Traveling Europe ~ One City at a Time ~ Barcelona

Welcome to part two of our European tour! After leaving Paris we traveled to Barcelona, Spain by high speed train. It took us about 6 1/2 hours to travel the 500+ miles. We enjoyed first class accommodations and wonderful views of the countryside as we rode along the tracks.

Our purpose for visiting Spain was my Yoga Trapeze training at the Yogabody Studios in Barcelona. We arrived Monday evening at our flat in the Gracia region of the city; a wonderful neighborhood filled with tradition. There was a lovely little square nearby, and a bakery, on the corner, with delicious empanadas.

Our flat:

I was not able to see as much of Barcelona as Dave was since I was in training most of the time we were there. We did a LOT of walking though. Each morning I left the flat a bit before 7:00 am to get to the studio before class began at 7:30 am. Dave usually walked with me, then he’d walk back to Gracia. Then he’d walk back to the studio to meet me for our break, and this went on 3 times each day. The training schedule was 2 hours of training, 2 hour break, 2 hours of training, 2 hour break, 2 hours of training, 1 1/2 hour break, 1 1/2 hour lecture. Whew. . .we finished about 8:00 each night.

There are 3 Yogabody studios in Barcelona, but nearly all of our training was at Yogabody 3:

During the walk to the studios in the morning one of the landmarks was this cathedral:

It was lovely lit in reds. There is a square just in front of it with a fountain, though you can’t see that in this shot.

We did have one day of touring the city together, which we spent at La Sagrada Familia. Designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, the project began in 1883 and he labored on it for 43 years. When he died in 1926 the church was about 20% complete. The work was stopped during the Spanish Civil War and began again in the 1950s.

La Sagrada Familia

Today, the work continues, funded exclusively by private donation and entry fees. It is anticipated that the church will be finished in 2026, for the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. The detail is amazing both inside and out.

We climbed one of the towers for this amazing view of the city:

Recently watching an episode of Blindspot, which was filmed in Barcelona, I noticed several familiar places, including La Sagrada Familia.

Visiting in early December allowed us to enjoy the festive lights on display at night.

One local landmark that I didn’t find particularly appealing, but couldn’t really go unnoticed was La Torre Agbar-

For those interested in learning more about this structure, click this link.

As the week went on we began to appreciate the opportunities to walk around the city enjoying the sights.

Again, we will need to return because there is still so much we didn’t get to visit, including the Picasso museum, the Gaudi homes, the Cathedral of Barcelona, the many quaint neighborhoods, and of course, the Mediterranean.

In our time there we saw little sign of the Catalan Independence Movement, except for the occasional flag draped over a balcony.

After our 6 nights in Barcelona we began the trek to Monte Carlo, Monaco. This train adventure proved to be long and exhausting, but so worth the journey.

Adeu per ara!

Traveling Europe – One City at a Time – Paris

Many of you may know that Dave and I traveled to Europe recently. The idea for this trip began when I registered for a Yoga Trapeze training in Barcelona. Eventually, we realized that going to Europe for a few days and being busy with the training the entire time made no sense, so we expanded the trip to two weeks and elected to visit several other places. Ultimately we elected to start our trip in Paris and end it in Rome. I’ve decided to share our trip with you one city at a time. Let’s begin at the beginning – Paris.

We flew Delta into Charles de Gaulle airport. As a night flight we left Boston at 7:00 PM and arrived Paris at 8:30 AM. Paris is 6 hours ahead of our Eastern Standard Time, so the flight was actually only 7.5 hours, non-stop. At 8:30 in the morning the last thing we wanted to do was stand in a long line, but that’s exactly what we had to do at customs. It took us over two hours to get through since they only had two customs officers working and the line must have had over 200 people in it. Once we managed to get through that ordeal we began to find our bearings, which meant finding the train that would take us to the neighborhood where our airbnb rental was. We had great directions from our host and made it to Montreuil where we had a flat for the next two days. It was raining and windy when we arrived, but we managed to find our place which was small, but very comfortable, and in a sweet little neighborhood. It took us about 3 hours to get to our flat from the time our plane landed.

Montreuil is the equivalent of a suburb and had a farmer’s market in the center of town. On Saturday one of the streets was lined with vendors selling local products and demonstrating local crafts. We bought some local cheese and fresh breads for our dinner.
On our second day we took the metro into Paris and began our adventure at Notre Dame Cathedral.

I think the pictures speak for themselves. Inside, the cathedral reminded me very much of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. We were there on Sunday morning so did have the opportunity to see part of a service.

Next we ventured to the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. (

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe to Des Avenue Champs Elyssees

We strolled down the most famous of Paris streets and enjoyed a lovely late lunch there.

We then continued all the way to the end of the street toward the Louvre. It was too late in the day to go into the museum, so now we have an excuse to go back.

Finally, we headed to Le Tour Eiffel, which we wanted to see at night.

It was quite impressive, though I have to say I enjoyed the views of the tower much more from a distance. Up close it loses some of iconic appeal. We did not venture to the top because 1. it was getting late, 2. there was a long line,(Le Tour Eiffel is the most visited paid monument in the world) and 3. it was too cold to stand outside in that long line. (Yet another reason to return to Paris.)

Upon our return to Montreuil we had a late, by our standards, dinner at a local restaurant. The next day we took the high-speed train from Paris to Barcelona. It was very enjoyable and I took the following pictures from the train.

Stay tuned for Barcelona next week, to be followed by Monte Carlo and Rome!

