I never expected to be writing a blog about Lanzarote as I never expected to like it quite as much as I did! In my mind it was going to be a slightly different version of Benidorm: package holiday tourists and fish and chips. It just goes to show how you should never judge a book by its cover.
Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, is known for its year round warm weather, beaches and volcanic landscape. However, it is much more than just that. I found it a rather intriguing island with extraordinary geology which leads to a magnificent (if slightly otherworldly) landscape and a tonne of different activities.
Below are the emails I sent home each day for anybody who is interested (or simply scroll through the photos, that works too!).
Day 1 – Lanzarote
Hello from a rather nice Lanzarote.
So far we are both very impressed. This was a last minute very cheap holiday. TripAdvisor reviews suggested it was OK but the photos didn’t really excite me, however, it was the cheapest decent place and location I could find and we wanted some sun and some stress free time so we went for it.
The hotel is lovely! Set up as a little village of small white houses so you feel like you have your own little villa (looking from the outside) and the rooms are particularly spacious (more like a suite) with our own large balcony right on the beach.
We started off our day by going for a 10km walk along beach (really clear water and random lava rocks lying about), followed by a snack for lunch on the beachfront, a siesta, some sun bathing on the balcony and a swim in the hotel pool.
After dinner we headed over to Costa Teguise to the night market and bumped into friends so had a couple of drinks with them. Costa Teguise is much more of a resort with lots of lovely bars (and a few too many Brits). The market itself though was rather pants.
Tomorrows plan is to go visit Timanfaya National Park which I’m quite excited about as I’ve never been to the top of a volcano before! Hopefully we can get some good photos.
Day 2 – Timanfaya National Park
Hello from a very windy very warm and very lovely Lanzarote
We woke up early this morning and headed out to Timanfaya National Park which was really cool. The park is made up entirely of volcanic soil and is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The park is named after the one remaining active volcano, Timanfaya however as you drive through there are at least a dozen other dormant volcanos of varying sizes. The landscape is as you can imagine completely arid, made up of weird and extravagant rock formations and a mix of dried lava and black sand dunes.
In order to enter the park we had to pay a 9€ entry fee however that included a coach trip round all the craters as you aren’t allowed to wonder on your own. Although the scenery was amazing the information provided by the audio guide was far from informative. It also didn’t give us any opportunities to get out and take photos however, it was still great to see.
Once back at the information centre they talked us through the current volcanic activity. At 13m below the surface the temperature is 600 degrees Celsius! They had a hole dug to about 8 metres with a grill over the top and I think Doug was quite jealous that he can’t get our BBQ to ever be that hot!! They also demonstrated the heat by chucking water down a hole which made it spurt back up like a geyser as well as put some dried grass into a small hole not far from the surface which caught fire in a matter of minutes. Very impressive, just wish we could have driven round on our own to get some good pictures.
From Timanfaya we went to a little coastal village (if you can call it that, 10 restaurants and about 10 houses) called El Golfo. It’s where the lava from the latest eruption in the 1700’s flowed down creating beautiful black beaches, great rocky formations and quite an extraordinary lake: bright green!
After a wander on the beach we went for a drink and a bite to eat at one of the restaurants. Lovely views, disappointing Calamari (frozen when they live by the sea!!!!).
We continued our journey on the coastal roads until we reached Playa Blanca. Much more of a resort like area with a huge American style marina and lots of restaurants. My favourite: “Restaurante Autentico Español” (I’m sure you can guess it means Authentic Spanish Restaurant). First item on the menu: English Breakfast!!
We had a nice stroll along the promenade marvelling at the crystal blue water and came across a restaurant where all guests were speaking Spanish so we sat down for a drink and some Croquetas to assess whether it was in fact good Spanish food and I can say they were bloody brilliant so we will be going back there for dinner either tonight or tomorrow. I still don’t understand why Brits like to go on holiday to somewhere with food as nice as Spain’s yet all they want to eat is British food! Not even good British food!
