Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Its to bloody cold!

How come its so cold if the headline is "Global Warming"?

I've just been for a walk along Swansea beach and it was lovely but as soon as i stepped inland it was freezing, i got in to my house and my dog decided to curl up and pull her blanket over herself, a penguin was fishing in my bath and a polar bear was sat in front of my living room fire with my slippers on its that cold in this house LOL.

So what have i been up to this past 2 weeks, well, i've been developing my menu for next season which i think is going to be a winner. As my lovely customers know i don't go for the same old same old cocktails like all the other bars, i have 6 of the most popular and then all the rest are unique to Oceanic as they are cocktails i have devised, this year i've taken them a step further with incorperating fresh fruit blended in to the new cocktails i've come up with. Can't give to much away as big brother is watching us haha! Lets just say if you thought my Black Forest Gateuax cocktail and Lemon Cheesecake cocktail tasted good these will blow your mind and taste buds.

Out of the blue i had a phone call from a gentleman called Won Phat Cow telling me he had been reading my blog and saw my tripadvisor reviews and thought i was just the man for the job to turn his bars fortunes around in his restaurant. Of course i was very flattered as he was calling from China, he said i could go over to see what i thought of his bar in his restaurant and see what i could do. I thought no problem, i can see it now "Kevlars Bar Nightmares", me going all around the world turning bars around to be a success, yes i'll do it and this would be the start. So i packed my bag and off i went. After getting there i was met by Mr. Cow and i wondered why he wouldn't tell me the name of his restaurant for me to do some research but then when we got to the restaurant i could see why.
A nice cable car trip first, lovely views. All i could think of was James Bond and his enemy Jaws, hope Mr. Cow doesn't have a bodyguard called OddJob
I know i've lost a stone in weight but how skinny do i have to be to walk along these foot planks, so i continued on.
By this point i had lost another stone in weight,i think you can guess how, the lady in this pic was so slow i had to pass her but told her to stand still so i could take a pic.
At this point i decided to take a rest, pulled out me Thermos, had a brew and a HobNob and continued on my merry way.
The woman i passed on the foot planks was catching up on me and telling me in an angry manner to "hurry up", at this point i turned around and took a picture of her climbing the footholes and chains, just after i took this pic curisoity got the better of me and i unlocked one of the locks on the chain, OOPS! now who will i take pics of? She was moaning about her feet hurting anyway so she's got down quicker now, see, always a positive out of a negative.
Just a few more steps to go, hope theres a toilet at this place as i ain't going all the way back down for a pee, i'm busting to go.
Is that it? After all that climbing its a wooden Wetherspoons and like all Wetherspoons sat in the corner was the local alcoholic necking the 99p pint of bitter.

After long thought i came up with an idea on how to improve the business, the worlds largest escalator, job done! LOL
NOTE:- This is a real place you can visit, its a temple in china but some say its a restaurant that if you reach it without falling to your death the food is free, not a very good business plan, your customers either die or get away without paying LOL

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Easyjet are GO!!!!!!

Well its taken years in the making but Easyjet are finally flying to Zakynthos all be it from Gatwick and 1 flight a day on a Fri, Sun and Mon.

This is great news but lets not get to over excited about this. Thats 444 - 720 seats per week depending on which aircraft they use, some seats will be very cheap agreed but they do up prices when less become available. Also these seats will be used by people who already visit the island independantly and will now use Easyjet instead of tour companies flights, people will use them for weekend breaks, one way flights, some not bought at all and only about 15% of tourists to the island book direct with the hotels/apt. For some this will be alot cheaper but for others it won't make much difference so its all swings and roundabouts. If they flew out of season i for one would use them but at the moment it looks like its just season time from 21st May. We have to also think that this is 444- 720 people for the whole of the island so it won't show an instant impact until more UK airports are added to the island but Gatwick is a good start.

What the island really needs is for the major tour companies to lower their prices, 85% use tour companies and those 85% will continue to use them as its peace of mind having everything in one package not having to combine hotels with dates of flights, transfers and if something goes wrong your on your own through not going with a tour company and having a rep to help you.

In 2008 i read a news report in a greek paper saying that tourism was down by 22% on the island from the highest ever year that saw 75,000 people visit Zakynthos, so thats a loss of 16,500 tourists in 2008 and 2009 was more again. So the island needs a huge boost in tourism from the tour companies and Easyjet is a step in the right direction, hopefully! It could always go the other way with tour companies pulling out of hotels. We can only wait and see.

I'm just being realistic in writing this topic.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Tour update.

