Monday, 19 May 2008 12:00 AM
Even some rain in usually sunny Spain did didn't affect our fun stay at the PortAventura resort, where my husband, Graham, two daughters (Amber aged 14 and Hannah aged ten) and I spent two days last weekend.
On Friday evening, despite the lateness of the hour and the rain, the girls decided that, when in Spain, do as the Spanish do, so they promptly jumped into one of the two swimming pools at the Hotel PortAventura. Our room overlooked the pool so we were able to watch them without getting wet.
After a long day travelling, a reserved table at the La Cascada Mediterranean restaurant was just what we all needed. It is a mainly seafood restaurant although, with typical Spanish hospitality, they were happy to accommodate children's menus.
So it was spaghetti for Hannah while Amber, who has a slightly more developed palate, opted for lamb. Crunchy prawn skewers with a honey orange sauce filled the gap for the grown-ups while we waited for our sole wraps - delicious!
PortAventura is a complex made up of three hotels - the Hotel PortAventura, the Hotel Caribe and the Hotel El Paso, each decorated with a different theme.
Situated just an hour from Barcelona on the Costa Daurada and within easy reach of the ancient towns of Salou, Cambrils and Tarragona, there is more than enough to do for a week or two, even if you don't want to upset your stomach each day on the rollercoasters.
Thick curtains and comfy beds ensured we slept through the rain on Saturday morning, so after a late (and enormous) breakfast of fresh fruit, cold meats, cooked eggs and pastries we dashed off to the adjoining theme park.
Having reconciled ourselves to the fact we would get soaked, we took advantage of all that PortAventura had to offer, although Graham, who has a bit of a fetish for rollercoasters, was disappointed to find that none were running that day. However he more than made up for it the following day when the weather improved.
Hannah loved the Grand Canyon Rapids - needless to say, we did that ride more than once! And we did the archetypal tea-cup ride.
One thing that I can highly recommend is the Express Pass, which gives you access to some ten rides without having to queue - on a summer's day, I'm sure it would be even more useful.
Wet but still having fun, we bolted into Emma's House for lunch - it was packed with visitors with a similar idea but we were made to feel welcome and a few fillet steaks and hamburgers later, we felt refreshed.
After lunch we retreated to our hotel room for a warm shower and an afternoon sleep.
Dinner that evening was at Lumine Restaurant, which the website proclaims offers lunches and dinners that are unforgettable. And so it proved - magnificent views of the Mediterranean, superb service, cuisine that was out of this world . Not really a child-friendly eatery in terms of the food but even my unsophisticated daughters learnt to expand their palates (again) - Amber now loves lobster while Hannah declared that beef Carpaccio is similar to biltong, a dried meat from her native South Africa.
Superb Alba wine was accompanied by the six-course feast laid on - three appetisers, the carpaccio, a lobster, egg and potato salad, a choice of either hake or lamb, a pineapple sorbet with pina calada, and a crÃ¨me brulee mouse ensured we felt as though we never needed to eat again. Utter bliss that will be hard pressed to be repeated.
"Sun!" we all shouted simultaneously, as we opened the curtains on Sunday morning.
Dashing through our breakfast, we headed straight back to the theme park, knowing our transfer to the airport was at 15:00 that afternoon, so time was short.
The amazing Dragon Khan roller coaster was first on the agenda for Graham and Amber, while Hannah and I went back to the Rapids! There was also a smaller rollercoaster which satisfied Hannah's unadventurous spirit and we also "did" the Sea Odyssey, which wasn't as scary as it first appeared to be.
Unfortunately, time ran away with us and we simply didn't have time to do any more than have a quick dip in the hotel swimming pool before packing for our return flight.
As a family holiday destination, PortAventura resort offers it all - fun days in the theme park, great accommodation, plenty to do in the surrounding areas and great beaches in the summer. A return is definitely on the cards - even if it rains again!