There’s a special island in the Aegean called Ikaria. It is special because it’s one of the Blue Zone areas – where inhabitants enjoy a higher life expectancy. In fact, people who live on Ikaria live on average 10 years longer than they do in the rest of Europe and America. There are lots of studies into why the life expectancy is so high. Many believe it is the fresh food, some think it’s down to a slower pace of life, others believe it is an example of Darwinism at play.
Yet one aspect remains clear – they are healthy and happy people. In Greek culture, being relaxed and content is part of living a healthy life. We call it ‘sophrosyne’, and it means “healthy in mind, healthy in body”. The name was taken from that of the Greek goddess of moderation and harmony.
Any trip to Greece is an opportunity to unlock the wellness that our people embody. Greek hospitality is all about helping you relax and seeing the world from a more light-hearted place. Here are some of the tricks you will learn as you voyage around the Med.
Retreat to a quiet place
Across Greece, you’ll find buildings created for the purpose of peace and quiet. These can be anything from the monasteries built for worship to temples dedicated to the gods.
A special trip is to Meteora, where you will find a complex of monasteries clinging to the top of a rock formation in central Greece. The name Meteora means ‘suspended in the air’ and you will feel as though you are climbing to the sky when you visit the site. Sitting somewhere quiet and taking in view across the unique landscape is a way to feel both at peace and in awe.
Follow in the footsteps of philosophers
The Sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus was built for ceremonial medicine practices and is considered the place where modern medicine was first ignited. It marks the transition from believing in divine healing to trusting the science of medicine.
Learn about the therapeutic treatments, from the herbs used to the rituals that ancient Greeks used to heal people. You might just take home a few words of wisdom with you.
Visit a mineral spring
There’s nothing quite like a spa to relax those shoulders. And there’s nothing better than a natural spa to enjoy the healing power of nature. A visit to the mineral spring at Vouliagmeni Lake, near Athens, will replenish your soul. The waters are fed by an underground spring and the ocean, creating a rich mix of salts and minerals to soothe the skin. Feel the freedom of swimming in an open lake where tiny Doctor Fish exfoliate your skin.
Alternatively, you can let the clay at the Krinides Mud Baths envelope you. The clay is believed to treat all kinds of inflammatory conditions, and just sinking into the warm soft clay is therapeutic for sore muscles and tense minds. It supports you as you float, making you feel almost weightless. Once you wash off the dried clay in a mineral shower, your skin will feel beautifully soft.
Truly experience the ocean
Whether it’s the way the fish jump out of the surface, the way the sun dances on the rippled surface or the sea grasses swaying softly on the bed, the ocean is a beauty to admire. Indulge your senses when you visit a Greek beach for a more mindful experience. Listen to the water, feel it cooling your skin as you swim, smell your hair as you leave the beach – all these small things will connect you to nature on a deeper level.
Make time for you on deck
If you’re experiencing Greece from the comfort of a cruise, you can use your time on the ship to get back to you. Find somewhere quiet to read your book or simply to watch the birds flit by. You could book a spa treatment to release any toxins from your body. Take a dip in the pool. Let your body completely relax in the hot tub or swim a few lengths to get the heart pumping. If you really want to sweat it out, you could head to the gym or take part in a fitness class on deck, where the ocean breeze will help keep you cool.