Austria

After a few days in Alsace and a few more in Germany, we left Dinkelsbuhl the morning after Christmas to drive to our next destination, Kufstein, Austria.  The drive there took us further and further into the Alps, and the snow got deeper and deeper.  The traffic also got slower and slower, as the autobahn was clogged with post-Christmas Germans bound for ski holidays.  We got off the autobahn and took back roads instead, which made for a gorgeous drive through the mountains.

We arrived in Kufstein the late afternoon as the sun was going down.  The town is on a lovely location on the River Inn, and we enjoyed ourselves checking out the city centre.  We had much more snow and colder temperatures on our trip from here on out.

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The main feature of Kufstein is the Festungsturm (fortress) which sits high on a cliff over the river.  It is huge and imposing and wildly impressive.  It had closed before we got there so we didn’t actually go to the top.

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We stayed at Auracher Loechl, a quirky hotel in the heart of the main tourist street in Kufstein (really more of an alley), adjacent to the River Inn and located directly under the cliff with the fort.

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This was a really funny little place and I would definitely recommend it.  While our room was pretty small and no-frills, the staff was friendly and the breakfast spread, enjoyed overlooking the river each morning, was quite nice.  The restaurant attached to the hotel was actually really good; so good, in fact, that we ended up eating there twice.

On the first night, we had a drink at the fancy gin bar first.  This is located in the old wine cellar of the restaurant, which is basically a tunnel built into the cliff, so the setting is really cool, and the staff are a bunch of hipsters making gin-based cocktails using all sorts of varieties of gins and other ingredients.  This was really unexpected for Kufstein and really good!

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View out our hotel room the first morning

The next day, Saturday, we boarded a train for Salzburg.  After spending a lot of time in small villages, we were ready for a little urban life (such that Salzburg can offer).  Upon arrival, we walked from the train station to the Aldstad (old town), through Mirabell Palace and across the River Salzach.

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The main pedestrianized area of the Altstadt was more posh than I expected, with a number of designer boutiques.

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We stopped at one of the most famous coffeehouses in town, Cafe Tomaselli, for coffee and our first apfelstrudel.  It became my thing to test out the apfelstrudel at almost every place we went in Austria and Germany after this.  This cafe had a wonderful historic atmosphere (although a bit too touristy), excellent coffee and very good apfelstrudel, although we went on to sample slightly better versions later on.

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We walked up to the fort and castle above the city, the Hohensalzburg Castle, but decided against paying the entry fee to explore the castle itself.  Rather, we discovered that there were loads of walking trails all over the cliffs and did that instead, ultimately ending up at the modern art museum.  In every direction we had amazing views over the city, and this was one of my favorite things we did all day.  Highly recommended.

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By late afternoon, we retired to the Augustiner Bierhall for our first proper beer hall experience, complete with huge tables, huge steins of beer and huge pretzels.  Perfect.  We spent more time walking along the river and around the city center, enjoying the city lights in the evening, and stopped in at Alchimiste Belge for some Belgian beer and a refreshing urban hipster vibe before getting on the train back to Kufstein.

The next morning, we awoke to a snow storm in Kufstein.  Plenty of snow had fallen and more was on the way.

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Regardless, I went for a quick run along the river, since there was a lovely little path there and the path was actually somewhat cleared.  I actually ran in the snow several mornings in Kufstein, and it really was quite peaceful.

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We had plans that day to drive to a winter hike we had picked out, but given the snow conditions, we had to skip that idea and instead took the train to Kitzbühel, a ritzy little ski resort that we read had winter hiking trails.  We arrived, walked around the little city center and consulted the tourist office, and boarded a gondola to the top of the mountain for a recommended easy winderwanderweg (winter hike).  Unfortunately, it was essentially white-out conditions at the top.  We could barely tell which way was up and it was nearly impossible to follow the walk markings.

