Awesome Hotel I’d Stay At Again: JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa

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We visit Las Vegas a few times per year. Our trips vary, from business to simple leisure, but I always try to add some fun outings to our trips. I also have a good friend, Rossy, which lives in Las Vegas, so I try to spend time with her every time we go. Which, is also different from Continue reading

Visit to Heidelberg in Germany

IMG_5274Finally, I am looking through our pictures from our trip a few weeks ago to Germany. My hubby had business meetings, and I accompanied him to visit my mother-in-law and our friends. It is always nice to visit Germany with my hubby. I had been there a few times when I was single, but traveling there with him Continue reading

Travel Diary: Hawaii – Flight Around Oahu

Do you ever take pictures on vacations and then don’t get around to printing the pictures…..or in my case posting them? That is what happened to me with two recent trips we took: Hawaii & Boston. I think I also missed posting the pictures from our visit to Nancy, in France. With digital cameras, I tend to take hundreds of pictures. As a result, it takes me quite a bit of time to look through the pictures and select which ones to share with you, and then actually do the posting. I did mean to write a blog post with the pictures, but then life got in the way 🙂  You know how that goes.

Recently, a friend asked me why I didn’t post the pictures from Hawaii. When I told her, she replied, “you should still post them now.” It is not like the island or beach have changed, ha! So true! The pictures are recent! So, I’ll post the pictures from our trip to Hawaii.

Before this trip, I had never been to Hawaii. When I was single, I’d travel often with friends. When we would plan a vacation and Hawaii would come up as one of the options, we would end up choosing other locations like Europe, Miami, Cabo, or Northern California. I am not a lay on the beach all day, for multiple days, type of a person. Also, for some reason, to me Hawaii seemed like a romantic destination, which it is, but it is also a wonderful destination for a family vacation, surfing trip, or get-away with friends! And, there is a lot to see, historic locations, gorgeous landscapes, cultural venues, tourist locations, excellent shopping and top cuisine restaurants! And, of course some of the most beautiful beaches in the world…with warm water. Would I go back? Most definitely yes!

We visited the island of Oahu. The weather was warm and humid, but bearable, it reminded me of Miami weather. The first day, we checked in, had dinner, and explored the area around the hotel. We were staying right in front of the beach, but also on one of the main streets, with lots of other hotels, shops, and restaurants, so there was a lot to see – and lots of people! It was fun to walk around and see the shops.

As a hobby, my hubby is a pilot. One of our favorite things to do when we visit new cities is make (take) an aerial flight. This was a unique flight because it was around the entire island and in about an hour we flew around Oahu. It was amazing! We saw the landscape, beaches, farms, many homes, Pearl Harbor, tourist destinations, and Disney’s Aulani. I work with the Disneyland Resort folks and interview them a couple times per year. When Aulani was about to open, I did an interview and when we went to Oahu, I was very curious to see and visit Aulani. My hubby has a friend who lives on the island and he joined us for the flight. Between him and the co-pilot, they gave us aerial tour of the island.

Here are the pics – an aerial perspective of Oahu. Hope you like them!

Have you been to Hawaii? Did you like it?

Hugs,

Paola

PS – Travel Diary: Hawaii Part 2; Travel Diary: Hawaii Part 3 (Ala Mona Center & Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort), and Visiting Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa

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A quick pic before the flight – next to the plane.

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An interesting little fact about Oahu is that private flights also use the same landing strip as major airline flights (we flew out on a small, private plane, on the same landing strip we arrived to the island on –  while on a commercial airline flight). Usually, in larger cities, private planes are kept at smaller airports and use those landing strips, not the same landing strips as major airlines. So, in Oahu, we had to wait in line to depart after a huge plane, it was interesting.

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You don’t see this type of landing strip everyday, water on both ends (sorry for the dark spots, this is the best shot I could get, the plane’s wing is visible in the right corners of the pic).

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So green & tropical!

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These homes were nestled among the landscape.

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Farms.

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This is one of my favorite aerial shots: I like how it represents the three perspectives of ocean, land, and open space – plus the way the sun is beaming through the clouds, and the visible waves in the right side.

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Sky, land, & sea.

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Nature at its best! Took my breathe away!

