In the news this week – Club 18-30 is in trouble and its owner, Thomas Cook, is considering its future and possible sale. This brought back fond memories of my one and only Club 18-30 holiday back in 1997 with my best mate Lee.
I look back on our week in Tenerife with fond memories of a fantastic holiday. We were both 17 – shocker! Yes, at 17 we went on a Club 18-30 holiday. For the travel agent to allow it we have to get a permission letter from our parents! True story. I dutifully went home and got my mum to write me the letter, my mate forged his. Another true story!
We both had left school at 16 and gone off to work. With no significant outgoings (oh those were the days) we had both amassed a healthy amount of savings and decided to blow some of it on a holiday. Lee had been to Tenerife before and I have never been abroad (unless you count a day trip to Calais and Boloigne). I was happy to go anywhere.
So, we headed for the local travel agent one summer and booked the holiday. I remember the day we left pretty well as I’d failed my driving test just eh day before.
To be honest I had no idea what I had let myself in for. It didn’t take too long to work out what this holiday was going to be about – the coach trip from the airport along was an “experience”.
Looking back I was definitely a naive seventeen-year-old. I’d barely touched alcohol and that should have been a warning sign from the off. Alcohol was the life-blood of Club 18-30s. From the moment we arrived the reps were giving it the hard-sell on all the excursions (if you can call them that). We signed up for them ALL! I told you we had savings to burn.
The Vina del Mar
This block of apartments was to be our home for the week. The apartment was basic but functional; one twin bedroom, kitchenette, living area with sofabed, and a balcony.
It might be 21 years ago but I remember loving the view from the umpteenth floor!
As I’ve mentioned we signed up for them all. Four in particular stick in my memory
The booze cruise
Basically, the booze cruise was a boat ride to nowhere that involved drinking vast quantities of cheap beer. Once we were all suitably merry the “party” games began. As you can see from the photo (and this is a tame one), these games were of a certain nature. I was way too shy and embarrassed to join in.
I’m not sure Rodeo is the correct word. I remember the show involved horses then a meal. It’s at this meal that the reps suggested that to get the best value from the free (read disgusting) wine of offer we make a cocktail called “Vino Collapso”. Now, in hindsight, the name really does give it away doesn’t it, however as I’ve said, I was young and naive.
Vino Collapso has 3 basic ingredients:
- disgusting, cheap white wine
- disgusting, cheap red wine
- fresh orange juice
I was knocking these back like I was drinking Ribena! All was fantastic and as the photo above attests, I was having a great time. In case you hadn’t realised I’m the one in the white shirt slumped back on that poor blonde woman!
My issues began when I got up to relieve myself (i.e. I went to the toilet). The toilets, I distinctly remember, were near to the entrance of the building as soon as the fresh air hit me I am gone. All of a sudden the alcohol in my stomach rose up like a tsunami to my head. I went from feeling fresh as a daisy to drunk as a skunk in seconds. I wobbled back to my table like I was slaloming down a ski slope.
The coach back to town was horrendous. We had been warned that if we were sick on the coach we would have to clean it up and pay a fine. Of course I projectile vomited across the back seats of the coach. Lee and some lads we’d become friends with smuggled me off the coach through the escape door by the toilet and bundled me into a taxi. I was later told that they gave the taxi drive our apartments name and off I went. I have no recollection of making it back to the apartment. But I must have, as the photo below was dutifully taken by Lee when he finally made it home in the early hours of the next morning.
The Bar Crawl
Yes, we paid actually Spanish Pesetas (none of this Euro malarky back in ’97) for a guided walk around all the bars we could just simply have walked into ourselves (young and naive again). Apparently, there was some sort of discount on drinks, I can’t remember. What I do remember is that upon arriving at each bar we would jump straight into ever more degrading bar games.
You can’t go on holiday anywhere in Europe without the obligatory trip to the water park. This 18-30s holiday was no different in that respect. I have not photographic evidence that we went, but trust me we did. We were with the lads from Leicester (detailed below) and we had a great day. So great that we missed the coach back to Playa de las Americas.
No bother, we thought. It wasn’t that long a trip here we’ll just walk back. So we did. It was further than we thought but thankfully it was all downhill. All was going great, walking in the sun, chatting, banter, and – oh a motorway (or whatever the Tenerife version is). The particular dual-carriage, fast traffic monster was enclosed on both sides by 20-foot high chain link fences. As we stood an assessed the situation it seemed link an awfully long detour to find a route across. Especially as our hotel complex was tantalisingly close on the other side.
The group was split on what to do. One Leicester lad and I opted to find a way through the fence. The rest, well they opted to go full SAS and scale the fence. Either option then meant a perilous sprint across a motorway! We made it. I don’t recall any spectacular near misses but it was some time before we all met up and realised none of su had been killed crossing the road.
The Young and the Old
If we were at the young end of the Clube 18-30 spectrum then the group of lads from our apartment block were at the opposite end. They were there celebrating a mates 30th.
I really cannot recall any details about them other than they were from Leicester*. But they kind of took Lee and I under their wing and looked after us. Of course “looking after us” involved some pretty funny pranks such as when one of them broke into our apartment and hid under my bed!
* I have an update on the chaps from Leicester. Lee has somehow dredged their names from the archives of his mind and come up with Stuart, Duncan, Simon and Rob. Those names do seem familiar so I’ll go with them!
Shaving foam was also involved!
But really, meeting up with these guys made this holiday more memorable.
I know Club 18-30 holidays have a certain reputation. But, in my one-time experience, I can only say it was a fantastic holiday. The games were all entered into by consenting adults (just – in our case) and it was all in jest. But if you asked me as a Dad if I would allow my 17-year-old daughter to go on an 18-30 holiday the answer would be a firm “not bloody likely!”.
As if the photos also haven’t been self-deprecating enough here are a few more!
Thanks for reading (and laughing!).