Puerto De La Duquesa, Spain has been my favourite holiday destination for the past 15 years. Truth be told we rarely go anywhere else; we are aware of its shortcomings but more importantly we are comfortable with the facilities. This was a different holiday for us as we have grown to a family of 7 and we were all together. Elaine, Henry and Jack along with Mairéad & Rowan and then Jean and I brought up the rear. Jack, at 12 weeks old, was on his first holiday and had his own ‘transport system’ and this brought a different perspective to accessibility. So the human interest angle; the sun shone brightly most of the time, we ate too much and drank too much and spent a lot of time doing nothing much. It was a superb family holiday never to be forgotten.
The battery in my power chair had died while we were away and despite numerous attempts I failed to revive it. Luckily a new business, Roadrunner Leisure, has opened in the port; Fiona and Wendy offer a diverse range of mobility aides, bikes, golf society and baby equipment. (Click HERE for further details.) In any event when Fiona became aware of my predicament she organised a replacement battery in a short space of time. Thank you Fiona and Roadrunner!
We stay in Marina De La Duquesa and they are making great strides at complying with new Spanish disability statutes which must be fully implemented before the end of 2017. (Click HERE 2014 and HERE 2015 for previous posts) A hoist has been installed in the largest of the 4 pools within the complex and getting in and out is now so much easier and therefore more enjoyable. There is more work to be done and I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished project.
Carrefour Supermarket in nearby Estepona has been totally revamped but, for me, the biggest change was in the toilet facilities. There were no accessible toilets before the remodel and now the facilities are accessible and spacious. There are designated parking spaces available but as always they are open to abuse.
Puerto De La Duquesa is built on hilly terrain and thus the Port is spread over 3 levels and unaccompanied accessibility cannot be guaranteed.
- The sea front is the most accessible area but the major accessibility issue is that all the cafes, bars and restaurants have a step from the road to the terraces and most have a further step from the terraces to the inside. Most have accessible toilet facilities. There is a diverse range of restaurants available; Mexican, Indian, Chinese, American Diner and Moroccan and there is also a great selection of cafes and bars to choose from.
- The next level up has more bars and restaurants and after the initial steep hill is conquered most are accessible. Most of the premises have a small issue with steps at the front door but some issues are more serious. Most have accessible toilets. The range of restaurants include; Italian, Spanish, Indian, Argentinean and Thai. There is also a Kebab Shop and a number of cafes and bars on this level.
- The top level, a further climb, has fewer restaurants but includes 2 Italians and a Steakhouse and if that weren’t enough you would pass a Fish & Chip on the way up.
Some venues are more accessible and disability friendly than others whilst some are downright unfriendly in the area of accessibility. The Victor Grill has large steps at the entrance and further steps to the toilet facilities making them totally inaccessible; Il Capitano is accessible but does not have an accessible toilet; Parapiros is accessible but the accessible toilet has 2 large steps between it and the main dining area and La Traviata has an accessible toilet in a disused adjacent premises. In all cases I found the staff very helpful in their efforts to mitigate the poor facilities.
We went to Mijas, a picturesque village in the mountains overlooking the Mediterranean. My ears ‘popped’ on the way up. There is multi story car park at the amazing rate of €1 day and an elevator up to the main plaza with a large range of shops and cafes. The roof of the car park contains a tourist information office and an accessible toilet. There is another elevator up to the next level which has a wide variety of shops and cafes. The cobbled streets make wheelchair travel a bit more difficult but it is well worth the effort. The views of the coast are spectacular from the viewing platform.
I was disappointed with Aer Lingus on the flight home as I was allocated a seat in row 24. It was a long crawl down the plane and back up again on reaching Cork.