Around 18 months ago our family went through a huge change.
My wife of almost 10 years got on her first ever flight after being petrified of doing so for her entire life. We went away together to Majorca (which featured me getting drunk in a Karaoke bar each night) and then earlier this year we went to Barbados to stay with a close friend who now lives out there.
Previously our family holidays involved the UK or France in either a Caravan Park or in our trailer tent. Don’t get me wrong – these were lovely holidays but it wasn’t what I was bought up with and I really wanted to take my family further afield to experience different cultures and sights around the world.
So in August all five of us went away on our first flight – departing to Mykonos, Greece. For all three of my children this was their first time flying and there were a lot of nervous tears and tantrums along the way.. our youngest had been saying for the best part of a year that he was NOT getting on a plane (often crying about the idea of it) but once it was up in the air he loved it. I took my Microsoft Surface with lots of films and TV shows on and the flight was actually a success.
We were only staying one night in Mykonos (as it’s not a cheap place to stay in summer) and when we got to the airport it was hell to get a taxi. Despite being one of the first in the queue it was a free-for-all and I ended up having to physically push people out the way to get my bags into the car.. clearly there are not enough taxis on the Island!
Our first night was spent in Eleni’s Village Suites – staying in an amazing little cottage in the middle of the Mykonos country side. The owners were lovely and the only negative was that we were not staying there for any longer.
Now time for a bit of an embarrassing admission.
When I originally booked the flights the reason that we chose Tinos was purely because I thought Greece would be a good place to go (I’d never been) and I’d found an amazing deal on HotUKDeals. At the time I did not actually appreciate that there were different Islands in Greece which is ironic considering my only C grade in my GCSE’s years ago was in Geography!
So after booking the flights I realised after a while we’d actually need to get a Ferry too! We were a little concerned that dragging 3 kids (and lots of suitcases) would be a nightmare but thankfully we were given a lift to the port by the Eleni’s and picked up by a coach the other end with the hotel we were staying in. The ferry was a breeze – the only thing that I found slightly weird was the way in which everyone pilled on like their life depended on it as soon as the ferry turned up; equally I don’t think that this would have passed the heath and safety tests in the UK!
When we got to Tinos we transferred straight to Tinos Beach Hotel. We had a family room which just about fit all five of us. Whilst on the topic of family rooms, this is probably the area we have really struggled with when booking holidays. Four people? Easy. Five? You become very limited in where you can actually stay unless you want to get two rooms which often costs a lot more.
Back on topic; the hotel was pretty nice.
Location – 8/10. Perhaps it would have been good to be nearer to the town centre – which was only a short bus ride away but if you want to head in here a few times it adds to the cost. They did offer a free coach service but if I’m honest they should have a smaller coach and a more regular service. On the plus side it was RIGHT on the beach.
Room – 6/10. Don’t get me wrong – the room was nice enough, but one of the chairs was broken on the balcony and it just lacked any real facilities in the room. The maid came every day or two.
Pool – 6.5/10. The pool looks nice and is better than most of the other hotels in Tinos. Most of the hotels (in a country that is pretty hot!) didn’t have pools, which was a bit weird. The big downside however was that it was bloody freezing every single day in that pool. It really could have done with a bit of heating.
Facilities – 3/10. This was a big let down. There was no entertainment – nothing really for the kids to do – in fact all that there was was a small park, one pool table and a couple of table tennis tables. But the pool table wasn’t in operation (someone had broken the cues!) and the table tennis was always in use with no real time limits or booking system. Really disappointing and it made it really difficult to keep all the children entertained.
Staff – 6/10. Nice enough but nothing to write home about. Went down a mark as when we had dinner in there the first night we poured some fizzy drink for each of us before being told that this cost extra (with no signs suggesting this) in a very rude way.
Food – 5/10. We actually only worked our half way through the holiday that we got dinner included as well as breakfast but I don’t think we would have enjoyed dinner there every day. There was one food hall and it was the same stuff most days and none of it was that great.
One thing that I found odd about Tinos (perhaps down to my bad geography skills again) was the amount of wind on the Island! I would never book to go there again and if it’s like that on all the Greek Islands probably wouldn’t go back to any of them. They had to put large rocks on the sun loungers that you can place your towels on to stop them from blowing away! It made it constantly cold when we were sitting by the pool despite the hot sun. I ended up covering up which was a shame as I was aiming for a tan by the end of the holiday.
Tinos town itself was quite nice and I would have liked to explore it more but other than visiting a few shops / stools we didn’t venture too far. Perhaps this was just down to the fact that the kids were moaning that they wanted to back to the hotel (even if there wasn’t anything to do there). We rented a car one day (which we were lucky to do as everywhere was fully booked minus last minute cancellations) and drove around the Island which was probably my favourite part of the trip. The views were stunning and it’s only a fairly small Island.
My favourite place which I would have liked to spend more time at was a beach called Kolibithra Bay. It was a surfers beach so the water itself was a bit rough and not really somewhere the children could go swimming but the vibe was very chilled out. There were two converted VW Camper Vans on the beach to get food and drinks (the cocktails were great, but I only had one as I was driving) and it was playing some decent chilled house music as the sun started to go down. Our eldest was in a right mood by this point (can’t remember why) so we didn’t stay too long which was a real shame. If you ever go Tinos, put it at the top of your list.
As the hotel food was pretty rubbish we ate out a few times and the trip also coincided with our wedding anniversary so we decided to head to O Ntinos which was the number 1 ranked restaurant on Trip Advisor. It took around 30 minutes for the taxi to get there but it was 100% worth the wait and cost. The views of sunset were spectacular and the food was some of the best that I’ve had. Also worth noting that the staff were extremely friendly – could not have asked for a nicer anniversary treat.
So that really brings me to the end of our trip. The journey back was pretty uneventful (don’t get to Mykonos airport too early as there is bugger all to do!) and other than my credit card breathing a sign of relief we were all very depressed to me back in the UK.
Our next holiday will be a little different as we’ve booked to go away for a week next year to an all inclusive resort in Cuba. Hopefully this will bring lots more to do for the kids and thought it was a good idea to get to Cuba before the American’s build loads of McDonalds and Starbucks now that flights are starting to head out there. A long wait but excited for our next adventure.