Holiday in Skiathos - September 2004

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Holiday in Koukounaries, Skiathos, Greek Islands,
Wednesday 29th September - wednesday 6th October 2004


There are thumbnail photos to illustrate the text within the report. To view the full size photos click on the thumbnail image. Use the "Back" button in your browser to return to the report after looking at the larger photo. To view all the photos taken please look at the gallery page. I have also provided some links to information on other websites. This year I bought a new digital camera which I believe has improved the quality of the photos taken considerably. The photos have not been enhanced in anyway but may have been cropped or rotated to display them correctly. For anyone that is interested the camera used is a Fuji model S5000 3.1 Million Pixel with a 10x Optical Zoom Lens.
Written during the stay on my Psion Series 3c Handheld PC using the built in "Word" application and transferred to my home PC and converted to HTML format, on return home.
Holiday Cost Breakdown ("Package Deal" booked on 5th August 2004)
Thomas Cook Holidays East Midlands/Skiathos Myrtia Apartments, Koukounaries 1 x Studio Apartment
Sh Wc Bal/Ter
7 Nights S/C 2A
£609.00
Essential Travel Insurance Holiday Insurance Europe 7 Nights   £25.50
Total Cost £634.50

Where possible I have provided Hyperlinks to other websites giving further information on any of the places visited. All information in this "Holiday Report" should be taken as a guide only and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. I compile my reports as a service to visitors to my website who may have a Holiday booked in the future at any of the resorts or accommodation listed. I welcome any feedback or comments you wish to make or any questions about any of the information or establishments featured in the reports.
My "Report" writing has become a bit of a ritual now, after I wrote a smaller but similar "report" when we visited Menorca in the year 2000 and the feedback I got from that was very encouraging. Some people have their books to read (The wife!), I have my Psion!! If it helps one person in finding info' on their holiday resort, then it's been worthwhile.

Wednesday 29/09/04

We flew from East Midlands Airport at 09:55 on the Wednesday 29th September. Flew by Airbus A320 of "Thomas Cook" Airlines. In comparison to the Boeing 737 flight of "Islandsflug" Airlines we had taken on our May break to Kos, this flight was luxury. A much more comfortable aircraft, pre-bookable seats (at extra cost of course!) so we knew where we would be seated and good meals and in-flight entertainment. This in all made the whole flight more pleasant and the time passed very quickly before we landed in Skiathos. We actually took off five minutes earlier than expected from East Midlands Airport and made up such good time on the flight over that we landed 30 minutes earlier at 3.00pm local time instead of the expected 3.30. The landing on Skiathos was fine and not the nightmare scenario we'd been given by some Website views! The Airport was as small as most we've seen in the Greek Islands but seemed more efficient. Before very long we were collecting our cases from the baggage carousel. We then walked through to the Arrivals hall to be told where to board our coach by a Thomas Cook Rep.

   

We were asked where we were staying and when we said "Myrtia Apartments" we were asked to put our cases onto a small "tipper" lorry outside and this would take the cases on to the Apartments. Seemed much more efficient and time saving and when we got to the Apartments about 20 minutes later the cases were there waiting for us!  

Myrtia Hotel/Apartments

We were dropped off at the top of the road down to the Apartments and then got onto a small "Hotel" Minibus that took us down the dirt track to the Apartments that the large coach couldn't negotiate. We were warmly greeted off the bus by Mary and Demitris the husband and wife owners of the Hotel.

We were shown to our apartment (232) on the 1st floor of the first block of apartments. I believe they are numbered with 1s at the start for Ground floor, 2s for First floor and 3s for Second floor. The apartment was large and spacious with two single beds pushed together to form a double and an upper "balcony" type sleeping area reached by internal stairs where there were two more single beds. A small kitchenette area housed the sink, cupboards and all utensils including a kettle and a toaster which we found a welcome surprise. A fridge is also provided. The electric supply is managed quite well. To stop lights being left on when the apartment is unoccupied you have to insert your "key" into a magnetic slot on the wall to restore power to your lights and sockets, except the fridge which is obviously on permanently.

The bathroom consisted of a sink, toilet (with usual Greek bin for your toilet paper) and shower with a shower tray and curtain, which are both a rarity in Greek accommodation! The hot water worked very well here in comparison to when were in Kos, and we had hot water at most times of the day.

