A holiday from a holiday

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December 3rd 2007
Published: December 3rd 2007
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Sunday 25th November
After spending the morning tidying and ensuring our bag was packed we were ready when Colin picked us up at 11.30am. We had no problems checking in at Stansted and security was well organised and efficient. We killed a little time in the duty free before making our way to the lounge at the gate where we read the novels we had brought until it was time to board.

A very bumpy landing ended our flight into a windy, rainy Lanzarote. On the way to the luggage Judy bumped into an old friend Ros Keep who had lived for several years in Perth before returning to England where she now manages a pub near Cambridge. They talked fourteen to the dozen but unfortunately Ros and her friend Mike were booked into an hotel in a different part of the island. Hopefully we may catch up sometime.

Playa Blanca was some 35 kilometres from where we landed a Arrecife. It is the southern most beach resort on Lanzarote and the smallest of it's main resorts however still boasts 3 beaches and an array of smart shops, bars and restaurants. Check in at Lanzasur Club went smoothly and we were soon seated having our first buffet dinner. This was nothing flash but there were plenty of healthy choices, not that we took all of them! After dinner we adjourned to the bar where we met an English couple Mark and Nicola. Each night there is a show at 9pm but we saw only snippets of it as we were busy chatting to each other and drinking the included drinks.

Monday 26th November
Today we explored the promenade along the coast and found the harbour and main shopping area of Playa Blanca. Before returning to our hotel we booked a trip for Tuesday to the nearby island of Fuerteventura. We don't want to do too many trips but do want to see some of the main highlights of the area.

After another buffet lunch where we met up with Mark and Nicola again, we decided to relax with our books around the pool. Rags got as far as putting his toe in the water and on pronouncing it freezing Judy didn't even get this close.

It was too early for dinner by the time we'd showered and changed so we off to the bar again. Here we struck up conversation with a young English couple, Aileen and Steve. When some of their friends joined them we all went in to dinner together. These were our companions for the rest of the evening and at 9pm we were ready to watch the German version of Cats. About 90% of people here are Germans so we've actually been lucky to meet any English speaking people. We had lots of laughs and continued after the show had finished so we were a little messy before we poured ourselves into bed.

Tuesday 27th November
The coach picked us up outside the adjacent hotel at the very civilised time of 9.55. It was great being the last pickup! About 20 people boarded the Cesare Dos, a boat made for 119 people. Apparently it is German changeover day and always quiet on Tuesdays.

Fifty minutes later we arrived at Corralejo Harbour after a reasonably smooth ride. (Judy was ok today, she'd remembered to take the Dramamine early!) Fuerteventura is like a miniature Sahara, sandy, waterless and windy. A double decker bus took us to the Dunes of Fuerteventura. The dunes are formed by sands from the Sahara blowing across
Colourful stallsColourful stallsColourful stalls

These were found all along the promenade on Playa Blanca but be carefull what you buy I read that a few people have been stung with buying overpriced digital cameras in Play Blanca.
60 miles of sea from Africa and stretches about 10 kilometres along the coast. Here we had a choice of being offloaded for a couple of hours or returning to the town of Corralejo, this being the option we took. A pity we couldn't have spent some time in both as 2 hours was too much in either. Corralejo was full of perfumeries, electrical and name brand shops as it is a duty free port. We are trying not to buy too much more now until we get to the Xmas Markets and China - not that we need to buy anything! Judy did buy a purse size perfume as she finished her other one some time ago.

Lunch was had back at the boat before anchoring off the nearby Island of Lobos which translated means Island of Seals. This has a curious landscape of tiny volcanic protusions that rise from the sand and rocks that make up the island because we could see no vegetation. Here we stopped for some water activity but it was really too cool for swimming! Instead we went for a spin on a banana boat - something neither of us had done before!
Rubicon marinaRubicon marinaRubicon marina

Some beautiful boats here.
We were towed by an inflatable dinghy and as a final thrill we were overturned into the water at the end of the ride.

The trip back was much rougher and several people were seen clutching little white paper bags! As promised we reached land by 5pm and were soon back at the resort.

Wednesday 28th November

Rags finished today with a swim in the freezing, but sobering, cold water of the hotel pool at about 1700. This was brought upon by only two drinks had after lunch! We have both learned the hard way that when ordering a gin & tonic or a vodka & tonic, to specify very clearly how much spirit you want in your drink. A 'finger' here is about the length of your finger!

We had started the day by walking the 3-4 km stretch of beach to the Marina Rubicon after farewelling our British friends who were on their way back to the cold. These markets are held every Wednesday and Saturday and definitely cater for the European tourist. Even so we succumbed and Rags left with a new shirt, Judy with a travel make-up kit. Whilst there we admired some absolutely beautiful yachts and catamarans including one yacht which was at least 40m long moored next to a very spiffy ship.

On our walk back we found a couple of places which had wi-fi so we intend returning to upload the blog and to catch up with any news/emails.

Lunch was served soon after we returned, the meals here being quite reasonable but nothing flash. Soup, squid, fish and salad were on the menu, followed by a large assortment of dessert,nothing meeting our fancy. We are both being careful with our diet, one of us at least having put on several kilos too many already!

