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Shelley Kenigsberg

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Anna Kwiecinska

 26 August - 3 September 2024

Island of Hydra      2 places left

A couple of hours from Athens’ port of Piraeus, Hydra's magnetic beauty floats serenely between the Saronic and Argolic gulfs offering a view of the intensely lit landscape from its glittering bay.

    "the stuff of fairy tales …” said Jackie Kennedy.

Hydra has a beauty beyond its port. And no cars, no large hotels, little touristic infrastructure and charm and beauty unlike any other. In this field of artistry will be Writing by the Sea in Greece.

Hydra, has enchanted scores of artists, over decades, who’ve stayed to create a magnificent trove of novels, poetry, memoirs, paintings, songs. The quality of light and stillness is intoxicating. In the 1930s, modernist painters, Marc Chagall and Picasso lived on Hydra. Nobel Prize-winning writer, George Seferis was there.

We’ll be soaking up the deep and rich vein of art that is legendary Hydra. In 1939, Henry Miller wrote, in his travelogue, The Colossus of Maroussi:

“Hydra is a very special rock, centered as a pause in the musical score of creation by an expert calligrapher. … those divine pauses which permit the musician, when he resumes the melody, to go forth in a totally new direction.”


In the late 1930s, Nick Ghikas, renowned Greek painter invited Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell and others to Hydra. In the 50s and 60s, Australian literary trailblazer couple George Johnston and Charmian Clift arrived, entranced by Ghikas’ paintings of his ancestral island.

Allen Ginsberg, Peter Finch, Sidney and Cynthia Nolan and many more gravitated to the sublime blue sea, the wide skies, the peace. When Leonard Cohen arrived in 1960, home lighting was kerosene lamps. His 'Bird on a Wire' celebrates the day electrical wires first appeared.

In recent decades, authors Jeannette Winterson, Anne Michaels, Tim Winton, Paul Genoni, Tanya Dalziell have been inspired by Hydra.

Our daily writing sessions, include reviewing a range of such significant books and finding the nuggets in their artistry. With Shelley’s guidance, you’ll soon be crafting your stories with the same evocative writing. When we notice, understand the skilfulness and appreciate what other imaginative writers have created, something wonderful can begin. Every day, you’ll be creating your own stories that sing.

Join us to bring your creation onto the page.

The Background

Anna lived here for two years and will be our guide to Hydra, nearby Ermioni and this enchanted corner of the beautiful Saronic Gulf. With any luck she'll be able to tempt Don from his hideaway -  Don is just one of the many characters who have made this incredible island their home, the man who possibly offered Anna the useful advice: "just look on the ground ... you can usually find most things you need there"; indeed, the same man who has penned some 200 books since he first arrived 50-odd years ago .... 

Anna met Shelley at the Jaipur Literary Festival about ten years ago. they finally managed to get it together to hold a creative Living Retreat in Bali 2023, and now Hydra heralds a whole new vista for Writing by the Sea.


What’s the program

We’ll be carrying on the fine tradition of writing on Hydra. Each day, we’ll look at the craft underlying the writing in a range of pieces (in different genres). We’ll use these insights and tips and ‘Ahas’ for our own writing.


Consider the thrill of really ‘getting’ how a beautiful piece of writing works and how we can use/adopt/reshape those techniques in our own writing. The more we investigate ‘what’ we read and ‘how’ we read, the more comfortable we’ll feel to create.


With Shelley’s guidance, you’ll find the same evocative writing in your own hands. On your pages you’ll place new images, sentences; compelling characters can arrive… and there, a the thrill of a line you’ve made and love.


The wealth in a beautiful story lies in fine sentences, beguiling images, compelling placement (should I go on?) We’ll gather those every day’. Each day’s writing sessions will begin with considering a literary gem (covering different genres) already been penned on the island. Then… we’ll open our pages and start to make stories.

Come; let your imaginings of how to make stories, write and dream allow your creation onto the page.


