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Forums Other Destination advice Summer holidayz in the Algarve – trip report by Froggee (paterfamilias)

  • Froggee 827 posts

    Oh yes. Sumer holidayz. The boys’ school broke up so early this year that we were long gone by the time of the Headforpoints summer party. Missing it was, of course, a sacrifice worth making so I could spend a blissful holiday making treasured memories with my offspring.

    For the first time ever, we had decided to brave the heat of Portugal in the summer. I had again opted to go with Irish scratch card operator Ryanair and had chosen to fly on the Sunday after school finished for the fundamental reason that the flight was at 12:05pm as opposed to the antisocial times available on other days. I refuse to take flights at silly o’clock in the morning, particularly with kids as the resulting emotional trauma and the toll this takes on me is far too high.

    Therefore, you can imagine my delight when Ryanair emailed three months before we were due to leave notifying us of a modest change to our departure time. Our flight was now due to leave at 6:25am. Given this was a change of greater than five hours we were allowed to cancel our flight and get a full refund or switch, free of charge, to the day before or the day after. Both of which also left at 6:25am. This was suboptimal.

    I looked at every option I could think of to convey us comfortably to Portugal on the Sunday but without success. I then thought that maybe we could go a day early but no decent options were to be had. I then had a brainwave and remembered that school actually broke up at 10:30am on the Friday with the sole purpose of our boys’ attendance being to applaud the graduating primary sevens. I found a winner being a Ryanair flight to Faro at 4:40pm on the Friday afternoon.

    There was the small matter that I had to take the refund option, collecting £567.94 but then needed to pay £707.94 to rebook, an additional £140. But I did not need to get up at 3am so I could tolerate this. I should not have checked prices for the flight a few weeks before we were due to fly, when the cost had almost halved. Because I couldn’t tolerate that.

    Sad face.

    We were booked to stay at Martinhal in Sagres again. However, it transpired that Martinhal was sold out of the two-bedroom village houses I had booked, meaning we would need to move after a couple of days if we extended our stay. I then had a further brainwave. Given we had to shift accommodation anyway, we could stay somewhere totally different. The initial plan was to stay at the Conrad Algarve using points. It is highly regarded and it would be nice to try it. As Mrs Froggee and I both have Hilton Gold status courtesy of American Express, I transferred 160,000 Hilton points to Mrs Froggee so we could each book one room, thereby ensuring free breakfast for all. But I kid you not, the next day, Hilton removed points availability which was never to return. It felt like a bait and switch by Mrs Froggee when she subsequently announced she had used my Hilton points to book a hotel in London where she is spending a weekend in September with her cousin. I suspect the London trip is a retaliatory outing designed to punish me for tottling off to Marseille to watch Scotland lose against South Africa in the Rugby World Cup the weekend prior. But commandeering my Hilton points really is the pièce de résistance. A veritable a coup de grâce. The proverbial glaçage sur le gateau. All I can say is well played Mrs Froggee. Well played.

    Sorry, I digress. Plan B was inspired if I say so myself. I chose to book two nights at Aquashow Park Hotel. This had two advantages being (1) it is relatively close to Faro Airport mitigating a potentially late bedtime for the boys; and (2) it is adjacent to a massive water park and entry to it was included in the hotel rate.

    Friday went to plan with the boys duly complaining about having to attend prize-giving as the one-and-three-quarter-hour morning school session was called. Kermit was particularly vocal on this topic as one of his friends had been given a pass by her parents as they “didn’t see the point”. Ever the team player, Mrs Froggee messaged the mother of the child in question asking if she would like to meet for breakfast that Friday morning. Breakfast is Mrs Froggee’s tried and tested strategy for early finishes as it means she keeps a prime parking space rather than giving it up to come home. The cost of parking is, of course, immaterial as money is an abstract concept to Mrs Froggee. Her friend was delighted to accept and then decided that, seeing as she was coming into town to meet Mrs Froggee anyway, she might as well drop her daughter off at school for prize-giving. The poor child ended up as collateral damage in her mother’s social arrangements.