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With the wind howling, snow and ice swirling in every direction, sub-freezing temperatures and little idea of where to go, we walked for about 30 minutes then retired to a lodge on the mountain to warm up.

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Salvation

After that, it did not take long to decide to get off that mountain.  I’m never one to give up easily, especially when it comes to outdoorsy stuff, but I was not having this.

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Trying to convince myself this is fun

So we left there in early afternoon and spent the afternoon/evening exploring Kufstein a bit more before getting to bed early to rest up for our ski day the following day.

We were up early and drove to Alpbach for our ski lessons for the day.  More snow had fallen but the main roads were clear enough.  This was very new territory for us; I had skied a bit in the U.S. as a kid, but it was a very long time ago, and Andy had basically never skied.  We had no idea about gear, lingo, technique, anything, and felt pretty intimidated.  We booked in for a day of beginner lessons with Alpbach Skischule and hired some gear.  Basically, we wanted to test it out and see how we liked the experience before booking a full ski holiday.

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We had a fantastic 74-year-old British ski instructor, Dave, and joined a group that included three Brits on a weeklong holiday and a young Dutch guy wanting to learn to ski to keep up with his girlfriend as he joined her family’s ski holiday.  Dave was great: really friendly and funny and a good teacher.  We practiced our snowplowing and turns on the bunny slope, stopping for a much-needed lunch break halfway through.

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I had so much fun and would love to spend more time skiing, and do a proper ski holiday next time.  The Brits we were with had booked a weeklong package with hotel, half-board (lunch and dinner) and lessons included, which seems like the way to go.  Alpbach was a very friendly little town and seemed to have a number of nice little restaurants and lodges.

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That evening, we joined Dave and the others for an apres-ski drink at the Post Alm pub, and sadly had to leave before it got too late given the falling snow and our drive home.

The next day, we awoke to yet more snow; I think we ended up with two feet total!  I ran along the river some more before we prepared for the next leg of our trip, back on the German side of the border.

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Up next, welcoming the new year in Mittenwald.  Thanks for reading!

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Germany: Black Forest and Romantic Road

Picking up where I left off, we departed La Haute Grange on Monday morning, the 22nd of December, and drove across the border to Germany. We stopped in Freiburg for a walk around the city center and our first taste of Germany, literally and figuratively (I had been to Germany just once before, over a decade earlier on short trip to Munich, and this was Andy’s first time).

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Freiburg seemed like a fun little city, with a bustling town center and nice architecture. The Christmas market was very nice, and we split a cup of gluhwein to warm up, and Andy got a sausage while I got a flammekuchen, a thin, pizza-like dish found all over this region (on the France side it is known as tarte flambée).

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Back in the car, we drove further into Germany and into the Black Forest, to arrive at our base for the next few days, the small town of Gengenbach.

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Gengenbach was picture-book adorable.  It is a small village with a medieval main street of half-timbered buildings, anchored by medieval gates to the city.

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The village center was bustling with the Christmas market.  With the sun setting in the background on our first evening there, the atmosphere was magical.

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Gengenbach claims to have the largest Advent calendar in the world, and the main event of each evening is watching that day’s window be unveiled.

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The next day, we set off for exploring the Black Forest.  We took a short train ride (I think about 30 minutes) to the village of Shiltach, another perfect little village at the base of some excellent hiking trails.

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We honestly could not get over how gorgeous this little place was, and would definitely recommend visiting.  The people were quite friendly and the tourist office sorted us out with a hiking map and advice for a short day hike.

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We made our way up out of the village and climbed into the forest.  I know this is cliche, but neither words nor photos do it justice.  We quickly were ascending trails up steep paths past impossibly tall pine trees.  The air was fresh, the trees were beautiful, and the views breathtaking.

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After ascending trails for awhile, things leveled out and we traipsed through meadows and past sun-drenched valleys and the occasional farmhouse.

Germany 1 - 10We had perfect weather and got quite warm at times.  We were surprised there was no snow, but it made for a lovely autumn-like hike and don’t worry, we had plenty of snowy hikes later in this trip.

