Thursday, 11 October 2012

Greece 2012

Back in July, when the Scottish weather was being particularly "meh" my husband snapped and booked us a 7-night holiday on the Greek island of Zakinthos for the end of the season. Oliver and Libby left for Summer Camp on Tuesday, we took the train down to Glasgow on Wednesday and flew out bright and early Thursday morning, landing around 2 in the afternoon local time. Highlights from the trip down included a visit to what I've come to think of as my LYS (local yarn shop), The Yarn Cake and chatting with the proprietress over tea and cake (and yarn!). I was afraid my holiday knitting project, Firestarter Socks in Opal's van Gogh "Red Vineyard" colourway for Chris, wouldn't last out the week as I'd kinda cast on in the days leading up to the holiday and had already turned the heel on the first sock. I didn't have any comparable yarn that I could count on being able to knit up with the same needles (and possibly even pattern, it's a lovely one) should I finish the second sock, so I bought another skein of Opal in a tealy-blue varigation that I figured would remind me of the Mediterranean ocean. I was, of course, overly optimistic about my knitting prowess though I was correct that the colourway is perfect. I'm not sure what it says about me that I bought my Greek souvenir in a Glaswegian yarn shop...

Also, for reasons unknown to us, our hotel bumped us to an "executive suite" which, near as we can tell merely meant the presence of a (singular) bathrobe and a bottle of wine (two glasses) that may or may not have been complimentary. Though we'd paid for the room in advance so I'm not sure how they would have billed us for it had we drunk it. After dinner we discovered that the aircon/heating unit was borked and they bumped us to a queen size room, again with a bathrobe and bottle of wine. We had to get up at 4:30 the next morning so we didn't have a chance to find out if they have rooms with king-sized beds.

Zakinthos has the best border control I have ever experienced. There were two guard stations with the agents standing rather aimlessly in front of them, waving through anyone with an EU passport. They weren't even looking at the pictures, just matching the quantity of passports with the quantity of people. Which brings me to a side issue - when travelling as a group, even if you don't trust your kids or wife to keep their own passport without losing it, pass them out as you approach the agent. Tell everyone to hold it open to this page and don't use it to hit your brother and collect them again as soon as you reach the other side, but really, the number of blustery men I saw jealously guarding all of the travel documents and then trying to juggle them all, find the photo page (which, again, the agents weren't even looking at), and match a passport to a person was ridiculous. I got to watch this farce a couple times, waiting for everyone to get waived through so that the senior agent could go back to his booth, find the entry stamp, make sure it was set to the correct day, and stamp my passport. A similar holdup with the added drama of "no, I don't have a vignette for my passport, my visa is this entirely separate biometrics card" played out a week later when we tried to leave.

As for the holiday itself, it was a bit of a mixed experience. Between my heartburn away from my fortress of pillows, Chris being the world's lightest sleeper in a place that was hardly quiet (the hotel bar closed around 3:30am, which is when the cockerels started), and rock hard beds we didn't sleep well. Every tourist and her brother smoked (I only saw one Greek person smoking), it was supposed to have cooled off to the upper 20s by this time of year but they were having a heatwave and it was still in the mid 30s for most of our trip. The whole experience was oddly English - English pop music being played everywhere, English football games on the telly, menus full of English food... It wasn't quiet what I'd envisioned, not that we'd given it much thought beyond "sunshine and warmth, please!"

The last couple of days were the best: most of the tourists left on Monday so it was a lot quieter, and we'd worked out a routine where we'd wander down to a fairly secluded beach after breakfast and wade about 30 feet out into the sea where the water was 2-3' deep and we'd sit on the bottom and bob gently in the water for an hour or two before heading back in, drying off a bit and wandering back up the shore to a small restaurant with an overly-friendly ginger kitten who picked us as big softies from the second he lay his little yellow eyes on us. Chris would drink beer, we'd have lunch, and with varying degrees of success defend our food from the plaintive ball of fluff.

In the afternoon, Chris did a little work on his laptop (things Chris needs on a holiday - a learning project he can work on) and I knit while drinking milkshakes (they ran out of smoothies the second day) and allowing myself a tiny little bit of direct sunshine, and then in the evening we'd go out for dinner and then retire for another almost sleepless night.


  1. If/when you go again (curse you for being so close! :) ), definitely go to Chania in Crete. Our favorite restaurant was in an old bath house and the food was amazing. I keep telling Gabe I want to go back just because the food was so good (and the hotel we stayed at there had the one non-rock-hard bed we slept on the entire trip). :)

  2. I did wonder, while we were there, where you guys had gone. Crete we might do some day as I definitely want to torture Little Djinn with "educational holidays" where we see old things and learn about history and stuff. Yeah, I'm going to be one of those parents.