    I’m sure the morning was character building for her and she will now aspire to graduate from primary seven along with the best and the brightest.

    With school for another year done and dusted, we gave the somewhat rabid boys lunch, put the final flourishes on our packing endeavours and headed to the airport. Ryanair had messaged me earlier suggesting that we might wish to arrive at Edinburgh airport at least three hours prior to our flight given that the Royal Highland Show was on nearby but I didn’t fancy that. So, we left at bang on 2pm and were parked up 35 minutes later in the short stay car park. This cost £82.79 for 14 days rather than the original £70.19 for twelve days as I had to cancel and rebook, downgrading from the multi-storey carpark which was by then unaffordable. It also meant no fast-track security passes as they are only included with the multi-storey car park.

    Bag drop was near instantaneous with the added benefit that a member of staff took pity on me and pressed all the buttons on the machine (with the exception that I had to press “I agree” once per bag) and tagged up our bags. We family-laned our way through security which was super quick and after the random beepy thing chose me for a pat down, we meandered our way through the duty free experience and filled our water bottles without incident. At this point Mrs Froggee threw a spanner in the works saying she had told the boys they could each have a book from the book shop. I then got to stand outside the book shop. For…A…Very…Long…Time.

    It felt like I was there for about three hours but given the timings this seems implausible. Our lounging was now highly time-constrained so we chose to patronise the Aspire lounge opposite gate 4 rather than our preferred Plaza Premium as, in my experience, Ryanair flights almost always board from gate 1 at Edinburgh which is quite a hike from Plaza Premium. I haven’t been in that Aspire lounge since my dark days as a regular KLM flyer and it did not seem to have changed much at all other than it had developed a smell that brought back memories of my childhood violin teacher’s house. She had an aging Golden Retriever and I was actually surprised not to see a similarly decrepit dog widdling in the corner of the lounge given the pervasive wet dog smell.

    I guess the lounge did the job though, as we had enough time for Mrs Froggee’s statutory cup of tea. Freddo befriended the lady restocking the snacks with his usual strategy of quick firing questions at her. We discovered, amongst other things, that she did not like gluten free cakes but she did like children given the special trip she made to fetch Freddo a couple of tubs of strawberry yoghurt. Or maybe she just wanted away from him? I took advantage and pocked two mini packs of bourbon creams.

    The gate soon came up for our flight and, as sure as night follows day, it was at gate 11, adjacent to the snubbed Plaza Premium lounge. We grudgingly made our way to gate 11 where we were reminded that in RyanAir parlance “boarding” means please wait while we laugh at you for actually believing us. We waited. I joined the priority and two bags queue whereas Mrs Froggee and the boys were trailblazers, starting the non-priority queue. Eventually we got beeped at by a machine and were allowed to stand on the tarmac savouring the heady smell of jet fumes. It felt weird standing all alone having no one to complain at me.

    In time we boarded and it became apparent that we would be on a boisterous flight. There was a large group of lads in the back near us, one of whom seemed somewhat distressed moving up and down the cabin obsessing about where to put his bag while his mates told him to forking sit down. He forking sat down. Next to where Mrs Froggee was meant to sit when she eventually boarded. Because I am a team player and have more experience of drunkards, I took an executive decision to swap seats with Mrs Froggee. She seemed grateful despite the result being she would have to accommodate Freddo’s relentless chat. I then got to know Stevie and Gary who I have to say were delightful except for the small matter that every other word out of Gary’s mouth started with the letter “f”, followed by the letters “u”, “c”, and “k”.

