Come the summer of 1988, I’d had enough of London and daily commuting and was desperately in need of some excitement – so I decided to pack in my job and head off to Greece for the summer. For years I had been supplementing my fairly meagre salary by working in the local pub, so I wasn’t phased by the prospect of bar work.
Off I went and booked a one-way flight to Corfu – all very liberating. When I arrived on the island, I headed straight to the resort of Dassia (which a mate had recommended). I hit the main strip, walked into the liveliest bar I could find, and asked for a job. The manager of the Kangaroo Karaoke Bar agreed to put me on a two-day trial, and within a week I was running the front bar. It was great. We worked our socks off from 5pm to 1am, partied until the early hours, and slept during the day on the beach. I made great friends, and perfected my Karaoke party-piece (Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer).
Eventually the tourist traffic began to dwindle, and after around three months on the island, I realised it was time to head back to reality. I went off to the local travel agent, only to discover that officially you weren’t (then) allowed to stay in the country for more than two months and as a result they were unable to sell me a flight ticket home. I was going to have to find another way to get to the UK, and that’s when the trip started to get really interesting (see Part Two).
LESSON: DON’T OUTSTAY YOUR WELCOME (AND ALWAYS CHECK VISA RESTRICTIONS).