Dirty Diana

July 15th, 2018 – Town of Zakynthos

The Diana Hotel

Time to move on from our swank villa living and on to the next chapter on our trip.  It called for a one night (tanks god) layover in Zakynthos town.  Last minute in Greece is how we roll, not necessarily by choice.  Expedia became a good friend.  After swiping through a bunch of possibilities, the Diana had our name and credit card info.  The town itself is actually quite beautiful and has lots of interesting history, both modern and contemporary.  Mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, it was inhabited in 400 BC and was occupied by the Turks, French, British and so on.  During WWII, the townspeople, including the mayor and archbishop stood up for the Jewish residents and did not allow the Germans to know about them.  The synagogue on the island was destroyed in the earthquake in 1953 and never rebuilt but has a permanent memorial in it spot and the Jewish cemetery dates back to the 1650’s.

 

SET UP

The Mrs. and I in 2 twins pushed together.  Kids were in another room with a twin bed each.  They call it the Family room.

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MATTRESS

Ideal Strom is a Greek manufacturer of mattresses, mainly foam.  Like a Simmons or Sealy, they can be found mostly everywhere and especially in the hospitality industry.  Nothing overly special about their beds and certainly nothing special about this one.  As you would expect from a 2 star hotel, a 2 star mattress – scale is out of 10, not 5!  Tight top on the firmer side, decent quilt with a bit of padding.  Cleanish.

SLEEP

For one night only, fine, just fine.

LINENS AND MORE

As you would expect from a 2 star hotel. 100% polyester, hot and rough.

OVERALL

It’s always nice to “rough” it once in a while.  I am not sure there was a better option.  Hopefully there is and we can plan a little more in advance.

GREAT RELATED LINKS

https://www.idealstrom.gr/el/

https://dianahotels.reserve-online.net/property/DIANAHTL

https://www.iajgsjewishcemeteryproject.org/greece/zakynthos-ionian-islands.html

 

 

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Wooden Castle

July 16th, 2018 – Xilokastro, Gulf of Corinth

New adventure, new hotel, new madness, and a new mattress.  The step sister is always up for an adventure, one of many reasons why we love her.  Even though I am all in with her, it takes some convincing on our parts for the Mrs. to tag along or even consider it to be a good idea.  This time it worked out.  We packed some day bags for a 4 day journey from Zakynthos to Porto Heli.  We loaded the 35 ft. Marlin with a 450 Mercury engine and set out for a three hour tour, a three hour tour.  The weather started getting rough and the tiny boat was lost, so we decided to get to land for the first night.  The Sikyon Coast Hotel.  One issue was there was nowhere to dock.  Engine raised, the Marlin glided into shore and some bathers and swimmers were looking at us with displeasure.  Forming a line and taking all the bags off the boat, a gentleman wearing his hotel staff shirt approached us and asked if he could help us, to which I replied, “Para Kalo, where is reception?”  “Oh, you are staying with us?”  “Ne” I replied.  He smiled and said, “this is the first time our guests have arrived by sea – this way please”.

SET UP

The Mrs. and I in one queen size at both and kids were in small room off to the side in one twin bed each.

MATTRESS

Not quite sure what any of this means – but rest assured this was not a multi spring mattress – one or two max!  Horrible and horrible.  Firm as it gets, and when yatsan says full orthopedic, I think they mean that you will be fully going to an orthopedic surgeon after a night on this mattress.

SLEEP

Not well, more so because the Mrs., and I had a full blowout that night, partly relating to the mold on the wall from the air conditioner and she was nervous, so we didn’t put it on.  Partly because it was 35 degrees at midnight, and mostly because I was being an ass.

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LINENS AND MORE

This is never a good sign.  Your hotel room number sewn into the mattress pad.  The hair above may or may not have been mine.

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OVERALL

For a one night stop, it was perfect.  Wouldn’t want to stay there for much longer.

