a yoga renewal in the zagori mountains of greece

 
i know i’m going to hear it from my husband for this post because we’ve been out of the country together four times in the last two years and he has yet to see pictures from our trips, let alone a blog post. but he is super amazing and was completely supportive of me jumping on a trip to greece without him just a few weeks after we were married. 
 
i’m a lucky girl.
 
rhonda, the owner of my hot yoga studio, riverflow yoga, in lambertville, new jersey had put together a yoga renewal trip together with one of her students, melina, and her husband, nikiforos, who have a bed and breakfast- the art deco bed and breakfast– in the small village of dikorfo in the zagori mountains of greece. i originally saw the email for the trip much earlier in the year and for a second thought about going on it since, despite it being in may, it spanned the one weekend i didn’t have to shoot a wedding, but i talked myself out of it… i had a wedding to plan and fund, a trip out of the country in april and it was in the midst of my season…
 
so how did i end up on this trip? 
one morning in late april i was feeling particularly stressed. i’d been working 7 days a week from morning until night for quite some time. i’d reached my limit and decided to take the time for myself and i finally was able to get to a hot yoga class.  it’s hard to put into words what that class did for me. the crazy amount of stress and tension i had been feeling was gone. 
 
just completely gone. 
 
so much so that in the final savasana, i started to cry. tears just started streaming from my face. i’d heard about this happening to people in different poses, but in the ten years since i first started practicing hot yoga, i never experienced it. it was a great release. i felt so amazing that entire day- there is no drug that could have done that for me. 
 
by the evening i knew i had to write rhonda to thank her for having a policy that classes do not expire (one less excuse for me not to go to class) and to let her know what hot yoga had done for me. as a business owner myself, i know one can never get tired of hearing that your services were valued.  i wrote rhonda a thank you email and in my p.s. told her i thought the greece trip was a great idea… and rhonda’s response email to me included some encouragement for coming along and a few emails later, i was booking the trip to greece.
 
on my way to greece…
 
 dikorfo is nestled in the zagori mountains where villages speckle the landscape… on the way up the winding, mountain road we saw this guy… we did see bears twice and each time i missed them with my camera– they were too fast, but ugh were those cubs cute!
pulling into dikorfo’s village square… 
 
every village square has a big tree in the center. we visited a lot of villages, and maybe i’m partial, but dikorfo’s was my favorite tree….beautiful…
the old schoolhouse which was where we got to practice hot yoga…
walking up to the bed and breakfast…
so quaint and peaceful…
i loved the big wooden doors… looking out from the bed and breakfast…
when you walk in you feel like you are in a little castle…
i loved the juxtaposition of light from the living area to the kitchen…
rhonda led us in some evening discussions…
the first morning i woke up, i was the first one up. that is not my style. i’m a night person. i have never slept so well in my life for a week like i did in dikorfo. i fell asleep with ease and didn’t wake up at night at all… arose early in the am naturally and ready to go. since everyone else was sleeping i decided to take a little walk in the morning.. when i went outside this is what i saw…
this village dog enjoyed the morning walk with me…
heading back in for breakfast…
nikforos is an amazing chef. i am a picky eater, but every meal i enjoyed while in greece. we were spoiled with nikiforo’s amazing meals every day…
tina, hah…
we had a couple of posture clinics. this one was lovely in the light of morning…
we didn’t have some crazy itinerary to follow and each day we didn’t know what we were doing except for the time our yoga class was at.  i really enjoyed the trip being set up this way. things were flexible and each day was a pleasant surprise with good company. 
hiking up the mountain to a vantage point of dikorfo…the weather and views couldn’t be any better…
dikorfo, from above…
group shot, sans alex and mark who were taking the scenic route…
the greek people are a very hospitable people…we were welcomed to the home of a local couple, Areti and Thomas…
Thomas had been born in their home and went to school in the schoolhouse we were practicing yoga in…
admiring the handmade curtains…
some beautiful natural wonders and amazingly old stone bridges….the 45 bridges that helped the people of the 46 developed villages of the zagori region navigate the area were built in the 18th-19th century…
our gracious hosts… melina and nikiforos. nikiforos and his family are from this region of greece. nikiforos was a natural tour guide!
thanks to nikiforos for grabbing this shot…
another stop in a village. thanks to marguerite for taking this pic of me enjoying my sour cherry juice….
we enjoyed many delicious meals out together. after the first meal, we decided to just order a bunch of stuff and share at each meal….mmmm
like a watercolor….
and of course some hot yoga. i had to do a little of my own yoga to finagle myself around the room to capture different vantage points, hah….
hike to the vikos gorge…
according to the guinness book of world records, it is the deepest gorge in the world (but apparently this also depends on how you define ‘gorge’… either way, it’s impressive)…
thanks to marguerite for capturing me in this photo…
carly, enjoying the view…
 
roads didn’t exist in this region until the 1950’s… and the roads are quite exciting. when i took this pic we were on our way to another village which required us to travel up this awesome switchback road…
a little stop at an amazingly clear and beautiful river…
dodona amphitheater with artifacts there dating back as far as the bronze age of greece (ca. 1600-1100 bc)…. 
rhonda had a surprise ceremony for us here at this ancient site. each person was blindfolded and guided down as each person whispered good things in their ears…
it is quite moving to have such nice things said to you…
the president of greece also happened to show up (you can see the crowd behind alex)…
a little stroll in ioannina…
 
we visited nikiforos’ sister’s cafe in ioannina. i noticed these tea pots.  for some reason they stuck out in my mind and will come back into play later…
 
i love this shot… everyone seems to be in a state of concentration and frustration as they look at computers (hence why i avoided technology at this stop, it has that effect), but carly is just beaming amongst it…
preparing for our final meal at the bed and breakfast together…
a toast…
flying to athens…i picked up one of the in-flight magazines. it was huge magazine with over 200 pages. i quickly thumbed through the magazine, flipping about 10 pages at a time to get a sense of what it was about…. something caught my eye…
the teapots! this is a picture of a picture from the magazine of nikiforo’s sister at her cafe. it was featured in the magazine as a place to visit in ioannina. 
 
that’s pretty random… 
 
but so is my life.
 
thanks to rhonda for creating such an awesome experience and to melina and nikiforos for hosting and feeding us and to carly for all the help she put in as well. i was able to find a place of calm and get some much need rest and meet some really awesome people….

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