Well after a successful London date its now on to Dublin 5th till 7th Feb. Now we arrive very early Friday and Leave very early Sunday so the plan is take ourselves off around Dublin on the Friday for a bit of sight seeing and Saturday we'll have the get together being as its a whole day of sport, Liverpool play Everton at midday (god do i dare watch) Ireland play Italy at Croke Park straight after footy then Wales play England to finish the day off (COME ON WALES!) so we've chosen a few bars already and here they are, The Clarence, New stags head and Kehoes. Any one wanting to meet up with us as a few already are just e-mail me for details on the Oceanic e-mail address.

Next, Stockport (Manchester) 5th till 8th of March, same as Ireland but without sport, we arrive Friday early evening but Saturday is the get together, quite a few are already meeting us and been told its a Trafford Centre day, i wonder why? Then in the evening there is a bar at the hotel where we're staying or if there are any other suggestions let me know, again contact me on the Oceanic e-mail address at the top of my blog posts if your meeting up or got suggestions for saturday night.

There is a final tour to York in April but dates and hotel not finalized as yet. I've been asked to go to many places for the tour Scotland, Newcastle, Plymouth, Somerset, Norwich but time and money has limited to where we can go so we've tried to choose central locations, so i can only apologies if i'm not getting to a town near you but i will do others next winter.
I'd also like to say a big big thank you to people who have said i can stay at their house when on my travels but i wouldn't want to put you through that nightmare of looking after me HAHA!

Right so thats it for now but already looking forward to the tour dates and meeting some more of my friends who started off as customers in Oceanic, getting excited about Zakynthos and very soon i may have a huge announcement to make but its still early days yet but fingers crossed it will come off and no i won't tell you via text or e-mail so don't ask LOL.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Some blabbering crap!

Well its time for a update and would you believe it i found lots of pics and stuff i've forgot to write about so this post is about all those things.

Over the years a few people have said to me "I find Zakynthos a bit dirty and dusty" well usually through the winter at some point the dustbin men go on strike for their pay and the rubbish gets sorted with seconds to spare before the first flight lands, also the stray cats and dogs going through bins don't help, as for the dust that really can't be helped if your somewhere thats hot and dry for 160 days out of 180 its gonna happen but just to prove that the island does have a street sweeper/washer (yes i was shocked myself when i saw it) here is a picture of it. My bar was still open at 6.30am when it was going down the Old Road, oh how we cheered as it washed and swept past Oceanic.

The street sweeper does exist.

As some of you may know i like my cake, cake with a cup of tea or a glass of milk is just thing to beat the munchies so i was honoured when lovely Lisa of Lisa, Ian, Karl and Reese brought me over a Lemon Drizzle Cake from the uk that Lisa had made, i'm dribbling at the thought of it now and being as l'm not a selfish person i shared my cake with my customers and kept a 3rd to myself, i thought this wonderful cake should get a mention and a picture on my blog but before you could say "watch out Vanessa Feltz is in your cake tin" it was all gone, so this is where it used to be.

Every year i take myself off around the island to try to find some new places i haven't seen and even after 9 years on the island i still come across new places, i did try to visit a monastry which is off the beaten track in the middle of the island when i was on my motorbike, after about 15 minutes of riding on what can only be described as a path made of boulders i decided to turn back when i got to a point where the road got really narrow, the boulders became lose and a spooky sign said " All yea who pass this point kiss thou ass goodbye!". I don't think my bikes suspension enjoyed it to much. Note to self - take a tank next time. A while later i took a turning in to the centre of the island towards the north and come across 2 lovely villages Louha and Gyri. Louha is deep in a valley that looks down towards Kilomeno and Lithakia, the view took my breath away and these pics i took do not do it any justice.

Looking at the village Louha in the valley.

Looking from the village down the valley.

This is coming out of the valley looking at Kalomeno and Lithakia ahead.

As you head down the valley you can either continue to the end of the valley or turn left and go across to Gyri, this was a very quiet tiny village with one taverna and all cobbled roads, now i was thinking of taking some pics but as i drove through the cobbled skinny winding roads heads of people started poking out of old doorways and made me feel a little uneasy as it really is in the middle of nowhere with no mobile phone signal, all that was running through my head were those films like, Psycho, Hitcher, Misery, basically films that have nutters and the innocent dumb stranger from out of town, so with a nod of my head and increase of throttle i made my way out of it as the village is at a dead end (not a good use of words considering my situation) but if there is a couple or a group going there i'd say pay a visit its so peaceful but no pics due to fear of losing my hands LOL.

As you head down the valley towards its mouth you can see the devastation that the forest fires have caused, black silouhette figures of dead trees on a charcoal grey landscape.

