Where we’re at: I’m recapping my travels in 2019, including this retreat to Florida in July. There are more details about our upcoming 2020 retreats at the end of this post.
I realize for some this is a difficult time to read about travel. I am writing often about our current global crisis — the impact it’s having on me personally, on the world of travel, and on the world at large — regularly on my social media channels, covering topics like wellness-focused practices, and giving away generously to charities helping those in need.
However, my blog audience has spoken and they have overwhelmingly requested a break from COV-tent (content about, well, you know…), and a place where they can mentally escape right now. So, I will continue to post from my past travels to inspire those who wish to daydream about the day it is safe to travel again. Wishing all of you love and peace in this time of reflection.
I woke up on the final full day of our Wander Women St. Pete trip slightly confused — had we been in Florida for a few days or a few years? I call it “retreat mode,” an almost disorientating level of focus and living in the moment! And you know what? I absolutely love being so immersed in the present that I forget about the past and future.
But I never forget what time it is — and it was time to book it over to our next door neighbor sister hotel The Hollander for poolside yoga.
One of the things I loved about this retreat was that it had such an emphasis on taking yoga out of the studio — and into parks, onto paddleboards, alongside pools, and even into museums. I find practicing in untraditional spaces to be so inspiring, and I loved sharing that with this group.
This weekly class is popular among hotel guests and St. Pete locals alike, and I could see why — I loved the creative sequence from the instructor from The Body Electric, a St. Pete studio that offers tons of community events, funky workshops, and unique classes. It was the perfect way to start the day!
After class, we’d set aside a few hours of “choose your own adventure” time — something I’ve learned people crave since my first retreat. In the welcome packet, we outlined a bunch of ideas, including extra Movement Sanctuary classes (which a few of the girls signed up for!), a mural tour, museum hopping, or enjoying the poolside cabana we’d reserved. In addition, a few of the girls checked out the local farmer’s market, or went souvenir shopping at the area’s funky boutiques.
And then we reconvened for our final — sob! — aerial workshop, a silks session at Movement Sanctuary.
We saved silks for last because, well, it can be discouraging! While each of the aerial apparatuses we introduced has its own unique challenges, in silks there’s no place to really rest in the air other than a hold or a catch you climb up and create for yourself — ergo, it can be exhausting. It can also be truly magical, and there’s nothing I find more inspiring than watching Jess climb around on them like she’s floating through air.
Again, in addition to snapping photos and videos, I worked with the girls who had a little more aerial experience to nail a few intermediate moves. It was such a reminder that much of what drew me to aerial arts was the community, the creativity, and the mental and physical challenge.
We loved Movement Sanctuary so much, it was hard to say goodbye! While Jess and I had planned for this to be a one-off retreat, we walked away from that special and colorful studio already buzzing about the possibility of coming back.
While we’d been soaking up so many aspects of St. Pete, there was one that we all agreed we’d neglected. Nightlife! And so a bunch of us decided that we’d make our way to dinner slowly, via an impromptu bar crawl.
Our first stop was a sweet one at (swah-rey) dessert bar. I guess the founder here lives inside my brain, because she came up with the incredible idea to include shots of champagne (or, ya know, I guess an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage of your choice) with mini-cupcakes. Wonders never cease.
After tearing myself away from sampling the entire menu, we made our way to the next spot I had my eye on — No Vacancy, a hipster hangout inspired by nostalgic Florida imagery that I was swooning over from the moment we stepped in the door.
With a huge patio space filled with games like life-sized Jenga, a menu full of modern cocktails and a DJ on deck spinning tropical hits, I could have quite happily stayed here all night (and in fact, we would return here again after dinner to try to bribe said DJ into playing a few of our favorites.)
But first, it was time for our final farewell dinner at Hawkers, another one of my favorite St. Pete finds — especially for a night out with the girls! This street food inspired pan-Asian eatery makes me all kinds of nostalgic for my Southeast Asian travels whenever I’m there.
