Friday – Normal service take two
The sun is out so we sprint down to the beach as early as possible. We get beds and lunch beds at No Name. I struggle to get into The Girl in the Spiders Web – it’s not a holiday book, but is enjoyable so far. A Greek American family set up on some of Dennis’s fold out sunbeds very close to us and we have a bit of a joke about the father’s obvious wig. Of course he’s called Wiggy for the rest of the holiday.
There is quite a lot of bat and ball activity with its jerky metronome sound and this prevents me from having my usual wave-induced afternoon nap. It is a shame because the noisy wankers in the room above were banging about and scraping chairs in the small hours. They’re at it again at about 7pm when we’re getting ready to go out. I’m not sure if they’re building Ikea furniture up there or are hunting for a lost pet mouse either way it is driving me mad.
We have dinner at Anatolikos an unassuming beach Taverna recommended to us by Gill. It looks like nothing much as you approach from off the road just as the salt flats come into view opposite but has a great beach aspect with a view of Kefalonia in the distance.
We then spend pretty much the rest of the night in Enigma listening to a rock trio who wouldn’t be out of place in The Three Nuns in Loughborough on a Saturday night, although some pronunciation is a bit odd at times. We’re told that the singer appeared on Greece’s X Factor and they do a continuous set from around 9:30 until midnight covering lots of 70s and earlier rock with a few modern classics. Very enjoyable. We pop in to Heatwave to say hello to Vince and get an update on his quest to win the heart of a local girl and have a couple of cheeky shots.
Saturday – Vive le France
Paracetamol to the rescue! Unsurprisingly we both wake up with hangovers. We are late to the beach and we think someone has nicked our preferred sunbeds near the lifesavers lookout (unmanned and in a typical state of disrepair). However much to our delight Mark and Gill have saved them for us, which is ever so nice. They go home tomorrow so they say we can have their spot tomorrow if we want. It dawns on me that Mark looks a lot like Roger Moore. He rolls his eyes. It’s an obvious celebrity lookalike that Siggy and I have both overlooked for days but that Mark gets a lot. They’ve been calling Siggy Annie Lennox for days now – she gets that a bit since she got her hair cut short and dyed blonde.
We have lunch at Pita Break opposite Heatwave where we can see Vince brushing the floor (reminding me of the Queen song Spread Your Wings). We’d arrived at a busy time so we are there for an hour. I have a pork gyros ‘Arabian’ which is a big portion in a crispy flatbread rather than a pitta, Siggy has a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. It’s the most economical place to eat if you can put up with the waiting time and (I know this sounds snobby but whatever) the mostly chavvy clientele.
Then we go back to the beach for a few hours and I go to Jungle Bar to watch the first half of France v Argentina. The French barman paces back and forth nervously, wishing he wasn’t at work. There are some cracking goals on both sides but France are the deserved winners and are improving with every game.
We go to Nossos again for dinner but it’s not as good as last time. The swordfish I have is not as good as the one I had at Relax (which is where we wanted to go but it was too busy). We watch the quad bikes blast, the horse and carriages clatter, and the coaches drone past while we’re eating and discuss the relative merits of different tavernas’ cheesy garlic bread.
We go to Jungle briefly to congratulate the bar man on France’s win and then over to Enigma to watch Portugal get knocked out by Uruguay and say tatty bye to Mark and Gill. Then we pop in to Heatwave to talk football with Vince and meet the new Russian barmaid Helen who is originally from Tolyatti on the Volga – where Lada cars are made – and has no interest in football.
Sunday – Penalties
When we get to the beach, Siggy is convinced that the two front sunbeds on the edge of Dennis’s patch of beach have been reserved, by placement of a blue towel, for us. I err on the side of caution and suggest that Siggy sit on one of them and I stay in our usual spot until Dennis gets back from taking Mark and Gill to the airport. It turns out they weren’t reserved for us. Hey ho.
With no breeze today it is easily the hottest day on the beach so far. The Girl in the Spider’s Web has a black cover which means it has gradually deformed in the heat. By the afternoon it feels like my brain is following suit. It is nice to be able to take a dip in the sea whenever we want to cool off even if that means doing a burning feet dance across the hot sand to get there. We have lunch and lots of drinks from No Name and I get a Snickers ice cream on my way back to the hotel to watch Spain v Russia. Spain appear to get most chances on goal but it goes to penalties in the end and Russia wins.
We go to Al Fresco for dinner. Again recommended by Gill. It is a modern looking place with good toilets, upstairs with a view of the main street – although it’s not much to look at really apart from a temperature gauge that is reading 28C at 8:30pm. I have a very nice mixed grill and Siggy has chicken and mushroom penne. There’s a lot pasta in Zakynthos probably due to the influence of nearby Italy.
