"Perfectionism is slow death." Hugh Prather

Do you believe that perfection will make you happy? Do you subject others to your ridiculous standards? Do you "do nothing" because it won't be perfect? This blog is in dedication to the ridiculous lengths I go to in search for perfection, and the insanity I encounter along the way.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Birthday Blessing: Book It For Yourself!

This blessing comes with a review of some of Dallas's best accommodations, cuisine and culture.
I had given my husband the Love Language Guide to help him make a plan for the big 45.  At first we were not with the program because I was having an unusually long hormonal meltdown, requiring him to love the unlovely a few days longer than what would be normally "acceptable".  So I had to "man up" and give him a glimmer of hope that his lovely wife may return somewhere within the weekend.  This seemed to help him be happier about setting the plan.

We ventured out sans kids about 5pm and headed for downtown Dallas.  At this point I do not know where we are staying.  The traffic was miraculously light and we were downtown before 6.  As we began to pull up, the awning gave me the first glimpse of my night dwelling, and I was VERY pleased!  We would be staying at the Adolphus, a hotel that will be 100 years old next year.  The Queen of England,  many heads of state and celebrities have stayed there over the years.  A very Old World feel in comparison to so many other modern hotels, but that is the charm of it for me.  And by Old World, I in no way mean run down!   Here are some pictures.  I am sorry for the poor quality, I used Wesley's phone and pulled from the internet as I didn't bring my camera!

Once we got settled, I was excited at the prospect of eating in their restaurant, The French Room.  This photo was taken from online, as they are not open for breakfast and the lighting was too dark for a picture by phone.  But looking through the doors, this is EXACTLY what I saw!
The dress required coat and tie, which Wesley did not bring as you will see below, and you need to make reservations in advance, so we were led to make other plans.  I had a moment of disappointment, but as we arrived at Dakota's, I ushered in better thoughts.  This is the view from the street.

You are taken down below street level by an elevator and there is indoor and outdoor seating as shown here.

Inside is cozy and there is a piano bar.  Outside was lovely and the weather was cooperating, so that is where we were seated.  Considering it was nearly 7pm on a Saturday night and we were promptly seated, I knew that God had a plan to bless me indeed.  Or maybe the price of the meal weeded out the crowd...no matter!
The food came and it was glorious!  Don't you agree?
 I had the Mahi Mahi over a bed of orzo, beet puree and zucchini tempura covered in goat cheese.
Wesley had the bone-in Ribeye and asparagus with hollandaise.  Now, we have been to some pretty amazing steak houses including Perini Ranch, Eddie V's and Ruth Chris.  So we had to ask ourselves, was it the best?  For the price, Eddie V's has yet to be topped.  But Dakota's does a definite runner up, as Wesley even picked up and chewed the bone!

We skipped desert here and headed to a more local place near the hotel which was not worth it, as it was not a pretty view on the street and it was mainly the Friday night drunk crowd.  Lots of slurring and cussing.  We walked to the Magnolia Hotel and found that they serve their guests (and any wandering passerby's like us!) fresh baked peanut butter cookies with huge chocolate chunks and decaf coffee on the upper level even at 8pm.  So head there instead!  The huge red Pegasus that greets you as you walk in and the modern fusion decor is a great accompaniment.

We went back to the hotel and found a movie.  I really wanted to just enjoy our stay, as we can travel to Dallas for nightlife anytime.  We watched The Fighter.  Great movie, great supporting acting.  It's hard to believe people really live like that, but it's a true story.

I was aware of what was to come the following day, so we headed to the King Spa and Sauna, also in Dallas.  The only other one under that name in the United States is in Chicago.  A friend told us about it the week before and decided to meet us there.  This was going to be an experience, and I will try to give you the best account of a very culturally infused experience.

The King Spa is inspired and owned by Koreans.  It is widely known in Korea as jjimjilbang and can be traced back to the Joseon Dynasty of the 15th century.  Korean women are especially drawn  to  jjimjilbang, perhaps because they sometimes take care of themselves in hot rooms of red clay for three weeks after giving birth.  The far infrared radiation from the red clay was thought to prevent women's ailments and warmed their bodies.  The high heat of the saunas passes beneath the skin and facilitates cell activity and blood circulation.  It also reduces pain in muscles and joints.  The higher body temperature are also good for the immune system.

The bath, salt/massage, wet sauna and whirlpool area are same sex, and complete nudity is the practice except for the masseuses, who wore bra and panties.  If I loose you right there, then this will not be for you.  There is a complete acceptance of the body among the woman, who are mostly Korean.  While I knew I had to overcome my own apprehension of complete vulnerability, especially in front of a friend (strangers aren't my issue!), I quickly became at ease and allowed myself to fall into the rhythm of the experience and focus on what was being provided for me.

