Guest Author - Lauren D´Silva
Sometimes we need to take some time out in our lives to recharge our batteries and just ‘be’. A Retreat style vacation can be just the thing you need to truly get away from it all. I stayed at the White Mountain Retreat Centre in Crete.
Bach Flower Essence practitioner Julie Murray runs the White Mountain Retreat Centre. She has a deep knowledge of the essences, having grown up around them- her mother used to run the Bach Flower Centre in the UK.
The Centre itself is located just outside the village of Plaka in an elevated position overlooking Souda Bay and the White Mountains from which it gets its name. Rooms are airy, simple and tastefully presented. All but one room has a door opening to the outside & one of the great pleasures for me was that I felt safe enough to sleep with the door to my veranda open all night- not something I’d do at home.
The communal areas for guests are very comfortable and again feel light and airy- so important in a hot country. Breakfast was a serve yourself affair. I got a taste for Greek yoghurt, honey & nuts to start the day- something I’m trying to keep up with at home. I woke & ate when I felt like it, which I noticed got progressively earlier as my batteries recharged. I was up for dawn on the last two days & walking the labyrinth!
The day at the Retreat begins with a gathering & blessing in the main building, Eagle, where a beautiful group space is kept calm & energetically clear. We made a circle, Julie led a thought for the day & then we picked a card from a different spiritual pack each day and read the meanings around the circle for each other. This was such a lovely way to start the day that I’ve incorporated it into my teaching weekends. We would then discuss our plans for the day & close the circle.
From then on there is a range of things to do. Guests may do as little or as much as they like. Currently there is a Chanting class that meets on a Wednesday, a regular healing Circle on a Thursday and a Yoga class on a Monday. A beautiful meditation room/treatment room is also available for use. I had some very effective massage sessions from Nicolette, a massage therapist working at the Centre this Season.
Almirida, a small & relaxed beach resort, is only a ten minute drive away. I was able to cadge a lift, so didn’t hire a car, though some guests like to have this independence. White Mountain isn’t a puritanical retreat centre- there is an inclusive & welcoming energy, accepting people just as they are. If you want to detox go ahead- but an afternoon with a few cocktails at a beach bar overlooking the sea is fun if not!
Other excursions are negotiable with the staff- they have a range of possibilities on offer, including the obvious visit to Knossos. They need to charge for transportation, but can discuss an agenda to suit you and their other guests. Before going I thought I’d want to do more sight-seeing, but when I arrived & felt the special energy of the Centre I decided to do much less & just enjoy being there. I fell into a lovely pattern of eating, siestas & visits to the beach!
I must give a mention to Kate’s cooking. I stayed full board & so enjoyed both lunches & dinners at the Centre. She fed us sumptuously, everything seemed filled with sunshine & the range of colours, tastes & textures on our plates was wonderfully balanced. We ate on the veranda overlooking the Bay and in the evening watched the sun go down and the stars come out by candlelight. It was magical eating in such a relaxed atmosphere- I felt I was savouring every mouthful.
The Centre is home to some pets too. If you are a cat or dog lover you’ll enjoy their presence. Quinn the dog was a regular attendee of the morning gathering, he seemed to enjoy the vibes. I was rather fond of Florrie the cat who would sleep in my room. As I miss cats in my life it was therapeutic to have this little bundle purring away.
Lastly I want to add that this was a very safe place to stay if you travelling as a woman on your own. I was collected from Chania airport & delivered back there, the welcome is genuinely warm, and you feel very safe and cared for. Thank you to Julie, Kate & Nicolette for making my stay at White Mountain so memorable.
White Mountain is currently closed as a retreat, but we went back to visit as friends in 2009. There are hopes that it will be reopened soon.