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I was able to zoom into a catamaran that was sailing in the ocean, look at the clear water!

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The Disneyland Resort – Aulani! An aerial perspective. We visited it while we were there, I’ll post those pics in one of the next Parts of the Hawaii Travel Diary.  It has the Disney magic, captured in a resort, on its own private beach!

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Pearl Harbor.

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We landed .

Birthday Vacation – Part 1: Mount Shasta

Hi friends,

To celebrate my birthday this year my hubby asked me what I wanted to do. I chose a trip! We couldn’t go too far because both of us could only take a few days off from work. He chose the location – and I agreed! We went to Northern California for five days. Initially, we were only going to go to Napa and maybe spend a day in San Francisco, but we’ve been there multiple times, so we decided to add Mount Shasta to our mini-vacation. We went to Mount Shasta, Calistoga Ranch in Napa, and Santa Rosa in Sonoma – in that order.

Our trip started with an early morning flight to San Francisco. After landing, we picked up our rental car and drove to Mount Shasta, which is about a four hour ride. We were both in a relaxed mode. About an hour into the drive, we stopped to pick up snacks and have some breakfast. After breakfast, I took over the wheel and drove the remaining portion of the trip on interstate 5. My hubby is from San Francisco, so we visit often and have been to the surrounding cities in the past, but never as far north as Mount Shasta. It is a simple drive (once you get out of the city) on the 5, mostly passing multiple cities on the boundary of the freeway, followed by lots of open land and fields. During our drive, I saw a few sunflower fields and they reminded me of my sister, since that is her favorite flower. Once we hit the Mount Shasta area, the drive was filled with amazing landscape, it was mountainous with large forest trees as far as the eye could see.

We checked into Mount Shasta Resort. We had a cabin nestled in the mountain, right next to Lake Siskiyou. The cabin was just the perfect way to spend some time in the forest, relax, and connect with mother nature.

After we got settled into our cabin, we took a nap and then went out to explore the city and have some dinner. There wasn’t much to see, just a few little shops, restaurants, and lodges. When we returned to the to the cabin we went for a walk around the lake area.

The next day, I slept in, which was nice! My body needed the rest. Mid-morning, I went to the clubhouse to pick up some breakfast for us. We had breakfast on the patio, with a view of the lake. It was very relaxing! Later in the day, we went to Shasta-Trinity National Forest and stopped at a few of the surrounding towns. We wanted to see waterfalls and chose to go to the Middle Falls overlook trail.

That evening, we went back to Mount Shasta for dinner at Liliy’s, a cute local restaurant with a french menu. The next day, we were going to visit the Mount Shasta Museum and the Mount Shasta Trout Hashery. It is the largest trout hatchery west of the Mississippi ( located next to the Museum). Since it was still early, we decided to find the Museum, so we knew where to head the next day. To our pleasant surprise, the Museum was still open because there was a play being performed that evening.  We got to see the Museum and walk around the Hatchery. The Museum is small, but has some interesting exhibits regarding the history of the area. We really couldn’t see the trout in the water because it was getting dark, so we decided we’d come back the next day.

On our last day in Mount Shasta, we watched the World Cup match (Mexico vs. Netherlands) in the morning. I was disappointed that Mexico lost, but we never lose hope, they is always the next World Cup to play in again (I am following Mexico, USA, & Germany). After the game, we headed to the clubhouse for brunch and to check out. The Resort has a beautiful golf course, which the restaurant overlooks.

After brunch, we went back to the Museum to check out the trout hatchery. It was very interesting and fascinating. The hatchery is operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and funded from fishing license fees. It is open to the public and admission is free. There are small vending machines where you can buy food to feed the fish. It was interesting to see the multiple tanks that the trout are kept in and the process followed to raise them. The entire process takes 18 months, from hatching to release into a lake.  I had never seen so many trout in one place!

After visiting the Museum, we started our drive towards Calistoga Ranch in Napa.  I’ll share pictures of Calistoga Ranch-an Auberge Resort in my next post.

Hope you like these pictures from our visit to Mount Shasta!

Have you been to Mount Shasta or Northern California? Do you go camping? What do you prefer – to stay in a cabin, tent, or RV?

Hugs,
Paola

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Mount Shasta.

