Tag Archives: Swimming Pool

The Big Europe Trip: Villa Honegg

20 Aug

After several days of nonstop walking, James and I were ready just to laze around for awhile. Which was awesome because the next portion of our trip was two nights in a suuuuper fancy hotel near Lucerne.

Our room:IMG_20190503_145542Our view: IMG_20190503_145558After we got settled we went to check out the pool. It was awesome and had a fantastic view of Lake Lucerne. The only possible improvement? A pool beer.IMG_20190503_155805I liked the spa stations and James liked the giant taps.
IMG_20190503_153021This photo I just really like.MVIMG_20190503_163829Also this is the colder indoor pool that nobody ever used: IMG_20190504_073607We had dinner at the hotel restaurant, which was nice but expensive. We tried some Swiss wine and agreed that we weren’t huge fans.

The next morning we headed to the pool again for a pre-breakfast soak. It was really beautiful seeing the sun rise and the fog creep over the lake.
MVIMG_20190504_062411It was just us and one other couple and they very nicely took this photo of us:
MVIMG_20190504_062839 Help! He’s fallen and he can’t get up! IMG_20190504_061931We headed to the dining room for breakfast and in the afternoon we went for a light hike nearby. IMG_20190504_124645 Switzerland is so very lovely. The lake! The snow-capped mountains! The green! The cows!IMG_20190504_124903On the walk up we were delighted, absolutely delighted, to see these two cows standing butt to butt: IMG_20190504_140305It was raining lightly on our hike but it wasn’t too bad since we were prepared with rain jackets and hiking boots. Also we got to see this beautiful, overcast view of Lake Lucerne: IMG_20190504_125729-PANOWe also visited the Hammetschwand Elevator, which is the highest elevator in Europe. IMG_20190504_132845We took it to the bottom, plummeting 152.8 meters in less than a minute. We wanted to take it back up but it cost 13 CHF each, which we didn’t think was worth it when we’d already done it for free.

We continued the hike and found a bunch of hotels/spas where there was also this cool bridge: IMG_20190504_153540 Also this big guy came running at us out of nowhere, looking for pats, and James initially freaked out because he thought it was a wolf. IMG_20190504_151027James: He was a good dog all along. It was wrong of me to judge.
Me: Based on his running speed.
James: And his wolfy face.

There were some nice tunnels and caves on our way back.MVIMG_20190504_144509 I asked James if the cliff edge scared him (like the wolf dog) since he doesn’t like heights, and he said yes. You can see him keeping a nice, safe distance.IMG_20190504_135245Later in the afternoon when we were hanging out at the pool – we were there a lot – it started snowing! MVIMG_20190504_181518It was gentle, soft flakes in the afternoon and in the evening after dinner the snow really started pelting down.

It was magical and we had the best time. (We were also very pleased that we’d finished our hike before the weather turned). James kept fetching handfuls of snow from outside the pool and bringing them in the water because he liked feeling them melt.

The next morning was even more incredible. The snow had stopped at some point during the night but it was enough to blanket the area.IMG_20190505_115843We swam around for awhile, then showered and had breakfast.

The hotel had these enormous faux fur coats and wearing them made us feel like Russian gangsters.IMG_20190505_122034James surveying his domain.
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It was a good morning for sunbathing.
MVIMG_20190505_122412 Touch the snow!
00000PORTRAIT_00000_BURST20190505123844345Then it was time to leave. =( We admired the beautiful view one last time on our picturesque drive back to Ennetburgen:
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James was really excited that you could see a pretty clear line between where the snow had fallen the night before and where it hadn’t (you can also see it in the sunbathing picture above).

Reinvigorated by our lazy weekend, we got on a bus and train towards Zurich, where James had several days of work and I had several days of solo travel!

Indonesia: Ayana Resort & Rock Bar

13 Sep

After a couple of days of sleeping on a boat mattress and manually flushing the toilet, James and I were ready for some luxury. So at the last minute we decided to stay at the five star Ayana Resort for our final night in Bali.
IMG_20160526_181401And it was heaven.

As soon as we got out of the taxi we were greeted with a frangipani garland (there were trees all over the grounds so everywhere you went it smelled amazing). We had a delicious welcome cocktail as we checked in, and our bags were waiting for us when we got to our room.

