Newman’s Take Zakynthos

‘Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs’ – Susan Sontag

Back in January when it was cold and miserable we decided it was about time we booked a sun holiday. We were already going away to Iceland later in March, and as fun as that was, the clue’s in the name really, it was pretty bloody cold! It seemed to take forever for September to roll around, especially towards the end of August when work and health pressures started to get the better of us and we were almost literally crawling towards the aeroplane. We settled on Zante in Greece this year; it was the first place we ever went on holiday together 10 years ago when we were younger and trendier and lived it up in Laganas for a week. This time round though we went for something a little more sedate and opted for the quieter town of Tsilivi. To be honest, as long as it had a sun lounger and a bar, I didn’t really care that much.

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We booked to stay in the Cosmopolitan Studios which got fair reviews on Trip Advisor and were really reasonably priced, being able to offer the a fore mentioned sun lounger and bar for less than £750 (including flights) for both of us was a real draw. We arrived around 11am after an uneventful journey from Newcastle, and were greeted by Anna who took us straight to our room and fixed us up with some welcome drinks and cheesy chips for lunch. Despite it not even yet being the middle of the day, the sun was already pushing 30 degrees, and feeling fed and cider’d we had a wander through the main street and had a look at some of the bars and restaurants we would be calling home for the next two weeks.

We settled in quickly and soon got into the lazy pool-lunch-siesta-pool-balcony drinks-dinner-more drinks routine. Loads of people I know scoff when I say that when we come away on a sun holiday, all we want to do is lie by the pool for two weeks but I don’t care, this is exactly what I needed, to clear my head of all negative thoughts and properly relax.

The Resort

Tsilivi (also known as Planos) is on the northeastern coast of Zakynthos (Zante) about 10 minutes away from the airport. It’s pretty much your typical Greek resorts with loads of restaurants (a good mixture of traditional and modern) and bars offering cheap local beer and wine and an array of cocktails. There’s a main strip aligned with bar, restaurants, rental companies hotels and tourist shops leading to a small beach with free sunloungers and parasols. Everyone seems dead friendly and isn’t like other resorts we’ve been to where people hassle you to eat or drink in their establishment and I would say the demographic is mostly couples ranging from their mid thirties upwards (other than families with small children, we felt like some of the youngest there). Not that that bothered us at all, we’re not really a fan of other people so weren’t really looking to make life long friends!

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The Accommodation

The Cosmopolitan Studios are at the far end of the strip away from the beach and are part of the hugely popular Paradise Bar. It’s family run by Anna, Yiannis and their children and despite what a few bad reviews on Trip Advisor say we didn’t find any problems at all. Everyone was super friendly, the rooms were basic but clean and we got fresh towels and toilet rolls regularly. The pool area was also kept clean and was always plenty of loungers available. There are a couple of family owned dogs and cats wandering around so if you’re not an animal lover or allergic then it might not be the place for you, they’re dead friendly though! Although the bar was lively and music played until about 1ish in the morning, we had some earplugs with us (which we take on every holiday regardless) so weren’t disturbed through the night at all.

The Bars/Restaurants

Again, most bars and restaurants are typical as to what you normally find in a Greek resort, they’re all quite similar and all seem to be in competition with each other price wise so you shouldn’t find yourself paying anymore than about 3 Euro for a local beer or class of wine and about 4 euro seemed the normal for cocktails. Some of out favourites were Traffic Bar (owned by the father of Sunderland player Charis Mavrias who was very excited when we asked for his autograph for Chris at work) our own Paradise Bar who do lots of theme nights, karaoke etc. Restaurant wise we loved Pieros and the Olive Tree, both of which were almost next door to our accommodation and offered amazingly authentic Greek food, great service and reasonable prices (they were the only places we visited twice!) You’re not spoilt for choice there are hundreds of restaurants to visit but all are much of a muchness to be honest with a few Italian and Chinese thrown in there for a change.

It’s well documented that I love a pudding but I’ve never really been all that blown away by Greek offerings, it’s usually all blancmangey and baklava, neither of which I’m a fan of! What pleasure I derived in that case from finding out there was a pudding restaurant right across the street from us and their puddings were pretty amazing! Their chocolate and hazelnut cake in particular was one of the nicest fudge cakes I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve eaten alot!) Definitely worth a visit if you can squeeze it in after dinner!

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What We Did

Well, to put it bluntly, we did bugger all. And that’s exactly what we wanted. There seem to two major trips in Zante, one to see the famous shipwreck (which we saw when were were there 10 years ago) and a boat trip to see some turtles (Dave’snot a massive fan of boats) so we parked our selves on the sun loungers for most of the day and followed the sun around the pool. I caught up on some albums I’ve been meaning to listen to for a while and re-read all of the Adrian Mole books and Dave took advantage of the free wifi watching youtube and starting to write his second book. We did try and keep on top of the exercise regime although I think Dave managed better than I did. He ran 10K out into the mountains every day and I did 60 lengths of the pool. Mainly though we just enjoyed the sun, each other’s company, the good food and cheap booze. Everything I look for in a Holiday really!

The only criticism I would give of the holiday is that I don’t think we managed to relax as much as we’d hoped for,nothing to do with the resort,more to do with how much we have going on at home at the moment. We both struggle to really be ‘in the moment’ when we’re away and we were victims of that a little this time round which is sad but a lesson learnt for next time to really, really try and switch off.

Here’s a little video of our fortnight:

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