IKARIA: A BLUE ZONE RETREAT
June 26 – July 1, 2019 (6 day retreat)
Renowned across the Mediterranean as the Island of Longevity, Ikaria has long been heralded as the healing centre of Greece. With its radioactive hot spring waters, a natural Hammam and an abundance of wild herbs that double as medicinal tonics, this island is truly a natural haven.
Located north-east of the Aegean, about an hours flight from Athens, Ikaria has quickly come to capture the attention of journalists and researchers eager to uncover its hidden secrets as the Island of Longevity.
Boasting jawdropping mountain ranges that plunge to meet deep azure waters, the air that wafts as you are led along the roads of its stunning landscape are perfumed with wild thyme, sage and oregano.
Crossing the mountain range, our private driver takes our journey past the main port of Evdilos. We stay at a restored private stone house, nestled in the hills overlooking sweeping views of the Mediterranean.
Our host George and his wife Eleni will teach us the fine art of Ikarian fare and how it has served to support the local community in boasting good health. We sit under the canopy of a grapevine and share in communal dinners and breakfasts with a feast hand-made by the wonderful Eleni.
We gain insight into the fine art of winemaking, learn about the importance of sustainable living and find out the intricacies of creating an organic garden.
We visit a local goatherder, sample famous Ikarian honey and journey to the quaint cobblestone village of Christos Raches. Time to explore this stunning village, where creative workshops and retailers including ceramicists and local producers are scattered throughout the town. We visit the Ikarian women’s co-op, where the passion and willingness to upkeep tradition is honoured here. We sample homemade herbal tonics, liqueur’s and traditional sweets and hear about the incredible story behind this understated institution.
Renowned for its festive celebrations that are a 24 hour event, we will partake in the islands famous Panigiri. Commemorating patron saints, these events commence late in the afternoon and conclude well into the following morning. Enjoyed by old and young alike, it’s a reminder that good times are inclusive for all, with the elderly often being some of the last to leave! As Ikaria is the birthplace of Dionysos – the God of Wine, these festivities always lend themselves in his honour.
We take some free time and explore Ikaria’s remote beaches. We visit the stunning Seychelles beach that tops the must-do list. Located close to the tip of the south coast, it is aptly named for very good reason.
This retreat is designed to allow you complete immersion in the elements, become acquainted with local life. Learn about the nuances of its culinary world and indulge in the absolute pleasure of navigating your stay at your leisure. There is no sense of urgency in Ikaria and the local way of life is a true reflection of what we can all take away with us and instil in our day-to-day lives. Taking time, even if momentarily can have the greatest effect on the health and wellbeing of our lives that extends to our relationships with family and loved ones.
This is a true gift into the art of slow living.
What to Expect
We learn about the health benefits of Ikarian cooking. Renowned as the Island of Longevity, we spend time in the company of locals and find out the secrets behind the Ikaria’s reputation as a Blue Zone island.
Participating in a traditional cooking class, we learn of the essential ingredients vital to Ikarian cooking and understand how seasonal living, sustainability and becoming acquainted with the land are the foundations behind healthy eating and a long life.
We meet artisan makers of cheese, Ikaria’s famous thyme honey and oil production.
Staying at a traditional farmhouse run by husband and wife George and Eleni, we learn about Ikarian winemaking and the importance of sustainable living. We tour their property and learn the secrets behind organic farming and how we can come to adopt these principles in our day-to-day life.
A trip to Christos Raches gives us the luxury of strolling cobblestone streets, discovering artisans and craftspeople and spending time in the Women’s Co-op, learning about the age-old tradition honouring Ikarian practices.
A special trip to a remote village at the peak of the mountain, visiting the islands famous sculptor, renowned for the mythological and religious sculptures he creates out of recycled timber tree trunks.
A swim in the hot spring waters at the village of Therma. Known for its healing benefits, this village is the ideal place for restoration and rejuvenation. We spend time in a natural hammam and for those wanting a little extra care, therapeutic treatments are available for booking with remedial therapists.
Participating in the famous Panigiri is essential to understanding Ikarian life. 24-hour celebrations are undertaken in honour of patron saints where the chance to dance, feast, drink and celebrate with the Gods is enjoyed by young and old alike.
We visit the Church of Theoskepasti, just above the village of Pygi. Wedged between two giant slabs of granite rock, this stunning church was created in the 13th century. Frescoes and old icons adorn the walls and the imposing presence of the granite boulders make for stunning photographs.
Taking time out for restoration, indulgent swims at isolated beaches and moving at an unhurried pace is the essence of this retreat. Ideal for those needing to de-stress and implement nurturing qualities into their lives.