Admirals Club lounge at Terminal 8. I certainly took advantage of it and did not know that I was going to be surprised.

Being a guest of the club allows you to use the facilities and it includes a few drinks. I headed over to the bar and looked at the menu. Marjorie, the awesome lady who prepares them, made a suggestion and I gladly went for “The Layover” It was so much fun watching her prepare the drink while singing; now she is a rock star! I looked behind me and I saw that there was a line just to have her prepare a drink!

Obviously she did not reveal the ingredients of the drink but it looked and tasted amazing!

Admirals Club, Admirals Club JFK, Terminal 8, drink, travel, the layover, photography, TS76

She does what she does with a lot of passion and haves lots of fun in the process. I sure recommend you go see her if you’re ever in New York :)

American Airlines Staff at Miami Airport

I was returning from a month-long holiday in El Salvador with my mother when we stopped over in Miami to change planes.

American Airlines, aviation, air view, sky,  SAL-MIA route, airplane, travel, photography, TS76

Little did I know that there was going to be a large crowd since it was a major holiday, Easter. We were already late, so we had to run through the hallways and once we got to immigration, I thought to myself, oh my lord, we’re going to miss the plane.

So while we waited in line through immigration, an agent came over and asked us if we were American or Canadian as there was a new stand that had just opened. So they told us to follow him and magically we were the first to go through and it was rather quickly.

We then had to claim our luggage and brought them back to another area where they would be sent to the right destination, home.

We went through security again and the line was incredibly long. So I showed our tickets to an American Airlines customer service agent and they took us right through the lines until we were clear and good to go. That did not make some people happy but an efficient and skilled worker does whatever it takes to help resolve any passenger’s problems in the shortest way possible and saves the company financially as well.

I thanked the agent for what they did for my mom and I and made sure they got some recognition by sending a tweet directly to the airline’s social media team.

We made it just in time to the gate with about 10 minutes to spare and we couldn’t be more grateful that everything turned out great.

One never forgets people and circumstances like these!

So there are a few examples of how you can experience Exceptional Customer Service While Traveling. I have many more but these are just too good not to share!

Now it’s your turn!

Tell us,

 

When was last time someone went above and beyond the call of duty?

Do you know someone who needs to be recognized?

 

I can’t wait to read all about it!

Until next time

Safe and Happy Travels!

Tashi Delek, All the best,

K :)

Pacifica Spa: Pure Bliss at Parador Resort in Costa Rica Part 2

As I was telling you last time, I had just started to enjoy a hot stone massage and it was pure bliss. Marjorie took a stone anointed with essential oil and ran it lengthwise on my arms, back and legs.

What I really loved is that since she is so skilled and experienced, she applied the right pressure and did gentle moves. She intuitively knew where I needed more work on (my neck, shoulders and arms which were quite tense after sliding on 18 zip-lines and stand on super high platforms). It is one of the most intense yet powerful therapeutic massages I have ever received! Were there any signs of stress, tension, pain after an hour? Absolutely not! It had vanished.

Now, I must admit that it was so relaxing that I literally fell asleep and traveled to another dimension.       I could only hear the soft instrumental music at a distance but I certainly felt the energy which made me tingle from my scalp to my toes! Chi was sure flowing where it had to!

This went on for about an hour (which seemed like an eternity where time stands still or does not exist). Since I was completely in another place, the last thing I heard was Marjorie whispering in my ear. “Señora Karla, I have finished the massage and you can wake up now. When you are ready come find me”. She left the room so that I could slowly come to my senses and get dressed. It took me a short while to finally come back down to earth again.

Yes, that was quite a trip!

After fully waking up, feeling refreshed, reinvigorated and renewed, I was ready to take on anything that would come my way.

I went to see Marjorie at the reception and she then invited me to go downstairs again to sit on a chaise longue to recover and gain energy by savoring a fresh and delicious yogurt parfait along with fresh fruit and a glass of lime water. A glass of bubbly or wine would have made me even happier trust me ;)

Pacifica Spa, Spa, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography

Jacuzzi, pool, Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography

I don’t know if it has happened to you before but I felt a bit dizzy. I needed to rehydrate and refuel for sure. Luckily it was almost dinner time but La Galería Restaurant was only a short distance away.

