I'm finally getting around to this post! It's been mad busy since we got back.
We had a wonderful time on holidays. I just loved being away from all the hassles, Snuggles had a ball and Mr Jazzy is just happy to be anywhere that's not work!
The hardest part was the packing....and playing the beat-the-Ryanair-weight-restrictions game! A game I'm getting very good at. Thanks to a little weighing device I invested in last year. We checked in 2 bags.... one came in at 14.6 kgs, the other 15.2kgs, going out. On our return flight they were 15 on the nose and 15.2kgs!! We maximised the cabin baggage coming home with bits we'd bought, well mostly Snuggles stuff! Got rid of as many creams as I could and had brought old T Shirts for the pool (that kids are no longer allowed to wear in the pool....sod that, I say!) that I left behind. Next time I'm gonna bring old underwear and throw them all out after!! Another space-saver idea!!
It was great going to the same place for the fourth time, although I thought we would have been sick of it. But, it's really perfect. We met an Irish couple there for the first time, they weren't surprised it was our fourth visit. So, while it may seem boring, I have to say, as far as I'm concerned,Familiarity Breeds...... Content!!
Estival Park is in La Pineda, about 15 mins by bus, from Salou and 30 -45 mins from PortAventura Theme Park. The buses are very regular. There are 3 Hotels and 2 (gated) apartment blocks. The pools at the Hotels can be very busy and noisy (see the pictures in the above link) but the pool at our Apartment Block is just so lovely and peaceful.
It can be fun too.... as you can see from my previous post!
You can fly direct with Ryanair to Reus Airport and book the hotel online. When you book direct you have to go at least Half-Board. But it works out quite cheaply. There are not that many restaurants around La Pineda so you don't have the hassle of finding somewhere to eat every night. The food is OK. The salads and desserts are lovely but main course choices are limiting for our Irish and English (no Heinz Beans with their chips or meat pies!!) palates. They get more German, Russian and Spanish visitors so it's more geared towards their tastes. But you find something to suit. Two of the days we took a packed lunch instead and, both evenings ate at a lovely Indian restaurant, The Taj Mahal in Salou for a change. Forgive the Stag link, it was the only one I could find!
There's entertainment every night in each Hotel and a mini-Disco in 1 Hotel! The shows are short and .... entertaining! An opportunity for me to swipe some ideas or dance steps! Or, sit there sipping wine and re-choreographing in my head!! It's amazing the choreography you can do with a few glasses of wine in you!!
There's also a kid's Playground and a Kids Club. Snuggles was too grown up for the kids club this year and I didn't think it was a good idea to send him to the Junior Club..... with all their potential angry-outburst-inducing games like Pool, Table tennis, Football etc! Though he did play a couple of games of Pool with me and Mr Jazzy. He had very few outbursts on holidays but he did have one biggish one. Well, it was more a kind of threat (self-harm) that he made that worried me the most. I may talk about that some time.
There's also a lovely beach across the road from the Hotel Complex.
We spent some time there and we also spent some time at PortAventura. Naturally!
This lovely Fountain is at the entrance.........
We bought the tickets online before we left as we got a great deal in one of the newspapers. We usually buy the 7 day ticket because the 3 day ticket also has to be used consecutively and we like to spread the trips out. Especially when you're away for 2 weeks. It's not much dearer and we still only go for 3 days. If you buy tickets at the gate, you sometimes get to come back the next day for half price. And, for the first time, presenting your I.A.A. ID card at Guest Services gets you a coveted slip of paper that allows you to use the FastPass!! You have to renew it each visit. Prior to that we had to show our (English) letter to the (Spanish) guide at each ride!! Such a pain!!
On arrival we met these 2 characters......
Snuggles was a tad embarrassed because Jazzy here was singing and bopping along to "Can You Tell Me How to get....How to get to Sesame Street"!!! And thinking to myself...... Can you imagine a gaggle of 7/8 year olds singing that onstage in a Panto?? Hmmmm..... there's an idea!
We did some really cool rides! The first one we did, on the first day was a new one...... The Furius Baco.
It was a short, fast twisty-turny ride....that also went upside-downy!! Now, I didn't know about the upside-down bit.... nor did Snuggles! We were terrified! It shot off and did 0 to 135kpm in 35 seconds!! There wasn't a peep out of us..... we didn't hyperventilate...or scream.... or anything! We were too terrified to. Hell, we were lucky to remember to breathe!
Will I never learn?? Jazzy..... listen...... when you see a shoulder harness descend on you from above it's for a reason, and it's probably a good idea to RUN!!
The Dragon Khan has SO many upside down loops and twisty bits....see I never knew twisty bits can also go upside down.......that I lost count! Mr Jazzy did that ride alone!
Then there were the "wet" rides.... where you get wet to the knickers...literally!! I eventually did the Silver River Flume where you're in a kind of barrel boat. I hyperventilated the whole way round 'til we came to the biggest drop..... after which I proclaimed, to Snuggles delight, "again, again!!" It was great!!
