Now I know it’s over a year late but since it’s the summer holiday season. I thought I’d finally put together my thoughts on my week-long stay at the Astir Odysseus in Kos with my grandma in May last year.
The first part of the trip was a flight from London Heathrow to Manchester (where we would fly out to Kos) but I won’t talk about that too much here as it’s all in my Flying Solo blog post.
Then came time to check in. We checked in our checked baggage and had my wheelchair tagged so it could travel as luggage underneath the plane as per usual. The only difference between this and any other holiday with family so far was that I was classed as the lead booker and therefore had to keep track of all the documents which was soooooooooooo much fun (note the sarcasm).
And so off we headed to security, which can often be an issue for those with disabilities, but this time it just involved the usual pat down and swabbing my chair due to me not being able to go through the metal detector. Then it was on to departures for dinner and a long wait to board the flight.
When it was finally time to board I was able to take my chair to the plane door and then transfer to the aisle chair, which I hate, being strapped in and carted onto a plane in what I can only describe as a washing machine trolley is not the way anyone wants to start their flight experience. There were no real problems or anything to report with the flight itself (except guess who forgot to factor in time difference so only realised she was in for a 4-hour flight once on board? *raises hand*).
In terms of disembarking and transferring to the hotel, ours was the last luggage off the carousel which meant we were one of the last onto our transfer coach. This in turn meant I had to shuffle to the middle of the coach to get a seat because people did not offer to move from the front seats to allow me easier access even though they could see I was struggling. The location of the hotel also meant we were the first people off the coach which meant I had to go through the whole “shuffling down the coach” experience in front of a coach load of people AGAIN. All this on top of the fact I hate coaches anyway I find the steps difficult to navigate being short and lacking in balance and coordination!
The hotel itself was beautiful and we were very well looked after, including being given sandwiches on arrival due to having arrived late which I thought was a very nice extra touch. In fact, I’ve sung the hotels’ praises so much since returning home that my mum, stepdad and younger brother and heading there themselves this summer (and I am not jealous at allllllllllllllllll, I promise!). In terms of accessibility, I found the hotel to be quite accessible despite us not being in an “accessible room” or the hotel not being a specifically accessible hotel. I had enough space to self-propel around the room, there were only small steps or ridges in and out of doors which were easily overcome in a manual wheelchair although I’m not sure how an electric wheelchair would cope, and the Jacuzzis provided a good alternative easy access route into the main pool for those, like me, who may struggle with climbing or descending stairs. My only improvement would be that a shower would have been easier for me to use independently than a bath, and so I’d prefer a full shower to be the norm in hotel rooms as opposed to the bath that I usually see.
The holiday mostly consisted of switching between the main pool and the beach bar, I was a student on an all-inclusive holiday don’t judge me! Both of which I would highly recommend for accessibility and general service. The only addition to this pool/bar schedule was a trip to Kos Town itself. This is where the pros of taking the manual wheelchair as opposed to an electric wheelchair came to light as we were able to just fold it and use a standard taxi instead of going through the rigmarole of finding a wheelchair accessible one. I found the town to be picturesque despite the poor weather. The poor weather also probably didn’t help the poor state of the roads and pavements which were full of potholes and most certainly an “experience” for my poor spine!
Now, while I maintain that coaches are still awful, the coach trip back to the airport was certainly a more pleasant experience than the trip to the hotel. This was mostly down to the driver forcing people to move from the front seat to allow me easy access to the coach. Front seats always make my life easier which is a bonus (odd how we come to see easy disability access and accommodations as a bonus isn’t it?).
The first part of the journey of my flights back to London included, after solving a case of mistaken luggage identity and rescuing my luggage, checking our luggage in for the flight back to Manchester. We did not realise until we were through security that, despite multiple requests, my chair had not been tagged as luggage, this meant I almost left without my chair, every wheelchair users flight nightmare (although thankfully the issue was solved prior to boarding) After a delay we were finally loaded onto what had now basically become a red eye flight. We landed in Manchester around 3am and my flight back to Heathrow was due to board around 7am, because who lands at 3am (knowing they land at 3am) and books their next flight for 7am? apparently, this girl. On that flight I wanted the window seat as per usual, as it makes it easier for my seating neighbours to get to the bathroom in flight and disembark when we land, but those who provide airport assistance insisted I have the aisle seat due to some emergency evacuation regulation or other that I’d never heard of. This then lead to my neighbour being annoyed that she couldn’t disembark straight away as I could not stand to let her out of the aisle. Remember that one of the reasons WHY I prefer WINDOW seats is BECAUSE it makes it easier for fellow passengers to disembark. To make things worse, my footplate was lost in the plane hold on arrival at Heathrow. So, all in all, what was a pretty stress-free outbound domestic flight ended up being a rather stressful inbound domestic flight.
I hope this travel blog provided some insight into the accessibility of Kos and the Astir Odysseus as well as the issues surrounding flying with a wheelchair.