Mildred and The Pink Sparkly Miss venture to Albufeira for a jolly…
For those of you who have yet to discover my blog, Mildred is my Chariot (wheelchair) and where I go, she goes too.
For a long time I thought travel was lost on me, oh, how that opinion has changed, all things are possible as we know! Having a Chariot requires a little bit of planning but no more so than taking a pushchair really.
My Mr and I love a bargain break, and we try to go away a couple of times a month, life is short right? That said, we LOVE a bargain. Being in a position to scour the internet (using incognito mode so they don’t track my cookies) we generally do pretty well on the price front.
This particular little jolly was flying out of Stanstead Airport (one of my favourites as it’s a very personal place) for the extortionate price of £65.96 return for two of us. I’ll have some of that thankyou very much. Generally, we travel with hand luggage only as that suits us much better. This time, for the first time ever we booked in hold luggage like proper grown ups … Well it had more to do with the fact I wanted to take lots of shoes. Yes, I am in a wheelchair, and no, it doesn’t stop me having a love affair with pretty shoes. So, with several pairs of very pretty shoes packed into a substantial bag I was a very happy Pink Sparkly Miss.
As always before travelling I booked Airport assistance which is awesome and an absolute godsend for Mildred and I.
Our accommodation was a pretty good deal. We prefer to self-cater as I have limits on what I can eat so sometimes eating out is difficult. Therefore, I searched Alpha Rooms, a company I’d not used before and came up with 3-star studio, in Silchoro Apartments, Albufeira. For 16 nights it came £895 and included free airport pickup and drop off. We later found out we’d had a fabulous deal with the apartment. A lady we were chatting too had paid £1200 for 5 nights and paid extra for her airport transfer. It always pays to shop around, especially if you only want a base to sleep.
The Silchoro Apartments are a 45-minute drive from the airport and a 10 minute bus ride from Albufeira Old town. The Apartments have a large
airconditioned reception and great staff, access to the reception is by way of steps or, in our case a rather splendid ramp. The manager was already aware I was in a Chariot and, as such put us in an apartment by the lifts. Also, he informed us it was considerably quieter than the apartments by the reception area. He clearly took one look at me and thought ah, bless her, she needs all the beauty sleep she can get, I’ll give them a quiet room. For this kind consideration we were suitably grateful. Not that noise bothers us, we have kids and grandkids, noise is normal and to be honest we really don’t mind where we sleep as long as the bed is clean!
Now, I have to say we were apprehensive. I’m a bit of a Trip advisor trawler and the resort was receiving some bad reports about thefts from the rooms. Being ex police officers, we made sure the door to our apartment was always double locked as they recommended on the back of the door and, encountered absolutely no problems at all. The staff had been implicated in the reviews but, we left loose change on the table that never moved. The cleaning staff were lovely, very kind and friendly so speaking as we found, we have no complaints.
Silchoro Apartments are a little dated, but ours was spotlessly clean and spacious. It had a view over the street and also wasn’t in full sun which meant it was lovely and cool to sleep in. Bedding and towels were all supplied along with tea towels. Being rather prepared (smug face) I’d packed in my spacious bag, washing up liquid, tea bags, coffee and sugar. You know all the essentials! There is a supermarket on site that has essentials and a slightly bigger one 5 minutes up the road with a lot more choice of foods and drinks that is much cheaper.
The resort is a 10- minute walk from ‘The Strip’. A lively place with bars and cafes on both sides of the road. We did have to go on the road here as the pavements were very high and difficult to get Mildred onto, the music is loud, the colours are vibrant, and the atmosphere is all about fun and laughter. Its brilliant and incredibly popular with stag and hen parties and while we were there experienced no trouble. Much as we love music and fun, its also nice to have some conversation when you’re away isn’t it, and for this reason we chose to eat near the top of the strip which was a lot quieter. We selected ‘The Curry Club, Indian Tandoori Restaurante and Italian Kitchen’ and were particularly impressed with the accessibility. They’d built a new decking area out the front complete
with a ramp which made it a doddle to get into. It was a first for us too, we’ve never before eaten Indian food outside on decking on a balmy summer evening! We generally like to eat local dishes when we’re away but it smelt so good it made my tummy rumble so there was nothing for it but to give it a go. Or get locked up for noise pollution! We weren’t disappointed at all the food was stunning. Well presented, very tasty, and served by wonderful staff. I hope they do well there as they’ve just taken it over but, being out of the main drag a little bit, I suspect they will have to work hard for their custom. If you are in the vicinity, then look it up, it’s a delight.
The first few days were spent in much needed recovery lounging by the lovely pool, and just unwinding in the beautiful sunshine. The resort was well equipped with sun loungers and umbrellas if you wanted them. The pool was very clean and very welcome. Ha, who am I kidding, I dipped my big toe in, and promptly decided it was far too cold for this Pink Sparkly Princess, I mean, I am a goddamn Princess after all! The Mr on the other hand kicked the ass right out of it, he also utilised the tennis courts below our apartment for circuit training early in the morning before the sun got too hot. What did Mildred and I do while he was training? Well we sat there and cheered him on like every good princess should with her King! I love the heat, but I really loved the heat in Portugal, the breeze that comes in off the Atlantic is divine!
