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While the schedule for our retreats might vary due to size and interest of the group, it will include:
Watch the Sun Ceremony:
We rise with the dawn. As Agia Theodoti lies to the east, it is the perfect place to watch the sun rise.
Seated on our open-air veranda made of stones mined from the area–marble, granite, clay–we start with a mindfulness movement meditation. This might include yoga poses, Tai chi, or guided visualization. Accompanied by the early wafting breezes over the sea which hold the aroma of wild thyme, oregano, and nettles, we engage our breath, focus our minds, and set our intentions for this moment, this day, and this time in our lives. This is also the time when we share from our dream journals.
After our morning meditation, we take a nature walk. Our aim is to hone our senses of keen observation–both from the outside and the inside. We will meander through the hills of Agia Theodoti, visiting the nearby chapels of the main church, Agio Anargyri, wind our way through the valley, to the sea. On our walk, you will learn about the local herbs and their medicinal uses, sketch your thoughts in your journal, make a sketch of something that moves you in your sketchbook. We will allow the beauty of nature, the warmth of the sun to awaken whatever is in us. Our job is to gently record what comes up. We might even go on a longer hike through the Byzantine nature trails over the hills and beyond.
By this time, it is 9 am and the perfect time for a crisp morning swim. Swimming invigorates the body. The sea minerals and salts in this part of the Mediterranean help the skin heal and replenish missing elements. Swimming is a good form of exercise as it moves the entire body and more than one muscle group. If you are not a swimmer, sunbathing or walking along the shore (which is absolutely private on most mornings) can serve you just as well.
Walking back to the villa, we will indulge in fresh fruits, organic eggs, local wildflower honey, goat’s milk cheese, rusks, figs, pomegranates, and Greek yogurt. Coffee/tea as well as fresh juices including pomegranate (a superfood) and orange/lemon will be available.
Mid-Morning Core Expressionism:
Depending on the needs or wants of the group, we will embark on the main course of our artistic exploration together. For two to three hours, we will vary our workshop classes. Monday might find you learning about the ancient Greek technique of encaustic painting. Tuesday might find us using the herbs we found on our nature walk to create natural cosmetics, our goat’s milk soap or Persephone pomegranate scrub. Wednesday we might engage our bodies in drama games or guided improv techniques to get to our core strengths. Thursday we might explore the “Goddess in You” archetypes, plan our future wishes using our goddess tarot, or recreate our goddess alter egos by posing with props and photography. Friday we might have a hands-on demonstration of traditional folk crafts such as the loom or embroidery. Saturday we might talk about the benefits of olive oil and other staples of the Mediterranean diet through a Powerpoint presentation and hands-on cooking demonstrations.
Our core expressive arts sessions take place within our private atelier and art studio or in the out veranda space of the villa. All materials, handouts, ingredients are included.
We break at around 1 or 2 pm to have lunch. Lunch is homemade and prepared with local, organic ingredients some of which you might see in the garden. Lunch, as all good Greek meals, comes with a huge portion of Greek salad with feta cheese, fresh bread from the wood-burning oven and a variety of Greek olives, kalamata, green, doused with garlic olive oil and oregano.
Heliotherapy, Hydrotherapy or Hypnotherapy:
It is customary during the height of the afternoon sun to either take a nap (hypnotherapy) or else take in more sun (heliotherapy) and sea (hydrotherapy). Ios is known for the wealth of its pristine beaches, so this is the time we can use to explore other beaches. Basically this is relaxation time. During August and high summer, sometimes this is the best thing to do.
When the sun descends (and hopefully the temperature) is the perfect time to explore the island. It is in late afternoon/early evening, when we will take our cameras to visit the historic parts of the island, including Homer’s Tomb, Skarkos, the Bronze-Age settlement that engaged in goddess worship, Paleokastro, the port, the Chora (Old Town), Psathi, the Windmills. We aim to arrive at an elevated spot in order to take in the breathtaking beauty of the purple/pink/rose sunsets that are just as inspiring in Ios as they are in Ia, Santorini. It is during the Golden Hour, that the sun is just so that makes for the most beautiful shots. We will drop by for a cocktail at Pathos Sunset Lounge, another dramatic overlook to the west of the island. Or sip a glass of Chardonnay at Ios Club, the one place to hear classical music while sitting on a marble amphitheater, the setting golden sun on one hand and the silver moon rising on the other. Life was meant for moments like this.
After 8-9 pm the island’s night life emerges. You will be on your own from this point onwards to explore the treasures of the island. The shops and restaurants stay open till the wee morning hours. There are gourmet restaurants on the island, such as Salt in Mylopotas, where you can indulge in a more refined meal. Or take another drink at Liostasis, the 5-star spa and Mama’s restaurant.
Be forewarned: Ios is like Dr Jeckly and Mr Hyde: calm, lazy, laid back in the day and a frenetic wild man at night. Don’t take my word for it; Matt Barrett, perhaps the most extensive travel blogger of Greece, says:
|There is no island in Greece like Ios. There is no place in the world like Ios! Some might tell you it is like Spring Break in Daytona Beach or Panama city or even Cancun but the reality is that those places are tame compared to Ios. The island of Ios is an all out international party of college age people that lasts from June until the end of August on one of the most beautiful of the Greek islands. And for those of you who are older and can do without the partying Ios in the off-season is like any other Greek island: The best place you have ever been.|
|Read more of his post on Ios here.|
(Note: These are suggested schedules and can be changes according to the needs of the group. For example, a day trip to Myknonos, Naxos, or Santorini can be arranged instead).