Thursday, October 3, 2019

Loukoumi

The long predicted Thomas Cook debacle finally arrived on 23 September and left Sue and I with a puzzle as to how we might get home near to our original date of 2 October. 

The Lovely Anna drove us to Skiathos airport to catch our promised rescue flight, but with a assurance that should there be further delays, we could return to The Ostria “no problem and no charge“. Such is the typical Skiathan outlook to life. 

Our new flight was listed on the board but this time with Titan Airways; we arrived back in Manchester via Dubrovnik, ten minutes earlier than anticipated. We had been repatriated, with a tee shirt to prove it. 

Repatriated  

The not entirely unexpected turn of events surrounding Thomas Cook proved a slightly worrying time for visitors and locals alike. Happily, and unlike the UK, all tavernas, restaurants and cafes in Skiathos have free Wi-Fi whereby the Civil Aviation Authority web site showed regularly updated information for stranded passengers as they watched Skiathos life unfold. 

The Bourtzi  

Megali Aselinos 

The Pegasus 

The CAA web listed more than 50 worldwide destinations where over 180,000 Thomas Cook travellers were marooned, many of them in Greece and its islands where Thomas Cook had a long-established presence. 

The crash meant that Skiathos alone had lost 2,000 or so visitors due to arrive during late September and early October. That had a knock-on effect to local business people who have to earn their income during the five month summer tourist season – taxis, shops, restaurants, tavernas, cafes, apartments and hotels. Not to mention the sundry businesses and hundreds of people who in turn provide services and employment. Not only did local businesses lose this income, hoteliers and apartment owners working with Thomas Cook lost arrears owed to them, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of Euros. 

The Ostria Hotel at which we always stay is a case in point, a small, independent and family run business that lost a number of “arrivals” in the days following the crash and also repeat bookings for 2020 until alternative flights are found. The family decided to go independent following a similar crash of XL Airways in 2008 when their business received a large financial hit through XL paying suppliers in arrears, as is the practice of all large holiday companies. 

For readers of Another Bird Blog I can wholeheartedly recommend a stay at The Hotel Ostria in Skiathos.

The owners, the Matinhou family of Mom Litsa, Dad Makis plus daughters Anna and Sophia are simply the most hospitable, kind, warm, sincere and generous people you could ever wish to meet. Their working motto seems to be “Arrive as a guest, leave as a friend”. 

Makis 

Anna 

Sue and friend Litsa 

Litsa 

 Dimitris and Angela

The peaceful and very beautiful Ostria is found along a 50 yard paved drive and at the start of the Platanos valley that leads into the pine-clad hills beyond. It is rural Greece with the sight and sounds of sheep, goats and free range turkeys but just 50 yards from Bus Stop 16 and the local bus to lively Skaithos Town. 

The Ostria’s acres of spacious grounds of lawn, fruit trees, vines, palm trees and flowering plants are kept in manicured immaculate condition by tireless and friendly Ben. Angela and her look-alike sister keep the rooms and visitors’ areas spotlessly clean with a cheery wave to each and every guest. 

 The Ostria

The Ostria 

The Ostria

Breakfast is a leisurely affair of fruit, Greek yogurt, glorious local honey, cheese, home-made walnut cake, eggs and toast; and always a mound of Makis’ pastries - cinnamon & apple rolls, spinach & feta rolls or Galaktoboureko. Makis started out in life as a baker and it shows. 

Dimitris and Anouk look after every need during breakfast, daytime lounging or evening with a glass of Mythos, Ouzo or Metaxa. 

The Ostria

A bonus of a stay at The Ostria is the bird life found in the gardens and the surrounding fields - Hooded Crows, Yellow Wagtails, Blackcaps, Red-backed Shrikes, Red-rumped Swallows and Spotted Flycatchers. There are Scops’ Owls, Little Owls and during the summer and at migration time, Bee Eaters.

Red-backed Shrike 

 Spotted Flycatcher

Hooded Crow

There are a number of four and five star hotels in Skiathos but none receive the number of consistent complimentary, recommendations and reviews as the supposedly lower star rated Ostria. We would not dream of staying anywhere else on our next visit to Skiathos.

Loukoumi 

Wherever you are in the world, give The Ostria a try. You will not be disappointed. Here's a tip - don't fly Thomas Cook, but if on your travels you see him please remind him that he owes some good friends of mine large amounts of money.

Back soon with more Greek Delight.

Linking today with Anni's Blog and Eileen's Blogspot.





14 comments:

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Welcome home, Phil! Obviously a wonderful place to stay and I am sure your fabulous hosts are very appreciative of your attempts to validate their operation and to encourage people to stay there. If my vacation plans included Greece, I would make it a point to give them my business.

eileeninmd said...

Hello,

I am glad you enjoyed your trip. Even with the flight problems. I would not like to be stranded. Many here saw that happen with the WOW airlines. I hope all the locals find a way to make up differences of the lost business. But, it does look like you managed to have a great time. Pretty collection of birds and photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend. PS, thank for the comment and visit.

Sami said...

Sorry you got stranded by the Thomas Cook demise, luckily it all seemed to have worked out well.
So nice to hear about small family businesses that take great care of their guests. I would also rather support this type of business instead of the big hotels.
The Australian crows are all black.

Anni said...

Welcome Back! What a trip, huh? Too bad about being 'stranded'...but, the outcome turned positive for you & Sue. As always, love the bird life you share with us.

Happy weekend and thanks for joining us at I'd Rather B Birdin.

Handmade in Israel said...

Beautiful photos. Glad you got home safe and well.

NCSue said...

Welcome home. Hope your next travel plans are trouble free!
Thanks for sharing at https://exploringrworld.com/the-old-harbor-of-honfleur/

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I'm so glad you returned home safely. I hate to think of all the stranded travelers.

A Bit of the Blarney said...

You had quite an adventure. Life is good when there are some of those to enliven our lives! Wonderful photos and thank you for sharing your memorizes!

Fun60 said...

There is a terrible knock on effect when a travel company goes under. Well done for promoting your wonderful hosts.

judee said...

Welcome back safe and sound after quite an adventure! Interesting photos

Wally Jones said...

Gini and I are very glad to hear you and Sue are home safe and sound. What a trip!

Reading through your post this morning as you described your hosts and the local lifestyle was very relaxing. If we are ever fortunate enough to travel to that area we will definitely book our stay at The Ostria.

Again, welcome home!

Lowcarb team member said...

Welcome back … but sorry to read you got stranded by the Thomas Cook troubles. I'm pleased that in the end things were sorted. However, it's devastating for the hoteliers, such a knock on effect.

You've shared some nice pictures, look forward to seeing more soon.

All the best Jan

Angie said...

Phil - as usual, I am not paying attention to the news and had no idea that Thomas Cook had collapsed and the knock-on effects. How awful for everyone, but especially the hoteliers and other suppliers who will not get paid. Glad you made it safely home - lovely photos and a kind recommendation of the Ostria and its staff.

Sharon said...

Phil, glad you made it back okay amidst the Thomas Cook collapse, it's very sad when you read all the stories of the local small businesses that have been affected. The Ostria sounds lovely and is definitely a place I will bookmark in case I ever go to Greece, they must really appreciate your recommendations.
Love all the bird photos too... will catch up on the rest of your posts now :)

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