    It turned out that Gary had never flown before and was somewhat nervous. His friends found this highly amusing. Stevie made it clear that if Gary tried to hold his hand, he would be punching him in the face. I genuinely thought I might have to step in and be the one to hold Gary’s hand given his somewhat agitated state. The Jean Claude Van Damme lookalike in front of us who was also a paterfamilias did not find the swearing amusing and had stern words. Stevie apologised and told Gary to stop forking swearing. Gary was not a one trick pony and could use the f-word as a noun, an adjective, a verb and an adverb. He didn’t quite get to the giddy heights of uttering the perfect profanisentence (“forking fork the forking fork”) but he wasn’t too far off. He liked to use the c-word also just to mix things up.

    After a slightly bouncy take-off, Gary was very keen to know when he could get a drink, to the point I almost went to plead his case with the cabin crew. But then a marvellous thing happened. There were enough spare seats that Gary and Stevie could be accommodated in amongst their football team and with a heartfelt apology that I should not take offence but they just wanted to sit with their mates, Gary and Stevie left me with a row to myself. It didn’t seem sporting to shunt over to the window seat so I stayed put in the aisle and pretended to keep a watchful eye on my family. And pay €18.99 when asked for two Barilla Bolognese (for the boys), and a chocolate croissant and a cup of tea for Mrs Froggee. I had a ham and egg baguette from Pret A Manger. I don’t know what Mrs Froggee had from Pret a Manger but, given that I spent £18.88 there, it was more than a ham and egg baguette.

    It was the loudest flight I have ever been on and I used to regularly fly ScotAirways from Edinburgh to London City. ScotAirways hired their cabin crew specifically for lung capacity to enable them to shout over the din caused by the turbo prop engines of their Dornier 328-100s. The flight was not relaxing. We had the football team behind us who were nice enough but very “high spirited”. We had another sizeable group in front of us and there was a hen party further down. And near the front, we had a group who felt the need to share their tunes with the plane. This was apparently so bad that, on final descent, the otherwise highly tolerant cabin crew ended up screaming over the PA to turn down the volume as if there was an emergency landing nobody would be able to hear instructions. Such was the constant noise where we were sitting, we didn’t even hear this music.

    But we landed without emergency and, to be fair, the flight wasn’t as bad as Ryanair flight 6622 from Tenerife to Edinburgh.

    Faro Immigration had the longest queue I’ve experienced there, but it kept moving and the immigration staff were efficient and smiley. Our bags were waiting for us and after a tactical pee we made our way out to meet our driver from Yellow Fish transfers (the #1 rated Faro transfer service on TripAdvisor) which I had prebooked for €36. Our driver wasn’t there and just as I started to adopt my confused expression and commence asking one of his colleagues, he appeared looking embarrassed. He was charming and overly apologetic saying he had been waiting for half an hour and just stepped away to take a call and of course we turned up. He did so in a gentle Manchester accent and the boys took an instant liking to him. I don’t think I got his name but it might have been Mark. He was a gentle man, a smooth driver and had lived in the Algarve for 25 years having originally come out as a tour rep. The UK was no longer home, he hadn’t been back for several years, and who can blame him.

    In no time at all we pulled up to Aquashow Park Hotel and Maybe-Mark pointed out to our, until then, oblivious children that we were next to the mother of all water parks. I had omitted to tell our boys this as there was no upside to be had from increasing the excitement readiness condition even further from EXCON 4 to EXCON 5.

    Maybe-Mark helped us into the hotel with our luggage, I tipped him ten euros for his half hour wait and kindliness, and we were checked in with charm and good humour. I had been unable to book a “family suite” (two connecting rooms) given the last-minute reservation so had paid €908.20 for two twin rooms for two nights (including breakfast) with Mrs Froggee and I resigned to each sharing with a child. But we were given connecting rooms which felt like winning the lottery. The rooms were fairly basic but clean. Our room’s air conditioning was all conquering but the boys’ air conditioning was a bit asthmatic. Given it was late, we just left the connecting doors open to keep things cool and got the boys to bed at about 10 pm.

    Sleep could have been better given Kermit’s inability to go to the bathroom quietly or without flooding the room(s) with light. And Freddo partook in some traditional night screaming. But it was pretty normal. I didn’t sleep that badly given the circumstances. Maybe the warmth of the welcome we got at reception made my subconscious conclude this wasn’t the sort of hotel where guests got murdered.

