Saturday, 10 August 2013

Under a Greek sun

As you will know, if you read the last blog, myself and Mrs Giant68 have just come back from our holiday. We have been to Spain for several years, Egypt last year and booking a holiday for this year was a bit of a challenge. Like most people we have a limited budget and an unlimited set of criteria for the way we lower our stress levels, so finding the right place was difficult. Somewhere warm, somewhere peaceful, somewhere with no, or few, kids… There were a few other restrictions which were negotiable so not that important. Eventually the young lad in the travel agency came up with an apartment complex on Skiathos. Just in case you are interested, Skiathos is part of the Sporades island chain in  the Aegean sea. Sporades meaning scattered and is where our word sporadic comes from. See, educational as well as entertaining, I am a grumpy old man of many talents.


Outbound flight was a little early, involving us being on the road at 02:00, or thereabouts. Thanks to Little Bro for delivering us to the airport.

Due to the fact that all the accommodations are up dirt tracks, the coaches  transferring us from the airport dropped us off on the main road and then we had to walk the rest of the way, arriving at our apartment  before it was ready, and before our suitcases, which would arrive later on a small truck that could negotiate the dirt track. I could start to feel a grump coming on as I was now sweating profusely. The only comfort was to take my shoes off and dangle my feet in the pool. The water started to boil, I am sure Smile

The nearest beach treated people like sardines. This is not looking good, is it? But, the divine one must have smiled down on me, or maybe he just had indigestion, for the best beaches were a 20 minute walk through the woods, and although that walk was hot, the beaches were worth it.

Elias beach was a length of golden sand and blue sea, also rather a lot of seaweed at times but you can’t have everything. The seaweed was compensated for by the taverna that sat on the dunes which provided the coldest beer and the best chips. Seriously, the chips had been hand cut from potatoes and deep fried till they were golden brown, crispy on the outside and fluffy and light on the inside. I had found heaven! To be fair, any place that would sell me a cold beer would have been heaven to me!


There were ½ a dozen tavernas in the resort, all serving the same food, more or less, so it was a case of just pick one and if we didn’t like it after eating there we wouldn’t go back. We gave Captain Michaels taverna a miss, didn’t look like he would qualify for a hygiene rating and we didn’t fancy the Spaghetti Viagra that was advertised on the menu. Also there was an open sewer next door and the smell made your eyes water!


There were young girls with small bikinis, there were older women with small bikinis, there were fat women with bikinis that threatened to give way like high tension tension cables put under just a little too much tension! But worst of all was the man we nicknamed Rod Stewart. He would appear at the poolside with his large wife, himself being rather slim and knocking on the door of the late 60’s. He would, typically, wear leopard print Speedos with a saggy bit round the arse. Not a pretty sight! It will live in my nightmares for months, maybe years.

There was Aspidistra the cat, I say Aspidistra because that is what his name sounded like although I may be wrong. There was also Loretta the dog, very friendly, dripped drool all over the place, you know the type.


There were times when I sweated so much it looked like I had just stepped out of the shower. There were times when I laid on the floor of the apartment  because it was cool. There were times it was difficult to sleep due to the temperature being in the 30s and the humidity being in the 70s in the early hours.

But there was Agustera bar. There was cold beer. There was the pool. There was the sea. And there was the Magnum Cookie ice cream.

There was also frozen yoghurt. We found this in Skiathos town. You take a tub, fill it with frozen yoghurt from the machine, various flavours are available, add your topping sand pay by weight. You do not realise just how heavy yoghurt can be until you get to the till and are charged 13 euros! I nearly choked, but at that price I was damned well going to enjoy it! 

Then there was the flight out. Preceded by the flight in, obviously. The runway on Skiathos is the shortest in Europe. As soon as the wheels of the landing aircraft hit the ground the brakes go on hard. I could imagine the pilot and co-pilot literally standing on the brakes and pushing with all their might in the hope that we didn’t roll off the end into the sea. The departing aircraft sits at the end of the runway with the breaks firmly on while the engines are wound up to full power. Then the breaks are released and the aircraft rockets up the runway. A whole planeload of people praying that it will take off and not roll into the water. The runway is on a slope facing upward, and have i mentioned that from above it looks like a penis? 