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This was our cabin.

DSCN1413 DSCN1410 DSCN1418 DSCN1415 DSCN1425 DSCN1431 This was our rental car. It was perfect for the drive in the mountains and wine country!

DSCN1437My hubby’s dinner. I ate the asparagus, it was delicious!

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My dinner – it was a tasty salad! The dressing was one of the best vinagrettes I’ve had!

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We shared the mud pie a la mode dessert!

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Enjoying breakfast on the patio!

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We took a selfie 🙂

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Lily’s Restaurant.

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The Clubhouse at Mount Shasta Resort.

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The Trout Hatchery.

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Orlando Get-Away

Every so often, my hubby and I have the opportunity to go out of town. In time, we would like to try to have a baby, so I try to take advantage of opportunities to travel now because I know that in the future it may not be as easy to take these get-aways. We recently went to Orlando, a beautiful city which we have visited in the past. My husband used to live in Florida, so he has friends there. In the past few years, we have been to Orlando about two to three times per year. I have been to all the Disney World Parks and they are amazing, and to most of the top tourist attractions. Now, when we visit Orlando, we go to less “touristy” locations. We also like to enjoy the amenities at the resort, such as the pool and spa. I know, may seem funny, we live in San Diego where there are also lots of pools, spas, and palm trees, but when we get away we disconnect a bit and relax!

We split our seven day stay in Orlando between two hotels. First we stayed at the JW Marriott & Ritz Carlton Resort, where we have stayed before. For the second part of the trip, my husband was taking a pilot course (flying is his hobby) and we moved to the Hilton, which was on the other side of town and closer to the flight school. As we were preparing for the trip, I was making plans of what I would do while he was busy during the day attending classes – from going for long walks, enjoying the resort, floating in the lazy pool, going to the jacuzzi, maybe going to the gym, and writing some blog posts. Well, I didn’t really get around to doing it all! I did lots of relaxing, reading, and sleeping!

The first day, I slept in because I was tired from working long hours the days prior to leaving on vacation (you know how that goes) and from the flights (it takes two flights to get from San Diego to Orlando on United). We left our home about 9:00am and arrived about ten hours later in Orlando. It was about 11:30pm east coast time when we checked into our hotel. We ordered room service for dinner. I try not to eat that late, but did have half a piece of key lime pie as my dinner – I was on vacation after all – and you have to eat key lime pie when you are so close to Key West in Florida!

The first day it was raining, we had a late breakfast, watched a movie and relaxed. The room had a nice view and a couch next to the window – it was heaven! I even enjoyed watching the rainfall. Rain in Orlando is different from San Diego rain. In Orlando, it rains more often, it is a sudden storm and in a few hours it passes. We got out of the room for a long walk around the resort & surrounding area. It is a beautiful property!

The second day, we explored the Resort further. The weather was cloudy, we didn’t get in the pool, but did enjoy the jacuzzi! We did some shopping and went out to eat.

By day three, I was done with relaxing. It was the first sunny day and the weather was perfect, just the right level of warm. We got up early, packed since we were changing hotels, and went for a long walk around the resort. It was the first day that I was able to take some nice pictures to share with you. Midday we changed hotels and then drove to Palm Beach to meet friends for dinner.

The next day, my hubby went off to pilot school bright and early. I explored the Hilton resort and spent time by the pool. My hubby came back mid-afternoon and we met for a late lunch. That day definitely felt like a vacation because we ate outside by the pool and had fruity drinks! In the evening we ate ice-cream in the room and watched a movie.

By the fifth day, I wanted to visit the sights and we went to Celebration, a cute development (community) with residences and retail shops. It was like visiting the set of Wisteria Lane on Desperate Housewives. We had a delicious Italian dinner and ate ice-cream outside!

The day before we returned home, I got up early and left the hotel with my hubby. I dropped him off at the flight school and was about to head to Universal City Walk, when I read that the parking lot had been evacuated due to a bomb threat. I didn’t want to deal with the traffic and decided to visit downtown Orlando instead.

On our last day in Orlando, I decided to check out of the hotel early and accompany my husband to the flight school. I set-up my laptop on one of the desks in the library and spent some time writing on the blog. So, I did manage to write one blog post while on vacation 🙂

It was nice to get away, to disconnect and re-charge. It also helps me to clear my mind and make plans for projects I am managing at work or upcoming production shoots. It was a nice vacation, my favorite part was spending some down time with my hubby!

