Sitting bolt-up right in bed, I shook my boyfriend awake.We heard a glass smash in the room above, followed by what sounded like a couple of plates cracking against the wall. A VERY drunken woman began slurring insults at her husband as he screamed back in protest. What we later found out to be a shoe, flew from their balcony. After a couple more suspicious thuds, the whirring blue lights of a police car illuminated our room.
My boyfriend and I shook our heads and went back to sleep, just another night in Kavos.
Last summer we were desperate to get away for a couple of weeks before our university term began. Being poor students we could only afford the cheapest of the cheap and we thought that our flexibility and last-minute timing would secure us a great deal.
Even at the dregs of summer we were confronted with packed out flights and fully-booked hotels. It seemed like everyone had the same idea as us to avoid the school-holiday crowds. After searching hopelessly for deals in travel agents and online, we were directed to Olympic Holidays.
Here there were a plethora of last-second deals, the majority self-catering fortnights in notorious party towns. Being a couple, and a club-shy couple at that, we were terrified of these Brit-packed resorts but the lure of sun, sea and sand, (as well as the £200 price-tag) was too strong to ignore.
So a couple of days later we were at the airport, surrounded by booze-fuelled teens decorated in Kavos 2012 t-shirts and ageing tattooed couples shouting at each other across the terminal. Now we aren’t ones to be holiday snobs, we have both backpacked for months on end and stayed in the grottiest and cheapest of hostels but this seemed different.
Fellow backpackers were clammering for adventure and generally dying to immerse themselves into local culture, however in Kavos English Breakfasts were top of the menu and English football beamed from every television. Desperate to avoid this tourist trap we headed off the neon-strip and tried to find the old, sleepy fishing town Kavos and its surrounding villages once were, with some English surprises along the way.
Here are my top tips to turn British holiday hell to budget friendly heaven:
– Don’t be scared off by the resort’s reputations. You have no money and no time so you can’t be fussy, the cheapest holidays you can find are usually in these notorious areas so suck it up and book!
– Don’t have expectations. Your accommodation isn’t going to be the Ritz. The pool will probably be cloudy and there may be a lining of dust on the top of your wardrobe but you did only pay £200…
– Pack as much tinned food and pasta as you can carry. These resorts cater towards tourists and hike up their prices accordingly. Things like toilet roll and washing up liquid also come in handy in self-catered resorts.
– Socialise. You will meet A LOT of characters in these resorts. Screaming couples and rowdy teenagers mingle with students and young families. All walks of life like a cheap holiday deal and these resorts have a way of bringing people together. Everyone knew we were poor students so gave us their food when they left, socialising pays!
– Head off the beaten track. Although holiday reps love to push organised tours and nights out, they live in these resorts and know a lot about them. Between trying to sell us trips on party boats and urban safaris, our rep told us about a deserted beach within walking distance of our appartment.
– Take local transport. Local transport can be sparse and unreliable (especially in Greece!) but it is one way of meeting the people who live there and it takes you through tiny villages and past amazing scenery which you would otherwise miss. On our way to Corfu Town, the bus took us through winding traditional villages which we ended up re-visiting. It make take hours longer than a taxi or organised tour but its cheaper and a lot more eye-opening.
– Don’t feel guilty. International backpackers through and through, my boyfriend and I cringed at the thought of going to a Brit-ruined resort. I stared apologetically at the locals, hoping they didn’t blame me for my fellow countrymen and women who had turned their sleepy village into a 24/7 club night. I felt embarrassed to see the ‘I’m in Kavos bitch’ t-shirts dangling from shop windows. Yet by the end of the week I was gulping down a 2 euro English Breakfast whilst watching Friends. This only happened once and in the end I didn’t regret it. The English food was cheaper than any Greek dish and I had tried as hard as I could to immerse myself in every aspect of their culture. But 2 euros? Who could refuse that! I think that it is this delicate balance in Kavos that makes all the difference.
So don’t be put off by package holidays like this. You may lose a little backpacker credibility but you can still have a great time and see the best of another culture as well as learning a bit more about your own!
Have you holidayed in a popular tourist resort? What did you think?