My authentic greek experience with Live-Bio
I relocated to Hydra back in May this year when I fell in love with its charm and its donkeys. Having spent a glorious summer exploring and enjoying the island, I decided to get out and about this autumn and suss out what’s happening on the neighbouring islands of Poros and Spetses but en route via the Peloponnese mainland. This is where my discovering of Live-Bio commenced.
Live-Bio is a refreshing new concept and a fabulous place to stay. The founders and hosts, Magdalena from Poland and Periklis from Greece, are a dynamic duo. Multi-lingual, highly educated and well travelled, they have both studied and worked extensively abroad. Their paths crossed in South Africa and it is when travelling together for A Big Fat Greek Wedding in Galatas, that the stage for all that is Live-Bio, was set. Their website www.live-bio.net is creative, comprehensive and inspiring. It invites you to share their journey from business professionals into new entrepreneurship and take part in their alternative tourism options.
So what is the concept behind Live-Bio?
‘The Live-Bio concept is about engagement with others…we want people to come and feel they can talk to somebody who is local but who also knows what it is like to travel abroad. Someone who appreciates foreigners and has engaged with others in countries they have visited.’ Periklis explained. ‘We set up a business to make friends and I can’t think of anything that could be more rewarding.’
Live-Bio is a forward thinking work in progress welcoming like-minded people to enjoy, explore and engage in life enhancing experiences. To share in knowledge, ideas, eat healthily and create a better life balance, in a natural environment. It is a place where through experience and interaction you can enjoy Greece but also share your own culture. It embraces diversity and invites you to: ‘ live closer with nature, energise, be active, travel, learn, explore, create and innovate in a collaborative environment and engage with art and nature.’ It truly is an authentic greek experience right there.
Where is Live-Bio?
Set deep in a valley of olive groves in the Troizinia region of the North East Peloponnese, in a natural, rural setting, Live-Bio overlooks the islands of Poros, Bourdzi and Modi. It is just over 1km away from a tranquil town of Galatas, which has all local amenities and a regular ferry service across the 200m stretch of the Aegean to Poros. Friendly sea taxis operate 24/7 and trips back and forth cost €1 each way.It is an hour by ferry from the Port of Piraeus and 2 and a half hours drive from Athens International Airport. For me, it is as picturesque as any Greek Island but has all the perks of mainland resources, prices and accessibility.
The popular touristy Argo-Saronic islands, Poros, Hydra and Spetses, each have their individual charm and uniqueness. Hellenic Seaways provide Flying Dolphins and Cats from Piraeus which access all three islands regularly making Live-Bio the perfect base for island hopping, relaxing and exploring the Peloponnese.
The apartments are immaculately clean and fresh and spacious inside but it is the little touches that instantly make you feel at home. The kitchen is fully equipped with pretty crockery and a full set of utensils, condiments and everything you need from washing liquid and toiletries, to homemade olive oil to sample. There is bottled water in the fridge and there are mossie plugs in the wall so there is no sense of having to dash out to buy the essentials. Linen is provided including beach towels. There’s a power shower, washing machine, fridge, freezer, a wood burning stove or fire-place and comfortable sofas where you can chill out and watch a full range of movies, all provided digitally on a large plasma screen. Periklis is in the process of setting up a sound system and music library that can be accessed digitally too. A rich and varied bookshelf provides something for everyone, along with reliable wifi, a comfortable work station and a spacious dining area.
As Magdalena explains: ‘having travelled so extensively ourselves, we have very high expectations of what we would like to see if we were choosing accommodation when visiting a new location.’ This is reflected both inside and outside. Much pre-thought has been given in the renovation of these buildings where guests experience a true concept of space, comfort and tranquility. The overlying feature of the apartments is that they each have huge glass doors opening onto spacious, private verandas with sensational views of Poros and the neighbouring islands. The guests I spoke to and those in recent podcasts consistently claim their balcony time and waking up to the views was one of the highlights of their stay.
