Archive

Tag Archives: Travel

Villa Benvenuti Exterior

Villa Benvenuti

Sometimes in life a series of events sets off a chain reaction that results in an outcome that is beyond your expectations. This is exactly how I ended up spending 7 days at a yoga retreat in a centuries old Tuscan villa just outside of Lucca back in June. I got to spend the week with four incredibly beautiful and talented women who shared their laughter, life lessons and hearts with me. I got to spend the week  in an amazing villa, surrounded by vineyards and luscious green gardens. I got to fall asleep daily in a hammock under the trees, or on a sun lounge by the pool. I got spoilt with delicious Tuscan food, vegetarian of course, and a cheeky glass of wine with dinner, made from the grapes grown on the property. The retreat was at the delightful Villa Benvenuti, which is also available for private hire, and consisted of all food, accommodation and twice daily yoga & pilates.

Villa Benvenuti Yoga Room

Our yoga teacher for the retreat was Lauren from 19r Yoga and Pilates, originally from New York and currently residing Florence. Lauren started us off each morning with an invigorating Ashtanga sequence in the dedicated yoga space on the top floor of the villa. Afterwards we would head downstairs for breakfast of home made muesli and toast with local jam and honey.

Villa Benvenuti Breakfast

During the day we had free time for bush walking, a swim in the pool, a massage with the delightful Isabelle, or of course a sleep in the hammock.

Villa Benvenuti Chair Massage

Enjoying a chair massage from Isabelle the onsite masseuse

Villa Benvenuti Pool

In the afternoon we would head back up to the yoga room for about half an hour of ab-focused pilates, after which we would pick up our mats and head outside to the grass for some inversion practice and yin yoga.

Headstand on the grass

Towards the end of the week we did a cooking class with the retreat chef Maria-Angela. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned how good the food is yet but it was ah-maze-ing, there was not one meal that I didn’t go back for a second helping. I think we were all trying to think of ways that we could bring her back to Australia with us. In our cooking class Maria-Angela taught us to make Gnocchi with pesto, over a cheeky glass of prosecco of course.

Maria-Angela making gnocchi

Maria-Angela demonstrating how to make gnocchi

The town of Lucca was only 15 minutes away from the villa, so we spent a bit of time exploring the ancient walled city and eating some of the best Gelati we found on the entire trip to Italy.

The week was truly amazing and if you are ever looking for an unforgettable yoga retreat experience in Europe I can’t recommend Villa Benvenuti enough.

L xx

Is it possible to be smitten with an entire country? I think I might be a just a little bit smitten with Italy. The food, the wine, the scenery, the cities, the countryside, every little bit of it is amazing. We only spent a very brief two weeks in Italy, where we had a couple of days in Rome, a couple of days in the Cinque Terre and 7 days on a yoga retreat in a villa just outside of Lucca in Tuscany. It was really only a taste tester of what Italy has to offer and I can’t wait to get back there.

Here are a few of my favourite pics from the trip:

The famous Trevi Fountain

Gelato! Chocolate and lemon. Yum!

Riomaggiore, where we stayed in Cinque Terre

Our own private Tuscan villa.

If you want to see more you can check out my photos on Flickr.

The yoga retreat was absolutely amazing and deserves its own dedicated blog post, so stay tuned for that.

L xx

Vietnam is an absolutely stunning country, from the busy heaving cities to the laid back coastal towns and islands. Here are a couple of my favourite photos from our trip there.

Halong Bay

Cyclo drivers in Hoi An

Ben Thanh Market in Saigon

A Phu Quoc island sunset fit for a marriage proposal :)

Ending the trip in style on Phu Quoc Island

Check out the rest of the photos over here.

L xx

Luang Prabang, located in the North of Laos on the Mekong River, was a nice change of pace after the craziness of Cambodia. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site so there are no big trucks or buses and very few cars, just a whole lot of motorbike traffic.

The place is definitely geared towards tourism, and it felt a bit like the number of tourists outweighed the locals, not to mention it was one of the more expensive places we visited by South East Asian standards. Despite that, I have to say I definitely fell in love with Luang Prabang, it’s charm and pace were incredibly endearing and compared to the rest of South East Asia it’s very laid-back and a lot slower, making it the perfect place to spend a week or two.

Wat Xieng Thong

Wat Xieng Thong

Fermenting rice wine

Fermenting rice wine

Buddha statues in the Pak Ou Caves

Buddha statues in the Pak Ou Caves

Monks participating in the early morning Alms giving ceremony

Buddhist Monks lined up for the early morning Alms Giving Ceremony

Kuang Si Falls

Kuang Si Falls

You can see the rest of my Luang Prabang photos over on my Flickr account.

L xx

While we were in Luang Prabang, we stumbled across a great little place called Ock Pop Tok, which means East Meets West in Laos. They are a fair trade organisation that sources and sells a diverse range of textiles from all the different ethnic groups in Laos including Lao-Tai, Khmu, Hmong and Katu.

Ock Pop Tok has a couple of shops in the town of Luang Prabang, and a Living Arts Center just a couple of minutes out of town by tuk-tuk, which also has a villa with four rooms that you can stay in. We spent our last night in Luang Prabang there and wish we had found the place earlier, it was like a little oasis on the Mekong River.

