there is no “i” in yoga

it’s true, that there is no “i” in yoga…but there is a “yo”, and i would like you to remember that.

a few years ago, when hubs and i lived in an apartment in another part of the city, we belonged to a super awesome crunch fitness that had the best fitness classes and was never more than 20% full of people working out…which is probably why it closed its doors shortly after we joined.

at the time i would go to yoga at crunch maybe twice a week.  it was a big room, everybody could spread out, and it was quiet and peaceful, but also a good workout.  when they transferred our memberships to a nearby la fitness without asking us, i came to find that the yoga classes were packed all the time.  by the way, so were the treadmills.  there were 30 treadmills (not exaggerating) and they were all taken, all the time.

when we bought our house we joined a nearby 24 hour fitness, which has no classes.  i miss my crunch yoga classes.  one of our neighbors urged me to look into the class schedule at our local rec center, and finally, this spring, i signed up for rec center yoga.  i was stoked.

this yoga class is very different from the other ones i have taken.  i am the youngest person by a solid 20 years.  the room is tiny, has low ceilings, and does not provide a lot of space between you and your yogi neighbor.  the instructor is bubbly and talkative, and people ask questions.  oh they ask questions!

“what is this supposed to feel like in my hip joint?” “i have weak knees, do you think i can do this pose?” “can you personally tailor this class to my needs and my needs only?” (i made that last one up.) we spend probably 30% of the class talking about yoga, and not actually doing any yoga.

interactive yoga seems kind of like the opposite of how yoga is supposed to go, right?

the first 3 classes were normal, and i could tell i was becoming much more flexible, especially in my hamstrings.  i have also been complimented by the instructor on my “very open hips”, so take that for what you will.

but then in week 4, our instructor surprised us with partner poses.  partner poses, i tell you!  putting your body on another stranger’s body!  my worst nightmare, probably!

that week, a stranger got very hands-on with my lower-lower back.  on week 5, i had to put my bare feet against the bare feet of a sheepish but sweaty older man.  then we held hands and pulled our faces towards each other.  week 6 involved putting my hands on someone else’s lower back and gently rocking their body back and forth.  YOU GUYS.  I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS.

week 7 offer a sweet respite from stranger touching, and i was thrilled.  but this week, week 8, when it came time to get dressed for yoga, i just didn’t have it in me to sit in a dark room and touch somebody else.  could not do it again.

so i stayed home and vowed to do a yoga video alone in my basement.  oh, my beloved yoga video.  the one that asks that you “soften the belly” and “breath into your kidneys” and “relax your palate”.  i will take you over creepy and uncomfortable partners yoga any day.

though sometimes it is difficult to concentrate on the video, thanks to a certain someone who does a very convincing downward-facing dog.


Beer & Waffles: A Love Story

Here we go with another travel recap.  I feel like I can’t write about anything else until I’m done with these things, and since I’ve had at least 3 people tell me how lazy I’ve been at blogging lately, let’s just get ‘er done.

On our second-to-last full day in Europe, we headed to the Paris Gare du Nord train station to buy 4 tickets to Brussels.  Based on research we’d done online beforehand, we thought we’d be able to buy discount passes in person, but, we were SO wrong.  Buy your tickets in advance, people.  Lesson learned.

The Brussels Grand Place looked a lot like Munich’s town square, including the old churches and, just, old buildings in general.  We started our day with breakfast, which mostly included a first but definitely not last round of Belgian waffles.

Belgian waffles are different than regular old American waffles because they have chunks of sugar in them.  It’s a totally worthwhile diabetic nightmare.  If you happen to have a friend who is obsessed with perfecting their version of Belgian waffles stateside, then you should count your blessings (ahem, Greg).

One of the buildings in the square has a pretty obvious architectural flaw.  You can see that two different architects each worked on different sides of the building before meeting in the middle, though the results weren’t exactly symmetrical.

One of our first tasks of the day was to track down the Mannekin Pis, aka The Peeing Boy.  Go here to read more about it.  It’s basically a statue of a boy peeing, and it is usually clothed in one of several hundred costumes, although it was naked the day we were in Brussels.  Just our luck.

We brought back many seemingly inappropriate Peeing Boy souveniers for our friends and family.  I’ll assume that they were grateful.

We also tracked down the Jeanneke Pis, which is the female version of the above statue, which was put up by a restaurant to attract tourist traffic.  It’s at the end of a quiet alley, and is honestly kind of creepy.

On the same quiet alley, we found the Delirium Cafe, which might just be our Favorite Bar Of All Time.  It’s actually made up of multiple bars on the same block, but we headed to the basement beer bar, which holds a Guinness record for having more than 2,000 beers on the menu.  The menu is the size of a phone book.

