I will begin with very brief description of Puerto De La Duquesa (the Port) and some of the recurring issues regarding mobility impaired holiday makers and residents. Puerto De La Duquesa is on the Mediterranean coast (the Costa del Sol) about 60 minutes drive from Malaga Airport and 30 minutes drive from Gibraltar. The Port is built on 3 levels and therefore hills are involved when accessing the different levels. The blue van is parked at the entry to Level 1.Castillo is to the south of the Port and Sabinillas to the north and all are connected by a lovely promenade which is usable unaccompanied – quite a distance between the 3 places.
All of the properties on the lower level (sea front) have a small step up to individual terraces and some have a further step to get inside the building. Most of the recently modernised properties have wheelchair accessible toilets which are usually incorporated in the Ladies Toilets. I say most but not all. Some of the hills are quite severe. The 1st level is quite wheelchair friendly and the 2nd level is manageable once the hill has been conquered. Some paths are dished whilst others are not. One side of a Zebra Crossing may be dished and the other side not.
Day 1 – We left the Cork International Airport Hotel early in the morning to head for the airport to continue our journey to Spain. Cork Airport, as you would imagine, is very accessible and wheelchair friendly but why have 2 airbridges and not use them? The airport staff were courteous, friendly and very helpful. The Aer Lingus staff were equally helpful but I fail to understand why someone bothered to put a wheelchair decal on the toilet door; it is a tight squeeze even for able bodied passengers. We landed in Malaga Airport on time, collected our rental and headed south to our destination of Puerto De La Duquesa. It was an uneventful journey thanks to Jean, my companion, wife and driver, but the tolls are very expensive; €12 in less than an hour.
Our first port of call after dropping our bags was the Dolphin Bar, on the sea front, for a light snack and liquid refreshment. The toilet was fully accessible. We then went shopping in Carrefour in Estepona. The centre is accessible with loads of parking but disabled toilet facilities are sadly lacking. Later we went to The Mexican back in Duquesa for our evening meal. Accessing the toilet requires a degree of mobility. After that we continued the refreshment theme and went to the Cork Tree on the first level and the hill makes access to the upper levels exceptionally difficult (impossible) if unaccompanied.
Day 2 – This was a day for some serious relaxation in the sun. We spent some time by the pool but didn’t get in for a swim. The paths around the pool are not the easiest to navigate but ‘doable’ even if unaccompanied. The toilet block near the pool is wheelchair accessible but accessing the individual toilet cubicles require a degree of mobility. We went for our evening meal to the Jolly Sailor on the first level. Accessing the toilets here requires a degree of mobility. We returned to the Cork Tree after dinner. The toilet here needs a small degree of mobility as it is also used as a store.
Day 3 – We went to the market for a look around this morning. There is plenty of parking and the site is gently sloped with the ground rough in places. There is a wheelchair accessible public toilet and ample parking. We went to the Kinaree Thai, on the first level of the Port, for our evening meal. The restaurant is very accessible and ramped inside where necessary. The wheelchair toilet is fine. We finished off again in the Cork Tree.
Day 4 – There is beautiful promenade connecting Duquesa with Sabinillas. We headed to one of our favourite spots, Miel, for our morning snack. The ramp to the inner restaurant is steep and not doable unaccompanied and accessing the toilet requires a bit of mobility.We went to the Bistro, on the top level in the Port, for our evening meal. The restaurant is accessible as is the wheelchair toilet. Getting there requires a bit more work than the lower levels. We finished our evening in the Cork Tree.
Day 5 – We trundled back up the promenade to Sabinillas and stopped in the Last Resort for liquid refreshment. There is a short steep ramp, which requires a bit of assistance, to the indoor area but the toilet is very accessible. We then stopped in the Green Olive for lunch. The indoor area is accessible unaccompanied as is the toilet but access to the toilet was a bit restricted close to the door. Later that afternoon we visited the Ocean Bar back in Duquesa where the toilet is accessible and roomy. We then headed for the Dolphin Bar.
Day 6 – We went to the local Super Sol for a bit of shopping. Very accessible with an accessible wheelchair toilet. . We had our evening meal in Sabor Toscano on the first level and Jean tells me that the toilet is quite spacious but access a bit restricted. We finished off our evening in the Cork Tree.
Day 7 – We started off in Estepona market. We went to La Totta ice cream parlour to check the facilities and found them seriously lacking; an able bodied person carrying a bit of extra weight couldn’t get into the men’s toilet. We stopped off in the Jazz Bar next door but didn’t check out the facilities. We later visited the Slow Boat on the lower level of Duquesa. The toilets are situated up a number of steps but the ramp is way too steep. Neither of the toilet cubicles is wheelchair accessible. We again finished off our evening in the Cork Tree.
Day 8 – The Dolphin Bar was our venue for our morning snack. We had our evening meal in Parapiros, our all time favourite restaurant in the Port, located on the top level. The wheelchair toilet is perfect internally but there are 2 steps and no ramp. Two of the waiters lifted the chair up and down without making a fuss. We finished off our evening in the Kinsale, on the first level, which is perfectly accessible with a perfectly accessible wheelchair loo.
Day 9 – The Ocean Bar provided our morning snack. We later went on to Griffins on the lower level. The toilet is accessible unaccompanied but it is a bit tight. We finished off in the Cork Tree.
Day 10 – We started our evening in the Kinsale and then went on to the Victor Grill both on level 1. I noticed that there were a number of steps and no ramp up to the toilet area and when I asked about a wheelchair accessible toilet I was simply told ‘none available’. Jean asked another server if it would be possible to use an adjacent restaurant (which is apparently owned by the same people) and that was arranged. That restaurant is called Il Capitano and the toilet was totally accessible. We finished up in the Cork Tree
Day 11 – We headed back to Malaga Airport which fortunately use airbridges. Surprise surprise on our return to Cork we had the use of an airbridge.
These are an extra few pictures to show some of the problems faced by people with reduced mobility and wheelchair users when seemingly small issues and lack of thought create huge problems and conversely where planning and thoughtfulness towards the minority make holidays and life in general much more bearable.
We will be returning for more sun, sea and sangria