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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

A Winter Wonderland at Grail Springs Wellness Retreat

Posted by E on December 12, 2016

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Grail Springs is a beautiful property with great energy in Bancroft, Ontario. Called “The Holy Grail of mind and body retreats” by the Toronto Star, this unique place has won the Best Retreat in Canada award by World Spa Association and ranks high on TripAdvisor’s 2016 Traveler’s Choice. And yes, that is an actual moat (crossing a little creek) that leads to the medieval storybook castle turret entrance!

With packages starting at almost $400 nightly per person, this place has acquired a certain reputation as an exclusive destination for pampering the mind as well as the spirit. It has only 13 rooms, an amazing lounge room that rivals Deerhurst’s, and several rooms for yoga, meditation, hydrotherapy and body works. Outdoors there are hiking paths, a large lake, horse stables where you can sign up for horseback rides, and a garden labyrinth.

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Photo courtesy of the Toronto Star, Dec. 2016

And now I’m here!

One of the perks of having a partner who runs workshops all over the place is that whenever we travel on business our accommodations are covered – and sometimes we get to visit some amazing places like this one.

While my partner teaches seminars, I explore the property and get an opportunity for some rest and rejuvenation.

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I’m convinced that we have one of the best rooms in the entire place  – it’s an upgraded deluxe room and faces this huge forest and a narrow creek that runs behind the property. The room has a fireplace, chaise lounge, a super-comfortable bed and a lovely carved wood desk where I will be spending quite a bit of time for the next four nights and three days working on my writing projects.

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This is the last week of my George Brown social media marketing classes. Tonight, after I submit my final project assignments for two separate classes, I will be officially done! I held back on publishing my social media guidebook because I had so much schoolwork to get through, but also partly because I wanted to graduate the program and get my official certificate so that I could include my new credentials in the book.

Tomorrow I will get back to working on said book, but in the meanwhile there is beauty to behold. Look at the view from our deck!

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The first thing I did when I got up this morning was walk around the property and take lots of photos of the woods and the frozen lake. Here are the outdoor sauna and hot tub, where we’ll probably hang out this evening. Also a view of the woods, stretching toward the lake (which you can’t see because it’s covered with snow).

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Everywhere I look around this retreat, there are woven tapestries and wood carvings, plush sofas and ornate furniture, soft music and aromatherapy candles.

Here is the incredible lounge – which is completely empty at most times since the guests are attending various classes and spa therapies (I’m not on a package, so I’m free to schedule my day as I wish). I can’t believe I had it all to myself – though later on I met Ojoe, the resident pooch 🙂

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The room has crystals, singing bowls, a tea station and a slab of natural amethyst that glows vibrant purple.

img_5884I spotted a deck of oracle cards that has been left out for the guests, and I decided to draw a card to see what message I would get from the universe.

This is what I picked: Metamorphosis.

The card’s meaning, according to the guidebook:

“You are in the process of deep and beautiful change.

Butterflies earn their wings through great effort. The process of change is often painful, for it is never without losses and sacrifices….

Despite your fear, you must accept that this is a transformational time for you. There will be some loss involved, but you’ll love what you become.”

It’s a winter wonderland here, and oh so beautiful. There is much peace and serenity in the air. After everything that’s happened over the last year, I definitely needed this getaway. And who knows – perhaps I am indeed on the brink of a beautiful transformation. 🙂

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I miss Europe…..

Posted by E on June 10, 2010

London, May 2010

I know I said it before, but still…exploding volcanoes, euro crashing, Greek riots, the EU splitting up, and least of all, those airport shut-downs…what else could go wrong in Europe this summer?

And yet this is where part of my heart lies. Where I’ve been most alive.

Like everybody born in one place and reared in another, my feet straddle two continents, and it seems like I am never whole. Yes, I know that what you call your “home” ought to reside within you, but there are still moments when I viscerally sense the absence of springtime in Canada, where I gaze up at the trees and almost expect to see white, pink and purple flowers in bloom…but there are only leaves. Vibrantly green, beautiful leaves, but nothing like the kaleidoscopic burst of petals and pastels I remember from my childhood.

Do you ever feel like you want to be in two places at once? It’s like that early morning moment when you’ve just woken up but you’re not altogether sure which world is real – the one of dreams and longing, or the one that protrudes, weed-like, through traffic and ashphalt?

