The Yoga Retreat

There are some things you keep coming across, be it on the internet or somewhere else. For me, one of those things is a yoga retreat. I saw pictures of it everywhere, of extremely flexible people doing yoga on sunny beaches, in the middle of a forest or other amazing looking places. A retreat sounded heavenly to me; being on an exotic location, having time for yourself, doing yoga, eating healthy, and especially since reading Eat, Pray, Love, I knew this was something I wanted to do.

Flying to the other side of the planet, on my own, to do something I think I liked but wasn’t really too sure about, was too big a step for me. I figured, why not try it first in my own country? If I don’t like it, I can just go home, and if I do, I can always go further away in non-covid times. When I read in a magazine about Happy Soul Travel, I was in, and it didn’t take long for me to book the yoga retreat.

The perfect location

Happy Soul Travel location, farm house in forest

I had booked a weekend in January, as a fresh start to a new year, but thanks to covid it got postponed again and again. Until June, when we were finally allowed to go. So I went. Butterflies and a little bit of predetox-hunger in my stomach, I went on my way.

The location was the Hoorneboeg in Hilversum, a city between Amsterdam and Utrecht, only 45 minutes from my house. It was an old farm located in the middle of a forest and it was absolutely beautiful.

It was the perfect place to relax, with comfy couches and a beautiful garden filled with wildflowers. The purpose of the weekend was yoga/detox and taking time for yourself. To heal, to rest, to relax, whatever you felt like. Taking a break from daily life and focusing on whatever you wanted. The location was perfect for it. Besides meals and yoga, there was free time to read, you could take a walk in the forest, there was a sauna and they offered massages.


happy soul travel interior yoga studio

We started our mornings in silence, which was amazing. You could just take your time, get something to drink and do what you wanted before it was time for yoga. No obligatory chatter or meaningless conversation, just silence and time to wake up. I spent this time mostly drinking tea and journaling, others wanted to stay in bed for a little longer or went for a run. Like I said, you could do whatever you felt like.

Then it was time for meditation and yoga. Our yoga teacher Thirza started the day in silent meditation and then we did yoga. I’m used to doing yoga for half an hour, watching videos at home by Yoga with Adriene but here the sessions (meditation and yoga) took an hour and a half! It was something else, but it was really nice and a great way to start the day, wake up your mind and your body and be ready for whatever comes your way. I really liked Thirza’s teaching and she had such a nice voice. If I’m gonna book another yoga retreat, I’m sure to look for one where she’s the teacher again.

happy soul travel yoga studio with a view of the forest

The yoga studio was this big, well-lit room thanks to it’s big windows that looked into the garden. I would love having such a room in my own house!

We did yoga twice a day, in the morning to wake up and then another hour and a half at night we did Yin Yoga, which was new. We also did Yoga Nidra one night which was absolutely wonderful. It was a sort of guided meditation and it made me feel all woolly and happy and I went to bed immediately after and have never slept so good.


My primary focus this weekend was yoga and spending some time with myself. There was, however, another element and that was food. The people around me know I am a very picky eater and I’m like an opposite foodie. So this was the part I struggled most with. But I wanted to commit myself to the entire weekend and try new things. So I did.

We did a predetox before the weekend started, cutting back on meat, alcohol, sugar, coffee and such. For me it mostly meant cutting back on cheese (the horror!) I had a piece of fruit for breakfast, soup/salad for lunch and a light meal of steamed vegetables for dinner. Nothing too weird, just eating healthy. I’ve gotta admit that it went better than I thought. Some meals I tried were really gross (broccoli soup, yuck!) but I liked having fruit for breakfast and felt that eating so much veggies helped me being more energetic. Who knew!

In the weekend we continued this and the mealplanning looked the same each day. A glass of warm water with lemon when you woke up to spice up your digestion (it kinda tasted like cleaning agent so I skipped it after the first day), a breakfast smoothie after yoga (which was also not really my thing, it had celery, ginger, cucumber, parsley, pineapple and lemon), a piece of fruit in between, then soup and salad for lunch (which were good!) another smoothie in between and then another soup for dinner. It wasn’t a lot of food but somehow it was enough for me. I had brought some apples myself for if I got hungry but I didn’t need them.

We also had some ‘detox talks’ where they talked to us about what kind of food is good for you and what is bad. They also pointed out that this weekend was a detox and that they were not advocating us eating like this every day. It was just to clean the body, but after the retreat we should do a ‘retox’ to start eating carbs and proteins again.

The detox wasn’t really my thing. I learned a lot, and also lost 1,5 kg in a week, so that was nice, but it wasn’t for me. I’m glad I tried it, because I felt more energetic and healthier, but I found that I was also obsessing over junkfood. We had some conversations where we had to think about what we wanted in life, sort of like Lucifer ‘what is your biggest desire’ and all I could think about was pizza. Needless to say, I immediately ordered a pizza when I got home (and chicken wings, and a cookie and a milkshake, but who’s counting calories?).