I resonated with this immediately. On my first night I was blown away with my view of the night sky which, in the absence of light pollution, was splendid and looking out at the morning sunrise was pretty spectacular too. You can unwind and hang as you grow here. Sitting high up in a valley of olive groves you think you are a million miles away from the hustle and bustle. However, you are only minutes away from all the local amenities in the picturesque port of Galatas and there are beautiful beaches on your doorstep. I sat on my balcony sipping cappuccino for an hour my first morning, enjoying the magical music of nature, the chorus of birdsong, crickets and distant cockerels. I could have sat there all day were it not for the fact there were so many exciting and enjoyable things to do.
What can you do at Live-Bio?
You can do as much or as little as you like on your own timescale. You can socialise when you want to and relax at your leisure. In the comprehensive brochures provided in the apartments and on their extensive user friendly web site, there are details of places to visit and activities available. Both are focused on the local area and community, they are environmentally friendly and in tune with Live-Bio concept. The list is by no way exhaustive and Magdalena and Periklis are really receptive to new ideas. They stress the suggestions they offer are an ‘indication of personal interest’ and encourage you to explore in your own way. Their expansive and up to date use of social media allows guests to share their experiences and advise others on routes and adventures that they have enjoyed.
Any practicalities of getting from A to B are smoothed over with concise maps and guides. The hosts will readily help you on your way either by accompanying you or dropping you off and helping you hire transport if you want to explore on your own. There are so many inexpensive practical ways to hop from island to island. Live-Bio is not looking to make a quick buck out of you and this feeling transcends all aspects of their hospitality. They make no commission but they recommend local restaurants, coffee shops, tavernas, bakeries etc. which offer their own good quality produce and have friendly service on Poros, in Galatas and further afield on the Peloponnese.
Periklis’ point about setting up an environment to make new friends clearly works. You have your own space (he is currently building a communal terrace ) and there is a non commercial, non touristy feel about the place; just an invitation to take time out, soak up the surroundings, restock and share in meaningful experiences in good company and in beautiful places. Both hosts are keen and highly skilled photographers and are happy to share in your adventures and create memories by recording precious moments and sharing them with you on their regular blogs which allow everyone to stay in touch.
All appropriate links, directions and suggestions as to how to combine trips with pit stops on sandy beaches and secluded bays or explore local craftsmanship and shops en-route to maximise your enjoyment are provided. They point you in the direction of like-minded people and highlight places they themselves enjoy such as La Frianderie, a fair trading coffee shop just down the road, or the flour millers and cheese makers and bread making bakeries in the Aderes mountains on Poros. They have established very positive links with the locals.
The hosts are just as happy taking you to wine and dine in a traditional taverna as they are to throw a dinner party or whizz you down to the local supermarket, or better still the local farmer’s market where you can purchase everything cheaply and fresh and prepare nutritious and healthy meals yourself. The regions of Argolida Troizinia & Poros island grow olives, all sorts of vegetables and have local cheese, bread, wine and honey to sample.There is also plenty of opportunity to collect whatever nature has to offer in accordance with the season, so right now olives, figs, and chestnuts are in abundance and winter oranges are just ripening, hence the freshly squeezed orange juice passed from one balcony to another on my first morning. Fresh fish can be bought straight from the fishermen’s boats in Poros.
Cooking classes at Odyssey Cooking Centre are run by Katerina Sakelliou, a warm ’ larger than life’ lady who shares the Live-Bio concept and is happy to collaborate with her neighbours. She too is very well travelled having attended cookery courses worldwide. She offers a seven hour cooking class which involves collecting, preparing and cooking local ingredients and learning new skills. Alternatively you can go for a range of nutritious meals in her lively taverna.
We were invited over there on my second night and were welcomed with open arms and shared possibly the best orange pie in existence. A group of Dutch ladies were enjoying homemade wine and meze around a bonfire after a hard day in the olive groves and an English couple I met told me they had come to Katerina’s for the last 8 years to pick olives. Katerina explained they were all off to the olive press the next day where her guests could collect their own oil to take back home with them, stressing the importance she apportioned to her guests being able to participate fully and see the whole process through.
