Home time. The end of the holiday. Or at least it will be as soon as we’ve finished all the traveling.
Anyway, boo, hiss, and other such phrases.
Leaving the Hotel
We had to be out of the hotel room before 11am. That meant we could take a rather leisurely final breakfast at 9:30. The plan was to get fairly well fed before beginning the traveling. Some members of the family are sensitive to foodstuffs being not quite as normal. On that basis it always pays to stock up when the chance arises. In this instance though, the cunning plan failed because she wasn’t hungry. Oh well! It was a sound plan.
We were done with breakfast in good time. Because we’d mainly packed the previous day we were able to get out of the room well before 11 am. There was very little checking out to do. We’d made full use of the all-inclusive and managed not to spend anything further at the hotel.
And then we sat in the entrance hall for an hour waiting for our scheduled pickup. We’d booked a private minibus transfer so and they’d said midday pickup for a 3 pm flight. While we were there we were having discussions with several other Britains. Several were supposed to have left the previous day but their flights were cancelled and they’d been rebooked the following day. So they’d had an extra night on holiday, whether they wanted one or not. Our driver turned up at the right time, but because there were other people milling around and interrupting anyone who walked through the door, it took a while to confirm he was our driver. Meh! We got to him before someone else claimed they were us.
To the Airport
The drive from our hotel was only half an hour or so. We didn’t find any bad traffic, so we were at the airport in plenty of time. Heraklion isn’t as big as Heathrow, so they ask for you to come 2 hours before your flight rather than Heathrow’s 3 hours.
The terminal was quite busy and unfortunately we were so early that our flight wasn’t even on the board, so we couldn’t check in. I took the opportunity to dash round the car park for 15 minutes to grab a couple of last caches in Greece. It was totally opportunistic, but they were easy.
When I’d done them I texted Kas to say I was coming back, and noticed a five-minute old text saying that the check-in was open now, so could I come back please. Check-in took a while, despite already having checked in online. There seemed to be some people at the front who were taking ages about it. To be fair, the assistants also seemed to be fighting the technology. Anyway, there were five groups in front of us when we joined the queue but it still took 20 minutes to get rid of the suitcases.
We weren’t sure what facilities were available on the inside and V was hungry now, so we grabbed some pizza and drinks pre-security before going inside.
Heraklion Airport isn’t especially big, and they don’t seem to implement passport checks for EU citizens at all. I think that was the sketch anyway. We went through security scanning and then passed through a tight channel for passport control which just boxed off a handful of the gates. So I’m guessing that’s the Brexit Benefit – we get to go to gates where all the other people were either British or Russian. Not many other airlines from outside the EU fly into Heraklion.
Our inbound plane from Heathrow arrived on time, so it looked like we were going to board and get away on schedule. Following up on my gripe from the trip out, why do they allow priority boarding when it’s a bus transfer to the plane? We all ended up on the same bus, and so by definition, half the priority boarders were at the back of the bus and got off it last. Seems a bit daft. The plane was absolutely chocker so it took a while to get everyone seated. As a result we were a bit late taking off, but only 20 minutes or so.
The flight back was, from my perspective, a bit dull. We were on the very back row of seats and I was in the middle, so couldn’t see out of the windows anyway. That meant four hours of dullness. I did try to do a bit of colouring on the ipad and whatever else was available, but it still seemed like ages. A window seat is best for me, so I can watch the world drift by beneath me. I rarely settle back to read a book or (when available) watch a film. So I was a bit bored. The kids were wasting the window seat on their side by not looking out of it.
So we left at 3:20 on a supposedly four hour flight and got back to London at about 5 pm. So the pilot had obviously been able to avoid all the speed cameras and put the pedal to the metal. All good. And the landing was rather more smooth than the way out.
The passport control in Heathrow was quick. Obviously we dont have to mix with Johnny Foreigner any more, but it did take a couple of us some time to get the automatic gates to work.
And then we hit the first problem with travel that we’d had in ages. The suitcases took forever to come out. Probably the best part of an hour from when we got to the carousel. That was a bit rubbish. At least we could tell that all four cases were actually in London though. We could even tell when they were about to come out on the carousel. I like this game of having the electronic tags inside the bags. Smart idea.
When we eventually got our bags we walked straight out and my car was waiting ever so patiently for us in the Meet & Greet car park. The drive was uneventful after a brief traffic jam on the M25, so we were back home by 7:30.
The kids wanted McDonalds for dinner. It had been over two weeks since their last one. Kas and me fancied something from the Chinese, for much the same reason. So that was dinner sorted.
No Rest for the Wicked
The wicked person in this case was me. On the following morning I had an appointment in Uttoxeter for a weekend of geocaching at the UK Mega. So as soon as I got home I was on a mission to get ready for going away again.
So I emptied my suitcase. The dirty stuff went in one pile and the clean stuff went straight into another bag. There was enough clean stuff left to last the weekend, so that was easy. And that just left me to prep all the technology. I needed a PC, my ipad, my phone, my camera and my GPS, which needed to be loaded with West Midlands caches instead of Greek ones. And then I had to find all the chargers, spare batteries and other bits. At least for this journey I didn’t have to have all the tech in the same bag. I was able to put “evening” tech in one bag and “daytime” tech in another.
And that was that. By the time I was done getting ready the girls had all long since gone to bed, and I guess that officially marks the end of the holiday.
On reflection, the Panorama‘s all-inclusive was fine but would have been better from my perspective if there’d been more things (well, more geocaches) that I could walk to from the hotel. I’m never one for sitting around. So whilst the girls were soaking up the ambience and generally doing lots of nothing, I was quite bored on the days when we didn’t have a car. I spent a lot of the “nothing” days snoozing in the bedroom, because I’m not suited to lying in the sun. It was relaxing for the first few days but during the second week I sort of regretted not getting a car.
In terms of the resort, there wasn’t really anything in the way of watersports – no parascending, no kayaks, and so on, which meant it was peaceful but I think the girls wanted something else to do in resort other than just swimming. That probably didn’t help with the boredom either, because I was looking forward to a day of kayaking at least, but frankly there was little to do in Agia Pelagia. So I enjoyed what we did, and I liked the hotel, but I guess it was in slightly the wrong place for us. Another year then.