The United Nations Breakfast Club

Fira 01

We’ll I’ve survived another holiday on foreign shores and lived to tell the tale. Now that doesn’t mean that it was all plain sailing, you have to work at being relaxed and happy and according to Ann I am really crap at it.

Our holidays normally the responsibility of Ann, she likes to be in control and I like to turn up on the day with my toothbrush and ask where are we going? Now I know that it is the lazy way to vacation but up to now it’s worked very well, Ann’s happy because she is in control and I am happy because I haven’t had to make a decision.

However this year has been different, I thought I would try and organise our holiday just to prove that I am not completely useless in this area. After several minutes of research whilst having a beer it struck me almost like an epiphany, why not choose somewhere that we both like. Then I had a second thought why not try to find an activity that Ann likes to do.

So after much head scratching I remembered about fifteen years ago we did a cruise and one of the places we visited was Santorini, a small island in the Aegean Sea which I remembered was the most beautiful place I had ever visited. As an added bonus I remembered it also had shops, so what’s not to like.

Now bearing in mind that Ann now walks with a stick, or two on a bad day I also remembered it was full of steps so after much searching I found what looked like a rather nice hotel just a short distance from the centre of Fira within striking distance of the shops. Perfect, although the price almost made my eyes bleed!

That was back in December and if like me you forget what you did last week, Ann’s constant interrogation throughout our journey of the what’s it got and what’s it not got, made me very nervous about arriving. The cynic in me was thinking, have I fallen foul of the ad mans blurb, will it be as nice as it looked online.

After landing at the Smallest Airport I have ever passed through in my life we transferred to our hotel not in a huge coach but an air conditioned luxury minibus with a rather helpful and smooth looking Greek Adonis, Ann’s response was ‘bloody hell, bus drivers don’t look like that at home’. Once the luggage was loaded, we left the airport and twenty minutes later we arrived at our hotel which even I was impressed with.

This is probably the best hotel I have ever stayed in. It looked even better than the online photographs and our suite according to our bar tender is the best on the complex (he would say that wouldn’t he). From our door we overlook the Caldera (Volcano Crater) and from our balcony we can watch people across the complex whilst sipping our pre dinner Gin and Tonics.

I know all this sounds to good to be true, but this island although changed since our last visit is still astonishingly beautiful, peaceful and quiet. I have learned over the years that nothing lasts forever and within a few years this island will change and bow to the ever increasing demands that tourism brings.

Now it didn’t take me long to make a lasting impression with the other guests, walking in for breakfast on our first morning wearing a Viva Cuba Tee shirt that Ann had bought me because it looked nice (I don’t wear logos out of a point of principal, I pay to buy it so why should I advertise the product for free).

Now I didn’t think I was being outrageous wearing this tee shirt, however the table full of elderly Texans seemed to take offence and stopped talking mid sentence but like all true British folks abroad we braved it out and finished my breakfast, and very nice it was too.

This brings me to the point of this ramble. We are staying in a hotel filled with every nationality imaginable. Some on long stays and some for a couple of days. Whilst I sit by the pool being nosey it amazing what you can find out about the various nationalities.

The aforementioned Americans managed to complain about almost everything however the Greek hotel manger was priceless. The loudest American gentleman was complaining about seeing a rat outside his room in the undergrowth. The reply from the Manager was fantastic and had me choking in my drink. ‘Was it in your room sir’? ‘No’! replied the American, ‘That’s ok then it’s not a problem’, and walked off. The expression on the American’s face was a picture.

The Australians on the other hand seem to plan every day down to the minute and must partake in some worthy excursion or exercise. I got tired just listening one group getting all excited over another gruelling schedule being discussed over breakfast.

The Japanese contingent are also fascinating to watch, they push into queues, walk quickly and take photographs of the most mundane things. I must say I feel slightly unnerved by the fact that my white skeletal frame with a huge belly in my speedos will provide endless amusement in someone’s family album back in Japan.

Finally that brings me to the Germans, they have a huge self confidence that is almost overwhelming, they had behaved themselves until Saturday when they ditched our towels and stole our Sun loungers which put Ann in an apocalyptic rage that needed two gin and tonics to placate.

It was the Spanish however restored my faith in human nature. One day whilst at the pool and the sun was stripping the skin off my bones, a Spanish family asked if I would want to change loungers because they had a sunshade. I will be eternally grateful to them otherwise I would have been burned to a Crisp.

I hate to think what everyone else will be writing about me when they get back home but the bottom line is that we are all different in some way but we should look at what we have in common, be a little more tolerant of each other and try something different now and again to keep your pulse racing.

I find it a little strange that even on holiday we become a little entrenched in judging people by our own standards rather than trying to understand why they do what they do. If we behave in this way when on holiday then I despair what we are like in our everyday lives.

I was deeply saddened and enraged by the report by Jon Snow from Gaza on Channel 4 News whilst I was away. It seems obscene to me that as a collective population on this small planet we can allow over a thousand innocent people to be killed or maimed in a conflict that has no short term resolution in site and sit back because we think it is too difficult an issue to resolve.

I can only admire the negotiators in this conflict whose obvious patience far outweighs their frustration in trying to come to some negotiated peace which is long overdue.

So after that visit from the real world and as with all holidays it won’t take long to forget the fantastic experiences, people and places we have visited and I only hope the more we travel the more tolerant we will become of each other.

So that’s it rant over and I can assure you all that I am well rested and as they say in Diggle ‘Ready for owt’ the world has to throw at me.


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