Holiday in Zante - May 2001

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Holiday in Tsilivi, Zante, Greek Islands,
Monday 21st May - Monday 28th May 2001


The Green links in the text will open separate windows containing photo's of some of the places we visited. Close the open window when you have viewed the photo.
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 (booked on 9th April 2001)
JMC Holidays East Midlands/Zakinthos Tsilivi Admirals 1 x Studio Pb Sh Wc Bal/Ter
7 Nights S/C
£478
AXA Insurance UK Plc Holiday Insurance Europe 9 Nights   £64.00
Total Cost £542.00

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.

People may think I'm "sad" writing this whilst I'm on holiday. However, I wrote a smaller but similar "report" last year when we visited Menorca 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.

We flew from East Midlands Airport at 00:55 on the Monday morning 21st May. Arrived at Zakynthos Airport at approx. 06:20 Greek time (2 Hours ahead of UK Time). Bit of turbulence on an otherwise very good flight. In-flight meal not bad either.

First impressions of Zante Airport: It's tiny!! If you could imagine a UK country village with it's own Airport it would probably be bigger than Zante's! There is just enough room to park about 4 aircraft maximum, so they must turn them round here pretty quickly.

We went through to the arrivals hall (about enough room to swing a cat!) to reclaim our baggage. Everybody was queuing round this revolving baggage carrier, looking out for their cases. What a fiasco!! It took about 40 minutes to wait for our cases and then they were on separate "journeys" with about 10 minutes wait between them. Makes you wonder how on earth they unload the Aircraft here!

Next we went through to the entrance to be greeted by JMC Rep' Louise who told us Bus D2 would take us to our Admirals Apartments in Tsilivi. Only about a 15-minute journey so not bad at all. Greek roads and drivers leave a lot to be desired though!

Tsilivi Admiral Hotel

The Studio style Apartments were very clean and spacious, room for 4 people with a separate WC/Shower room. The "litter" bin placed next to the toilet, was for putting your used toilet tissue in, we were informed. Apparently, Greek sewerage facilities aren't efficient enough to handle everything. Balcony overlooking the pool and plenty of towels, utensils, etc. provided. Cleaned daily. The Hotel has varied entertainment in the lounge/bar most evenings including Quizzes, Bingo and Movies on a big projection TV.

The Apartment/Hotel complex had two Swimming pools, Reception, Bar/Lounge with the projection TV playing British TV and a Supermarket on site. The Supermarket is situated to the left of the Hotel entrance, in a basement location. It is useful for necessities, but be aware there are cheaper ones in the resort. We would recommend the Supermarket just up the main road into the resort, close to the Hotel, next door to "Roscos" Cocktail Bar. It has a little "raceway" next to it where kids can play on motorized (electric) bikes and cars. It has all the basic necessities, such as water and milk, plus wines, soft drinks, newspapers, books and souvenirs. The lady who runs it is very helpful too and the prices are quite cheap.

The two pools consist of a large main pool of the type normally seen in most UK pools. This pool runs from 0.5m at the shallow end to a deep end of just 2.0m. The smaller pool is next to the second Apartment block and is 1.0m deep throughout except for a fence separated shallow toddler pool.

The poolside areas of the Hotel get very busy, very quickly and although there seems to be enough Sunbeds to go round at this time of year (May), I think this may not be the case when they get into "High Season". Also, if your looking for peace and quiet in your Hotel, forget it!! This is definitely a families hotel and you'll have to put up with screaming kids most of the day.

You may hear and see the Charter Aircraft as they fly over the resort on take off and landing. This wasn't a major problem though as it was fairly infrequent and in general confined to daytime hours.

Propaganda Paragraph! If easily offended please skip the next paragraph!!

Already the "Beach Bunnies" were out in force around the pools. That is my pet name for people who's holiday seems to consist of lying round the pool or beach all day, tossing and turning like some oven ready chicken in order to get a tan, as if there's some golden rule that says you have to come home with one as somehow evidence to the world that you've been on holiday. The "pleasure" gained in this process has always bemused me. We spend very little time at all around the pool (not once this holiday) and only occasionally visit the beach, preferring instead to explore a bit further afield than the confines of our hotel, so we can learn more about the history, culture and attractions of our chosen destination. Anyway, to each his own, if you prefer to bake in the hot sun, then good luck to you and I hope you don't get skin cancer. There, that will have ruffled a few feathers!!