    In the morning we had a leisurely breakfast as we were in no hurry given that Aquashow Park does not open until 10am. At about 9:30am we commenced sun screen protocols which took so long we weren’t actually there for doors opening. I had opted to double bag as it were, with high factor sun tan lotion and an O’Neill sun shirt I’d sourced from a Spanish online retailer after making the mistake of mentally committing to owning it before realising nowhere in the UK had it in my size. The thought amused me that if I’d always “double bagged” I wouldn’t be going to a water park with my children at this very moment.

    We made our way the short distance to the park. The excitement readiness condition was very high as was the temperature and ultraviolet factor. The park was excellent. With the exception of the Watercoaster which took half an hour, wait times weren’t bad at all. The staff were mainly teenagers but seemed to take their jobs seriously particularly in terms of safety. On most rides we had the ritual of Freddo being carefully measured to ensure he met the most common 1.2 metre height restriction. Weirdly he failed 1.2 metres once despite actually being 1.22 metres but we did not argue. All was good. Well, maybe the floating poo Mrs Froggee spotted wasn’t good but the staff seemed as unhappy about it as she was and went off to get their dedicated poo removal tool. I took solace from the fact the water was heavily chlorinated.

    One ride stood out being the 32 metre dual free fall slides. Kermit wanted to try. Oh goody. Mrs Froggee made it clear that there was more chance of her going to the moon than doing this so I got to climb up with the boys. I did not like it. The climb that is. It was really high and a bit windy and Freddo kept standing on his tippy toes and looking over the railing which totally freaked me out. It is difficult to count when Freddo is busy interrogating you but I reckon it was 158 steps up. Let’s call it ten storeys. Kermit went down first, then Freddo, then me. I made the mistake of trying to keep my eyes open which is not smart when wearing contact lenses (glasses not allowed on the rides) but somehow, they stayed in. Overall, I quite enjoyed it and I can see why they insisted you cross your legs as otherwise my swimming trunks probably would have given me the world’s worst wedgie. Mrs Froggee later informed me that women wearing two-piece swim suits invariably seemed to regret this sartorial decision for obvious reasons.

    On reaching the bottom, I found Mrs Froggee consoling a crying Freddo. Oh well. Kermit apparently was not a fan either, and it was agreed we would not be doing it again. I was not displeased.

    Overall, we had a whale of a day with sunburn completely avoided courtesy of Ambre Solaire. The only ride I was not keen on was a family ride in a big inflatable ring called Mammothblast where, as the largest member of the clan, I had to go down facing backwards which made me feel sick much like I do in a black cab on a rear-facing seat. We went back to the hotel for a break and lunch, opting out of the hottest part of the day. We also had dinner at the hotel as there was nothing easily walkable. The food was okay and not unreasonable at €110 combined for lunch and dinner. Service was friendly with a bit of genuine personality thrown in. In a good way. I particularly liked the waitress who implied we were her only non-crazy lunchtime customers on account of choosing to eat indoors rather than fry poolside.

    We were being picked up at midday on the Sunday so squeezed in another hour and a quarter at the park where weirdly, Kermit and Froggee decided they now actually liked free falling 32 metres. So, we climbed another 158 steps. At the top, suddenly Freddo become very jittery. I impressed myself with my patience and understanding. I took his hand and said, “it’s meant to be fun so if it isn’t fun then let’s just walk back down”. At this point Freddo rejected my hand and launched himself. When allowed I gave chase to find a happy Freddo at the bottom this time. What’s that? Of course, I’d love to climb another 158 steps.

    Same thing. Freddo got jittery at the top. I gave him time to explain how he felt like he was going to vomit into his mouth when he went down and again, I took his hand and said “if it’s not fun for you then let’s just walk back down”. Which we did. All 158 wasted steps. Oh well, at least I wasn’t a jerk about it. Sometimes I surprise myself.

