Last week, for reasons that are long and boring to explain, I went to Malia. In fact, I’ll just call it ‘Vagenda research purposes’.
Now, for those of you who have not just experienced an involuntary shudder down the spinal cord - presumably you aren’t from the UK - let me explain: Malia is the worst possible version of Britain, translated onto a beach strip in Greece. My friend and I had a hotel in what the travel agents Thomson affectionately refer to as ‘2wenties Club’. They blare Crazy Frog out of speakers around the pool from 11am onwards as standard. Two triple vodkas and a shot are 5 euros. One shell-shocked holidayer who had dared to vacation for a fortnight sat at the back of the transfer coach to the airport at the end of our holiday and repeated, ‘Got to get out’ in a low mumble as he picked miscellaneous dirt out of his toes. His friend joked with the holiday rep about girls who ‘just need a slap on the arse to put them right’.
As far as Malia goes, it’s pretty easy to get offended if you’re trying (and, duh, I’m trying.) For instance, here is a brief list of things that I saw:
* 200 girls in hotpants saying ‘I <3 Malia’ beside 200 guys in T-shirts with the same slogan
* Hello Kitty’s face redrawn on memorabilia as a pair of white boobs with ‘Hello Titty’ written underneath them
* Quad bikes advertised by a bikini-clad woman holding a sign saying ‘Cheap and Easy in Malia’
* Barmen physically grabbing female passersby off the street and dragging them into bars (‘I’m just being playful’)
* A pair of male best friends wearing shirts that respectively said ‘I’m just going to FUCK YOU’ and ‘Out to get your pussy’, which looked particularly odd when they were facing each other
* Disney, Warner Bros, and other assorted, formerly innocent cartoon characters redrawn as tongue-lolling sex pests with huge erections (you can’t un-see Sylvester the cat holding a raging boner and eyeing you creepily)
* More ‘LADS ON TOUR’ clothing than you can shake a flaccid knob at
* ‘Unlimited Alcohol - 15 Euros’
Considering that this is the city which hosted The Inbetweeners Movie - as well as one particularly eye-opening episode of Sun, Sex And Suspicious Parents - I wasn’t exactly surprised to find it a black hole of depravity. Or at least a very bright, hot hole of depravity - kind of like a vagina incubating a particularly virulent strain of chlamydia. The average holiday in Malia goes like this: you arrive on your cheap package flight, because you’re as piss-poor as I am, at some unsociable hour like 2am. You get driven back to your hotel by a hyperactive rep in a coach and dumped onto the grounds of a hotel with an ominous-sounding name (ours was once called the Dedalos, now affectionately referred to by patrons as the Dead Loss.) You meet the security guard, who will be the only hotel worker you ever see during your stay, and who immediately tells you it’s a heatwave and he can’t turn on your AC for less than 70 Euros a night. You get a free shot with check-in. Pumped up for the night ahead, you get yourself down to ‘the strip’, which offers a choice of British food in Greek restaurants (‘all day full English breakfast’ or ‘all week Sunday roast’), or McDonalds.
Once you’ve wolfed down your roast beef and your four Yorkshire puddings, you get stuck in to the ‘unlimited alcohol’ deal, because you’ve been manhandled into a bar-stool at one of the resident ‘Irish pubs’ by some overeager, underpaid British 18 year old. This bar, like all the others, is ‘ONE AND ONLY HOME OF THE FISHBOWL’. Don’t know what the fishbowl is? You’re about to find out.
Once you’ve drank a fishbowl’s worth of alcohol, you move on to a club down the road that plays dubious house music and hosts pole-dancers as standard from 3am. You are mesmerised by the video of naked girls in the corner. Someone sells you a pack of playing cards that has different sets of vaginas throughout. You listlessly finger the cardboard vaginas as you enjoy your second (bright blue) fishbowl of the evening.
When you’re suitably lathered, you stagger out of the club to see what’s going on there. Someone puts their cigarette out on your arm. You almost get run over by seven quad bikes, all of which are being driven at high speed down the strip by teenagers in swimsuits (‘£30 a day, no delay!’) Someone is inevitably being sick into the road as his mate pats him on the back. A drug-dealer runs up to you and urgently whispers in your ear, ‘The police are coming - if anyone asks, I’m your boyfriend’ and cosies up to you at the side of the next bar along. The police turn up, raise their eyebrows, and leave.
The next man who comes along wants to take you home. His hotel is just off the strip. He grabs your stuff and runs off up the steps, beckoning you and holding your flip-flops aloft. You chase him down the corridors of a steaming hot hotel, as a security guard chases you in turn. Eventually, you get your bag back. The boy sees he’s not in luck - despite the gentlemanly efforts - and turns his attention to the girls in the room next to his.
It’s 7am. You join the end of another club night, where people with luminous spray-paint decorate your face to Rihanna tunes. In the dawn light, temperatures are fast reaching the high 30s again, and you head back to your hotel for a glass of orange juice at the paltry breakfast table. A few bleary-eyed teens are gulping Bloody Marys, coffees and cocktails in varying degrees. The poolside is newly dominated by Crazy Frog and old nineties hits, which pound to the beat of your rapidly developing hangover headache with painful accuracy.
You grab your towel and head down to the beach for some solace. A man dressed in a fashion accessory which can only be described as a Speedo on one leg and board-shorts on the other greets you with, ‘Hello, girls! How was last night? Are you sitting in the chill zone or the PARTY ZONE?’
You make your way to the chill zone, passing the boys who have dubbed themselves ‘The Pussy Patrol’ and are all wearing T-shirts to prove it. The chill zone still has music blaring out of it. You retreat under a parasol and try to hide your eyes. Most of the other people around are lying with their heads covered by wet T-shirts, slightly shaking with nausea. A man on the sun-lounger in front of you pulls down his shorts and asks his mate if ‘it looks like herpes’. The only thing you can do is order another beer and hope that you get obliterated enough to forget where you are for one more night.
But I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t go to Malia, or that if you’re that way inclined, you shouldn’t enjoy it.
What I am saying is: why the hell did Obama name his first-born daughter after it?