Monday, 10 October 2011

Our Family Holiday- Greece 2011

I’m sitting here at the back of a bar with a swimming pool to my left, tables to my right, the TV ten meters away showing the Ben v’s Man U football match. 1-1 at the moment with fifteen minutes to go.
It’s the second night of our Greek holiday and everything couldn’t be more right.

Getting here was a mighty struggle. Waking everyone at three am was the easy part, taxi to Gatwick, plane to Zante and coach trip to Alykansas were the harder parts. 

Getting of the plane the heat hit us like a sledge hammer, or maybe a glass sliding door, would be a better metaphor?. Which was wonderful in it-self, but a hindrance having to carry six pieces of luggage to the coach and then off again to the apartment.
Within thirty minutes of arriving, we were in the pool and then in the crystal clear surf of the Ionian Sea.

(I got harrassed out of the sea by the hungry fishes nibbling at my dead flakes of skin on my foot. I should try and get used to it, and welcome it was a good way to clear my feet of the unsightly dead skin. But damn, those bites sure do hurt.)

We finished off our first day with an evening meal at Apollo’s Greek restaurant, down the main street. It was a really nice. It had been a long long journey and we were all very tired. 
With-in ten minutes of getting back to our apartment, Lewis and Lizzy were asleep and I was falling in and out of sleep while catching up with BBC world news on TV.

Karina took this opportunity to check out the local bar and get herself some smokes.

The high-light of our second has got to the the horse drawn ride to the Lemon-Tree restaurant. Famous as it is, with the tablets in between the many lemon trees making up the court yard. We (Karina and I), went crazy over the menus and ordered far too much. We ended up taking a salad, a bowl of olives and a bottle of wine back with us.
The journey back on the horse drawn carriage is worthy of mention because the old man at the reins invited Lizzy is join him up front. Karina freaked out with worry that she may fall off, and the old Greek guy just laughed at her concern.
We finished off the second night with Karina checking out the bars and everyone else fast asleep.

It’s a beautiful place. The sea is beautiful, the swimming pools wonderful and the scenery break-taking.

The good news is that we are two days in, twelve days to go. The bad news is the after two days, we’re three hundred pounds down.... But hey, it’s our holiday, isn’t it supposed to be that way? 

We are keeping the kids up later and later with each night. Last night they weren't in bed until after ten, which in itself is a record. 
I’ll tell you one thing though.... Lewie, as I call him affectionally, is one hell of a whinger. He doesn’t stop. He goes way over top. From morning to dusk, he’s whinging with the best. We haven’t had any rest. Especially getting into the water!

We enjoyed the best meal so far at a restaurant which name escapes me but which we will be visiting again. 

Our days are pretty much following a routine now. Karina often refers to British time. So much so that she has a clock on her bedside still showing it.

Lewis wakes us up about seven thirty Greek time, half five Mean-Time, and our day begins. We have a half and hour to forty five minutes rest-bite while Karina pacifies him with an early morning breast feed, but then it’s all systems go. A tea and coffee and breakfast. Lizzy is usually asleep through all this. She’s luckily enough to sleep in for as long as she wants. (Even after my best efforts to wake her up.)

After applying the sun-block and getting the swim suits on, I’m down the pool with the kids. Everyday so far Lewis has screamed like a girl while getting into the water. (Karina is more often than not somewhere else, doing something equally more important), so it’s left to me to deal with a screaming one year old and a demanding five year old. 

(I hope you can hear from my sarcasm that day after day of this wears thin with me.)

From one pool, we’ll go to another and then end up in the sea. After all of this and with Lewis still screaming at the feel of water coming up further than his knees, we are back to the apartment for Lewis’s late morning sleep. This allows Lizzy and I, to explore further afield, be it a stroll along the beach or out further in the sea. Going out further into sea is a laugh because it never gets deeper than your waist. You can be thirty meters out and the water comes up to your ankles. 
This will take us up to lunch-time, and once Lewis is up and we have changed into dry clothes we go off to the main street or along the beach front to find someone to eat.
A short lunch later, our favourite being humous and pitta bread, Tzatziki (yogurt mixed with cucumber, garlic and olive oil), chips and omelette, we’ll return to the apartment for Lewis’s afternoon nap. We’ll usually stay in doors during this time while the sun is at it’s hottest. Lizzy would watch a DVD on the laptop and I would moan for being in-doors while the sun is shining outside. I’ll more often than not, read or fall asleep. 
The evening is spent getting ready, clearing up and doing what-ever Karina orders me to do.
Then it’s off for the evening meal. In which we go a bit crazy with the menu, ordering more food we can eat and spending between forty to fifty squid...
There’s usually a play area in every restaurant around here and our meals usually involve me eating and Karina supervising the kids in the play ground, and then a turn-around, where I supervise and Karina eats. Karina eventually gets her boobs out to silence Lewis. But to be honest, eating and keeping the kids contained doesn’t mix. In fact it’s a total pain and something we’ve given up on. 
Then the dash back to the relative calmness of the apartment. Everyone has their bath and washes their teeth. Lewis is put to bed and Lizzy stays up late.
Over the weekend’s ’Thompson holidays’ flies in cabaret acts from the UK. The first weekend saw Shane Richie Jnr and Adel Murphy, sing their hearts out for our entertainment. 
This was the perfect opportunity to take Lizzy out while Lewis slept. 