Yoga Trapeze Training

Those of you who know me well, know that I am infatuated with my yoga trapeze. I purchased it last spring and spend a great deal of time upside down these days after work. It really makes my neck – which has a tendency toward stiffness – feel so much better. It’s been particularly beneficial in this year of a new job that keeps me at my desk and computer more than ever.

As a recently certified yoga instructor I have been dreaming of going to Barcelona to get the teacher training on the yoga trapeze, and . . .

This is the year! I am going to Barcelona in November to train with Yoga Body and become a certified yoga trapeze teacher! Yahoo!

Once completed, I hope to offer classes on the trapeze – trust me – you will LOVE it! Until I get my own studio built (which will have big beams for hanging the trapezes) I will be looking for a location that 1. can accommodate the trapezes, and 2. won’t cost me a fortune to lease, so I can offer reasonably priced classes!

It’s so exciting when you have something to look forward to!

The Crystal Coast 2016

The Crystal Coast is an 85-mile stretch of coastline in North Carolina that extends from the Cape Lookout National Seashore, which includes 56 miles of protected beaches, westward to the New River. ~from wikipedia

According to the “Insiders’ Guide: North Carolina’s Central Coast and New Bern,” the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce coined the term “Crystal Coast” to describe the area’s extremely clear waters and brilliant white beaches.

Dave and I first discovered the Crystal Coast about five years ago when we took two weeks to travel from Vermont south, along the eastern shore as far as in Pine Knoll Shores in North Carolina. Read about that trip here.

We so loved the Atlantis Lodge for its convenience and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean we decided to head there again. This time we would drive through, without visiting other places along the way and have 10 glorious days in Pine Knoll Shores at the Atlantis.

On day one, before we even checked in, we headed directly for the beach.
home away from - Copy

Part of the joy of this location is that you can walk the beach for hours in either direction. These are not beaches like Long Sands Beach in York, Maine ~ which I love by the way. The North Carolina beaches are relatively quiet, with few people. At the Atlantis, the resort has it’s own section of beach with beach chairs and umbrellas available. It’s kind of my idea of perfection!

morning at the pier - Copy

The rooms at the Atlantis all face the Atlantic and they all have either a deck or grounds access from the room. We were on the ground floor this time around and enjoyed it very much. In addition to easy access from our room to the beach (actually all rooms have easy access), we enjoyed sitting on the front lawn sipping coffee and watching the birds in the mornings.

alert - Copy
bird watching - Copy
black and blue bird - Copy
bird bath - Copy
Dove - Copy
curiosity - Copy

Though we have our share of beautiful flowers this time of year, the flowers we saw in N.C. were a bit different and fun to photograph.

august blooms in nc - Copy
magnolia - Copy

Across the road from the Atlantis is the Crystal Coast Golf Club, so we spent several late afternoons there. I enjoyed seeing the wildlife and the views on the course as much as I enjoyed playing the game.



unknown species partner - Copy
wildlife in nc - Copy
golf course - Copy

I will share more adventures of our trip later, but all in all, it was a fabulous and very relaxing trip.

Life is Good

Life is Good

The Villages

Recently I was fortunate enough to visit a dear friend who purchased a second home in The Villages, Florida. Click on the link to learn more.

As many of you may know, The Villages were built as retirement communities for seniors from all over. Begun by Harold S. Schwartz, the area now known as The Villages is home to more than 110,000 over-55s.
the founder - Copy

Besides the much warmer temperatures and lack of snow, many retirees like the lifestyle of The Villages for the many activities there are to do there.

Here are shots of typical homes and streets in parts of the The Villages:
typical neighborhood - Copy
village street - Copy

My friend is enjoying here new life there in the winter months for all the many things there are to do. She is a golfer and can access any of dozens of courses there; she has joined a rug hooking group and is learning to play Mahjong; there is a pool just a short walk from her house; and she can enjoy a wide range of shopping opportunities within a few miles from home. One of the most enjoyable conveniences is being able to walk her dogs without bundling up in winter gear.

Sharis pool - Copy

In the short time I visited The Villages it was evident that many, many people have found pleasure in life there. The many opportunities for people to gather and celebrate and the listing of events happening daily certainly make it appealing to those who previously lived in areas where activities were either limited, or difficult to access.

In The Villages neighborhoods most people can easily get around with their golf carts. Anywhere we traveled there was a long line of carts parked on the streets.

golf carts - Copy

The few short days I was in Florida I most enjoyed the warm weather and greenery all around. It was lovely sitting in the sun in Shari’s backyard next to the orange and lemon trees watching the Cardinal and the Hawk.

A new experience Shari shared with me was a Polo match. Having never seen Polo before I found it entertaining, a bit frightening, and a delightful way to spend an afternoon.

more polo action - Copy

Being a big fan of peace and quiet I appreciated that aspect of The Villages – it is very quiet there. Though, if you are more inclined to surround yourself with revelers there is opportunity to do that. We attended the St. Patrick’s Day parade, where there were cheerleaders:

Villages cheerleaders in parade - Copy

Belly Dancers:

villages belly dancer - Copy

Bag Pipers:
DSCN0317 - Copy

and much more.

What struck me about this parade was that it was composed of all senior citizens, and it was being watched by nearly all senior citizens. There were only a handful of children present. I have never been to a parade before that didn’t have multitudes of children in attendance, so it made me wonder. What would it be like to live a community where you seldom see children? I know I’m not ready for that kind of living, but who knows – maybe some day.

Special thanks to my superb host! It was a relaxing, enjoyable week!