The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

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. sky­ FLY: to Athens then a do­mes­tic flight with 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

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