Lizzy saved my life today. I got into trouble at the deep end of the swimming pool.
“save me, save me somebody”, I said as my head went under the water. I was gasping for breathe and drowning.
Lizzy came to the rescue, not once but four times. 
Lizzy saved me.
She was cool and calm under pressure.
“tilt your head back dad”, she calmly instructed me.
“kick your legs and move your arms”, she said.
Her calm instructions saved me. She never panicked and was always in control.
May we never forget, Lizzy saved me. Lizzy my hero, Lizzy, oh wonderful Lizzy. 
We managed to go on our first excursion since getting here. The long awaited boat ride to the ’Ship Wreck’ and the ’Blue Caves’.
As expected Lewis was a handful during the whole journey out, but slept like an angel during the journey back.
The ’Ship Wreak’ is a wreaked ship left on a fine stoned white beach, which everyone comes too. I wasn’t impressed, but Karina loved it.
After 50 minutes rest and frolicking in the waves, we all got back on the boat. There were about twenty of us, ranging from fat gorillas like myself, to mature Greek and Japanese women, to young fit American girls and equally gorgeous Italians. Lizzy and Lewis were he only kids aboard.
Next the ’Blue Caves’ where we all got to jump in a swim around. I went first then tagged with Karina for her turn. Karina and Lizzy went in together and were the last one’s out. They explored the caves inside and out.
Further along to another cave, where we all jumped in again and went cave exploring.
The journey began about 2pm and we were the last to be dropped out at 6pm.
A thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying adventure had by all.

It’s exactly a week since we’ve arrived and the heavens have opened, shouting and flashing.
We are sitting through our first Greek storm. I’m outside on the balcony writing this. Lewis is screaming inside having been abandoned to his cot for the late morning nap. No doubt the rumbles of thunder are keeping him awake. Lizzy is watching children’s tv, all about the virtues of living a good Christian life, according to the Bible. And Karina is no doubt fluttering around the apartment making sure everyone is all right.

Tuesday 20th September 2011, I read Totally Killer by Greg Olear. A paper back book, lasting 274 pages. I give it 7/10 for goodness.
It wasn’t a worthless read, though it also never fulfilled my life in doing so. A book about a killing agency and a heroin called Taylor.
It did linger in my mind for a few days which is always a good sign of a good read.
Yeah sure, whatever.  

After a week and a day we finally visited the capital of Zante island. Zakynthos. We got there by bus, and i’ve gotta tell yer. It was rough. 
Lizzy puked up on the journey there on the bus, while sitting on my knee. The only thing I had to catch it in was her summer hat. It was gross. Really gross.
Other than that Zakynthos is a wonderful place to visit. The old colonial buildings were mixed with the new 21st century buildings and a way that blended beautifully. Karina didn’t stop taking photographs, and Lewis wasn’t too bad actually.

Nearing the end of our holiday it was time to rent a car and explore at our leisure. 
Low and behold, driving around Zante island couldn’t have been more perilous and stressful as I could ever have imagined. 

The roads were narrow, the sides were nothing and the height was too high to look. It’s fair to say I was petrified. 
“keep your fears to yourself”, Karina would say to me as I yelped in terror as I drove along a dangerous curve, over-looking the island with a steer two hundred foot drop into the sea, only feet from me. 

Though we didn’t find a beautifully secluded beach. Even though it took a hundred steps down to get to it and a hundred steps up from it, it was well worth the effort. 

The church and restaurant at the top of the hill with it’s breathe taking scenery was also a huge high-light. But alas other than that the rest of the day was spent driving around the northern part of the island. 

It’s our last night and I find myself nursing a pint of the local beer called Mythos, while Karina is back at the apartment putting Lewis to bed having feed him. I’m here at the Dilemma Bar. Lizzy is playing happily with Phebe and i’m writing (or trying too, interrupted constantly by Lizzy and her friend). 
As expected Lizzy made friends with only days of the holiday left. KIA and Phebe.

Our bags are packed and we are ready to go. It’s our last night in sunny Greece. It’s been our first and best family holiday. I wonder where we’ll be next year?

The highlight for me has been the scenery. And of-course the hospitality of the Greek people. They are friendly beyond compare and the country they live reeks of myth, history and awe. It really has been an experience I’ll remember for a very long time. 

On Tuesday 27th September, I finished reading ’Whiteout’ by James Swallow, a book from the Judge Dredd series. Paper back, 250 pages. 
It’s amazing how the author is able to engross me into the weird and wonderful world of Mega City 1, and make me care about the craziest which goes on. But amazingly, that’s exactly what it did.
I give it a whooping 9/10. And am looking forward to entering the amazing world of MC1 again very soon.  

The holiday is over. We’re at home. Lizzy has been to school and it’s back to the old routine. 
The good news is that we brought the weather home with us. It’s sunshine all the way today and set to stay for the weekend. 

The camera has been backed up and the photos too. You will be able to see home videos of the holiday on taylorshomevideos YouTube channel.