So, let’s talk holiday…finally.
Way back in May (I say ‘way back’ because it feels like it was about six months ago now, not a mere four weeks. Seriously.) we decided to book a last minute deal and grab some sun before the summer kicked in. And as it goes, last minute was an understatement. There we sat, five days before we flew, simultaneously glued to our laptops, desperately trying to find something…anything; because let me tell you, booking last minute is absolutely fine if you’re a laid back, I-do-this-shit-all-the-time kinda person. If you’re borderline type A with a penchant for organisation then DO NOT do this. I think it aged me at least five years, if not more.
Mostly, our criteria for booking a holiday was Mexico. We really wanted to go to Mexico. We really wanted to go to Mexico on a budget of less than £2,000. If you’re laughing out loud then a) you’re correct and b) you obviously know more than we do because you absolutely cannot fly to Mexico and stay all inclusive for less than £2,000…unless it’s £2,000 per person. Or, you know, you’re happy about sleeping on the beach (no judgement).
Anyway, I digress. From Mexico we slowly worked our way West, burning every single option that nearly every package holiday website had to offer. And then up pops Greece. Because obviously. Now, I love Greece. And I mean LOVE. I’d only been there once before but it just struck such a chord with me – the people, the food, the atmosphere, how god darn happy everyone is 24/7. It’s an infectious place to be. Unfortunately, Mr. B didn’t share my enthusiasm. Once had been more than enough for him, and he was quite prepared to file it under the ‘been there, done that’ section of his travel reportoire and move the hell on. Until he saw this place, however. And then we sat and pored over the reviews on TripAdvisor and before I knew it credit cards were flying about all over the place and I was swiftly checking my suitcase for the fifth time (a job which had been in the making since I booked the annual leave in March, I kid you not).
Aside from the fact the hotel was actual a-mazingness, what really swung this holiday for us was a) the 10 minute transfer time and b) the fact that it was a further 10 minutes into Rhodes town centre. Because if all else fails, especially the food, then at least there’s a plan b.
Not that we needed it here, of course, but you never know.
First thing’s first after checking in (and being given welcome drinks…you know you’re onto a good thing when they get thrown about like confetti), the balcony and said view from it were given a once over. Aside from thinking this was the actual pool and being all like ‘but where are the sun loungers…oh wait, where are the people’ first impressions were good. And they were about to get better.
As we sat there sipping our cocktails/beers, our only mutual regret was the fact that we’d only booked to stay for a week and not two. Because this place was so good. I mean, there’s an 80% chance that wherever I was in the world at that point with 2 bellini’s inside me and no prospect of work for at least 9 more days (we flew Friday-Friday) I would have thought it was the best-place-ever, but this really was. It had been nearly two years since I’d felt proper Mediterranean sunshine on me, and been within walking distance to crystal clear water.
For the first couple of days, we literally did nothing. Which for us meant sleeping, eating, sunbathing, eating, more sunbathing, a bit more eating, reading and drinking gin. Then we’d take a nap and the whole routine would just start all over again.
You know when you go on holiday and you can’t even get close to a sun lounger unless it’s 5am in the morning? Yeah, that didn’t happen once here.
After a couple of days, we decided to venture out. Well, by ‘out’ I obviously mean further than the supermarket that we discovered on the first night. Because that mini fridge ain’t gonna stock itself, right? Although the little strip just outside of our hotel was pretty cool – plenty of bars, tavernas, classic gift shops and places to get Greek chocolate. We walked up here nearly every night, and if I’m honest I’m a little sad we didn’t at least go for a drink or have a quick bite to eat.
It’s also painfully obvious once you leave the confines of five star luxury, just how deeply Greece has been affected by its recent economic troubles. It broke my heart to see so many derelict, abandoned buildings that had obviously once been thriving shops or hotels next to the tavernas and mini markets that were hanging on in there. The contrast between the rich and the poor, the new and the old, the past and the present is so very black and white here. I just wanted to reach out and make things better somehow. But the spirit and determination of the people is so strong – there’s a smile for everyone and always some conversation to be had. You would never know from the outside that the people are struggling; their happiness and determination is so infectious.
