Exotic location, intriguing history, successful authors, experienced writing guides, warm weather, enticing soft-sand beaches …such are some of the many reasons for you to attend the first-ever, week-long ‘Black Sea Writing Retreat’ beginning Monday, May 28st 2018 (registration details).
Not to mention special classes in the art of travel, food and entertainment writing by Sean Hillen, an experienced international correspondent and author who has worked over the last 30 years for such notable publications as Time magazine (New York), The Irish Times (Dublin) and The Times and Daily Telegraph (London).
Following the successes of the annual ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ along the famous ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ in Donegal over the last five years and inspired by common Celtic roots, organizers have chosen one of the least well-known yet immensely attractive regions at the opposite end of Europe, a stunning stretch of scenery linking Romania and Bulgaria where Celtic tribes also thrived.
The Black Sea coast is one of the most beautiful stretches of landscape in Europe, encompassing fine-sand beaches, charming historical villages and ancient ruins. And just as in Ireland, in addition to practical, hands-on, in-class tuition in creative writing techniques – from plot building to character development to enticing dialogue and landscape description - participants will also enjoy varied group excursions to fascinating places, all intended to help inspire the Muse.
Some of these activities include:
Folk music and dance performance
Romania is a unique European country insofar as its folklore still exists in its natural environment. Organized performances by village folk dance groups within Romania can be traced back to the mid-19th century and earlier. Dances include the hora, where performers move in circular formation, sarba, all wearing colorful costumes with musical accompaniment on traditional instruments.
Sherlock Holmes-style ‘Ancient Mysteries’ Investigation
As this Black Sea region is steeped in history, including ancient Roman and Greek, there’s no better way to understand the past than to don the persona of archaeological detective and uncover some of its hidden secrets. During this thrilling exercise, participants will discover for themselves a Roman-Byzantine burial site, parts of the ancient Greek defense wall in the strangest of places and a Prince's Tomb, as well as pottery, amphorae, lamps, statues, glass vases, funerary stars, inscriptions, representations of deities, ornaments and jewelry, coins, tools and more other objects of historical significance. Maybe you'll even unveil the meaning of fragments of a Greek papyrus document dating from the fourth century BC discovered inside a tomb - the oldest papyrus document in Europe - that continues to confound expert linguists and historians alike.
Historic Black Sea boat trips
Leaving from the picturesque harbor of Mangalia (once a former Greek colony known as ‘Callatis’ founded in the 6th century BC), participants will be taken through calm waters to view key off-shore landmarks and fishing grounds. The boat trip also includes close-up views of some of Romania’s oldest sea vessels, including military and leisure, now anchored nearby as a water-based museum.
Visits to the oldest human settlement in Europe
Participants will travel five kilometers from the Romanian border into Bulgaria to stroll through the archaeological ruins of Durankulak, a Neolithic settlement, known as ‘Lake City’ or ‘European Troy,’ founded by the Hamangian tribe more than 5,000 years ago and inhabited by later civilizations including the Thracians and the Ancient Greeks. Durankulak is a dramatic legacy left by a highly-developed community of people who lived on the northwest Black Sea coast. The site also contains the intriguing ruins of the ancient temple of Great Thracian Goddess, Mother Cybele - the Phrygian Mother of Gods, a prime Nature Goddess worshipped with orgiastic rites in the mountains of central and western Anatolia. The Ancient Greeks identified her with their own Mother Goddess - Titaness Rhea.
Captivating village setting
The Black Sea coast features many charming, rustic villages where day-to-day lifestyles have not changed in generations. Living in one of these villages for the duration of the writing retreat will enable participants to experience first-hand, the authentic rural way of life, dynamic village culture and history as they will be able to talk directly with local people about their day-to-day lives. Basic lessons in Romanian language will also be part of the schedule. See details in this article:
Traditional food tasting
Romania preserves a rich culinary heritage, meat, fish and vegetarian, all flavored with local, organic herbs and plants. Retreat participants will enjoy a special sit-down food-tasting event in the village of 2 Mai with wide-ranging dishes including ‘sarmale’ (cabbage rolls), ‘mici’ (grilled minced meat rolls), ‘mamaliga cu branza si smantana’ (polenta with cheese and sour cream) and ‘placinta Dobrogeana,’ a local pie with sweet cheese accompanied by local wines and the traditional, homemade spirit made from grapes and other fruits, ‘tuica.’
Become a Friend of the retreat and have access to the Early Bird Discount.
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