One Hundred Sixty Two

IMG_1853A Year of Yoga: June 12, 2014

Pose: Half Lotus Twist

Location: Montserrat

Today we took the train about an hour northwest of Barcelona to the beautiful monastery of Montserrat. We arrived in time to listen to the boys choir perform and then wandered around the monastery buildings for a bit and ate a picnic lunch. After lunch we hiked up to the rocks. There are some incredible rock formations with outstanding views of the surrounding area. Some of us (not me) are afraid of heights and had to hang back a bit. So me and D took turns climbing out onto this picturesque little ledge.

Photography Credit: D

 

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One Hundred Thirty Seven

IMG_4601A Year of Yoga: May 18, 2014

Pose: Wide Legged Split with Side Bend

Sanskrit: Upavistha Konasana

Location: Siete Lagunas under the shadow of Mt. Mulhacen; tallest mountain on the Iberian Peninsula. Today we hiked up to Siete Lagunas. Our campground host gave us detailed instructions for the hike and was glowing about its beauty. This was an all day endeavor; at least 8 hours. We left early enough so that we would have time to order pizza in the village. Pizza seems to be our family’s meal of choice after all day hikes. It became a tradition in Curry Village, Yosemite a few years back. The first part of the hike leads through beautiful terraced farms on the outskirts of Trevelez. We saw plenty of cows and horses. Pretty soon after that there is a great look out point with an information sign pointing out places you can see from the view. It was a spectacular view of the river gorge and the surrounding mountains. After some more climbing we reached a refugio (a hut built for emergency shelter). We stopped and took our lunch break. The place we were sitting had more ladybugs than I’ve ever seen in one spot. I also accidentally stuck my hand in a spiny bush. After a rest, we kept going and the trail got steeper and steeper. We had several river crossings and walked next to melting glaciers. It was incredibly beautiful. One last little push up a super steep rock pile and we finally made it to the lake. There are supposed to be 7 of them (siete lagunas) but we just stopped at the first one for a rest before heading back. While we were resting there were several mountain goat/deer type animals grazing around us. I wish we had more time to hang out up there, but if we wanted to get back in time for pizza we had to leave. As it turned out, we got back too early for pizza because our American schedule is so deeply engrained in us. (See typical Spanish schedule in previous post). We had to wait an hour before we could order our food, so we showered at the campground and rested. Finally we were able to gorge ourselves on pizza and then crash. We are waking up very early in the morning to start the 8 hour drive to Barcelona. Wishing we could have spent more time here in the mountains.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

 

One Hundred Thirty Six

IMG_5844A Year of Yoga: May 17, 2014

Pose: Wide Legged Forward Fold with Straight Back

Location: On the trail from our campsite to the village of Trevelez. Today we decided to explore the campsite and village instead of doing a long/hard hike. We will save that for tomorrow. Today we spent the morning reading and lounging. After lunch we decided to take the trail that leads to the village, do some exploring, and also figure out where tomorrow’s planned hike begins. When we arrived in the village we realized that it was siesta time. Seriously, when are we going to figure out the Spanish schedule? We’ve been here 2 1/2 months and I still think “after lunch” is a good time to do stuff. If you are wondering, I have posted a typical Spanish schedule below. We still had a look around the town, admired some of the beautiful Alpujarran woven goods hanging outside the closed shops, and found our starting point for the hike. The rest of our afternoon was spent with napping, lounging, and reading followed by dinner and some of our single malt souvenir from Scotland.

Typical Spanish schedule:

9:00/10:00 – shops and businesses open

2:00 – everything (except tourist stuff) shuts down for lunch/siesta.

2:00 – 4:30/5:00 – everyone is at home eating lunch with their families; streets are like a ghost town.

5:00 – 9:00 – Businesses re-open and everyone and their dog (literally) is on paseo. There are hundreds of children roaming the streets (whose parents went back to work). There are well dressed elderly couples walking arm in arm. There are toddlers chasing pigeons. All the bars are full….but only for drinks. You absolutely cannot order food.

9:00 – Midnight. – It is now acceptable to eat dinner. If you arrive at a bar wanting food you will not be looked at like an idiot.

Midnight – 4:00am – Clubs are open…if you’re into that (which of course the 19 and 20 year old students were).

4:00am – 8ish – I guess some sleep is in order. If we must.

*After lunch is not a good time to get anything done (except domestic responsibilities)

*Everything is closed on Sundays except some restaurants

*Chinese markets are always open.

