Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hotel Samos - a woman traveler's dream

It's not often that the single woman traveler happens upon a hotel which not only is excellent value for money but also provides all the necessities and features a female traveler of a certain age requires. The Hotel Samos on the Greek island of the same name is a point in case. First to mention is the location which could not be more convenient. You walk off the ferry, cross the road and walk into the cool and welcoming lobby of the Samos to be greeted by manager Maria, multi-lingual, friendly and eager to help you with any information you need. The rooms are spacious, very clean and comfortable and have a balcony with French doors which overlook either the sea or a quiet side road. In full season, a double room costs €65, which is very reasonable and includes all taxes and an ample breakfast buffet which is served from 6.30 am on to accommodate travelers who have to catch an early ferry. Every woman will appreciate the presence of a dresser with a wide well lit mirror above it to spread out and apply her make up. Hangers abound in the closet and the bathroom leaves nothing to be desired including a working hair dryer. TV, phone and AC do not even have to be mentioned. But there is more: a very nice pool and bar is to be found on the roof top and coin operated internet in the business center downstairs. Meals are to be had in the restaurant or the open air bar and I have had one of the best Greek salads I have ever tasted. The Samos has 'only' 3 stars, but it would deserve one more for excellency. A comfortable, peaceful, safe and utterly enjoyable place to stay.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Glamour-chick goes camping

Glamour-chick goes camping! You wouldn’t believe the things that can happen to a single woman traveler. I met a dear friend of mine on the Greek island of Naxos to spend a few days. I knew she was a camping enthusiast and would pitch her tent, but I also knew that there were studios available for those, like me, who are not such ‘close to nature’ fans. However, when we arrived at the camp site, no rooms, apartments, studios or any decent beds of any kind were available. The lady at reception smiled and said: “But you can rent a tent! We’ll also give you a sleeping bag and a mat. It’s only for 2 nights”. I don’t know what possessed me, but I AGREED!!! A tiny tent was pitched for me next to my friend’s, a sleeping bag and a paper thin mat were handed to me and instead of a 5 star hotel, glamour-chick found herself in the wilderness, facing the very alien experience of camping. First obstacle: you can only crawl, no standing up and even on your knees your head hits the tent roof. You discover a whole new world of standing up and sitting down, not to mention trying to get in and out of your clothes without making a spectacle of yourself for all the world to see. Never ever have I tried to sleep on a harder ground which of course meant next to no sleep at all. As if that wasn’t bad enough, tiny ants found their way inside and crawled all over me all night long. At sunrise I couldn’t take any more and thought a shower would help. Of course, there are only communal showers and a bunch of very young French took that literally: at 6am boys and girls were having themselves a party, showering together in the ladies shower room. When I, who could have been their grandmother, entered, they, at first gave me the evil eye, waiting to see if I would kick up a fuss. But, I thought better of it and asked with a wide grin if I could join the party. I was offered a slug from a litre bottle of appalling red wine and a spoonful of melting chocolate ice cream. Taken in good grace, I even got a shower stall to myself and was able to kill the ants which were still crawling up my legs. That dawn party was actually the funniest part of the whole experience but at least, now I’m an expert on what NOT to do when you are past the age of 20.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Living it up for a day at La Mamounia/Marrakesh

Even the world class hotels seem to feel the economic pinch which is a good thing really, because us mere mortals get a chance to enjoy all the luxury for a day by getting a day pass. I availed myself of that opportunity at the Mamounia Hotel in Marrakesh, one of the leading hotels of the world. For approx. $50, I got a day pass and enjoyed a wonderful day. I headed straight for the enormous pool and settled myself in one of the loungers, never lifting a finger to get towels, the headrest adjusted or a cool drink. Then I wanderd around the beautiful gardens which the hotel is famous for, admiring the tropical plants and even taking a peek at their kitchen garden. The hotel features 5 differently themed restaurants and amazing art work. Buffet lunch is to be had at the pool side bar (not included in the day pass) and although it's quite expensive, it's worth it because you can get any hot or cold Moroccan delicacy imaginable and as much of it as your stomach will allow. I met seriously nice hotel guests who had interesting travel stories to tell and, in the afternoon, an icecream man came around. The super big scones were even free. I topped up the day by enjoying a fruit drink in the piano bar and headed happily home to my own more modest lodgings.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Flight romantic in Greece

I just love it when I get a chance to fly the old-fashioned way which is to say: propellers instead of jets, walking across the tarmac, boarding by way of a narrow pull-up gangway, sitting where you please and not being jostled by tons of so-called 'carry-on' luggag by reason of the fact, that there are no overhead bins to store it in. Not to mention a pilot who actually seems to fly the thing himself instead of computers doing the heavy lifting. As you fly low, you can actually see something when you look out the window. All this romantic I experienced on my recent fkight from the Greek island of Kos to Crete with the Crete airline Sky Express. As it was the height of the summer season, they had laid on their 'big' plane: a 30 seater whereas in off season a 12 seater will do. And you know what? People enjoyed themselves no end. Nobody was in a hruuy, many stopped by the engines and took pictures of each other. A sinle flight attendant puled p the stairs, locked the door and proceeded to do safety instructions also the old fashioned way. She did it so nicely that people actually paid attention. Give me Sky Express any time.