Search This Blog

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Olympic-Sized Treatment at The Olympic Spa, Los Angeles

Okay, here is a tip for all of you LA travelers. (My female readers.) Go to the Olympic Spa. Do not miss it.

Here you will receive a hard-core, rough-edged execution of unsurpassed relaxation. Decidedly without frills or glamour.  But possibly even better than a high-priced luxury joint.

Don’t be fooled by all the Porsches and Mercedes in the valet parking lot behind the building. Once you enter the spa the look is purely post-industrial and the vibe is pure efficiency.

You are given a number and directed to a locker that contains a thin, pukey-colored green gown and a small and inadequate rough towel. Take a shower and then luxuriate in a mineral or tea filled hot pool, or the "jade laden"steam/saunas.

The Olympic spa is no place for the modest. Total disinhibition is required. People watching becomes body watching as you see every possible type—the enhanced, the unenhanced, the naturally perfect, the unashamed, and les autres. The scene is vaguely reminiscent of a neoclassical scene of nymphs bathing at the river.

When your time has come, you are greeted by small and sturdy workhorse of a woman dressed in a black two-piece bathing suit that looks more like a bra and panties. She takes you to what is essentially a large shower stall with a table in the middle.

Be ready for the ride of your life. Say goodbye to every dead and some still living skin cells on your body, head to toe, side to side, you are exfoliated and scrubbed in quarters. After which, buckets of warm water are thrown on your body to rinse. And this feels...incredibly delicious. Like stepping into a warm bath without the stepping part.

It’s like a detail job for a body instead of a car. I am not sure what that is, but I know it is very thorough and comprehensive. And in fact, after the scrub you are washed like a car, (aromatherapy seaweed body shampoo) in firm sweeping motions and then told to “go rinse” in the shower.  

Then…you get a fantastic massage, deep tissue, firm, invigorating. And during that, wait for it, you get a soothing, lovely facial mask.

Capped, so to speak, by a scalp massage and utterly intense shampoo.

After you've been thoroughly molded on the slab for an hour and ten minutes, your black bathing-suited “technician” will help you to your feet, wrap you in your green robe, tie the sash tightly, and tell you to “go rest.” And that is an order.

Now you get to lie on a heated floor, and help yourself to a heap of blankets.

Here you realize you have one thousand different feelings. Detoxified and intoxicated. Rejuvenated, transformed, fortified, melted, strengthened, and weakened at the same time. You feel clean. You feel mean. Every joint, every cell, every muscle and every knuckle has been woke. It’s as if you worked out without having to move.

You feel as if you can do anything and you feel as if you can do nothing.

What you won’t get at the Olympic Spa:
  • Music. Or should I say that damn music. You may hear some Korean chit chat, and much splashing of water. But it won’t be the canned sound of streams, waterfalls and Peruvian flutes. Thank God. 
  • Fine skin products. Don’t come here to get your La Prairie or La Mer products. Whatever they are putting on you is not top shelf. But hey, it smells good. You’ll get your occasional whiffs of lavender and eucalyptus and honey. And it feels good. 
  • Gouged. This hour plus of nonpareil spiritual, mental, and physical treatment costs…$100. The "Pure Bliss Treatment." Well, okay, it’s $120 if you want to leave a tip.

I vow never not to go to the Olympic Spa when I am in LA.

You should also not not go there.

No makeup. No clothes. No pictures.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Oak Bluffs (2015)

In Washington, DC in August, sometimes we like to dream about summer getaways. Past and future. I am thinking about my time in Oak Bluffs in Martha's Vineyard. Two summer ago.

Vineyard Sound-bedazzled by pastels

In the summer of 2015, I got to go to Martha’s Vineyard twice.  Thanks to my son’s excellent summer “job” as a member of the a cappella group The Vineyard Sound, who sang for their shellfish suppers all over the island for three months.

The first time I went in June, I went with my friend Judy and stayed in Edgartown at the fabulous fancy Harbor View Inn.

They wear these proudly

But the second time, in August,  my friend Kathleen and I stayed in Oak Bluff’s…or as the tour guide put it “oh you’re slumming, huh?” The good navy blue-blazered, lobster-clad people of Edgartown might think so, but let's just say OB has a very different vibe.  Oak Bluffs has lots of “bahs.” If you don’t go to The Ritz and see Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, you are making a terrible mistake.

