A visit to a mineral-springs health spa in southern Spain results in a mysterious sense of relaxation and well-being for Elyn Aviva.
by Judith Fein.
Photography by Paul Ross
Not too long ago, I was sitting in the waiting area of a hair salon, indulging in a guilty pleasure—reading trashy magazines. I skipped over the plunging necklines of movie stars I’ve never heard of, bounced over an article or two about how to hook your man like a flounder, and my eyes settled on a pop quiz: how is your fitness level?
Treadmill? Yes, ma’am.
Do you go to the gym twice or more a week? Check.
Is walking part of your daily routine? You bet. I walk at least 75 minutes a day in the hills and arroyos (river beds) around my home.
Swim? Uh huh.
Hula hoop? Love it.
Tai chi? I’m there.
Yoga? Kundalini style.
Biking? Nope. Hurts my butt.
Hiking? Well, if I can go really slowly on ascent.
Mountain climbing? Next life.
White water rafting? Sure, if it’s class 2 or under.
Paragliding? I like to watch it. Does that count?
I stopped the quiz and scrolled down to the results, which informed me that I am probably fit, but not an adventurer.
So, I wondered, does that mean I’m unqualified for adventure travel? And then my always-active mind skipped to: what is adventure travel anyway?
by Elyn Aviva
I needed a break. Big time. I’d been doing too much for too long. Traveling. Writing. Doing. Coming up with projects, ideas. More doing. And doing some more. I loved it all, and I loved my husband, Gary, but I needed a break. Alone. And somewhere preferably in Spain, where we live.
I started scanning last-minute Internet offers. My idea was a comfortable little cabin in the woods; someone bringing me wholesome food; and occasionally taking short, shady strolls through verdant vegetation.
Suddenly a vision floated before my eyes. My Camino de Santiago pilgrim friend Judy Colaneri and her husband, Juan Carlos, own Fuentes de Lucia, a “boutique” hotel/retreat center in the mountains of northwestern Spain. They had been asking me to visit for years. I checked the website. It wasn’t an isolated cabin in the woods, but it looked like a charming place, located in a beautiful Asturian Natural Park.
A “dynamic yoga retreat” was scheduled for the week I wanted to be there. I wasn’t sure I was interested in “dynamic” or “yoga”—it’s been too many years since I sat on the floor or managed to mold into an asana—but the retreat part sounded good.
I emailed Judy and received an immediate reply. In fact, she wrote, she had already put my name on the door of Room #7. That’s auspicious, I thought. After all, according to the Bible, the Creatrix rested on the seventh day. And that’s just what I wanted to do.
Alright, we all know by now that drinking red wine is supposed to be heart-healthy. So then, shouldn’t slathering a glass of Merlot on your body be good for the skin? Such is the theory, sort of, at the Caudalie Spas. There are currently only four in the world, and I am luxuriating in a ‘vinotherapie’ massage in the Relais San Maurizio Hotel in the heart of the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. The vintage is being absorbed into the skin rather than ingested into the bloodstream.
As is also true in Bordeaux, France, Rioja, Spain and New York City (Hmmm; don’t exactly think of the latter as a major wine-producing area…), here wine is king! And the appreciation of its many attributes – which, as those who know me can attest, I try to experience as often as I can – is a venerated practice. So it seems appropriate that the consumption of wine extend beyond traditional imbibing.