    We had time for a couple of rides on the Wild Snake which ejected us into the lazy river and then had to go back to the hotel where we changed and checked out.

    Our new driver, Diego, was waiting for us well before midday, impeccably attired, and we were off to Martinhal at 11:55am. Martinhal had arranged this transfer for us at a somewhat stiff €152. Diego was kind enough to pop by a pharmacy in Vila do Bispo as Mrs Froggee and Kermit had decided to be highly allergic to something, Because the Algarve is small, the pharmacist knew Diego giving him a cheery wave as I left, antihistamines in hand. €7.20 seemed like a bargain if it meant less snoring and sneezing.

    We were at Martinhal at 1:20pm and Diego got €20 for his knowledge of handy pharmacies. We ditched our cases at reception, and were sitting in the As Dunas restaurant for lunch at 1:30pm. I have written about Martinhal before so won’t drone on. Points of note:

    – the flies were just as bad as last time.
    – they have introduced poke bowls which was game changing for my lunch when we ate in the restaurant.
    – the boys now both like high value seafood. Therefore, at one dinner Mrs Froggee suffered the ignominy of ordering two starters and a sharing cauldron for two just for herself given their vulture-like behaviour. I admit I did encourage her so I could point out her supposed gluttony to the waiting staff.
    – For once Freddo did not sustain a head injury although he may have caused a few on the trampolines. A weird thing kept happening where other children would see him jumping and decide to locate themselves in his landing spot mid jump. Mrs Froggee got very good at taking Freddo to apologise and Freddo got very good at apologising.
    – Freddo did however lose his first ever tooth during dinner one night. This meant a visit by the Portuguese tooth fairy to dispense €2 which was made doubly difficult by the fact the boys were sharing a room and Kermit seems to sleep less than his parents. I waited until 11pm. As I snuck in Kermit woke, sitting up in bed. I had no choice but to dive for cover and ended up motionless on the floor by the side of Freddo’s bed until Kermit rolled over and appeared to be asleep again. I then ran for it. The next day Kermit told Mrs Froggee how he heard someone come into their bedroom. Mrs Froggee changed the subject.
    – Having dinner one night, I heard an unmistakable voice at the table behind me and sure enough it was Swannee, a former colleague of mine. Swannee was on holiday with his extended family. You’re not safe anywhere. Obviously Freddo wasted no time taking out Swannee’s younger son on the trampoline. You’re welcome.
    – In a twist of fate, Kermit did sustain a head injury, skilfully managing to knee himself in the cheek bone during a particularly vigorous trampoline jump. Freddo came to tell us just as the €17 jumbo shrimp starter that Mrs Froggee had been salivating over since our October visit arrived. Choosing between jumbo shrimps and her beloved first born, Mrs Froggee chose poorly. As I don’t like seafood, I went to procure ice and a napkin. The restaurant actually had instant cold packs available which implies head injuries are not infrequent.
    – Kermit wasn’t too badly damaged but, over the next few days, the bruising spread out from his cheek bone up to his eye socket meaning we had to travel home with a child who had obviously been in the wars.
    – Freddo really wanted to play mini golf again and on being allowed to do so, immediately re-engaged huff mode. Until he got a hole in one which he then talked about for the rest of the holiday every time we walked past the mini golf.
    – The mini golf was directly outside our house.
    – we signed the boys up for tennis lessons (€22 each in a group) and swimming lessons (€27 each one-on-one) which Kermit complained about relentlessly but Freddo embraced. The swimming teacher wanted to adopt them. Crazy woman. Freddo liked her and wanted more lessons. We were tempted to let them be together.
    – Kermit celebrated his birthday when we were there. I had prearranged a chocolate cake to be delivered by the hotel for €40. It was without doubt the worst cake I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. Mrs Froggee was highly unamused and asked if I would be mortified if she marched the remainder of the cake to reception and left it there. Normally I would indeed be mortified and I never complain. But the cake was so bad I offered to do it myself. It seemed to have been over baked to the point the cocoa had malted and it was so dry it wobbled when cut and was chewy. The ganache topping was okay but couldn’t hide the cake’s sins.
    – Mrs Froggee insisted she went and deposited the cake with a sympathetic receptionist. We then went swimming so Kermit could beat the living daylights out of me as compensation. We returned to find a different, much better, cake in our house as well as a selection of chocolates and berries along with a nice email from a lady in guest services apologising. We were not charged the €40 so ten out of ten for service recovery.
    – It was seriously windy which I had read about but never experienced. A cold Atlantic Ocean and a hot hinterland creates a climatic effect that makes Aberdeen seem tranquil. As one TripAdvisor review stated, “save yourself from paying for an exfoliation at the spa and just go to the beach”. However, the result was it was never too hot, peaking at about 25 degrees Celsius when Faro was up into the 30s.
    – We paid €4,279 for the 11 nights at Martinhal. The first six nights cost €304 whereas the final five nights were €491. Praise be a Scottish school that breaks up early. We spent an additional €2,122 on food and beverage which corresponded to four breakfasts, four lunches, eight proper dinners, three takeout dinners from the grill, quite a few ice creams, the odd beverage and food from the minimarket to fill in the gaps.