Overall I had a great weekend. I’m certainly glad I did this and I might even book another yoga retreat in the future. The waking up in silence, the meditating and yoga but also being able to do whatever you felt like, was really nice. I had a walk in the forest, went to the sauna, did some reading and a lot of thinking. The detox part wasn’t really for me but I did learn a few things. And there is no way to appreciate a good pizza better if you haven’t had cheese, sugar or carbs in a week!

girl walking through forest

Taking the Alpaca’s for a walk

Beleefboerderij Heijerhof, Netherlands, girl takes alpaca for a walk in the forest

Getting stir-crazy yet again, I was looking for something to do. Something besides sitting in my own house. With restaurants, museums, stores and practically everything else still closed, there wasn’t a lot we could do. So we checked out Social Deal, which is a website that has deals on different kinds of entertainment. It’s also a great place to start looking if you want to do something a little different. There I found Beleefboerderij Heijerhoeve that offered ostrich-feeding, taking a walk with donkeys and a walk with alpaca’s.

As I’ve fed donkeys earlier on a trip to Germany and ostriches are scary, and alpacas are cute, the choice was easily made. We booked the tickets, and waited for the right moment to go: when the weather would be nice. It took a while, but finally, last weekend, we met with the alpacas!

Beleefboerderij Heijerhof, Netherlands, girl tries to move two stubborn alpacas

When we arrived, we were assigned two alpaca’s, and they gave us some instructions and what to look out for (alpaca spit, for instance!) and the route we should walk. One of us should walk in front of them, holding the gear, and the other one behind them, to further them along, off the property and into the woods. They weren’t allowed to eat the grass on the farm itself, but it was really difficult keeping them from doing it! They were really stubborn!

On the left you see Joep and the right picture is Hein. Hein was the one walking with me when we got to the forest. We couldn’t keep them too close to each other, otherwise they would feel the need to establish which alpaca was the dominant one. By spitting… We had been told that alpacas do spit (I though it were only llamas who did this) and that it would be green, smelly and sticky and that we should look out for it. Luckily, they only spat at each other and we didn’t get caught in the crossfire. It did smell really bad, though!

Beleefboerderij Heijerhof, Netherlands, girl poses with alpaca in the forest

It was fun! Definitely something I hadn’t done before. The alpacas were really cute, Hein kept making adorable sounds like he wanted to tell his life’s story. He also got really curious when we ran into another group of people that were walking with their own alpacas. Especially female ones… Sometimes he didn’t want to walk, other times he was hopping.

Beleefboerderij Heijerhof, Netherlands, brown Alpaca in a puddle, stubborn, won't move, stuck in mud

At one point we ran into another group who had some alpacas that were even more stubborn than ours! This female one was feeling hot and wanted to cool off in this puddle of mud! This gave me lots of Neverending Story vibes, but luckily, Joep came to the rescue, pushing her out of the water and we could all go further.

Of course, when doing any kind of animal activity while traveling, make sure the animals are not harmed in any way, especially if the owners make a profit out of such activities. We checked out the farm beforehand and it all looked legit. Most animal encounters you can do in the Netherlands, are okay, as there are a lot of rules the business has to follow.

If you want to book an animal activity, always do your research and trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. See how the animals are doing, do they look happy and healthy and if you’re dealing with wild animals, is the activity within the line of normal behavior for them? If you wanna know more, read this guestpost a friend of mine wrote.

Beleefboerderij Heijerhof, Netherlands, girl takes two alpacas for a walk in the forest

Six things I wanna do in my own country

As traveling still isn’t an option, I’ve been exploring my own country. I have to say that I’m surprised at my findings. There’s a lot of places I didn’t know existed and loads of things you can do in the Netherlands, that I hadn’t heard of. Time to make another list: Six things I wanna do in my own country.

Continue reading “Six things I wanna do in my own country”

Top Three Bucketlist Goals

Bucketlists are great. Mine seems to be never-ending. I want to go everywhere, do crazy new things, try different foods and live a full life in every city there is to explore. Everytime I come across something awesome I want to experience for myself, I’ll add it to my bucketlist: a list of things I want to do before I kick the bucket. Luckily, I’m still young and chances are that I can cross off a lot of them. Of course, right now it’s getting harder and harder to fulfill those bucketlist needs, but what we can do, is take a closer look at our lists and prioritize what goals should be crossed off first, and to look back at which ones we already completed!

Continue reading “Top Three Bucketlist Goals”

Rule #1 is that you gotta have fun

You guys, I just discovered the BEST museum in the Netherlands! Put this on your bucketlist and book your flights to Amsterdam, because you will want to visit Wondr!

