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Incredible yoga retreat in Poland - interview with Ashley

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Incredible yoga retreat in Poland - interview with Ashley

What was most memorable?

I’m not sure I could pick just one memorable moment, the whole retreat was fantastic, from moment of arrival to departure, everything was perfect. If I had to pick some highlights, then it would probably be the food and being away with some amazing people! 

How did you like the idea of an active holiday?

Using yoga as a way to energise and prepare you for the day and restorative yoga to wind down and relax.

The yoga was amazing, but it always is when Daria is teaching! Starting your day with yoga is fantastic, I always feel so much more energised and ready to take on the day. The afternoon yoga was fun and always a bit of a challenge and ending your day with restorative yoga was just bliss! 

What did you think of the food? Did you inspire you to try new yummy recipes? Did you learn something new about Polish cuisine? 

The food was probably the highlight of the whole trip, delicious 3 course meals, 3 times a day. I even ate mushrooms, which I usually hate but I couldn’t not try them when they were so fresh and beautifully presented!

We also had our own barista to make us coffee, absolute heaven! 

How did you like Kwaśne Jabłko?

The accommodation was wonderful, definitely a 10/10 from me. From the kitchen/dining area to the beautiful bedrooms, everything was just perfect! 

What did you think about the area?

Kwaśne Jabłko is very remote and is surrounded by beautiful Polish countryside. Didn’t see too much of the surrounding area but we went on a few walks which were lovely. You get a true sense of being secluded from the rest of humanity in a perfect little bubble of relaxed bliss, honestly the ideal retreat if you want to just get away to re-energise recharge. 

What was the weather like? 

The weather was fantastic, the sun shone from sunrise to sunset. Suncream was definitely needed! 

If you were to describe the retreat with one word, what would it be? 

Incredible

Want to join us in ur next summer adventure in Poland? we are there again in May 2019. Just click here to learn more. 

 

 

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Barcelona Urban Adventure

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Barcelona Urban Adventure

We are just back from the amazing Barcelona, a beautiful and such vibrant city. While we were there Barcelona had a few major events: the Carnival, the Santa Eulàlia Festival and the first snow in decades! Apart of the snow that caught us by surprise the festival and the carnival just added more colour to our trip.

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Santa Eulàlia is the patron saint of Barcelona City and lived here in the Roman period. At the beginning of the 4th century the Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered the persecution of the Christians in his empire. This led to the 13 year old Eulàlia being arrested, tortured and finally crucified. This is the famous festival when the Castellers build human pillars.

Whereas the Carnival, is simply the time of joy, exuberance and joie de vivre, before Ash Wednesday when the 46-day Lent to Easter begins. We often didn't know what is celebrate at what time but certainly enjoyed the parades! 

When traveling to a city as exciting as Barcelona you must have a tour by a tour guide who can tell you stories no-one else knows. We were really lucky and got a very well incomes, funny and very entertaining guide who was able to talk not only about the history but also the past and current political situation in Catalonia.

The food of Spain is packed with flavour and character! I don't think I have ever eaten better guacamole.....

Finally, the views and the fun we had was never to be forgotten!

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Your yoga retreat experience - interview with Lisa

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Your yoga retreat experience - interview with Lisa

We are just back from the Barcelona retreat and can't wait to show you our pictures.  Lisa who attended the retreat is sharing today her experience ❤ 

What was your favourite thing about the retreat and why?

For me, it was the connections and friendships made with the other ladies on the retreat.  I loved that we had yoga in common among our very different lives.  We shared something about ourselves every evening over dinner as well as during our yoga practice.  There was a really sense of connection which grew over the days we spent together. 

How did you like the idea of active holiday - using yoga as a way to energise and prepare you for the day and restorative yoga to wind down and relax

The yoga teaching was excellent, very well prepared and thought out. The energising yoga in the morning woke us all up quickly and pleasantly, and I felt proud of myself for achieving challenging poses whilst the restorative yoga in the evening took away aches and pains from any walking and activities during the day.  The evening yoga also encouraged a lot of contemplation and rest, and therefore felt luxurious and special.  

