Back in April 2017, my lovely colleague Lizzie asked me to help her out by coming to her Body and Sound Retreat and doing some photography and videography… I, obviously, graciously accepted.
I’d never been on a retreat before so wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but everything totally surpassed expectation, which hardly surprised me because Lizzie is fab. There was an ‘itinerary’ for each day, but if something didn’t take your fancy, you could chill by the pool in stead or read in the garden. The whole trip was so flexible and customised to each person, which was a real luxury.
Lizzie and Tom
One of the rooms – for up to 2 people
The upstairs bathroom
We spent a lot of the retreat at the beautiful guest house, where each person had their own room with wooden panel floors and beams, a comfy bed for collapsing at the end of the day, and a bathroom next door with a bath and shower which was welcomed after swimming in the lakes. If you want to save a bit of money, there’s also the option to camp in the garden which it was definitely warm enough to do – even in October/November!
The Guest House swimming pool
A hammock for naps in the garden
If you’re into travel videos and want more of a flavour of the retreat experience, you can watch my film of the trip here:
We also felt extremely lucky to be cooked for, 3 meals a day. The on-site chef Nik was an incredible cook and made such a range of delicious food – I’d go again for that alone. Amongst the planned activities were Body Work, where you can learn to give massage to others and how to self massage, yoga/meditation sessions every morning, group walks in the nearby forest – to name a few. And Lizzie’s lovely partner Tom supplied all the music for the retreat.
Tom playing music for the morning stretch session
10am stretch session
Learning to self massage
Maelle and her Poi
Mindfulness colouring books provided by the retreat
A wander into the forest
I think one of my favourite things about the long weekend was that everyone there was so laid back. It was amazing to spend some quality time with like-minded people and get to know them and their ideas about the world. All lunches and dinners were communal so even if you come alone, like I did, you won’t feel lonely at all.
Vegan chocolate mousse
Pitta and salad – a light lunch before heading off to the lakes
Homemade juice by Nik
We had a couple of excursions to nearby lakes, one of which was Ferreira do Zezere. If you follow my Instagram you’ll have already seen my post from that day – I captioned the photo saying I’d found my happy place and I stand by that. What’s great about Northern Portugal is that tourists (me included) aren’t really aware of how special it is, so a lot of places are totally deserted. It’s a really well-kept secret and I expect just as beautiful as the popular holiday destinations across the rest of the country.
Looking out at Ferreira do Zezere
You can do cliff diving here – I opted for dipping my toes in, in stead
My happy place
Another nearby stream/natural pool
We spent a little of the last day in the town of Tomar, which is where you get the train to/from Lisbon (9 euros for 2-hour journey). Tomar is much more built-up than the location of the retreat, so we had a wander around and got some ice lollies, and also walked up the hill to see Tomar Castle although we couldn’t work out how to get inside… This may have been down to our post-massage zombie brains, so I’d recommend checking it out for yourselves and getting further than we did!
Doors of Tomar
A typical Portuguese house
I can’t recommend the retreat enough – whether you’re familiar with this kind of thing or not, and whether or not you go alone, I can’t see a reason why anyone shouldn’t go. It’s also a fantastic way to introduce yourself to solo travel if that’s something you want to get into.
A massive (just accidentally wrote massage, how appropriate) thank you to Lizzie and Tom for hosting such a special event; I can’t wait to go again one day. FYI, readers, there are FOUR retreats happening in April due to the success of this one! Go to www.bodyandsoundretreat.com for dates and prices.
Keep your eyes peeled for a post on my quickie stopover in Lisbon on the way home…