To ease us into travelling mode, our first destination on our year-long escapade is a European one. It is the island of Icaria, which is located in the Northern Aegean region of Greece. This is named after the son of Daedalus who invented the labyrinth. According to Greek mythology, Icarus and Daedalus tried to escape Crete wearing wings made of feathers and wax. Icarus ignored his father's advice not to fly too close to the sun, the wax in his wings melted and he therefore fell to his death just off the island that now bears his name. The moral of the story is that hubris, or excessive self-confidence, ends in tragedy. Hopefully this is not symbolic of our trip?!
Icarus is a mountainous island, 255sq m in size that is now most famous for being one of the world's five Blue Zones - an area where people live "measurably longer better". It boasts the highest percentage of 90-year-olds on the planet, dementia is almost unheard of, and rates of both cancer and heart disease are much lower here than globally. Ever since reading an article about it last year, I've wanted to visit and whilst we don't intend to stay long enough to test this theory out on ourselves, we do plan to adopt the local lifestyle which is said to contribute to this effect: low stress, moderate physical activity, a healthy diet, a daily nap and regular doses of the local red wine!
Since we will be there for the month of September - harvest season in the northern hemisphere - I'm also hoping we might get to pick some grapes and even help out making the wine. I'm sure it will bear no resemblance at all to the last time I participated in this back-breaking work, in the vineyards and state-of-the-art cellars of Chateau Latour (the Premier Grand Cru Classe that is now part of the LVMH group) but it definitely comes under the "necessary research" entailed in being a touring wine specialist!
Our stay will be in the village of Nas at Thea's Inn. Here, guests can join in with the cooking, milk the goats to make local cheese and pick olives to make local olive oil. Given that no-one wears a watch or locks their doors, it will certainly be an initiation into the 'slow living' lifestyle. Whether this is a good thing just before our next stop of 6 weeks volunteering in an Indian school or not, remains to be seen!
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