- Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Most Relaxing Week Of My Life

HELLO HELLO HELLO! Or should I say... hola? (Yes, because this post is about Spain.)




It has been a while (a whole dos semanas!) since my last post (my birthday post, in case you missed it) because there has been much excitement in the life of moi.

Excitement... and zen.


Following the thrill of bidding farewell to teenagehood, I jetted off the next day with Madre to a yoga retreat in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, just a wee bit north of Málaga. Say hello to Kaliyoga.




After being collected at Málaga airport along with two others (and almost accidentally bringing an extra person who turned out to be destined for Granada instead... different city whoops) and enjoying the views on a slightly hair-raising journey north (many windy mountainous clifftop-ish roads, FYI), we arrived at our haven for a week of 'mindful vinyasa yoga' in the Spanish sunshine with delicious food and magical people. Prepare for an onslaught of photos.











 


This is, if it's any consolation, a very small fraction of the total number of photos I took. I've left out *most* of the ones of me, Mum and the others who we spent the week with, and have massively culled all the food and scenery photos for optimum non-boring-ness. Enjoy!


Our days started with a yoga class from 9-11am, which was then followed by gorgeous breakfasts, and never the exact same thing twice. Before you collapse with shock, yes, it was actually fine waiting until 11am for breakfast - for some reason it's easier in the heat, and the yoga wasn't the sort to make you sweat profusely and feel like you've just run a marathon. If you really couldn't cope, though, there was a giant fruit bowl permanently stocked with giant fruit where we could help ourselves. And let's not forget the trees with generous offerings of grapes/figs/pomegranates all over the place! Glorious.













After a couple of really exhausting, difficult hours of lying in the sun/by the pool/in a hammock/etc, the bell was rung at 2pm signalling lunch, and like Pavlov's dogs we all managed to bestir ourselves for our next instalment of unbelievably good food.


The lunches and breakfasts were always buffet style, while the suppers were served restaurant-style (how swanky!!) which was probably for the best, otherwise bending and contorting in yoga could have been tricky.. the food was too amazing.















After lunch was another few hours of lounging/reading/swimming/going on walks/exploring, before we all congregated in the yoga shala for a class (generally more slow-paced than the morning one) from 5.30-7pm.

This was followed by mocktails and nibbles (aka smoothies/juices/kombucha (all DELICIOUS) and nuts/berries/the most enormous olives in the world (also delicious)) and chats before supper at 8pm. This pre-supper chat was generally when we'd all catch up on what everyone had been doing that day, and hear about the various treatments that had been undergone.




With a longstanding 'hippie' culture in the whole surrounding area, there is a huge resource of alternative treatments available from local experts and professionals. Whether you want a Thai yoga massage or an aromatherapy massage, or something more unusual like, say, crystal bowl healing or a session of quantum SCIO biofeedback, it's all on offer and all did get rave reviews. Neither Mum nor I got any treatments this time, but I'm more than a little intrigued by the sound of some in particular (by which I mean I instantly googled places that offered the same treatments in Edinburgh when we returned home)..

Aside from the treatments, there were also several walks in the nearby area, of differing distances and difficulty (including one to a waterfall!! maybe next time..), as well as one really lovely 40-ish minute circular walk around the retreat and its local bits and pieces.




One of said local bits and pieces is the aforementioned 'hippie' town of Órgiva. It's not huge, but is well-known amongst expats (seemed to be a lot of British and Dutch in particular) and was made more famous in the Chris Stewart's book, Driving Over Lemons. They host a weekly market on Thursdays, so Madre and I decided it ought to be investigated. We walked the two-ish miles to Órgiva in the blazing heat (bearing in mind Mum uses a crutch... GO MUM, I have no idea how on earth you did it) and, after a fair bit of geographical confusion, chanced upon the market.












There are a few groups of people who will be particularly interested in this market. Firstly, grannies in search of absolutely gigantic pants. Secondly, anyone with a) feet and b) no comprehension of the fact that winter boots and 28 degree weather do not go fantastically. Thirdly, small children with incredibly sweet teeth (many, many, many stands of sweeties). Fourthly, giants who like giant fruit and veg (or just very hungry people who like fruit and veg A LOT). And if you don't fall into any of those categories, there will almost certainly be something for you, too. This market has everything.




Thankfully, we (and a couple of others who had gone market-ing) were being given a hurly back up to the retreat which was just as well, otherwise I think my legs might have fallen off. On our way to the rendez-vous point (wrong language, sorry.. apparently the Spanish equivalent is 'cita' but I have many trust issues with Google Translate, so we may just ignore that) we popped into a gorgeous Indian shop with all sorts of jewellery/clothes/soft-furnishingy bits which is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be anywhere nearby and have a hankering for a nice souvenir (also wrong language.. this one is 'recuerdo' and I'm pretty certain that actually is right).












We arrived back at Kali just in time for lunch, which was clearly our main priority. Food, always. Which leads me very nicely onto what I'm going to talk about next, and coincidentally also have many photos of: the food. (I have almost as many photos of our food as I do of the gorgeous sunrises.)