Pepto door and chairs
In Oak Bluffs you move from pastels to technicolor.  Oak Bluffs is essentially is fairyland full of bright gardens and Victorian gingerbread houses, a glorious center green called Ocean Park, fine dining, a sea walk and beaches to die for.  It is also a landing for the island ferry. You can see the huddled masses arrive every day. They arrive huddled, they depart heroic, heroic with tan and rest and crustacean satiety. They also serve as constant fodder for the natives.

Ocean Park

Those natives are something else. It’s as if they think they own the island or something. Which they do, most of the year. They bitch about the Presidents tying up “traffic.” Coming from Washington DC, voted worst traffic area in the country, I say what traffic? Admittedly your ice cream could melt on your way into Edgartown from Oak Bluffs on a Friday night, but what is the rush anyway? If you’re in a rush, you are still in mainland mentality.

Hail Victoria

My stay was toward the end of “the season.” My cab driver fell into a sort of silent, smiling reverie when I asked him a question. He apologized and said he can “feel” the end of summer coming.  He claimed the air feels different and the light is changing.

Iroquois Cottage

We had a great stay at the Narragansett House. After the Harbor View Inn, I was prepared for a letdown, but this place was utterly charming, rocking chairs on the porch, lush gardens, ocean breezes. We had a room in the Iroquois Cottage with our own balcony.

Margo on the Go says Go! Go once, go twice, go for the whole summer, go every summer. A little Fantasia awaits in Oak Bluffs.

Our balcony



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Oh Say, Can You D.C.?

Any good photos by H. Darr Beiser

Washington Harbor is fun now

I travel a lot, but today I only had to drive 20 minutes to find myself in a desirable destination, Washington, DC. A really nice city!  I was worried about moving to the suburbs 20 years ago when we had children.  Because I was afraid that meant I would live in the suburbs and neglect the Nation’s Capital. 

Here's why we moved--neighborhood parades

So it’s the Fourth of July and I thought I would like to go into the Nation’s Capital for my walk. Why am I walking instead of running? I had dental implant surgery last week and they said I cannot exercise for two weeks.  Something about the stitches. This is like being put on bed rest. But it turns out walking is allowed. And oddly enough I have to say you can see more things walking.

Along the boardwalk, Washington Harbor

Patriotic boating on the Potomac

So walk I did, starting at Georgetown’s Washington Harbor, which has turned into a perfectly lovely pedestrian park while I was away.  Follow the path from Georgetown and you happen upon the colorful crew members at Thomson Boat Center.  Move on and behold no less than The Watergate, followed quickly by The Kennedy Center  And sand volleyball courts that have the Washington Monument in their view.

We've got Watergate

We've got the FBI dive team

Memorial Bridge when it was open
I wanted to walk over Memorial Bridge, but Fourth of July fireworks preparations were underway and it was blocked.

So I turned around and walked to Francis Scott Key Bridge, and how fitting is that for today? 

Coffee from Malmaison with Francis

Years ago when we were driving into the city with the boys, Franky, who was then 8 or 9, said “Why would anyone want to come to visit Washington DC?” Indeed.  There’s a tendency to take it for granted. To only go in when there are out-of-town visitors. But going in means concerts and plays and tennis tournaments and major league baseball. And awesome free museums. And really nice restaurants.

Come visit. I may live in the suburbs, but I'm only five traffic lights away from Washington, D.C.

Happy Fourth!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Bar Harbor Bundle

Cadillac Mountain--sunrise starts here
Toward the end, I fell into complete and utter vacation mode, and stopped posting. So here is a bundling of Bar Harbor info:

We went on the Acadia National Park Tour with Santo, who was much more positive than Cappy.  This beautiful centerpiece of the island rocks and rocks.We made three stops, the top of Cadillac Mountain, the Nature Garden (closed), and Thunder Hole, which was my favorite, dangerous crashing waves on rugged rocky coastline.  There is a little “hole” where the water gathers and spews up at you, and at high tide you can get drenched.  Or you can get pulled out to sea and drown.  Yes, this tour too had death warnings, Santo confessed that “we lose a couple of people a year up here.”

Thunder Hole-careful!

