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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Flying with the shysters

We're back from our annual summer sojourn, and this year it was to the Greek island of Rhodes.
A splendid holiday was enjoyed. The hotel - Rodos Park Hotel - was superb; its location, near Old Town, was excellent, and we were blown away by the architecture. I hadn't expected Rhodes to have such stunning examples of medieval roads, not to mention the fortresses and castles from more recent (but still distant) times.

Only a couple of black spots. The first was the unrelenting commercialism of some of the restaurants in Old Town. We found three that were delightful, Fotis (the best fresh fish), Archodiko (very exuberant host and home cooking) and Odyssey (a superb oaky chardonnay was discovered). But there was one restaurant that defied belief. We had noticed some really tall buildings with rooftop diners and several levels of dining. We decided to try one, but once ushered into the building found we had to trudge up the steps in a very shabby staircase, and once at rooftop level, found there was no escape.
The tables were very close together, the other diners were looking round crossly (looking for the waiters we subsequently discovered) and there was a general atmosphere of discontent.
The three waiters were harried and stressed. The meal itself was dreadful. I wanted moussaka but it only came as a starter (which baffled me, because most restaurants would simply offer to provide a bigger portion as a main course), so I quickly opted for kleftico which I normally love. But it was inedible, and cost an amazing 34 euros! My starter was given to the wrong table; the water only came in small bottles. Everyone seemed to be challenging their bills and calling for the waiters.

So that was one bad experience. The other was the return flight with Easyjet. When I booked the holiday originally, the carrier was BA, but unfortunately the route was later sold to Easyjet. I don't usually mind them too much as long as you buy speedy boarding so that you can bypass the awful stampede. But they really surpassed themselves on the flight home.
It was due to leave at 11pm. We were all herded into the gate area (although the screens at Rhodes were not working so no-one knew which gate it was). 11pm came and went. No announcements, no staff to ask. Eventually there was an announcement from Easyjet to claim refreshments for the delayed flight. A stampede ensued for a flattened cheese sandwich and bottle of water. Another announcement wrongly said boarding was about to commence, but we couldn't see a plane. Nonethless there was another stampede. About an hour and a half later we did board (huge stampede this time because it was a different gate) and the captain gave the usual sob story about defective planes, planes flying from Heraklion etc etc, and then added that this was a brand new plane about to make its first commercial flight, and he had had problems with it earlier in the day. Too much information! I am an easy flier but I found myself gripping the seat as we took off, and familiarising myself with the emergency exit which we were sitting next to (having purchased, judiciously, speedy boarding).
My elder bruder and I always used to refer to Easyjet as the shysters, and it does suit them. If only they had made some sort of announcement or apology at the airport instead of leaving us stewing. We finally landed at 4.30am instead of the promised 1.00am and were home by 6am on Sunday.
Would we go there again? Well we might. But J seems to have a long haul hankering and I'd like to go somewhere more unspoilt - perhaps Croatia? So we'll see.


Bill Blunt said...

Hmmm - that dreadful restaurant you highlighted sounds suspiciously like one I went into with Mrs Blunt many moons ago. Like you, we'd had some lovely meals in Rhodes Town, but some ouzo-inspired hunch led us (on our final night) to somewhere similar to what you described. To say it left a bitter taste in my mouth is to put it mildly. And we didn't even have the coffee.

Still, I learnt a valuable lesson that holiday, and subsequently every last night of my jollies has been spent in the best of any of the places we've eaten in.

Glad the rest of your holiday was enjoyable, though!

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