Our second lunch was followed by a Fish Pedicure for me. It’s a very strange feeling having fish nibble your feet, but I have to say they’ve got rid of all the hard skin!
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the Jacuzzi and lounging by the pool before heading down for another hotel dinner. It was Spanish themed last night and unlike the Chinese themed one the night before the food was actually to Doug’s taste. They even had Gambas a la Plancha!
We then headed over to Gran Karting. Considering we are on a tiny island I wasn’t expecting much. I particularly wasn’t expecting what we found: a massive track with proper pit garages! The largest karting track in Europe and host of the European and World Championships on a number of occasions. Really really good fun! The karts weren’t as good as those in Milton Keynes but even so we had a good race (Doug didn’t beat me by too much this time either which is good).
We then ventured to Puerto Del Carmen, which is meant to be the liveliest of the Lanzarote towns. My only observation, there were more Irish Pubs here than in Ireland! With that information you can probably gather the type of clientele! It wasn’t what we expected though, we had Benidorm in mind but it was a lot smaller with no Sticky Vicky’s or Bingo bars. A quick drink overlooking there bay and we headed back to the hotel for an early night.
Hello from a very relaxed couple
The aim of the holiday was to de-stress (for me at least, Doug’s working days haven’t been too stressful of late!). I can say: mission accomplished, it is exactly what the doctors ordered.
Today was all about the fatties (the Fat bikes). Doug managed to find a place that does guided tours using Fat Bikes and it was AWESOME!! They are so much easier to ride over tricky terrain than a normal mountain bike! I wish we’d had them for Scotland, the WHW would have been so much easier!
The tour itself was also great. We went over all the cliffs and down into little hidden beaches with crystal clear sea. It wasn’t a beginner’s ride either which meant we had some nice descents (even if short) and some “interesting” terrain to navigate. We both thoroughly enjoyed it, we saw areas we wouldn’t have otherwise seen and we got a good sweat on.
From the bike tour we headed out in search of an abandoned hotel. Doug has this thing about wanting to “explore” abandoned buildings. I thought part of this inquisitiveness was the adrenaline surge at the prospect of potential zombies (or maybe more realistically homeless or drug addicts). It turns out he doesn’t like the idea much at all when it becomes reality. After a 20 min very bumpy car journey to get there followed by a 10 min walk he said “Let’s turn around, it looks like homeless people live here”. In fairness, there were a lot of cars coming and going and it did have a sex den feel to it so I was more than happy to turn around and leave.
We headed back to Playa Blanca which is where we had our Croquetas yesterday. Today we went for tapas and they were really good. Best food we’ve had since we’ve been in Lanzarote and I’d happily have gone back for seconds that night but Doug felt that was enough tapas for one day!
After relaxing by the pool for the afternoon we drove all the way to the north of the island to watch the sun set from Mirador Del Rio, which overlooks the various little islands to the north. The drive up was great as the scenery completely changed becoming much lusher with lots of cactus farms and gardens and big bare mountains (what I imagine the Cairngorms would look like if the sun ever shined on them!).
We got to the view point only to find it was closed so we decided to go down a little road to the west to try and find another spot to watch the sun set. This tiny road took us past really rugged and colourful cliffs as well as past some more volcanos, finally topping on a high mountain pass where we could see a little track leading towards some TV masts so we set off up there hoping it would lead us to the cliffs.
It delivered! We ended up in one of the highest spots of the island, with some great views of the sunset and some great photo opportunities including my holiday favourite:
Good (sad) morning
We are sat at the airport waiting to return to normality. Lanzarote has been so much better than either of us anticipated. In our mind we were heading to a “Brits on Tour” destination that happened to be on a volcanic island. I’m sure there are plenty of resorts on the island that are like that (based on the type of people in the airport) but we managed to miss them all.
The weather was great, hot but windy so Doug didn’t have to moan once. It was cheap, the hotel was great, we managed to have some good food and we got to see some great sights and last night was no exception.