 “Coming here is a blessing if you can stay and work.

   You really benefit from slowing down here”

Lawrence Durrell, author, writing on Hydra

What's included in the program?


This unique retreat includes:

  • 33-hours of daytime workshop time with Shelley

  • occasional evening reading salons

  • Flying Dolphin hydroflight boat ticket Piraeus to Hydra

  • Your choice of accommodation  for 8 nights -

  • Breakfast for 8 days

  • Welcome dinner on Hydra

  • a boat trip to Ermioni to work by the sea and swim

  • Visits to historic villas on Hydra

  • Lunch at Mandraki Bay 

  • Farewell dinner on Hydra

  • Full Day Tour with boat and coach and all entrances, to the UNESCO sites of:

  • Epidauros and Mycenae

  • Farewell dinner on Hydra

You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them, and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. that is your role. Your gift.

Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

Creative Living Retreats by Anna Kwiecinska

With a background as an art historian and art gallery owner, my collaboration with artists continues to be a fascinating career which evolved into specialist art retreats designed to combine seriously good art tuition with authentic cultural experiences.

The practice of yoga has underpinned Creative Living Retreats, as a source of focus for creative inspiration  so whether you join us as a novice or a yogi, each day presents a new yoga journey with our intuitive teachers to Live Creatively.

As an avid attendee of creative writing retreats, this collaboration with Shelley Kenigsberg is an especially exciting one!

Over a decade, many retreatants have returned for our thoughtfully curated weeks of supported creativity, and I genuinely look forward to welcoming you to experience the depth of wellbeing for which Creative Living Retreats have become known. More info


Ok, so here's what you lucky people going on this writing retreat need to know

Shelley is great! She "grows" you as a writer. By showing. She makes your work 

shine, she encourages you to break through your reserves, she helps you to be

the writer you hoped you would be,

I quite simply, cannot speak highly enough of Shelley.

Cathy Pete, Australia, 2023

Who will this retreat suit?

It's for:

  • people who write or know they want to write.

  • writers seeking inspiration, possibilities and constructive advice

  • writers ready to find their project.

  • people who know they want to write and have inklings of a story.

  • readers who just know they want to write.

  • and anyone who is fascinated by 20th century literature, its stylistic development 

  • and finally - those of you who would love to discover Hydra's allure through its literature and the lives of those of  wrote here.

Retreat dates & extra nights

  • STARTS on ARRIVAL DAY (DAY 1) You will be met at PIRAEUS PORT (Port of Athens). We will all travel to Hydra together.

  • The Retreat STARTS with the fast hydroflight boat to Hydra. This evening we dine together - our 'Welcome Dinner'

  • ENDS after breakfast on DEPARTURE DAY (DAY 9). There is no program today and checkout time is 12 from your hotel

What's not included
  • airfare and travel before you reach the port of Piraeus

  • travel insurance

  • personal expenses 

  • 6 lunches and 6 dinners

  • return Flying Dolphin Ticket 

Costs and accommodation

You have your very own room on this retreat, in a choice of beautiful hotels hand-picked by Anna - check them out HERE


extra nights may be available - enquire with Anna - please mention this on your booking form.



If you have a dream of writing a novel , a memoir, a poem ... take the time to gift yourself this retreat. You'll leave with new friends, sharpened tools, bright eyes, open heart, a notepad of writing and most importantly, you'll remember the pure joy of why you turn up to the page in the first place.

Amy Davoren, novelist, Sydney, Australia


In the three weeks since the retreat I've been writing  on average  1000 words a day  Writing in Paradise

gave me the confidence to get writing.

Quade Herman, non-fiction writer, Geneva, Switzerland


For anyone looking to be inspired again, to feel invigorated about their project, even if they don't have a project, if they want to find some sort of direction and be nurtured and encouraged in the process, as well as learn how to write well, this is perfect for you.

Sandy Fairthorne, playwright, Adelaide, Australia

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