Monday, May 19, 2008

Holiday in Zakynthos

This time, I was using the technology to my advantage - I found online numerous details about the Caravelle hotel, together with pictures (far better than anything the travel agent had been able to provide and the hotel seemed idyllic) and booked it.

A few weeks before we were due to go we had the dreaded letter from the travel agent "...there may be some building work...".

Having obtained the hotel’s telephone number from the web, I telephoned the hotel!

"Milate Anglikia parakolo?"

"Neh" - quickly followed by "Yes"

Thank goodness, I asked about the building work only to be re-assured that this finished some time ago and everything was OK and they would ensure we had a good room.

We duly arrived some weeks later about 8.00pm and surprisingly the receptionist remembered the phone call, she made profuse apologies about the room we would have for that night, advised us not to unpack and tomorrow she would arrange to have us transferred to a better room.

Sure enough, the next morning on our way to breakfast, the receptionist told us to go and enjoy ourselves, she would arrange for the luggage to be moved. When we subsequently got to the room, it was superb - a sea view, a bottle of wine, some fruit and flowers awaited us - well done Caravelle.

The following morning we awoke to a beautiful sunrise.

Yes - I know it looks like a sunset but believe me is was a sunrise -I hadn’t got to the Ouzo yet !

Also, as we sat on the balcony watching the sunrise, we were ‘buzzed’ by the local inhabitant feeding her young above us, whilst this was delightful to watch, it also meant that we had to be careful where we sat !

During our stay at the hotel, we were treated to the traditional Greek dancing and Greek music - truly wonderful and intoxicating in more ways than one !

According to Fiona the local red wine was having no effect as she started her second bottle - despite my warnings she finished the second bottle - oh well we all have to learn !!

Whilst in Zakynthos we decided to rent a car and explore inland, having heard about a village - Volimes. As we drove into the outskirts of Volimes, we noticed a small house on the right with scores of rugs and lace tablecloths, we pulled in and tried our best to hold a conversation with a dear old lady- we managed in typical tourist fashion, but decided to continue into Volimes, figuring we would be able to negotiate a better deal!

When we entered Volimes, what a sight - whilst only a two main street village, virtually every house was adorned with colourful towels, rugs, tablecloths, leather belts and a host of other items. Everywhere we went we were met with traders anxious to do a deal. Having seen one particular item we liked, we tried to get the price down to a price that suited us - no joy - we wandered off, only to be pursued by the lad’s mother offering us the item for the price we were prepared to pay !

We could hear the strains of Zorba playing somewhere and as we rounded the corner we were confronted by a donkey (the donkey’s the one on the right !)

Needless to say, the donkey achieved the desired result - we were lured into the web - Fiona stopped to stroke the donkey and sure enough the spider local trader pounced ! - We were captured !

He danced the Hasapico with Fiona to the strains of Zorba, persuaded her to have her picture taken on his donkey and invited us to his lair warehouse - where - needless to say he relieved us of a number of drachmas. Don’t get the wrong impression - we thoroughly enjoyed every minute - he was great -if any of his friends come across this page, please get him to drop us an E-mail. We still have the tablecloths and chair covers and still think they were a bargain.

Remember the old lady on the way in ? We stopped on the way back out and bought the tablecloth without too much haggling - we hadn’t the heart to knock her price down too much (some stories have to have a happy ending !)

As I mentioned, this was now our third trip to the Greek Isles and Fiona had decided it was time for me to get some culture instead of beach bumming - we duly booked a trip to Olympia.

A coach and ferry trip and we were in Olympia. As we strolled down the main street the first thing that struck us was the number of high class jewellers - we were enticed into a shop by a charming guy, but I managed to resist - only to be caught further down the street by an older lady offering orange juice and air-conditioning, I came out with a gold chain and �250 less in my wallet !!

On to the site of the original Olympics - I was captivated - and me a Luddite ! There is so much to see and so much to absorb that I could not do it justice here - and I’m the one who told the teacher that someone had to come bottom in History !


I might get round to doing a separate page on Olympia from a tourist perspective - watch this space !

Back to the hotel, on the night before we left a traveling music and dance troupe descended upon the hotel and we were treated to a magical evening of dance and delicate singing. The costumes were magnificent and the music enchanting - if anyone recognizes the group from the photographs - please let me know where I can get a CD of their songs.

What can you say about Zakynthos (Zante), it’s a typical Greek island; a lush green envelopes the island, the seas really are as blue as the picture postcards, there are numerous sandy beaches and secluded coves, there is much to see and explore - in fact we took double the amount of photo’s on this holiday and I could easily have doubled the length of this travelogue.

Verdict - Zakynthos - well worth a visit

And finally the local Mafia at the Caravelle Hotel enjoying their moment - after having conned me into thinking I was sharing a Tequila slammer with them - only to knock back in one swig, a glass of cold water!
Wherever we’ve been in Greece, we always find warm, friendly people enjoying life to the full - that’s why we go back year after year.

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