I’m currently reposing in the village of Kardamyli in the Mani peninsula of mainland Greece. It’s a place I’m very fond of and that I’ve been to a couple of times before.
The last time I was here was around five years back and I’ve noticed a few changes but I’m pleased to say not too many. There’s a new supermarket – where I’m pleased to say the Ouzo is cheaper – a new restaurant which we’re going to try out tonight, and one we used to frequent which has changed hands. Overall though it’s still the same old place we love.
I do however notice a creeping gentrification in that some of the bars and restaurants are moving away from the traditional Greece we love and trying to go a bit upmarket. Let’s hope it doesn’t get out of hand.
The Greeks are still talking to us despite Brexit. In fact one local businessman said “I wish Greece had the balls to do it!” So I guess we’re still welcome?
Local ATMs are taking the piss at €0.96 = £1 but that’s banks for you. However you can still get a meal for two with wine for €25 so even at parity who gives a fuck? And a bottle of Ouzo for €9.50 and five litres of half decent red wine for around €12! Well, fuck it! I’m happy.
Frankly, if it wasn’t part of the Fourth Reich, I’d happily live here. Mind you, it’s 93 today and that’s a tad warm! Time to retreat indoors and crank up the AirCon…
This morning we went for a walk along the Funchal sea front to investigate the far end of town. We’ve been in Madeira a few times but never ventured up there, so why not?
When our luxury trip to the Gambia went tits up, I considered a week in Reids. It’s supposed to be one of the world’s best hotels after all – so if it’s luxury you’re after, that should be a place you can find it. I have to say I’m glad we didn’t bother. The photos in the brochure look great but they don’t show the modern block of rooms in front of the old building. Kinda kills the old world charm angle for me.
Reids is, of course, now owned by Belmond who seem intent in cornering the ‘famous hotels’ market. I’ve been to the Residencia in Deya and their hotel by the amphitheatre in Taormina. In both cases I have to say I could smell the bullshit way before I even walked through the door. They’re not for me!
But I digress. Back to the point – which is why the fuck do people run marathons? You put yourself through hell just to run around in a circle for 26 miles. Why? It’s totally pointless, fucks your body, shortens your life and buggers your knee joints. For what exactly? So you can prove something to yourself apparently…
Well, I can prove something to myself by not running a marathon. I can prove that I’ve got better things to do with my life. Like I said, I just don’t get it…
…or Belmond hotels either come to that!
Well thanks to certain African despots kicking off, my two weeks of unbridled luxury was rigbt royally fucked! But do I let it get me down? Do I buggery…!
In the British true spirit of ‘non illigitimi carborundum’ I’ ve grabbed meslf a week in a classy little gaff in the old town of Funchal where I’ve stayed once before. Admittedly it isn’t going to be the 30 degree heat of the Gambia, but with the five grand I’ve saved I can buy a lot of heartwarming booze to sooth the savage beast of disappointment – plus I can always try again next year, or even later this, or even both.
In the meantime there are some excellent restaurants in the old town and Mr. Blandy does make the most excellent madeira, so chin up and toodle pip for now…
I’m having a bad week. People are pissing me off right, left and centre. The latest is Yahya Jammeh. Now I know what you’re thinking – “who the fuck is Yahya Jammeh?” Well, he’s the President of the Gambia and he’s just fucked up a very nice holiday I was about to take next week.
Seems El Presidente of the Gambia Jammeh doesn’t like the result of the election that was held in December, despite the fact that he’d initially conceded defeat. Then he changed his mind. He was put into power by the army in 1994 and has been there ever since, likely salting away a couple of bob along the way? There’s currently a state of emergency in the Gambia, it has two presidents as the President elect, Adama Barrow, has been sworn in in Senegal. But Jammeh is still hanging on backed by the best regiments of the army.
His cabinet is disolving around him and buggering off to Senegal where, understandably, it’s a tad safer for them. The Nigerian army has moved tanks, warplanes and a ship to the area and is massed on the border waiting for a UN resolution to legalise armed intervention.
Meanwhile, the UK operators are repatriating their clients in the Gambia as fast as planes can be got there before the airport is seized and they’re stuck there. The FCO is telling people not to go unless it’s essential, and my tour operator has cancelled my very nice two weeks in the best hotel in the country.
I feel sorry for the Gambians whose jobs in the hotels and shops have just gone down the toilet as the tourists leave. They’ve got bugger all to fall back on so the prospect of a civil uprising looks inevitable unless they fancy starving. On the other hand, there could be an invasion by a West African coalition army. Either way, if you were a Gambian, I suspect you’d be on the ferry across the river to Senegal tout suite.
As for me, I’m just glad I wasn’t flying out last week instead of next week.
I’m off to the Lakes for a couple of weeks.
Play nice!y until I get back…