The complex itself consists of about 6 large apartment blocks set in lovely gardens and surrounded by pine trees on all sides, making for a quiet relaxed atmosphere. There is a Reception area, garden seating dotted around and play areas for the kids. There is a lovely large pool with children's pool, poolside bar, on site taverna/restaurant, table-tennis table and tennis court.

The onsite taverna/restaurant runs a good snack-bar style menu during the daytime and a dinner menu in the evenings. They do everything from full english breakfast to a full blown three course meal.

It is a lovely location and great accommodation that I highly recommend.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for the surrounding area of Koukounaries - More on that later.

Thursday 30/09/04

We got up about 10.15am (well we are on Holiday!) and made our way down to the poolside bar for the Thomas Cook "Welcome Meeting" at 10.45am. The Thomas Cook Hotel rep Emma introduced herself and proceeded with the usual do's and don'ts and things to do while in Skiathos before the obligatory selling of the trips. To be honest while as usual they were probably a bit overpriced as to what you may be able to book elsewhere, if you can find anywhere else in Koukounaries to book your trips then good luck to you! The resort in my opinion is sadly lacking in amenities of many kinds.

We decided to go on only one trip this holiday, that being the "Island Hopping" tour to Skopelos and Alonissos which would be on Saturday. This cost us 55euros for the two of us plus a 5euro charge for the "transfer" by coach to Skiathos port for the boat. Total 60euros.

For your information, 4 of the 9 trips on the "Events Planner" were already finished for the season.

After the meeting we went to the Supermarket on the main road (where everything is!) to stock up on a few essentials. We chose the second Supermarket further down the road than the "Market First" one that you come to first just past the road leading to the apartments. We later chose the "Market First" one as the better of the two, if not in terms of choice, but on price.

We were already getting the distinct impression that getting around Koukounaries would involve a great deal of walking!

Certainly much more so than we have ever found with any other resorts we'd stayed in. The biggest problem (for us anyway!) with this resort is that what little there is (and there is not much!) is spread out over a wide area which involves walks of between 10 to 20 minutes on average depending where you want to go. This is at a moderate pace and for anyone with walking difficulties or who is a bit slower, this may cause a problem. In comparison with other Greek resorts we have visited, such as Tingaki in Kos and Tsilivi in Zante, this resort doesn't have much going for it I'm sorry to say.

Unlike Tingaki and Tsilivi, where basically everything was bumper to bumper shops, travel agencies, exchange bureaus, vehicle hire, bars, tavernas and restaurants within a short distance of each other in a compact resort, the very little facilities to be found in Koukounaries are spread too far apart to make it easy on the feet! A vehicle hire place renting bicycles would have been a big help, but the only one rental place we found did Motor vehicles only. Pavements are non existent and the dirt track 5 minute walk up to the main road first doesn't help either. Forget dressing for dinner in anything other than T-Shirts, Shorts and trainers for the inevitable trek to anywhere to eat!

The resort (and it is really more a small village than a resort) sadly lacks a lot. The beach is superb if you like staying on one all day and is probably the only major attraction in the area. The bars, restaurants and tavernas could probably be counted on one pair of hands and if you discount the ones that are attached to hotels you'll probably not even run into double figures. Aside from these there are two supermarkets and little else. I fail to see how this place could amuse a family with a couple of kids in tow for more than a few days once they'd got fed up with the hotel pool or beach.

I find it even harder to believe when I read of people returning to Skiathos for a second or even third time. I can see the appeal of the Myrtia Hotel as I cannot fault it, but unless you hire transport, are just a pool or beach bunny, or use the local bus service on a daily basis, I do fail to see the attraction of the Island more than once.

Anyway, we decided to make the most of a bad job and try and enjoy our time on Skiathos.

"Hotel Mandraki - Restaurant"

We usually go out for dinner most evenings on our trips abroad and this time would be no exception. We went out for dinner on our first "proper" night in Koukounaries and decided on the Restaurant of the Hotel Mandraki on the main road, partly because of it's closeness to the Apartments. Bad choice! The meal was abysmal and the service not much better. We had a starter and main course only, as we couldn't chance a dessert which came to 29.00euros for the 2 of us with drinks. One place to avoid!.