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We covered about 11 kilometers total, and eventually found ourselves back in Shiltach.  We tried in vain to get a slice of Black Forest cake at one of the recommended tea shops in the village but no luck!  Apparently they sell out quick each day.  Lesson learned: get your cake before the hike.  I would much rather enjoy my cake after the hike than before, hmmph.  No matter, we boarded the train back to Gengenbach.  This was easily one of the highlights of the entire trip for me, and I’d love to explore more of the Black Forest.

The next morning, I awoke early for a run through and around Gengenbach, including a dash up to Jakobskapelle, a chapel overlooking the town.  It was a steep climb to the top but did not take long at all, and I was rewarded with views of the sunrise over the town.

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I rounded out the run with an out and back along the river stretching out of town.  It wasn’t always easy to work out on this trip; most of the locations we were in had some running paths, but our days were actually quite packed and I somehow got in the habit of having a lie-in until at least 7 or 8am most days.  Typically I am up by 6am, but the sun didn’t rise until 8 in most places, and while at home I would run in the dark, I was not interested in doing that in unfamiliar places.  Besides, we were on holiday.  Since we did lots of hikes and long walks most days, I figured it all worked out.

After another trip to the excellent breakfast buffet (we are really well at all of our hotels on this trip; love the European tradition of providing a true “Continental” breakfast with loads of breads, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, muesli, and more – including champagne!) we headed deeper into Germany, driving a few hours to the small Bavarian city of Dinkelsbuhl, on the Romantic Road.  This was to be our destination for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

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Dinkelsbuhl was a very cute and very quiet city at Christmas.  We quickly learned that it shut up tight as a drum for Christmas Eve.  When we first arrived we were not terribly hungry (see above about the fabulous breakfast spreads) so we explored the town and had a coffee but no real lunch –> mistake.

As we realized that every restaurant was closing for dinner, we decided to make the best of it.  All I really wanted to do for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was relax and take it easy, and we had a nice dinner booked in for Christmas night so we were fine with winging it.  We drove around the area, watched the sunset, and procured some snacks to have in the room for dinner.  We spent the evening back in our hotel room having assorted fruits, bread and other snacks with a bottle of Alsatian wine and movies on the iPad.  It was actually really fun.

The next morning, I got up for a peaceful Christmas day run around the old city walls, followed by breakfast at our hotel and later, a nice Christmas day walk around the village with Andy.

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We also spent some quality time reading and having tea, before heading off for our evening plans.  We first went to the city center of Nordlingen, where we watched the sun go down and the Christmas lights come up, and stopped for a pre-dinner drink at a lovely little wine bar.  Then, we moved on to the main event, dinner at Meyers Keller, which turned out to be one of the best meals of the trip; it was traditional German cuisine but done with a modern twist, in a lovely rustic farmhouse setting.  The food was excellent and while the service was a bit odd, we later gathered that this was typical German service so nothing to be concerned about.

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It was an excellent meal and a wonderful, unconventional Christmas for us.  Up next, on to Austria!

Paris Marathon Training

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I haven’t written specifically about running lately, and with just under 11 weeks to go until the Paris Marathon, now seems like a good time.

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I ran off and on in December, as much as I could considering the amount of travel I did. Strictly speaking, if I was doing a full 18-week training plan I should have begun my training in early December, but I think 18 weeks is a bit too long to be strictly training, especially since I already had a decent base, and I knew I needed to be realistic about how much running I would get in while traveling.

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Throughout November and December, I consistently ran 3 to 4 times per week, topping out at 10 miles for my longest runs, and went to yoga about 3 times per week and spin about once a week on the weeks that I was in London, and also tried to keep doing various strength exercises to keep my glutes in line and at least pretend to build up a little core and upper body strength (though to be honest I’m not sure I got anywhere with that).