And it gave me the courage to go on the Tutuki Splash
Mr Jazzy and Snuggles are in the 2nd last row to the right.
That was such fun! Just after that picture the boat makes a huge splash and you get seriously wet to the knickers!! Full frontal! Then you pass under a bridge where people get to shoot at you with water canons!! Like you could get any wetter! Ah, it was SUCH a laugh!
Then we went to the Water Park.... La Caribe (tickets are half price with your 3 or 7 day pass). Incidentally, there's also a waterpark, Aquapolis, very close to Estival Park.
You get really wet there too! There's a fun outdoor water play-ground. You know , where the big bucket fills up and overturns on everyone every few minutes!
There's also an indoor play area and pool.... great for getting out of the sun. It's SO easy to get burnt at these parks.
Of course, we also found time for a beer! Buy 2 beers get a free hat! These two hats, I might add were acquired over two visits... at Snuggles insistence! I don't even particularly like beer! But.... needs must!
We stopped off for our Indian meal in Salou on our way back to La Pineda. And we discovered, to Mr Jazzy's delight a Liverpool bar..... Shankly's of Salou! Snuggles was thrilled and took lots of photos of all the souvenirs and mementos with his camera!
This is a replica of one of the Champions League Cup that Liverpool F.C. won.
This pool table was specially made and transported to Shankly's by Thurnstons.
So, we had a lovely time on holidays. Yes, Snuggles missed school. But it was only 6 days and not much was happening. And besides, we played cards.......
Yup that's right........ cards. Who needs school when you can play cards?
See, I bought the cards. Snuggles made up his own game with his own rules (Imagination skills and Social Skills), he practised shuffling them and dealing them out (O.T.) we took turns and there were winners and losers ( Social Skills again) and he had to add up the scores each time to see who won (Maths)!! Hee Hee Hee!
Well..... OK....I'm pushing it a bit on the last one.... I know!!
And then, before we knew it, it was time to pack up again and face the long journey home.............
Can you count the bags? 1...2...3...4...5. Yeah, 5
And a very long journey it was too...... thanks to the wonderful Ryanair! Ah well, I suppose we had to experience the typical Ryanair experience sometime.
We had a 6 hour delay , that they knew we'd have , but didn't tell us about! We checked in as normal about 8.45 am for our 10.20am flight and were eventually told "Delayed" 'til 4.15pm. So that would be a 5hr 55 min delay then.... they must have to give us something extra after a 6 hr delay! How cynical am I!! Well, they had to feed us after 2 or 3 hrs... and it took them 4.
The first time a "human" told us anything was at 1.20pm. You see, they must give you information after 3 hrs delay, so 10/10 there Ryanair. However, you knew the previous night that the airplane was broken down, didn't you? We only found out what happened by texting home and phoning contacts. It was a further 3 and a half hours before we got an apology from anyone. And that was from the lovely, Irish, pilot. The Spanish airport staff weren't very customer friendly! They put us through the hoops just to get on the plane! When we finally got through the various queues that they had manufactured, we were sent out on to the tarmac.
In the rain.
For the airplane.
But, which one?????
It was like being at a bus stop. As Snuggles said, "which plane are we getting mum?" (there were 3 planes on the tarmac). I replied, without thinking, "whichever one comes along first son"!!!!
But, we got home safe and sound. We got the Aircoach (great service) and arrived in Shankill at 8 pm. At this stage we were 13 hours travelling. From Spain!!
All the bags came off the bus. The very nice, and very attractive! (I wasn't too tired to notice that!!!), Polish driver asked if we had all our bags. We said "yes". I simply could not count...... to 5! Well, the hold was empty so we must have everything. Right??
You know what's coming next.... don't you?!!
I had to lug the bags, and Snuggles across the road, while Mr Jazzy walked ( yes, walked!) home to get the car. It took 2 trips. D'ya think I could remember how many bags I took each time? All I know is , when we were putting the bags into the car there was 1 missing. The small one..... Snuggles one. It basically contained his life! Nintendo DS....and ALL the games he posseses....and all the bits he bought in PortAventura. And clothes. Christ!
Oh, tears and devastation as you can imagine! Mr Jazzy ate me for being so stupid as to let the bag be stolen. We reckoned that's what had happened. But, to be sure, we waited until 9 pm 'til the bus came back from Greystones. Thankfully, the bag was on the bus....it had slid to the front! Major "Phew" here.... and I mean MAJOR!!!
After that we got to exercise our democratic right and vote! NOTHING was gonna stop us from voting ABFF (Anyone but Fianna Fail!)....... and it felt sooo good!
So now, it's back to normal. Sigh!
Unfortunately there's some excess baggage to be shed. And I don't mean of the Ryanair variety!
Oh, what to do?
Ooh..... I know.....
SCAMPY..... walkies!! Lots.... and LOTS of walkies!!