We were pretty tired from the flight so we decided to try out the aquataonic pool before we turned in for the night.

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image from Northstar Travel

According to Ayana’s website the aquatonic pool contains 700 million liters of water directly supplied from the nearby Indian Ocean and has 12 hydromassage stations containing over 60 individual therapeutic jet streams, micro-bubbles and geysers. So basically a fancy, massage-y hot tub.

In the pool we warmed up by walking/swimming down a lane with a strong current that pushed against us. Then we swam to different stations with jets aimed at different body parts – like one would deal with shoulders, then the next our middle back, then our lower back, etc.

I don’t know how busy it is normally but we went right before closing so there was only one other couple there and we could spend as long as we liked at each station (though they recommended 2 minutes). It was super relaxing and exactly what we needed after the plane ride.

The next day we embarked on a quest to try out every single pool at Ayana, because why not?

We woke up early and headed straight to the Ocean Pool because we’d heard it was really popular. It was overcast and raining, which was a bit of a bummer, but that meant we had the pool to ourselves, so hooray!
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We hung out here for ages just looking at the water. =)

The next pool we tried was the River Pool.
IMG_20160527_084216Pretty cool, huh? I was taking photos and one of the maintenance guys showed me this vantage spot and said it was the best for photos. He was right!

This was a weirdly shaped pool at the sister hotel, Rimba. It was still raining on and off so again we were the only ones there.
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That pool overlooked several other pools. The lower pool was pretty huge – it wrapped around to the right and had a bunch of cabanas around it.
pool2To the left of the bridge there was a hot tub nook and a bar. The hot tub was great but the pool water was freezing immediately after! James had a soak right before he swam over for a morning coffee.IMG_20160527_095630We explored a couple of other pools (all the other pools!) but those were our favourites. James tried to go down the kiddy waterslide but they wouldn’t let him. =(

By the time we hit the main pool at Ayana the sun was out and it was pretty busy. The upper pool had a gorgeous view of the ocean and the hotel grounds but was super packed. We took this photo at the lower pool which was completely empty, probably it was really deep and looked more like a lap pool. In the photo you can see a bunch of people lounging at the upper edge.
IMG_20160527_115423We also dropped by the hotel’s private beach which looked nice, but no beach can really compare after the Komodo Islands. We did see some monkeys though, which was pretty cool.

And one last visit to the Ocean Pool!

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Then it was time to check out and have lunch.
IMG_20160527_135622We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around and exploring.
IMG_20160527_153010Until Rock Bar opened. =D

It is built on a cliff face, looking out to the ocean. And insanely gorgeous!

The Rock Bar

image from Ayana

It’s accessed by a funicular which is also pretty cool. Right before the bar opened the staff used it to transport all the ingredients and ice (soooo many bags of ice).
IMG_20160527_080758Here we are inside it earlier in the day. I think this was after our second trip to the Ocean Pool, which is why we’re looking a bit damp. Though it was super humid, so who am I kidding – we were constantly looking a bit damp. =(
funicular2There was a long line for the funicular, unless you were a hotel guest in which case you had priority access. You could get there faster via some stairs, but I guess the trip down is half the fun!

This is the other half of Rock Bar taken from near the actual bar. Our waitress said that the fancy area across the bridge was for people staying at the villas (the super premium rooms).
IMG_20160527_155819She also said that all the good seats are reserved for hotel guests and visitors get the seats at the back, so I’m glad we didn’t go at the start of our trip when we were at a different hotel.

Look at the crazy waves!
IMG_20160527_162608Some of the tables closer to the water couldn’t be used because they were soaked. I got sprayed several times trying to time the waves for a photo, which wasn’t terrible considering how brutally hot it was.

When we were seated our waitress gave us some cold towels and an umbrella to keep the sun off. They came in very handy.
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And then we sat there and drank aaaaaalll evening. =) To be honest the drinks were pretty bad, but everyone was there for the ambiance anyway.

Our waitress was lovely – she offered to take a photo for us. Then she insisted on taking a billion pictures with us posing at different places around the bar which was very sweet but also very unnecessary.

I felt bad telling her that we didn’t really need that many photos so just went along with it. And then I felt bad just deleting them so here they are (or like, 1/20th of them anyway)!