I am using Hal Higdon’s Marathon Training Program, mostly sticking to his Intermediate 2 Plan but making some variations when needed. I’ve usually used Hal’s plans in the past and been generally pretty happy with them. He calls for five days of running per week, and while I really like to run five or six days per week, I know that ups my risk of injury so I have been doing more like four runs/week, five if I can fit it in.

Up until this week, I was substituting a spin class at BOOM for one short run per week, but my BOOM credits ran out this week and I’m not going to buy more soon, in the interest of saving some money and having more flexibility in my schedule for running and yoga and other activities. I know that spinning is good cross-training, but I’m going to forego that and try to convince myself to do more strength work and NTC workouts at home.

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It is really hard to pick a training plan and stick to it, when there are so many options out there and everyone has an opinion. Plus, when you are picking a generic plan off the Internet, you have to know that it is not tailor-made for you and that it’s unrealistic to stick to it perfectly, and yet, I feel like it is still important for me to stick to a plan because I like the structure and accountability that goes with following directions. While I have the experience of several rounds of marathon training over the past few years, I do like to have a set plan since I’m certainly no expert and I don’t want to just wing it.  I also know my risks for injuries if I adhere too strictly to a plan, so I hope I am striking the right balance this time around.

Most importantly, I need to be able to tweak my plan around some work and personal travel that I have planned for February and March.  I always run when I travel, yet there are certain situations about which I need to be realistic.  For instance, a four-day work conference that I know will include 12+ hour days with early starts, in DC in the winter? A 20-mile run simply will not happen that week, and I’d be setting myself up to fail if I even tried to schedule that.

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From Hammersmith Bridge

So, I have been officially on the training plan since my first long run back of the new year, right after returning from our Christmas trip.  I met up with some TNR girls for my first group long run, and it was fantastic to get involved with other runners going through the same things I am.  I ran through Green Park and St. James Park to meet the others, then we ran along the Thames from Southbank to Tower Bridge to Westminster, and concluded with brunch.

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I’ve done a bunch of other runs alone, including a nice speedy tempo on the river before yoga one Saturday morning, and other mid-week long runs to and around Hyde Park and Battersea Park, and up and down the Thames Path.

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Battersea Park

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Albert Bridge

This past Sunday, I met some TNR girls for the Run Through Hyde Park 10K and some pre-race miles.  I was nervous about the timing of this because I had to run from my flat to Westminster, then meet some of the group at Southbank, then pick up more along the way, and get to Hyde Park in time to get our numbers and start the race.  Tricky!  Oh and this also was meant to total to 16 miles for me, the longest I have run in over a year, and I was seriously worried about whether I could do it.

Luckily, everything went so smoothly.  I basically broke my run into three parts (solo, with the group, then the race itself) and for each running segment I felt strong.

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I ended up doing 16.6 miles altogether and felt great.  It is so nice to meet new friends through running; many of the others did Paris last year and are training for London or other races this year, plus I’ve met a few running Paris this year as well.

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stolen from Leah’s instagram

The race itself was great too; I was certainly not aiming for a PB but it was a nice two laps around Hyde Park with a small group of friendly runners, very easy and low-key.  Looking forward to doing another in Greenwich Park in a few weeks time!

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stolen from Charlie

So, with 11 weeks to go, I am feeling good.  Nervous about doing 26.2 miles straight through.  I have definitely had some runs where I have not felt great and had to stop and stretch or walk for a bit.  I’m also worried about getting injured, but I’ve been foam rolling all the time and trying to keep up with my PT exercises, and I do think yoga helps as well.

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At this point, my main goals are:

1) Get through the whole training cycle without injury and make it to the start,

2) Get through the 26.2 miles and finish happy,

3) Run the entire distance without stopping to walk,

4) Beat my PB of 4:42,

5) Achieve a time in the 4:15 – 4:30 range.

I’ll check in on those time goals as it gets closer, but that seems most realistic for now.  Here’s hoping the next 11 weeks go smoothly!