We tried reading our books whilst lying around the pool but it was too cool. We then moved to the sunny verandah area in front of our bungalow where we had the afore-mentioned drinks. A 'nanny nap' followed, before Rags' swim. By 1830 Rags was encouraging Judy to stop reading and get out of bed so that we could go down for a pre dinner drink.

The evening presentation was Queen's “We will rock you”. This was advertised as such but except for the first song everything had been translated

Beaches at Correlejo
into German. From what the English couple we were sitting with said it meant that many of the little quips made were lost in the translation. As it was most of the audience just sat there with no animation & stony faces. We left before the finish.

Thursday 29th November

This morning we caught the bus to travel the 38 kms to Arricife, the capital city. The hour long bus ride gave us time to savour the views of the dry, arid landscape that consists mostly of lava fields. We saw in the thinly populated vista, the locals attempts at agriculture with the occasional vineyard and vegetable garden. The bus also passed through Puerto del Carmen the other major tourist resort on this island. Lanzarote is the newer resort, being purpose built and still fresh and clean.

After being dropped off at the bus station out of the centre we made our way through the unsightly back blocks. Arrecife doesn't conform to the aesthetic guidelines set down by Cesar Mantique whose recommendations guided the local building design in other towns. The scenery along the waterfront was interesting with an old stone fortress on a small islet,

The sand on these beaches blows in from the Sahara.
overlooking the sea, the focal point. We reached it via a walled mole and found it open to the public.

From here we walked along the main street with its tourist shops on either side and at about 1300 made our way to the bus stop passing through the tourist market next to the river.

The heavens opened up on the way back, today being one of the “16 days it rains”! Luckily it stopped when we got off the bus and we only copped a shower just before reaching the hotel. A bit of afternoon tea in the lounge preceded us returning to our unit where we read in comfort.

Before dinner we used the public phone in the lobby to call and book the south island tour we'd planned to do however we found we'd left it too late and the tour was fully booked!

The evening buffet was one of the best yet with some chunky, moist fish, squid rings and cannelloni. After dinner we went to the bar and met a couple of English ladies, Juliet and Colette. Juliet has seven children and a property in the south of England while Colette
Banana BoatingBanana BoatingBanana Boating

First time for both of us!
manages a carer system. As Colette had a couple of weeks leave she'd brought Juliet along with her to give her a break! We spent an enjoyable time chatting to them and were starting to pretty much ignore the show (more German) when Rags was dragged up to be part of it. I think the compere could see we were inattentive and wanted to get us involved! Rags with 3 other gents helped them perform a trick. After that they performed some magic tricks before bringing out 2 huge pythons and dancing around with them before using them too in their magic show! At the end people were invited to pay 10 Euros to have a photo taken with a snake- a couple took up the offer.

Friday 30th November

Since we were unable to book our tour we'd decided to hire a car. When we started enquiring we were too late to hire an automatic vehicle which off course Rags would have preferred since he'd have to use the gears with his opposite hand. We ended up with a little VW Polo which was very comfy for 35 Euros. After a quick run through with the gears
On the Dos CesarOn the Dos CesarOn the Dos Cesar

We met some friendly Germans, Heiki and Thomas. This holiday was for Thomas' 50th birthday and he bought us a drink!
we headed off toward the Tamanfaya National Park, the main destination we didn't want to miss.

Our first stop was the Camel Park, a place just for tourists but we were hooked and paid our 10 Euros for a ride up Fire Mountain on one of these beasts. We were on the first camel in the line and he led the way slowly up the mountain. Once he started down however it was another story and he moved much quicker. He was dragging the others along behind him so the camel leader untied him from the train and we were off on our own. It was quite fun as we left the train behind us and headed off at a faster pace. Rags was glad he'd let Judy talk him into this half hour of enjoyment!

Our next stop was Fire Mountain itself where we embarked on a coach tour through the best scenery in the park, past spectacular lava flows of different textures and colours, craters and tubes that were formed in the years 1730 and 1824, the most recent eruptions.

Once back at Fire Mountain we saw someone pour water down a tube into the

The capital of Lanzarote
mountain and the resulting gush of steam, as well as an oven where food was being cooked from the natural heat.

The Visitors Centre was our next stop where we ate the lunch we'd brought with us before venturing inside to find out more about vulcanology. After a brief look here we continued on our way.

Our next stop was at the monument, “Al Campesino” in the centre of the island. Cesar Manrique, who influenced this island in many ways, designed this in honour of the farmers' hard work today and in centuries past.

We stopped at Famara, on the coastline, overlooked by rugged cliffs before driving along a narrow road that zigzagged over a mountain to the most northern point on the island, Mirador del Rio which at 480 metres provided spectacular views over the island La Graciosa.

By this time it was late in the afternoon and we thought we'd had a great taste of the island, having also driven through several small towns so started to head south. Judy persuaded Rags to stop at Puerto Calero, a lovely marina not too far from Playa Blanca where we were staying. He's really had to concentrate today with driving this car with the gears on his right. We strolled around and admired some very grand yachts.