What did you think about the city tour? Was it a good idea? Did you see & learned about the city more than if you did yourself? 

The city tour was interesting thanks to the expertise of the tour guide, who seemed to be passionate about history and about educating people.  It definitely helped me learn more about the city in a historical way, and added a new layer of interest.  I would not have had that perspective without the tour, and it's made me have a new appreciation for Barcelona and Spain as a whole.  

What did you think about Aire de Barcelona (Ancient Baths)

The Ancient Baths were incredible!  I would never dream of doing something like that normally. it was absolute indulgence. It felt like a different world and the experiences offered were great fun - the hot and cold baths and the freezing cold plunge pool to help enliven the body, then the rapid jacuzzi for sore muscles and the best of all - the sea salt pool to encourage floating and complete rest. It was Heaven. And I loved that the staff were so intuitive to our needs.  They provided everything, but their attention was unobtrusive.  

How did you feel about you finished your Aire de Barcelona experience

I thought that having it on the first day just a few hours after we arrived was the perfect way to set us up for the rest of the retreat. My energy levels switched immediately to calmness and I felt prepared.  It changed my mindset from frantic business into me-time.    

What did you think of the food? Did you inspire you to try new yummy recipes? 

The food definitely took me out of my comfort zone but in a fantastic way.  I have tried more different foods over the weekend than I have in years.  I normally hate cooking but it's inspired me to try many new things. My stomach feels better too and I've learnt more lots about my digestion and am now seeing food as medicine. I still can't believe we had vegan tacos made from banana skins! It was yummy. I now love coconut and soya milk, and have realised there are lots of veggie alternatives of foods I normally enjoy.  It was wonderful having the Las Ramblas market so close by too.  (Boqueria?) 

What did you learn? Was it an inspirational experience? 

The most important thing I learned is that the world will not end if I take time for myself.  I learned that art is very important to me, as I had time to visit the Picasso Museum and La  Sagrada Familia. Although I'm used to journalling and self-help, I felt very cared for and guided by Daria, who genuinely wants us to be the best we can be.  She is inspirational.  I drew strength from the belief she had in us.  It was a very nurturing weekend which pushed us to love ourselves more and try new things.  Thanks Daria ❤ 

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Best vegetarian and vegan bistros in Prague

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Best vegetarian and vegan bistros in Prague

Prague is a great place for yummy vegan restaurants ( which I didn’t know prior to going there). I had a wee list of all the places I wanted to visit but sadly managed only a handful (as there are so many!). Some places offer only vegan or vegetarian options but some aren't as strict and if you ask for meaty options they will accommodate your request. Here are some of my favourites that I personally tried and recommend. Let’s stat with my absolute favourite:

Bistro 8

Located in a new hipster neighbourhood next to a really cool park Letna. Our hotel was just around a corner so I went there a few times and loved the place, my 3 course lunch (light and delicious) and fruit ice tea (all home made and yummy). 

Homekitchen

They have 4 locations all over the city, some of them are bigger bistros and some are just cafes so make sure you double check before you go. It was one of my favourite places! They use great spacious design, good food and super friendly waiters. Definitely a must on your visit! It’s funny as they have a wee display of all the dishes available and the waiters just walk around (everything is very open and there is no actual ‘bar’ where you can order your food). The menu is small but its perfect as everything you need is there: good selection of fats, protein, long lasting carbs and a multitude of flavours. Definitely your taste buds will love it. 

Lehka Hlava 

Means: ‘Clear Head’. This place is located in old town area in a building that is over 500 years old. They serve great drinks, cakes and vegan dishes. The decor is really interesting and deftly not what I have expected. The remarkable interior design is the work of three friends and acclaimed artists: Žanda Gebauer made the tables with lights, the fireplace and the starry sky; Viktor Koreis designed the upholstered sofas, bar and the ceiling and grafics of the small salon; Ivan Vosecký designed the stencils that we used to decorate the walls throughout the restaurant. The magic mushroom lamps as well as the painting of the Aztec lizard is the work of Tomas Kuthan.