Maui Trip…

I was fortunate to travel to Maui for work recently. For work, honest!

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It was certainly a LONG trip both ways, with stops on both ends on the East Coast, to see family on the way there and work in DC on the way back to London, and an unplanned overnight layover in San Francisco due to a delayed flight and missed connection (which amounted to four hours at an airport hotel, it’s not like I could enjoy San Francisco at all – in fact, I dreamt I was in Chicago and woke up thinking I was, it was that anonymous).

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Anyway, no one will believe me but I will say anyway that getting to travel to Maui for work was not all fun and games: first, I worked really hard leading up to the trip and once I got there it was 4 solid days of work; the long flights and jet lag (10 hour time difference from London) were real; and the hassles of travel were all there.  I just didn’t take photos of those parts!  So here are more gratuitous palm trees.

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But with that out of the way, I will also say that I know I am really lucky and I’m not complaining, because it was all worth it.  Each morning and evening I saw the sunrise and sunset from my hotel room balcony:

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My work event was at quite a swanky resort, so I enjoyed the views, some fantastic food (lots of fresh fruit and fish) and warm weather, and a luau performance at one of our evening receptions:

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The first two days were way too busy for workouts.  On the third day I made it to the hotel gym before sunrise, and on the final two days I had time for sunrise runs along the beachfront path:

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I was off the clock as of about 1pm on Saturday, and I left for the airport at about 12:30 on Sunday, so I had nearly 24 hours to spend as I wanted. Typically I would want to be active and go exploring, but I really didn’t have enough time or the inclination to rent a car. After long work days, all I had the inclination to do was sit on the beach at this ridiculous resort.

So that is exactly what I did on Saturday afternoon, followed by a drink by the pool with coworkers.

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Maui13I fit in a few more hours on the beach on Sunday morning, and was off for the airport.

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It is really amazing to me that I was basically halfway around the world, on a tiny island in the middle of Pacific Ocean, and now I am back in London.  This life is pretty amazing.

Paris Weekend

Last week was my birthday.  Another day, another year gone by in a blink!

I celebrated the actual day with yoga, work (err), phone calls/texts/etc with family and friends and dinner with Andy at a local spot in our neighborhood, followed by wine, chocolate, flowers and new wellies.  Fab.IMG_6366 IMG_6367

We continued the celebrations with a weekend in Paris.  Taking the Eurostar from St. Pancras straight into Gare du Nord was so cool.  paris9141

We stayed in western Paris, at a last-minute hotel find when our Airbnb was cancelled on us, and spent Friday evening having wine and crepes near l’Opera.  I had somehow forgotten how beautiful Paris is, how much I love the architecture and the language.

I woke early on Saturday and ran down to the Tuileries and along the Seine.  I covered about 4.5 miles and loved every step.  I could have gone on forever, watching the sun rise over the city.

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After returning to the hotel, we ventured out to find cafe and a light breakfast.  I was determined to eat small meals so we could fit a lot in!paris91410

We found a cafe for cafe and croissant, and went into Printemps for the view from the rooftop terrace.

paris91426Along the way I found myself a macaron.  Ladurée is hyped, but I have to say the macaron was fantastic.paris91411 paris91412

We grabbed Vélib’ bikes and cycled through the gardens to the Seine and along the Seine to Pont du Neuf and Île de la Cité.  Such a gorgeous, perfect Parisian day.paris91413

I just finished reading Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, so I wanted to check out Shakespeare and Co. and other spots along the Left Bank where Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, etc lived and worked.  I know it is overrun with tourists now, but the buildings are still gorgeous and it was fun to wander around there.paris91414

We then stocked up on cheese, fruit, bread and wine for a picnic lunch.  paris91415

We made our way up to Luxembourg Gardens and it was idyllic: a beautiful day, tons of people out, and us relaxing with our picnic lunch.paris91416 paris91417

The fruit especially was amazing.  The grapes and strawberries tasted fresher and riper than anything I’ve had in ages.paris91418

Eventually we moved along, and I stopped for a gelato.paris91419

After wandering around more, stopping to read and take photos and have cafe, we made our way back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner.

