Wednesday, 25 August 2010

I say "mama we're all crazee now"

Its the festival of St. Dionisios week or the festival of St. Dennis. It all gets a bit manic while the festival is on, there is a market here for 5 days selling all end of line stock and clothing rejects but you can pick up some real bargains if you can be bothered to rummage around in the heat of the day. Been to the market 2 mornings on the trot (Sunday, Monday) and all i could find to buy was a 20 metere hose pipe, it is a lovely hose pipe though, green re-inforced with a adjustable nozzle, not that you people in the UK would know what a hose pipe looks like what with the hose pipe ban after having only 2 weeks of sunshine haha. I did fancy buying a couple of chipmunks (real ones not Chip & Dale the Disney ones) but they would have to fend for themselves through the winter so they had to stay put. The main day of the festival is the 24th August when the main man himself St. Dionisios is paraded around the streets to thousands and thousands of people almost every Zakynthean from all over the island from every little village makes their way to the town, add to that the tourists on trips with the tour companies and tour shops and the ones who make their on way there so its a pretty crazy day. I went to see it in 2002 and that was enough for me.

This week has been a strange old week, one night full the next night half full, one night all cocktails, the next night beers and soft drinks, most probably my most unpredictable week i've ever had since Oceanic opened.

I read through most of the websites linked to Zakynthos and there is alot of talk of whats better in a resort or whats changed and why its changed so i thought i would share my unwanted views with you, my avid readers, are you sitting comfortably?

When tourism first began many many years ago people went abroad to have a taste of other countries cultures and food, as time progressed tourists would plant seeds in the business owners minds, you know the sort of thing "Do you know what would make your bar busier, showing football" so the bar evolves over the years in to an entertainments bar. So then that has a knock on effect to the resort which also elvolves to bigger, brighter, louder. Now in saying that there are Greek islands that have stuck to the traditional roots and these places are still very busy. On the down side of this you only have to look at resorts that have changed to much and are now dying or are dead, Faliraki was once a real party resort for years but then it died off till it was nearly empty due to its bad publicity and the locals deciding enough was enough of the bad behaviour from the 18-30's, Aiya Napa the same happened to that, Malia in Crete has died off from what it used to be and so has Laganas. These types of resorts attract the younger crowd and for some reason people seem to think this age range of tourists have money to spend which in fact they don't, they buy cheap spirits and wine from the supermarkets get drunk even before they leave their rooms and then spend very little in bars that then puts a strain on the businesses in the resort which eventually and sadly leads them to close.

In Tsilivi there used to be 2 large clubs which were busy at one point in time for about 2 seasons but due to Tsilivi being a family resort these types of venues weren't wanted by the people visiting the resort and now they are closed. Argassi had 3 clubs which for such a small resort seems excessive but now 1 is closed, 1 is never busy and the other has mainly locals and the younger tourists that visit the resort. Laganas well what can you say, i have 3 friends who have or had bars in Laganas and for the ones still open it is their worst season ever and they may even close at the end of this season. One of the owners had 7 people in all night one night and he is on the main beach road strip of bars. And so to Kalamaki I've lived in Kalamaki for 5 years now and even within that short time have seen many changes but there is one main thing that stands out for me which is that all the businesses that were set up to be bar/clubs have now gone within 2 seasons and now all that is left are bars and restaurants and its a real shame these businesses have closed as no one wants to see anyone close up after the hard work these people have put in to it. Now i'm not saying they are the only businesses that have closed as others have but for the most its been the bar/clubs. Kalamaki has always been a more family and couples orientated resort than a younger persons resort and as soon as you hear the word "club" associated with somewhere you immediately think loud music, dark lit room with flashing lights and drunk people which would deter the sort of tourist Kalamaki attracts from visiting these businesses. Do i think Kalamaki needs a club? Yes because i believe the younger tourists that come out with their families needs somewhere to go but there are plenty of good bars with entertainment to keep the whole family busy. Does Kalamaki need a club? Maybe not from what i've been reading as a majority seemed to like the quieter Kalamaki. The sad thing is that proof has shown that clubs in Kalamaki don't work apart from the short period of time after the exams are finished or at least clubs that are aimed at the younger tourists don't work as they don't have the spending power some seem to think. Its all about what the individual wants from a business, if you want cheap drinks there is a bar for you, if you want karaoke theres a bar for you, if you want sport theres a bar for you, everyone is different but the facts show there wasn't enough people wanting clubs, if there was Kalamaki would still have one. Islands and resorts don't have to advance and move on just because technology does and because people expect it to, just take a look at Kefalonia, Santorini and Thassos, these islands are still more traditional and are still very busy with tourism. Zakynthos was hit hard in the papers because of progression due to Laganas and the island hasn't really recovered since that summer of headlines in the UK press so perhaps the island should step back in time a re-build for a better future so everyone who has a business on the island can survive.

