If you follow me over on instagram you’ll have seen that the back half of last week I spent out in Sunny Spain at a truly beautiful retreat. La Crisalida retreats is a small villa complex located on the sunny Costa Blanca in Spain, just north from Alicante, in a small seaside town called Albir. Its quiet, its quaint, its just lovely!
I arrived last Wednesday and stayed through to Saturday evening (only a short stay, but as it was my first trip alone, I didn’t want to book anything overly lengthy).
The retreat very kindly arrange airport transfers so after a 2 hour flight and an hour transfer I finally arrived just after dinner. Firstly, the staff are AMAZING there! seriously, polite, friendly, nothing is too much trouble and they saved me some dinner after my long journey, so after a quick tour I was happily tucking into a big plate of their vegan cuisine.
First impressions of the place and I had honestly expected it to be much smaller, its two large traditional white Spanish villa type buildings with two pools, large lush tropical plant filled gardens, activity room, beauty treatment room and of course the roof top yoga terrace with the most. stunning views over Albir.
Food wise. If you’ve seen my insta stories – you’ll know I was very hit n’ miss with it. It was delicious don’t get me wrong, I had vegan ratatouille as a side on my lunch of the days that was SO nice! I could have happily just eaten that the entire trip. However everything else was just a little meh for my tastes.
I’m just not a huge grains and veg as an entire meal lover, I love meat, I love dairy, I love all the bad carbs. So I just didn’t feel wholly satisfied. But there’s a supermarket a 2 minute walk away (along with plenty of restaurants), so I was never short of having anywhere to grab a bite. – If you do happen to go to La Cris, try the freshly made Tortilla Espanola served at the deli counter in the corner supermarket. seriously. SO GOOD!
Though I didn’t get on with the food much, the juices however where AMAZING! I’m such a huge juice lover anyway, such a simple way to pack nutrients in! And I really wasn’t disappointed with the huge array served to us daily.
The retreat is all inclusive, so you get all your meals, juices, fruit snacks, water and herbal teas supplied which is lovely!
On arrival I was handed the schedule for the week, each week has a new one and mine had loads going on, starting each morning with 7am meditation and finishing usually around 9.30pm with another activity.
Other activities included yoga, something called rebounding that is on a mini trampoline and was so much fun! We had lots of hikes on the agenda, (which absolutely turned out to be the highlight of my entire trip! the dusk trip up Serra Gelada Natural Park was amazing!
There was lots of workshops for mindfulness, expressive writing, juice demos, cooking workshops. And more exercise classes like water aerobics, Latinisize, core. You get the picture, always loads. going on and a bit of something for everyone.
I had no intention of doing it all though, I was on this trip to relax and enjoy the peace as much as I was there for some exercise. I’d balance out busy mornings with long lazy afternoons enjoying a book on a sun lounger basking in the beautiful weather – and vice versa.
On the third morning after meditation we headed out on a walk through town to the beach and then down the coastline for a couple of hours, I regret hugely not spending more time at the beach. – my last day I vowed to spend the entire afternoon their in-between morning yoga and when my transfer to the airport was leaving. And it really was the absolute best way to end my trip.
I planned to just recreate the morning beach walk I’d done with the retreat gang, but instead I just carried on going, 15,000 steps I ended up doing along that coastline! before stopping off for a much needed (detox/retreat unfriendly) Mojito and large. sizzling bowl of garlic/chilli king prawns with crusty baguette. YUM!
The beaches themselves are majority pebble, but further up the coast it has a few more soft. sandy areas.
Its no secret I was absolutely terrified about travelling alone for the very first time, turns out I really didn’t have to be! Google maps is a wonderful app, so getting lost was near impossible!
One thing I came away with from this trip (as well as a lovely tan) was a real sense of pride at just jumping in and doing it. Yes its a bit nerve wracking being so far from home on your own, yes its odd at times when you want to turn and chat about something you’ve done/seen, but in its place you get actual real life peace! No compromise at all with what you do with your time and the most liberating sense of freedom!
If I were to go back, I would definitely do a couple of things a little differently. I’d ignore my reservations about exploring the area and just get out there straight from my arrival, I’d also do the intermediate yoga – seen as that’s my level now it seems! How’d I manage that?!
I’d definitely switch all my meal options to the juices too and instead just organise my own meals. I’d book my massage as soon as I arrived, all the time slots just got booked up too quickly! I was really looking forward to one.
Also, I’d not be a wimp about asking people to take photos of me. I’m not actually in a single one!
Overall La Crisalida was the most perfect place to start my lone traveling adventures. I loved the activities pre-set out for us, loved that I could do as much or as little as I wanted and really loved the overall calmness of the retreat.
Unfortunately though I found the fact that pretty much everyone seemed to be there to detox a little uncomfortable at times. It is all very optional yet feeling like the only one that isn’t there for weightloss put a bit of a damper on things at moments – like eating my (shop bought chicken wings) in the back gardens because I felt truly uncomfortable eating it in front of people that had consumed nothing but juice and grains for days on end. This isn’t a La Crisalida problem, they cater to everyone and state multiple times that it is all optional – Maybe coming pre-summer when people are trying to lose that extra bit of chub wasn’t the best time?
Also for a place that had a lot of people wanting to “detox” (lose weight) I found the classes sometimes to be a little too soft. I like to think I’m a fairly active person and with the exception of the evening national park hike and the last intermediate yoga, everything else was a little too beginner for me.
My general experience was all very positive though, everyone else that was at the retreat when I was, really put me at ease, I wasn’t the only lone traveller and honestly people went out of their way to ask you about yourself and help you feel included. As someone who isn’t always the best socially, it really was so appreciated!
One of my favourite things about this place was how safe it made me feel, from its location in a quiet (seemingly wealthy-ish) residential area, the knowledgable staff taking us out on our adventures and the fact that really if you didn’t feel comfortable heading out on your own (though I highly recommend going for a wander on your own!) there was always someone around who would probably want to head out with you. Not once did I feel at all unsafe in La Crisalida, or even whilst on my own out wandering through Albir. And that’s exactly what you want to be feeling when out in a foreign country on your own, isn’t it?
So. Thats it! My lone adventures are over. And it absolutely is something I’m going to be doing again (I’m thinking of making it a yearly thing). Travelling on your own is something I would recommend everyone try, I know its not always as easy as signing out of work for a few days, handing over the kids and jetting off. But actually, sometimes it is. Be ballsy, have that crazy five minutes where you put a deposit down to book a couple of days just for you, book it, deal with everything else afterwards. Honestly I promise wholeheartedly you won’t come back regretting a second of it!