The apartments provide a courtesy bus to the old town 3 times a day but a taxi is only 5euro. We took the bus down to the town many times, and on the first occasion weren’t sure what to expect accessibility wise. The bus drops off on a hill and a short 2 minutes- walk we were overlooking the Atlantic and the beach. Oh my what a view, just stunning. I love the Ocean, not just in the summer but anytime of the year and I was not disappointed. The beach was immaculate, not a bit of litter in sight and was mechanically levelled daily. However, getting down to the beach is by way of escalator for the able bodied. Poor Mildred doesn’t do well on escalators. Not one bit. That’s another story, and one that ended badly. In a funny kind of way.
All that meant was we followed the very narrow road down to the beach. Easy peasy! Keep a look out for traffic if you take this route, despite it being narrow it is very busy.
On reaching the beach, there is a lovely walkway that enables wheelchairs and pushchairs to access the beach and wooden paths in various directions on the sand. The same walkway leads to a jetty that takes you out a way into the ocean. It has railings so is very safe, but also has two small obstacles, one a significant blockade which is to stop vehicles getting on the jetty and two a really high pavement! These obstacles were not insurmountable and merely required me to disembark from Mildred and utilise Bill and Ted (the crutches) to actually get over the blockade. Diving off it is discouraged but there were a lot of teenagers doing it without causing themselves great injury.
If you have the urge to be like Rose (Titanic) this is the place for it. The breeze blows in your face and once your eyes are shut, you’re on the front of the Titanic with your arms outstretched and Celine Dion warbling in your ear. Without the iceberg, the sinking boat, icy seas, lying on a door and most definitely without letting go of Leonardo De Caprio’s hand!
Mildred doesn’t do well on sand. Her front wheels buckle, and she stubbornly grinds to a halt. So, we reverse on sand and mud. If you’re not in a Chariot though you can just walk normally, although the sand is hot! As I said there are wooden pathways on the beach, but I don’t like to be in crowd of people so tend to gravitate towards the quieter sections of beach. There are sun loungers and umbrellas for hire but I’m hardcore, I don’t do shade. The Mr however, he does shade, and lots of it please! He also doesn’t do sitting on the beach for long periods of time and to be fair, that’s fine. I’m REALLY not a sociable sun worshipper! Leave me with a bottle of water, suntan lotion, a book and me hat and I’m grand! I’ll just ring when I need fetching for a wee!!
Whilst I’m soaking up the sun, my Mr loves to explore. Obviously pushing Mildred with his Princess on board makes that a little difficult for him on occasions so, it’s at these times he takes the opportunity to check out where we are and what restaurants are accessible. We found Albufeira to be very Chariot friendly much to our delight. There is a wide flat ‘front’ overlooking the beach lined with eating and drinking establishments. All of them are competitively priced and have the menu on display outside so you can have a good look before deciding. We ate in several over the holiday and was not disappointed. They will also cater for dietary requirements if you ask.
Find of the holiday was by the Mr and it was this. Brandy and coffee 2.50 euro. This consisted of a Mahoosive brandy and teeny- weeny coffee. Compare this with a vodka and red bull for 7.50 euro and guess what he consumed. He was a very giggly Mr when he came to collect me to take me to the toilet and was like a rabbit on speed when it came to pushing me up the hill to the bus stop!
Our favourite restaurant was right on the beach and the fish was offered to you by weight, blinking lovely, the oysters are something special. The food was simple but very good and cooked to perfection. Add to that, sitting on the beach watching the sun go down in perfect company with a cold beer and that’s our idea of bliss. Simple pleasures. We were joined by a little bird which was incredibly cheeky, and obviously a bit peckish as it hopped around the table pecking up crumbs! There was also a very intoxicated gent sat on the next table. We were there for a few hours, and I have a sneaky suspicion he had been there a lot longer than we had. The staff were bemused when he let out a loud snore closely followed by an enormous fart. At this point I suspected maybe he hadn’t fallen asleep at all but merely needed to pass wind and tried to disguise it with a snore. Unfortunately, due to the vast quantity of alcohol he’d consumed in the hot Algarve sun his bodily functions were out of sync. Big time. When he didn’t stir from vigorous shaking by the staff I did start to wonder if I was going to be asked to give up Mildred to get him back to his hotel. With this in mind, I said to the Mr I felt it was probably time to make a move.
I like to use Uber when we’re away as its so simple and straightforward and I can also get a vehicle that will take Mildred without any difficulties. Uber is available in Albuferia however, just off the Old town square there is a large taxi rank so uber don’t generally pick up from there. The taxi is cheap enough and there are always plenty of them there.
I could go into all the places we ate at, but I personally think everyone’s food tastes are different and what we love, maybe you wouldn’t. Needless to say, you won’t starve in Portugal! Kids are well catered for with every establishment offering a kid’s menu.
I think Albufeira Old Town is fantastic for all age groups. Its diverse, warm, safe, and very much family friendly. Obviously from our point of view its also very wheelchair accessible. There are a few cobbled streets and inclines, but the Mr is strong and is used to pushing Mildred and I up serious hillage so it was a breeze for him. However, it could potentially be a challenge for someone travelling solo in a Chariot. I would definitely recommend it to anyone, it is easy enough to find accommodation that caters to disabled guests and its accessible. We absolutely loved it and I suspect we will be returning at some point!