GREAT RELATED LINKS

https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Zakynthos,+Greece/Xilokastro,+Greece/@38.0501672,21.2045794,9z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x136740cadc7b5abf:0x27a074dbe04c2ad1!2m2!1d20.8998759!2d37.7870331!1m5!1m1!1s0x135f8aa8fc3119f3:0x8ad11e80df57dca7!2m2!1d22.6326975!2d38.0772641

https://sikyoncoasthotel.reserve-online.net/about

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xylokastro

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Our transport

 

Siga Me Te Malakos

 

ZAKYNTHOS, GREECE

JULY 1 – 14

Back at it again.  Summer of 2018 brings me back to the Ioninan island of Zakynthos to spend time with family and friends where the heat is staggering and the sea is refreshing.  A chance to relax, a chance to think, a chance to spend quality time with those who we don’t see often enough.  Among the group is the Mrs., the 2 wallet sucking rug rats, the step sister and her daughter, the yiayia, the yiayias brother, Uncle Bubbis and his Kiwi wife.  The cook from Manilla, Dimitrius the harbour master, Jorgos and his son, Jorgos the house manager, Jorgos the car rental guy, Jorgos, the gyros stand guy and of course the German boyfriend.  So many familiar faces and so many stomach breaking laughs.  Once again, the food, drink and sun were all too much yet never enough.  We had 2 residences this time, the first week (image on the left) was a villa called Asimi and the second week brought us to Stouvega.  Sleep was bountiful and deep.  Dreams were vivid.  I am home, but wish to be there again soon.

SET UP

The Mrs. and I in one king size at both Asimi and Stouvega.  Kids were somewhere else, not really sure to be honest, but they slept well too, so they said.

MATTRESS

Asimi – no name, no tags, no codes, no dates, tipota – nothing.  The base or foundation was Ikea, and the mattress was definitely and innerspring, so my initial thought was for sure Ikea, but as I later found out it was a British company that I had never heard of.  I didn’t even bother taking a picture of it.  What I did take a picture of was dinner – gigante beans.  My god this was good.20180705_194153

I realize this is supposed this entry is supposed to be about the mattress, but in no way was there any impact on my life, so f it.  Dinner is so much more enjoyable to talk about.  Soaked the beans overnight, and then slow cooked them for about another 3 hours.  Douse them in homemade tomato sauce with onions, carrots, peppers and a whole lot of love!  For a real treat, add some kouneli stifado.  Delicious.

SLEEP

I got the usual dose of island sleep. 11pm or 12 right through to 9 am.  No lack of sleep here. Even been able to catch an occasional nap by the pool or sea.  The lounges are giving the mattress a run for the money.

LINENS AND MORE

Meh.

OVERALL

Business as usual.

GREAT RELATED LINKS

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zakynthos

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/gigante-beans-364594

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navagio

 

Hellish

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Toronto Feb 17th – 19th 2018

The Westin Harbour Castle

Anniversary #1.  In the last year, I have been fortunate to have been in some beautiful places, I have been fortunate to experience some wonderful adventures, and I have been fortunate to share most of them with my immediate and extended family and friends.  It’s been 1 year since I started to write my thoughts in a public space and I really am grateful for how much I’ve seen, done, enjoyed and accomplished – some on my own, mostly with the help of others.  My 1 year brings us full circle back to the stay cation, a repeat of Family day weekend, but in a different hotel and different activities.  This year brought us skating to the Bentway, a skating trail under a highway in the downtown core.  The stay also brought us to the Auto show

 

and The Rec Room.  I’ve had numerous good night sleeps  If we are lucky we get 85 or so of them, if we are luckier we get most to all of them healthy, and if were are the luckiest, we get them all healthy and happy and with very little

SET UP

The whole family in one room, overlooking the half frozen lake.  2 double beds.  I asked which kid was going to sleep with me and immediately got the “you take up too much space – you’re sleeping with mommy”.  This was the beginning of the nightmare.  The Mrs. and I in a double.  Not good, not good at all.  I am not a fan of small spaces.  And I  don’t like sleeping in a double bed, let alone sharing it.

MATTRESS

 

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The famed heavenly bed.  PPPPFFFFFF – add in a roll of the eyes while you are PPPPPFFFFFING and it makes it so much more effective.  For years in the shoppe, I have had clients talk about the heavenly bed and “can you get the heavenly bed?”, and “I had the best sleep ever on the heavenly bed” and “omg, this is the best bed ever” and heavenly this and heavenly that.  I did some research.  OMG was right.  Very basic bed by Simmons.  Nothing special, no high coil counts, no fancy pillow top***, nothing special.  But for some reason, everyone loves it.  To this point in my career, I had never actually slept on one.  I have one in the showroom, but I have never been kicked out of the house and had to sleep at the store.  “Don’t believe the hype” coined Chuck D and Flavor Flav.  We seemed to luck out on this mattress from a manufacturing date point of view.  January 2017, looks like someone else is celebrating their 1st anniversary too – how beshert, however, I found this to be the most interesting.  See that zipper on the pillow top?  Yes, that’s a removable pillow top – smart right?  Not so smart, especially when it is 100% polyester.  Hot as hell!  Now, what I don’t know is how often they replace just the zipper top and how often they actually replace the mattress.  When I find out I’ll be sure to pass it along.