Ergani Weaving Workshop is another place on the doorstep. It is run by Eleni Pavlou, another dynamic lady who has pursued her dream expanding her knowledge through creativity and sharing her skills with others. A forward thinking eco-weaving project is in full operation, enjoyed by children and adults alike. You can visit and buy unique souvenirs or participate in a range of workshops and create your own.
Magdalena like myself, is a self taught yoga enthusiast who embraces the idea of offering yoga retreats with visiting yoga masters. We were lucky enough to have Israeli guest, Sasha, to lead us through an energising and revitalising practice on the pier at Aliki Beach (a five minute drive away) in the morning sunshine. Stepping into warrior poses and focusing on flying fish while breathing in fresh sea salt from the tranquil azure of the Aegean was an experience I shall cherish forever.
Periklis is an experienced UK Royal Yachting Association off shore Yachts master and has a beautiful boat ‘Naziara’ in which he is happy to take you around Poros and the SE Peloponnesian coastline to visit sheltered bays, secluded and remote beaches, some of which are only accessible by boat. Here you can swim, snorkel, or just relax and soak in the views. He offers full day trips to neighbouring island Hydra and will provide induction courses where you can have a go at sailing yourself. He is happy to share his knowledge of affiliated courses in your home region and point you in the direction of other Yacht Masters should you get the bug and want to pursue your training at home.
Cycling, Walking, Hiking
There are cycles available and many beautiful places to combine walking and hiking. It is not surprising that guests this year have included students who have opted for internships in this setting, along with writers with books to complete, as it is the perfect haven in which to take time out for study or creative projects in between energising and inspirational activities.
Day trips in the vicinity of Live-Bio
Methana peninsula is a 30 min drive away where you can bathe in the therapeutic hot springs rich in volcanic sulphur reputed to have natural healing powers. There are beautiful secluded beaches nearby for, swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing.
Wine tasting at Nemea which hosts some of the oldest vineyards in Greece and in the world, is another option.
Nafplion and Epidavros theatre
Nafplion, the ancient original Greek capital, is an hour and a half away. Visiting the old town and its many craft shops is a trip that can be combined with a short drive to Epidavros, an Ancient theatre, one of two UNESCO historical sites in this region of the Peloponnese.
Mycenae, Monemvasia, Olympia
I had no idea the Peloponnese was so exciting. The hosts have highlighted places of interest on the mainland including:- Mycenae , the other UNESCO archeological heritage centre, the medieval town of Monemvasia and Olympia where the Olympic games were conceived. They promote Geo –Tourism and will assist you if you are feeling adventurous and want to explore further afield on your own.
Summary of my Live-Bio experience
I had the best time there. For all it was only for 2 nights, it ticked all the boxes for me: living closer with nature, energising and being active through swimming and yoga, travelling to the natural spas and secluded beaches in Methana and visiting the sleepy fishing village of Vathi. Learning about and exploring the Peloponnese mainland and Poros, being creative and innovative in a collaborative environment including teaching basic reflexology skills on the beach and throwing ideas around for yoga seminars and training. As for making friends, my first night was spent in the company of the inspirational hosts and their sociable and ultra-enthused guests from Israel and Canada. Over a meze of homemade dishes in a friendly local taverna, we learned of each others’ backgrounds, interests and shared our events of the day. The Israelis had had a fantastic day exploring Poros on a quadbike. The Canadians were excitingly planning their trip to Hydra the following day. We talked about travel, culture, politics, religion, hopes and dreams and such was the warmth and banter of the evening it made perfect sense to hand my door keys to my new friends from Montreal so they could stay in my house in Komini Bay in Hydra, while I stayed with Live-Bio for an extra day.
I really look forward to catching up with Magdalena and Periklis again soon. They have achieved so much in their first year and I envisage a very bright, fun-packed future for them.