Exploration, Wellness, and Unforgettable Beauty

Greece’s mountainous and varied terrain make it a hiker’s paradise, especially in the milder climate of Spring and Autumn. For those wanting to explore Greece’s lesser-known corners, Nefeli Nine offers a balanced wellbeing retreat focused on exploration, wellness and good food.

Nefeli Nine founder and hostess Stephanie Contomichalis grew up in the U.K and, after spending some time in her ancestral homeland of Greece, she became so connected to the land that it became her mission to help others connect with Greece’s nature and culture, while also taking some time to connect with their inner selves. And so, the Nefeli Nine signature week-long retreat was born.

Retreat activities

Imagine waking up in the serene surroundings of a Greek village, in the comfort of your own luxurious room, and starting the day with an invigorating yoga session led by a qualified yoga trainer. After the chorus of “namaste”, a nutritious breakfast is served to fuel you for a day of adventure.  

Next, it’s out for a hike to explore the rugged, natural beauty of Greece. Hikes are moderate in difficulty and can run from 1-4 hours in length, depending on the day and the location. Whether it’s a mountain, a forest, or even a gorge, your expert hiking guide will take you on an unforgettable journey, while telling you all about the history and local flora and fauna of the area. You might even be rewarded at the end with a swim in a secret beach or waterfall accessed only on foot. 

After lunch, the afternoon portion of the day usually includes a stroll through the nearby town, evening yoga or a scheduled massage, followed by dinner and free time.


Nefeli Nine Retreats follows the Blue Zones diet, associated with the island of Ikaria and other Blue Zones known for the longevity of their inhabitants. Unlike the strict detox diets that some retreats offer, the food here is plentiful. Breakfast is designed to fuel you for your day of adventure. What’s more perfect after a morning of hiking than a hearty lunch at a taverna by the sea serving the freshest seafood? The week usually involves 2-3 meals out at the best local eateries. Dinner is served up family-style, for people to connect over food and reflect on the day over good food and a glass of wine. From the moment you arrive to the day you depart, all meals are taken care of, and dietary requirements are accounted for.

Ideal for

Nefeli Nine retreats are usually limited to 6-8 people per retreat and are ideal for solo travellers who are passionate about wellness and exploring the lesser-known corners of Greece. Aside from solo travellers, the retreat is also a great option for smaller groups of friends or family members. Interested in a retreat for a larger group or even a corporate group? Don’t hesitate to reach out for a customised program that you can build together with the Nefeli Nine team. Although it’s not a requirement, having some experience in hiking will help you get the most enjoyment out of the activities. 

What else can you expect?

  • All activities are optional. So, if you feel like staying in and enjoying your book one day, you’re free to do as you please. It’s your vacation, after all!
  • Destinations vary throughout the year. The one constant is that accommodation is beautiful, extremely comfortable and guests always have their own room. 
  • From beginning to end, once you book your spot with Nefeli Nine, all details are painstakingly seen-to by the team, so that you don’t need to organise a single thing. 

To find out more, visit nefelinine.com

This article was written by an IN+SIGHTS GREECE writer who was invited to experience the Nefeli Nine retreat first-hand.

Grizo & Prasino: Organic Tea Experts

Grizo & Prasino is a family, all-things-tea-related business run by husband and wife Kostas and Aggeliki, from their botanical farm in Thrace. The seed for this idea was planted almost a decade ago and the couple took its first steps towards making it happen right after their wedding day! We recently had a chat with the duo to discover their story.

Tell me more about yourself and your company Grizo & Prasino!

In 2012, Kostas and I got married and we spent the money that our family and friends gave us for the wedding to buy the equipment for our first business (similar to Grizo & Prasino) called ‘Drogi Biological Herbs’.

As an agriculture engineer, Kostas had a personal interest in herbs and aromatic plants since 2008- I have vivid memories of his enthusiasm each time he would taste a new herb. I also had a bee in my bonnet for their medicinal properties and read every book under the sun about them. At the same time, we run our separate businesses, I, as a lawyer and Kostas, as an Organic Farming consultant. It was these jobs that would fuel the bank and allow us to make our hobby happen and turn it into a business. In 2016, things changed with the arrival of our baby. Our time was limited so we decided to turn into business coaching to get more information about running a business and how this hobby of ours could potentially turn into our full-time income source.

In 2017, after a serious health issue, I decided to leave my career in law and so Grizo & Prasino was born at the end of the same year. Since then many things have changed – the way we work, the time we dedicated to the farm, and even our original goals! We grow as our business grows and we learn from our mistakes. Thankfully we make plenty of them!