SLEEP

Didn’t. Horrible. Terrible.  See above and below

LINENS AND MORE

So, we are all over the place here.  Pillows by Downlite Hospitality.  Solid nothing to complain about.  Linens by Sobel Westex, a forerunner in the hospitality game but nothing spectacular, we have run into them in Las Vegas and others.  Here’s where it gets hot and gross and super uncomfortable.  While the duvet shell is 100% cotton with some down elements, the duvet cover, top right picture, is 100% polyester.  I repeat, 100% polyester.  Zero breathe ability, zero comfort, you need about a gallon of moisturizing cream to compensate for the overwhelming dryness that hits your skin.  No fun at all, yet the actually promote this and sell it to the public.  What the what is going on here.  In my heaven there is no polyester.  So hot under the covers and so cold without them.  No way to sleep at all.
OVERALL
Great hotel, great fun, and a great location if you are visiting Toronto.  Do not get excited about the heavenly bed, do not get teased by Westin’s promise that you will sleep well.  I guess what I’m saying here is that if you had a choice between 2 hotels and everything was the same – I wouldn’t choose this one based on the mattress.  P.S the soap that I took was not even good either.
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GREAT RELATED LINKS

Quickie

 

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The fountains at the Bellagio

Las Vegas January 29th – Feb 1st 2018

They call it Las Vegas Market.  3 Buildings, 15 stories each, that sit near the downtown core of Las Vegas, not far from Fremont Street and this guy….. 

A chance to meet and greet any major player in the furniture industry.  Buyers, sellers, designers, wholesalers, and the like all congregate twice a year, July and January, to touch, feel and see the latest in home furnishings.  I don’t go often, but this year there has been some major changeovers in the mattress industry – I won’t bore with details, you’ll have to visit me to hear all about the most exciting things to ever hit the mattress world yet.  I mean it really is groundbreaking, so out of this world, mind blowing stuff, I never saw it coming!  I decided to have an in and out visit.  With that in mind, I asked the Mrs. to tag along.  36 hrs of unadulterated fun – in a place where everything is adulterated!  I decided that all I really needed, was to work the show for one long full day, Monday.  Landed at noon on Sunday and had a relaxing day, on the strip for a bit, to the pool in the afternoon, and to Caesar’s Forum Shops for a quick look.  I was hoping to take my wife to old reliable, Nine steakhouse for a great meal and also to give Helen a hug.  If you have only started your journey with me, you won’t know that Helen WAS the maitre’d there and she helped me find my phone that I left in my cab years ago.  Unfortunately for me the wife and Helen, there were no reunions or hugs to be had – Nine CLOSED.  No shortage of restaurants in this place though.  Bellagio it was, at Yellowtail.  Don’t miss this place!  After a full day and night of doing almost nothing, which included losing 150$ at blackjack in 6 straight hands, it was time to retire and was looking forward to what I might find under the sheets.

SET UP

The Mrs. and I in one king bed – beautiful corner room overlooking the fountains.  Automatic drapes, automatic bedroom scenes.  One of the best features of the room, was the safe.  Couldn’t find it.  Looked everywhere.  In the closet, in the bathroom, next to the coffee maker, under the bed, behind the mini bar.  It was in the drawer of the bedside table.  Brilliant!

MATTRESS

 

The Bellagio, part of MGM Resorts, is an older hotel, yet they still keep up with good practices by supplying their private label comfort top mattress by Serta.  Nothing overly special, but a nice firm mattress aided by a soft comfort top.  You would think in Vegas, hotels would want to keep you out of your room, but I could’ve pulled off a Howard Hughes or a Montgomery Burns here for sure.  A quick look at the mattress tag revealed 2 things. One is that this mattress was manufactured in October of 2017, so a very new mattress which is always a good thing.  Brand new mattresses haven’t been through their work in period, so they will always feel a bit firmer then they are intended to be.  And, conversely, something 3 years old will have some sort of body or sleep impression in it and may feel a bit softer.  We got lucky – the mattress was warmed up for us for just the right amount of time.  The second was that this was a California king mattress – measuring 72″ wide by 84″ long.  Different from the traditional king mattress which measures 76″ wide by 80″ long.  No toes dangling of the end of your bed and also no need to sleep on a bit of an angle.  Being 6’3″,  the length is welcoming.  Most of us also tend to sleep on “our” side of the bed anyways, with very few people actually sleeping in snow angel formation, so you don’t really notice the 4 inches on the width.  Nice idea for a hotel, the first I have seen.