    Anyway, the boys had a vaguely good time. Apart from the fighting and relentless whining. I was ready to leave by Monday but it wasn’t until shortly before 8am on Thursday that Antonio arrived to take us back to Faro Airport with this transfer “only” costing €129. As we pulled away, having just locked ourself out of the house, I remembered I’d forgotten to retrieve the sandwiches I’d made the night before and popped in the freezer. Doh. But not as bad as the time we left Kermit’s cuddly toys in his bed. (Point of note – that time the cleaners handed them to guest services who emailed us and returned them to us for a very reasonable postage fee.)

    When booking the flights, I think I must have had a moment as I couldn’t bring myself to book either Ryanair at 10:30am or Jet2 at 10:55am. Both these flights were direct but likely to be far from relaxing. I have memories also that Jet2 was impressively expensive and Ryanair was far from cheap, so, for about the same money as Ryanair, I booked BA home to Edinburgh via London City with the first leg in Club Europe for €988.40. Departure time, a marginally more sociable 11:15am.

    The drive was swift but the road from Sagres to Faro seems to have deteriorated in the last several years and on a few occasions, I thought the van was going to take off after going over particularly large bumps. I had the foresight to get my loved ones to take Kwells travel sickness medication as we set off. We got to Faro Airport at 10:20am. I tipped Antonio €10 for not killing my family. He waited while I found a trolley and then insisted on loading it for us. Antonio then legged it into the terminal building, I assume to try and make toilet within the ten minutes allowed before the parking price ratchetted up. We presented ourselves at an empty BA check-in desk staffed by two very nice ladies. They immediately stopped chatting and one dealt with the formalities while the other started to teach my children some Portuguese words that might be handy should they choose to stay in Faro and let her adopt them. Suddenly I had the realisation that my behaviour had to be delightful for the whole day, as I didn’t want to look like the sort of fellow that might actually have given his son a whack across the cheekbone. Ten hours travel without losing my temper? Uh oh.

    With bags dropped we then went to an empty fast track security belt where we were through in seconds. There was no avoiding passport control but it wasn’t too bad. And I kept my cool when Kermit decided to hide from the immigration officer and subsequently stand on my foot when he deigned to show himself. We then hit up the lounge where Kermit and Freddo were delighted to be reacquainted with the pancake machine and acted like they hadn’t been fed for two weeks. Mrs Froggee naively took Freddo to the toilet where he chose to make space, just in case Club Europe catering was to his liking (spoiler alert, it wasn’t).

