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Island Retreat

A beautiful cottage on the island of Hydra

Last year, on a trip with my father to Greece, we all agreed that our holiday just wouldn’t be complete, if we didn’t visit one of the many surrounding islands. After hours and hours of research, we finally came across Hydra – one of the lesser known islands just off the mainland, and only a two hour boat ride from Athens.

Hydra Island in Greece
Hydra Island in Greece

In search of that “home away from home” feel, we settled for an AirBnB apartment that caught our attention thanks to its sea viewing terrace, a garden ripe with fruit trees and its promise of an endless summer.

Much to our delight, the crisp, white cottage was tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the town. A lovely respite for those seeking a quiet retreat. Cars and motorised vehicles are banned from Hydra, and we were surprised at how tranquil and peaceful the island was. With the donkeys seeking shelter in the shade and a clowder of cats bathing in the sun, one could not help but feel like time stood still here.

Hydra Island, Greece
Hydra Island, Greece

Inside our holiday cottage, a tasteful interior occupied the space. With a nautical theme throughout the house, the cobalt windows and shutters served as constant reminders of the deep blue water of the surrounding see. The house, undoubtedly homey, felt more like a visit to my favourite aunt’s house, then a holiday apartment thousands of miles from home.

Hydra Island, Greece
Hydra Island, Greece

The kitchen – my favourite room in the house – opens up onto a spacious balcony, perfect for sundowners and evening meals. The marvellous view of the mediterranean, dotted with yachts and colourful boats, provided hours of entertainment as we eagerly watched the annual Oxi Day regatta from a distance. The well equipped kitchen with its enviable gas stove and beautiful marble sink made it an absolute pleasure to cook in – something I don’t usually enjoy in a stranger’s kitchen.


I loved how the mismatched stone tiles (mimicking the colours of the surrounding island terrain) seamlessly tied the inside with outside areas. To the front of the house, a spacious veranda, sunny and bright in the morning sun, provided the perfect spot for a morning coffee or lengthy breakfasts. Down below, the garden was brimming with citrus, offering bright golden lemons, ripe for picking.


Thanks to its use of natural materials like raw stone and wood, the building has an unpretentious air, creating the perfect balance between elegance and modesty.

From here we enjoyed pleasant strolls along the coast line and a (steep) early morning hike up the mountain, to examine an Orthodox monastery – a silent and ancient watch to the harbour below.


Though not as endless as we had hoped for, our summer sanctuary delivered on all its other promises – comfort, taste and repose. We were all a little down cast at the thought of leaving, and subsequently agreed on a prompt return – another visit to this island retreat, with it’s crisp white cottage at the foot of the hill.


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Text & images © Barbara Cilliers

Holiday in Majorca

HOLIDAY IN MAJORCA

The name Majorca has passed my awareness several times, but for some reason I always associated it with images of drunk beach goers and partying teens so akin to the neighbouring Ibiza. But boy was I wrong. Soon this Spanish island would blow my socks off, both by it’s spectacular landscapes, and delicious food.

SA ROTA FINCA IN MAJORCA

Sa Rota finca in Majorca
Sa Rota finca in Majorca

Towards the end of April I desperately needed an escape from Berlin. It was a looooong winter. After a quick google flights search, I discovered very well priced flights to Majorca and booked it right away. But since I’m not much of a beach person I set upon a hopeful search for a farm stay, if there was such a thing…

Eventually I found Sa Rota, a farm in the middle of the island and set about my Spanish trip with great expectations.

Sa Rota finca in Majorca

FARM HOLIDAY IN MAJORCA
FARM HOLIDAY IN MAJORCA

The self catering unit we stayed in was perfectly equipped, complete with pebbled courtyard to enjoy home cooked breakfasts on sunny mornings, as well as a private deck with spectacular views over the valley and its breathtaking sunsets.

The interiors are unpretentious and stylishly decorated, with well chosen pieces that support the integrity of the old building. The shuttered windows and terracotta tiles are unmistakably Spanish while the bare stone walls add to the old age charm.

Sa Rota finca in Majorca

Sa Rota finca in Majorca
Sa Rota finca in Majorca

Wether your planning a romantic weekend or a week long stay, I can highly recommend Sa Rota. The peaceful atmosphere is perfect for lazy days like reading in a hammock or bathing in the pool. And should you wish to explore, the location makes it easy to get to every corner of the island in under 2 hours.

Sa Rota finca in Majorca

Sa Rota finca in Majorca
Sa Rota finca in Majorca

The warm welcome we received from the owners of this 18th century Spanish farmhouse, was surpassed only by the magnificent beauty of the place and it’s surrounds. Nestled against the hilltops, the finca offers everything you might wish from agritourism; from lemon trees bursting with fruit to bees buzzing around massive lavender bushes and the sound of cow bells and bleating sheep from the neighbouring farmlands.