Tsilivi - The Resort: A Brief Guide

Tsilivi is a nice compact resort only about 15 minutes drive away from the capital Zante Town and the Airport. It is very easy to get around on foot, with everything being within approx. 10-20 minutes walk of the Tsilivi Admiral Hotel where we stayed. Coming out of the Hotel at the main road, you would turn left to take you into the resort or town centre, or turn right to take you on the road to the small Bouka beach (Follow the signs to the "Alexandra Beach Hotel"). We found a map of the resort on the "Ozzys" Bar website, which helped us find our way round the Resort.

There are numerous Shops, bars, tavernas and restaurants on the main road through the town. "Popyes" restaurant marks the approximate centre of the town with the road leading on to more shops, bars, etc. and Zante town, and a side road (by "Gyroland") leading down to the main Tsilivi beach. The resort in general is very family orientated so you won't find many night-clubs in Tsilivi, although a lot of the bars stay open till the small hours.

There are two beaches. The main "Tsilivi" beach and the smaller "Bouka" beach. Both offer a crystal clear sea, and sunbeds for hire. Other amenities such as bars and Watersports (Jetski's, Water-skiing, Pedallos, etc.) can be found on the main Tsilivi beach.

The Greek people are the friendliest you could wish to meet and nothing seems too much trouble for them. Best way to find everything is to just go "exploring" in your first 24 hours there.

The public Bus service is not very good, running on GMT (Greek Maybe Time!) so if you want to get somewhere distant best take a taxi. There is a Taxi rank at the corner of "Popyes". Agree a price to your destination before setting off as the meters are rarely used. For a leisurely ride around Tsilivi, there are Horse and Carriage cabs through the streets mainly in the evenings.

The resort centre roads are well lit during the evenings, but at all times be careful of the traffic as the pavements are a bit "hit and miss" and you'll often have to walk along the roadside.

We went down to the Hotel Reception lounge at 1pm for the Rep's Welcome meeting with our JMC Rep's Jonny and Sam(antha). Usual chit-chat about various holiday things and then on to the selling of the extra excursions and entertainment. We decided on booking 3 "events" direct with JMC, even though we had been previously advised that they could be bought for less in the resort. I just have a thing about booking with the tour operators rather than some resort outlet you've never heard of before, even if it does cost more through JMC. Also it's easier to complain if you do encounter any problems. If you wish to book separately from the Tour operators yourselves, there are numerous agents in Tsilivi, one of the best being "Tsilivi Travel" which is just a few yards down the road from the hotel.

I would avoid hiring a Car as the roads are not particularly good around Zante and you'd need a good map, as the odd signposts aren't helpful either. The rep's advised against hiring any form of two wheel transport (Death on Wheels they called them!), but if you do make sure your well insured and use Crash helmets. Most "bikers" we saw didn't.

We opted for the guided coach tours and decided to go on the "Discover Zante" day trip (8000Drm PP), the "Kefalonia" excursion (18000Drm PP) and the "Audience with JMC" night (11500Drm PP). Details in the copy of the JMC booking from I "acquired" and have posted here for you. Total cost 75000 Drm for the two of us, about 150. We paid by Credit Card so we can worry about the cost later!!

Rest of the day I have to say, unfortunately was spent sleeping! We needed to get some, as we were unable to sleep on the plane and had been awake since about 10:00am Sunday morning. Unless you can get a flight that gets you into Zante before midnight on your arrival day, I would have to say try and avoid night flights as due to tiredness they can really ruin your first day. Also they will probably upset your departure day too. Our departure flight was on Monday 28th May at 07:10am. We found out from the "Welcome" meeting that we have to vacate our Apartment by 12:00 midday on the Sunday 27th. Pickup time for the Airport: 04:00am Monday!! That was going to be another long sleepless tiring day!!!

Once we'd got some sleep, then had a shower and refreshed a bit, on Monday evening we went out for a meal at "La Brioso". This is an Italian Restaurant. Excellent meal and service in pleasant surroundings.

Food: 9 Service: 10 Price: 9

Tuesday was spent on the "Day Tour of Zante". Very good - informative and interesting. Takes you round most of the best sights to see on the Island and the driver is very good at negotiating mountain roads!! The optional boat trip to the "Blue Caves" is worth it (2000Drm PP), although try and get onto one of the smaller boats if you can. We had to go on the large cruiser, which could only take you partly into one of the largest caves. The small boats can get into the caves better. The whole tour lasted from about 9.30am - 4pm.

