Saturday, June 21, 2014

Porto Alegre & Florianopolis

Holidays are glorious, especially when you get to travel from city to city in this beautiful country. After a few hot and humid days in Cuiaba, it was great to escape to the relative chill of Porto Alegre.

Of course, we were here for the Australia vs. Netherlands match. We went in somewhat expecting to steamrolled given they had just thoroughly thrashed Spain but were then taken on a roller-coaster ride; we played brilliantly, went 2-1 up at one point and the Socceroos made us all incredibly proud. What an amazing atmosphere and crowd to be a part of.

The boys celebrated with a big night out with some friendly locals after the game, but I retreated to stretch out and get an early nights sleep. Us introverts need a bit of 'me' time. 

A 6 hour bus ride from Porto Alegre took us to Florianopolis. Beautiful beaches, some stand-up paddle boarding (super fun) and a dip in the sea. 

The only downsides of paradise? There are hardly any places open for breakfasts, lunches are a 90% buffet affair and without a car, getting around involves plenty of walking and hills. Other than that - glorious.

Another night here in Florianopolis before another bus towards game 3. Tchau! 

Sophie Life Explorer

Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. All with plenty of hugs.

Monday, June 16, 2014


We're waiting at Brasilia airport for the next flight to Porto Alegre for the next World Cup match for Australia. So far Brazil has been wonderful, with plenty of very friendly people despite/because-of (?) the language barrier. Everyone is helpful and happy to answer our silly questions in broken Portuguese/English. Strangely enough, they always ask if we’re ‘Japonaise’. Maybe most of the Asians they see are Japanese?

Better photos from M’s camera will be coming after the trip, but I thought I’d share a few snaps from our first few days in Brazil.

The first meal I had on Brazilian soil was breakfast at Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport. A sweet and mostly healthy acai bowl with a side of bananas. Many of our other meals have been buffets with plenty of rice, beans and meat (delicious), or breakfast biscuits (definitely less so). One eats what’s around I suppose, although that probably doesn’t explain my newly formed Coke Zero habit. 

Onto what we did: the highlight so far has been the Australia v. Chile match of course. The atmosphere was incredible, with cheering fans and waves of excitement, with only the oppressive heat and sometimes splash of beer putting a very mild damper on things. It’s a pity about the result, but WE SAW AN AUSTRALIAN GOAL!!!! Hooray! Fingers crossed for a few more in the next two matches. 

Before the match though, we went on a very long walk around Cuiaba city. Rest stops in a park right in the centre of the city was needed.

The day following the game was dedicated to resting, and napping but the day after we tackled the Parque Nacional Chapada dos Guimareas. The weather was warm, but mostly tolerable, and with the help of a guide, we went on a 7km or so hike to see five waterfalls and a cave, complete with dips as needed to cool off. Seeing nature trumps seeing the city pretty much anywhere in my opinion. Food options in nature are lacking though, with unfortunately biscuits being the order of the day. 

Onto city #2! 

Sophie Life Explorer

Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. All with plenty of hugs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Super-long layovers

Red-eye flights and long layovers (14 hours) do not mix. 

Finally on our much-awaited holiday to Brazil, we kicked things off with the dreaded red-eye flight from the west coast to New York. During boarding, it seemed like there were at least 18 babies on board, which didn't exactly bode well for sleep. 

Still, we napped intermittently before waking up to this beautiful sight.

After arriving in JFK ahead of schedule, we settled in for a long layover. Seeing as I'd promised to myself that I would make sure that I did some yoga every day (for my sanity and health), I ended up doing a hip-opening flow in the airport lounge.

Strange looks aside, it was a wonderful way to get all the kinks out after a rough night's sleep in a flying tin can. It also highlighted how tight my hips actually are, and that I should incorporate more hip-openers into my flows!

Our layover was happily distracted by an invite for lunch, from a friend I hadn't seen in over 5 years. I'd moved to the US during that time, and he'd moved all over the world spending time in Alaska, Hawaii, Thailand, Nepal and Israel. He definitely trumps me in the world-traveller stakes. 

Now it's back to the airport to kill a few more hours before another overnight flight to Sao Paulo, followed by another 12 hour layover. Here's hoping for a smooth ride and a decent night's rest.

Sophie Life Explorer

Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. All with plenty of hugs.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mostly keeping on track

I can't believe another weekend has already flown by - leisure time sure does pass fast. I stuck to my fitness for the most part making sure that I did almost every session I scheduled (even though motivation was severely lacking at times). The only one I missed was Wushu, but by the time Saturday rolled around, my body didn't feel up for it and sometimes rest is just what's needed. Managing to squeeze in an additional yoga session more than makes up for it in my books too.

Smoothies each morning was a decent experiment although I'm not sure it's something I can do on a consistent basis as I feel like something more solid for breakfast. I cooked five of the eight recipes I wanted to try out and there was at least one keeper; chicken, yam and chard soup is nutritious, delicious and ridiculously simple to make. Perfect.

