Last summer I decided I really wanted to get away and relax.
Usually I try to find cheap flights and flee the UK for as long as I can and as cheap as I can. But I decided this time to really take the time to get to know a place.
I also really wanted to go on a yoga break but baulked at the price until I was lucky to come across Blue Plum Escapes (www) in Serbia.
I've always loved travelling in that part of Europe because the friendly people, wonderful wine and fried cheese (seriously good!!) always make me smile. I'd never got as far as Serbia or really heard much about it apart from the famous Exit festival - boy I had a lot to learn!
I arrived in Belgrade on a hot August Saturday and found the street buzzing with activity - this is the most fun party town!
At night you can stroll through the old town with its many bars and go down by the beautiful Danube river where night club boats let off fireworks over the town. It probably wasn't the start I should have taken to my yoga and crafts weekend, but it was too much fun to resist.
The next day I met up with my small group and we drove off into the Serbian countryside towards Aleksandrovac to Neda and Christophe who run Blue Plum. They are a Serbian / French couple who are fluent in English and always willing to help and teach you something new about the country. We had so much fun in the car on the way down, learning a few Serbian words to impress our hosts.
But boy did they impress us!
We arrived to tables groaning with home grown dishes of stuffed peppers, homemade cheeses, fresh stews, delicious salads and homemade rakia, the national drink!
The whole week was wonderful and passed by in a flash. Each day we had yoga in the morning and then someone from the local villages would come by to show us how to make pottery, crochet, pain or knit – all the things that we in the west don’t usually take the time to learn anymore. We hiked up hills, had a BBQ one afternoon, and when the weather got hot we headed to the local village pool for a dip and an ice cream.
I still think all these fancy yoga retreats look nice, but I have to say, I don’t think I would take one now. To me, they seem overpriced and a bit tacky. You almost have to pay to have no mobile phone signal!!!
Out in the beautiful Serbian countryside, I got to practice meditation on a warm grassy lawn, eat the most delicious home-cooked food, and take time out for myself for the first time in ages just by stepping back in time a little.