Hi everyone! Today is such a beautiful day here in Madrid. I started it off with my usual trip to the farmers’ market where I scored some massive strawberries since it’s the start of strawberry season here in Spain. All the stands were full of beautiful berries, and of course I brought a box home for practically nothing! I just wanted to make a quick stop by the blog today to say hi to everyone and to share an incredible experience I had last weekend right before I sat down to write our first gardening post!
Since we were suddenly in Spring last weekend and the weather was incredible, my hubby and I decided to explore some new hiking trails he had found online. We woke up, had breakfast, packed a quick picnic and headed out. We drove for about an hour and a half towards the city of Avila, Spain. The drive was unbelievable. We passed hillsides, fields, mountains, and even two small castles on the way. We finally arrived at our destination, El Hoyo de Pinares, where we parked our car, laced up our trainers and headed out into the wild. In this magical place you can choose one of many hiking trails which are clearly marked from beginning to end and all have very different sights that wait to be seen. From hills and old farming grounds to bat caves, reservoirs and old mills, it’s kind of crazy that all this is around the same area. The trails vary greatly in difficulty, distance and type of terrain, but you know me, when my husband let me choose, I picked the one with water in the title.
We headed out towards the “Ruta del Agua” (the water route) and we spent one of the best Sundays ever, surrounded by waterfalls, streams, forests, rivers, and yes… cows! Do you think they knew we were vegan and that’s why they kept coming?
Here are some pics from that day in the order in which I encountered each magical spot (and creature!).
About half an hour into our hike, we realized we had arrived at The Shire (below). One of my favorite spots of the day. The photo doesn’t do it a single bit of justice.
For most of the hike we were in the company of the Becedas river. It was so magical in its stillness, just glistening under the sun. It was completely quiet and peaceful.
Here comes the money shot!
When you leave the widest part of the Becedas behind, your start walking through the most beautiful green hillsides. Some friends paid us a visit.
This beauty just kept looking straight into my camera no matter how close I got.
We went back to the reservoir to find a place to have our picnic right by the water. It was the perfect little spot, since the view during our entire lunch included watching a man teaching his dog how to swim in the river. He would throw a stick into the water and encourage his fearful dog to step into the water and fetch it. By the end of the day you couldn’t get that dog out of the river! I have no photos of that beautiful moment because by then I had decided to simply be present, no distractions, just absolute quiet and being in the moment. Our hike ended up being the truest form of a meditation in motion.
Of course you want to know what our vegan picnic was right? Normally I get super creative with picnics (we’ll have a post on that soon), but today I kept it super simple and it was the best decision ever (you’ll see why at the end of this post). We had sandwiches made with whole grain bread, filled with a little vegan mayo, tofu deli slices in three flavors, lots of super thinly sliced tomatoes and some spicy Dijon mustard. For dessert we had some tangerines and we split our favorite energy bar ‘Raw Bar’ Raw Cacao flavor (made only with cacao, cashews and dates), and some water of course. We ate and ate as we took a break from the hike (we had walked a bit under two hours to this point), and we watched that dog dive into the water in absolute bliss.
After a while, I turned around and told my husband how much I was remembering things from my childhood on that day. I remembered the mystery day trips my mom and I would go on near our beach house in Venezuela when I was a kid. We would hop in the car with no idea where we were going and decide on the go whether to turn left or right. I remembered my mom packing our lunch, it wasn’t vegan back then but this sandwich was so similar to the super thin ones she made me back then. She would always pack hard boiled eggs in a bag and what she called ‘orange smiles’ in another (orange slices with the peel), this time we had our raw bar and ‘tangerine smiles’. I remembered how after all the fuss, and jumping around, swimming and shouting with excitement there always seemed to be a moment of stillness after lunch, when all of us would find a spot and simply watch what was going on around us. I would sit in the sun with our dog staring at the water. My mom would take out her watercolors and paint the trees in her sketchbook. I told my hubby stories about my grandpa, about how nature was always present in my life. We vowed then and there to go ‘into the wild’ more often.
You might be wondering where our precious Nala was. She didn’t come along that day since we were scoping out the area, but she’s coming with us again in a few days… we’ll just have to see if she’ll be brave enough to get in the water!
I want you to think of a place that used to mean the world to you. A place where you were truly yourself and could sit still for hours and where your mind got really quiet. It might be a forest or a river, a beach or a snowy mountain, it might even be a quaint little street, or a quiet bench in a playground. Go online and find a place like this near your area, make a day of it and quiet your mind as you explore and feel replenished. In case you live in my neck of the woods, or are ever in Spain, here’s my little treasure map to this magical place.