They say that Lehka Hlava is a place whose "genius loci" (spirit of the place) will clear your head, entice your appetite and delight your soul. All you need to do is: sit back, relax and allow your senses to be immersed in the delightful display of colours, tastes, smells and sounds. 

The sister restaurant Maitrea is located near the main square and also has wonderful dishes and more space.

Plevel at Krymska is lovely too as well as Radost FX by I.P. Pavlova.

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Cool things about Prague

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Cool things about Prague

Prague is a gorgeous city. It is so well preserved and renovated after the wars, with a rich history, expansive parks, Vegas-style nightlife, and even a hint of romance. It really does remind me a little bit of Paris or Venice with the mesmerising river and cute little pubs. I used to come to Prague often when I was much younger but haven’t been here for over 12 years and a lot has changed. There are way more tourists, prices are higher, the food is more international, everybody can speak English, and more foreigners live in the city. But the city’s core - cobblestone streets, quaint medieval houses, incredible charm that make Prague — is still there.

We spend 3 days here and it was good amount of time to explore the city. Our friends were Czech, which made it easier and wonderful but you can do all of this alone too as the city is really safe and easy to discover and explore.

Don’t be afraid to stay a little bit outside the main city centre as the trams and metro are really easy to use and Uber is affordable although apparently illegal in Czech Republic. I wouldn’t use it in rush hour as you will get stuck like everybody else and you will quickly realise that it was much better to just walk (talking from experience, we were once late over 30 minutes). 

Yoga

As a yogi who loves to try classes in different languages I dragged my tired legs to one of the classes available at Dům jógy Anděl which was lovely. Great little studio with lots of classes, even Aerial Yoga and really friendly staff. Loved the tea they make for everyone. Who doesn’t like a nice cup of tea??? 

You can also do Yoga during summer for free! There are free yoga lessons at Letna park, the meet-up is at Sparta tram stop, every Thursday at 7 PM, then there’s 50 CZK (2 euros) Yoga on Tuesday, same place & time. It’s a beginner’s yoga in Czech but it’s not so hard to follow others. They speak really fast though, I normally can understand Czech if they speak slowly as Polish is similar but even I was struggling:) it was great fun though!

Ice-creams

Summers in Prague can be excruciatingly hot. Especially in the past few years, as Czechia (they are now using the new abbreviated name for the Czech Republic, although all Czechs I have met absolutely hate it) has been getting more tropical weather from the South. As temperatures reach 30C, the cobblestoned streets heat up, and air-conditioning is hard to find in the Unesco-protected historical centre. So be careful and eat Ice-creams(which are delish…)

Random info that I have discovered: Trdelnik 

This is pretty random piece of information, but somebody must write about it. Trdelnik aka chimney, the donut-like pastry baked on metal rolls is literally everywhere! You can buy it in every shop and cafe or stall in the city centre. It may also be the most Instagrammed thing from Prague. All those stands with the “traditional Bohemian” pastry weren’t here some years ago when I used to come here with my family. Apparently trdelnik is the essence of a tourist trap in Prague. (And it's NOT a donut, people!). It is a great piece of street food tho: the caramelised sugar and cinnamon smells amazing and very tempting and the rotating movement practically spins money out of your wallet. It’s not as great as you think and from what I have heard it’s not even an old recipe! 

Beer! (now that’s a better topic)

Naplavka is the Prague’s best and newest hipster hangout. I don’t remember if it was there when I was younger but even if it was my parents wouldn’t probably take me with them. 

Prague has an endless amount of beer gardens and parks. While there are often long, never-solved debates as to which of Prague’s famous beer gardens is the best place to beat the heat or enjoy a nice autumn day, Naplavka, has emerged as something just a bit different and my absolute favourite.

