For anyone expecting a how-to guide, I apologise. This is a genuine question from me.
I don’t understand European package holiday destinations. How do you choose one over another? If all you want is a week in the sun, it seems so easy, but how do you choose between Spain, Portugal, Greece or Turkey? And within each country, how do you choose, for example, between the Canary Islands, the Balearic islands, or the Costa whatever?
I just wanted a week in the sun because I’m almost over my chest infection and I thought some time away, on a beach, in the sun, beside the sea, would help me recover faster and make me feel I am catching up on all the “lost time” when I was confined to home.
I thought Greece would be good because I like Greek food. How hard can it be to pick an island and a resort and book a cheap week away?
The answer is very hard.
Most of the resort towns we looked at are based around beaches and sunbeds-by-the-pool. There isn’t much of the culture or history near the resort towns that would normally attract us to a destination. But we don’t want to be stuck in the hotel by the pool or by the beach for the whole week. We want to be able to get out and see what sights there are to see.
We would find a nice looking hotel, but then saw it was located in a village so small, it had no or limited public transport, and not much in the way of restaurants, so you are stuck there during the day unless you hire a car or book a tour; and you have nothing to do of an evening (unless you want to sit in the hotel bar or restaurant every night).
We spent several hours over 2 or 3 days looking at various holidays in the Ionian islands (Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos). We shortlisted and then rejected several hotels: good location but poor reviews; good reviews but poor location; good location but no pool; good hotel and nice village but far from the beach; close to beach and nice hotel but small village with no amenities.
After several days of chasing around in circles – “This one!” “Oh, no, not this one.” – we decided to scrap the Greek island holiday idea. Our simple holiday was just too difficult.
And then we saw cheap flights to Kyiv in Ukraine.
Within half an hour, we had found several good hotels and Airbnbs. We had identified several restaurants serving traditional Ukrainian food and bars offering local craft beers. We had looked into day trips from Kyiv and found the best-rated Chernobyl trip provider. We found several blogs describing the sites and times of markets around the city.
In short, it was much easier for us to put together an agenda for a “complex” week long trip to Ukraine than a “simple” week-at-the-beach on a Greek island.
So I am still at a loss of how you book a beach holiday. But I understand more why people return to the same resort year after year. After you’ve done the research and found a place that has everything you want, why would you go through that again? Why not go back to that perfect place?
If I were to ever find a perfect place, it’s certainly a strategy I might consider.