Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Battle Of Crete


As we surmised, our hotel in Crete is full of Eastern Europeans. But what’s this? Far from being behind the bar, these guys are propping it up.

Because these aren’t your obliging Polish waitresses like back home: they are Putin’s newly embourgeoised and assertive Russians. And there are so many of them, they even outnumber the Germans.

The implications are only too clear: we must gauge relative towel deployment along the vital pool salient.

Sure enough, early morning reconnaissance reveals massive Russian strength concentrated on the sunny side, right next to the strategically important outdoor bar. But the Germans, although heavily outnumbered, have cunningly taken up position along a raised area of terrace known as The Bit That Gets The Best of the Afternoon Sun And Has A Fabulous View Of The Coast: they’ve clearly lost none of the tactical battlefield skills drilled into them by Der Alte Fritz and The Desert Fox.

They’ll need all the skill they can muster, because when it comes to heavy ordnance, the Russkies win hands down. Salvoes of beer all day, round after round of widow-maker cocktails, saturation dinner wining, and a massive pounding of post-prandial treble brandies. Huddled round their pitiful draft pilsners, the Germans don’t have a prayer.

As for the token British contingent, we’re holed up well away from the main action, in an area of scrubland behind the kitchens.

The thing is, since we last stayed at this very nice hotel five years ago, quite a bit has changed. To start with, the Greek owners sold out to Tui, Europe’s largest travel company. But Tui, like most traditional travel companies, is being whacked by internet booking companies and the slumping Western European demand for package holidays.

Hence the Russians: just like a certain bygone Germanic enterprise, boxed-in Tui has turned its sights East. Thank God for Russia. Thank God for its vast open spaces, and its vast open... well somewhat open markets.

After a century of war, revolution, communism, and cabbage, those travel-starved, snow-bound Russkies are gagging for it. Three hours from Moscow - sun, sea, and frankly who can blame them? What with all that gas dosh sloshing around, Tui has hit the jackpot.

So the hotel is chock full of Ivans and Ivanas, and there’s a constant stream of Russian travel agents traipsing through on fact-finding boonies.

They’ve taken Crete without a shot being fired.

Tomorrow- a complete rundown on the designer fashions and gizmos they’ve brought with them, including a close-up report on silicon enhancement and butt-floss bikinis (Tyler has been given special permission to report on this by Mrs T, who is still in shock after witnessing a catastrophic malfunction in Leonid’s micro-Speedos). Plus a poolside book review, featuring Tyler’s new dirty little secret.

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