Tag Archives: Spa

365 Places: Bath

Day 64: Bath, England

When I went to Europe in 1999, there was a very small window of time where I was in England. I landed in London a 6am in the morning, stayed one night and then flew to Bristol, where I then caught a train to Wales.

Image Credit: Photochrom print (color photo lithograph) Reproduction number: LC-DIG-ppmsc-07998 from Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Image Credit: Photochrom print (color photo lithograph) Reproduction number: LC-DIG-ppmsc-07998 from Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

There were a few places I wanted to see in England, none of which I thought I would see in the short amount of time I had to explore. Two places were high on my list – Bath and Stonehenge. As luck would have it I managed to see both of these historic sites, mainly because I had arrived early enough to the hotel to jump on a day tour.

Bath has long intrigued me as it has so much Roman history which represents an era of colonisation, something I can understand from my experience of living in a country that still needed to come to peace with its brutal colonial history. Though I must say I know very little about the history of England and the many layers of colonisation that this country has endured. It seems ironic that this nation would in turn become one of the most expansive colonisers in western history.

Image Credit: http://visitbath.co.uk/spa-and-wellbeing/history-of-baths-spa
Image Credit: http://visitbath.co.uk/spa-and-wellbeing/history-of-baths-spa

Another thing that I found fascinating was Bath’s history as a spa town. For some strange reason I love to learn about the bathing cultures of different countries, which is part of why I am drawn to Turkish and Scandinavian culture. For millennia, the hot springs of Bath have been used for relaxation, rejuvenation and healing. Mr Wikipedia says about Bath:

The city became a spa with the Latin name Aquae Sulis (“the waters of Sulis”) c. AD 60 when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although oral tradition suggests that the hot springs were known before then. It became popular as a spa town during the Georgian era, leaving a heritage of Georgian architecture crafted from Bath Stone.

The City of Bath is also on the UNESCO world heritage site, because of it’s historic significance. You can find a timeline on the Visit Bath website.

Image Credit: http://visitbath.co.uk/spa-and-wellbeing/history-of-baths-spa
Image Credit: http://visitbath.co.uk/spa-and-wellbeing/history-of-baths-spa
Image Credit: Arpingstone
Image Credit: Arpingstone

What struck me on the tour to Bath was the lovely layout of the town as it sits nestled in the valley. The UNESCO website discusses in detail is visual beauty of the layout of the town and its architecture. The website says:

Bath’s grandiose Neo-classical Palladian crescents, terraces, and squares spread out over the surrounding hills and set in its green valley are a demonstration par excellence of the integration of architecture, urban design, and landscape setting, and the deliberate creation of a beautiful city. Not only are individual buildings such as the Assembly Rooms and Pump Room of great distinction, they are part of the larger overall city landscape that evolved over a century in a harmonious and logical way, drawing together public and private buildings and spaces in a way that reflects the precepts of Palladio tempered with picturesque aestheticism.

I hope one day to return to the UK to spend a lot more time exploring some of the places that have significance in terms of my family history and broader historical and cultural interests.

365 Places: Paneeda View, Sanur

Day 23: Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

Today, I am following Garry’s lead by also writing about somewhere I love in Bali, the Paneeda View hotel in Sanur. the village of Sanur is situated on the south coast of Bali and is a little more relaxed that the hustle of Kuta. It is popular with European tourists and families and offers a great range of hotels, food options and shopping.

We have stayed at the Paneeda View twice and love staying here. It is comfortable and very much in the Balinese style, with lovely, landscaped gardens. It is not the most modern or luxurious hotel, but you can have breakfast in the restaurant which looks out at the beach, which is just divine. We are looking forward to our stay there in a month’s time – 10 days to unwind, eat lots of delicious food, have lots of Balinese massage (fantastic), swimming, walking and catching up on some novels. Can’t wait!

Here are a few pictures of the view from the restaurant.

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This is us at our fave cafe in Istanbul , more later 🙂

Tracey and Marty in Istanbul
Tracey and Marty in Istanbul

Tilley’s – a Canberra institution

Tilley's light © Tracey Benson 2014
Tilley’s light © Tracey Benson 2014

When we first arrived in Canberra in 2001, we lived in a tiny apartment in the infamous Brigalow Court in O’Connor. The rent was cheap, it was close to the school, the university and located opposite the Lyneham shops.

In those early days, I would often meet a friend for coffee at the cafe across the road, Tilley’s Devine Cafe Gallery, affectionately known as Tilley’s. I learnt very quickly that this cafe had a rich history as an identity as a local music and social venue.

Tilley’s has a special history for Canberra women as well, as when it initially opened men were only welcome if they were in the company of women.

Lights at Tilley's © Martin Drury 2014
Lights at Tilley’s © Martin Drury 2014

Sally Pryor, in 2003 wrote about Tilley’s in the Canberra Times:

With elegant, dark wood fittings, a moody, deep red colour scheme, and soft jazz wafting between the old-fashioned booths lining the walls, there is some things essentially nostalgic and cinematic about Tilley’s romantic atmosphere, reminiscent of a Hollywood film noir. Its timeless in a way that’s hard to emulate in a youngish, fickle town like Canberra, where high turnover of night spots seem inevitably dictated by the relative hip-factor of the decor, the DJ and the cocktail menu.