It was dark, cool and cozy, and we got to try beers that we’ll probably never have the luxury of tasting again. I’m holding a Delirium Tremens in the photo below, which is admittedly not rare, but, when in Rome.

From Delirium we went to get the best frites I’ve ever tasted, probably because we were pretty drunk.  I’ve never power-eaten french fries like that in my life, and I hope I never do again.  Come to think of it, I don’t remember if we ate actual lunch?  Can anyone confirm?

With bellies full of frites, we caught a cab to Cantillon, a brewery in Brussels that was founded in 1900 and is still run by the original family today.  They make lambic beers (aka sour & sometimes fruity) that are spontaneously fermented by yeast in the air, rather than by yeast that is manually added directly to the beer.

There is a self-guided tour through a rickety wood building that ends with a tasting. The brewery itself is really hard to find.  We found the street address in a Rick Steves’ book, and gave that to our cabbie, and made it just fine, but if you just tell them to take you to Cantillon, you probably won’t get very far.  You can walk from Grand Place, but the neighborhood it’s in is pretty shady, so I don’t recommend it unless you have a posse.

SInce we’ve been home, we’ve had a couple of bottles of Lindeman’s lambic that is readily available here in the states, but it pales in comparison.  Cantillon is so good and tasty, so if you ever get the chance to try it, please do, or I will curse you for the rest of your days.

After Cantillon, we grabbed one more drink (of water) in the town square before heading back to the train station and catching an evening train to Paris.

Oh and I also bought this pillow in Brussels.  I have no explanation.

Munich Part 2: Off to Salzburg

On Sunday, day 3 of our trip across the pond, we took the train from Munich to Salzburg, Austria, home of Mozart and The Sound of Music and Probably Other Things Too.  Fun fact: You can buy a Bayern ticket for only €29 and take UP TO 5 PEOPLE anywhere in the greater-Germany area for 24 hours.  It’s a steal compared to a train from Paris to Brussels…but more on that later.

Salzburg was rainy but otherwise picturesque, and not very crowded, probably because it was Sunday, and raining.  We bought a Salzburg card, then took a bus (the wrong bus at first) from the train station to the edge of town, and then began wandering around.  Salzburg is not very big so wandering will allow you to see pretty much everything.

First stop was Mozart’s birthplace.  It was birthplacey.  Empty rooms with fun facts about Mozart and replicas of his tiny pianos and whatnot.  What struck me was how much they glossed over his death.  It was all, “Mozart is the most famous composer of all time,” and then when he was 35, “he got a fever and then he died, oh well”.

Our next stop was at Furst, home of the original Mozart balls.  They are hand-rolled chocolate balls with pistachio marzipan in the center.  Hubs was ready to trade our firstborn for a wheelbarrow full of them.  I thought they were all right.

{Apologies for my Grandma hands…that was my nickname in high school.  Because I had really nice friends.}

Fun fact: The word for “jewelry” in German is “schmuck”.  They have a lot of schmuck shops in Salzburg.

The other thing they have a lot of in Salzburg is giant, super ornate churches.  Like three ginormous ones all in the center of town.  They put all other churches to shame in their opulence.  Most of them were originally built over 1,000 years ago, although they’ve been reconstructed numerous times over the years.  It’s amazing to see history go back so far when you’re from a much younger country.  I don’t have any pictures of the insides, but here are some of the outsides.

That last one was taken from inside the Catacombs, which are old worship spaces that were carved into the side of a mountain.  It’s basically like climbing old, slippery stairs while caving.  Apparently the Von Trapp family hid out here in the Sound of Music?  We meant to watch the movie in preparation for our trip, but we ran out of time/didn’t feel like it.

From the catacombs, we headed up a tram car to The Fortress, which doesn’t really need an explanation.  Except it’s also called Hohensalzburg Castle, so I guess we saw a castle!

The Fortress offers great views of Salzburg, the surrounding area, and the Alps.  So pretty.  I spend about 5 minutes getting a good panoramic shot from the Fortress, but I can’t find the software that I need to stitch the images together.  So no panoramic for you.

One terrifying aspect of the fortress that I was not prepared for was the Marionette Museum that is housed inside.  I won’t go into detail, other than that there were marionettes everywhere.

After coming down the mountain, we went in search of sustenance, and came upon a restaurant called Finger Foods.  Two of us ordered the burger and fries.  They came in cones.  I don’t think this is a Salzburg thing, as much as it is just a weird restaurant thing.  It was bizarre and unexpectedly messy.  The cone that the burger is in is edible.

More wandering brought us back across the river to see the Mirabell Gardens before we took a wine break, caught a bus back to the train station, and headed for Munich.

Salzburg was a nice, easy breezy break from Munich, which is not so hectic itself.  It was a great day to get away and recharge our batteries before spending our last day in Munich and embarking on the Greatest Journey Of Our Time, an overnight train to Paris.

More to come!