As your heading out of the valley you come across the Drakospilia caves, these caves aren't accessable like the Damianou caves but still a great sight to see.

Right at the mouth of the valley is a restaurant with a panoramic view that is amazing,you can see from Tsilivi right across to Lagana in one view. I have taken a panoramic picture from the restaurant but it may be a bit small so i took seperate ones from left to right so i will also show you them. The restaurant is called Vrahos Taverna.

This the panoramic picture i took it may be a bit small to see on here.

Here are 4 pics from left to right making the complete view you would get.

On one of Helens many visits to the island i decided to surprise her with lunch, well its hard to get money out of my wallet and what with having a great season i thought i'd treat myself, i mean Helen LOL. I have never had lobster and thought that if i'm going to try it it might as well be where its fresh and half the price of the UK, i asked across the road from my bar at "Roof Garden" restaurant if they did lobster to which they said yes but ordered a day in advance so its fresh, so i ordered 2 small ones for the next day at 3pm. 3pm on the dot the next day i was there and OH MY GOD what a great meal, the lobster was to perfection so Helen told me and better than she'd had in the UK, Helens a bit more classy than me she'd had lobster before where as the closest i had got to anything like a lobster was crab sticks and thats not even close but they are yummy. The lobster was huge and i asked for a small one it was that big it came on a platter you'd put a large chicken on and to top it off they brought chips on a seperate plate. I have no intention of having lobster again as that was such a special meal i want it to be a one off, plus it cost 110 euro with a bottle of wine haha.

We had 2 of these monsters.

During the season a new greek club opened in between Argassi and Zakynthos town on the coast road up on a hill, its called Manhattan. The last time this club was open 4 years ago it had the same name and was a live music rock club for the islanders not a tourist club. I got an invite to the grand opening so myself and my partner in crime Dez payed it a visit. Hmm, nice bar, good set up, What, no rock music? All they played was thump thump thump computer made, no talent, brainless dance music. We arrived at 4am so decided to stay for an hour or 3. Now if you think the resort prices are high try going to the locals clubs like myself and Dez do, 8 euro for a non brand vodka with sprite (THUD) thats the sound of Dez hitting the floor, well he is from Yorkshire and not used to paying out money, thats 8 euro for one drink. 6.30am crept up upon us and a greek song started playing that sounded like a greek version of jive bunny, as i turned and mentioned this to Dez on came the original jive bunny and the dancefloor became the fullest it had been all night. At this point it was time to drink up very quickly and depart.

This is Manhattan, you try taking a good pic at 5am after the odd vodka LOL

And so back to present day in crappy old wet, cold and grey Swansea but i did have a highlight to my day today. If any of you watched the christmas episode of Doctor Who where the Doctor (David Tennant) told Wilf (Bernard Cribbins) that he was going to die soon while they were sat in a coffee shop well i was in that coffee shop today and sat in the very same seat where David Tennants ass sat and was sat opposite the same very seat Bernard Cribbins sat in. Wow! Now i'm not a fan of Doctor Who but found it weird yet so cool that i was sat in the very seat the Doctor shed his first tear, ever. The coffee shop is called "Kardomah" and i must say had the best cappucino i've ever tasted (this does not include my starbucks caramel machiato). It was also like stepping back in time, all the waitresses had black dress uniforms on with the white collars also they push around a cakes trolley for you to chose what fresh cake you'd like, brilliant! I resisted the cake but enjoyed just being in there. If ever your in swansea please do try it.

Kardomah coffee shop where Doctor Who spent his last hours haha

Well that should keep you going for a while starting to think towards Zakynthos now so keep reading and we can get excited together for those coming over to holiday with me.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Happy New Year and London was freaking freezing but brilliant!

Well its 2010 and what will it bring, who cares, enjoy each day as it comes i say.

So i'm now back in snowy Swansea after spending the new year in London and what a busy 4 days we had.

Day 1:- We left on 30th Dec at stupid o'clock in the morning on a grey wet cold day and arrived in London around 1pm so we decided to put our bags in storage so we could take a walk around London before checking in to the hotel later that evening. £16 later the bags were stored away, £16 oh my god i almost fainted. So out we ventured but the weather was pretty bad so it was a tube to Picaddily and in to the Trocedero for a browse then to Garfunkels for a meal. The hotel we stayed at was in Langley and it was lovely, really smart bar, great room and well worth the £120 for 3 nights.