SLEEP

Only one night as the second night was on the plane.  We took the red eye home to get back to work and the kiddies.  We did manage to have a nap after dinner though on the second night as our plane didn’t leave until midnight.  Both rests were peaceful.  The first sleep was 8 hours and our nap was about 2 hours.  Our second half sleep was on the plane, and this is no place to sleep.  Horrible.

LINENS AND MORE

Sobel Westex duvet, linens and pillows.  Not surprisingly, the Bellagio uses this company, as do many on the strip, as they are one of the leaders in hospitality linen game, and their HQ are in Las Vegas.  Nice part is that they do sell to the public.  Nothing overly special here, pretty standard 100% cotton, guessing around 300 thread count.  Good job for a good hotel.
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OVERALL
I love this place.  I feel different here than anywhere.  The people, the gambling, the energy, the lights, the sounds, the enormity – maybe all of those things.  I feel alert, eyes wide open, as if I am going to miss something if I blink, like a kid, like a kid in a huwmungis plagrawnd.  I think that if the mattress sucked I wouldn’t really care.  Lucky for me it didn’t, and also that the Market will be a place I will visit for a long time to come.  4  Image result for picture of star‘s
GREAT RELATED LINKS

 

 

Off Piste

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Verbier, Switzerland  Jan 7-14 2018

This place is expensive.  Like out of the realm expensive.  Yes, still in Switzerland and still tres cher.  Here’s the difference, in Verbier you are skiing and to me there is no better way to spend your money.  I was lucky to learn how to ski at a young age.  I am lucky to be able to continue at an older age.  The thrill, the excitement, the adrenaline, the energy it takes, the sense of accomplishment you feel getting down a mountain on 2 pieces of wood under your feet.  I often think of who was really the first person to tackle a mountain as a sport.  Sure, the Scandinavian countries were using skis for getting around and hunt for food and to explore new land and probably in battle too.  But who was the first person to popularize it for leisure and fun.  I would like to shake his or her hand.  I would like to buy them dinner, I would like to take them to Verbier and see what their vision accomplished.  Europe has a fancy way of saying groomed and not groomed.  Piste and off piste.  Doesn’t it sound so much better, more distinguished, more elegant, more difficult?  Off piste.  Off piste.  Off piste.  The Oxford dictionary also defines off piste as “to deviate from what is conventional, usual or expected”.  So the next time I hear someone order a triple venti soy, no foam, half caff latte with an extra shot and cream, I will know that they are “off piste”, among other things.  Needless to say, I was off piste for the bulk of my days which made my body ache and my bones sore, and after a week it was multiplied by 10.  No complaints though because I have a profound appreciation of where I was and who I was with.  What one really needs, is to make sure you get a good night’s sleep after a long horrible grueling day of sunshine, skiing, and of course apres ski.

SET UP

Chalet Sorojasa.  A privately owned chalet with 6 bedrooms, a cook, a hostess, a fridge full of food and beverage, a hot tub, swimming pool, steam room and beautiful muscle rub creams.  The Mrs. and I in one queen bed (euro style) and the kids next door with twin beds.  Rooms were small, but more than enough to just sleep in and sleep, if I may add, is the second best thing to do in bed.  Reading is a close third.

MATTRESS

Googled everything and came up with nothing.  All I know is that it was a pure 6″ latex foam mattress with a very thin cotton quilt.  I mean, if the location and activities and everything weren’t good enough already, they hit you with a latex foam mattress!  I love latex for a whole bunch of reasons.  Conform-ability is outstanding, maybe not quite as much as your Tempur Pedics or memory foams, but still fantastic at getting into the nooks and crannies.  Latex comes from the rubber tree and then molded, cured, baked into a solid piece.  Latex can come from a whole bunch of regions around the world and for that reason there are many companies that are manufacturing them.  One thing to make sure of, if you are looking to purchase a latex mattress, is watch out for the full organic claims.  There are only a few manufacturers that can claim full organic certification.  Most latex has a synthetic agent or component that allows it to harden and rise, much like the baking soda and yeast in my mothers challahs.  In either case, the best part about latex is that it has an on top feel, like a traditional inner spring mattress but nothing pushing back up at you and better yet, no sinking in like the memory foams.

