Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Adventure in The Gambia
After a six hour flight we were in Gambia International Airport.
A tall gentleman greeted us at the plane exit steps, he was to assist me through the airport. His assistance was very much appreciated, as the airport was absolute chaos, with holiday makers clambering for their luggage.
We made our way to the coach that was taking us to our apartment/hotel, Holiday Beach in Kololi. Our two bedroomed, ground floor, apartment was a very short walk to the beach and just in front of the swimming pool. (day time temperatures 28-32 degrees- HOT!!!).
There were plenty of places to eat on the Serragambia “strip” (once you run the gauntlet of “Bumsters” with their verbal hassling). Every type of cuisine can be found. This short street is very busy and chaotic. (The driving is very nerve racking!!!) cattle and people all over the road. Tarmac roads are very rare, majority of roads are sand and very very rough.
I was prepared to do some walking, but I ended up leaving the chair behind, as accessibility, in Gambia, is NOT provided for.
Next day, we were met by our guide Lamin Fatty, the gentleman from the airport.
He took us to Banjul – Arch 22, A Huge, Cream coloured, monument on Independence Drive, an amazing place to view the city.
Kachikally Crocodile Lagoon, where we were able to touch a Crocodile (A SCARY moment).
He also took us to a Abuko Nature reserve. Where we saw the diverse flora and fauna.
Introduced us to a small school – Alhaji Mamoir Secca Memorial Nursery/Lower Basic School. Where the children were thrilled to meet us and happy to show us their progress.
We all see pictures, on the TV (or other media) but the poor conditions, that they learn in and LIVE in, are a SHOCK when you see them “First Hand”.
He took us to the family compound, for a Traditional African meal and meet his relatives, and then to drink “Attaya” (China Green Tea) with his friends.
We visited a Reptile Centre, where we held snakes !!!!.
Also went to a Fishing village (where Smoked fish, were laid out on HUGE racks). All where very interesting and educating (and “eye opening”)
Near the end of our stay, he took us to buy some souvenirs, from some locals.
The highlight was returning to the family compound, for a meal and returning to the friends, to drink “Attaya” it was here that I showed children to make paper aeroplanes and spell “Alan” in the sand, which they were so grateful, The “Thankful” expressions on their faces, was delightful and very moving. These memories will stay with me forever.
When the time came to leave for the airport, we said our goodbyes, to hotel staff and friends that we made.
At the airport, Lamin, was waiting for us to get off the coach, and take us through the terminal, and wait for our plane. A three hour wait, Lamin stayed with us all the time, and made sure we were on the plane, and my wheelchair was stowed, with the cargo.
I would encourage any “Budding Globetrotters” to visit The Gambia.
Also I would like to express our gratitude and THANKS to Lamin Fatty – Ground Operator - Gambia International Airport, for his excellent service and attention in making our holiday, a very special time with great memories.
It was very emotional to leave such friendly people, behind.
We will be returning soon !!.
I will be posting reviews on tripadvisor http://www.tripadvisor.com/
Alans Adventures at www.llanboidy.com
photos on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanroygbiv/
videos on youtube http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=alanroygbiv
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Being an wheelchair user, I was very cautious about the accessibility of the hotel.
Even though the ramps, in Tunisia, are STEEP and are usually Marble, within the hotels, marble is slippery, especially when damp. On my stay, I met a few “mobility impaired” people, who found the hotel good, for the area
The staff are very helpful, if you tip them, they will do all they can.
There are four lifts, at opposite ends of the huge (flat) reception, which has a magnificent centre candelabra. Short pile carpet, on all other floors, does not hinder wheelability.
Rooms are big, (sea views, to the rear, town views else where) bathroom with over shower-bath, basin, Hairdrier, Towels clean every day. Separate toilet (which is on the small side). Hotel is a VERY LARGE H shape, with the beach side in the shade, after mid-day.
Maid service every day, very thorough, even art sculptures with the bed linen and bed clothes and net curtains. Laundry service available.
