Sunday, November 20, 2005
Holidays from Hell ????
How to write a letter of complaint.
This is aimed at teachers who are
teaching at post FCE level rather
than students, but feel free to try
it if you want.I have included links
to help you out.
1 Students ask each other about the worst holiday they've ever had. What went
wrong ? And who do you think was to blame ?
2 Elicit a list of possible problems people could have on a package tour ?
3 Explain to students that they are going to read about sb's holiday experiences in Corfu (Κερκυρα).hand out the photocopy (see below) and ask students to underline all the thing wrong with the holiday .This could be set for homework if time is short.
4 Students compare answers and then decide how much of this is the fault of the company. Compare the article with the local brochure . Is it misleading ? Why ?
5 Tell students that they went on this holiday and now have decided to complain to the tour company
6 Answer these five questions;
Who am I in this situation ?
Who am I writing to (name, position) ?
Why am I writing ?
What should I include ?
What style should I use ?
7 Decide how many paragraphs are needed and what should go in each.
8 Students plan the letter in groups, if possible do this in groups.
para 1 - Reason for writing, details of the holiday, e.g. where, when etc.
para 2/3/4 - Details of the complaints, starting with what you consider is the most serious. Makecomparison with the original ad.
para 5 - Say what you want the company to do.
Encourage to include as much detail as possible in the plan. A good idea is for them to write of it as possible in 10 minutes.
9 Students write up the first and last paragraphs in class, check that they're on
the right track. Use the writing bank from The Longman Writing Skills for CPE to help with set phrases.
10 Students write up the letters at home.
11 Students swop the letters and write a short reply (70 - 100 words) saying that ........ (students decide on this).
12 Collect letters.
Wish I wasn't here
Tanya Gold found the cheapest package holiday in the UK - even at £99, it was still a rip-off Thursday July 29, 2004 The Guardian
It is dawn at the luggage carousel at Corfu International Airport. The carousel spits out one case every eight minutes and stops. The 500 British holidaymakers, who have been staring at it for an hour, sigh, crumple and reach for their Wet Ones. Welcome to my £99 holiday. I had often wondered what the cheapest holiday in Europe was. Wine tasting at Treblinka? A coach tour of Albania to forget? Caving with al-Qaida in Afghanistan? With as many as five million holidays reported unsold this summer, I could finally indulge my curiosity. I found Corfu for £99 with Golden Sun. I packed my rat poison and flung myself on a plane.
At the carousel, I hurl myself on my suitcase like a marriage proposal and proceed into the arrivals lounge. An absurdly happy Greek man escorts me to a minibus, offers me a sack to put over my head (I think it was a sack - I don't speak Greek) and we zoom through the Corfu suburbs. They're like Surrey: I see gnomes, pussycats and Volvos with Donald Duck sunscreens before we are dumped outside a pink hotel. My fellow passengers mutter faintly.
Then, out of the Ionian gloom, comes Rita, our Golden Sun rep, the high priestess of our package tour. She looks like Harold Pinter with a brittle perm and sun damage, but she talks like Alan Bennett. "This," she says, standing plain in front of the pink edifice, "is not your hotel." Pause. She strokes her clipboard anxiously. We stagger back to the minibus, but it's not there. "Your hotel is up the hill," says Rita, and we follow, dragging our suitcases, as the sun animates the carcasses of bicycles. I think of my great-great-grandfather, who, in similar circumstances, fled Tsarist pogroms for Hull.
The Aleka hotel is our residence. It looks like the motels that homicidal maniacs frequent in movies; low with pale buildings round an over-bright pool. I want to jump in, but a sign pleads, "Please don't swim at night. Chemicals." Rita takes me to my room. "Air conditioning is an extra 38 euros. I've got to go now." The door bounces; it doesn't shut properly. There is an invitation asking us to a get-together at the pool bar in four hours, a canopy of cobwebs and a sign forbidding me to put toilet paper down the loo. (A bin is provided.) The towels are stamp-sized; the bed is made of sponge. But at least I have a balcony. I open the shutters. The view is of a building site.
At breakfast in the dusty, pale restaurant in the bowel of Aleka, I find stale biscuits, orange squash and an empty pot of coffee. So I leave the hotel and stagger down the lane. At the end is a mini-market, a car dealership, Kontokali (our local "resort") and a motorway. Kontokali used to be a fishing village; now it is the north circular after the apocalypse. The Rough Guide whines: "There is no reason for the independent traveller to consider staying here."
Later, Dave, the Liverpudlian owner of the Beer Bucket bar, explains why this place reminds me of Town Without Pity. "Corfu boomed in the 1980s," he says, sitting behind a sign reading, "Beer: helping ugly people to have sex since 1862." "Kontokali was an overspill resort. When the boom ended, the tour companies pulled out, which is why it looks like a building site." But surely it must have its pleasures? "There's no crime", he says, "except when the Italians arrive. Last year Italians stole all my toilet paper. And the tampons."
