Finally we arrived in The Gambia & it was cloudy! Cloudy how dare it, for goodness sake we’d travelled all that way for sun & got blinking cloud! Ok it was warm & very clammy but still it was CLOUDY, I needed to see the sun!!!
The coach eventually set off, we were really lucky & our cases were about the 4th off the plane so we got out the airport really quickly, it was just everyone else that seemed to take ages to get through.
Our rep on the coach was very friendly & very informative about the area & what to expect.
There is a lot of development going on in the area especially by a company called TAF who are building lots of houses that the rep told us were about £90k & they look really nice.
The area we were in was called Brufut Heights & is a new development & still evolving, the main shopping strip didn’t contain many shops but i’m sure for the locals it was great having things so much more accessible.
It’s great here as there is no time difference it’s the same a England …… GMT nope it doesn’t mean Grenwich Mean Time ……… it’s Gambian MAYBE Time! Ok so the next week the clocks went forward in the UK but didn’t in Gambia.
The drive to the hotel took about 20-30 minutes & the 1st site that greated us as we set off was a herd of cows just ambling across the road without a care in the world, not surprisingly the cars & coaches stopped for them!
We eventually arrived at the hotel & liked what we saw. The Sheraton is a massive brand & this is actually a 5* hotel, but you have to remember it’s a third world country & not to expect 5*, we’d certainly give it a 3*+. It now appears that on Thomas Cook’s website it’s been downgraded to a 4* by them.
Wifi is available at the hotel but it’s not cheap, a couple who did pay for 24hrs access only managed to get online for 20mins & it never worked again after that. They should offer free wifi in the reception area, which most hotels do & only charge for use in your room. I guess we’re spoiled with going to Estonia & having free wifi wherever you are in the town!
The hotel was billed as I said as a 5* but having just re-read the hotel & it’s amenities it certainly doesn’t sound like the same hotel we stayed at! The daily activities amounted to water aerobics, which we actually didn’t find out about till 4 days into our holiday, only 3 times during the 2 weeks did anyone even come round & 1 day we were in the pool for 25 mins before someone even came out to do the session!
There was evidence of volley ball & water polo but nothing was ever done with the equipment.
The hotel really needs to up-date their website as there are a lot of differences in what they state on there & what is actually available when you get there.
We couldn’t fault the staff as they were all really friendly, with the odd exception who made you feel slightly uncomfortable & everything was too much trouble. Even a smile was out of the question.
The food left a lot to be desired & the hottest things we ate were the omelets in the morning & the burgers we paid for on the last night. It was very repetitive & mainly of low quality, the food was mainly cold/Lukewarm, i’m not a fan of cold roast potatoes, rice, mashed potatoes & vegetables, the meat was chicken, beef or fish everyday, most times it took a lot of chewing to eat the meat, yet the 2 day’s we had pork it was cooked to perfection. (which is odd as this is the hardest meat to cook & not dry it out!)
The greeters in the restaurant were quite rude when we arrived most nights insinuating that Ian didn’t need to eat anymore as it looked like he’d already eaten! One of the girls also took a shine to my shoes & wanted them from me there & then which I refused & said i’d think about it, but didn’t let her have them as they were new & so comfortable! Ian only gave 1 England shirt away to a lovely barman who took a shine to it & as he was out growing it he handed it over, telling the barman he’d need to wash it!
I had let the hotel know via email & also Thomas Cook had told them that it was our wedding anniversary the day we arrived but nothing was said about it, not even a flower in the room! Also it’s the 1st hotel we’ve stayed in on AI that when it’s someone’s birthday they charged for the cake!
Sadly the day before we left there seemed to be a shortage of staff & we were told that a lot had been laid off once the restaurant/bar manager returned from his 9 day break. Once he’d returned the staff didn’t seem to enjoy themselves with the guests as much as they had!
We got locked out of our room after 6 days & then again 3 day’s later & ended up with 3 room keys!
It may only be a franchise of the Sheraton brand but they could do real harm to the brand name if they don’t sort themselves out.
After checking in we were taken to our room 7015 which was lovely & the view is amazing, we can lie in bed & look directly out to the ocean, not that we did but it’s nice to know it’s there if we want to!
I will admit we dumped the bags & headed to the bar for a refreshing beer, well Ian did I started off on lemonade then went on to the vodka & oj once i’d rehydrated! We got chatting to a lovely mother & daughter but it did get a bit worrying when we said there was a donkey on the beach & Barbara (the mum) turned & said “there’s a donkey in the boat”? Oh dear now this could be fun! It ended up as a standing joke between us & also “bumble bee cream” (you’ll find out about that in the next post!)
We sat for a bit before making our way back to start the unpacking, how come it takes far longer to unpack than it does to pack??? Oh no there had been a leak, a leak of about 200ml of suntan lotion to be exact! Nice, oddly though most of it was on Ian’s clothes! Bring on the 1st lot of washing! The shower was huge, but the power wasn’t great in it & on full pelt & heat it was still only just warm.
Washing done & showers completed, oh boy it felt nice to be clean again, how on earth does sitting on a plane & in a coach make you feel so dirty?
We headed down to the Balafon restaurant on the ground floor for our buffet meal & although it was nice, the food wasn’t overly warm, I think my rose wine was warmer than the food ………. you may see a lot of reference to alcohol whilst were away but come on were on holiday & it’s All Inclusive!
A pleasent evening was spent in the bar quietly reading ( a good holiday is measured by the amount of books we read ….. the total will be revealed at the end!) , well as quiet as you can get when you’ve got a couple from London constantly saying “Shat App” all the time & a couple of Geordies copying them, let me add they had been in the bar for a long time & had been drinking for hours!! Late nights wont be a problem here as the bar shuts at 11pm!
More pictures can be found here.