Dom Joly: One bottle of Voss and you want to take holy orders

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The Independent Online

I'm in Greece: Sithonia, to be precise. It's the middle prong of three peninsulas that make up a curious trident shape that juts out into the North Aegean. I would say fork shape, but I'm in Greece where everything has to be steeped in ancient mythology – so trident it is.

The hotel we're staying in has been adopted by Russians, and the Greeks have been quick to adapt to their tastes. The place is decked out as though we're in Miami, circa 1972, with mirrors everywhere and dodgy tent-like structures complete with whirlpool spas on the beach. It's all very curious.

My general travel rule is that the moment you see a phallic-shaped bottle of Voss mineral water anywhere near you, you should check out and run. It is an instant indicator that you are about to be fleeced of all your hard-earned (or in the Russian case, embezzled) money. I have never seen a bottle of this glorified tap water go for less than £10. It's a cool £17 a bottle here, and that's just the start.

Fancy a bottle of Dom Pérignon for breakfast? The Russians do: a snip at £300 and just the thing to go with your Beluga caviar omelette (£56).

In case you haven't managed to start a Versace knock-off factory in Omsk, the hotel has thought of everything. As you wander down towards the sea, where the three restaurants are, you are funnelled through a shopping alley that no woman can resist.

You can buy hideous gold-lamé dresses, diamanté-studded flip-flops, big tasteless gold jewellery that just screams drug dealer ... it's insane. It's like being stuck in some weird Russian version of 'The Sopranos'. Huge hulking men who never wear a shirt, all the better to see their collection of chunky gold chains, plod about the place, followed by their wispy, bleach-blond girlfriends in their huge gold sunglasses.

This is not my first experience of a Russian invasion. Stacey and I went skiing in our favourite resort of Zermatt a couple of years ago, only to find that it had been completely taken over by the touristkis. But at least in Switzerland you could ski all day and keep away from their worst excesses. Back here in Greece, we're trapped. We can't even indulge in our favourite sport of restaurant eavesdropping, as neither of us speaks Russian.

I love trying to guess what the back-story is for fellow holidaymakers. About the only other non-Russian couple here are a pair of rather preppy-looking Americans. We think they are honeymooners, and Stacey is convinced that he is in "finance".

I manage to eavesdrop enough to find out that he supports the Washington Redskins. With this tiny morsel of information, coupled with the fact that he has very cruel lips, I'm guessing that he probably works in Congress as an assistant to a Republican who told him to go on holiday while the convention was on, as he didn't want his young aide to find out about his rent-boy habit.

The couple are not happy here – they don't ever seem to have been exposed to wasps before. Literally terrified of them, they constantly vacate their table to move to another as though pursued by a pack of hungry jaguars. They will go back to the States with the view that "old" Europe is populated by large hairy men and killer stinging insects.

This cruel-lipped boy will probably be President one day and his entire foreign policy might be shaped by this terrible trip to Greece. I really should do something to change his views but... I can't be bothered. It's just too hot.

Directly opposite us, over the blue, blue water, is the monastic state of Athos, home to 20 Orthodox monasteries, where women are not allowed and the only permitted visitors are men over the age of 18 who are members of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Surely, this must be a Russian- free zone. I might swim over and join up later. I've always fancied being a monk.

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