Hope you like the pictures – I took lots!

Have you been to Orlando? When was your last vacation? Did you go out of town or do a stay-cation?

Hugs,
Paola

PS – Our trip to Germany: Enjoying Sonnora Waldhotel & Restaurant and Black Forest in west Germany, spa day in Baden Baden, and visiting Kurhaus Casino & Kaefers’ Restaurant.

Below are pictures from our stay at the JW Marriott, the property is located on the same resort as the Ritz-Carlton Orlando (they are sister properties), guests can enjoy the amenities at both hotels.

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The lobby at the JW Marriott – gorgeous!

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This was the view from our room!

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Our room.

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DSCN8010 DSCN7941I enjoyed fresh fruit everyday for breakfast.

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You know I love having a robe provided in the room! Gives it an extra special touch!

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I spent most of my vacation wearing these.

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I enjoyed watching a few movies.

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I took a book regarding WordPress with me and planned to read it….but actually spent time reading these 🙂 Hey, don’t judge  – after all, I was on vacation! I usually catch up on these magazines while getting a pedicure at the nail salon back at home.

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This picture and those that follow are from my walks through the hotels and resort – beautiful!

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The children’s pool.

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The pool at the Ritz Carlton.

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These little critters freak me out. There are lots of them in Florida!

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The Ritz Carlton.

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The “adults only” pool at the spa.

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The lazy river pool at the JW Marriott – it is so relaxing to float around in it!

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I did take a break from my walk to relax by the pool.

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Winter Pedicure – Do You Get One? / Pedicure Invernal

DSCN7968 Hi friends,

Do you get pedicures during the winter season? I get pedicures on a regular basis. Every four to six weeks I go into the nail salon and get a spa pedicure. It is fantastic, a little “me” time. Sometimes, I don’t have time to get to the salon and will paint over the polish, in an attempt to stretch the pedicure a few days until I can get to the salon.

Recently, I went on a vacation with my hubby to Orlando and was glad I had a pedicure, so my toes were sandal and beach ready!

Of course, living in Southern California, w can pretty much wear open toe shoes year round, but it does get cold for a few months during the year. This is when we bring out our boots and wear socks with our shoes. Some of my friends don’t get pedicures during the winter season because they say their toes aren’t visible in the boots. This got me wondering about how many women don’t get pedicures during the winter?

Do you get a pedicure on a regular basis? Do you gat a pedicure during the winter season?

Hugs,

Paola

ESPANOL: Hola amigos,

Se hacen pedicure durante el invierno? Yo voy a hacerme pedicures regularmente. Cada cuatro a seis semanas voy a la estetica y me hago un pedicure. Es fantastico, un poco de “tiempo para mi.” Aveces no tengo tiempo de ir a la estetica y me pongo pintura de unas encima del pedicure para alargar el pedicure unos dias mas hasta que tengo la oportunidad de ir a la estetica.

Recientemente, fui de vacaciones con mi marido a Orlando y estaba contenta que ya tenia un pedicure, asi mis pies estaban listos para sandalias y la playa!

Claro, viviendo en el sur de California, practicamente podemos usar zapatos abiertos gran parte del ano. Pero, si hace frio algunos meses. Esta es la temporada cuando sacamos las botas y usamos zapatos con calcetas. Algunas de mis amigas no se hacen pedicures durante el invierno ya que dicen que sus pies no son visibles en botas. Esto me hizo preguntar, cuantas mujeres no se hacen pedicure durante el invierno?

Te haces pedicures regularmente? Te haces pedicures durante el invierno?

Un abrazo,

Paola

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I spent lots of time wearing these during our vacation…glad my toes were sandal ready!

Pase mucho tiempo usando estas durante nuestras vacaciones…..que bueno que mis pies estaban listos para usar sandalias!

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I also spent lots of time relaxing with my feet up 🙂

Pase mucho tiempo relajando, con mis pies elevados 🙂

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And relaxing by the pool.

Y relajada junto a la alberca.