Posted in belonging, europe, life, london, longing, thoughts, travel, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Just back from London

Posted by E on June 2, 2010

Well, I’m back!! In more ways than one. Back from London, England as of a week now, and back on WordPress after a year of absence. I know, I know, a shitload of stuff has happened over the last year, and over the next little while I’ll be sure to update all of you on what has been going on.

But first, let me say this — despite all the trepidations about the ash cloud, etc (given as it made quite a dent in the recent London Book Fair, which was a bust for most overseas agents who didn’t get there early enough), somehow the clouds lifted during the particular week we were scheduled to leave.

To be honest, though, I didn’t let myself hope – or pack my bag even – until the day before our flight. Why bother getting all excited, I figured, if the airport was going to be shut down again? And, as if on cue, we leave on a Saturday, and the next day, Sunday, all UK airports close up. Yep. Not making this up. And they stay closed until 2 days before we’re supposed to depart.

Which made life a teensy bit tense for the partner, given a conference she was to attend the very next day in Boston….well, everything ended well. We got back to Canada, she got to Boston, wrapped up conference and came back home, and now we are….you guessed it, in another hotel room. In buttf*ck nowhere, southern Ontario. Don’t even ask. (Business, why else?)

But London was grand. For me, it wasn’t the reaction I anticipated: it wasn’t that punch-to-the-gut, breathtaking awe I experienced when I first laid eyes on Venice, or the fairytale magic of being on Barcelona’s streets, or the dizzying magnificence of Paris….no, my reaction to London (and its war-scarred architecture) was much more subdued. It was a bit like…coming home. Like settling into a comfortable pair of slippers. One that you never want to be forced to take off.

I could live there, I really could. (As I write this, I’m mentally adding it to my list of places I’d love to have a pied-de-terre in). The leafy parks, the grand boulevards, the excitement of Soho and Bloomsbury….not to mention all the great pubs and restuarants, and even the chain of Nando eateries I hadn’t expected to encounter. Not a far stretch of the imagination to think of London as a great central base for exploring Europe.

It’s definitely a place I intend to return to over and over again. And sample my new favourite drink: cider. Which I’m ashamed to say I’ve not ever had before this trip. It’s a fantastic find, I tell you — for someone who hates beer as much as I do, I finally have a substitute to make me look like I could fit in with all the cool kids and their big pints. Who’s ever to know that my pint tastes like sweet pears and apples? 🙂

More on London later. Ta-ta for now!

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More media hysteria about tourism in Mexico

Posted by E on January 2, 2009

Another Mexico tourist shooting article

So another couple of guys got shot in Mexico this week. I can barely wait until next week’s Marketplace or W5 hyped-up sensationalized story about the mass murdering of innocent Canadian tourists who flock south for a wee bit of sun and waddle in the warm and assumed-to-be-inviting waters of the Mexican peninsula….only to run in the paths of bullets, vehicles out of control and homicidal resort staff.

I’m of the opinion that, barring a few unfortunate tragedies that could happen anywhere, whether in a Mexican resort or outside a Yonge st shoe store on boxing day in Toronto, where there’s trouble, trouble will follow. These two guys were shot in a strip club, for god’s sake. I know, they were only browsing by and they really are fine, upstanding citizens on the prowl for a cheap margarita and a cheaper latina date, but honestly….

Meeting your maker in a seedy topless bar is not quite the typical tourist profile of mom and pop and their 2.5 kids tanning on the beach, coming into a hail of bullets fired by an entire Mexican mafioso escadron. I’m not saying that what happened isn’t unfortunate, because nobody deserves to be turned into a quadroplegic, but the issue is – if you don’t want trouble, don’t frequent places where beefy drunken men, lack of local language skills and tequila mix to often unfortunate results.

Yes, a tourist in Latin America does have to watch their back. As does a tourist in New York City. But given the large number of tourists from all over the world who sojourn in Mexico, and the per capita number of serious crimes inflicted on them, I think it’s safe to say that you should keep away from the hysterics inflicted upon the masses by the above-mentioned media outlets, which, although it pains me to cite the cliches, do indeed sensationalize unnecesarily to boost their ratings.

If there is any corruption and serious crime to speak of in Mexico, it is not targeted toward the gringos beached along the coasts.

Perhaps CTV, CBC, etc. should focus more on the crimes inflicted upon locals by Mexican crime lords and corrupt police. But stories about Juarez’s thousands of missing women, or the desperate poverty of the border towns where people waste their lives sowing jeans for a buck a day doesn’t scandalize the Canadian public quite the same, does it?

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