Having come to terms with being in an ‘All Inclusive’ holiday resort on the next day I set to be positive about the experience. The hotel, I have to say was exceptionally good, the rooms were large and well furnished, the public areas were spotlessly clean, the food was quite exceptional, the staff were wonderful and the service was fast and efficient.
On the down side the all inclusive beer was a bit weak which meant that every now and again I had to put my hand in my pocket and buy some cans of Efes at the hotel shop. And this wasn’t the only thing that had to be paid for because even though it was all inclusive there were a range of optional extras – a la carte restaurants, branded drinks and a Turkish Spa experience. On the first day, given away by our pale complexions, someone tried to harass us into a Turkish massage and body scrub but at an eye watering £50 a session I explained that actually I was quite attached my dead skin cells so I would pass up on the opportunity thank you very much!
On the first morning we were hurried to the children’s slide pool and after a period of about twenty years or so since Blizzard Beach in Disney World, Florida, during which I have been nowhere near a water park I was obliged to plunge down the aqua slides over and over again. It’s a wonderful thing about young children that they have no concept of age difference and make no concessions to the fifty year gap between us as they repeatedly took me to the top of the water chutes to accompany them down to the bottom in a never ending Groundhog Day sort of loop.
Later we walked to the beach to what has to be said, was a very fine beach indeed with course grey sand and a gently shelving drop into the water which was perfect for the children to play on. Actually, this being only early May, I found the water to be a little cooler than I really like it so this was my one and only swim in the Mediterranean sea on this particular holiday because I usually prefer it in September time when it has had all Summer to warm up.
One thing about the all inclusive arrangements that seemed rather mean to me was that ice-cream was only available for two hours each day between three and five o’clock. At around about half past two the crowd started to gather around the freezers in something reminiscent of the waiting period before the start of a European Cup Final or the US Super Bowl. As the tension mounted they began snorting and stamping like impatient bulls waiting to be released into the ring, agitating like ancient warriors preparing for a deadly battle and arranging themselves like combatants in a French bus queue.
Five minutes to go and the tattooed ones start to perform a HAKA and terrified men behind the barriers suddenly drop them and run for their lives as a tsunami of greed was released. The whole thing was rather like the first set scrum of a British Lions/New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Test Match, muscles bulging, eyes popping, sweat dripping, elbows flying and fingers gouging and this, let me tell you was only the women!
And the rough stuff wasn’t only at ice cream time because it could also be rather competitive in the dining room at evening meal time. The majority of the hotel guests were from the UK but there were also quite a lot of people from Russia and Scandinavia and from most other countries in Europe and the nationalities all behave differently when lining up (or not, as the case may be). Russians and Ukrainians especially don’t like standing in line but I was at an advantage here because I had been to Russia only last year so I knew not to hang back when these people are around and I sharpened my elbows and got straight in!
If pushing in was an Olympic sport then Eastern Europeans would be picking up a lot of medals especially if there was a category for barging in because this would require no finesse at all and would be based on simple brute strength as they muscle their way to the front of the line. Italians would do well in the stealth category because they can slip in with the speed of a stiletto knife and I’d back the Greeks in the opportunistic category because they can slide into a space as thin as a cigarette paper almost as though they had been beamed down from outer space.
Sadly for all of them however they would be destined to be like a British tennis players and they would only ever be left fighting for second place because they would never be able to beat the undisputed champions of pushing-in – the French. The French don’t believe in distraction or sneaky moves they just move right on in ahead of anyone as though you are holding a door open for them and then look you straight in the eye with a Gallic sneer that says, “I am French and it is my God given right to push in”. They really believe this and with the advantage of this being hard-wired into their national psyche they would win over and over again and would be especially good in the being completely rude category. You would need a police road block to keep your place in a French queue.
Along with the UK, other countries that would not do so well in the games would be the Americans and the Germans who both display discipline in line but absolutely the worst at this would be the Swiss who I can guarantee would come last every time.