The plane landed and taxied to a standstill and after everyone had barged their way off the aircraft there was passport control to negotiate but before we could pass we had to acquire a permission to enter which cost £10 each.
They called this a visa procedure but there were no forms to complete and no checks to establish our suitability for visiting the country because this is not a formal visa in any way whatsoever but rather a crude Robin Hood tourist tax and the uniformed official might as well have held a pistol to our heads as we handed over our cash before he let us proceed to passport control where they checked the rip-off visa and stamped it with an authoritative thump as though to legitimise the theft which I interpreted rather loosely as ‘Welcome to Turkey’.
Now we had to find our transport to the Suntopia Topical Hotel and we dutifully made our way to the transport coach and it was at that point that I first realised that this would not really be my first choice type of holiday as I walked down the aisle looking for a seat past tattooed bodies, football shirts and Geordie face-lifts.
Towards the back I was then forced to settle in just in front of a family of gypsies who had no manners, no awareness of other people and were clearly exactly the sort of people that we didn’t want to find as next door neighbours at the hotel.
Fortunately I didn’t have to deal with his issue because after arrival and the check-in procedure we were allocated a room well away from them and after we had been branded with our All Inclusive wrist band and rushed to the bar for our first drink we set about the process of making ourselves at home!
At this point I think I was determined not to completely enjoy the ‘All Inclusive’experience because in a snooty sort of way I have come to think of myself as a traveller rather than a holidaymaker, a journeyman rather than a tourist and much to the dismay of my daughter I started straight away to find things to dislike.
First of all the apartment, which was a ground floor basement room and I always find these semi-subterranean arrangements to be rather sad and dark and exposed – I don’t like basement rooms. It was well appointed and had all the facilities that we had been promised and I had expected but basement rooms are designed for Hobbits who live below ground level and all that we could see from our sun starved balcony were people’s sunburnt legs walking by.
I returned to reception and asked if we could possibly be moved to a room on the first or second floor but the receptionist said that that this would be quite impossible. I told her that I had a fear of earthquakes and being buried alive but she showed no sympathy for my feigned phobia and turned away to deal with another guest.
And so I returned to the room and looked for a technical or repair issue and found it when I discovered that the balcony door wouldn’t lock and I went straight back to reception to demand a repair or a move and the receptionist promised that it would be dealt with within the next few minutes. I told her that if it wasn’t then I would expect to be moved to a room on the first or second floor because I was nervous about security issues especially as there were young children in the room and I gave her a look which said ‘you really wouldn’t want a Madeleine moment would you?’
And so I returned to the room and we went for a walk around the gardens confident that we would shortly be moved and do you know what? By the time we got back the buggers had fixed it so I had nothing else to complain about.
Actually it broke again a couple of days later but by then I was a lot more chilled out and Sally and the girls had rearranged the room in the way that they like it – rather like Belgium after the German Panzer division had passed through on the way to France in 1940, so I really couldn’t face the prospect of packing and unpacking and I just let the matter drop.
In between all this whingeing we did indeed walk through gardens which were splashed with dappled sunshine like a Monet painting and where swifts and martins dipped and swerved in the warm corners and as the minutes passed my irritation began to evaporate.
There was a real danger here that I might drop my moaning mood and start to enjoy myself but then we went to the restaurant for evening meal.
I understand that dinner time at the Suntopia Tropical was once used as an initiation test for new recruits to the Soviet Army but it was discontinued because it was considered too tough even for this. The food, it has to be said, was very good indeed but the restaurant ambiance was like Dante’s inferno! Wooden chairs being scraped across tiled floors, cutlery being dropped on the floor, children running about and shouting, parents bawling instructions and the constant attention of the cleaning up crews who, if you weren’t careful would whip your plate away from under your nose even before you had finished.
So, this was a mixed sort of day and at the end when the children were asleep and in bed and I was sitting on the underground balcony drinking a third or fourth gin and tonic I began to wonder what I was doing here and then the penny dropped and I had a quiet word with myself. This might not be the sort of place that I would choose for myself but I suddenly realised that this holiday wasn’t about me – I was here to give my grandchildren a good time – it was all about them and in that moment my mood relaxed and I was at peace with myself and so I went to the bar and ordered a fifth gin and tonic!
This might sound like a lot I agree but it wasn’t the real thing and was a weak alternative to branded gin which had to be paid for in real cash because the wrist bands didn’t work for Gordons or Beefeater. The beer was even worse – one day Sally said ‘Dad, you’ve drunk about eight pints of lager’, this, I confess was quite true but it was so weak that this massive quantity was only roughly the equivalent of a single can of Stella Artois and the only restriction on drinking any more, was not an alcohol induced coma, but the fact that I couldn’t get my trousers done up!
Have you ever been on an All Inclusive holiday? Did you like it?