 

 

 

 

 

  Scores (Out of 10):  
Food: 1 Service: 2 Price: 1

Friday 01/10/04

Had a "lazy" day, getting up about 12midday! Then spent the afternoon just lazing on the apartment balcony just watching the world go by. We then went into Skiathos town at about 5pm on the local bus. Very frequent and easy to use, the fare into the town centre costs 1.20euros each and takes about 30 minutes.

"Taverna Anemos, Skiathos Town "

We were going into town with the intention of looking around and then having an evening meal there. We were hungry enough when we got there to leave the sightseeing till another day and just head for dinner. We decided go to "Taverna Anemos" which advertises itself on the Internet as the "Balcony of Skiathos". This is due to it being perched (along with a load of other Taverna/Restaurants) high above the Fish Market near an old church. The meal we had here, whilst being marginally better than the previous nights, was nothing to write home about and as yet no-one had come close to the quality we had experienced in Kos. The meal was made better by the superb views you get from your table out over Skiathos. At the time of our meal, around Sunset, it made it quite romantic.

The cost of the meal (two course with drinks) was about 40euros. Skiathos is not the cheapest of the Greek Islands!

  Scores (Out of 10):  
Food: 5 Service: 6 Price: 5

Saturday 02/10/04

Saturday morning was the day of our "Island Hopping" trip, so having got an early night on Friday and set the "Alarm" functions on our Mobile phones (knew they'd come in handy for something!) we were up at 7.30am and out the apartment by 8.35am up to the bus stop to wait for a coach due to pick us up at 9am. As is usual with these things it didn't turn up till nearly 9.30am before proceeding into Skiathos Town picking up numerous other passengers along the way.

When we got into Skiathos Town we were told where to catch the boat that would take us to the Islands of Skopelos and Alonissos. You get a pleasant boat ride of about an hour & a half, then you get 2 hours on Skopelos (at the main port). Then back on the boat for a half hour ride to Alonissos where you stop for another 2 hours. Finally it's an hour and 10 minute ride to the small port of Glossa on Skopelos for another 1 hour stop before heading back to Skiathos on a 30 minute trip. The guide gives an excellent commentary in perfect English, which is very informative. I can't remember her name but I know she emigrated to Skiathos from Sweden. In the port of Skopelos she took us on a walking tour of the old part of the town which was very interesting and lasted about an hour. It is not an obligatory part of the day, but is recommended if you like that sort of thing. On Alonissos there is an optional bus ride up to the old town ruins, at a cost of 3euros per person, but we didn't bother with this, opting to have some lunch instead. We had our best meal of the holiday so far on Alonissos! Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the restaurant except that it is the one the guide recommends during her commentary and so do I!! We had lunch there instead of going out for an evening meal today. Price was about 20euros for a one course lunch with drinks.

  Scores (Out of 10):  
Food: 7 Service: 6 Price: 8

The boat gets back to Skiathos at about 7pm where you then get the coach back to Koukounaries. If you only do one trip whilst on Skiathos I highly recommend the "Island Hopping" tour!

When we got back to the Hotel, we got changed and I dragged the wife down to the bar for a drink or two. A rarity for me as back in the UK you'd rarely see me near a bar as I don't drink (alcohol anyway), but when we're on holiday it's different and you may occasionally catch me with a pint of lager shandy!!

 

 

 

Sunday 03/10/04

Today we woke up to heavy rain on the roof and cloudy skies. All around the complex the British holidaymakers started moaning "where has the sun gone" or "I hope it brightens up soon". It seems that only the British have this fixation when coming abroad that they are guaranteed sunshine. Wake up people, these resorts do get their share of rain and this late in the season it is not to be unexpected.

The problem with this resort, in my opinion, is that it's lack of amenities lets it down heavily on these duller days. In other resorts we've visited which had more shops, bars, etc and all within a short distance of each other, at least you could go browse around the shops, etc; while sheltering from the rain.

Here there is little you could do except sit on your apartment balcony or round the poolside bar and read a book or something. Heaven I expect for some, but it would be nice to be given the choice!

By about 1.30pm there were more than the occasional glimpses of sunshine, but still most people seemed to be sat around their apartments, resound to the fact that it was not going to be the best of days weather wise.

