Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Making Lemonade on Zakynthos island

It was late afternoon on a hot August day on the Greek island of Zakynthos.

Our Greek island hopping road trip had put us on a rather well-worn old – and very crowded –  ferry heading to the island also known by its Italian name, Zante; our final stop on this week-long adventure.

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Alexandro Beach Resort - Zante
By the time the ferry arrived, we were more than ready to be at the resort on Tsilivi Beach we’d booked for three nights. But as we wound our way through its pedestrian- and car-congested streets we realized it could rival Waikiki Beach in terms of resorts, restaurants and souvenir shops competing for space and customers.

Our long travel day was getting longer as the cell phone overheated with its GPS churning to find the place with no address other than ‘on the beach’.

We gave up and I called the hotel asking for directions. The desk clerk put me on hold after I asked how to find them.

When he returned to the phone, he told me to call back.  I did.

The phone wasn’t answered.

Not the best way to start . . .
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Beach Resort Zante
We did finally reach our destination, the Sentido Alexandra Beach Resort, but only after stopping at another hotel and getting a map and directions.

Once checked in, we figured the trip was looking up as we headed to our room in the expansive hotel wing overlooking the pool and the sea.

Now those of you who’ve ‘traveled’ with us via this blog for some time probably recognize, that this isn’t ‘our kind’ of hotel. We go for the small, quaint, mom-and-pop-type places but in August Greek beach accommodations are booked months in advance, this sprawling resort had availability, looked fine in photos and was pretty highly recommended on TripAdvisor. So what the heck? We’d give it a try!

It was clean, the grounds well maintained and it was packed with families and holiday-makers.

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Not quite functioning
Our  room, with its shades of tans and beige paint, was the same color palette used for bed and couch coverings. There were no decorations or wall hangings. It felt functional – well, until: we flushed the toilet and it wouldn’t quit running; or when the bathroom door would swing open and hit the toilet with a dull thud. The internet signal was so weak we couldn’t connect and the hot water pot for coffee didn’t work.   The price of the room was 188 euros ($218) per night.  ('But other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?').

The Lemon

We’d obviously landed a lemon of a room. My note for a replacement water pot was tossed the next day by the maid while the malfunctioning pot remained. Niagara Falls continued to flow through the toilet, the door ‘thumped’ and the front desk is probably still ‘looking into the internet’ as they promised they would.

We stayed two nights and moved after finding an available night in another hotel. The resort did  refund our third night’s advance payment.

The Lemonade

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We'll be back to Freddie's for sure!

You really can make lemonade out of lemons! The saving grace for the hotel was its location: walking distance to Freddie’s Beach Bar – a long-time favorite of visitors to this area. This family owned place was the highlight of our stay in Tsilivi – we spent two delightful evenings there enjoying the ambiance, visiting with owners Robert and Ritsa Wallace and staff and dining on excellent food and enjoying libations. A trip to Zante is not complete without a stop here.

Out and About!

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Blue sea, striking coastlines - Zante
The island of Zakynthos lies in the Ionian Sea off the western coast of Greece and it is part of the Ionian Island group. Its neighbor island Corfu is likely better known my Americans, but Europeans flock to this place – especially in summer.  And don’t let the story of getting a lemon of a hotel room color your thinking about the island – it is beautiful and we can see why it is popular.

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Zakynthos - an island of contrasts
We spent a day touring the northern part of the island; the narrow winding road led us through olive groves, along the coastline, high up into the mountains through small Greek villages and roadside stands. Its residences range from modest to mansion.

Zante/Zakynthos Town

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The pedestrian area stretches for blocks in town - Zakynthos

Our final day and night were spent exploring this sprawling harbor town - a delightful contrast (in our minds) to the over-run beach resort. There were plenty of tourists but it was large enough an area to absorb us all and  didn’t feel as congested as had the resort area. In fact, for an hour or so we had a rooftop bar at a harbor front hotel to ourselves as we watched marine traffic.

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Let the harbor show begin.. . 

Well, some of the crew members were pretty entertaining as well.

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The wee assistant caught our eye
Three days was hardly enough time to touch the surface of exploring the island and its beaches. We  could spend another day or two wondering the streets of town, visiting churches and museums.  And one day we’ll likely return to continue those explorations – sometime other than the August!