How did it feel when you had your first sale?

I cannot remember much about our first sale however what I do remember is that by the time our website went live in December 2017, we were exhausted! We had spent so much time building our branding strategy, setting up the website and clearly communicating who we are, our vision and values; that when we started receiving positive feedback from our friends and loved ones we felt pride, happiness and an impatience to see where this would lead us.

Where in Rodopi do you go foraging?

Wild foraging at a commercial level could be harmful to nature so we have our own farm where we cultivate the herbs we use. We steer away from practices that would potentially damage the environment and our customers. Take as an example the case of Malotira in Crete, the famous Cretan tea that is nearly extinct due to over-foraging. Then, there is always the matter of quality consistency. With wild foraging you cannot control certain parameters such as the rainfall and the conditions of the top and sub-soil, that affect the taste, flavour and therapeutical properties of the herbs.

What do you love more about this job?

We both followed our dream, quit our day jobs and turned our hobby into our business, working every day on something that we both love. It wasn’t an easy task but our love for botanology and herbs gives us the strength to keep going. There is an innumerable number of products that could be based on herbs and I am not even sure if one life is enough to learn all about them and apply them to our products. Grizo & Prasino allows us to be creative, to constantly think of new ideas and make them happen. It is also a job that brings us closer to nature as we spend plenty of time on the farm. But beyond everything else, it is a job that allows us to produce commodities that helps others and makes their life better. We don’t just sell stuff, we believe in their magic, too!

How has your life changed since Grizo and Prasino?

I am not going to bore you with the details but, as I mentioned, I used to be a lawyer so you could say that life has changed massively ever since. I no longer chase deadlines nor do I have to support cases I am not agreeing with. I am not visiting the farm as frequently as Kostas does but when I do it does me good and I it lifts my spirit. As for Kostas, even though he is an agriculture engineer and working as a consultant for all those years, he too found himself getting out of the office more than he used to. If you knew Kostas in real life, you would see that the outdoors suit him more than the office. He loves agroecology and trying new practices for our farm. Some of those practices look outdated but they are far from it! He is always on the hunt for new practices and techniques that are applied on other farms in Greece and abroad. It is a very creative process and come to think of it, creating a farm is like painting on a larger scale, isn’t it?

What are your top places around Komotini to reconnect with nature?

We love the little village of Pandroso and the beach of Molyvoti (also known as Kursumlu). Those are the first places that come to mind when we need to get some fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors. Rodopi is full of interesting places to visit and it is truly amazing how there are still so many pristine and unspoiled spots to explore.

Last but not least, what are your favourite Grizo and Prasino tea flavours and
which flavour one must definitely try?

My preferences vary with the change of seasons. Around this time of the year, I like to drink the “exhale” (sage, pergamot and juniper root), but before that, I frantically drank “mantarili” (mandarin, honeysuckle and chamomile). However, the flavour that I love and keep going back to again and again is the “xana & xana” (rosemary, althaea and louiza) with no sugar, please. Kostas’s favourite is the “orange tzitzimenta” (mint, ginger and orange) and he believes it’s the best of our creations! I guess he is a mint kind of guy as he also likes “pu & pu” (mint, sage and calendula) no sugar for him either.

Images by Anna Paraskevidou- art traces ©


Yanna Darilis – A Multifaceted Force in Greek-American Media

Ever since she started working, Yanna Darilis has dynamically applied herself to numerous exciting and impactful projects at once – from building a prolific presence when presenting on Greek TV and lecturing at University to modelling for top designers.

She also developed a passion and eventually an academic interest in health and wellness, which led her to writing, coaching, product development, and media production. Darilis is a bright, dynamo force who is constantly evolving in paths that inspire her – and those around her – such as wellbeing and Hellenism. Based in New York but regularly visiting Greece, where she worked for over 20 years, she is someone we definitely wanted to catch up with and interview!

How would you describe who you are today, in a nutshell? 

Insights Greece - Yanna Darilis – A Multifaceted Force in Greek-American Media
Greek-American Yanna Darilis

I am a television producer, director, and on-camera talent, specializing in lifestyle, travel, fitness, fashion, holistic health, and wellness topics. I am proud of my Hellenic roots and heritage, thus dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Hellenism through content creation, film & media. Above all, my mission is to help raise awareness about and reverse issues that plague our planet and society and I have been proudly doing that with various panel discussions at the United Nations through the UNSRC Salus Club.

Tell us a little about your experience of working in Greece.

