Javea- an ideal spot for an accessible beach holiday

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Written by Mark. Part of the tripility team.

Javea is a popular tourist spot in the Costa Blanca, we visited last year on our holidays and we were impressed by its accessibility but also as a holiday destination. Here we will give you the low down with what we found.

This review is being done from the point of view of a companion, I was pushing Debs who was using manual wheelchair.

Xàbia/Jávea

Xàbia/Jávea is located in the Costa Blanca in the Alicante region of Spain. Javea is made up of the old town, the picturesque port and the sandy El Arenal beach. It is approximately 40 miles away from Benidorm which means transport links are pretty good. It is in easy reach from Valencia or Alicante airports. To travel to Javea from the airport car hire is recommended, although travelling by coach and bus is also a possibility. Javea is mostly serviced by apartments and villas rather than hotels, the largest hotel being Hotel Parador situated at the northern end of the promenade at El Arenal beach.

El Arenal

El Arinal prominade
El Arenal prominade

We stayed in the El Arenal area at the Golden Beach apartments which were 5 minutes walk away from the beach. The El Arenal area was well suited to wheelchair users due to the wide and flat promenade which gives great access to bars and restaurants. Playa El Arenal is a long sandy beach with wheelchair access via a boardwalk. In the summer months wheelchair accessible toilets are available on the beach.  

Accessible beach boardwalk and disabled toilets on the beach
Accessible beach boardwalk and disabled toilets on the beach

El Arenal was well serviced with a great variety of bars and restaurants which we used throughout the holidays; the majority of these had ramps into the facilities and the hosts were always helpful. Access to seating was quite straight forward but we had the flexibility of Debs being able to walk small distances if necessary, there was seating directly off the promenade so powered wheelchairs should manage. It was noted on a few occasions how many wheelchair users there were so it wasn’t only us who had heard good things about the place! There were plenty of bars and restaurants at night to keep us entertained and there was always a lively and friendly atmosphere, even visitors not looking for good access would find this a good holiday destination. Those requiring a gluten free diet may struggle, Hotel Parador offers gluten free food on the menu but we didn’t see other restaurants displaying this information. Often restaurants can be quite helpful in this respect so it is always a good idea to take a gluten free travel card to inform them of your requirements.

The easy access in this location makes Javea a great location for anyone looking for a hassle free holiday without worrying too much about access to the facilities.  Walking away from the the beach we found that in most parts footpaths were in good order although some of the dropped kerbs could be improved.

We headed on to the beach on a couple of occasions to sun ourselves (the vampires from Twilight have nothing on our white pasty skin), there was always plenty of space and the boardwalk made it easier to get to the parasols when required. The accessible toilets were generally in good order and pretty clean. The sea was shallow and steadily increased in depth so bathing was never difficult.

Debs enjoying Arinal beach
Debs enjoying Arenal beach

Port

We visited the port on a couple of nights which had a more relaxed atmosphere, it did get slightly more crowded on the promenade here as it was narrower. There was a good choice of bars and restaurants here too, we only stayed for drinks but access was again very easy and we had plenty of room for maneuver with the wheelchair.  Powered wheelchair users may have more difficulty here, so if you have been here please give us your feedback.

Old Town

Javea also has an Old Town, now I have to say, we didn’t actually visit the Old Town mainly down to the fear of cobbles and narrow and most likely crowded streets. This may not actually be the case so please tell us about your experiences via the community pages or with a review when the site is up and running.

Apartment

Golden Beach apartments garden and pool
Golden Beach apartments garden and pool

We stayed at the Golden Beach apartments, this was a relatively modern block set approximately 5 minutes walk from the beach. We organised the trip via holidaylettings.co.uk and collected the keys from a lettings agent close to Arenal beach. Underground parking was provided and there was a lift up to the apartment, lighting wasn’t especially good in the car park and those with poor sight may struggle to see. The lift up to the apartment was also quite small and would not allow a wheelchair turn to be completed in it, there was a mirror to aid with reversing out.