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A fantastic ferry - brand new and like a cruise ship!
The ferry that took us back to the mainland was recently built and top of the line.  We’ll make sure the next time we travel we do so on the Levante Ferry Line!

September has arrived at The Stone House on the Hill and with it, signs of autumn’s arrival.  We are coming upon a year of being full time ex pats and next week I’ll tell you a bit about how our change in latitude has definitely changed some of our attitudes. Thanks for being with us! Safe travels to you and yours ~

Linking up today with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Communal Global
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Best of Weekend
.

21 comments:

  1. The scenery is always such a delight in your posts...
    a few times over the years, Mr. Sweet and I ended up with rooms as you describe...most of the time, the staff either fixes the problem or moves us to another room...and NEVER did we have a view of the sea....xoxo

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    1. I think had the staff been more attentive and caring, we'd have probably put up with all the things. . .but their nonchalant manner and 'just another tourist' attitude turned us off that experience and then some!!

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  2. Sorry your hotel experience was not a good one. I hope you let them know via TripAdvisor. Thanks for the mention, we enjoyed seeing you. Come back when it is quieter, there is lots more to see!

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    1. We will most definitely be back -- we fell in love with your place as well as the downtown hotel (easy to get between the two!) So we'll let the resort people stay at the big place, we'll stick with the small and definitely see you all again. Love to Ritsa!! xxx

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  3. Well, "Mrs Lincoln" I'm so pleased to hear it worked out OK in the end. I think we've all had such experiences but happy to say, not many! I often feel the staff can make or break a stay. So, in 12 days when we try pastures new, before we land in our usual spot on Crete, I'll hope we made the right choice as all the hotels/tavernas recommended by friends were fully booked. Watch this space as they say. Will let you know in October.

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    1. Well had we not decided to replant ourselves back into US soil - at least for the purposes of storage and investment diversification - we had seriously considered trying to rendezvous with you two in Crete. We are ships again passing. . .maybe spring will be the time we finally get together and do report back on your accommodations! Safe travels ~ xxx

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  4. Looks lovely - even though your room wasn't up to scratch.

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    1. Even with lemons come lemonade! Have a great week - thanks for the linkup!

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  5. I'm sorry that you didn't have a good experience at the hotel, at least it didn't spoil the whole trip.

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    1. We found a nice alternative and will definitely give it a try again the next time we go back. Thanks so much for your visit!

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  6. You mentioned lemonade and then posted a photo of a toilet. OMG, I hope there's no connection between the two!

    ;)

    Thanks for linking up at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2018/09/our-newest-family-member.html

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    1. The toilet was one of the lemons for sure - not the lemonade!

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  7. I'm glad the resort refunded you for the third night. Such a shame it didn't live up to how much it charged. No doubt you'll find a good spot the next time you visit the charming island.

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    1. There are several and we will hopefully get back again to try them out!! Thanks for stopping by!!

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  8. I love Greece, I hope to one day buy a little home there

    Mollyx

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  9. Love the cute little canine member! Looks like another great adventure in Greece. Thx for sharing.

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  10. When you are given lemons, you make lemonade at Freddy's! I love the way that yellow ferry looks!

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  11. Reading with interest, as I'm on my way to Karpathos island–at the far side of Greece from Zakynthos–tomorrow!

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  12. For a price like that, they should be ashamed of the room and the poor service! Actually, at any price a hotel should properly maintain a room and its contents. It's good to hear that the shabby accommodations didn't ruin Zakynthos Island for you!

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  13. I recently saw stand-alone GPS's on a list of things that were obsolete (right along with typewriters and white-out) but can't tell you how handy our Tom-Tom is with Google as a backup when we're navigating our way to a new place. European addresses present quite a conundrum and your directions, 'on the beach' could have been a lot more helpful! I had a hard time picturing you in this soulless, mega-resort setting and cracked up at your, "But other than that Mrs. Lincoln..." reference as we drag out that phrase from time to time too. You were certainly brave to venture forth in the August crowds (we hunkered down at home here in Portugal) but, from your photos, it looks like Zakynthos was well worth the effort. Gorgeous!

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  14. That must have been a horrible 2 days at the hotel. It's amazing the difference in customer care between the U.S and Europe. There has to be a happy medium somewhere. Glad you were given a refund on the third night and that you found a better place :-).

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