Tuesday evening we went into "town" for a meal at "The Cat's Whiskers". This restaurant had been rated No.1 on the "Just Zante" website for Tsilivi restaurants. Whilst it was fairly good service and friendly, it was certainly nothing to write home about. I think it came 1st because it so blatantly caters to the English tourist, right down to their obviously English staff. If you're homesick you might like it, but there are far better to be found.

Food: 7 Service: 9 Price: 8

Back to the Hotel and we stopped off in the lounge to enter the "Pop Quiz". 15 questions consisting of the "Intros" to famous pop songs - 1 point for the Artist and 1 point for the Title - Maximum of 30 points. We won the quiz with 28 points, just me and the wife. Only one song I couldn't remember! I didn't have the heart to confess I'd done Mobile Discos for about 6 years in the '80's, which probably gave us a slight advantage!! Got a couple of free drinks at the bar as our prize.

Wednesday we had a "lazy" day, venturing into the town around midday for lunch and to "explore" it further. We had lunch at "Popyes" restaurant on the corner of the main street. The meal and service here were 1st class. Hugh portions! The owner kept coming out and talking to diners, particularly those with children and he seemed to have a rapport with the kids. We would recommend this restaurant.

Food: 10 Service: 10 Price: 9

After lunch we called in at "Magdalans". This bar serves everything from soft drinks to beer and meals. They play a movie just about every night on another huge TV and they have an Internet Cafe where you can "surf" the 'Net or send e-mail. Charges were very reasonable at a maximum of only 2500 Drm for 1 hour. E-mail home if you can, as the postal service is very slow and chances are you'll be back home before your postcard!

We bought a couple of drinks and then took about 45 minutes to compose and send several e-mail's, which cost us 2400 Drm, including the drinks. If you do use the service remember to delete your mails from the "Sent items" folder and subsequently empty the "Deleted items" folder to remove all traces of your mails.

We set off exploring the resort further, as we needed to find a place that sold Cigars. My wife's father always gives us money to get him a load of Cigars whenever we go on Holiday. Anyway, we were struggling to find a tobacconist in Tsilivi town. Lot's of places sold Cigarettes and small cigars but not the big selection we wanted. I had read on "Just Zante" about "Tom and Johns" being about "the place" for just about anything and when we found them in one of the side roads leading down to the beach, sure enough they had a tobacconist with a good selection of Cigars. They also had a wide range of cigarettes and alcoholic drinks at very good prices. Unusually they take payment in Drachmas, Sterling, Credit Cards (Surcharge added) and Travellers cheques.

From here we made our way down to Tsilivi beach where after having a drink at "Moby Dicks" we made our way back to the "Admirals" via a walk along the seafront. This takes you along Tsilivi beach, past the "Tsilivi Watersports" area and the small "Marina" to the Bouka beach, which was still pleasant and much less crowded. From here you can walk up the road back to the Apartments.

Wednesday night: Went on the "Audience with JMC" nightout. Not a bad night! You get picked up from the Hotel at around 7:45pm and taken to the "Tsilivi TV Studios" (Just some out of town bar/dancehall in reality!). Here you are "entertained" by the JMC boys and girls with their varied show of songs, dance, sketches and comedy. All in all it's quite an enjoyable night and they do put on an entertaining and quite professional show considering they are all amateur's.

The meal provided is of traditional "Greek" origin and may not be to everyone's taste (Mine included!). The hot "main course" is the best bit and the sweet desert!

The evening finishes around midnight when you are taken back to your hotel.

Thursday We got up about 10:30am again (I think our bodies are still on UK time as that would be 08:30am in the UK). We decided to just have another "lazy" day - What else is there on holiday!!

We headed off down to the smaller Bouka beach where we hired a couple of sunloungers on the beach, complete with small table and parasol (2000Drm) and just "chilled" out! In fact this is where I just "wrote" the last few paragraphs!!

Thursday night we went out for dinner at "The Olde Vineyard". This is right next to Bouka beach with nice sea views whilst you have your meal. Specializing in Fish dishes, they also do lots of other dishes. We had a nice meal, very pleasant atmosphere with the waves lapping the seashore close by.

