Our end-of-summer summer vacation was meant to be a ten-day trip through Ireland and Wales. However, at summer’s end we had tired of Britain’s endless cloudy skies and cold weather and opted for a Club Med holiday in Greece instead. Both my sister and husband had worked hard all summer and all of us were ready for some sand and sun. Club Med Gregolimano is tucked away – far, far away, on a small island, 90 miles in a taxi plus a ferry ride from Athens. The resort was not without its charms, however, its liabilities did their best to overshadow everything else. Bees, hundreds of them, swarmed the dining areas. We did our best to Zen breathe our way through the buzzing and swooping but in the end we hated the bloody bees and no amount of meditative breaths could get us comfortably through the thrice daily mealtime onslaught. The Greek variety of the buzzing species are quite partial to turkey and chicken (who knew?) and the sight of them hauling off chunks of the lunch buffet did little to enhance my dining experience. It was hot, seriously hot, and none of the common use spaces in the resort were air-conditioned. Though the resort had been renovated in recent years, it was clear that monies were saved by putting AC and improved furnishings in the guest rooms, but not elsewhere. This meant that places like the lobby, the dining rooms, and the hallways were really toasty, leaving me wishing I could return to the HURTWAVE in London. And then there was the language issue. I’m all in favor of speaking French. I quite like it actually and practice it with great regularity – but being on holiday in Greece in a place where no one speaks anything but French is at the least strange, and eventually was totally annoying. When we signed up for a resort holiday in Greece, we foolishly thought we were going to, well, Greece. It was one of the reasons we chose that particular resort, rather than any number of other options. But Club Med Gregolimano is no more Greek than my hometown of Goleta – though they do all share the same starting letter. We primarily wiled away the days poolside. The ocean was clear and blue, though not quite the color of our Greek fantasies (surely inspired by one too many viewings of Mamma Mia, the Movie). The exercise classes were led by a sweet, energetic French woman named Noella, who had a soft spot for my husband and sister and kept us all moving at a brisk pace. Classes were almost entirely in French and my sister had us in hoots of laughter with her impressions of Noella encouraging all of us to “Soufflé” and “Ingénue.” The food was quite good, though more French than Greek, and we had two comfortable rooms that thoughtfully did not start to leak until the night before we departed. My husband obsessively read two, count ‘em, TWO of the Harry Potter books and became so immersed in the goings on that he repeatedly referred to his own son as HARRY rather than by his given name.
One of the primary saving graces of the trip was our encounter with an English speaking, London-based family who, it turned out, lived just around the corner from our Chelsea flat. There were a total of 31 English speakers in the 700 guests at the resort. We never seemed to cross paths with the others, but we were quite content to spend all of our mealtimes with the Chelsea crowd. They made wonderful company. Their son bonded immediately with our boys. Bright, charming and exceedingly well table-mannered, he and our two boys spent many contented hours in the pool, exploring the resort and watching American films on our portable DVD player. His parents were worldly, funny, interesting and well table-mannered as well and we were delighted to make their acquaintance.
It is hard to admit, but this is the last of my summer 2009 travel essays. It was a remarkable summer in so many ways. My boys relished virtually all of our travel adventures and made no complaint about the long months away from home. Truth be told, we really didn’t miss LA. We were too caught up in our London lives and our constant outings to pine for things far away. I hear that odds are we’ll be back in the UK next summer. I cannot wait! I will certainly once again find the appliances annoying and the lack of air conditioning a puzzle – but I will count myself so very lucky to be back there again, guide book in hand and camera at the ready. Next up, my Russia travel essays.Print This Post