Tag Archives: holiday

Girl not in Czechland: My Big Fat Greek Holiday

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Votsalakia beach, Samos

Hello. Or should I say ‘Kalimera’. That means ‘Good morning’ by the way. As for the rest of the language, it’s all Greek to me.*

So I’m back after an extended break some of which I spent abroad. On a foreign holiday! How very spoilt and western! Or perhaps not, as today’s Dnes informs me that 600,000 Czechs now visit Italy every year. Gone are the days when buying all your kids an ice-cream anywhere beyond the borders of Czechland would mean having to spend the rest of the year eating stale rohlíky.

Even on a Greek island, it’s not unusual to find a taverna menu in Cesky these days. Don’t believe me? As usual, I’ve documented the evidence.

No, this menu isn't sitting outside a restaurant in Prague but the Greek island of Samos...

It did take some arm-twisting to get to agree to head for foreign shores but when I told him that it was simply his duty to help prevent the impending Greek economic collapse by spending his disposable cash in their fine country, he relented.

I’m joking, of course. He agreed because it was cheap. I’m not complaining: mustn’t go spending all that tax rebate at once.

I loved Samos.

We had a great time. The beaches were beautiful – if a little windswept – but we didn’t spend all our time lying on the sand. The Czechs are an active bunch so of course I was made to pack hiking boots as well as flipflops. I was not exactly delighted to be woken up at 5.30am to set off up a mountain before the sun became too scorchingly hot but I was glad I’d made the effort when we arrived at the town of Marathokampos. There was something magical about having the chance to explore the chaotic winding streets with only the local population of cats for company.  Here’s the view I was rewarded with:

Marathokampos, Samos

We didn’t spend all our time off the beaten track: what package holiday would be complete withoutgoing on at least one excursion?

The first stop of the coach tour of the island we’d opted for was at a pottery studio. There a bearded Greek chap showed off his skill with wet clay for the amusement of the assembled crowd of tourists. So far, so predicable. Czechman, however, was entranced. I had to practically drag him out of the souvenir shop where I caught him eyeing up vases costing 50 euro (ouch!) but not before he made one purchase.

We are now the proud owners of not one, but two, Cups of Pythagoras.

What, you may ask, is the difference between an ordinary cup and the Cup of Pythagoras you see here below? Apparently, the Greek mathematician invented this object to teach his students the spirit of fairness – or alternatively, to stop them getting too drunk in his lectures. How does this remarkable drinking vessel achieve these lofty goals? Fill it beyond a certain point and the entire contents pour out of a hole in the bottom.

Czechman's favourite souvenir

Now call me stupid but a cup with a hole in the bottom seems to be about as much use as a one-legged man in an arse-kicking competition. However, it was so cute to watch the normally super-sensible Czechman be keen to buy tourist tacky souvenirs that I happily let him hand over the euros.  What the hell.  Now that we’ve bought a flat, who knows when we’ll get to go on a foreign holiday again?

Yes that’s right: Czechman and I are taking our first tentative steps on the property ladder. Expect to hear more about that soon. And although I won’t be jetting off anywhere soon, I do have something ‘jet’ related in the pipeline.  Watch this space…

Fresh figs, apricots and thick greek yogurt - the perfect holiday breakfast...

A donkey. They have quite a lot of these on Samos.

(*This is a simply hilarious joke which relies on you knowing the English idiom ‘It’s all Greek to me’ which means ‘I don’t understand this at all.’ Apparently the Czech equivalent is something about Spanish villages.)

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Family holiday Czech style: my trip to Orlik and Podskali, Southern Bohemia

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I hate people who produce blog posts consisting solely of their holiday photos.   Save it for Facebook or the round robin email to your mates back home.

What you see above then, aren’t really holiday photos at all, more like documentary evidence from my latest expeditionary trip deep into Czechland.  Czechman’s parents rent a cottage (chata) near the same man-made lake every summer: they invited Czechman and I, along with his sister and her husband, to join them.

The cottage is in a holiday camp in a place called Podskali (literally ‘under rock’). The whole place had a ramshackle feel to it with chalets and tents and caravans scattered along the edge of the lake around a rundown looking hotel. A holiday camp back home in England usually means a place with a bingo hall, several amusement arcades and an entertainment complex where cabaret acts in the twilight of their careers put on a show for a few bored pensioners.

Not in Czechland.

Here the only ways to spend your money were playing table tennis, buying a paper or renting a rowing boat.  Or, of course, in the pub which we visited only once to get a beer to take to Czechman’s dad while he was fishing.

I’m not complaining though.  I think that this is just an example of how Czechs have mastered the art of having a good time without forking out too much cash.  We spent our time playing board games and cards, rowing back and forth across the lake and going for walks in the countryside. One of these expeditions turned into a spontaneous mushroom picking session.  I’m not very good at picking mushrooms, it turns out, probably because as Czechman’s dad pointed out, ‘you don’t really have a lot of this terrain in London, do you?’

I should also mention our day trip to Orlik, the white castle you can see in the photograph at the top.  It was inhabited by the Schwarzenbergs, a bunch of soldiering aristocrats who filled the palace with the antlers of deer they’d shot and lots of guns. There were so many dead things mounted on plaques and displayed on the walls I’m surprised they had time to do anything else but hunt.  The place must have looked even more impressive perched on the edge of a cliff as it would have been before the river was flooded to create the lake which powers the nearby hydroelectric dam.  It is worth seeing if you get the chance.

I spotted a woman striding into the lake with a bottle of shower gel in her hand, presumably to get a wash without having to pay for the showers.  Am I alone in finding this odd?

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