Underground car park
Underground car park

Inside the apartment were two bedrooms, one with an on-suite bathroom and a second with a shared bathroom.  There was a living/dining area and a separate kitchen, outside to the rear was a patio area and to the front a set of five steps led from the kitchen into a small garden which joined onto the communal pool area.  The apartment we stayed in did not have ramped access to the garden and pool but apartments to the opposite side did. The apartment was not adapted for wheelchairs so it was mainly suited for those who can walk small distances without use of a chair. One note of caution was the pedestrian entrance to the complex, there was a steep slope from the gated entrance that required some effort being pushed up, other people may struggle unless there is a companion to help.

Steep slope from the gated entrance into the complex
Steep slope from the gated entrance into the complex
Five steps from the kitchen to the garden and pool
Steps from the kitchen

We’d love to hear your experiences from here or any other holiday destination so please get involved with the community or write a review of the destination and accommodation you stayed in when the site is up and running!

Thanks,

Mark

Tripility team

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Electric bikes-a chance at more freedom? Part two.

Our blog is now on our main site, here is an excerpt from this post. Please go to tripility to read the rest!

Written by Debs; part of the tripility team.

So, you will all be pleased to know; I survived the bike! Hoorah! That’s the first thing to report, secondly; I think I may be an electric bike convert.

It.is.amazing!

The Big Bear arrived safely last week and was perched in the garage awaiting the big outing at the weekend. My family were staying and we decided to have a jaunt out on our bikes in celebration of the fact that I can now join in…sort of. The day before everyone arrived, Mark and I decided to head out to give me a little bit of practice. We drove to a forest in our local area where it would be quiet, in order to give me space to fall flat on my face (gracefully of course). The Big Bear (the name of the bike) is VERY heavy and VERY big so fitting it in the car was not easy; I decided my skills would be best used in a more advisory role for this part of our trip! So, one slightly scratched car later, Mark had managed to maneuver the bike and we were off. My bike works using both pedal assist and a throttle, I decided to use the throttle so I could focus on balancing on the bike for my first trip. It was ace…and terrifying but  for the first time in many years, I was cycling again! In all I cycled 2.4 miles, I felt pretty proud of my little self, no Tour de France quite yet, but hey, it is a start (although I’m not sure how well an electric bike would go down in a race…). Please go to tripility to read the rest of this post!

Debs on the Big Bear by Woosh
Proving that I did actually try the bike out…

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Gluten-Free Travel: Taking a Cruise across the Mediterranean Sea – Celiac.com

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

In September 2013, I found out that if I want to be healthy, I have to eat a strict gluten-free diet. Not only that, but I also have to avoid corn, casein, beef, chicken, shrimp, garlic, yeast, grapes, cantaloupe, and cauliflower. When I go to a restaurant, my diet restrictions eliminate almost everything on the menu. Because of the lack of options and my fear of cross-contamination, I have not been to any restaurant since my diagnosis except for dedicated gluten-free restaurants. But eating at home every day for the rest of my life cannot be the answer. I will not let gluten rule my life and turn me into a hermit. Traveling is one of my biggest passions and if food is my only obstacle to living my passion, I will face my fear of cross-contamination, find solutions, and overcome this obstacle one bite at a time.

Sandwich meat bar and meat-cutting machine at the restaurant Bella Donna

Of course, my first gluten-free vacation won’t be a trekking trip across the Himalayas although this is still on my bucket list. No, for my first gluten-free vacation I have chosen a less challenging trip. I have decided to go on a seven-day Mediterranean cruise on board the Aida Sol. Aida assures, on their website, that allergy sufferers can find and enjoy a variety of delicious allergen-free (especially gluten-free and lactose-free) food aboard their cruise ships. Additionally, you can meet with the head chef for 30 minutes to discuss your diet options for the week, and there is always a chef available for questions. It all sounds so promising, but is it really as wonderful as Aida claims? Is the food aboard the Aida Sol really safe for someone with celiac disease? I’m ready to find out.

