Hi everyone! I just returned from a 2.5 week trip to Iceland and Greece. Both countries were so beautiful, and I’m feeling so much more refreshed and rejuvenated. So much so, in fact, that I’m daydreaming about how I can do this more often. How can I travel more often, how can I reset, how can I take better care of myself, and how can I open myself to new cultures and experiences.
I’m also taking advantage of the jet lag to sleep early and wake up early! 😁
So it’s Saturday morning, and I’ve made my favorite cup of green tea (Mighty Leaf Tea Organic Green Dragon) and lit my fresh jasmine candle ($8 from Ross, baby!) and chatting with you. Where to begin?!
What a gorgeous, breath-taking country! This place is filled with grandiose, flowing waterfalls. Seeing one is truly a complete sensory experience. Obviously, it’s quite a sight to take in, but your ears are also filled with the pounding of the 100’s of gallons of water, your face and whole body gets covered in mist (and it gets so cold!), and you just feel the freshness and cleanliness of the water in the air.
We also took a glacier hike. That is, we hiked the Solheimajokull Glacier! That was definitely an adventure. We went with a group called Troll Expeditions, and they gave us crampons (spikes for our shoes) and ice picks. Our tour guide Michael was great and pointed out things like the super clear ice, the pointy mountains of ice/volcanic ash that naturally form, and the rivers of water, and how they cut through the ice. We even got to go ice-climbing. What’s that, you ask? Exactly what it sounds like. Ha!
We climbed a wall of ice. Very similar to rock climbing, where you get a harness and get strapped onto a rope, and then you just go at it. Of course, I wasn’t very good, with my non-existent upper body strength, but hey, I gave it a try. Twice, in fact!
One of my favorite places in Iceland was Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. It’s filled with tons of icebergs, and the water in them is so clear, they look like diamonds. That’s why it’s also called Diamond Beach. I mean, just take a look at this beauty:
After 10 days in Iceland, we moseyed over to Greece.
We stayed in Katerini, a village in northern Greece. We didn’t explore the touristy areas such as Athens and Santorini, because I had already visited there back in 2015. Instead, we stayed at George’s parents’ house (that they built! [Well, contractors did, but you know what I mean.]). It was really spacious and nice to live as a local.
We started each morning with breakfast cooked by George’s mom. And we spent the days, relaxing at the house, entertaining friends and family members who stopped by to visit, and by exploring some of the nearby neighborhoods. Greeks are so friendly and social! It isn’t unusual for someone to stop by your house unannounced, just because she saw that your light was on or that your shutters are open. They’ll stop by with some spanikopita or eggs from their chickens, and stop for a chat. How different this is in America!
We also went to George’s cousin’s wedding in Thessaloniki, and I got my first taste of a Big Fat Greek Wedding! Lots of dancing and lots of family-style dishes. We clean up nicely ;)
Restarting my Routine
Now, I’m back and getting into the swing of things again. After 2+ weeks where running was replaced by pie-eating 😋, I’m ready to get back to my exercise routine. I started by running 5 easy miles through Golden Gate Park. It felt so great, I did it 3 times this week.
I’m also stretching after each run and foam rolling. Man, it’s amazing how sore we get after just 2 weeks away.
I went to my doctor yesterday to check out some neck/shoulder pain on my right side. I have had this for a year (maybe a few years?) now, but it’s typically pretty minor, so I ignore it. Sometimes, especially when I sleep in an awkward position (if I fall asleep on the couch, for example), then it hurts so badly I can barely turn my head to the right. I have to twist my entire upper body. Well, this year, I’m trying to take better care of myself and get this checked out once and for all.
My doctor said that I hold a lot of tension in my neck. She saw it when I was moving my head up and down, and side to side. She also felt it to compare my right and left shoulders, and said you could even feel the difference. So, here’s what I’m going to do:
- use a heat pad to relax my shoulder muscles (she recommended heat pads and saunas. Anything with heat!)
- take muscle relaxers to further relax my muscles. I have to be careful with these since they will make me super drowsy
- take ibuprofen to stop the inflammation
- do neck stretching and strengthening exercises
- be aware of activities where I might strain or overwork my right shoulder. I’m right-handed and I noticed yesterday while grocery shopping, that I tend to carry my heavier load of groceries on my right side. So I’ll definitely need to be better about simply calling an Uber when I’m doing a massive grocery haul.
- take yoga classes. This has been on my list for a while now. It sounds like yoga and strength training are essential in my routine, when it comes to avoiding injuries (both running and regular everyday life!). I’m taking my first yoga class in years today at 11:30. I’m excited. It’s hot yoga, so I know it’ll be a huge challenge, but I’m going in with a beginner’s mindset. I’m new, so there’s no pressure to do every pose perfectly, and again, it’s consistency over perfection!
Hope you all have a happy weekend!