Barcelona Sola (Alone) y Barcelona Yoga

Brian enjoying our leftovers from La Fonda and the Arabic Cafe in our kitchen last night (circa 10pm).  We had a late lunch (menu del dia) around 4:00pm yesterday and then went shopping for the rebajas (SALES!!!).  Spain has huge semi-annual sales in January that start the day after the Three Kings holiday, and everything is marked down 50% or more.  I totally should have waited to shop for clothes until I got here.  But I'm making up for lost time!  I got 5 long tops yesterday to go with my leggings, all for less than 50 euro total.  I'm trying to channel my inner-Ross shopper with Amanda and buy things that are only 10 euro or less.  With all this walking and jaunting here and there, comfort is key.  So I'm trying to convert my entire wardrobe to stretchy leggings and comfy tops; I'm SO thankful that's what's in style now.  I get to be cute and comfy.

Today was my first day alone, and while I feel like I got a lot done, I have to admit I missed having a friend to enjoy a menu del dia and explore the city with.  My first order of business was laundry.  I had bought clothespins last night and was ready to tackle my first load.  That little machine washed and washed and then washed some more.  I planned to busy myself making tea and writing during all that washing, but lo and behold, our lighter had died and there was no way to boil the water for tea.  It was one of those days when nothing in Spain felt easy. So I wasn't surprised when I was only half through hanging out the wet clothes and our little clothesline was already full!  There is more space on the roof of the building, but our landlady is holding out on the key because she thinks we're going to have parties up there.  Actually her exact words last night when we were discussing the issues were "hablando" and "fumando"....talking and smoking.  None of us smoke, but I can't promise the crazy lady I'm not going to talk to myself while I hang out my clothes.  I am alone all day after all. was time to improvise!  Socks on the shower rod....

And underwear on the shutters....  I had another load to do, but it looks like I'll have to wait until this one dries and do the next tomorrow.  I WILL be getting that terrace key.  Mark my words!

After laundry I ventured to our neighborhood market.  I had big plans for eating in all our meals for the week, but I stood completely dumbfounded and awash with indecision.  There were so many different fruit and veggie stalls, so many choices.  I ended up buying one zucchini, one avocado, four oranges and about a kilo of different cheeses.  Can anyone say comfort food?  Amanda, I will eat cheese and drink wine for dinner tonight and think of you guapa!

Another shot of one of the market stalls.  After the market I moseyed past a small corner store and stopped for a few piso necessities.  Toilet paper, trash bags, a new lighter to light the stove.  I realized that I had forgotten to get bread at the market, so I got a loaf of "pan normal" and a sweet potato.  Inching closer toward a legitimate meal.  Ha!

After the market, I read a bit and wrote in my journal. I have really been enjoying my journal time.  My blog has become my fun outlet for photos and chronicling the trip, and the practice of journaling by hand just for me has returned to my routine.

Before I knew it, it was time to make the trek to Placa Universitat for yoga.

Oh yoga.

I wish I had photos, better yet video, to do this experience justice.  Let me first say that the "semana de preuba" includes 3 classes, so today was only day one of a three-day adventure.  And it is most certainly going to be an adventure.

I found the studio both through a friend who lived here before with her husband and through my Timeout city guide.  When I bought my trial week yesterday, all seemed very 'yogi' and normal.  The place was serene and quiet.  There were two small studios each outfitted with yoga props - blankets (mantas), straps (cinturones), and blocks (no idea how to say this!).  And the woman who sold me the pass was ever so helpful.  I scheduled my classes for the week, told her that I was still learning Spanish and might need a little special attention, and left with a spring in my step.

Today I arrived 15 minutes early for my 2:15pm class. I wasn't sure what the locker situation would be, so I brought nothing more than myself, my mat, my piso key and my movil (cell phone).  It turned out there was a little changing space behind a curtain where you deposited one euro to lock your things, and the euro was returned when you opened the locker.  Pretty cool.

As I went into the studio, everything seemed normal.  Students scattered about, some meditating, some stretching.  Yoga props piled next to mats.

I spotted who I imagined to be the instructor based strictly on her commanding energy as she fluttered about the space.  I asked if she was the "maestra" for the class and she promptly corrected me, saying yes, she was the "profesora".  Okey dokey.  Kind of a stickler for details, I see.