Our meals were all vegetarian, and were adapted without difficulty or complaint from the (unbelievably skilled) chefs for any dietary requirements. As a group, we were a mix of veggie, vegan, gluten-free and omnivore, and the menu for the week delighted every single one of us. Only a few of the meals had to be adapted for vegan and gluten free versions, so pretty much everything we ate could be enjoyed by EVERYONE. It was amazing. The photos don't even come close to doing it all justice.












We had various different things for breakfasts - from yoghurt with fruit to granola and berries, from chia pudding to spreads on toast, it was all fantastic. We were also treated to a typical Alpujarran breakfast (Alpujarra is the region) of toast spread with a roasted tomato and red pepper sort of purée, and topped with an avocadoey salad mix.

Every breakfast and lunch was accompanied by a smoothie or juice of some exotic description. Starting off the week with a stunning peanut butter-banana concoction was a tricky act to follow, but there wasn't a single one I didn't enjoy [many glasses of].












The suppers were where we were even more spoiled (if that's at all possible) with a three-course meal every night served to us by the resident volunteers. (Yes, that did instantly plant a seed in my mind. We'll see if it grows.) Our dishes for each evening were written up on a blackboard so we could see what we were having, but I have brilliantly managed to forget a lot of it. The food was too good to concentrate on anything else, okay?

I didn't photograph (or at least not well enough to include here) every dish, but I'll share a selection. I shall caption the photos as best as I can remember, but there will definitely be mistakes/omissions/possibly additions. Either way, rest assured it was all great. First up, the starters:


spiralised courgette with peanut sauce & peanut crumbs
sundried tomato, pear & goat's cheese salad
coconut, spinach & something else gazpacho?
asparagus, beetroot & walnuts with cactus juice (!?)





















And now the mains:
roasted aubergine with chimichurri, millet, onion & pomegranate
beetroot burger with caramelised onion, mushrooms & guac

butternut squash coconut curry

dhal with cauliflower & spinach
(giant) sushi with sweet potato

And last (but absolutely not least), the puddings (which were tricky to photograph because the sun had always set by the time we were eating them):
baked peach with honey & almonds
baked apple with Iranian rice cookie
raw chocolate raspberry cheesecake

Although we didn't go for any of the extra treatments, Mum and I were keen from the get-go to take part in the Raw Food Masterclass we had seen mentioned on the website (which we had been obsessively trawling through pretty much every other day since booking our places). The Wednesday afternoon was completely empty, with no yoga class and no evening meal provided, meaning that we were all free to do whatever/go wherever we wanted. While some people went to the coast for an afternoon at the beach, and others visited Órgiva for an evening of wine and meat-topped pizzas (rebels at heart), we (along with a number of others) decided to stay at Kali and soak up the rays by the pool, before the workshop in the afternoon, where we made our supper.

What was the meal, you ask? (Maybe you don't. I'll tell you anyway.) Lasagne followed by mango lime cheesecake. All vegan, all raw, all completely scrumptious.



And that draws us to a close on the foodie front. But at least I have these photos to relive it all (and the recipes from the masterclass (AND they are currently putting together a recipe book of the retreat recipes which I am unbelievably excited for)).

Interlude for photos of the local not-so-wildlife:












Basic info for anyone who is considering going to Kaliyoga Spain specifically: we were staying in a casita, which is essentially a little lodge with two beds and a bathroom, and it was brilliant; if you want to have any treatments, take extra cash with you as they are paid for in cash (or alternatively there are cash points in Órgiva); take suncream and books for being by the pool; said pool is freezy when you first get in but completely lovely after about two breaths, so definitely use it; if you *are* too cold, the infrared sauna is very pleasant, and you have the most incredible view of the mountains when you step out; TAKE A CAMERA; highly highly highly recommend completely digitally switching off - there is wifi if you really need it but I didn't even ask for the password and it was the best decision on the planet. I can't wait to go back.



I think that's everything, but if you have questions at all then just leave a comment and I'll reply!

For now, I shall leave you with various views, most of which are of the sun rising over the mountains, and also a photo of me because I want to. Namaste!





(reverse warrior ii, probably doing it wrong)

*All photos in this post are mine. If you wish to use any, please ask my permission and credit me!*

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5 comments:

  1. Thank you for your lovely Blog - we are delighted you enjoyed your Kaliyoga retreat. Italy is next for you!

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    1. Glad you liked it - thank you for a wonderful week! I may or may not have already been looking at my calendar for 2017 to see when I can get my next fix of Kaliyoga... only thing left to do is decide where to go!

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  2. Hi Imogen,
    I have just got back from the UK and seen your blog. Thank you so much for the fantastic review and recommendation you have given us.
    It was a pleasure to be part of your week and to have the opportunity to look after you and your lovely mum. lots and lots of love and gratitude to you both. Love Jane xxx

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    Replies
    1. Hola Jane! I'm so glad you like the post - we really did have the most wonderful time. Thanks again for such a gorgeous week! Love and hugs from both of us, and hopefully see you again soon.

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