NEED TO KNOW
ANYONE WHO was sent on an Aish or Habonim holiday by their parents when they were children may have memories of what it was like to holiday with 60 or so others. In childhood it seems the most natural thing in the world to travel, eat, play and learn as a community. And perhaps come back somehow changed.
In adulthood the concept seems bizarre. But if you are travelling solo, looking for something to re-ignite your mojo but don’t want to be alone, Skyros Holistic Holidays may be just the ticket.
I signed up for this unique community style retreat with 62 strangers and headed for the small village of Atsitsa on the sunny Greek island of Skyros.
IgotthereonewarmSundayevening with a handful of others I had got to know during the transfer from Athens. As we sauntered with our bags on to the resort a welcoming party cheered us in and handed us some wine. It was a good start.
Atsitsa has a lofty position cascading from a hill top to a small bay taking in a bar, a restaurant, a myriad of spaces with pretty flowers, fig trees and even a grape vine growing over a pagoda dotted with urns and vases overlooking the sea as it laps the curve of the bay. It is a lovely eyeful, especially when nature’s hues are intensified by a glorious sunlight. If I had a backing soundtrack it would have been Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. My accommodation was a small rustic bamboo hut, one of 49 dotted amid vegetation on the hilltop. It had a power point and the showers were some feet away. I could have opted to stay in the stone villa on the cliff edge, where I would have an en-suite, but where was the fun in that?
Many of us were solo women (an assortment of ages), a handful of lone men and two couples — some there for the company, others looking for clarity and some simply looking for respite from stressful lives. Some had RATES A week costs from £545 with hut accommodation (shared when busy but upgrades to the stone building and single rooms are available. Three meals a day, courses and activities included. Flights and transfers extra. skyros.com FLY: Ryanair.com to Athens then a domestic flight with aegeanair.com been before and they had an expectant air contrasting with the first-timers who were looking sheepish, wondering how the week would evolve.
On the first morning we gathered in a low stone-walled circle — the Magic Circle. Founder Dina Glouberman, was there — an esteemed psychotherapist inspired by Habonim. She wanted us to be present in the moment and relaxed enough to connect with each other. She guided us through visualisations, eventually forming groups of eight who would be our “family” with whom we would meet every day for a 20-minute gripe exchange. Friendships began to form. There was “housework”. We were encouraged to volunteer meal time clear-ups, go fruit picking or cut veggies. The latter was sold to us as the activity where most romances have sprouted after having made eye contact across the cutting table. This was a brilliant technique to nudge everybody into the community so that no-one slipped through the social net .
There were several classes: trapeze, wind surfing, writing, yoga, improvisation, singing, photography and art.
The view over Atsitsa bay is a beautiful spot to read a book and chill out
Rustic hut accommodation