I am not one for racial stereotypes. Usually.
We are on holiday. Did I mention this before? Sorry… Anyway we are. Over our many years of overseas holidays- which were punctuated by a run of cottages in the south west of the UK during my children’s early years (we weren’t brave enough to go abroad until youngest was just three and even then we took the car so we could take everything we owned in the boot)- I have noticed a shift in the nationalities of those we share the dining room with.
In our years BC (before children) we went on many a last minute get away to inexpensive places such as the party resorts of the Balearics. And other than the British making the most of those sea front dives serving warm ale and steak and kidney pie in front of the English Premiership we were mostly joined by Germans enjoying a slightly different sort of joint serving sauerkraut and beer in jugs with handles.
There was that running joke that in order to bag a sunbed one had to set the alarm early. Or throw a towel deftly off one’s balcony directly onto a lounger. And it was true. We would watch the scene unfold from around 7am from the safety of that balcony as well padded German men carefully and precisely laid out enough towels on enough loungers for their entire party. Ensuring they were tucked in all round to avoid the wind blurring the lines of demarcation. They have always been a race prone to take over though eh?
Our trips to France and the Canaries which formed the majority of our early PC (post children) forays abroad were full of Scandanavians. And French. The former imposing in their sunburnt blondness, forging a pathway directly to the cold meats section at breakfast, loading up on processed protein before hitting the all inclusive lager at 10am…I kid you not. Their offspring emptying the pool with every forceful dive.
The French women endlessly elegant, cigarettes dangling alluringly, sipping tiny espressos, surely an advert for any teenager to begin smoking. Their equally beautiful little daughters with better toe nail polish than me (not difficult) and sun streaked blonde hair talking in their lyrical language to other charmingly turned out preschoolers swinging their legs from bar stools. No threat to anyone poolside when they finally emerged, immaculate, from their rooms at around 10am.
And now, in Greece, there are few Germans, I am not sure they would be able to show their faces here, even the mild mannered and laid back Greeks may find it tough to cope with. No the dominant race is Russian. I don’t want to offend anyone, really I don’t but I find them a tough nationality to share a hotel with. They are strident and pushy, massively entitled, put German sun bed hogging to shame, and lack manners. Of any sort. Or maybe that is just the ones here. The season is clearly hotting up and this hotel has hastily issued some new sun bed rules. One forbids the saving of sun beds at both pool and beach simultaneously. It would never occur to me to do such a thing. Russians.
And then there is us. The good old British. I have a soft spot for my race abroad. They are easily spotted. Queing up sensibly for the bacon (I call it bacon but usually abroad it is a kind of ham that has been vaguely shown a grill), getting quietly irrate when those sun bed rules are not adhered to (let us be honest here we are the only ones even giving them a passing thought), looking pink whilst being streaked with white from hastily applied and malabsorbed suncream and making their children wear rash vests all day. Oh and shark fin buoyancy aids. We had a whole family wearing them in here earlier. They created a little shoal of sharks. Anyone swimming myopically could have been seriously worried.
We sit in the shade, doing Soduko and failing to gain the waiter’s attention. And I love us for it. I love our manners and reticence and gentle fuming.
I love being British. It sees me sitting on a wall watching my kids swim most afternoons for fear of antagonising a Russian returning finally to their sunbed which has been occupied by merely a pair of sunglasses since 9am. But still, I love it.