Day 2:- Got up bright an early to get my free breakfast, well i'm not going to miss food thats free no way. Filled up on toast and fruit & fibre for the day before heading in to town. Today i promised Helen she could have her shopping day so i graciously followed around all the womens shops on Regent and Oxford street (time to hide my credit cards). After going to a few womens fashion shops we headed to Selfridges where i worked back in 1991 and guess what, nothing had changed, every department looked exactly the same only more expensive and the cosmetic ladies had 10 layers of make up on instead of the 5 they wore back in 91 (why do they think thats a good look?). On to Primark (my type of shop) and it was huge, i mean really massive and packed, the most popular carrier bag on Regent street was a Primarks one i'd say 1 in 5 were carrying it so we joined them, i splashed out on a 50p pair of woolen gloves, as you can see i live the high life. After extensive sale rail rummaging it was time for a well earned drink at my favourite local in Covent Garden "The Punch & Judy" then head back before getting ready for new years night but before we could head home i had to get my London fix of a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, a dozen to be precise. Oh my god they are the best. Here's a link for their locations.

After a quick shower and change we were ready to party the new year in. Once in the centre of London it was the coldest i've felt it and police had said that by 9pm the viewing areas for the midnight fireworks display would be closed as they were expecting over 250,000 people, there is no way i was standing around outside in a temperature of -2 deg by a smelly river for 3 hours to see 5 minutes of fireworks so we decided to take or chances and go for food first. We got to the Hard rock Cafe only to be told that the tables were all taken and people had waited outside in a cue for 3 hours, i didn't want a burger that desperate. Plan B, off to Chinatown and i am so glad we did go with plan B. We ate at the New China restaurant and have to say best chinese food i've ever had, we had satay chicken, prawn toast, crispy seaweed, spring rolls, crispy duck pancakes, sweet & sour shredded crispy beef, chili tiger prawns and egg fried rice and being as we were 2 of only 4 english people eating in there (all the rest were chinese) i decided to eat native and use chopsticks, i am now a black belt in chopstick usage.

After we had stuffed our faces it was time to head out in to the cold down to the Embankment, it was crazy, staggering everywhere with bottles in hand, falling over, pushing and shoving anyone that got in the way and that was just Helen LOL. We watched the fireworks and to be honest i'm glad i didn't wait outside in the cold as it wasn't that good a display, i didn't take any pics as i didn't have a camera with me but here's an artists impression of what it was like.

Back to hotel and time to warm up our frozen hands and feet and recharge ready for new years day.

Day 3:- Got up a little later so missed the free breakfast, Damn! Today was sight seeing time, i myself was only up in London last winter but for Helen it had been 12 years. There was the new years day parade around London and it was blue sky and sun but still as chilly as a penguines bum. Took a walk to Trafalgar Square and watched a bit of the parade but again the people were 6 deep to the front of the barrier so for vertically challenged people like myself i would see the odd flag or pom-pom above the heads as the pararde passed by. Onwards down to the millenium bridge and being as we had seen Sherlock Holmes before going to London we stopped off at his pub.

I don't think he actually owns it and if he does its all a bit self indulgent with all his personal affects on the wall and his films on the TV's also an ale named after himself "Sherlock Holmes Ale" how original LOL but it did taste really good. Yes i do know he's a fictional character, i was joking! We then started to feel a bit peckish so we went for lunch at my favourite Greek restaurant "The Real Greek" in Covent Garden and had a really tastey Meze with some rose wine, watch out for the price of a glass of wine, BLIMEY!

After all the walking, drinking and eating decided to go back to hotel for a relaxed evening with my doughnuts (only 4 left to eat).

Day 4:- Up early to make the most of the last day of free breakfast, yum yum! Made our way to Victoria station for the coach home at midday and decided that i wanted to pick up some rock t-shirts ready for Greece, so with only an hour till our coach i left Helen with the bags and went back in to the centre, i ran like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 3 from place to place with little time to get there, i ran up stairs, down escalators, throwing men, women and children behind me in my quest for a Sid Vicious t-shirt only to find that they had L and XL sizes left, great if your an american, rubbish if your a short assed welshman but i did get a sex pistols and guns n roses t-shirt so it was worth it. Got back to station just in time for our coach home to lovely South Wales.

In all it was the best new year i've had apart from the millenium as i made a packet DJing LOL London i always enjoy and we intend to go again before heading out to Greece. Wish we had more time as wanted to do so much more but time just flies when your there what with walking around and taking tubes to places. Next time we go its to see a show and visit other places like the Museums, London Planetarium and Madame Tussauds.

And yes i did finish all 12 doughnuts and also now have a taste for Sushi after having freshly made Sushi in london.

Time to dip my fingers in the snow now as they are on fire with all this typing, hope you enjoyed my blabbering crap on London. Watch out Dublin Feb 5th, here i come.