Skiathos 2017 – Day 1 – Delayed

Not satisfied with two weeks in Santorini this year, we booked a cheeky week back on our favourite Greek island – Skiathos. It was our fifth visit, so we’re still well behind some of the ‘boomerangs’ we rubbed shoulders with in the queue for check in at East Midlands Airport. We haven’t been since 2014 and so were eager to see what had changed if anything.

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Pork & Pickle at the airport was a complete rip off – charging £2.49 for a pot of grapes, £2.00 for a tiny square of shortbread and £2.20 for a cup of tea. We would’ve been better of just getting some stuff from WH Smiths like we normally do, but we fancied a sit down ‘in a place’ for a change. Perhaps we should have gone upstairs to the Castle Rock bar which looked a bit more welcoming when we had a look around.

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The airport was very quiet. I guess with all the local kids going back to school the main summer holiday period is finished. Our flight was delayed arriving at the airport and so Siggy and I decided to buy Issue No. 214 of the Lucky Seven Crossword Collection – 132 pages of puzzles for £2.40. As time went on and we scratched our heads over the clues, the airport slowly filled up.

Once we had finally boarded, we were told by the captain that we were going to be sitting on the tarmac because we’d missed our ‘window’ at Skiathos Airport. All told, we were two hours late which was rather annoying. The puzzle book became increasingly infuriating and I opted instead to reading a bit of Lee Child’s Bad Luck and Trouble, and lip-reading the television shows – the same ones that we saw on the flight out to Santorini.

The food on the aircraft was okay – braised beef in a rich gravy with mash and a few carrots, a tough bread roll with Lurpak butter, cheese and crackers (I swapped the cheese with Siggy for her crackers – didn’t want to risk a migraine) and a very nice malted chocolate cheesecake in a pot. I always like to order food – I enjoy the challenge of juggling all the packaging and plastic utensils on the small tray that folds down form the seat in front of you, and it passes the time. It’s also nice to get a cup of tea even if you’ve remember to buy some water to take on board once you’ve got through security.

Once we finally arrived at the airport we had to usual wait for our luggage on the one and only carousel in the place. Because of our lateness the baggage area wasn’t particularly busy and a couple of our fellow travellers helped to keep the bags toppling off a tight bend in the carousel. The coach transfer was pretty relaxed – no screaming babies or idiots – and the temperature was such that we weren’t sweating in our travel clothes (purposely warm for the cool cabin).

We had a bit of a surprise when we arrived at the Skiathos Premier hotel in Troulos. The reception has moved to the ground floor, where we made very welcome by Roula (one of the two sisters at the hotel), and our room was in a new block that had opened this year with twelve new rooms. Last time we were here it was wasteland covered in thistles and scraps of grass. Apart from a slightly wonky shower cubicle the room was excellent with all brand new furniture, fixtures and fittings, an electronic card entry system, a good sized balcony with a good view across the hills and sea, and with a simple elegant design to it all.

We’d expect nothing less from this hotel which, admittedly only based on internet browsing and a big of snooping around the island, we feel is the best on the island. The only drawback is that it is situated on a busy road junction and so traffic noise from quad bikes, mopeds, coaches and buses can be a bit of a pain. Also I guess if you don’t like using your legs the hillside situation and the walk to the beach might be off putting.

We quickly unpacked and headed out to find somewhere to eat. We found that the road off the main road has been resurfaced and blessed with a new pavement which runs all the way to Ratatouille taverna.

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The new pavement. This photo was taken on Day 2.

We walked briskly to Christstakis Sports Bar to say hello to Chris and order some much needed draft Mythos, a hotdog for Siggy and chicken souvlaki for me, we were hoping for one of their excellent pizzas, but the menu was a cut down menu they offer when there’s a big football match on.

Yes, football! It was an unexpected bonus. We’ve enjoyed a lot international football in the past at the sports bar – it’s the only time at the two ends of the holiday season when the place is truly packed. The game was one of the European World Cup qualifiers – England versus Malta. There was boxing and rugby also shared across the eight televisions and the big projector screen. Every table in the sports bar was occupied.

There were four consecutive nights of World Cup football to be savoured. Siggy was overjoyed at the prospect. We got two almond mini Magnum type ice cream lollies as a free pudding which took the edge of the (bad) news for Siggy.

A bloke in the toilets around the back of the sports bar said ‘what’s the difference?’ looking at the identical cubicles – two for women two for men ‘when you want a piss you just want a piss’. The difference was quite clear. There was piss all over the men’s toilet I went to.

The football match ended 4-0 to England – a rather flattering score line mostly accumulated late in the second half. Their performance at times was as infuriating as those damn crosswords had been and there were certainly some cross words being called out at times during the match. There was a bit of a sing-along to Sweet Caroline after the match which faded into the distance as we made our way back to the hotel down the patchily lit road.

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The path zig-zagging up the side of the hotel. Again this photo was taken on Day 2.

We found a new zig zag path up the side of the hotel to a path along the front to floors 2 and 3 (where we have previously had rooms), and the newly built level (floors 4 and 5), and then there’s another ‘ramp’ to the doors to the room situated at the back of the block. Of course all of this steepness will afford us good views when the sun comes up tomorrow. That’s if North Korea haven’t bombed it. We’ve connected to the free wifi at the sports bar and the hotel and the news is very worrying. Maybe it’s a mistake to connect back to ‘the real world’?

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