Don’t miss the roti canai, the curry meatballs, the ginger cheesecake, or any of the incredible and creatively named cocktails — and with a menu full of shareable small plates, bring friends!
While we hadn’t really planned it per se, the night progressed into a full blown dance floor get down! And of course in our forever quest to “find a club that plays Britney Spears,” we were directed to the local gay club, where we had an absolute blast twirling each other around until we finally remembered — oh yeah, we have to do yoga tomorrow.
Our final morning together was a chilled and reflection-filled one. We were booked in for yoga at The Dali Museum, another community event popular with both regulars and traveling yogis eager to absorb all the artistic vibes at one of the country’s most surprising collections.
But first, a yoga nidra practice by the bay. Since we’d had to cancel our outdoor welcome class due to rain, we rescheduled it to this morning, the only available time in our itinerary. While it wasn’t originally planned as such a gentle class, taking into account our, ahem, exhaustion from the previous evening’s itinerary and the fact that we were immediately headed to another vinyasa class afterwards, it was the perfect fit.
And then we were off to The Dali! I’d been to this class, hosted by Lucky Cat Yoga in Tampa, before, and was so impressed with the way the instructor weaved talking about art into talking about yoga. It’s not just a yoga class plopped into a museum — it really absorbs its setting beautifully! In contrast to the fiery Saturday flow at The Hollander, this weekly Sunday class is much more gentle, perfect for stretching out our tired bodies before travel.
Next, we made our way into the museum for a wander around the works of Salvador Dali. While the outside of the museum makes it look enormous, the galleries are actually super manageable, and you can get a great feel for this collection in under an hour. Saint Pete is a hidden gem when it comes to museums — but this one is a show-stopper. And yes, I love seeing all the famous paintings I studied in school. But I think I love building that looks like a fantasy straight from a Dali dream just as much!
Yoga is just one of so many cool events they hold here — don’t miss it if you come this city.
And then, it was time for brunch — and our closing circle. The Dali Museum’s cafe does a gorgeous menu of Spanish-inspired dishes and decadent weekend cocktails, both of which we indulged in around the fanciful sculpture garden overlooking the water.
I always love hearing everyone’s highlights and challenges of the trip — I honestly wish I could hide a microphone somewhere and record them because they bring such a smile to my face.
Something else that sparked so much joy? Having my first ever return retreat guests! Brittany joined for my inaugural Wander Women Koh Tao trip, and Shelby was on Wander Women Martha’s Vineyard. (Brittany is actually a St. Pete resident, and is one of two girls that joined us for a local package we put out for this particular trip, with so many Alex in Wanderland readers in the area!)
We are starting to welcome guests for their fourth and fifth trips, and it still humbles me. Nothing is a more sincere endorsement in what we do at Wander Women Retreats than someone trusting us with their valuable time and travels — again and again.
Guys, if you haven’t watched this video of our amazing retreat, please do! I absolutely love capturing my trips in this way — a fun creative challenge for me that I hope gives you a peek into not just the look but the feel of these trips.I truly had the best time planning, building, and running my first ever aerial arts trip, an absolute honor to do with my own aerial mentor Jess! Jess is such a magnetic teacher, a truly talented aerial artist, and a joyful, adventurous spirit. We knew this would be the first of so many collaborations together, and we will always look back on this and know it was the very first edition of making our dream come true.
Thank you so much for following along with this trip. I can’t wait to get back in the air.
Love the Sunshine State? If all goes according to plan, we will be returning to Florida in July 2020 for Wander Women Key Largo: A Sustainability Diving + Yoga Retreat. Love aerials? We’ll be in Israel in May 2021 for our next Aerial Arts + Yoga Retreat, too! Read more about our risk-free bookings through the end of May, and shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to stay in the loop on either trip. Or, if you’re itching for a virtual escape right now, join Wander Women Global, our first ever digital retreat from May 1-8!