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I know there are a lot of reviews about Corfu but I just had to add my "tuppence worth" - as I love the place. I also hope my story of "going it along" will help others to pluck up the courage and go......
"You must be mad", some people said. Others said I was very brave, that they could never do it. Perhaps I was a little of both, with a touch of determination and desperation thrown in for good measure. What was this awful deed I had done? I had just announced I was going on holiday........ alone.
This is a plight faced by many single women every year, and I was no exception. My husband had died in 1982, leaving me to bring up my children, then aged 4 and 7 years, single-handed. Apart from spending a week at a holiday camp with the children, our holidays had been restricted to visiting parents and in-laws. Much as I wanted to, I just didn't have the courage to 'go it alone'. All I needed was a gentle push, which I received in 1986 when my Mum offered to take my two children for a fortnight, to give me some time to myself.
The thought of taking a holiday hadn't really crossed my mind much until then, but the seed had been planted. I found myself looking at holiday brochures, wishing I knew even one of the thousands of women in a situation similar to my own: wanting to go on holiday but having nobody to go with. I was faced with two choices; stay at home alone and think of the holiday I might have been having, or throw caution to the wind, break the habit of a lifetime and go in search of sun, sea and sand. I chose the latter and, although I didn't realise it at the time, it was the best decision I have ever made.
I chose Corfu as my holiday destination and, although still very apprehensive of going on my own, I found myself looking forward to the fortnight away. The main disadvantage of going alone was the single room supplements, although I chose May as it isn't quite so expensive then. I would have paid more - and not have had as much fun - had I stayed at home and had sunbed sessions in order to obtain a good tan. There was also the added bonus of getting out at nights while away, without having to find and pay for a babysitter. What did I have to lose?
It was my first holiday abroad, so I was also apprehensive of flying, finding my way around airports etc. I admit I was scared but what the hell, I had a holiday to look forward to. I made sure I was at the airport early, so if I got lost (which you can't do but I wasn't to know) I would still have plenty of time on my hands.
After checking in, I went to the departure lounge and soon got chatting to other people. My holiday had begun and I was still in this country! I found myself losing my fear and getting excited, knowing I would soon be in a sunny country, with not a care in the world!! Once on the plane, I got chatting to the people sitting beside me. They were going to the same resort as I was - I had made some friends already, so was lucky. This isn't always the case, as most times they shall be at different resorts but there is still a good camaraderie on the flight, all like-minded people going for a week or two of sunshine.
On arrival at Corfu airport, you are greeted by heat - bliss. There is quite a wait for your luggage, then out to the waiting coaches for transfer to your resort. I thought at this point I might get lost but the tour reps are outside with large placards waiting to greet you and tell you where your coach is. I must point out here that the Corfu scenery is beautiful: rugged coastline, beautiful beaches and thousands of olive trees. Depending on where you are going, the transfer can take from 20 minutes to a couple of hours but I didn't mind, as the excitement has already kicked in.
Upon arrival at the resort, I was shown to my room by the rep. I was given a leaflet about the welcome meeting later that night (sometimes next day, depending on your time of arrival) at a nearby hotel. It was at this meeting that I realised I was the only lone tourist there. This didn't matter, as everyone else was very friendly and the rep ensured I wasn't alone for long, including me in all the activities going on around the resort. Everyone seems to be very friendly towards a lone tourist, we were like one big happy family.
My days were spent mainly lying on the beach sunbathing or shopping for souvenirs, which are very reasonably priced in Corfu. I enjoyed being on my own, with nobody to please but myself. I could go where I wanted, when I wanted and it was a good feeling. I suppressed a smile whenever I thought that, had I stayed at home I would probably be doing mundane chores such as housework or the weekly shopping, perhaps in the rain. How boring it all seemed, compared to this idyllic lifestyle I was now leading - for fourteen days anyway! Time to worry about the home when I got back to reality. For the first time in years I felt free, it was a wonderful feeling.
Some evenings I arranged to meet up with others I had met at the resort, other times I was quite happy to dine on my own - not that I was alone for long, as there are always people who like to include you. Everyone was so friendly, I soon realised that even had I wanted to be left alone, the opportunity need never arise as there is always someone willing to include you in their conversation. We even compared tans - or sunburn, whatever the case was!! Nobody talked in detail of home life - no mention of children, finance, etc - we were all there with one objective in mind - to continue having fun. And that is just what everyone did, every day.
One slight disadvantage of being alone is that it is impossible to get sun tan lotion on your back; only a minor problem compared to the many advantages - plus you can always ask someone to do this task for you, they are usually only too willing to oblige. The advantages? I could wear skimpy mini skirts and shorts, something I would never dare do at home. I could bathe topless, knowing that nobody bothered, or even cared as I must admit, apart from the heat in Corfu, I felt overdressed if I wasn't topless!! I could dine out every night, something I could never afford to do at home - the food in Corfu is very reasonably priced. I could go where I wanted, when I wanted, not like some women who had no option but fall in with their partners' wishes while perhaps yearning to be elsewhere. The good definitely outweighs the bad - what bad???
I have met others who have gone on holiday on their own, some having done so for years through choice and others like myself, having no option but enjoying every minute. There didn't seem to be anyone who regretted going alone, I certainly didn't and can't think why I was so afraid in the first place - just a great fear of the unknown, I suppose. I have even chatted to some women on holiday with their partners, who now fancy going alone next time after having talked to me.
At first there seemed to be a lot of women on their own but this wasn't really the case. Although they had gone on holiday with their partners, they were left alone every night. The reason? Football, or just sport in general!! Yes, you even find grass widows on holiday - at least in my case I knew I was alone from the start, it must be worse to go out there with a partner, only to be left alone while the men watch the footie!!
There must be thousands of women in the same situation as myself; single, in need of a holiday but no-one to go with. After my experiences of travelling alone, I can honestly say that all my fears and doubts were unfounded. Although alone, you are never lonely. There is so much to do and see. Even if you find it difficult to mix with others, the reps are always close at hand to ensure you join in and have a memorable time. I wasn't at all sure of what to expect, I even thought I might end up regretting my decision. How wrong I was!!
Apart from a memorable holiday, I gained more self respect and confidence, something which had been lacking a little since my husband died. I was proud of myself for having the courage to go alone and returned home a much happier person. I had packed some books to read while on holiday - they were never looked at, such a fantastic time I had.
There were also single parents there, children are such good mixers that they seemed to bring the parents together. So whether you go alone, or are the only adult with your children, you won't be excluded.
So to anyone who has any doubts about 'going it alone', I can only say try it for yourself. It does take a lot of courage - and I wouldn't call myself a brave person - but once you have made the decision you'll never regret it. I haven't and never will.
I have been back to Corfu - alone - a few times since and it just gets better each year. I would recommend going on holiday alone to anyone; my only regret is that it took me so long to get around to doing it. I have met some wonderful people during my holidays over the years, some of them having turned into lasting friendships. Age doesn't matter either, whether you are 16 or 60!!
Go on, be a devil, try it - Good Luck and Bon Voyage!!!!!