In the women's whirlpool room there is an open massage area, though semi private by a long partition, with 6 huge massage beds side by side.  Salt scrub and massage are also nude for patrons.  If you are thinking this would in any way be sexual or indiscreet, be allayed that it is strictly medicinal and therapeutic.  It's nothing personal.  The 30 minute salt scrub is mildly abrasive, so if your skin is very sensitive, you may experience some itching afterwards, as I did.  More on that later.  I won't kid you, these women are thorough, but not inappropriate for cleansing.  Have I lost you yet? lol  When I saw all the dead skin I was appalled and elated for how soft I knew my skin would be.  The best part of this treatment is the sound of always running water and the occasional full body splash of hot water from a large bucket to clean away dead skin. It was heavenly.  This must be what it was like for the concubines and Queen in Old Testament Egypt!

I heard mixed reviews about the massage.  Not bad reviews, but just that it was not the pressure they would have liked.  My masseuse was perfect.  It was hard to lay on my stomach because I would have to turn my head, and this is a hard position for me to stay in.  If you have injuries, try to let her know, though don't be confident she will understand as I just learned to give a thumb up or down.  I didn't understand a word she said.  The good news is that she finishes on your back, so any discomfort is quickly relieved.  Another warning, these women are like weightless spidermen.  While I am on my front, she jumps up on the bed and uses her knee to massage the rocks in my back.  I would not even know she is up there if I hadn't opened my eyes and watched it being done by the other masseuses.  Very tricky!  I received a facial, where very cold thick cream is put all over my face and lips and then gauze is put over it to protect your face when you turn over on your stomach.  She asked me another question at this point, and I realize I can's speak through the thick cream and gauze over my lips!  Another thumbs up motion.  Her hands are like little drum beads, it is amazing how her fingers works.  Even all over my face.

The best part of the massage, aside from the massage itself, was the hot wet towels that are periodically draped across your body and rolled under your neck.  And then the finishing touch, she washes and conditions your hair!  That was unexpected and just lovely.

From there, we put on "the uniform" that was given us when we came in and went out to the lobby where they serve Korean food.  I did not eat before the massage (I was still stuffed from the night before!), and I recommend you do the same.  I still wanted to eat light so I chose a dumpling soup. It is at this point I realize I am itching around my stomach.  I go back to the women's room am overheard by the receptionist taking appointment talking about my itching.  I am not sure if I that was a good thing or not, as she insisted on splashing me with at least a litre or cold milk, all over!  My skin is sensitive, so it gets red splotches easily, but that doesn't mean they all itch!  Alas, I let her splash away and while the milk makes my skin feel creamy, it's not exactly luxurious, but it works!

Then we hit the sauna rooms.  Too many to review, and you can read about them on the site.  The use of the facility and the rooms is only $20 and you can stay 24 hours!  The treatments are what is extra.  They have a huge movie room, mats and huge recliners to lay on and sleep.  I slept in the Aroma Room.  It was the perfect temperature, smell and lighting to drift off.  Bring a pair of ankle socks for some of the hotter rooms, so your feet are comfortable.  Everything you need to shower is provided for you, but I would bring conditioner (they only have a 2 in 1) and hairbrush.  You can buy single use hair and face treatments at the front desk.

The guys fell asleep in the theatre room while we finished up in the whirlpools.  They have varying temperatures and treatments for each pool.  The one in the back is 72 degrees, which believe it or not, is VERY cold.  Right above your head in the ceiling at the middle of the pool is a high pressure jet.  You push a button on the wall and the jet is activated.  Like a reverse fire hydrant!  There are also wall jets with bars to hold onto so the pressure won't push you out.  Both these are used for relaxation if you can stand the cold!  A woman went to push one of the buttons on the wall and I screamed "Oh NO!  The jets!"  Thinking she was pressing the overhead.  Everyone scattered and we all got a good laugh when we realized she was pushing the button for the jets at the far end!  I recommend getting accustomed to the water, immersing your whole body before using the overhead jet so the water temperature won't shock you.  It feels GREAT!

We were there for a total of 7 hours, and I could have easily stayed 10 or more if I had wanted to watch a movie, rest and eat again.  We had kiddos to retrieve so we decided to head on out.  We will definitely return, as $20 is worth the price just to relax, use the whirl pools and saunas.  Some of the saunas have healing properties with herbs and salts.  And they also have a sitz bath for $30.  I wish I could afford the salt and massage more often, but even at $85 including tip, that is very affordable once in awhile!
I hope I have peaked your interest.  This is a must for a bridal party or girls day/night out.  Very relaxing to have some great quality time with your sisters!

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