We proceed to the Garden for Eighties tunes and a couple of cocktails. We finish watching the Croatia v Denmark game in Heatwave. It also goes to ET and penalties after Luka Modric had an ET pen saved by Schmeichel. Modric has the balls to take another penalty in the shoot-out and Croatia manage to win. Both keepers do a good job of saving quite a few of the spot kicks. Vince is his usual quirky self and after Russia’s win Helen is suddenly a huge football fan.
Monday – Turning Japanese
I couldn’t be arsed with my Proton Fit Flakes this morning and instead go to a bakery and buy a ham and cheese bake which is still hot from the oven and very tasty washed down with Lemon Fanta. The front beds are reserved again so we are on the same beds as usual. I do my usual check for fresh cat poo and then settle down to finish my book. I make good headway and have it done by lunchtime, despite the steady build-up of distractions.
Why it is that people need to hold shouted conversation with each other when they’re in neighbouring spots is a constant mystery. Lying on a tourist beach is a lot like going to the cinema – you’re ostensibly there to enjoy yourself but then other people are there whose agenda seems to be to annoy the fuck out of you at every possible opportunity. Today it is relentless unceasing loud conversations in foreign languages, but if it’s not that it’s kids bawling, people FaceTiming with the volume on maximum, people playing ball games or walking past and spraying you with sand. Such a joyous pastime, a shame that it’s our last day.
On the flip side being able to wade out into warm crystal clear water with little translucent fish swimming around your feet and the odd electric blue pipefish shooting past is great. The view of Kefalonia with its hat of puffy clouds in the otherwise completely blue sky is also brilliant. And the calm in the mornings when the sand is still not to hot underfoot and there’s just a slight breeze coming on of the gently lapping Mediterranean is sublime. Was it Oscar Wilde that said ‘hell is other people’? I’ve probably said that before in other posts. I’m not antisocial as such I’m just easily annoyed by other people.
I say goodbye to Dennis at No Name at around half four and leave Siggy on the beach. I get back to the hotel in time to watch the start of the Brazil v Mexico game after looking in a few shops at the ridiculous pricing of bags of sweeties to take into the office later this week. Later we go to Relax again for dinner.
I am disappointed by their beef stifado which isn’t warmed up properly and I’m too tired to complain about. However, their cheesy garlic bread is nice. Then we visit the Jungle Bar, The Garden, Enigma and Heatwave watching bits of Belgium v Japan and saying goodbye to people as we go. I’m rooting for the Japanese as I really dislike both Felani and Kompany (and they beat England). Belgium are spawny bastards and manage to beat Japan who were 2:0 at one point. As usual the conversation turns to where we should go for our summer holiday next year and I wouldn’t discount a return to Alykes.
Tuesday – Going home
Zakynthos airport is in the process of being refurbished and I see a huge improvement from the last time we were here (over a decade ago). The toilets are the best I’ve ever seen in a Greek airport, there are plenty of seats, check-in and security are quick (although admittedly we do have an early check in at around 11am) and the food is okay. We share a Nutella donut and have a couple of ham and cheese sandwiches. There are people milling around who look like they’re ready for a day on the beach rather than a flight home. Some people are going to get mightily cold once they’re airborne. I change into my jeans in the toilets before we board.
The flight home is painful due to a badly behaved little boy in front of us. Siggy, who gets the window seat on the way back, sleeps through most of it but I find it difficult in the middle seat. I watch the time elapsed and expected arrival time on the monitors too much and read a bit of Sharpe’s Honour between failed attempts at sleep.
We arrive home to the heatwave we’ve been hearing so much about. Siggy’s dad has kindly cut our grass but it looks tinder dry like straw stubble the same as all our neighbours. The timing of the flight is great because we have time to unpack and have some food prior to the England v Colombia game.
Colombia are a disgrace to football making every effort to disrupt the game and basically cheat, there’s no other word for it. In-between swearing at the television I find the time to listen to Siggy reading out choice comments from irate Facebookers. When one of our players gets head-butted Colombia get away with just a yellow card and to add insult to injury they get their crucial equaliser in time added on to make it 1:1 and take the game into extra time. No one scores in ET and so it is down to penalties. Siggy is asleep on the couch next to me. England have lost so many times in international tournaments on penalties and it looks like this will be the same again. Siggy wakes up because I’m making odd keening noises and waving my arms about. To tumultuous jubilation, England win after Jordan Pickford makes another great save to keep out one of Colombia’s final penalties. A nerve-racking but great end to a football-packed holiday.