This was to be the fourth of five trips to Costa Esuri we
have planned for 2006. This time we flew from Stansted to
Anyway, with an early morning flight from Stansted on the Wednesday morning, we decided to drive down the night before, and stay over at an airport hotel. We found that the Hilton at Stansted included up to 15 days parking with an overnight stay, so booked in there. We had an uneventful but amusing drive down, listening to the ‘Janet & John’ CD that one of my daughters had bought for me for Fathers Day. If you listen to Wogan of a morning on Radio2, you will know what I am talking about. Once at the hotel, we checked in, we headed down to the restaurant for a meal. It wasn’t cheap, but the meal was very good, well presented and washed down with a bottle of red; we retired well sated.
The courtesy bus from the Hotel to the Airport started at
4AM, and with a 7 o’clock flight, we were on the first run of the day. At the Airport, we booked in, and had an
uneventful flight to
The fun started when we arrived at
We arrived at the Apartment by the middle of the afternoon.
It’s a great feeling when you walk back in, and throw open the shutters. We
unloaded the car, had a quick cuppa, and then headed into town to stock up from
the Eroski Supermarket. It should be so much easier when the new
After spending most of our time on the last two visits in setting up the Apartment, we were determined to have a holiday this time, so we decided to start as we meant to go on, and booked a round of golf at Isla Canela for the Thursday Morning. When we turned up, we were joined by a Spanish Golfer looking for a partner for his round. Rather than hire a buggy, we had decided that we would walk the course, and carry our clubs. This was fine when we started at 8AM, but when the heat really kicked in about 10AM, we realized we had made a mistake. Our Spanish friend must have known what was coming, as he had decided to only complete twelve holes, but we soldiered on for the full eighteen. By the end of the round, we were almost on our knees, had forgotten about the score, and were just happy to make it to the nineteenth hole. We decided then and there that next time, a buggy was a must. On reflection, we should have probably waited a day or so to get over the traveling, maybe we aren’t quite as young as we feel!
After such an exhausting day, we decided to stay at home for a meal and a few drinks on the terrace. I had arranged for mosquito screens to be fitted to all the doors and windows in the Apartment since our last visit, to try to cut down on the number of bites we had previously suffered. I had asked for two vertical screens for the bedrooms and two horizontal screens for the lounge and kitchen. As it happened, a vertical screen had been fitted to the kitchen by mistake. The reason I wanted a horizontal screen for the kitchen was that I expected it to be too fiddly to be continually lifting and lowering a vertical screen to get onto the terrace and back, as I expected we would use this route often. This proved to be the case, we had no problem with the lounge entrance, but I managed to walk into the vertical screen from the kitchen. I am sure this was because it is almost transparent, and had nothing to do with the amount of alcohol I had consumed that evening! Anyway, suffice to say the screen is being changed to a horizontal type before our next visit.
Friday was spent visiting Bank’s, Solicitors and Agents to
get the business part of the holiday out of the way. We had previously arranged
for a Spanish Will to be drawn up by our Solicitor, something we had been told
was a must, as the Authorities in
I also took a drive to Leroy Merlin to look for a safe to put in the Apartment. In fact I found the the type I wanted next door at the Aldi Supermarket, and spent a lively half hour trying my pidgin Spanish out with the Assistant who didn’t speak English. I particularly wanted one that had both combination and key access, and they had one on display, but with no price tag. Once we had determined the price (about 60 Euro), which was in the range I wanted, I needed to find out if it came with English instructions. My Spanish was good enough to get the point across, but wouldn’t have been good enough to find out how it worked from a Spanish instruction booklet. The Assistant was very helpful, got me one from the storeroom, and opened it up for me. Alas, the instructions were in several languages, but not English, so I had to decline the purchase. I always feel slightly guilty when this happens, as I feel I have put the shop assistant to a lot of trouble for no reward. Am I alone in this?
In the afternoon, I assembled the bedroom chest-of-draws we had bought at Ikea, and fitting the mirrors to bedroom walls. I knew I couldn’t get away with a real holiday without Carole finding me something to work on.
In the evening we popped around to see Gary and Val, friends
from Bloque 6 we had met on our last visit. They have a ground floor Apartment,
and had just had sprinklers fitted to the garden. When they kicked in at about
9PM, we found that they threw the water just a little too far, and we enjoyed a
sprinkling of cooling water on the edge of the patio, before we all moved back
out of range.
Carole’s sister, Cath and her husband Billy were staying in Vilamoura during our visit, so on the Saturday, we drove down the coast, and brought them back to our place to stay overnight. One of the big advantages of Costa Esuri we have found is the accessibility of so many nice places within an hours drive. We had a wander around the Saturday Market in Ayamonte, before heading off to Isla Canela Marina for lunch, then a stroll on the beach. We finally called at the shops in Ayamonte and bought some BBQ food to put on the grill back at the Apartment, and had a leisurely Saturday Evening with a few beers, and some good food.
After another pleasant drive to Vilamoura to drop off Cath
and Billy on the Sunday, we stopped off at Villa Real on the way back, for a
stroll and a spot of lunch at the Yacht Club. We had previously visited this
restaurant for dinner with some friends during our last trip, and had a very enjoyable
evening. This visit proved that lunch was of the same quality, and we can
thoroughly recommend this place as good value for money. You can’t miss it; it
is probably the only building on the
On the way back, we called into Castro Marim Golf Club to
check out the new clubhouse there. It is very nice, and although we didn’t eat
there this time, the restaurant and menu looks good. Before this visit to
We had arranged to meet some friends on Monday Evening, at
Bela Napoli at Isla Canela. We had met Mike & Barbara through the Ex-Pats
forum just after we had put the deposit down on our place, and they had done
the same on theirs. As they live in Leeds, and we live in Sheffield, we had met
for a meal previously in the
The Tuesday was a Bank Holiday in
Once into Portugal (45 minutes before we left Spain ! ), we
were pleased to find that most of the shops in Villa Real were open, and
enjoyed a stroll through the main square
and shopping area. We have found before, even when
When Wednesday arrived, we had a great game of golf. Luke
plays off 5, and proved much too good for the rest of us, I reckon he must have
almost played to scratch. He could hit the ball for miles. Tony is also no mean
player, so Gary and I admired their skill, and stumped up for the beers at the
nineteenth. I was very impressed with the Castro Marim Golf Course. I had tried
to play it on a previous visit, but had been rained off. This time, after a
shaky start with a smattering of rain on the first, the rest of the round was
played in perfect golfing weather, and some of the scenery and views of
Our daughter Claire, her partner Paul, and two friends Lucy
and Matt were coming out to Esuri for the week following us, and we had an
overlap on the Thursday, before we returned home on the Friday. They were due
to arrive late on Wednesday evening, having also flown out from Stansted.
Wednesday was also the day that the
Fortunately, we were able to warn Claire and pals about our experience at the airport, so they were better organized, and got through Passport Control and collected their car much more efficiently than we had. They followed the directions we gave them to Esuri and arrived at about 11PM in the evening. Having six in the Apartment for a couple of days gave us a chance to try out the sofa bed we had bought, and experience the Apartment with six bodies in it. The sofa bed proved very comfortable (Carole and I used it on the basis that we would rise well before the younger generation – the things you do for your kids!), and overall we were pleased to find that six in the Apartment is no trouble at all. I think the large terrace helps, as we tend to spend most of the day outside on it.
On the Thursday, we drove into Ayamonte, to show the kids around the town, and then headed off to Isla Canela Marina for a lazy lunch. Carole and I headed back to the Apartment, whilst our guests stayed on, for a stroll on the beach. On the previous day, the only parking space I could find was by the port, and on the walk back into Ayamonte town centre, I had come across another hardware store. I called in for a nosy around, and was amazed to find just the type of Safe I was looking for, with English instructions, and at a reasonable price (approx. 55 Euros). It was the only one in the shop, so I had no hesitation in buying it, and I used the Thursday afternoon to fit it into the Apartment. As it is almost impossible to anchor a Safe to anywhere solid with the Apartments, I don’t for one minute think it would deter a professional thief. Hopefully, however, it will give our future guests somewhere to store their passports, documents, and other valuables, and provide a deterrent to any opportunist thief. The base of the wardrobes are fairly solid wood, about 1 inch thick, so I anchored the safe to this, using metal expanding rawlplugs through the base of the safe, direct into the wardrobe floor.
Thursday evening was spent on our terrace with out guests, some very enjoyable BBQ food we had bought from Ayamonte, and quite a lot of drinks (I didn’t want to leave too many beers in the fridge for the kids; it would have been a bad example).
Our flight back to the
Still feeling a bit aggrieved about the petrol situation, we headed into the Airport for a spot of breakfast, prior to the flight. We were having trouble locating a toilet that was open, and found out why when we tried to get a pot of tea. All the water in the Airport was off, so no drinks were available (apart from bottled Coke), no food was being cooked, and the loo’s were cordoned off! I bought a Coke, Kit-Kat, and crossed my legs.
It was a relief in more ways than one when we got on the plane, and headed back to Stansted. However, when we arrived, and collected our cases from the carousel. There was no sign of our golf clubs. I waited until I was sure they were not going to appear, and then headed to the lost luggage area. After waiting for about 15 minutes in a queue, the chap at the desk asked me if I had checked if my clubs were on ‘Carousel A’. Apparently, at Stansted, (unlike other Airports we have used), unusual items (i.e. golf clubs), are returned to a different carousel than cases. Now this may have been my fault if it was prominently displayed that this was the case, but if it was, I hadn’t seen any notices whilst waiting at the ‘normal’ carousel. Anyway, I was just relieved to get my clubs back, so we headed for the courtesy bus to take us back to the Hilton, to collect our car. We eventually got our breakfast at mid afternoon at the Little Chef on the A14.
So ended our fourth stay in the Apartment this year. As
before, we had a really enjoyable time at CE, and it left us wanting more. It’s
great to see the progress being made at each visit, the golf course is now
starting to look a lot greener, and the cranes have been erected, ready to
start building at the Commercial Centre. The kids stayed on for another week,
and we were pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoyed their stay, and how
much they are looking forward to going back. They told us they were impressed
with the variety of things to do within easy reach of CE. They had a day at
Monte Gordo, another at Albefuera, and another at the