The world is opening up again, and I couldn’t be happier! From the beginning of this month, the museums, bars and restaurants have opened again, and from June fifteen, the Dutch border opens for European tourists (Except for Sweden and the UK, I’m sorry!). Time for a trip to Amsterdam!

I had discovered a new museum in Amsterdam just a few weeks prior to the quarantine, so when we heard the good news, I immediately bought tickets for opening day. And we had such an amazing time. Wondr Experience is a pop-up museum that is essentially an adult playground (no, not like that). I haven’t had this much fun in ages! Pools filled with marshmallows, rooms filled with confetti and glitter, walking through paintings. It’s the most playful museum I’ve ever been to!

Continue reading “Rule #1 is that you gotta have fun”

Scaredy-Cat driving an old-timer

A while back, I made some bucketlists for my own country. One of the items was Teuten & Toeren. I have no idea how to translate that, but it was an arrangement where you could rent an oldtimer car and you would get a picnic basket and a route to drive with your shiny old car. It sounded amazing, especially when I looked up the cars they offered. So cute! So when I saw an ad for it again, saying this was something we actually could do during the quarantine, the decision was easily made!

So last saturday we set out to Elburg to pick up our rented car and our route and picnic. Turns out, driving an oldtimer is way more difficult (and scary!) than I had first imagined…

Continue reading “Scaredy-Cat driving an old-timer”

Top 3 places I wanna go when quarantine is over

Hey! How is everyone doing? Things are starting to turn back to normal, though they are calling it ‘the new normal‘ in my country. We’re going to have to keep working from home and keep a meter and a half distance between ourselves. The phrase ‘the new normal’ is a way of saying: just get used to it.

But things are looking up. Schools and libraries are open, as well as dentists and hairdressers. This week museums and restaurants will open up as well and every few weeks we’ll get some new liberties. Traveling outside of your own country, however, is still on hold, though I have heard some desperate cries from countries that offer to pay you back a part of your travel costs if you’re visiting this year, so they can get income from tourism. Maybe there’s hope after all.

So maybe it’s time to start dreaming again. Here’s my top three places I want to visit when I’m allowed again!

Continue reading “Top 3 places I wanna go when quarantine is over”

Slow Travel

We were sitting on a bench, overlooking a line of people that wanted to visit the Real Alcazar. The line looped here and there, went behind a building and we couldn’t tell how far it would go. This was our last day in Seville and I had wanted to visit the Alcazar, since it’s one of the city’s highlights. The other days, we hadn’t been able to make it. On Monday, we were tired from our trip so we decided to have a quiet day in the Maria Luisa park. Later, we discovered the Alcazar was crowded in the morning, so then we wanted to go on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon, but it turned out we were too tired or rather wanted to spend an afternoon chilling at the pool. So, we set out Friday morning to visit it. But then we saw the line…

We were contemplating if we wanted to stand in it. The time we sat there, it didn’t move an inch. Was it worth it? It would probably be super crowded inside as well. We decided we could come back another time, and see a different palace this time. We ended up visiting Palacio de las Duenas. There wasn’t a line there, and only a handful of people were inside. And it was truly gorgeous, and quiet. I’m glad we made this decision.

We ended up not visiting the Alcazar on this trip, though I had really wanted to. But the line just wasn’t worth it.

I read an article about slow travel in Flow Magazine when we were sitting at the pool on Wednesday. About not running from highlight to highlight, but actually taking time to see the things you want to see. Not walking past painting after painting in a museum, but taking the time to closely study one you really like.

We always have the feeling we have to rush to tick off everything that’s on our list, instead of enjoying everything that is around us. On this trip, I know I will remember wandering through the park with my boyfriend, since it was so lovely and romantic. I’ll remember being happy, just relaxing and swimming a bit and I’ll remember the amazing quiet palace. But I probably won’t remember walking past a pretty building, taking a picture before moving over to the next. Traveling is about making memories and having new experiences, not about seeing what everybody wants to see and taking  a quick picture.

A gondola ride and the most beautiful bookshop in the world

For our four year anniversary, we decided on a romantic getaway weekend to Venice. We went for a short trip and unlike other trips, we hadn’t planned a lot. There were only two things that we really wanted to do, and that was take a gondola ride and go to ‘the most beautiful bookshop in the world’…

After we did some sightseeing and had lunch, we decided to go for the gondola tour. There are a lot of place were you can go aboard, most famously of course the Grand Canal. Most people start there, so if you’re visiting Venice in the high season, make sure to find another spot so you don’t have to wait (too long) in line. You can find the boarding points easily, because you can recognize them by the red and white striped poles at the sides of the canals.

Continue reading “A gondola ride and the most beautiful bookshop in the world”