 

 

One Hundred Twenty Four

IMG_5530A Year of Yoga: May 5, 2014

Pose: Boat Variation

Sanskrit: Navasana

Location: Under the Salisbury Crags on the way up to Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh. This is our last morning in Scotland. We decided to get in one last little hike and got up early to climb up to Arthur’s Seat. It was a lovely morning, the weather was perfect, and it was relatively uncrowded. There were a lot more people climbing up by the time we were headed down, so I’m glad we did it early in the day. Lulu chose to sleep in but Momo got up and climbed it with us. Momo has been working on her own blog which highlights her travel adventures through the eyes of her stuffed frog which she has had since she was 2. This morning as we were headed back to the apartment, we realized froggy had jumped out of Momo’s pocket and was no longer with us. People, you have no idea what a tragedy this was. Brandon, being a good dad, ran back to look for him and I walked a devastated Momo back to the apartment. She climbed directly into bed and just started crying. Now if you want to hear the story from froggy’s point of view and discover the ending, you can find Momo’s blog here. 

The rest of our time in Scotland was spent purchasing souvenirs. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to locate my family clan tartan. I was told that Caulder is one of those minor clans that no one ever asks for so I would need to have it special ordered. Well maybe another time I’ll do that. Instead I bought tartan that looked similar to ours. I also spent way too much money on a beautiful Harris Tweed bag, Lulu got a cute plaid hat, and we definitely had to take back some Scotch. I definitely left a part of me in Scotland. Cannot wait to return and see more.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

One Hundred Twenty Two

IMG_4079A Year of Yoga: May 3, 2014

Pose: Hollowback Handstand

Location: Roslin Castle, Scotland. Today we left the city of Edinburgh for the nearby village of Rosslyn. The village is apparently well known for its chapel which is the site of the climactic scene in The DaVinci Code. I don’t really care about that, especially since it’s kind of pricy to get into the chapel. There is however, some excellent hiking out here in Roslin Glenn. The trail we followed makes a nice loop through the woodlands, past some beautiful farms, through some lovely woods with a little stream running through, past Hawthorden Castle where the poet William Drummond lived, through some gorgeous fields of wild flowers, and eventually to Roslin Castle and back to the chapel. It took us most of the day to do this walk. We stopped and enjoyed a picnic and explored the castle a little bit. After we finished our hike, we headed back to Edinburgh, this time with plenty of time to find a proper fish n’ chips restaurant. The one that our British friend recommended, turned out to be closed due to fire damage. Thankfully we found another restaurant nearby with excellent beer and fish n’ chips. Another successful day in the beautiful nature of Scotland. I can already tell that 4 days is not going to be enough time here.

Photography Credit: Momo

 

One Hundred Three

IMG_3669

A Year of Yoga: April 14, 2014

Pose: Infinity Pose

Sanskrit: Anantasana

Location: Serra de Estrela National Park, Portugal. Today we drove outside the city of Coimbra to the mountains; the glorious mountains. After a little bit of confusion getting out of the city and laughing our asses off at the GPS trying to pronounce Portuguese street names, we were heading up. It was a longish drive and we were glad to arrive at the mountain village which is the hub of the park. We stopped in the village and ate our packed lunch on a grassy area with some beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. The office for the National Park gave us some directions about how to drive into the park. I had no idea how incredible this day would turn out. The first part of the drive is along a ridge overlooking a gorge with a little river and some rustic looking farms. We made several stops along the side of the road just to get out and breath the mountain air and enjoy the scenery. We parked the car outside a camping area and did a short hike along the river. Brandon accidentally stepped in the river and Momo actually fell. I rock hopped into the middle of the river and did a little yoga. After we finished exploring this beautiful area of the park, we got back in the car and continued driving. As it turned out, this road leads all the way up to the highest elevation peak in the country of Portugal. We had no idea. We continued getting out to admire the views, throw some snow at each other, and marvel at some crazy Catholic icon carved into the side of the mountain. When we arrived at the very top, we got out and ended up buying some Portuguese wool panchos. I will be rocking mine whenever I camp from now on. The whole day was beautiful.

Photography Credit: Brandon

Eighty One

IMG_4203A Year of Yoga: March 23, 2014

Pose: Half Moon Variation

Sanskrit: Ardha-Chandrasana

Location: LLano de la Perdiz hiking trail above Granada. This trail is popular with locals for walking, mountain biking, and Sunday picnics. We certainly found that to be true. It was an amazingly beautiful and clear day and we had better views of the snowy Sierra Nevada today.