I soon realise that I have "done" Kontokali (I bought a copy of the Sun), so I head back to the Aleka pool bar to meet the families. The bar is presided over by Alexandria, the landlady (clothes, hair, skin - all orange) and her husband Spiros, whose hobby is breeding bees. My fellow inmates have put out their towels, ordered their children to have fun and are now baking their bodies the colour of freshly slaughtered beef. The wives are chatting; meandering through childbirth, supermarkets, adultery and death. The fathers play with their chest hair and stare at the teenage girls. We politely swap significant anecdotes. "I took an E once," says a Yorkshire housewife, "to show my children the evils of drugs." "I went to a rave to sell 200 jacket potatoes," says her husband. "They were that high, I only sold two."
The residents of the Aleka, I discover, are quite happy where they are. A few make the trip across the motorway to the beach, but most spend their holiday lying by the pool. It is their package totem. They wake, sit by the pool, swim, sleep, and get bitten. They eat Alexandra's food and listen to the local radio station, which plays the odd musical genre "Bolton rap". Then they go to bed. "Why don't you go out?" I ask one woman. "It's too hot," she replies. "Why don't you get a bus to a good beach?" I ask another. "It's too hot," she says. There is one group of Welsh schoolteachers whose routine differs slightly. They go to Gouvier, a mile away, in the evenings, get drunk, emerge at the pool bar at noon, bake, change, and go to Gouvier to get drunk. I decide on a big night out in Gouvier.
To travel to Gouvier is to take a peek at the corpse of the once luscious Corfu pecked to death by the vultures of Disney and Stella Artois. I dine at the Vergina tavern. It is a confused Greco-Roman-medieval palace with vines, a glass wishing well and a faux Michelangelo ceiling. It sells fishfingers, but I choose spaghetti. Mandolins play. When I attempt to leave, the hairy owner jogs over, jewellery shaking, and pretends to cry. "Please don't leave," he begs. "Have a melon liqueur." Dave from the Beer Bucket said this was the worst year for tourism since the boom died. When I leave, the owner is throwing plates at the waiters and trying to entice a female customer on to the dancefloor.
Next door, Corfu's finest Elvis impersonator is singing Devil in Disguise to cheers and waves from the crowd. His name is Oresti, he's Albanian, and his sideburns are real. "Under the Albanian communists I had to listen to Elvis secretly," he tells me. "Elvis was not allowed. But it was my dream, so I swam from Albania to Greece to be an Elvis impersonator." Later, I find him rescuing a girl from an overeager suitor in front of the mini-market. "If she don't want you, you can't make her," he tells the boy. "You must leave her alone." Bystanders applaud.
Further into Gouvier, the Spot bar is selling yellow cocktails so exhibitionistic they ought to come with a free second wife. Adonis, the hottest "nightspot", is having a beach party. They have created a sandpit on the dancefloor, and put goggles and a snorkel on a statue of David. This is odd, since they have a beach 100 metres away. Euro teens are dancing like shy turtles mating. Quite a few are wearing armbands and doing black power salutes with balloons. It is endearing: Londoners this drunk would be biting people. I return home with a smile.
By the middle of the week, I have package-holiday disease. Covered in heat rash and munched by mosquitoes, I lie prostrate on my foam rectangle, without air-conditioning, covered in unguents. I have yoghurt for heat rash, then moisturiser to avoid scarring, then ammonia, to soothe bites already bitten, then alcohol for bites yet to come. I consider smearing myself in hummus. If before I looked like a sunburnt rugby payer with breasts, now I look like a clay pot ready for the kiln. A teenage girl from Bristol and I count our bites. I have 23; she has 37. I can't even win at that.
The next morning an event disrupts our communal coma. The landlord's pet honeybees have invaded five rooms in the hotel. I find a legion sitting on the mirror. It is like The Swarm, the Michael Caine film where African killer bees threaten western civilisation ("Why the bees? They were always our friends"). There is a small attempt at extermination at the pool bar. Threats are made; babies are clutched to peeling breasts. I am told stories about snakes biting husbands further up the island; one mother says she heard a lizard hissing in the drains. We shudder, and spend the rest of the day talking about Catherine Cookson novels.
By day five I am bored of the acidic pool and the irradiated beach. I go to find Rita and her colleague Anita to discuss day trips. Rita suggests an excursion to Aqualand, the third biggest water park in Europe, just down the road: "It's an amazing holiday experience."
At Aqualand, I have a near-death experience on a water slide, lose my faithful flip-flops and am turned away from the under-fives' area. Aqualand is stuffed with plastic dolphin bins, and has a chip shop shaped like a portion of chips and a popcorn shop shaped like a box of popcorn. The effect is weirdly paradisiacal. I buy Hollywood Divorces by Jackie Collins.
On my final night in Corfu I celebrate by getting drunk on insect repellent. At midnight I pour a whole bottle over myself and shortly after, the mirror becomes interesting; by 5am I am singing My Way. The Welsh girls are impressed. "Insect repellent, eh? Sounds fantastic. We might give it a go."
Sadly, I am to miss their repellent adventure. I say goodbye to Alexandra and Rita and wave at my fellow residents. Their faces rise from their plates; a few put clothing on their crimson breasts and waddle over. Spiros is too busy erecting a screen between the beehives and the hotel. My check-out time is 11am and my flight is at 7am the next day. I look forward to a sound night's sleep at the airport.
Now check out the brochure's opinion of the area and hotel.
Corfu travel guide info