The culinary delights prepared by Chef Alejandro and his staff impressed me. Every. Single. Time. So that’s exactly where I went next!

Pacifica Spa, Spa, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography

Leaving the spa

hotel, garden, path, view, Punta Quepos, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography

Walking through the property and recharging batteries thanks to Mother Nature!

 

Believe when I say that SPA-ing is one of the best things in life. It is an exquisite sensorial experience that deserves to be lived…OFTEN!

How did I feel after that? What do you think? I was basking in the glow thanks to the magic and healing hands of Marjorie at Pacifica Spa :)

Don’t believe me? I’ve proof!

I felt like this

statue, female statue, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography

Ok maybe not…maybe like this?

relaxing woman sculpture, sculpture, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography, TS76

could be but this yes. This is moi au naturel with a phenomenal view of the Pacific Ocean from the über fabulous Vista Suite. Pura Vida, Pure life indeed  :)

Karla, TS76, Vista Suite, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography

Pacifica Spa has a menu of treatments, essential baths, hydrotherapy, personalized massages and special packages for individuals, friends, couples or families traveling together!

couples treatment room, two massage tables, Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography

It is the perfect gift you can give to you or your loved ones for special occasions such as birthdays, honeymoons, anniversaries, etc. It will allow you to bond even more or spend quality time with them.

Pedicure chairs, Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography

How about a pedicure or

manicure, pedicure, mani pedi, Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography

a manicure or why not both? :)

A great and wide variety of organic health and beauty products, as well as essential oils are on display near the reception area and they are available for sale.

Product Display, Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography

I highly recommend you take the time in your schedule to visit the spa if you are staying at the hotel or in the surrounding areas.

Muchíssimas gracias a Parador Resort & Pacifica Spa for welcoming me with open arms and allowing me to live this unforgettable and very healthy experience! One that I will never forget.

I would like thank Marjorie for being super kind, patient (I did not feel rushed not even for a second, promise) for answering all my questions (because you know I am a writer who loves to read and get facts from people who know more than I do and I can talk…a LOT), for letting me take lots of pictures of the Spa, for teaching me and being a living proof that when you do what you love with passion, results speak louder than words. She helps improve the lives of many people on a daily basis, so honor to whom honor is due!

I now understand and know what #ParadorPuraVida truly means and I bow in gratitude for it!

#ParadorPuraVida, sand, writing on the sand, Parador Resort and Spa, Costa Rica, travel, photography

I hope you enjoyed reading (and laughing) about my Spa Experience :)

Now over to you!

I’m very curious, so tell me…

 

Do you like going to the Spa?

What has been your best experience and where?

Would you ever travel to a destination just for a special spa?

 

I can’t wait to read all about it. So share your stories, links or photos if you have any!

Until next time!

Many happy travels and spa sessions.

All the best,

Karla :)

Pacifica Spa: Pure Bliss at Parador Resort in Costa Rica Part 1

Take care of your body.

It’s the only place you have to live in.

I have a confession to make. I absolutely LOVE spa-ing! I am even willing and ready to travel the distance in order to heal, nurture or pamper myself. I developed this healthy addiction a few years ago while living and working abroad in Asia and I really am very glad I did. Discovering and indulging in local spa treatments became a weekly (and much-needed) beauty ritual to recover and regain energies!

Going to a spa not only offers so many benefits for the body, mind and soul, it is actually a royal treatment that becomes cellular memory and is simply unforgettable. It is not a just luxury but a necessity :)

Relaxing, rejuvenating and recharging batteries at an elegant, private and luxurious spa in a spectacular location and in complete harmony with its natural surroundings? Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? It’s almost like a prescription anyone would love to get from their doctor!

Well, that is precisely what Pacifica Spa at Parador Resort in Punta Quepos, Costa Rica offers and more, so much more!

Little did I know it would be the best reward after going on many adventures while in the Rich Coast. Let’s recall them shall we?

  • Visiting a local school and helping students (as well as appreciating being a teacher) – check
  • Hiking down an off-the-beaten path to reach the unbelievably beautiful white sand beach Playa Biensanz – check
  • Taking a walk on the wild side at Manuel Antonio National Park – check
  • Going on one of the best (yet scariest) adventure ever: zip lining in the rain forest – check
  • Going on a night tour of the jungle on the hotel premises – check

Some of those adrenaline-producing, heart-pumping activities pushed my body to the limit and put it under a lot of pressure! Needless to say that I was exhausted as every muscle and bone was aching at the end of the day but all in all it was well worth it.

