In 2005 I went on a Spanish Exchange with RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind). It was the first time I had been away from home and met other visually impaired people. So, it was an amazing experience in many ways for me. Even though they did forget me at the airport, as they thought I could see enough to follow! We first went to Alicante and spent a week there. I met some great Spanish people and some good English ones too. A couple of months later they came to England and we spent a week in Hastings where it rained everyday without fail even though it was July!
After the exchange I kept in touch with most people via MSN. After being nagged for 3 years to go and visit the Spanish I finally organised to meet up with Paula in her home town of Torrevieja for 4 nights with my Jack.
Here's how it went…
Thursday 11th September:
Probably not the wisest thing to travel on 9/11, but I honestly didn't think about it at the time of booking. The flight with Easy Jet was at 07:05am, so we got a taxi at 5am. I had pre-booked the assistance online, but was still a little nervous that things wouldn't run smoothly.
The taxi was early and we arrived at the airport in good time. I felt really tired, but excited to be heading for the sun. The assistance was fine although I did have to force them to allow us to grab some breakfast for the plane. The flight was on time and Paula and her mum met us at the airport.
It was strange seeing Paula again after such a long time. She seemed exactly the same. Her usual bubbly self. Paula has Nystagmus and is photophobic too.
We got to the hotel called Torre Joven and I wasn't impressed when they put us on the second floor. I had specifically asked for the ground floor just because it's easier for Jack and me. However, they obviously thought they were being disabled friendly, as we got a wheelchair accessible room.
It was lunchtime now and my belly was grumbling. Jack and I went for a wander to find food. Jack really struggled to see in the sun and guide me at the same time, but I gripped a symbol cane in hope that people would be considerate. We eventually found a nice café and I stole Jack's cheese burger, as it was a lot nicer than my cheesy chips!
Paula came back to the hotel and took us to where she lived. We went for a walk by the beach and got ice-cream. The ice-cream was gorgeous, but I've never made such a mess in my life! It melted before I could even have a lick. It was very funny though.
Next, Paula suggested that we went and smoked. Not drugs although I wasn't convinced. In England I believe its called shisha or hooker. According to Paula it was just flavoured water. We got vanilla to share and it was an interesting experience. We all choked when we inhaled and it left a funny taste on my tongue. Let's say I won't be rushing to do it again anytime soon!
The hotel was predominately Spanish people and their English was minimal. Jack and I needed help with the buffet and I gave up trying to explain in English and just said 'ciego', which means blind in Spanish. Then for some reason they assumed that I understood Spanish!
Friday 12th September:
The weather was beautiful and we had arranged for Paula to come to our hotel and relax by the pool with us. Paula was catching the bus and arrived over an hour late and then told us she could only stop an hour. This was a shame, but we still enjoyed playing uno. The pool was too cold to go in unfortunately.
In the afternoon we were going to a complex where they had bowling and an arcade etc. Paula told us that she will get on the bus to our hotel and we would meet her on the bus to go to the place. After waiting at the bus stop for half an hour Paula called and told us just to get on the bus and she would call us when we needed to get off.
The bus eventually came and after an hour we were wondering when we would get there. Time passed on and half an hour later I attempted to speak to the bus driver. Thankfully a Spanish woman got on the bus who could speak some English to give us a helping hand. We must have gone past the stop and the Spanish lady spoke to Paula on the phone. Once we had established where we needed to get off the driver told us. Just over 2hours on the bus we made it! I was quite annoyed, but I think Paula felt guilty enough.
We then walked to the complex and had a game of bowling. Of course Jack won and I came second, but I could have done better. Then I sat on the side and Jack and Paula had a game of pool.
Whilst sitting in darkness I did feel a bit left out, but what can you do. There was no point getting depressed about it, as I was on holiday and just wanted to have a good time.
Saturday 13th September:
Paula took us shopping and I really enjoyed myself. I bought 4 tops and on reflection wish I had bought more! Jack got a bit bored, as he decided he didn't want anything. Men will be men!
We had lunch at Paula's and her mum made a lush dinner. The Spanish omelette was perfect and the beef in sauce with mushrooms was nice too.
We then went for a chocolate milkshake and Jack and I had cream on the top of ours. Oh my god it was like heaven! I've never tasted such a good milkshake in my life!
That night Jack won 40euros on the gambling machine in the hotel, which he was chuffed about.
Sunday 14th September:
I wasn't feeling well at all and had a sore throat and felt really bunged up. After breakfast Jack and I fell asleep until 1pm! I was ill he was just being lazy! I wanted to watch the grand prix at 2pm, so we rushed for lunch to get back in time.
I watched all of the grand prix, but didn't understand a word of it! Jack said the TV picture was fuzzy, so he couldn't read who was in what position. I kept hearing 'Fernando' and 'Alonso', but at the end of the race hadn’t a clue who won!
We then jumped in to a taxi and went to Paula's for the last time. We wanted to go for pancakes, but everything was closed, as it was Sunday! Instead we went for another milkshake, but although it was the same place it was in a different area and they didn't make it the same. So, I stole Jack's brownies in ice-cream. Which satisfied me!
We sat on the beach for a while and listened to the waves, which was very soothing. I absorbed the final rays of sun and dreaded coming back to freezing England!
Monday 15th September;
Paula and her dad picked us up from the hotel at 8am to go to the airport. It was a quiet journey there and I can't remember if I fell asleep on the way. Paula and her dad checked us in and then the assistance came. We said our goodbyes and went on our way.
The flight was on time and Jack was going to watch Tottenham that night so needed to get back to London straight away from east Midlands. As soon as I got home I watched the grand prix in English!
Overall it was a nice holiday. It was great to see Paula again and she made the holiday enjoyable. I ordered flowers last night to say thank you, but I'm not convinced that they will get there! The address is complicated compared to us!