Rhodes Town is amazing though. Ten minutes by taxi from our hotel, this was what I wanted most from the holiday; a bit of culture. Some new places to explore and become familiar with and just a taste of a different life for a while. We always play a game when we go away, whereby we picture ourselves living in the country we’re in, but this time I didn’t have to pretend. I felt right at home.
The town is divided into the New part (with the likes of H&M, Zara, M&S etc) and the Old part. They sort of merge into one, and as the streets are winding and intertwined you never really know which part you’re in. But that’s part of the charm. And this is how we came to stumble across what is now known in our house as The Best Restaurant Ever. And if you think that’s an understatement, just wait until you see the steak. Man ALIVE it was good.
See what I mean? It was so good that we ate here twice in one week, despite being all inclusive. The decor was just amazing – every last detail was thought about and I definitely took some inspiration for our future Kitchen of Dreams away from eating here. Didn’t hurt that the gin was about 50x stronger than what the hotel were serving, either.
Because the taxi service was so good here, we didn’t rush to get back. Most of the shops in the Old Town by the marina stayed open until around 10 or 11pm, which was amazing – because there’s nothing better than a drunk tourist with a penchant for buying novelty gifts after a day on the gin, is there?
The other amazing thing about Rhodes? It’s a 50 minute boat ride to Marmaris in Turkey. We were walking along the marina one afternoon drinking slush puppies and when we discovered the tour guide offering boat rides there we both actually laughed out loud. Our first ever holiday together had been to Marmaris and well, holiday is a slight exaggeration. Adventure would be more to the point. So we thought, to hell with it, let’s go back. No, seriously. It was such a great day – the coach picked us up from the hotel in the morning and after an hour on the boat (and various security/passport control checks) we were taken by coach…to a gold centre. This was all a bit weird, and there was a moment when I thought I might actually be in one of those movies where they, like, kidnap you or something by enticing you into some fancy jewellers (is there even a movie where that happens?!), but as I’m still here to tell the tale I can vouch for the fact that it was none other than a pleasant little detour/way for the tour guides to get commission on sales. But whatevs.
Next we were dropped off at the Bazaar. Now, if you’ve ever been here before then you’ll know just how mental it is. Literally hundreds of shops, all crammed with what the Turkish call ‘Genuine Fakes’. We had about three hours to look around before the coach picked us up again, so we just wandered. The people here are slightly more aggressive (albeit in a friendly way) than they are in Greece and there is no such thing as just being able to walk around a shop in the leisurely fashion you might be accustomed to. It’s all about the hard sell here, and while it’s fun to have a bit of banter and haggle in the first five shops you go in, it all gets a bit much after that.
So we did what all the other sane people were doing. We sacked off the shops and went for kebabs.
And then we ate ice cream. By the time we got back on the coach we’d basically spent the whole afternoon eating, but man was it worth it. But it didn’t end there, because before we went back to Greece, the coach stopped at a Turkish Delight factory. This was another strange experience, one whereby we listened to a scarily enthusiastic (but again, friendly) man talk us through the wonders of Turkish Delight, before we were then ushered into a gift shop, where naturally we all bought the obligatory gifts for people back home (soz Mum and Dad).
For the rest of the week, we mostly spent the mornings at the hotel, sunbathing (and robbing any free wifi we could get our hands on – hello Daily Mail stalk of Michelle Keegan’s wedding dress) then after lunch we’d go into Rhodes Town, or just wander the strip with no real plans.
And before we knew it, the time to think about going home was upon us. I dealt with it in the only way I deemed acceptable; by planning a kick-ass airport outfit and drinking my body weight in Greek coffee (that shit is addictive).
Needless to say, we had the best time here. That’s not to say I’d ever chance such a last minute holiday ever again. Or that Mexico 2016 hasn’t got my name written all over it. But I couldn’t fault a single minute of this holiday. And, much to my surprise, neither could Mr. B. So impressed were we that we’ve gone and broken our ‘never go back to the same place twice rule’ by booking ourselves in for another stay in September (I know right, who even are we). And this time we’ve got so many more things planned.
Anyone else off to Greece this year? I’m looking into travelling further around Greece and exploring more of what it has to offer, so if you have any suggestions please give me a shout below!