Only 10 days before I’m off to Skyros. I’m feeling the familiar flutterings of happy anticipation in my stomach. This will be something like my fourteenth year working there. How hard that is to believe! I always thought I was someone who would not repeat experiences, or read books twice, or go back to the same places for holidays. Being restlessly curious, I thought life was too short. Skyros proved I can be committed. Every year, I am asked again by Yannis if I want to go, and every year, I don’t pause for a moment before saying ‘Yes’. It truly is my second home.
What is it about the island that draws me back? Many words have been written about its charms, and I don’t want to sound like a brochure here. I’ll try to be really personal. I’ll talk about Atsitsa, as this is where I go most often, and is my special place.
Atsitsa – it’s all about freedom. That very first time I entered the ‘Atsitsa –zone’, I felt free as a bird. I wanted to kick off my shoes, and let down my hair, and wear very lightweight, colourful clothes, and actually put on that toe-ring. I wanted to swim a long way out into the crystalline sea, lie on my back under pine trees and DO NOTHING (unheard of, for me), plan my day around doses of thick, proper Greek yogurt, sing my heart out with a bunch of cool people who didn’t care if I hit the notes or not. I looked forward to teaching my courses in a perfect teaching environment: outside, warm but sheltered, two minutes walk from my abode, and with students who would be dropping stress faster than you could say ‘You’re free to be yourself now’. When I first entered Atsitsa, I just knew I was going to be very, very happy there.
Atsitsa is a festival, a garden, a playground, a primordial settlement, an open-air cocktail bar, an under-water world. It’s silly and serious and soulful and challenging and peaceful and satisfying and creative and utterly joyful. It’s about love, friendship, nature, art, exercise, all 5 senses and feeling alive in every pore. It’s just one delicious part of a beautiful island, and it’s just a cab (or moped) ride away from one of the most unspoilt, pretty, cosy, colourful, exquisite little towns in Greece (Skyros town itself). Oh dear, I can really get verbose about it, and I still feel I’m only scraping the surface....
Back in my mid-30’s when I first went, I thought I might find lots of places like Atsitsa in the world –now I know there really aren’t many, perhaps none with its particular blend of delights, and if there are, I may not have the time or money to find them. There’s nothing wrong with going back to this idyllic place time after time. And if you’ve never been, I envy you that first sighting, those little explorations of the environment, the first time your jaw drops with wonder at a revelation (Atsitsa is the place for revelations). See you there in July, I hope. Now, where’s that toe-ring?
Alison Goldie is a professional actor, theatre director, broadcaster and facilitator. She has a wealth of experience performing comedy and drama in London, the UK and all over the world. Alison has taught comedy, drama, flirting and creativity to professionals and non-professionals for over 20 years. She has worked as a stand-up comic, TV presenter and corporate trainer. She is currently touring her one-woman autobiographical show, Lady, in Bed, to great acclaim. See www.thedramabusiness.co.uk.
Join Alison this summer in Atsitsa from Sunday 4 to Saturday 17 July (AT6) where she will be running her course in drama, comedy and flirting. To find out more about Alison's course and the other courses on offer in Atsitsa at that time (including yoga, dance, life coaching, mosaics, windsurfing, sailing, music & more) see http://www.skyros.com/atsitsa_program.htm.