‘Now whatever you do Jack, please, PLEASE don’t jump off the balcony’.
Like all of my friends’ worried mothers my Mum must have repeated this plea to me about seven thousand times in the week running up to my recent holiday to Malia. Within minutes of getting into our rooms we were packed onto the balcony judging whether or not we would be able to make it to the pool without turning ourselves into Christopher Reeve. And so it began!
This was my first time experiencing one of the media-vilified ‘Lads’ holidays. I was following the well worn path of young people to the Mediterranean, paying around £500 to throw myself into a whirling staggering haze of drunken debauchery with my friends for a week. Just so long as I didn’t do anything ridiculous like getting a tattoo of my own face on the back of my head, managing to be kidnapped by a gang and ransomed, or failing to McTwist over a helicopter I was guaranteed the best holiday of my life… Right?
One of the things that immediately struck me about Malia was the fact that everyone looked more or less the same. Girls seemed to wear a uniform of tiny tops and shorts that let their arse cheeks hang out of the bottom (often with nightmare inducing consequences). In terms of other guys, walking down the strip often felt like I had stumbled into a JLS/The Wanted/One Direction look-alike contest. Most of the guys looked as if they haven’t left the gym since about year nine, Channing Tatum chic has caught on. This is obviously a far more appealing choice for the sea of mildly burnt thong-short-clad girls than a cynical student journalist who shares his physique with Danny Devito.
Fuelled by vodka and energy drink we headed out onto the strip each night to be swarmed by reps, given countless shots, hoover up fishbowls, have our minds numbed by constant thumping bass, eat fast food, down more drinks, get burned by cigarettes, down more drinks, wince from cheap vodka and stumble home as the sun rises. All whilst dancing in ways that ought to have resulted in us being carted back to a care home. It was great fun and usually hilarious (even when I cut the top of my toe open and bled all over a bar). Over the course of the week though I found myself maybe getting a little bored?
Bored?! Shock. Horror.
Thousands of years ago Crete was a centre of European Civilisation and is home to the ancient ruins at Knossos. Sadly the only ruins I managed to see in Crete were the crumpled figures of doubled over teenagers who couldn’t handle their drinks on the sides of the strip. Seeing the ruins was something on my list of to-dos for Malia (yes I’m weird) but it seems that on these kinds of holidays nobody really does anything during the day! When I go away I like to chill but at the same time I like to explore and experience a different culture or way of life, not just lounging around for a week straight.
In Malia everyone was speaking English, McDonalds was never more than a deranged quad-bike jump away and there was little need to move more than a mile from the hotel. It was brilliant to escape for a week and experience the infamous ‘Lads’ holiday, but I’m going to put it out there that I’m done now, it was fun but I don’t think I’d do it again.
I like a bit of adventure, totally new experiences, completely leaving my own culture behind and exploring beyond the tourist trail. I did really enjoy my week in Malia, but I think you get out of Malia what you put in. Maybe I didn’t put in enough? Maybe it’s because at times I felt like I was in a channel five documentary? Maybe I’m just a bit odd?!
Like the countless one night stands that occur in Malia every night, Malia herself has proven to be my fleeting holiday romance. I’m sorry Malia, it’s not you, it’s almost certainly me.