Floating in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea is Silver Island. The island looks like a postcard: all shimmering olive trees, white washed buildings and pebble beaches. It’s quiet (aside from the sound of the odd rowdy chicken), peaceful and secluded. A perfect place, really, for a yoga retreat.
Back in March, I was grumpy. Moving around; sleeping on sofas; trying to buy a house; trying to move things out of my old house; figuring out what newly single people do about cooking for themselves (honestly, why can’t you buy a chicken breast for one?); being unbelievably bad at casual dating and working full-time, meant that I was feeling cranky.
One night, I decided that I needed to go somewhere drenched with sunshine. I needed yoga. I also wanted somewhere to completely recharge (lying on the sofa and contemplating whether I should download Tinder was not recharging). I remembered reading about a magical looking destination called Silver Island Yoga and quickly found it on the internet. Within 15 minutes, I was booked and ready for a week of ‘realignment’ with the lovely Rebecca Halls.
Look at me! I’m so spontaneous!
Thanks to their beautiful website, I knew that the island would be beautiful and that we would be eating organic, home-grown vegetarian food for the week. It all sounded very nice and virtuous. But actually arriving on the island and staying there was a different experience entirely.
To get to Silver Island you travel from Athens to a tiny town called Oreoi, on the island of Evia. After a night there, in a hotel room which saw me defy the limits of a normal body temperature (the owner kindly loaded my bed with fur blankets as I was British, therefore perpetually cold, apparently), I waited by the little harbour for the lovely Lissa and Corne, the owners of the island, to collect me on their boat. Eventually, all the other ladies who would be joining me on the island arrived and off we set.
Arriving on the island was surreal. It is more beautiful than you can imagine. The water is crystal clear, you can see the shimmering fish swimming around and it is unbelievably quiet. There are vibrantly coloured flowers everywhere and areas of cool, shady pine trees, filled with hammocks and swings.
There are two main places to stay on the island: the guest villa, which has beautiful sea-views and the main house, with the kitchen, dining area and lounge. This is where I was staying with my amazing roommate, Ruth ( I could not be more relieved that I was paired with someone who talked to themselves as much as me. Or got trapped inside their mosquito net as regularly as me). The accommodation is traditional white-wash style, with blue windows and shutters, and both houses are cosy with plentiful amounts of cushions, rugs, shelves of books and the perpetual scent of incense burning.
We soon had our first lunch together, which was my first taste of the incredible food that Lissa and Corne would provide. Organic and completely fresh, it was delicious. I’m not a vegetarian, but if I could cook like them, then I definitely would be (sadly I can’t, so I’ll be back to roaming the supermarket aisles for that elusive single chicken breast). Each meal was in the dining area, where everyone gets together. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a nicer bunch of people to do this with: from all different countries and of all different ages, I loved spending time with every single one of them. We had a lot of fun and laughed a lot. I also developed a worrying obsession with the island’s dog: Lulu (she started to avoid me by the end).
Our days fell into an easy routine. It began with 07.30am yoga and meditation, up on the beautiful yoga platform overlooking the sea and lighthouse. After two hours of stretching and breathing, breathing and stretching, we had a breakfast of fresh juices, home-made granola and yogurt. After that was free time, during which you could go swimming, kayaking, hiking, or as I preferred, lying motionless on the beach. After a massive lunch, it was then more free time, before evening yoga. The classes with Rebecca were brilliant and by the end of the week we were all wobbling our way into inversions. I honestly have never been so excited to do a handstand.
Evening times were by far my favourite time, with a huge group meal, wine (organic, obviously), an open fire to sit around and music. As the island is completely self-sufficient, electricity only runs from 8-10pm. After that, you have your own solar lamp to guide you.There was something quite magical about seeing all the twinkling lights moving around the island during dusk.
This post in no way covers all that Silver Island is. We had sunrise kayaking trips; hula hoop classes; an incredible night time hula hoop show by Rebecca (think: neon, flashing hoops and lots of dancing); sunset walks and meditation; snorkeling; laughing; hugs; massages; Thai food; arts and crafts; and thanks to all the lentils, a lot of disturbing stomach noises.
By the end of the week, I not only had a wonderful tan (priorities) and more flexible hamstrings, but I felt happy. Really happy. Silver Island is a special place and combined with special people, made for one of the best trips I’ve ever had. Maybe it was the healthy food, the exercise and meditation, or the fact that wherever I was on the island, there was someone kind to sit and talk to, but I cried in the middle of Athens airport when I had to go home.
For anyone feeling a grump, like I was in March – a little not themselves, or just for anyone who wants to spend a week relaxing on a Greek island (who doesn’t?!) – then please take a look at Silver Island. Lissa and Corne have worked so incredibly hard to create a place that is beautiful, unique, peaceful and truly magical. I guarantee you won’t find anywhere else like it.