If you read my last post then you will know that I had a few reservations about booking a package holiday but decided to go ahead and book a week to Corfu in Greece. Well I have just returned from my holiday and thought I’d share my thoughts on package holidays now that I am home.
I’ll start with the positives because I had a great week in Corfu.
- We were staying in a small resort called Agios Geogios which is very low-key and quiet but has a great variety of fantastic restaurants and a beautiful beach. As the resort is not close to Kavos we did not encounter any of the large groups sporting matching ‘Kavos 2011’ t-shirts, nobody hassled us as we walked up the street, and only one bar (which we avoided) showed English football.
- The food is simply delicious. With so many restaurants lining the rugged coastline we could eat at a different place, with an incredible view of the sunset, every night. Although I love many Greek dishes, Kleftiko is my favourite and so I ordered this every other night.
- Our hotel was clean, comfortable and had a great pool. We met loads of great people and even the children in the pool were friendly, polite and exceptionally well behaved.
- Many bars offered free Wifi. This was a relief to me after visiting Zakynthos a few years ago and being charged €7 an hour wherever wifi was available.
- Despite the vast number of packed flights arriving from the UK every Monday and Friday, the effect of Greece’s economic struggle is obvious in the strings of bars that remained empty every night of our stay.
- The owner of our hotel had a rather mercurial disposition. One minute he would be laughing and joking with his customers and the next he would take offence and react rudely toward his customers. Some he just took an instant dislike to. If he didn’t feel like serving somebody at the bar he would just ignore them until he felt like it. Our breakfast choice was very limited (with him even refusing to substitute orange juice for the standard coffee) but as breakfast was already included in the package price most of us just had to put up with it. Of course if I was backpacking I would have checked out and taken my business elsewhere.
- There is only one ATM in the resort and for a whole week it did not work. Apparently it was filled up by a minimal amount every day but only when the man from the bank didn’t get distracted by a visit to the beach.
We booked our holiday with a company called Olympic Holidays who had chartered a flight with SkyWings, an airline that I would not recommend to my worst enemy. Our return journey was to take place at the ungodly hour of 3am but when we got to the airport the board told us that there was a delay. For over an hour we were not given any information, or even an apology about this delay, and when we asked we were told that there were no representatives from Skyways in the departure lounge that we could speak to.
After a few hours we were told that our flight had arrived and we would be boarding shortly but that the plane would be stopping in Milan to refuel as the combination of an old heavy plane and a short runway meant that the plane would not make it back to Birmingham (something that could have been avoided by paying an extra £50 and flying with Thomson). Feeling slightly nervous we boarded the plane and were somewhat distressed to see that many seats were missing the tables and even had gaping holes where they had been torn from the seatbacks. Then we found a shabby black and white security card that had been photocopied from an original on A4 paper. I did not check the lifebelt under my chair but if I had then I’m pretty sure I would have found a pair of armbands.
Thirty minutes later we were told that we would have to disembark (the word ‘disembarkation’ was used…) as ‘Military action in Libya’ meant that airspace was closed and we were told to go back to the terminal. Confusion ensued. Why would action in Libya affect a flight from Greece? We asked the stewardess who clearly did not want to answer our questions and so a planeful of very tired and fed-up passengers traipsed back into the terminal.
Once again we sat in the terminal awaiting information that never seemed to come until hours later we were told that a technician had been called out to fix the technical fault that was delaying our flight. Nothing more was said about Libya and by the time the plane was fixed it seemed that the Libyans were no longer preventing us from flying either (and still the stewardesses declined to comment on this situation) so once more we boarded the plane.
Once the plane managed to get up into the air the flight went surprisingly smoothly, despite the diversion to Italy and we arrived back in the UK 5 hours late. I do not think that I will book a package holiday as I would rather know which airline I am flying with in advance and I would like the option of leaving a hotel if I am unhappy with the service. I did enjoy my holiday however, and I will leave you with some stunning Greek sunsets!
What’s your worst airport experience? Have you been on a Holiday from Hell? Leave a comment to tell me all about it!