Our dinner that night was at Au Passage, and it was outstanding.  I didn’t want to go to a stuffy traditional restaurant, but rather something more modern and hip.  We shared a variety of small plates here, the absolute best being the pumpkin soup.  Fantastic.paris91420

The next day we went out to Père Lachaise Cemetery, one of my favorite spots in Paris.  I love cemeteries of all types, and I love the way this one is like a mini-city (um, of dead people).  Again we had a gorgeous warm fall day, with the leaves already changing.paris91421 paris91422 paris91423

Following lunch at a nearby brasserie, we walked to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, one of the largest parks in Paris, for views over the city and the chance to lay in the grass and read.  Everyone else in Paris was doing the same on this beautiful day.paris91424 paris91425

Later we walked along Canal Saint-Martin, did a bit of shopping, had crepes and cider for dinner, and eventually returned to London via Eurostar late on Sunday night.  This was such a perfect, relaxing, refreshing weekend.  It was fun to practice my French and to get to the Continent for a weekend.  Feel so luck to have this opportunity, and can’t wait to return.

Running Reset

Moving to a new country has meant embracing a lot of newness, a lot of change.  Having to deal with a running injury that happened basically right after I moved here has meant a lot of embracing the newness on the workout front, too.

So here is where I am with things now:

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I don’t want to jinx it, but I think my efforts at improving my posture and strengthening my glutes have been helping.  It has been one month now since I’ve starting running again after a several week hiatus and several sessions with the physio.  I have been doing my physical therapy exercises designed to improve my balance, posture and glute strength (nearly) every day, and I’ve followed the physio’s directions to run short distances slowly, to take rest days between run days and to foam roll often.

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I’ve crept up from 2 miles at a time to a high of 5.7 miles today – yay!  Today’s run was one of the first where I started to feel like my old self again.  It has been kind of boring and frustrating to run so slowly and carefully, constantly thinking about my form and my glutes, rather than just RUNNING, for fun, like I used to.  I read something somewhere that said to think of your first 4-6 weeks of running back from injury as not actual “running”, but more an extension of your physical therapy sessions.  That is, not to think about pace or distance but to think of it as exercises to re-teach your body how to run properly.  That has helped a little.  And today I took a different route from my usual path and gradually picked up the pace by the end of the run to the point where I was actually running hard, not just trying to stay in good form.

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It also helped to do a race!  I was getting a little bored of my usual two to four mile river loop in Fulham, so I jumped at the chance to grab a bib for the Teach First 5K along the Thames in central London last week.  I ran with Leah and met up with several other TNR girls for an easy, chatty 5K across Tower Bridge and by the Tower of London.  It was so much fun to do something different, meet some new people, run with a friend and run past iconic London sites.  Just what I needed.

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Stolen from Leah‘s instagram

Also, I signed up for the Paris Marathon in April!  So there’s that to look forward to.  I really hope this injury issue has been resolved.  I need to figure out how to be diligent about keeping my form in good shape, doing cross-training and strengthening exercises to ensure this does not happen again.

Spin

I wrote earlier about my experience at Psycle, and that I wasn’t a fan really.  I went for my second class which was a little better than my first, mainly because I liked the instructor a bit better and possibly I was more prepared for the dance moves.  But I still just wasn’t that into it, and for the cost it’s definitely not worth me returning.

So next I tried Edge Cycle in Holborn based on some rave reviews online, but this also wasn’t my thing.  I liked the concept of spin + bootcamp, but the bootcamp portion was just doing some pushups and stuff on the ground, and overall the class and instructor just wasn’t my thing.  They do let you book the first class free so there is that.  There is shower gel, a hair dryer and towels for the partially-open showers, but the changing area is pretty crowded and overall there’s not a lot in the way of amenities.