I went up to the Supermarket when it brightened up to buy a Sunday paper. The dirt track up to the road was still wet and muddy in places due to the sheltering of the trees. I thought this could cause yet more problems for those with walking difficulties.

This evening we went down to the Hotel Mytia's own restaurant. The food here had been praised before on many websites I'd read. We were not disappointed. We had a superb 3 course meal, the best we'd had in Skiathos so far! The meal with drinks and coffee came to about 63.00euros.

  Scores (Out of 10):  
Food: 10 Service: 10 Price: 8

The waiters in the restaurant are efficient and friendly and love to chat to the guests. Demitris and Mary are always around as well, keeping a watchful eye on proceedings and again are both very chatty with the guests. James, (English and originally from Hampshire) is the cheery barman. During our time at the Myrtia we did feel like we were part of their extended family and it really helps you enjoy your stay at the Hotel.

We stayed at our table throughout the evening, chatting to other holidaymakers before retiring to our apartment about midnight after a thoroughly enjoyable evening!

Monday 04/10/04

Well I think the weather's turned for the week. Woke up this morning to even more cloudier skies than yesterday and a fairly constant drizzle, interspersed with a few heavier downpours!   It is not patchy cloud as yesterday's was and shows little sign of brightening up. We were going to go down to the beach today, but I see little chance at all of that today or for the rest of the holiday if this keeps up.

Oh well, not to worry, we'd go window shopping if there were if any shops to browse round!! Looks like we'll be off on the bus into Skiathos Town for the day.

We took the bus into Skiathos Town just as the weather started to brighten up! We had a wander round the port and down the main shopping street "Papadiamanti Street" picking up some souvenirs along the way. We then stopped for a light lunch at "Dino's Restaurant". We had "Soulvaki" and "Mousaka" with a coffee and a soft drink followed by an Ice cream. Came to about 14euros.

  Scores (Out of 10):  
Food: 8 Service: 8 Price: 8

We then caught the bus back to Koukounaries where we chilled out at the apartments for the rest of the afternoon.

This evening we are going to try "The Village" restaurant in Koukounaries as it seems a favourite on many Websites reviews.

Well, we went to "The Village" restaurant for dinner this evening and pretty soon felt the trek to it had not been worth it! It is a long way to this Restaurant, almost to the end of the main road just before you reach the beach.

Very busy, which in this case was not a good sign. We were hurriedly shown to a table before being given the menu. Three waiters running around like headless chickens, did not look efficient. They needed more staff serving and some sort of continuity to their roles.

At least 20 minutes after being seated we finally had a waiter come to take our order! We didn't fancy a starter and so just ordered a main course each. Good job really, as 30 minutes later we both get served the most poorly presented, bland tasting and totally unappetising meal we have ever had the misfortune to receive.

Small portions and high prices would also seem to be the motto of this place.

Anyway, after eating what passed off as food, we waited for our dishes to be cleared and maybe be asked if we required a dessert ...which we did as we were still hungry after the lame main course....and so we waited for our dishes to be cleared....and we waited for our dishes to be cleared....and waited for our dishes to be cleared....you get the picture!

At least another 20 minutes later and after seeing other tables being attended to who had got served after us we managed to attract a waiter's attention long enough to ask him to clear the table....and at the same time fetch us the bill (as we figured that might take as long as clearing the tables!). This time they were quicker and collection of the money was all done within about 5 minutes.

We had a one course meal with two drinks only for 19euros. They did not get a tip as we don't reward bad food or service.

  Scores (Out of 10):  
Food: -1 Service: -10 Price: -5
The minus figures are correct and even they were awarded with reservations!!

We walked back to the Myrtia Hotel where we had a dessert in their restaurant that put anything "The Village" came up with to shame!

The Myrtia Hotel restaurant is the ONLY place to eat in Skiathos if you want outstanding food in pleasant surroundings served by friendly helpful staff.

Tomorrow is our last night in the resort and we will be eating at the Myrtia without a doubt!

Tuesday 05/10/04

Today it was bright and sunny again, though the clouds were more predominant and there was a stronger wind than usual. But it was still pleasantly warm enough. Our last full day in Koukounaries and quite honestly I'm sorry to say I won't be sad to see the back of it. Whilst we rarely visit any Island or Resort more than once it's safe to say that should we ever choose to go back to a previously visited Resort this one would not be on the top of the list.