What better way to release stress, reduce muscle pain than taking a few hours to unplug and escape from the real world?

My health practitioner would have happily approved of my 2-hour session which was programmed a Sunday afternoon and 2 treatments were on the menu: a cleansing facial and hot stone massage.

I can’t even begin to describe how happy and excited I was to let myself go to enjoy Pura Vida as they say in Costa Rica :)

As my appointment time approached, I walked towards the building where the spa is located.

Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort, Costa Rica, Spa, Central America, health, beauty, travel, photography, TS76

I could already sense how calm, peaceful and pure the ambiance felt like! Serenity is the word I was looking for!

As soon as I went through the main door, I smelled the citrus oil air-diffuser which was divine, aromatherapy at its best!Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort, Costa Rica, Spa, Central America, health, beauty, travel, photography, TS76

Tiles, Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort, Costa Rica, Spa, Central America, health, beauty, travel, photography, TS76

Behind the reception was a sweet and kind soul Marjorie, a certified professional who has been working at Pacifica Spa for a few years now!

Marjorie, Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort, Costa Rica, Spa, Central America, health, beauty, travel, photography, TS76

I told her my name then she immediately stood up to welcome me and said: “Good afternoon! Welcome señora Karla, we had been expecting you!” It sure made me smile and felt as a VIP or star just walked through the doors! That put me at ease immediately.

Next, she made me read and fill out a form which is very important before the start of any treatment. There are several health-related questions (as well as skin-type) to answer but I understand perfectly. It helps them make an assessment of your medical condition (pressure, medication) and make recommendations based upon the information provided.

Don’t worry if it’s your first time or if you are an experienced spa-goer. The trained, friendly and helpful staff will inform you and let you know the procedures step by step. You’re always welcome to ask questions too.

I was originally supposed to get a body mud wrap but when she explained to me that I would be wrapped as a mummy or a burrito for about an hour. Now you probably know this by now (or maybe not), I simply CANNOT stand, sit or lie still for too long (1 hour max), as I’m restless or antsy and want to move around or change positions a bit too frequently. So I opted to have more flexibility and being able to move, so the hot stone massage sounded way better!

After answering the last questions, I handed back the questionnaire and Marjorie proceeded to show me the changing rooms which are located downstairs.

Reception, Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort, Costa Rica, Spa, Central America, health, beauty, travel, photography, TS76

In case you love being in the water, you can have a hydrotherapy treatment in the pool with essential oils

hydrotherapy, jacuzzi, pool, Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort, Costa Rica, Spa, Central America, health, beauty, travel, photography, TS76

or why not the Jacuzzi? :)

Jacuzzi, whirlpool, Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort, Costa Rica, Spa, Central America, health, beauty, travel, photography, TS76

There are lockers with keys attached to a plastic bracelet which you carry with you at all times. A white robe and black rubber slippers are found inside each locker.

You have the option of taking a shower prior to the treatments which I took advantage of. It was raining and pretty hot and humid every day, so it was normal for me to take 2 or 3 showers!

After I got ready, I went up to find Marjorie and she led me to the treatment room.

Massage table, treatment room, Pacifica Spa, Parador Resort, Costa Rica, Spa, Central America, health, beauty, travel, photography, TS76

Soft music was playing and again that incredible essential citrus oil scent was diffused. It’s much better than an incense stick or Glade Candle let me tell you.

I’ll be very honest; you can be totally uninhibited or a bit more reserved (I am) when it comes time to be on the massage table. I was a bit nervous at first but you know what, I decided to trust Marjorie because

1- She emits this pure and positive energy right from the first moment you are in her presence, so why not go with the flow?

2- That’s what she does best and she is a top professional!

3- Privacy is of utmost importance, so if you prefer to stay covered you can but it is more efficient if you allow the skin to be exposed so that the ingredients of products are more effective. I only asked to have my upper back exposed during the hot stone massage :)

First we started with the Pacifica Facial which is deep cleansing and refreshing and includes: exfoliation, gentle vaporization followed by a relaxing facial massage and special mask according to your skin type (I got a cucumber-based mask).

