For the first time in living memory Scotland has had a warm June and July, with hardly any rain. However we'd booked our summer holiday well in advance so it was off to Greece we went, courtesy of Mr Thomas Cook. We stayed for a week in the Mitsis Family Village, near Kardamena, on the Greek island of Kos, actually just a few miles off the Turkish coast.
After a 4 hour flight and a short minibus ride, we passed the swanky Blue Domes hotel (more about this later) and were turfed out at the slightly less swanky Family Village. It's at the end of a long bay which starts at Kardamena and turns into hills just after our bit. The Mitsis hotel chain has built 4 hotel complexes here, with their own private section of the beach.
Our hotel has a strange shaped pool, a couple of water slides, a buffet restaurant, a pizza hut on the beach, a mini market, and Pastry Corner, where crepes and ice cream were available all day. We had a room pretty close to reception, but also on the approach road, so were woken early each day by buses, scooters, bin lorries and the like. The room was a bit dated, with a clunky lock, but serviceable, and the air conditioning was welcome. Plus the fridge was refilled with drinks for free every couple of days.
On arrival we had 5 minutes to dump our stuff and get to the restaurant before it shut at 9.30. Strangely it would open again at 11pm, for the very late diners. Anyway, we made it for the last kebab and an interesting selection of goodies. Lots of lamb and pork, some fish and various tray bakes were on offer, and plenty of mousses and baklava for pudding.
On our first proper day we found that the place was pretty busy, the restaurant was heaving and waiters were kept on their toes bringing out more food and taking away big trays of plates and cups. However after breakfast we easily found some loungers by the pool and plenty of space for swimming. The pool was salt water, so not too great if you swallowed any, but more buoyant than usual. And a strange shape: like five hexagons of various sizes all overlapping. In the evening the sun had gone behind the hills by about 8, so we took a walk down to the beach just to get the lay of the land.
Day 2 was our first beach day. There's a wee train that takes you down every half hour and there was space on it so we took the ride. The beach is divided by colour of parasol. We had the green ones, and free access to the pizza hut; the Summer Palace folk had a glass fronted restaurant; Hotel Norida had a bar topped by a big upper floor restaurant, and the Blue Domes had four sections with different cuisines on offer. They also got loungers with thick mattresses, and parasols made with palm leaves rather than canvas. Hotel envy was going to be a theme for the week. Anyway, we were close to the sea, and being the Med it didn't show any tidal movement, so it was handy all day.
There are also water sports available. Cate and I had a go on the inflatable assault course, which was fun but I had the ignominy of a slender 8-year-old girl asking if I needed help climbing back onto the inflatable after falling off. I did need help but she wasn't strong enough, so I had to swim around to the step. There was a kind of flat ladder thing that both Cate and I found quite challenging, while the tiny kids bounded across it. Anyway, we had a great time swimming with the fishes (not in a mafia-hit way), pizza for lunch and a bracing walk back up the hill for showers before dinner. Then we watched England being gubbed by Croatia, which capped off a lovely day.
We didn't try out any of the entertainment by the way. There was a kids disco, a few shows at the Amphitheatre, and live entertainment round the pool, but we made our own entertainment with Stop the Bus and Dobble mostly, plus much use of iPads and Kindles. I was also hampered in taking pictures of the family as both of them became very camera-shy.
We thought we'd better get out and about a bit, despite the heat, so on day 3 we took the bus over to Kardamena. We visited a supermarket and lots of tourist shops but there didn't seem to be too much else to do here so we got the bus back again at lunch time, and Cate and I went to the pool while Claire took part in the local custom of siesta. We got our gifts for folk back home at least, and Cate got a big warm hoodie which would be no use at all until we got back home.
Day 4 and we're back on the beach, swimming in the sea and enjoying pizza for lunch. The pizza man was making them as fast as he could and handing them out as soon as they were made, 2 slices at a time. At least you knew it was fresh! Back up the hill for a rest before dinner, and after that we had a walk through the other hotel areas. Blue Domes was very nice, with a series of pools running all the way down the hill, and a big selection of restaurants to go to. I looked up the cost versus our own hotel, and they were paying an extra £200 per night, so you pays your money and takes your choice. We found a bigger shop at the Norida hotel, where Cate and Claire got some bogus designer t-shirts, and I bemoaned that they didn't have the Hippocrates one in my size.
Day 5 was another pool day. We didn't get out and about much as there didn't seem to be too much to do on the island, I didn't fancy hiring a car and Claire gets sick on boat rides. There did seem to be a few decent excursions if your stomach can take the sea voyages.
For a change of scenery on day 6 we spent some time at the waterslides. There are two of these, and they were decent if a bit painful to ride on. Cate liked the pool as it was fresh water.
On our final day we had one of those late flights and the hotel couldn't spare the room for a late checkout. So we went down to the beach for the day, leaving our luggage in the storage room, then came back up for a final crepe and ice cream before catching the bus back to the airport and the flight home.
We had noticed that the water sports area had free kayaks and pedalos, but hadn't bothered until today. However the guy said it was too windy. It had been blowing hard all week and I assumed that this was just the prevailing weather for this area, but the guy said no, this was really unusual and he seemed a bit miffed that he was losing business because of it. The shops must have gained a bit of business. We saw at least one lilo cartwheeling out to sea as the wind caught it.
The wind didn't bother us too much though. We had a relaxing holiday, got plenty of swimming in and didn't break anything. My yearly all-inclusive weigh-in was slightly disappointing with only a 1 pound loss. Maybe because it was just one week. Or maybe there was too much baklava.
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