My 25+ years of experience in the Health, Fitness, Wellness, Media, Beauty, and Fashion industries, was very extensive. It was an exciting experience and a very hectic and busy time of my life. I truly don’t know where the years went! I had just turned 24 years old when I arrived in Athens to work and looking back, I feel like it was yesterday! 

The ‘90s was a spectacular time to be working in Greece. It was glorious, and media and fashion were exploding. I feel blessed to have worked as an on-camera talent for the major Greek television channels as a TV host, and as a brand ambassador for many companies, as well as having walked the runway for the very talented Greek and International designers. I truly enjoyed being a public speaker, and I was honored to have been chosen as one of the Master of Ceremonies for the Athens Olympic Games- Opening and Closing ceremonies. I also thoroughly enjoyed teaching future journalists and creating new ideas and programmes as the Associate Director for the Film & Media studies at New York College- State University of New York affiliate in Athens. 

Meanwhile, I was blessed to have hosted the first English language show that aired worldwide, on ERT World. I was so happy you also worked with us on the production of “Hellenic Weekly”, Alexia. Good Times! The whole team and what we created was so amazing!

In hindsight, I can confess that although living and working in Greece was beyond a wonderful experience, as an American of Greek descent, I did struggle with the language, and with a different mindset. I also did not have support or many friends at the time to help guide me, and thus learned along the way. As a young adult fresh out of college and as a former educator, the media industry was a totally different space- and environment, which took time to get used to. Eager to learn, I worked hard, greatly appreciated all the amazing opportunities offered to me, and enjoyed my job so much that I decided to go back to college for a second degree in Film & Television. This degree helped me tremendously in my future endeavors. 

Since returning to the US 17 years ago you have set up a TV company focused on Greece. Please tell us more about that.

Insights Greece - Yanna Darilis – A Multifaceted Force in Greek-American Media
Yanna in NYC

I like to say that I was very lucky, and at the right place at the right time. The first and only Omogeniako Television channel of the diaspora – NGTV, based in New York, was announced for sale. A group of Greek American businessmen and leaders in the Greek American community got together and decided to save and continue the legacy, and I was part of the effort. We ended up acquiring NGTV- rebranding it to New Greek Television, and until this day is working hard to promote and preserve Hellenism and the Greek language through our channel, focusing on the Omogenia.

Over the years you have been highly centered on holistic wellness and Original Medicine, on which you’re currently pursuing a Ph.D. What draws you to this area?

Returning to the US, I was hired to help develop the first luxury Gym for Long Island City in New York. During my time as the General Manager and Personal training manager, I noticed the widespread weight issues that most clients were facing, which led me to get back to my post-graduate studies, and I felt it was necessary to continue this path in Nutrition and Wellness. I have always followed the teachings of Greece’s ancient sage Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. This led to my Certification in Integrative Nutrition and one in Lifestyle Medicine, specializing in Plant-Based Diets. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Original Medicine, which concentrated on healing through Natural methods.

You are currently developing a wellness TV show that will showcase the rise of problems related to chronic illnesses around the world, including the rise in child obesity, autism, ADD ADHD, etc. Can you please tell us more about this? 

I am working with a great group of people and a veteran producer and director on developing this show. It will bring valuable information to the public about health and wellness, sustainability, and what our role and responsibility is in making a difference with each other and our planet.

You are also writing a book on Health and Wellness. What is the book’s main perspective? Who is it addressing? 

My new book is about the prevention and maintenance of health and well-being. It encompasses all you need to know about health and tips on lifestyle changes that will help you stay healthy!

Insights Greece - Yanna Darilis – A Multifaceted Force in Greek-American Media
Yanna in her beloved Greece

Throughout your career, you have found interesting ways to promote Greece and educate viewers about its rich culture, history, and natural glory. What are you doing in that direction right now? 

I have been part of various productions on Travel and culinary shows, “Mediterranean Blu” aired on PBS in the States and OTE History in Greece. I have also filmed a series named Destination Greece which aired on New Greek Television, and I am working on a new show as we speak.

What are your favourite Greek:

Destinations: Sounio, Patmos, Kos, Milos, Messinia, Ithaca, Zagorochoria, and many, many more! 

Healing places: I love Costa Navarino, in Messinia,  Aqua Blu in Kos, and actually you can create a “ Healing Experience” anywhere you go as long as you incorporate or create peaceful beautiful surroundings- environment, so you can enjoy sleep, self-care, exercise, healthy nutrition, meditation practices- silence, good positive company, swimming, and sun!

Foods / Restaurants: too many to name! Overall I prefer mostly, organic and vegetarian. 

Urban areas/places: All of Athens is great. I love Kifissia, Plaka, and Sounio!