It's a great place if all you like doing on Holiday is lying on a beach or around a pool, visiting the same restaurant night after night, peace and quiet and lots of long distance walking. However, if you're after somewhere with a bit of culture & history, a few more amenities than you can count on the fingers of two hands and not having to put on your hiking boots to trek to the nearest restaurant, then I would give Koukounaries and to a lesser extent Skiathos a miss. I cannot fault the Hotel Myrtia in any respect and in any other location I would expect it to succeed even more so than it does at present. In it's current location it could do with being nearer the main roadside, but in doing so I would expect it would lose a lot of it's appeal to most people.

I hate to sound so negative about a Greek Island as we've loved all the one's we've visited so far, but for us the negatives of Skiathos unfortunately outweighed the positives. That's not to say that we haven't enjoyed our time in Skiathos, the island is a beautiful place and I can see its appeal to a lot of people. There were a few points that are a big draw to tourists, the beaches of course and for us the neighbouring islands of Skopelos and Alonissos were a highlight.

Anyway on our last full day in Skiathos, we decided to spend some time at the beach. We made our way down to the beach: At least a 10 minute walk - Up the dirt track from the hotel then left at the top on the main road and immediately first right takes you down the tarmac road to the car park. Then walk through the entrance to the beach and over the small bridge onto the beach. We settled ourselves about quarter of the way down the beach on some sunloungers behind the walkway under the shade of the pine trees. The two loungers cost us 5euros for the day or it's 8euros if you choose ones on the beach with a beach umbrella. You can see the appeal of Koukounaries beach, reputedly one of the best in the area. It was quite busy without appearing overcrowded, probably because it was low season.

The sound of the waves crashing on the seashore and the hot sun beating down is very relaxing. Close your eyes and you really could be in paradise...well, with maybe a few less people around anyway!

The water is great and fairly warm for the time of year once you got used to the temperature! It is crystal clear and you can see all the little fishes swimming around your ankles.

We left the beach about 4pm and made our way back to the hotel before going down to dinner in the Hotel restaurant one last time. As before the meal was superb and we wished we had dined there every night. It was obvious that there were several customers who did so.

  Scores (Out of 10):  
Food: 10 Service: 10 Price: 8

We were later treated to Mary and Demetris's own display of Greek dancing. After dancing themselves they then got several of the guests to join in as well!

One of the "Greek Dance Evenings" at the Myrtia - Mary (in the blue top) leads her guests through the steps!

 

 

 

All in all it made for an enjoyable night and a perfect end to our holiday.

Wednesday 06/10/04

Today we are off home again and we have to checkout of our room by 9.30am. Our suitcases were put on a "Luggage Truck"by 12pm to be taken to the airport for us, much the same as they had come. We were then picked up by the coach at the main road at 1.35pm for our flight at 4.30pm.

We handed our keys into reception and picked up two "security seals" for the suitcases. These go over the zips on the cases once you closed them and at as a "tamper seal" to ensure no one can interfere with your cases once they head off to the airport. The cases are then stacked in a corner outside with a polythene sheet over them to protect them from any rain until they are picked up by the luggage truck.

At the Airport we had the inevitable queue to go through Check-In and Passport Control but not quite as long a wait as some we had experienced on previous holidays. At least when we got into the departure lounge it wasn't too crowded and we found somewhere to sit down whilst we waited. We took off from Skiathos half an hour early at 4pm. There is a refueling stop of 30 minutes in Thessolonikka and by 4.10 we had already started our descent into Thessolonika. By 5pm we were airborne again on our way back to the UK.

Summary: Whilst we enjoyed our time at the Myrtia Hotel in Koukounaries immensely we felt that the resort itself left a lot to be desired and Skiathos was not one of the Greek islands we could see ourselves returning to unfortunately, however remember that this is just a personal opinion and you may just love it yourself.

Chris & Marie, September 29th - October 6th 2004.

Useful links:
Greek Island postcards - Skiathos
Thomas Cook Holidays
Skiathos Info
Skiathos Airport
Skiathos Weather
GreekIslands.com: Skiathos
Holidays Uncovered - Skiathos

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