Naplavka is a stretch of pavement next to the banks of the Vltava, under the Jiráskův bridge. In the colder months it doesn’t even exist as the boats hide away, but it is in the summer when its warm this place truly comes alive. Bordered by boats and modest riverfront restaurants, during summer evenings Naplavka transforms from a boring stretch of riverbank into one of the liveliest and nicest social pace in Prague. You can sample a variety of local beers and listen to different kind of live music. If you are feeling a bit peckish, Naplavka will not disappoint. The culinary choices are dizzying and you can either grab a meal from a nearby food truck or even a passing grill boat, or cash out on a restaurant (on a boat of course). We opted for burgers and my vegetarian burger was mouth-watering!

Beer cosmetics

This probably should be in the ‘random information’ section but Czechs love their beer so much that they even have beer cosmetics which will moisturize your skin and soften your hair. Beer cosmetics by Manufaktura with high content of beer, vitamins B and glycerine is suitable for everyday use.

What to see in Prague is coming soon...

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Lanzarote  - the volcanic beauty

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Lanzarote - the volcanic beauty

Now that the fascination with Gran Canaria and Tenerife is slowly calming down, Lanzarote is turning into a rather upmarket destination. It is one of those lands that you either hate or love. It's tiny and it literally takes 45min to 1h to drive from the north to the south parts of the island, even less from east to west. Interestingly, it's also almost completely covered in volcanic rock - basalt. You can drive for miles seeing only black rock, wondering if it really was our beloved mother nature or someone just did that with a digger. The heart of the area affected by volcanic eruptions in the 1700’s is now the Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park and it is one of the most stunning and at the same time disturbing views I have ever seen. Looking at all the cooled lava makes your really respect the power of nature. The volcanic activity changed the face of the island completely, adding to its size and leaving whole areas of black rock known as 'badlands' where green vines sprout from black lava.

Oddly, despite it being full of volcanos, it actually is the least mountainous of all the Canary Islands. The relatively flat terrain of Lanzarote helps to make the island stand out and makes exploring particularly easy. Whereever you are you either see the volcanoes or silhouettes of three smallest islands around Lanzarote: Alegranza, Montana and Clara or the other Canarian beauty: Furtaventura. Occasionally it gets really mysterious and the landscape is blurred by the dust which literally stains everything: houses, cars, even cats. It comes from the Sahara desert and mostly brings a lot of really hot air that makes even me look for shade. 

With its beautiful beaches, year-round sunshine, parched earth and clean villages, this enchanting island attracts tourists and especially surfers from around the world. The north of the island is relatively windy so if you are thinking about a beach holiday I would probably suggest heading to the south or going to Gran Canaria. Surfing on other hand is fabulous. There are many parts of the north great for water sports, however the most famous one is called Famara Beach. Long strip of sandy beach and ever-present waves make it the surfer’s heaven. During the day it's full of surfing students however they normally opt for the smaller baby waves closer to the shore so if you are good at this you can go as wild as you want. It’s also very safe, just imagine how many life guards you have around you!

It’s definitely not a party island such as Gran Canaria, Majorca or Ibiza. You can see that the moment you step off the plane and figure out the average demography. Don't get me wrong, I bet you can party until you drop. Puerto del Carmen is definitely the naughty corner and Famara Beach is known for weed, but in general it's a very quiet place. All activity and nightlife mostly happens within the grounds of the big hotels. 

When I visited Gran Canaria a few years back I was overwhelmed by the amount of kitty cats populating the island and gathering in central locations in the evenings to supervise their dominium. It literally felt like we are the pets and they are the masters. Every evening we went out to find crowds of cats just looking at us. Some of them looked heathy, some didn’t but they still sat there observing. As the cats were mostly neglected, the hotel staff weren’t too keen to let the cats in or even feed them in fear they will keep coming back. We saw acts of cruelty and love and the whole view was just distressing. Lanzarote stroke me with it's love for animals. At our hotel staff had created a feeding space where the cats can have their meals, all of them were clean, warmed and some of them were neutered. They knew what they can and can’t do and all the non-cat lovers had to just suck it all up as the cats were part of the furniture (sometimes literally). We also discovered two non for profit organisations/simply amazing people: Freddy's Cat House and  and 9 Lives. Freddy is particularly incredible as he is just one man building little cat houses, feeding and taking care of cats around Playa de Blanca. They installed a bunch of cat feeding stations around the whole island, making sure that the animals are well fed and safe. Kept the cats healthy and controlled their reproduction. Cats seemed really happy, they were still running the island but the cruelty visible in Gran Canaria wasn’t present. 

