Life as a holiday rep is awesome! Every 3 to 6 months you are off to an exotic location lapping up the sun and living a life that dreams are made of. Your friends are envious, your parents are excited and you feel like you are on the most fabulous adventure…and being paid for it! What more could you ask for?! As a newbie, they don’t tell you much before heading to resort….to be honest I think we are too overwhelmed to even ask the right questions. The only thing truly worth caring about was getting packed and getting out of the cold, dreary, wet UK as soon as freaking possible!!
Yeah…sunshine and sun bathing all year round?…that’s only a pipe dream kids! These resorts have a winter too! On numerous occasions I got caught out believing it was going to be flip flops and sleeveless tops for 6 months. Oh heavens forbid the company should give you a heads up that it is FRIGGING FREEZING in April/May, intermittently during the summer (depending on the resort), and then totally baltic by the end of August into September! My company windbreaker was my lifesaver many times – I was grateful I had two – sometimes they had to be worn together for better effect.
What was super hilarious was that reps became acclimatised quite easily – so while guests were walking around shirt less thinking the weather was fantastic, there would be a group of reps shivering in a far corner praying their shift would end so they could defrost the icicles which had formed around them.
To be honest, prior to being a rep I stayed in nice hotels…even nice self-catering apartments in the center of the towns. Wherever I stayed was always furnished pretty nicely (even if it was basic), everything worked, it was comfortable…but who cared…it was only somewhere to have a quick kip before spending most days on the beach and most nights checking out the nightlife. Accommodation for a week or 2 wasn’t something that registered high on the radar…until becoming a rep! As a rep you are no longer a “holidaymaker”, you are now a “local”…and that means you live how they live.
Nothing quite prepared me for my first time as a rep in Greece. I had read the guide books and learnt a bit of the language…but nothing prepared me for the most bizarre situation of my entire life….putting the toilet paper in a bin instead of flushing it!!!! What the hell??? Where the hell had I ended up and what was this nonsense!? Funny thing was even though it took some getting used to, soon you fall into a routine and it becomes quite natural…until you forget that you haven’t taken out the garbage for a while…then the smell no longer seems natural. *yuck*. Yeah – don’t play the fool and think you are going to flush the toilet like most guests did – all the pipes are connected – because the drain in the middle of the bathroom is going to remind you why you shouldn’t have flushed the toilet paper in the first place!!
Greek bathrooms are altogether quite strange, if you have never encountered one before. I will admit it was my first time having to use what is known as a ‘wet room’. For those of you who have no idea what that is – it is quite trendy to have one – but not to me. The bathroom is tiled from the floor, walls and ceiling. There is one drain and it is in the centre of the room (yes…that same one!). It means that you can shower without a shower curtain (usually because there isn’t one) or without physically stepping into a bath tray or a bath – and the entire room can get soaked! To me …that’s just not high on my agenda as trendy, considering I could slip and hurt myself…and nearly did…many times.
Despite this ‘trendy’ bathroom situation in Greece, a reps accommodation is basic. By basic…I really mean empty! I never fully understood the meaning of ‘home comforts’ until I was in Greece. I had seriously taken my flat for granted in the UK. My bed, duvet, fresh sheets of all varying colours, my telly, DVDs, my oven, pots and pans, hot water, a living room…who really thinks about these things in all their wonderful glory? Who even stops to appreciate the wonders of hot water, much less access to a telephone to chat to a few friends? My first rep accommodation was NOT what I thought it was going to be. I wasn’t expecting a palace, but I certainly wasn’t expecting a 16ftx 16ft studio with a single bed, a desk being propped up by a book, a chair, walls covered in blue tack residue, a double hob hotplate (???), 1 pot (?), 1 pan (??) and a small fridge. The sheets were off white and so starched I was afraid they were going to cut me! OH…did I fail to mention there was NO HOT WATER!!!
It was as I was sat on the razor sharp sheets staring at my 4 blue tacked walls…and shivering because I had no jacket (except my poxy windbreaker), I understood why I saw other reps with TVs, duvets and George Foreman grills! They weren’t being obnoxious – they were being serious about their home comforts! I vowed that I wouldn’t go to another resort without some form of electronic device, a few posters to hide the grossness of the walls, and winter clothes!
I believe the pain I most felt was probably the lack of TV and the total lack of English channels (even when I did have a TV). How the hell was I supposed to keep up with Eastenders and Corrie – or watch the latest season of Big Brother?? I felt quite lost – because as a self-professed TV addict I now had to find other activities to keep me entertained. I guess Quiz Nights and Greek Nights at the hotels my colleagues worked at was my highlight…but I still strongly believe it was a ploy by the company…they didn’t want you hiding away having quiet time – they wanted you out and about with the guests building a presence and getting high scores on CSQ’s. *damn them and their conniving ways*
How many of you have turned to your washing machine and give thanks for its existence? How many of you have felt lost and confused when the wonderful machine decides to kick the bucket and you have to wait a couple days for a new one? Now imagine NOT having one of those wonderful machines for 6 MONTHS!! Washing was a major hurdle! It took some getting used to in my first season. I couldn’t believe there weren’t any washing machines! Shock! Horror! I was supposed to wash my clothes for 6 months BY HAND…bent over the basin on of my sink! I remember clear as day that the trick was to only wash the armpit – because sweat and deodorant is NOT a good combination at the best of times on any type of clothing…much less the uniform shirt. Ok, ok…I will own up to my dirty little secret…I don’t think I did much washing that first season…only if it was ABSOLUTELY necessary.
Upon returning to the UK after my first 6 months away as a rep – I felt that I had returned to civilization in more ways than one. I remember standing in front of the aisle of nothing but pure sugary goodness , simply mesmerized by the beauty of the chocolates, cakes, sweets…hhmmmm. 6 months away felt like a regimented sugar-free boot camp. Don’t get me wrong – the Greeks loved their syrupy sweet desserts…but they did not compare to a good bar of Cadburys chocolate, or a gooey crème egg. *yum*. Before being a rep, simple pleasures like buying jam filled donuts at Greggs or bars of chocolate from ASDA were taken for granted. Who knew that 6 months away from such delectable goodness could be so heartbreakingly traumatic?
Despite an initial rough start in a new resort with a new lifestyle to adapt to, I was quick to realise that everywhere was indeed different. Some resorts had British supermarkets, some had English TV channels, some apartments were fabulously furnished (including a washing machine), and some were simply hotel rooms with no windows. The real test as a Holiday Rep was being able to adapt and making the best of what seemed like impossible situations.
Fellow blogger “lisalovessunlife” summarised the basic things you miss as a rep – check it out. http://lisalovesunlife.com/2015/05/19/strange-things-you-miss-when-living-in-the-sun/