So, if you follow me on Instagram you know I have recently spent 4 nights in beautiful Portugal on the Body and Sound Retreat. I was lucky enough to meet Lizzie and Tom (the wonderful orchestrators of the retreat) through the London Viva! Vegan Festival where she told me about the vegan retreat she was planning. I had coincidentally been looking into retreats as I’d be desperate to go on one for ages, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
So, I spoke to my lovely friend and housemate Ali and booked us on onto the retreat that same day, so 2 months later we were on a plane to Lisbon, Portugal! With not really any idea of what to expect, what Ali and myself found when we arrived was more that we could have dreamed!
Firstly we arrived at 1pm on Friday, we were picked up from the train station and taken to the beautiful, huge guesthouse we were to spend our next 4 nights in. We were greeted by a delicious lunch of salad, homemade hummus and bread from the lovely chef Nick, which after 6 hours of travelling was just what we needed. It was so relaxing to know that all the food served was completely vegan and not having to question what we could and couldn’t eat.
Being the end of October we didn’t have high expectations of the weather, however the entire weekend we experienced glorious temperatures of 20-30 degrees!
What’s lovely about the retreat is there is a rough schedule of activities so you won’t ever be bored, however there is absolutely no pressure to engage in all the activates if you feel like you just want to sit one out and go and read or have a little siesta.
Being shown around the house was amazing; it’s just so beautiful, and our room was full of thoughtful little gifts.
The activity on Friday afternoon was a ‘body workshop’ where Lizzie (a professional soft tissue therapist) had us working in pairs and reconnecting with our bodies by teaching us massage techniques on one another. If you were to come with a partner this would be a particularly nice experience as you learn about the other persons body and how to take care of it with massage therapy. I found it particularly useful to talk to Lizzie about the injury in my foot from running and learnt some great techniques on how to help it.
The day was ended with a delicious communal dinner of a spaghetti bolognese (made with soy mince), garlic bread and an incredible dessert of a homemade coconut based chocolate mouse. After traveling from 5am, Ali and myself were exhausted so had a nice early night and sank into a deep sleep in a bed so comfortable I felt like never leaving it!
I’m a morning person and as I was up early whilst it was still cool I decided to go for a short run, discovering a great little dirt track taking me into the woods. I love running in new areas, especially rural, peaceful places as where I run at home (being near the city), it is always so busy and full of people. Running on my own out in the middle of nowhere is like my form of meditation.
After my run we could help ourselves to breakfast (muesli, toast and fruit) and delicious local coffee and then began the day with a morning ‘stretch session’. The session was guided by Lizzie and was a mix of Yoga and Pilates. After running it was just what I needed and Lizzie is amazing at talking you through deep stretches and tailoring things just for you.
After our stretch session and a freshly squeezed juice (orange, carrot, ginger and apple) we all went to a local river where we could swim, relax and soak up the sun. That evening was a delicious meal of homemade bean burgers, veggies and mashed potato.
Over the next few days we visited the most beautiful lakes in peaceful towns and were able to go swimming (I loved this as fresh water swimming is my absolute favourite) and explored the local areas. It was so peaceful and not touristy at all, it was so great to have people who know the area taking you to the best places.
There was also a breathing and meditation session with Tom, ending in a walk in the woods. We enjoyed more delicious meals together, my favourite most amazing lentil curry with brown rice followed by homemade vegan ice cream. There is also a nice swimming pool we could all relax by and soak up the sun, and also participated in poi and hoola-hoop workshops which were so fun.
There was another stretch/yoga class and then another body work session plus individual massages. Lizzie’s knowledge of the body was one of my favourite things about the retreat, she’s incredible and helped me understand why I have some issues with my lower back and gave me ways to help it.
This was my first ever retreat and all I keep thinking is that I picked a good one to go on! It was so communal and relaxed and we met and got to know some really interesting people. The setting in Portugal is so beautiful, surrounded by lovely landscape, I would highly recommend this retreat for people wanting a relaxed, down to earth experience. Thanks so much Lizzie and Tom for having us and giving us a wonderful time.
I started writing this for the sole purpose of sharing with people the benefits of living a plant-based lifestyle.