If you want to rest and relax on your beach towel - go to the south. If you want to surf, do paddle boarding and other water sports - north is your place. If you want to be less active but have some social life go to Puerto del Carmen. Cycling is another fabulous activity perfect for warm and sunny winter days in Lanzarote. If you are really serious about active holidays or want to train towards a marathon, triathlon or other, Lanzarote offers you one of the best purpose built sport and active holiday resort in the world: Club La Santa. They have over 30 different sports and free group instruction. As for surfing, Lava Flow Surf has been the most effective school I have trained with. They helped me progress and move beyond my stuck point without putting pressure on achievements. They know when you are ready and they give you something new to work on.

Just as all Spanish food, Lanzarote’s cuisine is fantastic. They are very proud of their potatoes so maybe try them to know what they are talking about. You can literally go to the Canaries any time of year and have good weather. Sure, it gets windy and storms aren’t totally unknown, but most of the time it is sunny with an average temperature of 22C. Even when the islands are at their hottest, in July and August, the temperature is usually only in the mid-twenties. Whenever you go, it is nearly always warm enough to swim and sunbathe. With only 4.30h flight, short hotel transfer and year round sunshine, Lanzarote really is an amazing place to recharge your batteries without being overwhelmed, bored or exhausted from sightseeing. If by any chance you feel that you have had enough, from Playa Blanca take a ferry to Furtaventura and try surfing, paddle boarding or just be a tourist over there (it’s only 7 miles away). We are already plotting a surfing and yoga retreat in 2018 so stay tuned.

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10 things I loved about Hong Kong

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10 things I loved about Hong Kong

1) Travel as little as 1-2 miles away from HK to discover how beautiful and peaceful world can be

2) The diversity: poor but content vs. exclusive but hectic 

HK HOT POT DINNER

3) Honesty, you probably have no idea what you are eating anyway - so don't even ask

4) Traditional Sunday hot pot dinner

5) You can safely just wonder around HK, get lost, then find your way again and explore the less flashy HK

6) The longest underground trains I have ever seen! Seriously, they are as long as 2-3 blocks! Don't quote me on that but the other two cities that I know of with such a large number of cars are: Singapore and the rail link between Mecca and Medina. Every traveller who’s ever set a toe inside this immaculately clean, well-signposted, cheap, regular, convenient underground will agree that it’s probably one of the least frustrating subway systems in the world

HK

7) Pink dolphins - I don’t think I have actually believed in them until one just jumped in front of me. The pink colour is not a result of a pigment, but comes from very prominent blood vessels, which were overdeveloped for thermoregulation

8) Size of the incenses (a little tip, never leave your chopsticks stuck in the bowl of rice as it resembles incense and is considered disrespectful) 

9) Have you ever seen the size on an Asian butterfly?

10) When someone pours tea for you, lightly knock your two fingers on the table and say "thank you"

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5 things I liked about Dubai

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5 things I liked about Dubai

1) Dubai at night, probably the most spectacular skyline I have seen. Plus this is the only time when you can actually wonder on the streets without burning alive

2) Women and children only subway carriages (even though they may be considered as a representation of gender segregation)

3) If you have got the money and want to really indulge yourself - Dubai has it all

4) Ban on chewing gum in public spaces. It used to be illegal (or may still be) to chew gum in Singapore too (you actually needed a prescription to get it)

5) Old Deira - although, this is not the place to be a rebel so make sure you cover yourself

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