A Trip to Portugal

Posted on July 9, 2015

I went in to uncharted territory last week and booked a holiday for my youngest son, Harry and I. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had holidays before, quite a few of them actually, but I have never booked one before because if there is one thing I am good at, it is totally avoiding all responsibility.

You may chortle to yourselves but I bet all, or most of you men out there who live with a woman, generally avoid booking holidays and let them get on with it. This, and you know it, is through fear of vindictive reprisal if you end up in some half built hotel in the backstreet’s of a one horse town saying, “Come on love, it’s not so bad” as a drunken Scotsman in a Rangers shirt stumbles sideways in to your wife and kids who are now in tears.


In the last seven or eight years most of my holidays (apart from Turkey last year, booked by a woman) have been short breaks in European cities where without a woman, the common denominator has been my friend Peter Holcroft. Pete sees me as a project, someone he can take to foreign shores to see if he can get me there and back without losing my money, passport, phone and hotel room keys. Without Pete to follow, I know I will need biblical levels of concentration along with much assistance from Harry, whose capabilities remain untested.

So, last week, without Pete by my side, I decided to book a holiday by going on-line and typing in “Holidays Portugal” to see if there were any. There were quite a few, about forty five thousand in fact, all through third parties such as lastminute.com, booking.com, hotels.com and expedia.com.

How on earth was I supposed to pick the bones out of that lot…they all claimed to have the best deals?

I decided to go on Trip Advisor as I have written reviews on there before where I have tried to be fair and positive, when everyone else seems to just go on there to rant about some poor waiter who forgot to ask if sugar was required for their Latte or the fact that the beach was stony.  All over Trip Advisor there are sorry tales of First World Hell that make you start to wonder how pathetic we have become.

I don’t quite know how it all came about but whilst whittling through the all the websites, I kept coming across a hotel called Dom Jose in Quarteria which was apparently ideal as it was right on the beach front. The pictures of the hotel and beach looked pretty good, but let’s be honest, so does Oakridge in the sunshine…sort of.


The Dom Jose Hotel in Portugal

It all started getting a bit crazy after that, becoming a fifteen minute period of hedonistic consumerism where I found myself clicking ‘Yes’ buttons with gay abandon, doing little dance moves with my hands as I did so…it was all very exciting.

Before I knew it, I had my arm stretched out as far as possible so I could read the numbers on my credit card as I plugged in them in with one finger on the keyboard. I did this with my tongue stuck sideways out of my mouth as confirmation of the concentration this task requires when you are 47.

“Your holiday has been booked; you will be flying from Gatwick on Friday 10th July, returning to Luton on Friday 17th July.”


I had to backtrack all the way through the booking which was lucky really as the room was booked as a double rather than a twin, which, without the poor sod knowing, would have my son being labelled a rent boy and worse still…me as a Tory MP.

These holidays start cheap but with the change of flight times that suit the body clock of an average human, the booking of luggage, on-line checking in, and transport when you get there, it soon starts rocketing up. Oh and the parking at Gatwick as well…what a money spinner that is… £63:00 that nearly became £113:00 after I inadvertently pressed a button asking if I want a lounge pass, whatever that might be.

So with it all eventually booked, I have printed off boarding passes, itineraries and ground transport stuff, so I think we will be okay? I have also checked Trip Advisor again to see what to expect but I am beginning to wonder whether it is worth it and that we might as well just find out for ourselves.

According to the Trip Advisor comments, some people have never experienced such wonderful service whilst others hate everyone associated with the place and probably hate the rest of the world too.

Here is one review from a chap I hope to meet, if only to ask where he was taught English.

“I was on holiday and the restaurant is not so good and the food were terrible nothing like full English breakfast like in England.it only very limit. I been ask for poach egg as i have to pay for it which I refuse to pay because the money I paid is including for everything.”

On a more positive note:

If all you want is to lay back ,relax and enjoy winding down in beautiful surroundings then this hotel and resort are perfect . Stayed here 1 week in June , the hotel is situated right on the beach (had a sea view room) waking up every morning to the gentle sound of the waves is worth the money alone.

I don’t know why, but I am leaning towards the person who wrote the second one and the hotel has 465 ‘Excellent’ ratings compared to 9 ‘Terrible’ ones, so I am going to go with that and hope the figures stack up correctly, rather than discovering the owner has 465 close relatives in and around Quarteria…it is a Catholic country after all.

All we can wish is that we don’t meet this couple…

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