Forgive me Reader, for I have sinned. This globe-trotting, independent adventurer has just come back from (gulp) a package holiday in Greece!
When I was a kid (brat) and my parents booked our family package summer holiday in Greece EVERY year I thought they were so boring. (I wished my parents would be more fun and take us to places like Orlando or Sri Lanka where all the cool kids went.) Fast forward 10 years and almost 40 countries and I find myself booking a package summer break for me and my boyfriend to Skiathos, a stunning island in, err, Greece.
We weren’t going to be island hopping. I had not spent hours researching boats or ferries or unique home stays for us to kick around in like I did in Croatia. We were going to stay for 1 week, in the same place, in a budget studio with the rest of the British holidaying public. We were going on a plane run by the tour operator and we had even selected to take their cheap transfer coach to our accommodation.
How did this happen?
Basically I got tired of ticking off bucket list items on my holiday time. I wanted sunshine, a beach, food that wouldn’t give me Delhi belly and a flight that wouldn’t leave me with saggy eyelids and swollen ankles. I wanted time out and I wanted it cheap. I wanted what my mum had gleefully booked for us every year – a Greece package holiday. *Shock! Horror!*
As we landed in Skiathos, however, I felt embarrassed to be approaching the resort rep clutching her passenger list on a clipboard. I began to dread the thought of being herded on the coach with the rest of the plane and had tempting thoughts of walking straight past her and finding my own way. She caught my eye though and, knowing I must be on her list, came forward to take my details. It turns out there were several coaches waiting in the car park and the flight would be broken down into smaller groups to go to their accommodation in different parts of the island. We also later found out there are only 19 taxis on the whole of Skiathos Island, so waiting for one of them wouldn’t have been such a wise choice. The rep announced that Villa Miltos, our destination, was the second stop. Result! She handed us a sheet of paper with some notes which provided a memory jog for me about some of the elements of Greek holidays I had tried to forget – mainly the sewage systems lack of dealing with loo roll and our need to put all toilet paper in a bin!
I started getting nervous as we approached our stop. I was aware of how basic we could expect our accommodation to be but was not sure how well I had spelt that out for my boyfriend for whom this would be his first experience of a budget European beach break. At the time of booking I had thought we had picked well, paying a bit extra for the option of air con (payable locally) and a villa that was classed ‘suitable for couples’ in the hope that meant less children. As we pulled up to what was to be our home for a whole week, I held my breath.
Dragging our cases up the gravel drive we first set eyes on the bar (tick). Then we saw the turquoise pool (tick), surrounded by cream sun loungers that complimented the ochre coloured villa (tick, tick, tick!). A man with a wide smile approached to help with our cases and ushered us into a ground floor room that spilled out onto the pool. “Let me go find you a key”, he said as he departed. I think that was my simplest ‘check in’ ever.
It was a small studio that was for sure; I could get into the fridge from my side of the bed (could be a bonus for some!). But it had an adequate sized wardrobe, a bureau for me to do my make up at and a full length mirror (so often overlooked but so very necessary for outfit checks!) The shower turned out to be powerful and had hot water on all but one occasion. There was a flat screen TV for us to keep up to date on the Olympic Games and the positioning of the room meant we did not need to pay for the air con after all, it remained cool enough throughout the day and night. The patio area became an extension of our room and we would breakfast here in the company of the couples from adjoining rooms doing the same thing.
We didn’t bother attending the welcome talk by the resort rep – Miltos was all the help we needed. He could conjure taxis, jeeps and boats with a short phone call and had a never ending supply of Coronas (unlike the supermarket next door which we apparently drunk dry.)
As the holiday continued I discovered that Greece was as beautiful as I remembered and found Skiathos to be far chicer than I could have ever imagined. More on this aspect (with particular focus on the beaches and restaurants) to follow very soon…
So dear Reader, not only did I book a Greek package holiday, I bloody loved it!