We arrived in the early afternoon to a beautiful blue sky and a baking hot day with a super cooling sea breeze- we made it!
We checked in to our apartment, the hotel staff were aware of Charlie’s needs and provided him a camp-like bed slightly smaller than the 2 single beds in our room- we stuck his bed in the middle which neatly fit and provided a slight lip around 3 sides. He loved that idea; from being small he has always enjoyed cuddling in mum and dads bed, even now he shouts, ‘has your alarm gone off yet daddy? Can I get in your bed?’.
We had 7 days of beautiful sunshine with a slight but cooling sea breeze- bliss. The hotel had 2 pools with a bar which Charlie loved. 1 pool was almost just the right height for him to be in, it certainly meant he had to try hard to keep his chin up but he was in his element. The only drawback is the pools were unheated and after 10-15mins he was shaking like a leaf and needed 20-30mins in the sun to warm up. Obviously not being able to run or move around like most kiddies meant he didn’t keep himself warm so we had to keep an extra eye on him.
Praia da Rocha isn’t too big or too busy but the ‘strip’ had all it needed- tonnes of restaurants, shops and bars. We were able to eat a whole mix of food and we were keen for Charlie to try some of the more local delicacies, like the famous seafood (we did get him to try grilled sardines) but he was most impressed by the custard pastel natas! We tried to take long walks and show him as much of the sights as we could- he loved the sea fort and it’s cannons- FIRE!
We did find the getting about a little awkward with Charlie- most of the pavements were made of block paving but in a more cobbled fashion- this made Charlie’s frame a bit difficult and he did get his wheels stuck on more than one occasion. The kerbs were also extremely high in some places so the pushchair regularly had to be carried- but with Lou, me, Grandad, aunty Becky and Pow, many hands made light work. I guess the EU disability recommendations are not quite the same in Portugal…
We did take the opportunity to do a few trips- we all went to Slide n’ Splash, a massive water park with flumes galore. Again, Charlie proved himself an adrenaline junkie and went on rides his mum wouldn’t dare. Being aware of Charlie’s fair skin meant we smothered him regularly in high factor sun cream- if only we’d paid the same attention to ourselves! Ouch.
We also paid a visit to ZooMarine- an aquatic show theatre. They had dolphins, seals and aquarium but also some pirate and dinosaur exhibitions. Undoubtedly though the dolphins were the highlight. A fantastic show and then an opportunity for pics- Charlie was so excited. I asked the attendant if Charlie was able to have a go despite his disability. Although a little unsure the attendants asked us to wait until last- when the time came not only did Charlie get to tickle the chin of 1 dolphin but ‘high-fin’ 3! The trainers made a special fuss and needless to Charlie was buzzing!
Charlie did get into the hang of a siesta and having a small snooze meant he could tire himself out in the mornings and get the fun of the evenings. He even made it to a few pub dancefloors and much to the merriment of the patrons shouted, ‘mine’s a pint!’ as he ran in.
7 days came and went in a flash but we had done it- a foreign holiday with Charlie- he’d managed and so had we!