The next morning as I looked out on the bay observing our view for the week ahead I heard “GOOD MORNING” booming out from the balcony above. A guy with thick Yorkshire accent, asked us if we had just arrived and then went into verbal overdrive. In the space of five minutes we learned that the town around the next bay was worth visiting for a couple of hours (but not any longer), a taxi ride there costs ten euros and it was too dangerous to walk. We learned that the visible clouds, that were keeping the morning distinctively chilly, normally burned off quite quickly. We learned that they had to move apartments as soon as they arrived as the electrics were faulty.
When we asked him about the evening dinner dress code and whether the men’s long trousers rule was observed he said that there were lots of blokes wearing shorts and he wore them on the first night, informing us that “He was a Yorkshire man” and he didn’t give a damn what others thought!” and we should be alright. All this was delivered in a five minute conversation, with his wife chipping in towards the end. We made our excuses and then promptly walked down to breakfast, followed by a stroll to the nearby shops where I managed to buy a pair of white of trousers, clearly ‘I wasn’t a Yorkshire man’ and therefore wasn’t going to prompt any unsavoury moments with the hotel staff.
By now the skies were clearing so we headed for the pool, which although not a large area has plenty of sun beds, albeit tightly packed. Most had umbrellas adjacent to them. We found a couple of beds close to the pool and we were soon making the most of the holiday sunshine. With the beds so close it was not easy to ignore your neighbours and I soon spotted that the two guys next to me were a bit too friendly with each other. I think the rubbing of suntan on each other and the smiles gave it away. As the hotel is an ‘adults only’ one, there was definitely an air of maturity around the place, with a few older families (mother, father, daughter and son-in-law) being a popular mix. The family in the next row were from the West Midlands, Birmingham in think, with their thick brummie accents a familiar sound in our family soon.
After a short while, the heat forced us into the pool, the temperature pleasant enough to want to make regular visits thereafter. Close to the pool were bars where you could help yourself to cold drinks, all part of the all-inclusive package, helping to make the whole experience very relaxing and easy going. Food was also in abundance, lunch in the form of a BBQ, being served from midday. Having had a large breakfast earlier in the morning, we didn’t go to the restaurant until later but were pleased with the choice, with cold meats, hot food and salad a well as the freshly cooked BBQ chicken.
For me food was always going to be challenging, knowing what I can and can’t eat, gluten-free wise. Whilst at home I can be pretty certain of the ingredients that make up the food I eat, being abroad isn’t quite as straightforward. At breakfast, the choices were extensive; cereals, fruit, yoghurt, pancakes, fried food so I kept to what I knew was safe by having some fruit followed by bacon, eggs and baked beans, not before asking the chef to check the catering tin for the ingredients. This constant requirement of having to ask someone whether the food is GF can be embarrassing, especially when the foreign waiter hasn’t got a clue what your talking about. Still I got through two meals unscathed, although Tina was dubious about whether the chocolate mousse I had for my lunch dessert was gluten-free. It was nice though:)
Just before lunch we had attended the obligatory ‘Welcome Meeting’ where we had to listen to the advice of the travel company, get the lowdown on the excursions and to tell us where to look for the information for travelling home (even though we’d only been there a day). Stephen was particularly amusing, delivering his talk on the ‘Drag Night Out’ in a very camp, albeit natural way. I suspect he might be one of the acts at night!
The remainder of the afternoon was made up of more sunbathing and swimming, with our untanned bodies slowly getting redder and redder. At around 5pm, we decided to go back to the room for a rest from the tiring day by the pool, with many of the other guests clearly doing the same judging by the number of empty beds by the pool.
After showering and inspecting our sunburn, we then made our way to our first dinner, with me wearing my newly acquired white linen trousers. The pair were large and baggy and not the type of clothing I would normally wear, but as needs must I put them on ensuring I would gain entrance to the dinning hall, and more importantly get some food. Just as we arrived, the obligatory photographer was waiting to pounce on us and so we has a few shots taken as a couple and individually, being informed that they would be ready for inspection in the morning.
And so to the meal.
We were shown to our table by the maitre d, who was obviously guarding the door to enforce the ‘gentlemen must wear trousers’ rule but was also there to offer help to newly arrived diners. He walked us through the restaurant before pointing to any of the tables saying we could sit where we liked. He then gave us a brief overview of the buffet choices but was completely lost when I enquired about the GF choices. He summonsed a chef, who also didn’t seem to know what I was asking. I nodded in agreement as he pointed to food I knew I couldn’t have, deciding I would have to make my own judgment based on my observations of the food on offer.