So I explained my language situation and my many aches and pains.  Without slowing her speech at all, she seemed to say something about the language not mattering.  Mmmm, okay.  And something about all the blankets I would need to use to protect my neck in plow pose.

Class started and I was understanding body parts here and there.  Manos, check!  Piernas, check!  Dedos y ojos, check, check!  It was what to do with those things that was the problem.  I was able to watch my classmates to get the gist, but there seemed to be a LOT of talking leading up to each pose, and I was wondering if I was missing something.  Why was this woman saying so many words if we were all just folded over touching the ground?  It was at this point that I realized I was in a level 1 class.

Now, I'm no super-star yogi, but I definitely don't need 10 minutes of explanation for warrior one, especially an explanation that I can't understand.  The funnier part is that she seemed most comfortable with us always starting each pose with our legs spread far apart and ending each pose by literally jumping our feet together and bringing our arms into a half-T in front of our chest.  Picture this, we FINALLY get to warrior one.  We're bending our knee, opening our hip, peering over our strong 'brazo superior' (front arm), and then we're told to R-E-S-P-I-R-A (breathe)....then HOP!  Feet together, arms bent so your fingers touch in front of your heart, and then we have to start all over again by spreading our legs out wide to do the other side.  I almost lost it every time.  I'm drawing attention to myself right now laughing over my keyboard in the coffee shop.

Back to this being a level one class.  Save for one obviously experienced girl in the class, you could tell that this was these people's baseline for what yoga should be.  So they were not only hopping, they were exuberantly bouncing their feet back together each time, elbows perfectly bent into a strong half-T, heads erect.  If I hadn't taken so much yoga in my day and if I wasn't sister to a yoga teacher and business consultant for opening yoga studios, I might have worried with perfecting my hop too.  But to keep from falling into hysterics on the floor and to protect my poor ailing lower back, I just couldn't bring myself to do the hop.

So extrapolate from there and you have the rest of the class.  Probably 10 minutes getting into and out of triangle.  Same for a wide-leg forward bend in which she insisted on pushing our backs down to get our heads on the floor. Same for the plow pose that I tried once to humor her and then refused to do.  She made me lay with my legs up the wall while she scowled at me out the corner of her eyes.  We did do a few interesting partner exercises with the strap to get traction while in down dog, but needless to say I did not break a sweat.

I'll of course be going back tomorrow and Thursday for my other two 'clases de prueba'.  Today was supposed to be Iyengar, which is thankfully only taught once a week.  So tomorrow and the next day will be Hatha, level 1-2, which is supposed to be the next level up.  Twenty euro says I won't be able to keep up in this class and will leave panting like a dog.  I think that would only be appropriate.

As for the cafe I keep mentioning....

This is my vantage point from Alsur Cafe, where we use the free wi-fi and drink the fabulous cafes con leche.  I tend to run into lots of folks here too.  The guy who located our flat was here earlier and we shared a chat.  And our upstairs neighbor just happened to be sitting across the way as well.  And only moments ago I noticed Tylor had been siting two tables down for probably the last hour.  These photos were taken when I first got here this afternoon when no one else was in the place yet.

That's my little spot!  I like this table because the bench wraps all the way around, and I like looking at all the bottles in their glass bar.

There are some couches in the back as well where you can get comfy and enjoy the chill vibe.  They play great music, and there's always a really eclectic crowd hanging out.

My after-yoga lunch.  Since I didn't have anyone to share a menu del dia with, I ended up coming here to enjoy a cafe con leche and a bocadillo de tortilla and to blog!

As for tomorrow, I'm thinking I might go explore some sights.  Even though I'll have to repeat them with Brian, I'm itching to see more of the city.  My friend Tina emailed me after yesterday's blog and confirmed that Brian's 'castle' is in fact a famous church.  The hill it sits atop also has an old amusement park that I've been wanting see ever since I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona.  I also still haven't ventured over to the Sagrada Familia or some of Gaudi's other houses.  So something along those lines is the plan for tomorrow.  I'd like to say that I'll do another load of laundry, but I think I need a break from the domestic Spanish life.

Hasta manana!