Gowerton School party leader Cath Lewis is no stranger to the benefits of taking students on overseas tours but this year she decided to do something a little different: “we’ve been travelling to Malta with the school for the past 7 years but decided to try Greece in 2015 as it seemed to present such great value for money.” So, we set out to prove Cath right and give her netball and hockey players a Greek tour to remember.
This May half-term, 17 girls and 2 members of staff from Gowerton School happily boarded their plane at a wet and windy Gatwick to head for the sunnier climes of Greece. Just a couple of hours after landing, they arrived at Sportcamp and immediately started preparing for their first fixtures. What a great start to the tour! The netball fixture was played first and saw 2 well-matched teams play a great game ending in a 21-17 victory to Gowerton School. There was just a short break for the Gowerton girls to get into hockey mode before their match began against Kiffisia HC. Again, this was a well-played match against a strong team but the final score (4-0 to Kiffisia) belied the great skill and effort displayed by Gowerton.
After a tiring first day of travelling and playing, the girls woke on day 2 and looked forward to a relaxing day enjoying the Sportcamp facilities and the local area. The Sportcamp pool is perfect for a free morning or afternoon on tour and the girls from Gowerton relished the chance to relax, sunbathe and cool off in the pool. After a buffet lunch, they hopped on to the coach and headed to the nearby beach at Loutraki where they were a little more active as they played some games (did anyone ever find a rock shaped like Wales?!) and enjoyed a paddle in the sea before an evening meal with a view to remember at the beachfront restaurant.
On day 3 the group was scheduled to go to a nearby water park but it was unexpectedly closed due to windy weather. Compared to Wales, the weather was slightly breezy at best but the girls didn’t let this unexpected change of plan affect them as our Rayburn Tours Courier, Andy, used his knowledge of the area to react at late notice to introduce an excursion day to Corinth, which meant an unforgettable journey via the canal (and a quick photo stop) and some great souvenir shopping.
Next up, the coach stopped at the gorgeous Heraion Lake where the girls were able to have a swim and play a few friendly games of beach volleyball before a well-deserved ice cream from the restaurant. The group was back at Sportcamp for 5pm when they were scheduled to have a traditional Greek dancing lesson. What great fun! The girls were introduced to one of Greece’s most famous dance, Sirtaki, with points up for grabs for the weeklong competition. Memories of the laughter and the moves the girls learned will stay with them for a long time.
After a late evening meal, Miss John hosted a quiz night from the complimentary Rayburn Fun Files we provide to every group. We’re not sure quite how proud the group should be of their high-scoring Disney round!
The final full day of the tour had come around all too soon for the girls from Gowerton and it was to be packed full of culture, history and sporting fixtures. The group set off early to Athens where their first stop was the impressive Panathenaic Stadium. Offering the perfect balance of sport and history, groups are able to freely explore the site and they often tell us it was a cultural highlight of their tour.
The next stop was the Acropolis where the girls enjoyed the breath-taking views over Athens and had fun exploring the ruins. A 20 minute stroll from the Acropolis through the streets of the old town took the group to the famous Monastiraki flea market where they didn’t hesitate to snap up a few bargains! They followed this with a visit to the Athens Shopping Mall with great views over the 2004 Olympic Park; a fantastic photo opportunity!
After a quick stop at the Mall, the coach took the group to their next fixture at St Catherine’s British School. The home team fielded a multi-national team and the atmosphere was great, with a real sense of sportsmanship. Gowerton claimed the victory but all the girls felt like winners as they shared hugs before Gowerton departed for their final fixture.
A ten minute drive from St Catherines is the suburb of Kifissia where Gowerton were to play their final fixture. Although from the same club as the opponents from the first hockey fixture of the week, Kifissia fielded a different team; Gowerton played with great confidence and seemed more relaxed than at the beginning of the week. The match ended in a 7-3 victory to Kifissia but the visitors were rightly proud of their performance in the last match of the tour.
At 8pm, the group arrived back at Sportcamp for a late evening meal before they gathered to reflect on the tour and receive the tour’s awards. Each fixture had a man of the match, goal scorers were recognised and, of course, a big round of applause was reserved for the more light-hearted awards such as the biggest chatterbox of the tour!
Everyone went to bed happy and tired but probably wished they’d had more sleep when the alarm went off on the last day of the tour. It was an early start and the group was at the airport by 9.30am with enough time for a quick bite to eat before check-in opened and the girls from Gowerton were on their way home again.
So, did a tour to Greece meet the expectations of the party leader?
“Sportcamp was great and certainly represented good value for money. Now we’ve been we will definitely be coming back to Greece with Rayburn.” Cath also echoed what other group leaders have said this year when she praised the representative from Rayburn Tours. “It was great to have Andy with us as it really helped us keep
the girls busy. He was able to quickly organise equipment for volleyball games within Sportcamp, he arranged the coach to take us to the beach, he was invaluable!”