    Mrs Froggee had me spend €13.80 on five pastries at Paul to replace the forgotten sandwiches as an emergency food source. We had to board the plane by bus which commenced the devaluation of the Club Europe service. If I heard correctly there were only 56 passengers on our plane out of 98 available seats so not a busy flight. We took off two minutes early and even with a baby screaming behind us and the disappointing catering, the flight was a relative delight. A flight time of two hours 25 minutes felt like it was about one quarter of the length of the outbound flight. Plus, I had sneakily nominated Mrs Froggee to sit next to Freddo. On that catering though. We were offered a choice of a ham and cheese or vegetable muffin. I got one of each. Kermit wanted ham and cheese. He opened it up with a look of disgust that was wretched even by his high standards. The ham (which looked remarkably like beef) was removed. Kermit then took one small bite and put it down. I ate my muffin which managed to be both stale and soggy. There was a dessert that tasted a bit like Greek yoghurt with a blackberry crumble topping. A bit like it but much worse. Kermit obviously didn’t risk that. And there was a chocolate brownie which Kermit took one large bite out of but then put down as it was far too sweet. It is a sad state of affairs when a Ryanair meal deal is a much more appetising proposition than a Club Europe meal. British Airways really should be ashamed. And I should probably have complained for some Avios but life is too short.

    At City Airport we were whooshed through the family lane at Immigration and there was barely a queue at Security. But the boys cursed water bottles struck again with Mrs Froggee chosen for secondary screening as apparently the amazing new x-ray machines can’t handle metal bottles. Grrrr.

    We got some semi normal lunch food from Pret A Manger for £30.81. I have no idea what has happened with prices, but I sounded like my dad as I compared what things cost to 2019 prices. I mean, a Cinnamon Danish was £1.50 when I used to partake, but is now £3.25. I did not partake. But we ate, the boys peed, Mrs Froggee had tea, and I even managed to sneak off and find a semi clean toilet to make poopoo in so all was well in the land of Froggee. Our flight was called and Kermit wanted to pee again. I was super gracious about it given the whole child with bruised face thing.

    Our flight pushed back on time, the service was friendly, the chocolate brownie’s main ingredient was sugar, and the coffee was better than I remembered. In no time at all we landed twenty minutes early at 4:55pm, some three hours after the Ryanair and Jet2 flights I’d rejected, which landed within minutes of each other at around 2pm.

    Thankfully our luggage arrived quickly although there were dozens, if not hundreds, of bags scattered about baggage reclaim reflecting those who weren’t so lucky including Granny Froggee who had returned from the States one week prior and was still bagless. And no luggage trolleys because who would want to use one of these? We made our way out and I went to retrieve a trolley from Departures. I then bought some necessities at M&S for £38.70. I came out to find Mrs Froggee applying a plaster to Freddo’s leg as Kermit had managed to somehow cut it while trying to give him a piggyback. Well done boys. Me angry? Never! Well, not until we get home.

    Was it worth an approx. 2.5 hours additional travel time to get an extra 30-60 minutes in bed and avoid flying with “low cost” carriers. For me, yes. For Mrs Froggee, no. Kermit said absolutely, yes – he did not like the noise of Ryanair. Freddo said no although he did like the brownie. The iPad batteries held out, finishing the day in the low teens so it was survivable, I guess.

    Whilst at Martinhal the boys actively canvassed to go back to the water park. This continued when we got home. Aquashow Park hotel know their psychology, as a discount code was emailed to me ten days after checking out. So, I’ve booked for May half term. At least it will save us from going back to Disneyland Paris.

    The end.

    Anna 458 posts

    This has entertained me no end while my OH was trying to pay for pizzas via a QR code! It’s definitely worth paying a bit more not to have to be at the airport at 4 am (which takes the first 2 days of your holiday to recover from).

    JDB 4,138 posts

    Another magnificent tour de force from @Froggee – thank you. Also a helpful reminder, if needed, never to travel LCC/economy to avoid being seated next to a Stevie or a Gary. You are not alone in reacting to Prêt receipts with some incredulity.

