As soon as I arrived at La Crisalida retreat in Albir, Spain, I was handed a schedule for the week. Everything on it looked intriguing. From interesting workshops to challenging evening hikes, I wanted to do everything.
When I checked in, one of the staff politely suggested that I try to take some time to myself. Lounge by the pool or read a book, she suggested. The goal of course, is not to do everything on offer.
On my first day, I did everything on the schedule. But after a day or two, I finally figured it out. I think it’s safe to say that after a week at La Crisalida, I finally learned to slow down.
The best way to tell you about this luxurious week is to break it down. Here are my most noteworthy memories, in no particular order.
This was the first time in my life that I maintained a vegan diet for any length of time. In addition to the full vegetable menu, there was no salt, no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, no caffeine and no alcohol. I love my veggies, and honestly, broccoli is one of my favourite foods, so I was truly looking forward to the experience.
However, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would miss salt. At every meal, I found myself reaching for the salt shaker. One evening, I swear to you, I would have jumped someone for a bag of chips or some popcorn. I also never really felt full.
While I would eat at least two heaping plates of food at lunch and dinner, I found that I was always a bit peckish about 30 minutes later. I experimented by eating more and more each day, but this never really went away.
Thankfully there was always delicious fresh fruit on offer, so I was happy.
On two nights, there was a sugar-free dessert with dinner! I loved it! It was light and delicious and surprisingly sweet for something sugar-less. We also “indulged” in some virgin cocktails one night.
Overall, the variety of food blew me away. It was flavourful and always changing and I was legitimately excited for every meal. While the staff warned of potential detox symptoms like headaches or grumpiness, I didn’t really experience any.
The food was truly a highlight for me. But there was so much more at La Crisalida…
While staying at La Crisalida, you have the option to try a juice diet. You can opt to juice for all three meals, or just one, for up to 5 days at a time. I didn’t try this. I like to chew my food. And with the pre-planned menu available to peruse each day, there was no chance I was missing out on the likes of Thai veggie yellow curry or teriyaki tofu with broccoli. Also, it seemed that many people attempting the juice diet were miserable. They often didn’t eat with the rest of the group, as it was too difficult to see the food, and even though the juices were designed to be filling, they often spent a LOT of time fantasizing about food and moaning about how hungry they were. I have no doubt there are significant health benefits to this sort of detox, but I really don’t feel like I missed out here.
Yoga and Meditation
Every day, there was a morning meditation and 1-2 yoga classes. There were many different kinds: everything from very gentle Yin Yoga or Yoga Nidra to more challenging Hatha classes. Some of the classes were more spiritual and meditative than I’m used to but I thoroughly enjoyed them. There’s something really lovely about doing a morning meditation and yoga class before breakfast on a roof terrace. I really enjoyed the opportunity to try different options. This was the first time in my life that I did yoga every day for 7 straight days, sometimes twice. I felt fantastic. No wonder all yoga instructors are so fit and zen.
Every day, there was a class that offered a little more cardio than the average yoga class. While I participated in the aqua aerobics a few times, my favourite option was rebounding. Rebounding is a type of fitness class done on a mini trampoline. It was honestly just so much fun! Everyone looks so silly and you just can’t help but have a huge grin on your face the whole time. This class really got your heart pumping, but without the impact of a regular aerobics class. They claim it’s also good for the lymphatic system. To be honest, the only disappointing part was that the class wasn’t longer. It was only 30 minutes, but you could easily turn this into a 60 minute class.
Walking and Running
Nearly every evening, there was a walk or hike ranging from easy to challenging. I did them all. I couldn’t help myself. Without dessert or after-dinner cappuccino, our meal wrapped up pretty early, and with the sun shining until 10pm, I needed something to do. Also, I was scoping out the walking routes for potential running routes! I have to say, these walks proved to be the highlight of the trip for me. Ranging in distance from 5K to 8K, they were long enough to feel like a significant achievement, but short enough that you weren’t exhausted after. They were also extremely beautiful, taking us to some beautiful lookouts, nature parks and vistas.
And my plan to find a running route worked out perfectly. The beach walk doubled as my preferred running route, and I made it out for a fabulous early morning run two times while I was there. I actually even managed my longest run since the marathon (9K!) It was an early wake-up though. It was so hot that I had to set off at 7 am. But it was so worth it. Such a beautiful, life affirming thing to do. If I could start every morning with a run, followed by a Yin Yoga class, I would be a happy girl.
I attended several interesting workshops during the retreat including expressive writing, a cooking demonstration, mindfulness and natural medicine. They all provided really interesting and practical information that I’ve tried to incorporate into my life back in London. The natural medicine workshop provided a little potion for detoxing the liver, which I tried this morning. It was much needed after attending a very boozy wedding this past weekend. Maybe it’s just the placebo effect, but I already feel healthier.
La Crisalida has a beauty room where you can get various treatments. While some people opted for more exotic treatments like chakra realignment, I went for something traditional: a deep tissue massage and a pedicure. I kid you not, this was the absolute best massage I have ever had in my life. The pedicure was also memorable. Not only did she not recoil in disgust at my post-marathon toenails, she kindly accommodated my appointment at 10pm at night, following a scheduling error earlier that day. One the best (and latest!) pedicures I’ve ever had.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful staff. They were welcoming, engaging, intelligent and inspiring people. I enjoyed all their classes and chatting with them on the walks, especially Veronika, Yy and Ana. You all have the best job in the world. Thank you for being such excellent people.
The experience was exceptional, from start to finish. I returned home feeling ten pounds lighter, both physically and mentally. With a busy job in a big city, a retreat like this reminded me how to live in the moment. It taught be to actually experience all the great things in my life instead of just thinking about what’s next. I sincerely hope to go back next year, and I think you should probably join me. If you have any questions about the experience, feel free to get in touch.