Day 1
It is late in the afternoon and we are finally at the check-in desk. I am getting hungrier and more nervous by the minute. When I ask the receptionist how I can schedule my private session with the chef, he tells me to just go to one of the buffets and ask for one of the chefs. That should be easy, but I’m still nervous. This is the first time since my diagnosis that I will be eating at a regular restaurant. What if I get sick tonight? What would I eat for the rest of my trip?

When we arrive at the Bella Donna Restaurant, one of the buffets on the Aida Sol, a welcoming chef gives me a tour of the buffet. He doesn’t take the time to sit down with me, but he shows me around; he points out the labels right above every dish which say whether the food is gluten-free, lactose-free, and/or vegetarian. What a relief! I immediately see several dishes that I believe I can eat. After a quick tour of the buffet, I take a plate and start grabbing more and more … meat. Yes, most of the gluten-free and lactose-free options are meat and my plate is packed with it except for a few veggies on the side. Ironically, I have never been a big meat eater until now. In fact, before I went gluten-free, I was a pescetarian. The only reason I decided to eat meat again was because I was eating as much as I could but kept losing weight. By the time of my diagnosis I was no more than 106 lb. 

I’m feeling wonderful. I’m at a regular restaurant and I’m enjoying my food like everybody else. Not only can I eat as much as I want, but I also have multiple choices … until we get to the dessert. I’m walking from one dessert to the next. None of the labels says gluten-free. I’m slightly disappointed. But let’s try the fruit bar! And what an amazing fruit bar it is! Besides apples and oranges, I see mangoes, kiwis, papayas, pineapples, purple & green passion fruits, persimmons, dragon fruits, cape gooseberries, and coconuts. I don’t think I’ll go hungry this week. What a relief!

Day 2 
First day at sea, I made it through the first night without getting sick! I’m incredibly happy. The sun is shining through the window. The balcony door is open. I can hear the waves. What a perfect morning! Until I get up. Wow! The motion of the sea is stronger than I expected. I was feeling great, but now I’m not. I feel sick. Seasick. No breakfast for me.

Day 3
We’ve reached Tunisia, but before I explore the cities Tunis and Sidi Bou Said, I need to eat as much breakfast as I can since I’m not sure if I’ll be back in time for lunch and I’m too scared to try a Tunisian restaurant. This is my first breakfast on board. I’m walking around the buffet, trying to find something gluten and casein-free, but none of the dishes have labels. I’m feeling a little lost. I’ve already gotten used to those labels so much so that without them I immediately expect the food to be unsafe. I’m staring at the food, but I’m afraid to touch it. Where is the chef? 

When I ask the chef about what’s gluten-free, he doesn’t seem as well prepared as the first night. Maybe it is because of the lack of labels. When I ask him about the deli meat, he tells me that it is not prepared on board the ship, so he can’t tell me whether it is gluten-free or not. Why not? Why does the chef of a large cruise ship, which claims to be prepared for guests with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, not know whether the food he’s offering is gluten free? That’s not what Aida advertises on their website. I begin to realize that the staff, including the chefs, is not as well educated when it comes to celiac disease and gluten as I had hoped, which becomes even more obvious when the chef suggests that I could probably eat the ham. I’m standing in front of the deli counter, staring at the ham and then the meat-cutting machine. Wait a minute! That meat-cutting machine, is it used for all the deli meats? I begin to hear the word “cross-contamination” ringing in my ear; it’s slowly taking over my mind. I feel a bit of fear rising in my body. My trust in the chefs and kitchen staff begins to crumble. I will need to be more careful from now on and watch out for cross-contamination. 

Day 4
We are in La Valette, Malta. The weather has been a mix of rain and sunshine, but the city is so beautiful that no rain can cloud its beauty. I’m running around the city, trying to see as much of it as possible before I rush back to the ship to grab some lunch before the buffet closes. The restaurant I usually choose is already closed and I have to try the Markt Restaurant. Usually both of these buffets offer lots of gluten-free options, but not this time. Twice, I walk from dish to dish, trying to find something I can eat. It’s not that there aren’t any gluten-free options, but the number is so small that my other food intolerances make it impossible for me to find any food. I end up eating some fruits and a salad that has garlic in it which makes my stomach hurt. This is the first time I leave the restaurant hungry, and I’m hoping that it will be the last.