We followed the trail out of the parking lot of the Alhambra and encountered many people biking and walking their dogs off leash. It reminded  me so much of the Fullerton Loop. We were walking the trail but I was really envious of the people passing us on mountain bikes. Saturday and Sunday mornings are mountain biking days for me in Fullerton, but in Sevilla there is pretty much no mountain biking close by. Here are a few things that happened on our morning hike.

We stopped to adjust some things in the backpack and so my long sleeved shirt was laying on the ground. A pitbull puppy ran up to us and started rummaging through our stuff and ran off with my shirt. His owner was chasing him trying to get the shirt back and of course the puppy just thought it was a game. He did recover my shirt and was super apologetic. I just thought it was funny because I’ve been there with my own dog.

On one section of the trail there are exercise stations. So we were stopping and doing some of the workouts. We ran into a couple of gentleman who asked us to take their picture. When we started talking of course they could tell we weren’t native Spanish speakers so they asked us where we were from. We told them about the study abroad program and it turned out they were both professors at the university in Granada. They were very kind and said we were welcome in Spain and they were glad we were enjoying ourselves.

On the rest of the hike we passed by lots of people enjoying picnics, birthday parties, and playing futbol. Eventually we came to the beautiful views of the Alhambra. We walked back through the Alhambra parking lot and followed the path all the way down through the main entrance. The same one used centuries ago by people visiting the palace to see the Caliph.

This was our last day in Granada so we spent the rest of it wandering around the cathedral and had dinner at a nice restaurant and bought a few souvenirs. We really loved Granada and hope we can return.

Photography Credit: Brandon

 

Eighty

IMG_2508A Year of Yoga: March 22, 2014

Pose: One-legged crow, Flying crow

Sanskrit: Eka Pada Bakasana

Location: Somewhere in the lower Sierra Nevada mountains of Spain. I finally found some nature! This is what I have been waiting for since arriving in Spain. The Spanish Sierra Nevada is the highest mountain range in Europe, although it doesn’t hold a candle to our California Sierra Nevadas. Highest peaks here are around 10 – 11k. Not bad. Most of the higher elevations are still covered in snow, so we had to settle ourselves with a hike at around the 3 -4k level. To start the hike, we took a bus from Granada to the small mountain village of Guejar Sierra. From there we hiked up to the edge of town where the trailhead is. It was a gloomy cloudy day, but it didn’t stop us. The hike was about a six mile loop. For the first couple miles we basically climbed straight up; no switchbacks. Definitely tougher than I expected. Once we reached the top of the saddle we stopped and made a picnic lunch out of apples, olives, cheese, bread and beer. We also ran into a guy walking about 5 dogs and they were running all over. (Our family has a dog obsession). After lunch we continued on and found some old Spanish Civil War bunkers. For those that don’t know, in the mid 1930’s when Franco came into power, various revolutionaries fought a civil war (and eventually lost) against him. They hid out in the hills above Granada and we came upon some of the bunkers they used. Exploring these bunkers made me sad for the soldiers that fought for and lost control of their country to a cruel fascist dictator. While we had stopped off at the bunkers, we also were witness to a helicopter rescue of a man who had fallen and sprained his leg or ankle or something. His friends told us it wasn’t too serious but that he wouldn’t have been able to hike out. We all walked carefully after that though. The rest of the hike passed uneventfully except that it got a lot gloomier and mistier and we were all thoroughly cold and exhausted by the time we returned to Guejar. We had about an hour to wait for our bus ride home, so we found a cafe and enjoyed some cafe con leches (aka cappuccino) and chocolate waffles. We made it safely back to Granada after that and were all in bed early (by Spain standards). Can’t wait for more hiking in Spain!

Photography Credit: Lulu

 

Forty Eight

A Year of Yoga: February 17, 2014

Pose: Lizard preparation. Still working on getting my hips open enough to get my forearms down.

Sanskrit: Utthan Pristhasana

Location: Top of Black Hill; Morro Bay State Park. Had to get one with the rock in the background! Our last morning camping in Morro Bay we hiked up Black Hill. We’ve done this hike many times in the past but it’s not a bad walk considering the views it affords. Although I confess, as an avid hiker and backpacker, my idea of “not bad” is often other people’s worst nightmare. Anyways, as you can see, beautiful day in Morro Bay.

Photography Credit: Brandon