Ock Pop Tok

View of the Mekong from the Villa balcony

Our stay there was fantastic, and probably the most peaceful and quiet place we have stayed on our trip so far. Ock Pop Tok offers a free tuk-tuk shuttle between the Living Arts Center and their shop in town, and it is well worth checking out even if you don’t stay there. The staff will take you on a tour of the center and explain to you how different silk is made using different silk worms, how the silk is dyed using natural dyes and show you the weavers hard at work on their bamboo looms.

Hmong Batik

Hmong Batik

To top it all off you can do hands-on classes in weaving, natural dyes or Hmong Batik. I did the natural dyes workshop and got taken through the fermentation process of  Indigo leaves to make blue dye and the boiling of Jackfruit bark to make a golden yellow dye. I then got to dye my own scarf and silk thread, and it was really amazing to see the vibrant colours that came from these totally chemical-free plant based dyes.

Indigo leaves and stems fermenting in clay pots

Indigo leaves and stems fermenting in clay pots

Boiling Jackfruit bark to make a golden yellow dye

Boiling Jackfruit bark to make a golden yellow dye

However, the highlight of our stay at Ock Pop Tok was meeting Muon, one of the weavers living and working at the Living Arts Center. Muon is from the very Southern end of Laos and belongs to the Katu ethnic group, she’s only 19 but has travelled some 500-odd kilometres away from her village so that she can work at Ock Pop Tok and learn English (coincidentally we were also staying in the Katu room at the Ock Pop Tok villa). Katu weaving is distinctive for its use of beads intricately woven in among the fabric, they also use a seated back loom instead of a standing loom. The beads have to be pre-threaded and then counted out before they are woven through the loom, then Muon manually spreads the beads into the desired pattern. She makes it look easy, and has very fast hands but it is incredibly intricate and I’m sure if I tried it would be a total mess.

Muon weaving red beads into the shape of a cross

Muon weaving red beads into the shape of a cross

After the Living Arts Center had closed for the evening Muon took us down to the banks of the Mekong to watch the sunset and told us about her family and life in her village. It has certainly been one of the more memorable evenings on our trip and we can’t thank her enough for taking the time to show us the Mekong and tell us about her life.

Sunset from the banks of the Mekong River

Sunset from the banks of the Mekong River

L xx

We left Cambodia almost two weeks ago now, so these are a long time coming but here are a few of the photos I took while we were there.

Banteay Kdei

Temples of Angkor: Banteay Kdei

Cranky Monkey at Angkor Wat

Cranky Monkey at Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat at Sunrise

Angkor Wat at Sunrise

Snake and Scorpion Whiskey

Snake and Scorpion Whiskey

You can see more of my photos from Cambodia over on Flickr.

L xx

The Boyfriend and I have spent the last 4 days in Siem Reap exploring the temples of Angkor, having massages and eating banana pancakes. Siem Reap is a beautiful reprieve after the chaos of Phnom Penh and words cannot describe how amazing the Angkor temples are.

Yesterday we headed to the Peace Cafe across the river from the Old Market for a morning yoga class and some breakfast but when we got there the yoga class was cancelled because the teacher was away. My disappointment was palpable to say the least, since we’ve been in Cambodia my yoga asana practice has been non-existent and I was really looking forward to giving my body a well deserved stretch.

Peace Cafe Sign

Yoga-less and slightly despondent we sat down to order some breakfast. Shortly after an American couple showed up asking about the yoga class and were also told it had been cancelled, at which point a Welsh guy who had been sitting having a coffee said that he had come for the class as well. They all seemed really keen, so I offered to lead the class if the cafe could provide the room and the mats. So somehow, in that random way things seem to happen when you are travelling, I ended up teaching a yoga class to a few Farangs above a Cambodian cafe.

Peace CafePeace Cafe Comfy Chairs

The cafe had a great yoga space above the kitchen and afterwards I sat down to a lovely (read: hippy) breakfast of scrambled tofu, a green smoothie and an oatmeal cookie. Peace cafe is an absolute vegetarian paradise, if you’re ever in the area make sure you stop by the food is great and the juices are uber-fresh.

Peace Cafe Green Smoothie

L xx

SFO Yoga Room Interior

Air travel can be stressful, not to mention hard on the body; we were not designed to sit for 8+ hours in a cramped space. It’s not uncommon to see passengers stretching in the aisle of a plane or stretched out on the floor of the airport lounge during a lay over, so the unveiling of a Yoga Room at San Francisco International Airport makes perfect sense.

SFO Yoga Room

The Yoga Room is the “first of its kind” and consists of a 14 square metre space with hard wood floors, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and loaner yoga mats.

Drawing inspiration from contemporary color and light artists, the architects of Terminal 2, Gensler, designed a room enveloped in a calming blue color. A floating wall symbolizes a buoyant spirit and enlightened mind. Light levels are set low and warm in juxtaposition to the bright, light filled concourse.

San Francisco International Airport, I love you and your yoga embracing ways, you’ve really outdone yourself, thank you for paving the way and hopefully many more airports will follow in your footsteps.

I have a five hour lay over at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in two weeks, do you think they could get a yoga room installed before then? Reasonable request, don’t you think?

L xx

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 451 other followers

%d bloggers like this: