Well this is the blog I wasnít going to write up! After all the excitement and ups and downs of 2006, (what with the Completion, Furnishing etc.), I didnít think there would be much more for me to write about, but Carole and one or two others have encouraged me to continue to chronicle our experiences at Costa Esuri, mainly for ourselves to look back on, but also hopefully to share our experiences with other, like minded Esurians.
In fact, I am now writing this in February 2008, having just completed another visit to Costa Esuri, and before I start writing about this year.
As I mentioned at the end of my 2006 bog, I had managed to get some cheap flights for myself and a group of golfing friends for early 2007. After the excesses of Christmas, I was really looking forward to getting away for few days golf. In the past, I have always found the period between New Year and Easter to be one of the most depressing times of year, what with the cold weather and dark nights. I think the term SAD was invented for me (thatís Seasonally Affective Disorder, not the term you were thinking!), so a short break with the promise of some sunshine was very appealing. The flights we had booked were from Leeds/Bradford, leaving at 3pm on Thursday Afternoon, and returning about 10pm on Sunday Night. Or so we thought!
You may recall the short sharp blast of horrendous weather we suffered in January 2007? Well guess when it happened! All things started OK, when we left Sheffield about lunchtime on the Thursday, although it was quite windy. We had arranged a minibus to collect us all for the journey to-from the airport. The first indication of a problem was as we approached the M1 from the A61, and found a queue of traffic blocking the way, as far as the eye could see. Our driver pulled off the main road to head down some country lanes he knew, but again, just as we approached the motorway, a fallen tree blocked our path. Another detour eventually found us to the motorway, and on our way to Leeds.
As we entered the terminal building at Leeds-Bradford, we were greeted with the sign saying the Airport had been closed, and we were to be diverted to Manchester. After a delay of about an hour, we dutifully filed onto the bus provided, and headed off. News came over the radio of problems on the M62, so the driver headed across country, and on to the M6. Just before the Charnock Richard Services, we hit the queues! Crawling along at about 5mph, the driver announced that Manchester Airport had also been closed, and he had been instructed to return us to Leeds-Bradford. Fortunately, he managed to nip into the Service Area, and after a quick comfort break for his travel weary passengers, he headed across the Service Area Bridge, and back up the motorway. Rumours were rife on the journey back that Jet2 were arranging to fly us out from Leeds-Bradford the following morning, but when we arrived back, at about 9PM, the best they could offer us was a flight out on Sunday morning. As we planned to fly back Sunday evening, there didnít seem much point.
Dejected, we called our minibus driver from Sheffield, and asked him to collect us, and return us home. Whilst we were waiting for him to arrive, we decided to use the pay-as-you-go Internet Terminals at the airport, to see if there were any alternative flights available. After a few minutes, we found an Easy Jet flight from the East Midland Airport at 6am the following morning that could accommodate us. One of the guys had a contact at a hotel near to EMA, so we called them, and managed to book a couple of rooms for the remainder of the night.
Ian, our minibus driver was a little surprised when he arrived to get the request to take us not back to Sheffield, but to carry on to Derby, but willingly agreed to help us. He even stopped on the way, so that we could refuel with Fish & Chips, and a few cans of beer. After a few more beers at the hotel, and maybe three to four hours sleep, a local taxi took us the rest of the way to the Airport, and amazingly, the flight left on time at 6.10AM. When we disembarked at Faro, I called Castro Marim Golf Club, and they kindly changed our tee off time from 9:30AM to 1:30PM. This allowed us to take get to the Apartment, unload our cases, and even to get to the Mercadonna (which had just opened in the Plaza), to stock up with way too much food and drink for the few days we were there.
After such a traumatic start to the weekend, everyone agreed that we had made the right decision to go, and thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the golf. We lived off the story at our own golf club for weeks.
We managed three games of golf, (Castro Marim, Islantilla, and El Rompido) in the sun, a visit to Islantilla beach, and a couple of enjoyable boozy meals, before an uneventful flight back to Leeds-Bradford on the Sunday Night. We even managed to get back the additional costs of our trip from our Travel Insurance companies (admittedly, having had to wait for a few months), so all in all the trip was voted a great success. So much so, that when some more cheap flights became available in March, I again booked these with another group of pals from our golf club.
Several years ago, we spent a miserable February holiday in Barcelona. When I say miserable, I refer to the weather. The city was of course wonderful, and we had an enjoyable time spoiling one of our daughters, who accompanied us on that occasion. However, I remember collecting our bags at Manchester Airport, alongside a group of healthily tanned fellow passengers. When I enquired were they had been, I found that they had spent the same week as us in sunny Tenerife. The decision was made then and there that in future we would travel further south for our February break, if not to guarantee good weather, at least to have a better chance of finding it at that time of year.
Last Year (2006) as we were completing on our Apartment, we were forced to spend the week at Costa Esuri, and it had proved (weather wise) very pleasant. Was this a one-off, or could we get good weather again? Hoping that we could, we arranged another February week in the Apartment, this time with my Sister and her husband David. We had arranged a flight from Manchester this time, as it was most accessible for them and us (them from Liverpool, us from Sheffield). As it was an early morning flight, and having suffered before on cross Pennine trips in bad weather, we arranged to stay at one of the Britannia Hotels in Manchester. They do a good deal on the room, which also includes parking at the hotel for 8 or 15 days, and a courtesy bus service to the Airport. Britannia has two hotels in Manchester offering this service, the Country House Hotel, and the Airport Hotel. Having now used both, I would recommend the Airport Hotel. This time we stayed at the Country House Hotel. Apart from the fact that this was before the smoking ban in public places was introduced, and it was like walking into a pea-soup fog, the place was full of Manchester United Supporters, mostly Irish ones over for the game. Before I am accused of being prejudiced, let me say (as one does) that one of my best friends is both Irish and an MU Supporter (how unfortunate for him!).† Seriously, they were a cheerful enough bunch, if a little noisy for those of us looking for an early night. The Carvery at the hotel also proved a disappointment, so we were happy to leave early the following morning for the Airport.
When we visited the Plaza for our first shopping trip in January, we had entered the Mercadona through a side door, but this time the full front entrance was open, and one or two shops had started to appear, as well as the Supermarket.
It was also good to find that Golf Club 1 at Costa Esuri was now open, and David and I enjoyed a round or two there. I had been debating whether or not to join the Costa Esuri Golf Club, and these games helped me to decide to do so. Rather than buy a Family Membership for both Carole and myself, we decided that, as she is unlikely to play there with the same frequency as me, an Individual Membership would be the better option. I had read the pros and cons of joining expressed by members of the Ex-Pats forum, and in the end based my decision on the following. I hope to spend as much time as other commitments and finances allow at Costa Esuri over the coming years, and also play as much golf as I can. Both Carole and I enjoy the social side of our UK golf club as much as the playing side, and I hope that this will be the case at Esuri. I also believe that the fact that the 20 year membership I have purchased can be sold on with the Property will prove to be a good investment, should the necessity or desire to sell arise in the future.†
As it happened, the weather again was very kind to us, and we spent an enjoyable week in and around Costa Esuri, Isla Canella, and Ayamonte.