At our seats (sorry, everything looking into the sun is just super washed out – but how great are those seats??):
IMG_20160527_171018Left of the bar:
IMG_20160527_171147At the bar:
IMG_20160527_171241Right of the bar. Our waitress/photographer told us to hold hands and look into each other’s eyes. And then we had to stand there for several minutes staring at each other while she took sooo many photos, which cracked us up.IMG_20160527_171435
It was really sweet of her. And it is nice to have (200) souvenir photos of us at Rock Bar. =) Though I was a bit photographed out when James tried to take a selfie later:
IMG_20160527_180116 (1)
From memory, the giant, dark hand underneath is me trying to take the phone away and the curiously pale hand on top is James trying to stop me. We may or may not have had a few by then. Good times.

And here is the bar, all pretty and glowy at night!
IMG_20160527_183043There wasn’t much of a sunset to see which was disappointing. =( But we still got to drink and admire the view until it was time for us to head to the airport, which was not a bad way to go.

I wish we could have had a couple more days at the resort to soak everything up. When we got home I told James that I don’t want to go back to Indonesia when there are so many other countries to explore, but I really want to go back to Ayana! Everything about it was perfect – the hotel was gorgeous, the restaurants were great, everyone who worked there was amazing – and it was a wonderful, luxurious end to our holiday!

Yes We Cancun!

9 Dec

A couple of months ago James and I went to Cancun to attend Luke and Madeleine’s wedding. We went for a week, which was perfect – enough time to catch up with friends but not long enough to get bored of the resort (which was so lovely – just look at it!).

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image from Valentin Imperial Maya

This was really different from our usual holidays; normally I like to be a bit more active, and spend months researching the best things to do. But since it was a resort and the main reason we were going was for the wedding (and seeing our friends!) I was happy to just go with the flow this time.

The most exciting part for me was that it was all-inclusive. You know how I pig out whenever I visit James at work? Yeah, I went nuts. I had 10 cocktails the first day. We arrived in the afternoon so it wasn’t even a full day.
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James: (when taking the photo) Try looking a little less drunk.

A lot of stuff happened that first day though. For instance, Quincy got stuck in the women’s bathroom (the door jammed) and the guys had to sneak in and help her out.
IMG_20151030_231932Also James found a cat.
IMG_20151030_184209And he found another one a couple of days later. Finding vacation cats is like his lame superpower.
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No James! That’s not a cat!
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We were really excited by the coatis. We saw them wandering around the grounds but this is the best photo James got of them:
IMG_20151030_182051We found out later from Mike that if you rustle a bag of chips you can get this photo:
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I kind of cheated with this photo, because this is Pancho and he lived at the outdoor buffet restaurant.
IMG_20151101_131648He looks happy because he’s basically the coati equivalent of a billionaire; the waiters fed him a lot. I know this because whenever you said his name he would perk up, turn his head and then look disappointed.

It was such a weird experience being able to order without paying. We could get room service whenever we wanted and raided our room’s mini fridge.

At the breakfast buffets they would make omelettes to order, and there was a fajita station at the lunch buffet, which is basically what I had every day because they were amazing. James also made many visits to the breakfast crepe lady.
IMG_20151102_095918This is the baked Alaska from the fancy French restaurant we went to on (I think) our second night there.
IMG_20151031_194828Guy in the orange top is so jelly. You know he’s totally going to order one.

And here is the hibachi grill that we went to for Madeleine’s hens night.
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I have two cups of sake in front of me: one hot and one cold. Also some sushi.

IMG_20151101_213020I think my favourite restaurant experience was actually the last night. We went to the Mexican restaurant and the food was great! We also had the best waiter – he was so funny and took great care of James when he found out he was lactose intolerant. Here he is preparing my fajitas:
IMG_20151105_225359We had 10 people so our group was split in half. We sent tequila shots to the other table, because why not! Jenny had the idea to make three of them tequila and one water and when they drank them we could hear Quincy say “I don’t think mine was anything!”

Other than gorging ourselves we also went to the beach a lot. My favourite thing to do was feed the fish. They would leap out of the water to snatch bread from your fingers!
IMG_20151031_110049Even when James went back in the water later (breadless) the fish swarmed him.