Food: 7 Service: 8 Price: 7

Friday Another day in paradise - We went down to Tsilivi Beach around midday and spent a few hours there. The beach is very clean, with plenty of Sunbeds for hire. There are quite a few bars and restaurants along the beachfront for a drink or snack. Also a couple of guys parade up and down the beaches selling sandwiches, donuts and fruit salads amongst other things. The sea on Tsilivi beach was very clear and warm once you got use to the temperature. It is also extremely shallow to quite a distance out. Bouka beach is much the same though less crowed and with fewer amenities, plus it seemed more "pebbly" and not so inviting, but I'll let you decide on that.

Friday night we went for a meal at Samnas which is just around the corner from the hotel. Again not a bad meal. Service a little slow perhaps, but not too bad.

Food: 8 Service: 7 Price: 8

Saturday

Day trip to Kefalonia

The filming of Captain Correlies Mandolin took place on this island. The trip took in beautiful landmarks such as the Drogarati Caves and the Mellissani Underground Lake. Be warned there are over 90 steps down to the Drogartai Caves and back up again so if you have a walking problem or suffer from Ashma, it may not be for you. The day is very long also. You get picked up at your hotel at around 7am and don't get back till around 8.30pm in the evening. The crossing to Kefalonia takes around 1 1/2 hours by ferry.

Be aware that you will stop for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea at places of the tour operators choosing. They may not be to everyone's choice and are certainly never the cheapest. Bring your own nibbles and a packed lunch if you want to avoid the costs.

Saturday Night

Went out for our meal at Manos Grill. What can I say. The best restaurant in Tsilivi! The food, atmosphere, service were all second to none. Easily beat anything we'd tried previously in the resort. Try the Beef Steak...it's huge!! We're going back tomorrow night on our last night in Tsilivi.

Food: 10 Service: 10 Price: 10

Sunday Going home time soon...Aah! We are due to be picked up at 4.00am Sunday night/Monday morning. Anyway, we had discussed how we were going to while away the 16 hours between having to vacate our room and being picked up. Pretty difficult and no where to freshen up/change for the journey home. We had been told by our rep that we could ask to keep the room on longer at Reception, so we decided to do that. It would allow us to get some sleep as well before setting off. The man on Reception said it wouldn't be a problem and we could keep the room on until 3am, 1hour before pickup, which suited us fine. The cost of this: 8000Drm (About 15). Not a high price for some valuable extra time and somewhere to freshen up, we thought.

Sunday was an extremely hot day, even by 11am it was in the 80's Fahrenheit. You could tell it was getting hotter by the day approaching June. As we are not Sun Worshippers or "Beach Bunnies" that's why we try and avoid the hotter months for holidays. We spent our last day lazing around the apartment and in the resort centre getting some last minute gifts and souvenirs to take home.

We went for "lunch" around 2pm at Popyes. Again another meal and service that couldn't be faulted. Second only to "Manos Grill" in our view.

We went to Manos Grill for our last meal this evening, then tried to get a few hours sleep before vacating the apartment at 3.00am on Monday morning.

We were really glad we had paid to keep our apartment on another night, as it made all the difference. We were able to pack at leisure, make the most of our last day and have somewhere private to change clothes. We would recommend doing this to anyone else in a similar situation. Also always check the noticeboard for pickup times. We checked again and our pickup time had changed to 3.45am.

We got to the Airport with over two hours to spare until our flight departure time. Good job! If it wasn't for the Holiday Reps' from just about every tour operator helping out here with everything from Checkin to Passport control, I don't know how they'd manage.

We had to join a very long queue outside the Terminal doors which took us through to checkin, where our cases were taken. We collected our boarding cards then joined an even longer queue, outside again, to get through to Passport control and the Departure lounge. It was so crowded there was nowhere to sit down, so you had to stand for ages, until your flight was called. Luckily we actually left earlier than expected. I would hate to see this Airport at the height of Summer. It must be a nightmare. Definitely the least enjoyable part of the Holiday!

All in all though, it was a very enjoyable week in Zante, Tsilivi was a nice resort, good accommodation, fine weather, lots of sightseeing. I would recommend Zante and Tsilivi to anyone planning to visit and chances are high that we would visit again.

Chris & Marie, May 21st - 28th 2001. If you require any more information on anything above please feel free to e-mail me.

Useful links:
Just Zante
Greek Island postcards - Zante
Zakynthos - Island of Beauty
Zante Weather
Tsilivi Travel
Discover Zakynthos
Holidays Uncovered - Zante

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