Update from The Lighthouse, have spoken to Veronica this week and she is due to have a check up soon and is feeling a little better but will be glad to see a doctor, Veronica and Derek are missing everyone terribly and hope everyone understands that veronicas health comes first but as soon as she's up and running again they''ll be back.

As for me i'm looking forward to a holiday of some sort as its been a hectic season (shame about the high tax rate gggrrrrrrrr!) and the Oceanic tours start again on the 5th November with a trip to Manchester for 3 nights but will post about that in more detail closer to the date.

Place the firework in a solid foundation, like a bucket of sand. Light the blue touch paper at arms length with a fire lighter. Stand well back. If the blue touch paper does not light DO NOT approach the firework, even though you may not see it lit it may be smouldering. Taking these actions will secure you a safe and happy bonfire night.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Britain, we have a problem!

Sorry for the delay in my update but not had any connection since Saturday, thats what you get for being a tight ass tapping in to someone elses wifi connection. So problem over as you can see.

So whats been going on this past week. Well another sad day on Monday when another business closed its doors for good. At 4.30am when i returned from Argassi Down Under club was open and had a few customers left drinking when i woke up at 10am everything was gone, not a single bar stool was left. Its terrible to see places closing which then leaves big empty holes around the resort and you have to feel sorry for the business owners who once had the glory years but are now struggling to meet the taxes and the rent on the properties. Some people have said maybe Kalamaki will end up changing back to the way it was with just small bars and tavernas but to be honest its never nice to see someone lose their livelyhood and without these types of venues for the younger people to go to where is left for them? We still have to deal with the largest hotel in the resort next season going all inclusive so god only knows how that will hit the main strip, fingers crossed it won't effect it to much but we'll have to wait and see.

Also i have some more sad news but hopefully it will be ok, The Lighthouse Restaurant is closed for the season and with all being well it will be open again next season. Derek came to see me on Thursday (last week) to let me know that Veronica wasn't well at all and couldn't even walk from the car to their house, i don't think its a secret that Veronica has MS and Derek had decided to take her back to the UK so she could get the proper care she needed for this disease which i thought was the right decision. On Friday they started their journey back and are now safely in the UK getting the treatment Veronica so rightly needed. So before the rumours start spreading, they have not done a bunk, runner, flit or whatever you want to call it. A persons good health means more than anything else, so all i'd say is let them sort everything out in peace and look forward to them being back in Kalamaki making the best breakfast in the resort. As soon as they contact me with how its all going i will let you know. I am the last person on the island that Derek spoke to and those are the reasons he gave why they are closed for the rest of this season. Derek and Veronica all your friends and customers wish you well with your recovery and hope to see you soon.

On Tuesday night there was a huge fire at Lithakia that started around 8pm which spread so quickly, also because it was getting dark the sea planes could not fight the fire so it had to be fought by hand and as you can see from the pictures the fire spread quit far but the land crew got it under control which i thought was a fantastic job and deserve lots of credit for the great work these fire fighters do as there was also a fire yesterday in 2 places behind the Cavo Doro hotel which had to be evacuated but again the fire crews got it all under control, don't panic i had my 10m hosepipe ready to help them but they didn't need it so it got put away for another year.