Day 5
We spent the day in Palermo, Sicily, and are now ready for dinner. As usual, the dinner food is delicious. Every night my plate is packed with meat, vegetables, and fruits. So far, I can say that I haven’t been glutened, but I’ve been noticing other places of cross-contamination. Tonight, for example, you can get gluten-free pasta sauce but not gluten-free pasta. In fact, the gluten-free pasta sauce is right next to the wheat pasta. Not just that, but a few of the wheat noodles have already fallen into the pasta sauce. I will certainly not eat the sauce. 

Day 6
My breakfast is the same as it was yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that: bacon and eggs. Every single day I’ve been eating bacon and eggs for breakfast. Lots of bacon and eggs! At least half of my plate is packed with bacon while the other half is packed with eggs. I can feel people’s eyes on the back of my neck wondering why I’m eating so much bacon and eggs. Well, it’s pretty much the only thing I can eat for breakfast. 

I’m slowly getting tired of all the meat, and I wish I had other options, but my body feels fine. I am still watching out for cross-contaminated food. Tonight, for instance, I’m avoiding the cut fruits from the fruit bar because the kitchen staff that is cutting the fruits is also preparing the Kaiserschmarrn (a cut-up sugared pancake with raisins) in the same work area. Even though the staff members are wearing gloves, they haven’t been changing them before handling the fruits. It becomes more and more obvious that the kitchen staff is not well informed when it comes to gluten and cross-contamination. 

Day 7
Last destination: Barcelona. I have heard of the city’s numerous gluten-free dining options, but while I’m exploring the city, it feels like I’m only seeing bakeries filled with pastries made out of wheat. This entire cruise I didn’t eat any pasta, bread, cookies, or chocolate, and I’m craving it, oh, I’m craving it! Even though I don’t eat much of it anymore, it feels like I’m actually addicted to it. I’m not sure whether it’s the flour or the sugar, but it’s getting harder and harder to bear those cookies and cakes behind the shop windows. I’m trying to distract myself from what I’m seeing, which works until I walk into my room. When I open the door, I see a plate with a big piece of cake lying on my bed. Is this a joke? If it is, it’s not a good one. Where does this cake come from? My father is smiling at me. He tells me that he was in the restaurant for coffee and cake and heard someone request a piece of gluten-free cake from the kitchen, so he ordered one for me. I can’t believe it! They had gluten-free cake the entire week and I didn’t know! The chef never mentioned it. I decide to eat the cake as a special dessert after dinner. 

One of the Fruit bars at the Markt Restaurant

Day 8

Last night was a nightmare. I had cramps that kept me awake the whole night, and I had numbness in my fingers. Until today I was convinced that the numbness in my fingers was caused by gluten, but the cake was gluten-free, so was there maybe corn in it? I’m confused. 

In the afternoon, I decide to go see one of the kitchen chefs to ask him about the ingredients in the gluten-free cake. I want to know whether there was corn in it or not. The chef is very accommodating and immediately goes into the kitchen to check the ingredients on the box. When he comes back, he tells me that there is no corn in the cake but that there is a little bit of wheat in it. What? There’s wheat in the gluten-free cake. How can that be? How can it be gluten-free when there is a little bit of wheat in it? He tells me that it says gluten-free on the box. He believes that it must be just traces of wheat. Right! Traces of wheat! That’s enough to make me sick. So, the numbness in my fingers last night was actually caused by gluten. 

Departure
After my talk with the chef, it’s time for our departure. It was a great vacation, but I’m ready to get back home, especially since my trust in the kitchen chefs has been damaged too much by this last incident. Overall, Aida Sol did not deliver as well as promised on their gluten-free commitment. Yes, Aida offers various delicious gluten-free dishes on board their ships so that no one needs to go hungry; however, because of the chefs’ and staff members’ insufficient knowledge of celiac disease and of the risks of cross-contamination, I can’t declare the gluten-free food options on board Aida Sol to be safe. My advice to gluten-free travelers is to remain careful even when it says gluten-free. Always ask for the ingredients, especially of those foods that are not prepared on board the ship. 