    Anna 458 posts

    Depressingly, I think it’s the lingua franca of large swathes of the populace these days. Another reason to avoid the 6 am flights, IME!

    It doesn’t help that every screen writer seems to feel an uncontrollable urge to pepper their scripts with profanities these days.

    Amy C 348 posts

    Wonderful Froggee. Sounds much like the Ryanair flight I endured to ACE last Sunday. A bunch of knuckle dragging, horrifically loud oiks of both genders f’ing and Jeffing at 1000 decibels, sharing the contents of their iPhones at full volume and generally behaving like they were dragged up in a cave.

    AJA 997 posts

    I admire your perseverance @Froggee That was a far less eventful trip report than the previous one but no less entertaining. I still can’t bring myself to fly with the scratch card seller with an airline attached especially if the other passengers are the quality of Gary and his friends. I am not offended by the language bearing in mind it is good old Anglo-saxon but I do prefer a wider vocabulary. I do like quieter cabins though so the noise factor is a deal-breaker. I am definitely with you on not voluntarily choosing to fly at silly o’clock in the morning. Much prefer a relaxed midday departure. I am lucky to live within 30 minutes of LHR so also don’t ever need to do the regional flight add-on to and from LHR or LCY or LGW.

    PeteM 629 posts

    Brilliant as always, thanks!

    At City Airport we were whooshed through the family lane at Immigration and there was barely a queue at Security. But the boys cursed water bottles struck again with Mrs Froggee chosen for secondary screening as apparently the amazing new x-ray machines can’t handle metal bottles. Grrrr.

    Every. Time. I go through LCY my bag ends up in secondary. Suntan lotion. Water bottle. Laptop. iPad. Honestly, it would be quicker to go back to the old system and just take everything out…

    Richie 881 posts

    Aquashow park hotel looks great.

    freckles 125 posts

    So much in there @froggee I had to read it twice!
    You were lucky with security at EDI, the day before when I travelled they seemed to be having a meltdown and took nearly 1 hour to go through. Unfortunately I was flying Loganair so no fast track for once. Maybe in future I need to keep an eye for a group of froglets (or other amphibians) to adopt to use the family lane.
    Thank you for reminding me of ScotAirways, I didn’t get to use them much – my employer was too forking stingy to normally allow.
    Just back through EDI tonight, and there are still quite a few homeless bags lying around, not quite as bad as the end of June when they were lined up everywhere – reminiscent of last summer.
    Good to see you are delighted Mrs Froggee has managed to put your Hilton points to good use 😉

    BP 45 posts

    Fast track security at Edinburgh when included in the parking deal relies only on showing an email to prove you are eligible. No check against a list happens.

    The parking is cancellable…

    gw57 28 posts

    Delightful read and have been holidaying in the Vale do Lobo/ Dunas Douradas area for the past 15 years with the kids. Have always stayed in villas and apartments on the old Dunas complex and will be there in 3 weeks time. A 2 bed apartment , very comfortable €1,800. Still have to travel during school holidays as my wife is a teacher so using AVIOS for the return to Faro is probably my best value usage of them.

    ClubSmed 166 posts

    I am just back from the Algarve myself having also taken advantage of the early Summer holidays in Scotland.
    Martinhal & Aquashow Park hotel sounds great, I will have to try them if we decide to return next year!

    WaynedP 258 posts

    Another great read, thanks, @Froggee.

    Some friendly advice given your discomfort at the notion of hotel murders…

    Do not, I repeat, do not watch the first episode of the Sky Showcase series “Then You Run”

    And if you forget, and find yourself getting drawn into the enticing narrative, then definitely leave the room for five minutes when you see the Aryan looking travelling motorist get out of his car on a petrol station forecourt and regard the “Kein Zimmer Frei” sign on the local Motel with unhealthy interest.

    The Savage Squirrel 545 posts

    Thanks @Froggee! The repeated experience of climbing the giant ride and standing in the lengthy queue only to decide you don’t want to go on it at the last possible moment sadly required no imagination on my part 😀

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