Over the years we have had some special times at Tilley’s, for example, we celebrated our son’s 21st luncheon there, which was a lovely day. Another fond memory is of  the cold winter’s day we were very privileged to see Martha Davis from The Motels rehearsing for the evening concert. I remember being quite star struck as well as feeling incredibly lucky to see one of my rock heroes in such an intimate setting. When I asked the waitress if we should go (as we hadn’t paid to watch), I remember her smiling and telling us to relax and enjoy our hot chocolates. Our son was only 8 at the time and he wondered what the fuss was about. For me, memories of playing “Take the ‘L’ out of lover” on the record player in my bedroom came flooding back. At the time, The Motels were one of my favourite bands, so to sit in the booth, all nice and snug watching  Martha was really special.

Inside Tilley's © Tracey Benson 2014
Inside Tilley’s © Tracey Benson 2014

Today, after a gorgeous morning getting pummeled at the foot&thai, we wandered over to Lyneham for a delicious lunch at TIlley’s. It is a cafe style menu, with generous servings and some nice options. The Mushroom Bruschetta was delicious, my husband really enjoyed the Fish and Chips and the Portuguese Chicken Burger was a winner with the 21 y/o.

Tilley’s has not changed much over the years, and Sally’s description of the decor and music in 2003 still holds true. This is a rare thing in a town where re-branding cafes is almost a yearly occurrence, thanks to some bad advice going around from some marketing ‘guru’. Also what hasn’t changed is the quality of the coffee, they certainly know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino – it is surprising the number of cafes in Canberra that don’t know how to make a decent coffee. So after a morning of self indulgence and spoiling, we are off to a great start for the Easter long weekend.
Phone for reservations and information
Reservations available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week.
+61 2 6247 7753

Corner of Brigalow & Wattle Streets,
Lyneham ACT 2602, Australia

No, Canberra Doesn’t Suck!

One of the great places to find products that have been handmade by local artists, designers and craftspeople is through Handmade Canberra. They have a shopfront located at City Walk, 20 Allara Street in Civic, which features the work of over 170 local designers. They also run regular markets at the Canberra Convention Centre, 31 Constitution Avenue 4 times a year. The next market is scheduled for June 7 & 8, 10am to 4pm.

Canberra Doesn't Suck
Canberra Doesn’t Suck

I love this lollypop as it says a lot about Canberra’s reputation. There is a stereotyped idea that it is a place of dull monuments and boring public servants, which is simply not true. To the contrary, if people take the time to look around they will find it is a rich, creative and diverse community. Ironically, I also held this belief that public servants were dull, until I joined the APS and worked alongside other people who had identities as artists, musicians, healers, scientists and aid volunteers.

So, no, Canberra doesn’t suck, though it is true that in Winter, the wind can blow.

Spa and Sauna Culture in Australia

Australia is one of the hottest, driest countries in the world. For that reason, water sports, swimming and going to the beach are popular activities, especially for the 85% of the population that live near the coast. As mentioned in an earlier post about Weekends in Canberra, not only is Canberra an Inland city, it is the coldest capital city in Australia.

From my travels, particularly to Scandinavia and Turkey, I have now a great love of the bathing cultures that exist in these locales. When I was in Helsinki, every morning I would spend 20 minutes in the sauna before jumping in a cold shower. Similarly, when we have travelled to Turkey, I much enjoyed losing a couple of hours in the Turkish Hamam, especially places that also had a sauna. My preference is for separate men’s and women’s facilities, as I feel like I can truly relax.

Saunas are not that popular in Australia, due to the hot climate  – if you are lucky you will find one at a gym or when you visit a health spa as part of a massage package. Unless you go to a women’s only gym, then it is likely that the facilities will be mixed rather than separate for men and women.

This week we decided to go the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), which has had a sauna and plunge pool for many years. But no more – for health and safety reasons the sauna has been permanently closed. Undeterred, we then went on a quest around the Belconnen region to try to find a sauna. We were told that Kaleen Sports Centre might have one – no luck. Then we called the  Canberra International Sports & Aquatic Centre (CISAC) and they said that they had a sauna. We turned up very hopeful – only to find out it is a steam room. There is a big difference between a sauna and a steam room. Personally I do not like the damp air and smell of a steam room, preferring the dry heat and delicious timber smell of the sauna.

Anyway, we finally found a great place which does have a sauna – foot&thai in Weedon Close in Belconnen. When you have an hour massage treatment, the sauna is complementary, and $5 when you have a half hour treatment. We opted for 1/2hr Foot Reflexology Massage + 1/2hr Head, Shoulders and Back Massage – it was divine. When you arrive you are given an outfit to wear: a loose shirt and trousers like a martial arts outfit. For the foot massage, the chair reclines and you are also given a sarong to cover you and an eye mask, so you can really relax. For the first time, I had the experience of a masseuse walking on my back – which was really good and unravelled all my knots. I have had Balinese, Swedish and Turkish massage, but never the Thai style where you get walked on. It probably is not for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.

As an ardent fan of the sauna, I think it would be fantastic if there were more facilities in Canberra, we certainly have the climate in winter. But I am impatient. After talking about getting a home sauna for years, we are finally going to get one – if the rain holds out, it should be delivered this weekend – I can’t wait!