With both me and my brother leaving for warmer climes, perhaps for good, my parents decided on our fourth (and most likely, last) family holiday abroad. As Brits, this nearly always means Europe. That vain search for a sandy beach untouched by fellow holiday makers, which ultimately reduces itself to scouring google maps on the terrain skin and trying to work out whether the hotel you want to book is mired in a swamp of pie shops, quad bikes, and alcohol infested strips. Imagine our surprise when we appeared to have found this (or at least the this that fit our measly budget) in the island of Zakynthos, otherwise well known as the party-haven of Zante, in the midst of the Greek islands. Most of this party culture, it turns out, is focused on the southern coast, stretching up about as far as Tsilivi on the Eastern coast before coming to a fairly abrupt stop and leaving a stretch of town and beach open to families and retirees. That’s not to say that Alykanas town is quiet, but rather that it has a more select variety of bars and resaraunts, a more authentic “Greek” offering, and the horses and carts seem a little less out of place. The hotel we booked was located just as the stretch of main road petered out into full Grecian countryside, at the base of a hill that yielded only locals when we climbed. Ten to fifteen minutes from the beach, it was the perfect location for us with a small but perfectly adequate pool and the beautiful-but-bare 360 views of crop fields.
In our short-but-sweet week, we spent most days lounging on the beach and seeking out a new restaurant to try, breaking up this routine in the middle of the week to take a 1-day boat tour that covered shipwreck beach (incredibly beautiful and definitely worth a visit, but unfortunately prey to the throng of people and boats these tourist hotspots inevitably attract – best to visit on the earliest tour possible while everyone has their holiday lie in!), three different sets of cave and swimming spots, and turtle spotting off the south coast! After our full circuit of the island, not a single one of us regretted the money spent, about €240 for the four of us. I returned to Cardiff for my graduation tanned and high on the travel bug again – in just over a fortnight, on the 8 August 2015, I’d be boarding a plane in Heathrow and beginning my solo adventures again!
If you’d like to see more of the trip, the vlogs are available on YouTube via my brother’s channel “MinuteVlogs”: here’s day one.