Despite their ignorance of cross-contamination, I value Aida for trying to be accommodating to allergy sufferers. There are not many hotels and restaurants that are as accommodating as Aida, but I would appreciate even more if Aida had better informed staff that is more aware of the risks of cross-contamination. It’s of no use to allergy sufferers if the great gluten-free food that is offered on board the ships gets contaminated because of ignorant kitchen staff. Furthermore, there should be at least one chef in each restaurant that is familiar with the ingredients of the foods that are not prepared on board the ship. I only got sick once at the end of my time on  the Aida Sol, but I am not sure if it was pure luck that it happened not more than once.

via Gluten-Free Travel: Taking a Cruise across the Mediterranean Sea – Celiac.com.

I know you’re trying to be nice…

Scope's Blog

Guest post by Amanda from Stockport, whose six-year-old daughter Lucia has cerebral palsy. Here she talks about how people’s attitudes can make life awkward for her family.

Amanda and her husband Anthony with Lucia, Georgia and Roman Amanda and her husband Anthony with Lucia, Georgia and Roman

The moment other parents hear that Lucia has cerebral palsy, we have to deal with their preconceptions about what disabled people are like. We get people talking loudly and slowly, and people saying ‘What’s wrong with her?’ The answer is that nothing is wrong with Lucia. She just has cerebral palsy, and sometimes uses a wheelchair to get around. ‘Lucia’s wobbly legs’, as our other two children, Roman and Georgia, describe it! You get almost pitying looks from other parents – and you know, I wouldn’t change Lucia for the world.

Support online

I joined Scope’s online forum soon after Lucia was diagnosed, and it has been brilliant. Sometimes, when Lucia is ill or tired, we do feel…

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Electric bikes – a chance at more freedom? Part one

Our blog is now on our main site, here is an excerpt from this post. Please go to tripility to read the rest!

Written by Debs; part of the tripility team.

DSC07983~2~2~2

So, what do you do if you have a disability, do not possess the amazing arm strength of a paralympian and want to ride a bike??? You buy an electric bike of course!

The world of electric bikes has only recently become one that I have paid any sort of attention to. It all started a few weeks ago, when my lovely sister came to stay. Living on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, the only obvious thing to do on the first (and maybe only) day of sunshine of the year, is to brush the rust off the bikes and head out into the countryside.  Given that I haven’t quite mastered walking yet, bike riding was definitely not an option for me. So I was left feeling slightly depressed painting my nails at home. On their return, all  muddy and in a state of collapse, I mentioned my desire to be able to join in with these activities (I say mention, let’s face it, it was more like I bemoaned my lot) and Mark hit upon an ingenious  plan; thus, the world of electric bikes was opened up to me. Read the rest at our main site tripility!

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Tripility – what we’re about

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Written by Mark; part of the tripility team

The idea for tripility arose around five years ago when looking at holidays abroad, the issue being that my girlfriend has to use a wheelchair for most journeys other than for short walks of 50 metres or less. We wanted to book accommodation via the normal online routes and travel agents but there was limited information on what was suitable for my girlfriend’s needs. There are always speciality lodgings available but why should we be restricted to those? That’s when the idea of tripility came about; we decided that there should be a user focused site that offers reviews of holiday accommodation and destinations in the UK and abroad. Whilst the site originally centred solely  on access for those with disabilities, we decided it could also benefit people who have specific dietary requirements or families with young children who require access information too. The site has been in development for the last year and will soon be launching so we thought it was about time to generate some interest and start building a community with people who have the same interests as us. We also want feedback on the site when it is launched as we know it will not be perfect from the start, so please get in touch via our site or on this blog and other social media sites if you have any helpful suggestions to give us a push in the right direction. We will be looking for bloggers who would like to a guest post on the site, so if you have useful insights into holidaying in the UK or abroad then please get in touch!

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