Thursday, December 5, 2013

Of Wineries, Mud Baths and Friendships - Calistoga, CA USA

My best friend, Kat and I have been bffs since the first grade. Our friendship is unique because despite us being bffs, we both had separate groups of people we hung out with. We didn't spend every single second of our free time with each other. We had separate lives and different interests. But despite that, our friendship was solid and strong. Immediately after our high school graduation, I left for a foreign country to become a rotary exchange scholar. I was 16, wide-eyed and innocent, yet ready to take on the world. I was eager to leave and shed the shackles of propriety and catholic school rules of no make-up, no nail polish and no boyfriends. I was on my way to FREEDOM! There was something liberating and adventurous about leaving the safety of home. And I devoured every second of my newfound freedom. I learned many things about myself that year. After my exchange scholarship ended, I enrolled as a freshman at a Pennsylvania University in the USA. After a year, I transferred to a West Coast University where I studied architecture and marketing and where I later graduated and received my Bachelor's. My best friend went on and studied medicine at a local University. We were worlds apart. And only saw each other during Christmas break. After 8.5 years of living in a foreign country, it was time I returned home. Two months after returning home, I moved to the capital and started working as a fashion marketing coordinator. Coincidentally, my bff lived 15 minutes away from me. But we never saw each other. We were both busy pursuing our own interests. Me in my new career and her with her career in the medical field. Occasionally we would meet for dinner and catch up. But despite not seeing or talking to each other for many months and even for many years, each time we get together it was like old times. Two years into my young career, Katrina moved to Ohio and eventually to California to pursue her medical dream. And once again, we were worlds apart. But fate had other ideas. She moved to a city where my family has business interests in. And coincidentally, some of our high school friends were living in the San Francisco area. And was only a matter of time before we had a mini reunion.

After many years, a blast from the past was ripe to happen. So off we went to NorCal (Northern California). On this roadtrip, we all agreed that we wanted to do fun, girlie things. And that included wineries, good food, mud bath spas and lots of laughter. We went to Calistoga. It was a very eventful roadtrip filled with misadventures, DUH and LOL moments. Calistoga is a small, quaint town near San Francisco located at the center of the California wine valley. It is famously know for its hot springs and mud bath spas.

First Stop: Salutti Winery. This place is a great place to have a pic-nic. They have huge grounds with pic-nic tables, an outdoor bbq and pizzaria, and a deli that sold the best antipasti! After filling our bellies with good wines and delicious food, we continued on to Calistoga for the mud baths.

If you've been to one of these mud bath know what I'm talking about when I say that these spas market it as a very romantic thing to do with your significant other with packages for two of massages, champagne and warm mud baths. But in reality, romance is the furthest thing of what you'll experience. Let me explain why.

1. These spas encourage you to bathe in the mud nude. (I'm all for birthday suit bathing. But in the mud? Not advisable.) Why? BECAUSE....the mud with tiny little twigs get into crevices that should never see nor feel the light of tiny, little rooty twigs.
2. The couples massage they tell you about lasts about 30 minutes. Not nearly enough time to unwind and cool down from a hot, mud-soaked bath that's immediately followed by a 20 minute jacuzzi stint.
3. The champagne is a nice touch. But served in a jacuzzi whose cleanliness is suspect. Hmmm...makes you want to down the whole bottle.
4. If the first three reasons aren't enough to ruin a "romantic spa experience" (yes even with your bff), You'll need your partner (in my case my best friend) to use a powerful shower head with a strong water pressure to get into places to wash off rooty twigs that should never have been there in the first place! I swear...I felt like I was going through a colonoscopy. Forget those sexy scenes of mud-soaked women spraying each other to wash off the mud from each other's bodies. It was more like a medical examination of men bent over getting their prostrates checked. Lucky for me, I got a doctor to help me out. Unlucky for my friend, she has me. Lol.
5. Last but not least...we had a large, hairy (with a mustache) female attendant. While our other friends in the other room got a sexy stud to cater to their every need. ReallY? Aren't we all paying for the same spa experience here?

And to add insult to injury, I thought I lost my ONLY internationally approved credit card. Called my bank to cancel the card, only to find it under the car seat 2 minutes after I hung up the phone. This! Right before I was about to leave for my Central American trip where I was forced to travel using strictly cash. So you can imagine my anxiety at the thought of running out of money in Central America. But that's a whole different blog entry.

So there you go folks! Our friendship earned a level up that day.


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