The weekend was equal parts relaxing and invigorating. Saturday we caught up with a few friends for a morning coffee, then wandered over for a Taichi session, before enjoying some melt-off-the-bone tender lamb shank at a local Pakistani restaurant, before ending the afternoon with some beers and cider in the company of numerous puppies and dogs at a fundraising event for the local shelter. 16,000 steps later and I was ready for a nap, followed by a 60-minute yoga flow, before tucking in for a deep sleep.

A sleep in Sunday was followed by a drive down to a lake almost an hour away. We spent the next few hours relaxing in the water and in the shade before heading back home for Chinese food, ice-cream and now unwinding before a few more days of work.

No photos from the weekend, so you'll have to settle for a picture of the neighbour's cat stalking me. 

With the amount of flying this week, workout and meals will be all over the place. The very tentative plan is to get in some yoga each day, even if it's only 20 minutes (and 1/7 sessions down for this week already), and do at least 4 body-weight exercises as I can do them. 

On the nutrition side, the only thing I have planned so far is to make a stash of protein bars for all the travelling. Other than that, we'll use up everything we have in the fridge, and everything else will likely be bought (with a view towards healthy purchases I hope). 

Not long now till this much needed holiday is upon us.

Sophie Life Explorer

Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. All with plenty of hugs.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Not quite home-made soup

Ok, very much not home-made soup. But coming from my local grocery store with all natural ingredients and no artificial junk, it's almost as good as home-made.

It's even better than home-made when my motivation to cook is severely lacking. Still, the week has gone well so far - plenty of movement and new recipes and things have mostly followed the plan I made for the week. Of course, the one thing that didn't go to plan was that M's upped and gone interstate for a day.

I'm very glad that it's Friday soon though; weekends are simply more fun than weekdays (the lack of work responsibility and extra leisure time doesn't hurt a bit). Not too long until it's time to simply relax.
Sophie Life Explorer

Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. All with plenty of hugs.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Small things

The work week can sometimes drag can't it? It's only Tuesday but already I'm counting down till the weekend again. Times like these, I need to be grateful of the small, and not so small things, and really stop and smell the roses (or the home-cooked food in this case). 

Yep, definitely grateful I can cook. Super grateful for fun yoga flows too! This daily practice thing is a lot easier when it's actually something enjoyable. Lucky. 

Sophie Life Explorer

Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. All with plenty of hugs.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Loving lazy Sundays

I love lazy Sundays where you don't have to do anything that you don't want to do. Sleeping in is allowed, and thinking about work of any kind is forbidden (until at least 9pm at night). 

Of course, my capacity to sleep in has been greatly diminished by work. The all-too-often 6am starts tend to mean sleeping past 9am is close to impossible. Still, it means that there's time to squeeze in both a kettle-bell workout and a short yoga flow before even thinking about food. I'm still trying to make daily yoga a habit, even though this has meant some days I do an hour-long flow, and other days I do 5 poses and call it done. 

Right now I'm sitting near my local Whole Foods, sipping on an ice-cold coffee, planning out meals and workouts for the week. 

I'm relishing my last week of workouts with weights, wrapping up a program I've been on for the last 12-ish weeks, before enjoying the un-planned freedom of a holiday (although knowing me, I'll try to do some planning). I do have to plan my yoga or else I'll end up doing gentle stretching all the time! So my week looks something like this:
  • Sunday (done)!: full-body workout w kettle-bells; twisting yoga flow (25) 
  • Monday: Forrest yoga flow (45)
  • Tuesday: full-body workout w kettle-bells; detox flow (25)
  • Wednesday: core yoga flow (45)
  • Thursday: full-body workout w kettle-bells; relaxation flow (20)
  • Friday: Vinyasa flow (50); Taichi & Wushu 
  • Saturday: full-body workout w kettle-bells; flow w backbends (60) 
There's currently not a rest-day in there, but next Sunday will definitely be a rest day, and I imagine my body will have plenty of time to recover on holiday. It'll be glorious.

As for food, I want to get more smoothies into my diet, so they'll form the majority of my breakfasts for the week. I'm excited to try some new, but simple recipes for lunch and dinner though. Tentatively, I'll cook: 
  • Bunless burgers
  • Tuna salad 
  • Chicken, yam & chard soup
  • Baked salmon
  • Gingery brocolli & beef
  • Grilled chicken w rosemary
  • Salmon w coconut cream sauce
  • Turkey & vegetable meatballs
Plenty of variety and plenty of food - just how I like it. Lots of fresh fruit for snacking will be in the grocery basket as well. I love summer and the abundance of sun-ripened fruit it brings! 

Here's to a productive week ahead *sips on coffee*. 
Sophie Life Explorer

Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. All with plenty of hugs.