Maybe I will tell you more another time. Tales of how Mrs Giant68 could not go to the loo, but I could. Tales of things crawling over the roof of our apartment. The taverna with the cleanest windows on Skiathos…



Giant68 Smile

Back to what I am good at.


Today I am going to get back to basics. Today I am going to be awesome in my grumpiness. I have just come back from holiday and the holiday blues have settled in therefore I feel that you all should suffer.

I am going to hark back to an earlier blog about children and parents. Why do parents insist on taking babies and young children on planes to hot places and then wonder why those children get bad tempered and cry a lot? There always seem to be babies on planes, and they cry. They are uncomfortable, their ears hurt…


Toddlers start to understand the excitement of going on holiday. It is an adventure. But then their ears hurt. ‘if you swallow yours ears will stop hurting’ is heard around the plane. No they won’t. Small kids do not understand this. I am 48 years old and swallowing does not ease the pressure in my ears, I have to yawn. So the children, in pain and discomfort, will cry. The noise level rises. Now we are not just sitting in a metal tube full of other peoples farts, we are sitting in a metal tube full of other peoples children crying. Good start to anyone's holiday. parents then start to get annoyed, start to tell the kids off, ‘If you don’t shut up I will give you something to cry about’, yeah, that’ll work.

OK, so now we have arrived at our destination. The resorts are full of kids who just want to spend time in the pool or on the beach but are dragged round the sights. It is hot and sweaty and tempers are getting frayed. It seems to me that these parents are selfish. They want their foreign holiday, they want to see the Pyramids, the Sphinx, the clock tower where ‘Mamma Mia’ was filmed. Kids want an ice-cream and swimming pools and sea and entertainment.  But they will have their holiday and they will see the Pyramids in all their glory. They will see them while they are bad tempered because the kids are playing up again, but at least they have seen them.


What didn’t help my own mood was the fact that airlines are taxing my height. If i want to sit comfortably on a plane I have to pay for the privilege. I have bought my ticket, which gives me a seat on the plane. It doesn’t give me a seat I can actually sit though, as I am 6’8” I cannot get my legs in unless I place my knees just under my chin. For some years the airlines would hold back the seats by the emergency exits. They would not be given out until the last minute, partly due to people like me and partly due to the fact that the person sitting there must be fit enough to open the door, if needed. Therefore the passenger had to be seen before they could be deemed suitable to sit there. Not anymore it seems. With the advent of online check in it seems that anyone can sit there. Unless i was willing to pay £75 per person, per trip for the chance to be able to sit comfortably for the entire trip. There is a local airline that we have used to travel to Spain that plenty of legroom between the normal seats, and I didn’t have to worry. I imagine that this was due to the number of flights to that destination everyday. This meant that they could afford to remove a couple of rows of seats and spread the remainder  out. On the way to Skiathos I took the chance that I would fit. In the end it was a case of grease me up and shoehorn me in. Not particularly comfortable. On the way back I gave in and paid the money. Once i got on the plane i found that the first 10 rows had modified seats that gave everyone extra legroom. all me cynical, but i do not believe that everyone paid the extra money for those seats.

If I was vastly obese I could be made to pay for 2 seats. If I was vastly obese I would have the choice to lose weight so that I could fit into one seat. I am tall. II have no option to lose height. I feel that, in a way, the airlines are discriminating against me and all the others that are as tall, or taller, than me.  

I have returned from Skiathos. Lovely little Greek island in the Sporades. But it seems to have been taken over by people who understand little of personal space or, indeed,  manners. I can forgive the people of Skiathos for cashing in on Mamma Mia. There are tours to all the sites where 30 seconds worth of the film was made. On the whole these places are rather picturesque. And, let’s face it, we would all do the same. The Greeks are a wonderful people, in general they are polite and friendly and smile a lot. But there are other nations there that are different. Money is king and they are cashing in the state of the Greek economy. The beaches are full of them, the roads are packed with their cars, Porsches, Audis, and Big Merc MLs.

But on a lighter note, the runway at Skiathos, if you look at it on Google Earth, looks like a penis. And I did see a rather good T-shirt slogan while we were there: Angela Merkell thinks I am at work.Brilliant.


Next blog will, actually, tell you what a nice holiday I had with Mrs Giant68.



Giant68 Smile