King Spa: Disneyland for people who like naps.

So King Spa is a magical land of saunas and relaxation. There are only two locations in Dallas, Texas and Chicago, IL, so the rest of the United States has to travel to get here. Or… you know… find an awesome Korean Spa nearby. It won’t be the same, though. King Spa is two of a kind.

So King Spa is a Korean inspired spa or a “jjimjilbang.” In a jjimjilbang, there are gender-segregated bathhouses with hot tubs, saunas, and massage tables as well as unisex dry saunas, lounging areas, and snack areas. Most jjimjilbangs are 24 hours. So let’s get into the nitty gritty of King Spa in particular. 

King Spa is $30.00 for 24 hours, and $2.00 for any hour you stay over that 24 hour time period. You pay the entrance fee as well as any other services you decide to get at the front. They have three types of scrubs, a green tea treatment, and a wormwood sit bath available for women, three types of scrubs for men, and acupressure massage, Swedish massage, and foot massage available for both.  They are standard spa prices (ranging from $30 to $125). If you decide to add on a massage after you’ve been there for a couple of hours, no problem, you walk to the front to schedule it.

Once you pay, you get a wristband key to wear that not only has your locker key but also has a swipey button that you can use to buy food items. They charge you for these things at the end of your visit. You also get the clothing you wear in the unisex area as well as a variety of towels. The women in our group got the clothes and towels at the front desk while the men got theirs in the bathing area. I’m not sure if that was standard or not. 

When you enter the bathing area, you put all of your stuff away in a locker and prepare for the baths. The attendants will remind you that you can’t wear a bathing suit or under clothes in the bathing area.

Pro-tip: I’ve been to other Korean Spas before, and at those spas there were towel hooks to hang your towels near the tubs. King Spa doesn’t have hooks inside the bathing area. You put your towels into a little cubby holder inside the changing area. It might feel strange to walk naked into the bathing area, but that is indeed what you are supposed to do. If you bring in a towel like I did my first time, then you’ll set it somewhere and it’ll get really wet. Not only do you have to pay $1.00 for a new towel, but most importantly… you’re just not doing it right.

Once inside, make sure you bath yourself at the standing or sitting stalls before entering any of the tubs. This is crucial. You are supposed to wash your body thoroughly with soap and shampoo your hair. Supposedly, if you don’t wash with soap before you enter the tubs, you could be asked to wash again. You have the option of a sitting or a standing shower. In the sitting shower, you fill a bowl full of water and sit while you scrub. The standing shower is… a normal shower. Be mindful of water usage, don’t leave anything running while you’re scrubbing. 

Pro-Tip: Bring your own extra special shower stuff. Bring a loofah or a pumice stone or sugar scrub or salt scrub. They have some stuff for sale, but you might as well just bring your own awesome kit with you! Many people did, and I was jealous. I wanted silkier skin. 

After you are done bathing, you can enter the tubs! They had five different tubs (I think) that are at different temperates. One was cold (way too cold for me-probably about 67 degrees) and had a really awesome shower from above. The other four were varying degrees of hot, hotter, and wicked hot. 

Pro-Tip: Ladies with long hair, bring a hair band. You’re hair isn’t supposed to be down when you are in the tubs. You’ll get scolded. I did. I got scolded for many things.

They also do scrubs in this room. They’re pretty awesome, but be warned… they have a different propriety level than American style massage. You’re naked, the scrubers are in a bra and undies, and they touch you all over. It didn’t feel inappropriate; it just felt like they were making sure you were well scrubbed. 

Pro-Tip: One of those other things I was scolded for? Talking. I was asked to keep it down. The bathing area is supposed to be a quiet area. This was vaguely amusing to me because it was the loudest area of the whole place, but we are supposed to pretend that it is a quiet area. You can talk with your friends but very quietly. You might as well take advantage of this as quiet time. Relax. Meditate. Mull over the Simpsons etched glass that separates the tubs from the scrub area. Yes. Really.

The bathing areas also have a wet sauna. It’s pretty darn hot in there, but it feels awesome. Try it for at least a few minutes. 

When you’re done (at least for this round) with the bathing area, go back to the dressing room. Get your towels from the cubby, and dry off in the dry off area. I got scolded yet again for not drying off in the drying off area. I’m here to help you with your King Spa experience. Don’t look like a newb, like I did. 

Once you are dry, go to your locker, get your sassy orange shorts and t-shirt that they give you to wear and get dressed. Don’t worry about undies; you’ll really want the relaxation of just the shorts and top. Men get a very stylish dull gray set that makes them look like hospital patients. 

Join the opposite gender in the rest of King Spa. And the rest of King Spa is immense. They have about 12 different spa rooms including a yellow soil room, a pyramid room, a salt room, a pine salt room, a really hot stone room, a sweat lodge room, an infrared room, an ice room, an oxygen room, and other rooms that I’m not allowed to tell you about (or… maybe I just forgot what they are). 