Zoomed in view of fire at Lithakia.
Actual view from Kalamaki of fires at Lithakia.

I've booked my flight back to good old dull, grey, wet UK so bar will be closing the 21st Oct as i'm taking a week out after that to do some building work on the bar. Next season the Oceanic is having a complete new facelift from the floor to the roof but the main feature of the bar remains the same which is a chill out bar without any TV's or Entertainment and all drinks served with ORIGINAL SPIRITS. The plans are drawn up and i've even done an artists impression of what it will look like but can't show anyone just yet, you never know who might be reading this blog, I CAN SEE YOU! haha!

If anyone knows of a good surgeon that does short ass body transplants could they e-mail please as this body has taken a battering since the end of July, my poor little legs have been rushed off their feet, wish i had a pedometer to see how many miles i cover in the bar each night.

So once again its time to sign off for this week, i know, i know, its been more sad news than good news this week but thats life i'm afraid, but i'm still happy, the suns still shining, pools still lovely and cool and the drinks are flowing constantly, so for me things couldn't be any better.

Ok, so who thought that it was Toby Maguire in my last post LOL

Is your dog having an affair with your next door neighbours cat? Can you only string 2 words together in a sentence? Is your brother your mothers uncles aunt with webbed fingers and toes? If so call me Jeremey "smug git, i've been through everything you have only twice as bad, bully" Kyle and i'll put you on my freak show, i mean TV show.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Cake, Cake and even more Cake.

Well this week has been a bumper week for cake as there has been 2 birthdays and an anniversary in the bar that have all warranted a cake, thank god mmmmmm! As long as the man boobs stay away i'll be ok haha!

Been a very eventful tiring week this week but can't complain as really enjoyed it. First i've been out and about looking for a house to buy and seen some lovely ones at bargain prices but need to find out alot more about them before any offers go in, also the boat hunt is still on but been told to wait until after christmas to make an offer on any as they'll sell for less.

Helens birthday was great, had a party in the bar on friday night then totally fooled her on Saturday. She thought we were hiring an outboard motor boat for ourselves to go on a little trip when in fact i had planned for her to have a full spa treatment with massage and haircut at the Lesante 5 star hotel in Tsilivi while i laid by the pool, even when we were in the hotel she still never had a clue what was going on until the receptionist of the spa greeted us. Brilliant!

The bar again this week has been great, every night at some point between 10.30pm and 1am the bar has been full and tuesday i had to turn people away as i just didn't have any floor space for chairs and even then 2 people had to stand. I'm not saying i'm full from doors open till doors close as thats ridiculous, no one is ever that busy, i've been sat reading my book alone till 10.30pm some nights but it is nice to see the bar full even if its just for 5 mins, i like to keep busy. I am closing alot earlier in saying that usually around 2am but its so hot during the day and night my customers are tired from the heat which i can understand. Lets see what change over day brings today, between thursdays change over and todays i've lost 37 customers with also a change over day Monday to come but i always get surprised when a regular to Oceanic walks in on their first night, always lovely to see return customers year after year.

The Oceanic can now have international status as this season had so many different nationalities in Swedish, Dutch, German, Finnish, Polish, Romanian, Greek (of course), Norwegian, Austrian, Swiss, Italian, American, Canadian.......oh yeah and British LOL.

And i've also had a world famous hollywood actor in for 5 nights while his boat was docked in Zakynthos town, kept it very low key until he left but it was no other than Spiderman himself Mr. Toby Maguire. AGGGHHH OH MY GOD!

The 18-30's have gone from the resort as i thought they might, very strange how every season they turn up in Kalamaki for 2-3 weeks in July, it must be just after the exams have finished, wouldn't like to see the resort turn in to extension of Laganas as that would be me out of here.