The starter was easy; plenty of choice of cold meats, cheese and salad but when it came to the main hot food that wasn’t so easy. Luckily, the chef who I inquired about the baked beans earlier in the morning was on hand and confirmed what I could and couldn’t have. As I spooned the beef stroganoff onto my place, another female guest asked me whether I was a coeliac, clearly overhearing the discussion I had had with the chef. I confirmed I was and she said she was too. We got chatting I soon discovered she had been diagnosed for 12 years, her twin sister was a celiac and her daughter was also diagnosed recently. She said the staff were very helpful, reiterating that the chef Antonio who helped me earlier was the best one to give advice on the food.
After dinner we found the piano bar and spent the remainder of the evening relaxing, enjoying the live music and drinking the rather strong – the bar men don’t seem too worried about measures – drinks.
The following night resulted in both Tina and I getting a better sleep, with Tina locating a blanket in the wardrobe to keep her warmer and my trouser problem resolved. We went down to breakfast, down being in the same location as the evening meal restaurant, where a much more relaxed dress code was being observed (shorts and t-shirts the main choice of garb).
I was a bit naughty in my choice of cereal, I went for cornflakes which almost certainly would be above the recommended dose if gluten, but I just couldn’t face another bowlful of fruit. This was followed up with a large plate filled with rashers of bacon, omelet, baked beans and tomato. Just as I was about to sit down a voice shouted across the room “is that gluten-free?” and I turned to see the celiac lady (at that stage I didn’t know her name) I had met the previous day. I confirmed it was before sitting down and polishing off the lot.
As we left the restaurant we stopped to purchase a photo that was taken the previous evening of Tina and I posing. We didn’t but the ‘extra’ ones the photographer took of us individually.
Once again the sun was late in burning through the morning clouds but the temperature was reasonable so we quickly went back to the room, did the ritual of sun creaming our bodies before making our way to the pool area.
This time we chose a different spot to sit and were pleased with the location, although I was a bit perturbed when a couple of Russian blokes sat next to us and promptly put their umbrella up, completely shading my bed. So inconsiderate! We remained at poolside until lunch, dipping in and out of the water to cool down, with plenty of soft drinks to keep us hydrated.
Lunch was taken outside the La Choza restaurant, the only area serving food during the day, with a good choice of hot and cold food. The rest of the afternoon was passed either listening to music, reading or in the pool.
Around 5pm we retired to the room and a little siesta after our tiring day.
After showering and changing, with me in my new trousers, we went to dinner and enjoyed another nice meal, the theme being Italian.
During the meal we discussed the holiday so far, with the trouser issue being the most disappointing rule. It seemed odd that men were not allowed to wear shorts, yet women were, and some women wore very short shorts! In Tina’s own words “it looks like they’ve come straight from the pool and been dragged through a hedge backwards!”
The other small criticism of the holiday was the main restaurant. Despite the staff’s best efforts it felt like a works canteen. I know it must be difficult to create a nice atmosphere when catering for so many people but a little more effort with the tables could have gone a long way – the arrangement of the tables was very regimented in straight lines. Very efficient for the waiters clearing the tables but not great for the guests who would like a quite, intimate dinner. I suppose their excuse would be that you can attend their one-off bookable ‘romantic’ dinner at the La Choza where you receive waitered service but on checking the menu it did really appeal and didn’t seem very gluten-free.
After dinner I went up to the suite to change my trousers into more comfortable and cooler shorts and we went for a walk, leaving from the 6th floor reception area and walking the short distance around to the seafront. The resort of Taurito is quite small with four main hotels, two each side of the steep cliff face. Our hotel is the closest to the sea, with the one directly opposite closed for renovation. This closure gives the resort an air of tiredness and lack of atmosphere, especially in the evening and whilst there are family activities in progress as we walked around the rest of the area seemed deserted. At the seafront we came across a number of feral cats, many of which were kittens but surprisingly all seemed well fed, probably getting the benefit if the all-inclusive food sneaked out by feline-loving guests.
We returned to the piano bar again but as no live music was playing we moved into the main entertainment area and watched a Spanish version of ‘Lord of the Dance’ which was quite entertaining.
We retired to bed once the show had finished exhausted from another tiring day 🙂 During the night I woke several times with a sore throat; I feared a cold had been on its way as I’d had one each morning since the Sunday before but nothing seemed to materialise.
Part 3 soon…