I let my mind be silenced thanks to the soothing instrumental music and started reliving all the moments I described above! It was as if I played back a mini-movie in my mind.

I could feel the magic hands and circular movements work on my face! Trust me, old layers, impurities and other signs of the times on my face were a heavy burden, lifted up and gone for good! If I may say this, my face was soft as a baby’s bottom and I think I looked a few years younger in only a space of an hour! Miracles exist right? :)

Time does go by fast when you are having a good time! Before I knew it, Marjorie asked me to turn on my stomach as she was going to start the Hot Stone Massage.

The stones used are collected from a river, dried to soak up energy from the sun, and then they are heated in a special recipient, anointed with essential oils and later placed on precise energetic points of the body, also known as chakra points. The heat releases muscle tension, helps improve digestion, circulation, produces a relaxing effect and give an extra boost to those energy centers!

Again, can I be completely honest with you? When they say it’s hot it REALLY is! Not burning but very, very hot. They have a set temperature but the heat is applied quickly and in circles. Marjorie placed several stones along my spine from my neck to the place where your back ends. I also had stones in both of my palms, on my feet (great pressure there and the oils used make the soles of your feet soft as velvet) and it felt so good! I could definitely feel the energy circulating all over the place…

To be continued…

The City of Colorful Textiles: San Sebastian, El Salvador

El Salvador may be the smallest nation in Central America and it sure has gone through turbulent times in the past and even now. However it still does not receive the media coverage or gets the credit and attention it truly deserves. How do I know? Well, as I’ve already shared with you in previous stories, it has so much more to offer than what you see on the news. From art towns, to black sand beaches, culture, rich history, natural beauty, stunning Mayan temples, strong religious beliefs and so much more! As the slogan of the Minister of Tourism says, it truly is impressive!

Last time I went to my home country, I decided to explore as much as possible and made plans for several road trips (you know that I live for them, if I knew how to drive in the midst of chaos I would sit behind the wheel).

You probably know by now that I am a very creative soul and am very interested in anything that has to do with the arts in all its forms. That is why I was delighted to find out that there was a route created specifically, La Ruta Artesanal or Artisanal Route, which invites visitors both local and foreign to discover different points of attractions such as eco tourism sites, charming and peaceful artisan towns that are dedicated to creating many products that make them famous countrywide and around the world.

After visiting Ilobasco, known for its ceramic and clay products, we headed over to San Sebastian, a small town located approximately 50 kilometers northeast of El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador.

San Sebastian, El Salvador, Central America, map, mapa

It is known for its production of high quality, colorful, patterned textiles to make clothes, scarves, tablecloths, place mats, blankets, throws, mats, hammocks, purses and handbags among many.

The most interesting fact is that no industrial machines are used to produce them but the traditional Telares or large wooden looms that are powered by a human power. Just the way it has been done for over two centuries!

We visited one workshop and watched an artisan or weaver at work. It was such an incredible experience to see them do what they know with a lot of passion and dedication.

I invite you to come along for a colorful tour of the weaving process right before your eyes.

Enjoy!

street, San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

textile, store, workshop, San-Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

Loom,  San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

colorful threads, weaving,  San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

closeup, colorful threads, weaving,  San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

artesano, artisan,  San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

artisan, artesano,  San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

white threads, threads,  San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

patterned, weaving,  San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

colorful threads, weaving,  San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

turquoise and white threads, weaving,  San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

I simply could not leave without purchasing some souvenirs to bring back home of course! I do support local businesses and artisans, so what do you think I got? :)

A pink scarf

Karla, pink scarf, weaving,  San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

A colorful, flowery and unique handbag as well as a couple of purses!

handbags, handmade bags, purses, weaving,  San Sebastian, El Salvador, central america, ruta artesanal, travel, photography

Every time I use them, I simply remember where they were made and that brings a smile to my face :)

I hope you liked learning more about San Sebastian in El Salvador!

Now it’s your turn.

I want to know,

 

Have you ever traveled to a town just for its art, history or culture?

If so, where did you go?

If you haven’t yet, would you like to visit one?

 

Tell me more about it!

Until next time,

Les deseo todo lo mejor, I wish you all the best.

Love,

Kay