Nuevo Vallarta–Que Bela!

Nuevo Vallarta–Que Bela!

 

My friend has sung praises of Nuevo Vallarta for years. I decided it was time for me to check it out for myself. I was thrilled to find that Puerto Vallarta and nearby Nuevo Vallarta are situated in tropical rainforest along the Pacific coast with the Sierra Madre mountains as a backdrop. It is spectacular!

 

We stayed at the Vidanta Resort in the Grand Luxxe. We used a free certificate for our stay, but it can also be rented through VRBO. I was absolutely impressed with the wheelchair accessibility of this 300-acre resort complex. Most everything that I experienced was up to American ADA standards – the trails and boardwalks that meander beneath the rainforest canopy, the ramps leading to the restaurants, of which there are 28, and the walkways along the beach— it was well-designed and absolutely fabulous! Our apartment (unit #7141)  had a roll in shower, short-length grab bars by the toilet and sinks that I could pull under to use.

 

It was hard to miss the floral fragrance of fresh-cut lilies as we entered the lobby and our room. And we were eased into sleep each night by live music that drifted up from the floor below us. It was a beautiful experience for all of the senses.

 

Accessibility was further enhanced by the resort providing golf cart-type shuttles, including wheelchair accessible ones, that could be requested from the bellboy and would arrive within five or 10 minutes. The ramp for the shuttle was steeper than ADA standard, but many helping hands were always willing and available. Hospitality staff took us wherever we wanted to go within the expansive resort. We could also opt to wheel along the vast network of boardwalks and paths. Whichever method we chose, there was plenty of staff that was very warm, hospitable and willing to help in any way we needed. This was a real plus since my husband is aging and I seem to have a larger appetite for distance than I can push on my own—especially in beachfront tropical rainforest. The grounds were replete with wildlife. We saw snowy egrets, a crocodile, iguanas and I could hear calls of tropical parrots—a paradise!

 

I used only one of the eight swimming pools on the property, the enormous pool nearest the Grand Luxxe. It did not have a water chair/lift. I am able to cling to a sturdy railing and walk down a few steps so this worked for me. I enjoyed refreshing daily swims and basked in the warm sun, poolside, to dry.

 

Future plans at this Vidanta Resort include construction of a gondola that will take guests across the complex, providing yet another mode of transportation. It is supposed to open December 2020.

 

On one of our five days in Nuevo Vallarta, we ventured out on a tour called “Amazing Vallarta” with TB tours. Our guide, Gabino, provided wonderful service and it was a fun time with two other couples. We visited the Malecon, or seawall, and our Lady of Guadalupe church.  We had a delicious lunch at the edge of a rainforest reserve where I could see zip-liners whizzing by above the forest canopy, whooping in delight. Around the corner, we stopped at a family owned tequila factory where we had a blast doing little mini shots of eight kinds of tequila, reminiscent of crazy college days.

 

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the Amazing Vallarta tour, I found it to be exhausting to transfer in and out of the van. I even considered staying put on the last stop. For those who have difficulty transferring and cannot take a few steps while holding onto something sturdy, it would be extremely difficult if not impossible. The stops were sometimes challenging too, with cobblestone and very steep ramps, but worthwhile. I did see an option to book a wheelchair accessible van through Viator.com, but for 3.5 times the cost.

 

When I think back on my visit, I have no doubt that I will come back to this Vidanta Resort. It had excellent wheelchair accessibility and was one of the easiest and most enjoyable places I have vacationed!

The Highlands: Inverness

The Highlands: Inverness

Our first sight was visiting Clava Cairns. It’s about 4000 years old and are piles of stones that or memorials/burial areas from millennia ago. It was doable in a wheelchair even when there were mud puddles. Then we went to Culloden Battlefield and Museum. This was very nicely wheelchair accessible. I really liked the audio tour and the battlefield itself was really interesting. I did about a third of it in my manual chair and freewheel then came back and transferred into a mobility scooter which was loaned out for free. I did the rest in that so I was able to see the entire thing pretty easily. Many long packed dirt trails. Many Stone Memorial for clans of Highlanders that fought the battle and just a lot of interesting historical information. There was a ramp that took me to a viewing platform to get a great view of the overall battlefield.

We wandered around the streets of Inverness and later went to Fort George. Fort George is huge. I wheeled across the drawbridge over what used to be the moat and through a big open field with housing on the opposite side. The fort has a few museums including the Highlander museum as part of the giant fort. It was built about 20 years after the battle of Culloden.

Our second day we went to the oldest church in Inverness (which by the way means “mouth of Ness” as in mouth of the Ness river that flows from Loch Ness to the sea). After Culloden battle, the prisoners were kept in the tower of that church and then later executed in the adjacent cemetery. We were able to go inside the church as well.

Cawdor Castle, about 13 miles from Inverness, is very nice. About three of the rooms inside of the castle are wheelchair accessible and both the old garden and new garden are wheelchair accessible and very beautiful.

We stayed at Aldross Glencairns hotel. Room is pretty good but the roll in shower has extra little doors that are cumbersome for wheelchairs. They do keep the water from getting all over the floor thuough. I think it’s a pretty good room altogether.

Old church

Culloden

Clava Cairns

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

We left Glencoe and traveled further north for a couple hours to where we caught the ferry from Mallaig to Armadal on the isle of Skye. We just happened to show up at the right time and had only a 15 minute wait to do the half hour crossing. They were able to accommodate the wheelchair by letting us take up two spots by parking diagonally. Our ferry passage was 13 pounds instead of 20 pounds when I showed them my disabled parking tag. The ferry had clean accessible restrooms.

The isle is beautiful! We drove the Trotternesh Peninsula, avoiding the many sheep and lambs meandering into the road. Spectacular scenery surrounded us—green mountains, grey cliffs and blue sea.

Town of Portree

Inside ferry

Sheep everywhere!

Glasgow to Glencoe

Glasgow to Glencoe

Glasgow to Glencoe

We drove 2 1/2 hours from Glasgow to Glencoe along the winding, loch-lined  road, passing Loch Lomond, Loch Leven and stopping off for lunch at Green Welly for some incredibly delicious Cullen skink, a soup made with smoked haddock, onions and potatos. We stayed at Loch Leven hotel and distillery. It was an old farm that was retrofitted to be a bed-and-breakfast. They did a good job of making it wheelchair accessible. Some entries were tight but it was really all together good. The views of the Loch were lovely and their full Scottish breakfast was delicious and was included in the stay. We didn’t stay long in Glencoe and if I had had time, I would’ve liked to see the folk museum there. But we had plans to head to the Isle of Skye so had to move on.

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Cork, Ireland and Blarney

Cork, Ireland and Blarney

In Cork, we had a wonderful evening   At Oliver Plunketts bar and Grill where there was live traditional Irish  music and dancing. We wandered around the English market which was full of fresh meats, fruits and vegetables and some artisan products. I loved shopping at Carol’s gifts around the corner. And then we went to the Blarney castle and went through the beautiful gardens.  What a great way to spend a sunny day!

A note about our hotel. We stayed at the Kingsley Hotel in Cork, Ireland. They did not have a wheelchair accessible shower in my room which I had paid for five months prior to arrival.  I requested a wheelchair accessible room and double checked but when I arrived, the only one they had was wheelchair accessible except for the shower. I did speak to the manager and they told me they would refund 50% of my money for the first night. I believe they were fair. They did accommodate us with a fully wheelchair accessible room for the rest of our stay as requested.