SLEEP

Every night.  The first one not so great.  Really dry and didn’t hydrate enough on top of the fact that I was overly anxious and excited to strap on the gear.  The next 6 nights were pure bliss – The mix of apres ski, a beautifully cooked meal, sore joints and hardly being able to feel your body, with a good mattress is the right concoction for me.  I truly slept like a well sleep trained baby.
P.S and truly a post script because as I was reviewing this with the Mrs. she reminded me that I snored uncontrollably for a few nights, and she wished we had our adjustable beds so she could raise my head up to make it stop!

LINENS AND MORE

The White Company from London.  Think Restoration Hardware meets Banana Republic.  Furniture and home accents to a variety of clothing options – including jumpers and trousers.  Jumpers, so cute.  Pillows and duvet were just as lovely, soft and comfortable.

OVERALL

Off piste.  Off piste.  Off piste.

 

More Cheese

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Geneva, Switzerland  Jan 5 -7 2018

This place is expensive.  Like out of the realm expensive.  It’s so expensive that you don’t even have to have the conversation with The Mrs. about how much that glass of wine just cost or the hot chocolates for the kids.  You just pay it – bite your lip – chalk it up as an experience that you may never have or want again, and then move on to the next expensive thing, like chocolate, or clocks, or watches, or fondue.  We took the train from Paris to Geneva, about 3.5 hours.  Great way to travel.  Quiet, room to move, on the ground, and somewhat more decent toilettes.  Lucky enough for us to meet some family and friends there who took us around and showed us the quaint vieux Geneva.  Even more lucky that the walking was no charge.  If you like cheese, this is place to be.  If you like bread, this is the place to be.  If you like melted cheese, this is the place to be and if you like to dip bread in melted cheese – than this is the place to be………Bains des Paquis.  You order your food here – bainsdepaquis

And then you do this…….bainsdepaquis2

for about an hour and a half until they roll you out.

SET UP

Warwick Hotel, across from Central Station.  Perfect location and had a great connecting room with the Mrs. and I in one king euro style bed and the kids in two separate twins.  Surprisingly enough, the room(s) were not that expensive, maybe cause I prepaid on Expedia or maybe because there needs to be some choice other than the Four Seasons, Shangri-La, Beau-Rivage,(outstanding chocolate fondue) The President Wilson, Grand Hotel Kempinski, The Ritz-Carlton, The Mandarin Oriental, and Hotel d’Anglaterre – just to name a few.  There are more luxury hotels in a 2 block radius than I have ever seen.

MATTRESS

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Serta Perfect Sleeper.  The strange part about this though is that the Serta label says “Manufactured by Pikolin”.  This is where it gets confusing.  Pikolin is a Spanish bedding company that has been manufacturing mattresses and related bedding products since the 50’s.  They have a vast array of choices, mostly dealing in foam, and have plants in France and Spain – thanks, Google.  They obviously have the European rights to manufacture the Serta brand, but is it really a Serta or is it a Pikolin?  In either case, nice job.  The mattress was on the firmer side of soft, medium let’s say, and inviting.  Straight up innerspring coil with no nonsense layers of foams and quilting.  Good old fashioned medium firm mattress, a nice solid choice for this hotel.  I hope to be able to tell you one day what mattress the Hotel President Wilson has.  What I do know is that they have the most expensive suite in the world.

SLEEP

2 nights of loveliness – 9 hrs each one.  No sore bones or achy joints.  Woke up feeling refreshed and relaxed which is not always the case, even when on holiday.

LINENS AND MORE

I never thought in my life I would have anything good to say about Austria, other then the Sound of Music, but Holy Scheiße!  Kauffmann, which I am familiar with, just never laid in their products, makes Austria look good.  Specializing in Eiderdown, they have a full spectrum of duvets and pillows that are special.  We were blessed for 2 nights with probably the best down I have laid with.  I know St. Geneve, I know Cuddledown, I know Pacific Coast.  Kauffman rocks!  Most down pillows lose their shape, are too hot, and can have a foul odor.  Not a trace of anything in these babies.
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OVERALL
Very pleasant stay and very good sleep.  It may be redundant but who really cares, I was in Geneva!  I would recommend the Warwick for sure and this is a beautiful city with lots of stuff to do.
GREAT RELATED LINKS
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_President_Wilson
 http://kauffmann.at/en/