Restaurant has 3 levels (accessed by steps or ramps) Food is “Buffet” style, plenty of choice, and plenty of it. (you always have the same table, every night).
Breakfast is in a different room, again buffet style, plenty of choice. Waiters direct you to your table, some tables are wider than others (good for a wheelchair).
The hotel has a shop, hair salon, Al a Carte resturaunt, Fitness centre, tennis courts, mini golf, sauna and massage suite, indoor (heated) outdoor swimming pools. Short path to the beach 100 mtrs. Pool and beach bar. A short walk to the Marina.
When weather, is not so good, main hotel rooms, can become “chilly”, floor one has some settees, so you can still sit in the sun. (It rain heavily one day, so we sat in reception playing “I-SPY” !!!!!!!!)
The town of Port El Kantaoui is only 2minutes walk, along cobbled pavements or “wheel” on the road, but beware in a wheelchair (or even crossing, on crossings) you feel a bit of a target.
Sousse was very busy, crossing the dual carriageway (Zebra crossing) was an adventure in itself! Weaving in and out of traffic and crossing a railway, halfway across!!.
Entertainment was abit scarce, but it was December (not the high season).
Christmas and New Year GALA dinners were waiter service, 7 course meals (menu issued in advance, so you can notify them of any dislikes). With music and dancers.
On Christmas morning the children have gifs from Father Christmas (and even WHEELCHAIR users!!).
The guests where very friendly, we met a family from North Wales, another from Kent and Jason made friends with 2 children from Kent and a boy from Northern Ireland.
Jason has been sending text messages and talking to them, on the phone ever since.
Favourite sayings, of the shop traders, are Luvley Jubbly – Looky Looky – no BL***Y Hassle – ASDA Price. THE HAGGLING is something else.
A visit to Matmata, the Star Wars film set, where we had lunch
Visit El Jem, Ampitheatre. Very impressive. Even had a ramp, to the entry gate for the wheelchair. The secruity looked after it while I staggered around with my walking stick!
We took an excursion to the desert, to ride a camel,(we dressed up in costume) in the Sahara in Douz, where we stayed over night in a hotel
Chott Djed the salt lakes ,the expanse of these is astonishing, worth the trip.
Tozeur We took a horse and cart into an Oases, to see platations of Dates, palms, Fruits and a man climbing a tree!
Metloui on the Red Lizard train into the Atlas Mountains. Sights you only see in magazines or films.
Trip on a Galeon ship (sea was a bit rough that day), and a anther trip on the Albatross Catamaran. which had large port holes under the water line, so a good look at the sea floor.
In Port El Kantaoui, I went on the “Noddy Train” to Souz (twice) a journey well worth 3 Dinars (approx £1.50) for 10kms. It goes along the main road so you have more time to look at the scenery, you missed, on the coach.
We also went on the “Camel Caravan” a horse carriage to see a woman making bread and a Camel drink from a “Coke” bottle (a bit cruel).
Monastir airport was very good, an airport porter assisted us through the airport, giving us “Priority” check-in and missing all the queues.
Back in the UK we stayed in a Travelodge in Reading, so as to break up the long journey home
More information ASAP via www.llanboidy.com and http://alanroygbiv.blogspot.com/
Photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanroygbiv/
Videos on http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=alanroygbiv
My return has been chaos, replying to emails, unpacking -packing, sorting the travel arrangements for travel to Gambia later this week.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
HOME - HECTIC - PACK !!
So the last few days have been a bit hectic!!.
(unpacking, washing, downloading photos (1000 of them), picking up tickets, for our flight to Gambia – next week.
I will upload photos to Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanroygbiv/ and www.llanboidy.com and post a report on the travel as soon as I can.
All I will say the hotel was fantastic (food brilliant) – saw the desert (went on a camel), saw the salt lakes, Ampitheatre, souks – Weather was a bit disappointing ! (but still better than the UK!).