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Sonnora Waldhotel & Restaurant and Black Forest – Germany

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During our recent vacation, we spent two days in the west part of Germany, known as the Black Forest region. We visited friends at their home and had dinner with them at Sonnora Restaurant. We had dinner there two years ago, they have exquisite french cuisine! My husband has dined there many times over the years.  It is one of the best restaurants we have been to! It is elegant and beautiful, they have excellent service and the food is amazing. Sonnora is one of the top restaurants in Germany, with three star rating and international status. The Restaurant is a destination in itself. People from other countries and Germans from all over come to enjoy this experience and cuisine!  Our friends know the Chef, Helmut Thieltges (he’s also the owner), and after dinner we had the opportunity to meet him, this was quite a treat! It was a wonderful evening with friends!

We stayed at the Sonnora Waldhotel (means forest hotel) which is adjacent to the Restaurant. The area is beautiful, with tall forest trees! The gardens are so picturesque, it felt like we were in a Hansel & Gretel fairy tale! I recorded a video blog of our visit to Sonnora and will post it soon. The experience is unique and the location is breathtaking, here’s a link to the Sonnora Waldhotel & Restaurant, if you’d like more details. If you are in a foodie, chef, or just enjoy fine dining this is a must visit restaurant! Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Hugs,

Paola

PS – Our trip to Germany: Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, spa day in Baden Baden, and visiting Kurhaus Casino & Kaefers’ Restaurant.

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The entrance to the Hotel.DSCN4982 DSCN4979 DSCN4969 DSCN4983 DSCN4966

The lobby area.DSCN4962 DSCN4985

A sitting room with views of the garden.

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The entrance to Sonnora Restaurant.

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The dining room at Sonnora Restaurant.

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Our hotel room – a suite with a terrace. DSCN4929 DSCN4925 DSCN4930

It always a nice treat to have bathrobes & slippers!

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The living room area of our suite.

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Picture of the entrance, the suite has an alcove with a closet, safe, mirror, & dressing area.

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It was nice to have fresh fruit provided in the room! I wasn’t hungry at breakfast time, but I took a banana & kiwi to go.

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The terrace (balcony) & garden view from our room.

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A picture of the beautiful garden area – so picturesque!

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The view from the balcony seating area of the breakfast dining area.

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More options for outside seating.

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Another view of the gardens.

DSCN4958A picture of part of the breakfast dining room.

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It was a “European” style continental breakfast.

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I wasn’t hungry at breakfast time, so I only had a cup of coffee. The individual coffee pot was a nice touch.

DSCN4959A private dining room located in the breakfast area.

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As we were checking out, Chef Thieltges came out to greet us.

Spa Day in Baden Baden, Germany

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During our vacation to Germany, we spent a day at Baden Baden, a city known for its mineral spas. I had been there on vacation with my sister about 10 years ago. I recorded a video blog, so I wasn’t able to take many pictures and taking pictures inside the spa is not allowed. We spent the day at Caracalla Spa enjoying the mineral water pools and jacuzzis, as well as the steam rooms. Afterwards, we did a little shopping at the gift shop and headed to dinner. We found a little Prague style restaurant in town, just a few blocks from the spa. My hubby ordered  a dumpling soup and goulash. I don’t really like goulash or dumplings, so I had a broiled potato (this was pretty much what I ate daily on our vacation to Prague a few years ago). Of course, I tried a few spoonfuls of the dessert, how can you say no to a sundae? I can’t! We had a relaxing day in Baden Baden! If you visit Germany and have time to make a side trip, I definitely recommend Baden Baden. It is a cute & quaint town, with wonderful and unique spas! We’ll probably come back in a few years!

Hugs,

Paola

PS – Our trip to Germany: Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, enjoying Sonnora Waldhotel & Restaurant and Black Forest in west Germany, and visiting Kurhaus Casino & Kaefers’ Restaurant.

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This is the entrance of the spa (picture taken from the inside looking out).

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This is the lobby of the spa.

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Our table had flowers and  a small candle, always a nice touch!

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My hubby ordered dumpling soup and his mexo-mix soft drink (Coke & Fanta mix).

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I ordered a broiled potato, in the background you can see the goulash dish my husband ordered.

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We shared dessert. The sundae was delicious….and huge!