On family holidays, we have always stayed in nice places. Often large villas, sometimes hotels.
And I must admit, I do like staying in nice places. I mean, I really like staying in nice places. But it wasn’t until I went to Greece with a group of girl friends that I realised that accommodation simply isn’t the most important thing. Good trips aren’t dependent on where you stay. What matters is where you go and who you go with.
At the end of July 2011, at about 10pm one evening, six friends and I boarded a flight from Heathrow to Athens. I think we landed in Athens at about 4am. We gathered our luggage and searched for a bus that would take us to the port.
I don’t like buses. In general, they make me feel dizzy, nauseous and incredibly uncomfortable. This bus was no exception. I really wanted the window open – it was so stuffy – but the man sitting in front of me bluntly refused to open it. I couldn’t even go to sleep: we had no idea when we would reach the port or what it would look like so we had to stay awake and concentrate.
As in Russia, we decided to get off when everyone else did. Thankfully, everyone else had the same destination and we were at the port. Unfortunately, we then had an hour to wait. At 6am, the ticket office would open and then we could buy tickets for the 8am ferry to Ios.
At 6am, we discovered that the 8am boat was completely booked and that there wasn’t another ferry to Ios until the next morning. Exhausted and with tears begin to build behind my eyes, I meekly asked the ticket man sitting in his little hut where in Greece we could get to within the next few hours.
Seven tickets and a few hours later, we boarded the ferry to Mykonos.
We arrived in Mykonos tired, grumpy and disappointed. At this point, the thought of spending a week in budget accommodation was not particularly appealing. Nonetheless, after a further few hiccups – details of which can be found here – we eventually sorted out accommodation. And, well, it certainly wasn’t perfect.
We had three people sleeping in two double beds and the lucky seventh member of our group on a single bed. We couldn’t use the hob and have showers simultaneously. There was no kettle to boil water in. The fridge was warm. The air-conditioning had a mind of its own and functioned completely independently from its buttons. The door didn’t lock.
Oh yes. And we had a flood. A minor flood, yes, but a flood nonetheless.
When my friend woke up, ready to head out to the beach, and swung her legs out her bed to find herself knee deep in water, she was not best pleased. Neither were those of us who had left our luggage on the floor.
But, strangely, the memories of this trip aren’t of feeling stressed and frustrated. They aren’t of the constant problems that plagued us throughout the week. They’re of a group of seven girls lying on the beach, of swimming in the sea, of chatting over cocktails. They’re of pasta every night, of hilarious encounters with locals and tourists, of laughing and laughing and laughing.
Because the iffy start and the questionable accommodation just weren’t that important in the end. As I said earlier, I reckon its the location and the people that really make the difference.