But first, yoga!

Last October, it was with a mixture of nervousness and excitement that I stepped onto the port at Vis, to be greeted by a chilly torrential rain and the lovely hosts of SummerSalt yoga, Mario and Milda. Back then I was to spend the week teaching a group of yogis, taking them through a Vinyasa practice each morning, and a Yin and meditation class each evening. Thankfully the nerves soon dissipated, the rain cleared and I thoroughly enjoyed my week on the beautiful Croatian island and my time with M&M.

Then, to my delight, I received an email from Milda earlier this year inviting me to come back during the summer, this time to experience their newly launched SUP yoga retreats. Naturally, I was delighted to experience the week from the perspective of the guest and even better, after I gushed on Facebook about how happy I was to be returning, my friend Vicky decided to join me for the week. Here’s what went down…

(July 2016)

After a fun-filled start to June celebrating the big 3-0, I was beginning to feel excited for the summer in London, enjoying all that this crazy city has to offer. But with a few friends fleeing the city for jobs in Amsterdam, Nicaragua and Singapore and my remaining buddies starting families, the prospect of a night out was starting to feel like mission impossible. I must admit that I’ve been beginning to feel more and more lonely in London, the city that I’ve FINALLY accepted as my home. So the thought of escaping for the week in the sunshine and catching up with an old friend was even more appealing than ever.

This time around, despite the later arrival time, the island embraced me with a warm summer evening breeze and Mario’s familiar smiley face, just waiting to transport us up the hill to our stunning white villa overlooking the harbour below. I didn’t notice the view that night and after greeting my friend Vicky who was already tucked up in bed, it wasn’t until the next morning that I got to experience the stunning sight below.

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Despite my late arrival time, Vicky and I couldn’t resist catching up on the most important bits of gossip (boys) since we’d last caught up at her apartment in Madrid and so by the time my alarm went off at 7am, I was still tired from the journey but excited to see Milda and meet the other guests.

But first, yoga!

We started the day at 7:30am with a warming and gentle Vinyasa flow on the rooftop, led by the lovely Vanessa Fleming. At 8:15, we’d swap our yoga wear for swim wear and the rooftop for the beach, strolling down leisurely with our paddles and fins, ready to greet Mario who would be waiting with the boards. Having tried SUP a couple of times in the Philippines, I was quietly confident about the SUP yoga but I soon realised that standing on the boards and then moving through asanas on the board were two different things entirely! It was certainly a great workout though, firing up every muscle and getting our metabolisms going ready for the epic breakfast Milda was lovingly preparing back at the villa. Class complete, we hopped in the minibus back up the hill – a necessary trip despite the proximity to town, especially after all that exercise!

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Breakfast was a nice leisurely affair as we filled our bellies and got to know the other guests. Then the plans for the day would be set, whether a trip down to the stunning Stiniva beach, a boat trip to the Blue Cave or a free day to wander around the town drinking coffee and browsing in the stores at the local delicacies. Vis is a bit different from some of the other islands in Croatia. A lot of the typical ‘Brits abroad’ (and Aussies and Kiwis) have chosen Croatia as the latest partying destination, and it’s easy to see why with all the festivals, yacht parties and the endless sunshine on offer. But Vis has still remained a little unspoilt treasure, tucked away from all the action, so although there are a few tourists wandering around, you still feel like you’re getting a real taste of island life.

Gate-crashing the party

Despite being on a yoga retreat, the vibe was definitely one of embracing all that was one offer and so when Milda mentioned that she might be able to get us on the guest list for a yacht week party in Fort George, we of course jumped at the chance! That evening, we donned our finest summer attire and joined Kiki our minibus driver for a twist around the hills until we reached our first destination of the evening, Roki’s Taverna. Here we enjoyed the freshest fish, the yummiest octopus and a selection of mini desserts that had the girls ‘ahhing’ with every bite. Stomach’s well and truly satisfied, I would have been happy calling it a night there and then, having had the most perfect day imaginable, but the evening was only about to get more interesting as we made our way first down to Beibi’s then on to the incredible Fort George.

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The setting was stunning, the music got me swaying and with a few gin and tonics making me merry I could have happily stayed all evening dancing the night away in my own little bubble of happiness. But the others weren’t enjoying the atmosphere quite as much as me and so when the bus arrived around 1:30am, we hopped on board and headed back home to bed. I was anticipating hitting snooze on my alarm the next morning but I was still high on endorphin’s from the previous night and post-yoga, we had even more excitement to look forward to as I was finally going to get to visit the beautiful blue caves.

Our skippers helped us to carry on the party, blasting out the music as we bounced up and down with the waves and ventured out to the caves. When we arrived at the mouth of the cave, the skipper shouted ‘DUCK’ and we quickly we curled up into little balls before squeezing through the tiny gap to get into the cave. Photos just can’t do this place justice and it’s worth putting the camera down for one of those rare moments when you just want to take it all in without the distraction of a lens. After a circle of the cave, we each hopped off the back of the boat and decided to swim our way back out, trying with a little more energy than anticipated to fight the current to get back on the boat and again jet off to another stunning beach, Bisevo. Here we spent the afternoon eating and swimming off the excess of the previous night before.

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After the day’s activities, we would head to the rooftop for a gentle Yin practice, or even better, back onto the SUP boards to thoroughly relax as we bobbed along with the waves and listened to the sound of the church bells reminding us it was time to wake up from Savasana and head back home for another delicious dinner.

Surprisingly for someone once nicknamed ‘little fatty’, dinner was one of my favourite times of day. We’d sit down as a group on our outdoor patio and enjoy whatever culinary delight Milda had prepared for us that day – from black bean Mexican chilli one evening to peach, brie and walnut topped bread bites for lunch, all the way through to the Indian inspired spinach curry – the food NEVER gets boring. And when you’re doing that much exercise, it’s only right to fuel your body with extra nourishing portions right?! But it was the social aspect of dinner that made it all the more pleasurable, something I’m missing massively now that I’m back to lonely London life.

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On our final day as a group, we got the added treat of touring one of Croatia’s oldest lighthouses (it’s great when you have friends in the know). And then it was time for our final farewell dinner before we each set off on our different journeys. Some of the girls were heading on to other islands, some straight back home and me plus a few others still had one day left to enjoy the sights of Split.

It was with sadness that I headed back home to London, although a new determination to make a move was embedded deep within me. I was fully expecting the post-holidays blues to kick straight in on my return but thankfully, I had a BBQ in the sunshine and a catch up with two of my favourite yummy mummies to look forward to. Plus it’s only 9.5 weeks until I’m heading back to the beautiful island, this time to teach. If you fancy joining me, here’s everything you need to know.

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