Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is one of those places everyone should visit at least once. I got my chance to go with some like-minded friends and we all had a fantastic time. I admit I was a little hesitant at the time because of the news reports of rioting in the streets over new employment laws. I’m glad to say that this did not affect our trip at all.

Liverpool John Lennon Airport

We made the most of the few days we all had off work and stayed overnight in a hotel near to Liverpool John Lennon Airport as we were catching an early morning flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle ( Paris CDG ). If you’re staying in a hotel near the airport, here’s a little tip for you :- Don’t eat in the hotel. Their prices for food and drink are extortionate and geared-up for the business traveller. There are quite a few really nice restaurants within a taxi-ride which would still cost you less in total than eating in the hotel. We found a pizzeria within a couple of hundred yards of the hotel that was very good.

Flight to Paris

After depositing the cars in secure parking within walking distance of the airport and an uneventful check-in, we headed for the departure lounge and gate. We were all a little bit worse-for-wear from the previous night so it was a quiet start to the morning.

The trip had it’s first hiccup in France. After landing in Paris and a minuscule bus transfer to the terminal ( about 200 metres – literally ), we had to wait over an hour for our bags because of “technical difficulties”. The joke was they lost the key to the hold. We were only going for 3 days but most of us checked our bags in at Liverpool because… well, it seemed easier, more sensible, etc. The 1 person who hadn’t checked her bag was quietly smug about it. Eventually, after some confusion over which carousel was working, we retrieved our luggage and made our way outside to the bus stop.

Coach Transfer – VEA Shuttle

A coach transfer is available with regular services between the airports and Disneyland hotels. It’s called the VEA Shuttle and there are signs for it as you leave the terminal. The bus itself is a big red thing with Disneyland Paris written all over it; you can’t miss it. About 40 minutes later we arrived at the hotel.

Sequoia Lodge Hotel

We stayed at the Sequoia Lodge which is massive, fairly comfortable and pretty much like any other 3-star hotel with very obvious influences from U.S. National Parks. The hotel itself is only a 10-minute walk from the Disneyland parks with it’s own health club and swimming pool, souvenir shop and restaurants. There is a schedule of activities for children, including meet-n-greet for Disney characters and an outdoor play area. Check-in took ages. The lobby was busy but it wasn’t a big queue of people waiting to be checked in. They do need to make that a little bit slicker. After getting our rooms sorted out and 10 minutes to freshen up, we headed for the theme parks.

Disney Village

The Disney Village is basically a street just outside the entrance to both parks and provides alternative entertainment. There are all kinds of shops, restaurants, bars, etc. including Planet Hollywood, a cinema and a disco. It is also home to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. With 2 performances a day, you should easily find time to see it and it is highly recommended. Sitting in a mini-stadium, the show tells Disney’s version of how the wild west was won. This is not why I recommend it. It’s for the magnificent animals in the show; there’s some nifty horsemanship as well as some amazing looking buffalo. The food is quite tasty too although basic and there are times when you can’t see what you’re eating. If you get into the spirit of the show – and it’s really difficult not to – you will enjoy it.

Disneyland

We grabbed some lunch in the village and decided on Disneyland first. Little known to us, one of our group was very nervous of roller coasters. It was fairly late in the day at the start of the week and fairly quiet so we opted for the biggest ride first – Space Mountain – Mission 2. Needless to say she screamed throughout the whole 90 seconds or so. As a result, we just had to go on it again and again and again and again. Every time we came out, there was a picture of her with her eyes shut and her mouth open. In all fairness, she was a really good sport about it. The other rides she didn’t really like included Big Thunder Mountain and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril with it’s concise 360 loop-the-loop.

It wasn’t too busy that afternoon/evening but it was a whole different story the next day. It was easy to get lost going from 1 place to another and we did. As a bunch of adults, you would think that we couldn’t get separated from each other but we managed that too. Luckily, we all had mobile phones with us to arrange somewhere to meet up again. For kids, it must be terrifying. The queues for the rides might be long at times – we saw waiting times of up to 75 minutes – but the way they’re designed, you always feel like you’re moving forward.

Walt Disney Studios

Walt Disney Studios is the 2nd theme park at Disneyland. We alternated between the two with the entrances so close to one another. You can buy a range of passes that will get you into either or both parks for any number of days.

Here we spent quite a lot of time going round and round on the Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Staring Aerosmith. The queue for the ride takes you past some rock memorabilia that’s worth taking a look at even without the ride. The ride itself is full-on adrenalin. 0 to 60mph in 3 seconds. WOW!

The other show that’s well worth seeing is the Stunt Show Spectacular. On the way in, you can see into the workshop where all the cars are being repaired. As the show progresses, it strings together some action sequences involving motorbikes, cars, ramps, fire, etc. to demonstrate how a film sequence can be brought together. Blink and you’ll miss something. If you’re looking to your left, you’re missing something happening on your right and vice verse. It’s action all the way.

Coming Home

After spending the last day being thrown from side to side under a harness and going upside down on Space Mountain and Indiana Jones again, it was time to come home. If you’re using the VEA Shuttle, check your return journey times. The Sequoia Lodge didn’t seem to know the times. It turned out not to be a problem as our return flight was also delayed due to more “technical difficulties”. Don’t you just love EasyJet. They remembered the keys to the hold this time and it was a doddle picking up our bags in Liverpool and collecting the car from secure parking.

All-in-all a trip well worth doing!

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Kefalos, Greece

Kefalos is a beautiful resort on the southern tip of Kos Island. To me, it is the smallest but not necessarily the quietest of the 3 main resorts on the island; the other 2 being Kos Town and Kardamena.

We stayed at the Antonis Hotel on a bed and breakfast basis. It’s a nice hotel at the western end of the resort; it’s a bit basic but comfy, with it’s own swimming pool. The quality and variety of surrounding facilities are very good. The only time we spent in the hotel was to sleep and eat breakfast. However, we did spend quite a bit of time by the pool too.

Kefalos boasts a 2km pebble beach which is just wonderful with tons of stuff going on. It’s the perfect spot for wind-surfing; every day we were there, there were surfers zipping up and down the coast. Obviously, some days were busier and/or better than others but they were always out there. There’s a number of places to go water-skiing. You can hire jet-skis or the more sedate pedalos.

I tried paracending for the first time while I was there. It was excellent! It’s really peaceful up there and, for me, it was the best way to have a look around the resort. Be warned though! If you get Georgis to take you, he’ll dunk you in the water on the way back down so don’t take any cameras, etc. up with you. Getting dunked isn’t really a problem because the water is so warm and you’ll dry off by the time you get back to shore.

NOTE: You should check your own travel insurance before doing any kind of water sports while on holiday. The organisation providing the water sports may be insured but I get the distinct impression that it’s insurance against being sued for compensation so heads up, people!

For other kinds of activities, it doesn’t seem to matter which tour company you go with. They can all provide you with tickets to numerous social events. From a traditional Greek Night with all sorts of food and free-flowing wine to a VERY blue comic who takes the mickey out of EVERYBODY; himself, the DJ Lance, all the people there and of course all the usual Irish, Scots, Welsh, American and battle of the sexes jokes. If you’re broad-minded then you’re missing out if you don’t see him. But, if you’re easily offended, give this guy a WIDE berth.