A melodramatic title, I’ll admit. But three weeks ago, I handed in my MA thesis, took a week off work for a much needed break, and went on the perfect holiday at a yoga retreat in Portugal. After so many months of intense work, it really did feel like freedom. Just looking back at these pictures transports me to such a happy place and gives me an unforgettable sense of peace.
I flew very very early from Geneva to Faro the day before the retreat started. By 9am I was sat in a sunny roadside café drinking coffee, eating natas and reading a novel. I had a wander around the town, and sat on top of the cathedral reading and enjoying the light sea breeze. I then went to a great little restaurant for lunch, and another for dinner, and ate garlic prawns, sea bass, monk fish and some local wine at a table-for-one. Travelling solo can be so so nice.
On Saturday, I took the train to Lagos, where a large taxi picked up six of the retreat guests. We drove through windy country lanes, and then off-road down a dusty rocky path through a national park and towards the sea. The retreat was held in a house in the middle of park, a five minute walk to the beach. It was perfectly secluded, with only the noise of the waves, the birds, and the crickets as company. The power came from solar panels, filtered water from a well, wifi was limited to one small corner of the house, and there was absolutely no light pollution so the stars were incredible. The scenery was wild and absolutely magic.
The leader of the retreat and yoga teacher, Shaini, made us all feel welcome and at ease with her humour and friendliness. Each day involved two hours of yoga in the morning, and two in the late afternoon. Some of us took surf lessons, others took cooking lessons and had massages. I did all three (albeit, taking it easy on the surfing, but that’s a story for another day) and also went on a couple of early morning walks and runs. Shivani, the cook, made the most incredible vegetarian food. It was so delicious that our group gained the reputation of being a ‘wolf-pack’. We all joked that this was possibly the only retreat where you could spend four or more hours a day doing exercise and eating healthy vegetarian food, and actually gain weight.
The whole experience was perfect: from the yoga, to the setting, to the peace, to the food and sunshine. Best of all, we bonded as a group and spent evening after evening laughing until we cried and our abs hurt.
What a way to celebrate two intense years.