Sunday, 7 September 2014

Claire's Holiday - A Review

For this holiday I wrote detailed notes everyday. Then, this morning, I accidentally deleted them! I mean, honestly, who creates a note taking app without an undo button! Idiots!!
So this is the rewritten, uncomprehensive, version (you probably would've found the full version boring anyway!)...
I have been on holiday in Afandou, Rhodes since the beginning of the month and this is my review...
The objective of my holiday has been to relax and tune out as I have found that almost impossible to do since John died. As a result, I have seen very little of Rhodes as I have stayed in Afandou rather than venturing out.
Afandou itself is a small quiet town which I'm tempted to say is traditionally Greek in feel if not for the fact it is so clearly catered towards the tourist!
It is certainly not the kind of place I'd recommend if you wanted to party every night but it was perfect for my objectives.
The town is almost maze like in it's layout and perhaps it should be no surprise I didn't discover half of it until half way through my holiday when I ventured further than what I thought was the end of the shopping area! However, that bit was even more touristy - with prices to match! - so I didn't bother with it more than the once!
I stayed at the Sky Afandou hotel which was situated at the top of a hill - so not recommended for the infirm or unfit - and I struggled to climb it most days, what with the heat and everything!
I would say the hotel is a 2 star one (not sure of official rating) as it is in desperate need of modernisation: my room had absolutely no mod cons whatsoever (no phone, no telly/radio, no hairdryer, etc) with only two plug sockets (one of which was half falling off and located near the door so wasn't much use), no air con and my shower was falling apart (sometimes with no hot water either - although I do understand that an island as tiny as Rhodes probably doesn't have the infrastructure to guarantee the luxury of hot water every day!). Although the bed was comfortable and the hotel does also have it's own pool.
However, what made the hotel for me was the two brothers who run it who were nothing short of kind/friendly/helpful/lovely every day of my stay! :)
However, the same can not be said of the holiday firm, Holiday Gems, that I booked my holiday with.
I had bought myself a self-catering holiday but, on arrival, discovered there were no catering facilities whatsoever!
When I contacted the rep she said I'd have to contact the firm in Britain! Phone international only to be put on hold for 20 mins??? I'm not made of money, you know!
So I emailed them instead. They replied to say that they'd passed the matter over to their "emergency on resort team" and they'd be in touch with me asap. I never heard from the "emergency on resort team" and, since I had no intention of changing hotels now that I had arrived, I could not see what agreeable solution they could come up with so I decided to let the matter drop until my return home.
The hotel fiasco was also in addition to the fact that before setting off they convinced me to change my airport transfer from a private car with wifi to the speedy shuttle bus with the promised reduction in price never materialising! (Despite repeated emails requesting it) It is thus safe to say that I will never use Holiday Gems ever again!
Due to the cock-up over the accommodation, I was forced to buy fruit for breakfast, pastries for lunch (as supermarkets don't seem to do sandwiches here) and eat out every evening. It is thus just as well that the food is so cheap here! A 2 litre bottle of water costs just 30 cents and my evening meals were on average around €11 for 2 courses or more.
I tried three restaurants during my stay - two of which could easily rival any restaurant I've ever eaten at anywhere else on the planet!
The first of these was O'Mimis which was half kebab shop and half restaurant and the quality of the food was superb! I had the "Greek dish" the first night, which was a selection of Greek specialities (very few I could tell you the name of!) with things like moussaka, stuffed olive leaves and peppers, with dips and veg. The second night I ate there, I had lamb kleftiko which was not kebabs like I thought but lamb cooked in it's own juices with potato, rice and other veg. Again, it was first class and how they made the onion taste so delicious I shall never know!
The second restaurant I'd much recommend is Four Seasons which advertises itself as "Mediterranean cuisine" but, on looking at the menu, it was clearly Italian (but perhaps it's not safe to declare that on a Greek Island?).
The first night I had calzone which looked like a gigantic Cornish pasty on arrival (I'm much more used to it looking like a folded pizza) but with a ham and mushroom pizza filling rather than minced beef and veg!
It was delicious but far too much to eat it all!
The second night there I had the Mama Mia tortellini, with baklava and ice cream to follow.
The pasta was served with chicken, bacon, onion and mushroom in a creamy tomato sauce and couldn't be faulted! The baklava was served with bright yellow banana ice cream so was quite a sight and totally delicious!
The other restaurant I tried was Michalis which advertises itself as a "traditional Greek taverna" but, unlike O'Mimis, I actually found very little traditional Greek food on the menu. On the first night I tried it, I had Menu 2 which was cucumber and tomato salad to start, followed by moussaka and then ice cream to finish. The meal was pleasant but not outstanding. The second night I tried it I had chicken schnitzel which, again, was perfectly good fare but nothing to write home about.
However, a couple of things a visitor should be aware of about dining out here is that the restaurants don't start serving in the evening until 6:30pm at the earliest and, unlike Britain where the waiters are trained to be attentive, here they will leave you to eat your meal until summoned.
So now to the one major drawback of my visit not caused by Holiday Gems... Mosquitos!
I visited in September so it may very well be a different story at other times of the year but I have been eaten alive by Mosquitos whilst on this island! After my third day here, I counted 43 bites! Thus I would strongly recommend coming armed with effective mosquito repellent instead of acting retrospectively like I have done. (Incidentally, the most effective repellent I discovered is an anti-mosquito app which has kept me bite free since using it - much to my relief!).
One final note - I deliberately chose to come later in the year to avoid the worst of the heat. However, it has still been 84 degrees every day on average and it doesn't drop below 70 degrees even at night! I have thus followed local tradition of doing what sightseeing/shopping I wanted to do first thing in the morning and then hiding away from the sun for the remainder of the day until I ventured out for my evening meal.
Oh, and as far as my objectives of relaxing and tuning out go, I'd say (with the exception of the Mosquitos) it is mission accomplished! :)