Its a neck and neck race this season between The Oceanic, Snickers and Fry's Turkish Delight Cocktails (Lemon Cheesecake is also a close runner), all selling very well, in fact the exclusive to Oceanic cocktails are selling better than the traditional cocktails but it is making it more difficult each year to come up with new ones as there are already 12 on the menu with another 4 to go on it, Snickers, Fry's Turkish Delight, Bounty Bar and Refresher cocktail are the 4 not on the menu at the moment.

brrr meow grrrr beeee meow buuurr cheeew puuuur brrrrr meow! "Charlie says that if ever you see a box of matches lying around tell mummy because they can hurt you."

Monday, 2 August 2010

Its half time here on Zakynthos

Well we're now in to August and its going very well indeed, so far. May and June were my best months since i opened in 2007 and July leveled out to be the same as last season due to 2 quiet weeks in the middle but last week another busy week. So much so my poor old knees are starting to ache due to my supermarket sprints every night for stock i've run out of. I'm hoping that by 2012 there will be an olympic event for the 40m supermarket sprint in which case i think i could be in with a good chance for the gold medal.

While our good friends Leigh and Rachel were out here they had arranged for us all to go horse riding which seemed like a wonderful idea having never been before, as we arrived there were some beautiful looking horses then as we were about to get ready they showed me the horse that i was booked in to ride, a Shetland Pony named "Tornado", i took one look at it and said "are you taking the p**s, you've booked me in to ride that?" to which they all nodded, "Well i'm sorry but you won't be getting me on that thing its way to tall for me" so i turned away and went to visit Izzy'z Ice Creams instead and let them carry on to get saddle sore.

Tornado the Shetland Pony, one mean beast.

As you can see Leigh is a modern day John Wayne, shame about health and safety though.

Or is it Bingo from the banana splits? Sorry Leigh couldn't resist it haha!

Not been up to much lately due to the heat and petrol strike but i did have a curry last night delivered to the bar ready for when i close. Now before everyone goes on about "why you eating curry when your in Greece?" i think that after 3 months eating lamb with oven potatos, beef stifado and enough Gyros pitas to keep Demis Roussos happy i deserve just one curry, well, 2 currys, 3 starters, pilau rice, chips, 3 pappadoms and a Kemma Nan bread to be precise. I know, I know, what about my wonderful figure, well the way i see it i'm losing my hair so i may as well go the whole thing and be fat as well LOL, now wheres my speedos, bumbag, white socks and sandals.

I may have mentioned a while back that i was writing a docu-comedy, the update is i had the structure of the comedy and i have now started to fill in the script and direction, i've decided to write an episode a month and its not looking to bad so far but sitting on a greek dining chair to write it sure gives you a numb bum, time for a lazy boy relaxing chair i think.

This thing facebook is becoming very popular isn't it, i was on it at one point but i found it pretty dull to be honest, people updating when they were "making a cup of tea" or "eating a pie" or "I'm so busy in work", well if your that busy get off bloody facebook haha! My good friend Steve set up an Oceanic facebook group and i have to thank Helen for being a facebook junkie for keeping the group up to date with pictures and replying to the members and i'd like to thank you all for joining. If you type in "oceanic chill out bar" on facebook you'll find it.

The resort is looking pretty busy now but from talking to other business owners of restaurants and bars that visit me people aren't spending like they used to, which is understandable with the way the economy is in the UK and the euro has dropped down again, lets just hope these businesses can survive this season and hope on an improvement next season. The one restaurant owner who visited me last night for a drink has a restaurant on the main road and he told me his rent was €21,000 a season and this season was his worst but the landlord would not even try to help him by lowering the rent, he will survive this season but he's finding it very difficult, also a good friend who opened a new bar this season told me that his customers are coming in staying for 1 or 2 drinks then going, no all night drinkers like they used to get in the past at their previous business. Fingers crossed that all who are here this year will be back next year.

So lets look ahead to August and keep the good times rolling.

Now then, now then, when your out in your car, don't forget your seatbelt, just remember this little saying "clunk, click every trip" and you'll do just fine.