Third time must be the charm, because I’ve now tried BOOM Cycle and that is definitely my favorite.  I went with my friend Steph to a class in Holborn this week and it was a fantastic class.  No hand weights or fancy moves, but that was fine with me: just a traditional spin class with lots of in and out of the seat, changes in resistance levels, good music (2005-2010 era hip hop) and a friendly, encouraging, normal instructor who didn’t pretend we were in da club and also didn’t pretend to be a drill sergeant.  All the staff there was very friendly and the showers were fab: you get your own little shower room complete with REN shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, lotion and towels, and there are hair dryers and straighteners for after.  Win.  I will absolutely be returning there.

Yoga

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been going to yoga more than ever lately, consistently going three times a week.  Something about this studio just clicks for me.  I have a regular Friday date with Leah for yoga and coffee, and Steph when she can make it.  I can feel myself getting stronger and deeper into the poses, but unlike with running, it’s not necessarily about working towards a goal there.  I would like to get stronger and be able to go deeper in certain poses, would like to be more consistent with executing crow and wheel for longer periods of time, and harbor a fantasy about doing unassisted headstands and handstands one day, but that’s not why I go.  I simply enjoy it and feel good about myself, mentally and physically, during and after class.  Leah and I had a conversation about how running and racing for PBs naturally sets itself up for goals, but other sports/activities aren’t like that for me – why is that?  Another post for another time.

What other spin/fitness studios should I check out in London?  I want to try Heartcore and Bootcamp Pilates next!

London via Coffeeshops, Vol. 2: Fulham Edition

I’m back with another review of coffeeshops that I have been working in, this time focusing on my neighborhood, Fulham.IMG_6235

I will say that you can really notice the difference in the clientele in London neighborhoods when you are there in the middle of the day working in a coffeeshop.  While Fulham has lots of moms and toddlers and people meeting for casual little coffee dates (what do these people do for work?), Holborn and the City has people working on laptops or doing work-related coffee dates and Shoreditch is chockfull of people like me, working alone on laptops or in small groups.  I prefer to go to those neighborhoods, but some days it is easier to be closer to home if I have a lot of phone calls and meetings to call into, which is easiest to do from my flat.

So, Fulham.  My favorite place so far is Chairs and Coffee, probably because I have never seen the mother/tot combination there and is primarily people working independently.  The coffee is great (Americano for 2.20), I once got an excellent plate of avocado on toast, the wifi is free and reliable and the toilet is clean.  The only problem is the music is hit or miss and they tend to really get into something and play it over and over.  One time it was lots of Radiohead on repeat (win), another time lots of Aerosmith (er…).IMG_6247IMG_6168

Proceeding along the Fulham High Street, I am a fan of both Local Hero and the Hive.  Local Hero can get a bit overrun with the family crowd, but there are a good number of tables and also a back garden, although I am not sure if the wifi works back there.  The Hive has reliable wifi, a European crowd, good Americano and good breakfast and lunch options.  They also don’t seem to care if you linger awhile in the back room.

Crossing over to Parsons Green, I visited Hally’s on the New Kings Road.  The wifi is free and toilet is downstairs, and it is a bright, inviting space with comfortable tables and benches, and the staff was very nice.  However, I got the feeling that this is really more of a restaurant than a coffeeshop.  Most other people were there for brunch/lunch dates and I felt awkward sipping a coffee and working on my laptop; however, I only went once so maybe it was just me.  The food did look excellent so I would like to return for brunch one day.IMG_6167

Another favorite of mine is Tinto’s, on Fulham Palace Road across from Bishops Park.  Come to think of it, I haven’t been in awhile but when I first arrived in London this summer and the weather was quite warm, it was lovely to sit out on the patio there (where the wifi worked) and the staff was very friendly.  Lots of kids and dogs though, so that’s probably why I haven’t gone back lately.

Any suggestions for places I have missed?