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"This was a completely brilliant all-round, something-for-everyone holiday. We've not…"
This was a completely brilliant all-round, something-for-everyone holiday.
We've not done the camping/mobile-homing thing in Europe before, mainly because DP has been a bit snooty about it. This is because he's under the delusion that we are the type of family who will go 'wild camping off the beaten track'. DP, if you're reading this, we aren't. Or at least, not until they invent outside air-conditioning, we swap our children for ones who don't mind poo-ing in a hole, and you get substantially more proactive on the meal-planning/shopping/cooking front. That fish ain't going to spear itself.
What was really attracting me to this site were the reviews, and the two outside swimming-pool complexes - the children took one look at the online pictures and started offering to contribute their pocket money. I managed to persuade DP of the site's proximity to Venice, which is under an hour away by bus/waterbus - the fact that you could be in soignee Venice in the blink of an eye seemed to convince him, and we were off.
The Union Lido site is absolutely amazing - enormous, but completely navigable and beautifully maintained. It's really pretty - lots of flowers and nice landscaping, and all the pitches are in shady pine-lined boulevards. It's five mins to a beautiful sandy beach with clear, shallow, very child-friendly warm water, and it has its own woodland for cool walks in the heat of the day. I spoke to lots of seasoned campers and they all said that this was far and away the best euro camp-site they'd been to - almost all of them were returning visitors.
The Thomson Al Fresco section of the site is very well-kept, and the cabins themselves are painted a cheerful blue and white, and brilliantly laid out - pretty much everything you could possibly need is provided, from real crockery (luxury!) to a cafetiere, a veg peeler, a torch etc. You've got a little patio with the barbecue, table, chairs and parasol, and a couple of sun loungers. There's loads of storage inside, so you can really pack everything away neatly [neurotic emoticon] and you don't get that "I'm living in a messy wardrobe" feeling that you often get when camping. The shower is spotless and very powerful, and there's a separate loo. Best of all .... air-conditioning! So we all slept incredibly well, nice and cool in our beds. The reps came round regularly to check all was well and were really sweet and helpful. Overall we got a really nice combination of 'outside' living, and welcome mod cons (oven, fridge-freezer, shower etc).
Various different holiday companies lease sections of the site, so there are a combination of different static cabins (like the Thomson Al Fresco ones), and pitches for RVs and motorhomes - the latter almost entirely European visitors. When we were there, there were lots of Dutch and Danish, and a few English families. Everyone was incredibly polite and considerate - I didn't hear a single radio blaring out during the whole ten-day holiday, and everyone respects the 1-4pm siesta time, during which no cars can be driven on site. It's really, properly peaceful.
The facilities were also brill. Two fabulous pool complexes with cafe-bars attached, chockful of slides and sprays and fountains, which the kids just adored. If they hadn't been so thrilled with the pools and the beach, I would have ushered them towards the kids' club, which is free and offered a good range of outdoorsy activities - heard great reports from other parents. There are various other things put on for children including a kids' disco every night, and entertainers - all good stuff, especially for littlies.
Almost everything was free, but there are some extras like scuba-diving that you pay extra for. There's bike hire (although you don't need bikes to get around - it's not ^that^ big) which is a bit cheaper if you go off-site. There's also a big bouncy castle park - this costs 5 euros per child, but that's for a whole day so you can happily make a visit in the morning, then come back after supper for a final 'let's wear them right out' session before bed. For teens, there's a disco tucked away on the periphery of the site - but we're not <gulp> at that stage quite yet. For me, there was a fabbo spa-complex with an infinity pool, steam room etc, where you can get a massage and other treatments - no children allowed except at set times. I sent DP off with the kids for a couple of hours - bliss.
Bars and restaurants were really good quality - a couple of pizza places, a posher brasserie and a more rustic place. These felt like proper restaurants rather than 'facilities' - good food, possibly a bit more expensive than outside the site, but not by much. There were good take-aways too. But for us, the best thing was cooking on our gas-fired barbecue outside our cabin: we'd buy food every day from one of the two very well-stocked supermarkets, chuck some Italian sausages and herby chicken on the barbie, bung some diced potatoes in the oven with rosemary and olive oil, rustle up a rocket salad and relax, feeling smug and drinking prosecco.
We went to Venice for the day, and it was predictably spectacular. There's a bus which leaves from within the site itself, which is great, and then you jump on a waterbus. It's really amazing arriving via water, with the whole of Venice glittering in the sun. Although there's obviously a kazillion things to see there, you can easily 'get the gist' in a day and it gets pretty busy - so, while we'd originally thought we'd all be zipping back and forth to Venice, in the end just DP went back on his tod to do some child-free examination of Renaissance painting (it's his thing). The rest of the time we were actually happiest staying on the site, just mooching around.
On the last day I hurt my ankle (not the prosecco..) and at first thought I might have broken it. Amazingly, there was a doctor on-site, who arrived at our cabin on his pushbike, examined me and sent me off with a form to the hospital a 20-minute taxi ride away for an x-ray (it was fine). While you obviously don't plan your holiday around the remote possibility of a nasty sprain, it was things like this which really made a difference. Sure, it's a different animal to that 'little pensione in a village outside Siena' holiday that you might have had pre-kids - but the peace of mind really did add so much to our relaxation. The whole place felt exceptionally safe for the kids, the pools were very well life-guarded, you could leave your purse on the private beach and be absolutely certain it wouldn't be gone when you got back from a swim. These things remove a layer of mild anxiety that you're not even really aware is there, until it's lifted.
All in all, a big thumbs up from everyone (yes, even DP). I'd go back in a shot.Read moreLess