You can hike it, you can bike it, you can walk it, you can climb it, you can sit on it and meditate.  You can see for miles from the top and for smiles from the middle and you can walk on Sand Beach at the bottom.

Acadia National Park from the top

The Bayview only serves breakfast, so we did a lot of dining out. Darling little restaurants scatter the scene. Not a chain in sight. Here’s a roundup:

Paddy's Irish Pub and Grill, harbor side tables, breezy, delightful. They are heavy on bacon here—they use a bacon strip as a stirrer in a Bloody Mary. And there were bacon bits in my lobster salad. Pigs try to creep in on this island, there is even a BBQ place, but lobsters beat them up. Irish music on tape during the day, live at night.

Café This Way, so named because it is on a side street and you have to follow the arrow that points “this way.” This menu has a bit of a healthy focus. We had fried Brussels sprouts, which were sweet, and sweet potato cakes which were sweet, and sweet butter with the bread. No offense, but the restaurant was a little too sweet across the board. Where were my fries? Oh right, I had them at lunch. 

Havana We didn’t eat here but it is the talk of the town because of Obama's visit. Curious why he was all up in the rice and beans when he could have had a lobster pulled from the ocean a block away. But we know that Presidents don’t always eat at the best restaurant in town.  Witness President Clinton’s visit to Mi Nidito in Tucson. The other President who frequented Bar Harbor was Taft. We don’t know where he ate. Probably everywhere.

Bibbed at Bar in Bar Harbor

Fish House Grill Never eat at the restaurant in your hotel. Never eat at the restaurant advertising "Mom’s cooking."  Add never eat at the restaurant closest to the waterfront.  We went early—6:30 p.m. and the host wanted nothing to do with us.  Couldn't give us an outdoor table for 20 minutes. There were plenty of them. He relegated us to the bar. There we had a burly bartender who broke up Judy’s hard shell lobster with his bare hands. And the "steamahs" were great.

Mama Di Matteo’s just next to Reel Cinema.  Lovely linguine with clams atop. The absolute best chocolate pudding. We almost went back just for the dessert.

Mache Bistro a little French action, very nice and on the “upscale” side for BH. Marred by a fingerling potato failure. Unless it was supposed to be a goldfinger.  We split slow roasted pork with “bacon jam” (what did I say about pork?) and slow cooked duck confit. The smoked carrots were great.

The Reading Room at the Bar Harbor Inn. Step back to a period where patrons sit in plush gold chairs, where the maître de looks like Liberace, and where a piano player massacres beautiful songs like Here Comes the Sun and My Cheri Amour. Pretty much music-cide. And watch couples sit across from each other and not speak a word during the meal. But from our oceanfront table, we could see The Terrace Grille below on the lawn  with diners laughing and enjoying life. It was like the scene in Stardust Memories where Woody is on the dreary train  and he looks over and sees a train going in the other direction full of glamourous people drinking champagne. I had lobster pie. Don’t have lobster pie. Gilding the lily big time.

Lobster Bennies
Brunch at Two Cats Restaurant. Funky, hip, rusticky place. Breakfast only, open until 1 p.m. The porch had a lovely breeze, they had a kick-ass hot sauce. I had lobster Benedict. Fantastic. Judy had success in her search for gluten free goodness with her cheese and bacon pancakes.

Extra/Extra! We went to Reel Pizza twice. We exhausted the inventory of cinema on the island, after Wonder Woman, seeing The Promise about the Armenian genocide, or as the Turks would call it “What Armenian genocide?”


Improv Acadia, allegedly the only improv company in the state of Maine, was excellent. Four talented funsters making light of everything on the fly, and stealing the show by reenacting the meet cute story of a couple in the audience. Nothing second rate about it. Go and laugh.

Bar Harbor, this single destination has it all—mountain, sea, ice cream and lobsters. It is accommodating to the hiker, the biker, the walker, the runner, the boater, the beachcomber, the reader, the moviegoer, the 500-piece puzzle maker, the napper, the slacker. All in a little town of 5,800 residents. Part of its charm is you may see your yoga teacher at her souvenir store, or your hotel driver at the restaurant. If you want ski ball, cotton candy and roller coasters, don’t come here. But if you want anything and everything else, do.

Lichen it so far