James: Noo they recognise my brightly coloured shorts!
IMG_20151104_090353The breeze from the ocean made the beach one of the least humid places to hang out and the umbrella chairs were quite coveted.

The regular umbrella chairs weren’t good enough for James; he decided to take the lifeguard’s spot.
IMG_20151031_121032Plus of course there was booze service. I think we had some big tippers in our group because sometimes the waiter would just bring us impromptu tequila shots.

The pool was also popular because it wasn’t sandy, was faster to get to,  and had two swim up bars.
IMG_20151031_162903Mike had a fancy suite with a pool right next to it, so sometimes we’d swim at his pool then order a crapload of room service (quesadillas and burgers and nachos, oh my!) and booze.

Of course, you can only hang out at the pool and beach so much. So here’s James at one of the shooting activities with a (BB?) gun in one hand, margarita in the other.
IMG_20151102_111824We also went snorkeling one day, which was kind of meh because it had been raining and the visibility was poor, but it was cheap and I was going a bit stir crazy. We also tried some hookah that was in the cigar bar at the resort. Verdict: interesting, but not for us.

After the wedding we did a big group trip which was super fun. First we went to the Tulum ruins:
IMG_20151105_152206James at one of the temples (I want to say it’s the God of Winds temple?) with our ponchos in his pockets:
IMG_20151105_151356Afterwards we had lunch and drove ATVs through the jungle to get to a bunch of hidden cenotes (cave pools).
IMG_20151105_180604Then we ATV’d to a cave that we had to zipline into, which was really fun. The only slight bummer was that we started late in the afternoon so by the time we hit the cenotes it was dark outside and starting to get a bit cold. Luckily the life jackets kept us warm enough as we snorkeled around in the cave. It was pretty eerie and we had to be careful not to snag ourselves on the rock formations.

And here we are at dinner: homemade tamales!
IMG_20151105_194056The all-inclusive format really worked well for a group trip since we could just eat and drink and hang out. It was so great to see all of our Seattle friends and I’m looking forward to the next wedding (which a little birdie told me might be in Bali next year!).

A Busy Easter Weekend – Flow Rider and Brunch!

24 Apr

Last weekend a bunch of us went to the Snohomish Aquatic Center. The guys wanted to use the Flow Rider, which is this cool machine that’s supposed to simulate surfing. I was considering it until I saw a girl lose her bikini top when she fell off (and Luke had a wardrobe malfunction that caused a father to cover his daughter’s eyes haha).

Everyone started out with boogie boards, but after awhile tried standing up on the skateboard-sized boards. Apparently although it’s really fun it’s not comparable to surfing. Luke and Madeleine (the two experienced surfers) were doing better than James and TJ though, so there is definitely some crossover.

This was James’ best attempt of the day.

I love how his initial confidence makes him do the hang loose sign, which causes him to lose balance. And then when he recovers from that, it’s his delight at having recovered that makes him fall off. =D

The aquatic center was surprisingly small given its woop-woopy location. It was way smaller than the one in Albert Park in Melbourne – you’d think given how much space there is out there they’d at least spring for an Olympic size pool. There was a weird system where you paid for a 2 hour session, after which they cleared everyone out to disinfect the pools and you had to pay for another session if you wanted to keep going.

Afterwards we went out for wings. And oh! OH! Did you know that Americans/Canadians pronounce “parmesan” as “parmeJAN” (with the emphasis on the last syllable and the ‘j’ a cross between a ‘j’ and ‘sh’ sound). Blew my freaking mind. How can I have lived in the US for this long and not realised? (For any non-Antipodeans reading this, we say “PARMesen”, with the emphasis on the first syllable and the ‘sen’ pronounced how it looks).

Craziness.

Anyway, on Sunday we went to Luke and Madeleine’s for Easter Brunch. Madeleine made us some baked french toast, which was another American first for us. French toast isn’t really widespread in Australia – I only know about it from Sweet Valley High books.

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It was delicious, especially with Canadian maple syrup. As soon as you cut into it you could smell how fragrant it was. And you can eat it with like … two blueberries and pretend you’re being healthy.

After brunch it was time to shift the party to our place, where some other friends joined us for board games and Game of Thrones.

This weekend will be similarly busy – John is having a going away/GoT party on Sunday and I’m thinking about going snowboarding on Saturday since it’s the last weekend of the season.