Pro-tip: They give you one large towel and three smaller towels when you first arrive. The large towel is for drying off. The smaller towels are for you to use in the spa rooms. You might need one in the wet sauna in case you want to sit down and you know your naked and you don’t want your naked self to touch other previous naked imprints. You might also want one in the various other rooms to act as a pillow or to offer more protection for your bum in really hot rooms. 

The pine salt room and the sweat lodge room were my favorites. The pine salt smelled great, was an excellent warm temperature, and I could have stayed in there for two hours. One of my friends basically dared me to go into the sweat lodge room, and since I’m a sucker… I did. Lucky for me. It was intense and amazing. You should only stay for a maximum of five minutes and those will be an intense five minutes. But when I left, I felt so great. I felt lighter and happier and more relaxed.

There are very… alternative, natural healing type messages in the signs explaining what the rooms are. They get pretty extreme for my taste. There are crystals pretty much everywhere, and one poster did claim that someone had been cured of cancer after sitting in a room. If this will bother you, don’t read them. Take from them what you will, and leave the rest.

Pro-tip: Bring socks to these unisex spa rooms. Two of them in particular are super hot and would be more comfortable with socks when you’re walking in. They have signs that say socks are recommended but not required. We didn’t have socks so we just hopped on our tip toes. 

There are big giant loungey chairs in front of a television where you can lie down and nap. There is also a movie screening room where you can watch whatever movie is being screened. It is ridiculously relaxing. 

Pro-tip: Bring a book to read or some other low key quiet activity. You could also do yoga or meditate. 

To top everything off, there is a snack bar. It is tasty. We had a kimchi rice ball, hard-boiled eggs (they’re actually cooked in one of the really really hot rooms), a rice drink, an aloe vera drink, a mango smoothie, and a blackberry vinegar drink. They were all great. The entree food items smelled and looked delicious as well. Next time, King Spa… next time.

Pro-tip: They definitely had vegetarian items, so don’t you worry my veghead friends. 

Summation? Go to King Spa right this second and stay for a full 24 hours. It is amazing. 

Pro-tip recap:

  • Understand that you’re going to be naked in the gender split bathing areas.
  • Bring socks, a book, bathing items like a loofah or a salt scrub, and a hair tie (if you have long hair).
  • Stick your towels in the cubby in the dressing room.
  • Use the smaller towels to sit on in the wet sauna or really hot rooms. Use them also as pillows and sweat moppers.
  • Don’t talk loudly in the bathing room.
  • They have vegetarian menu items. 
  • Go. Go to a Korean Spa because they are amazing. 

More Museum in Madrid

Prado one day, Reina Sofia the next.

I’m a contemporary art lady down to my only occasionally pedicured toes. I love modern art, and minimalism, and high theory, and mental masturbation. If you give me a choice between beauty and concept, then I’m going to go with concept regularly. So… even though I’d had a good time at the Prado the day before and seen Bosch (have I mentioned how much I like Bosch?), I was more excited about the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and its twentieth century art.

But I was wrong.


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First full day in Madrid

After doing a guided walk (a la Rick Steves) to succeed in picking up the dance tickets, we went to the Prado.

Very much worth it. So very full of pictures, I was overloaded trying to do it in one day. I think we spent three hours there, saw everything we wanted to see, skipped over a ton, and I was probably dazed after the first two hours.

Highlights? The best: All the Bosch.

garden sections

Here are sections from “The Garden of Earthly Delights”

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Waking in Almagro, Driving through La Mancha and Consuegra, Ending in Madrid

After a not terribly exciting included hotel breakfast in Almagro (where I chose to go the bad decision route and just have a few bites of a number of different pastries), we left the tampon room and the city, to drive through La Mancha. We tried to visit Ciudad Real and the Don Quixote museum, but it was closed, so after a few snapshots with some statues we drove onward to the windmills.

The drive was beautiful. Although we’d been warned by Rick Steves that it was flat. He apparently has never lived in Oklahoma and has no idea what flat is. It was beautiful hills and lovely colors. We bumped along down a very rural road towards Consuegra. They had an open windmill with a video explaining old windmill technology and the guts of the windmill.   We hiked a bit and walked by and said hello to each of the windmills, named after Don Quixote characters. After climbing on as many things as I could, we went down to the town and had lunch.

Lunch was spectacular. Another highlight from my Spain trip. We started with cheeses, from  fresh to semi-cured to cured to cured with oil. The fresh was my favorite, and the cured with oil I could barely stand. Not to my taste. I had a chickpea soup with fish, spinach, and a deliciously garlic matzo ball type thing. Aneel had pork with a creamy cheesy sauce and potatoes. The water brought pickled peppers for us to enjoy with the meal. The waiter was delightful. Very sweet, handsome, helpful. He tried very much to be helpful to my pescetarianism, wouldn’t let us leave without free dessert and an after dinner drink for Aneel, tried to answer questions about the liquor as best he could (it reminded me of a drink from Crete), and told us to tour the pottery room. I love sweet little interactions in Spain like this.

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