From here we took a shortcut through the village of Femes. Here we went through a police roadblock. They waved us through so they obviously weren't looking for a tourist! Just past this we stopped to see the breathtaking view over Playa Blanca and Fuertaventura before descending to Playa Blanca itself. Rags was ready to take the car back but Judy persuaded him to keep it so we could do once quick trip this morning after breakfast as we don't need to have it back until 10am.

Saturday 1st December

After breakfast we explored Playa Blanca before returning the hire car. We walked back to the resort before readying ourselves for a walk. Judy wanted to climb the hill behind Playa Blanca (only she discovered later that of course it was a long extinct volcano). Rags wasn't keen, thinking it might be too strenuous for Judy but we negotiated that we would turn back if we hadn't reached the summit in 2 hours.

After cutting through the residential area near the resort we met a

The weather arrives!
chap who gave us a few directions for the easiest route to the track up the hill. Before long we were climbing this zigzag track up the hill. We were surprised to meet quite a few people including a couple of locals who obviously jog it regularly. It was surprisingly easy to reach the top and then we found it was a crater so we walked around it. The views on all sides were spectacular and Rags was so glad he'd let Judy talk him into it. After walking around the rim we looked at the time and it was less than an hour and a half since we'd left the resort. We couldn't find a way down toward the lighthouse at the southern tip of the island so we returned along the path we'd taken, cut through a huge resort and walked along the promenade.

Here we met Mel and Ray. Mel revealed to Judy where the closest toilets were because sometimes on these sort of trips happiness is knowing where the closest one is and being able to reach it in time! By the time we walked to the lighthouse and back it was still only about 1.30 but our legs felt like they'd seen action today so a restful afternoon was in order!

The evening entertainment was a singer who was surprisingly good and sang songs you could dance to. He eventually upped the tempo a bit and we were on the floor! Slowly more people joined us so we got all of the group we were with on the floor and a great night was had from then on. We must have made some impression on some of the Germans there as one of them actually acknowledged Rags at breakfast in the morning!

Sunday 2nd December

Is that really the date? It seems on one hand that we have only been on the road for a short time, then we read back and see what we have done and where we have been. We are still thoroughly enjoying our adventures together and only get slightly homesick occasionally.

The market tour to Teguise this morning was taken to help fill in the day before we leave at 1930 tonight. It reinforced why we don't like taking conducted tours. Firstly the bus was 30 minutes late, then it drove to several hotels to
Father ChristmasFather ChristmasFather Christmas

It's getting near that time, but who is his helper?
pick up others and it was 1100 before we left the area, 0930 being what was timetabled. The time at the markets was then extended to make up for this, normally that would be good but the markets were so tourist oriented that we would have left hours earlier if visiting independently.

Today we leave the comfortable temperatures and this evening will be back in the cold. All of Britain has had stormy and wet conditions whilst we have been away. After our last lunch there we made the best of what will be the last bit of warmth we will have by sitting around the pool with Mel & Ray before being taken to the airport.

Thompson Air got us back to Stansed a little late and rather than the bumpy landing we had at Lanzorote really thumped the plane down so hard at this end that the stewards near us made shocked sounds.
Colin, in his unruffled way, was there to meet us and we were back in Great Bardfield by about 0130.

Additional photos below
Photos: 51, Displayed: 33


Sand SculpturesSand Sculptures
Sand Sculptures

Just like we saw in Mexico.

That weather is getting closer.

The beach
Shirley and AndyShirley and Andy
Shirley and Andy

Lots of great company.

4th December 2007

Hi Judy and Rags, I have loved reading your very entertaing blogs, you must be having a wonderful time and seeing so much. I don't blame you for avoiding the swims Judy as it must be freezing, though nice to warm up at the bar later. Thelma asked me to pass on a few thoughts from China. I think the main thing is to avoid drinking any tap water and have bottled, even to wash your mouth out when you clean your teeth. If the water is a bit boring the beer is very good and cheap and you can buy it anywhere (not that I tried it for my teeth). It is not always cold but I think that the weather you will be in will cool it pretty quickly. The best wine is as good as our worst cask stuff and if you fancy some of this take a cork screw with you. I don't know about the spirits and if you pointed a finger at smeone to indicate a measure anything could happen! Language communication is a real problem Take a lot of small packs of tissues with you as toilet paper is not high on their list of prioritys, and anti bacterial hand wash is a must. Speaking of toilets the cleanest western ones were in McDonalds, but most of the others left a lot to be desired. I shall look forward to reading your thoughts on the squats. Always remember to take a hotel card with you as you will find it hard to communicate with the taxi drivers. I hope you have a great time as it is a very interesting country. Stay healthy and if it rains don't slip on the spit!
24th December 2007

Rags will be plaesed that beer is cheap. It's the same in Europe, cheaper to buy beer than coke or water. We are getting tired of the cold weather but saw that it's generally not colder than it is here. We are getting used to the toilet problem. wE saw one at the Stuttgart Railway station (i think) called McCleans but they wanted 1 Euro and 10 cents to use it so needless to say I waited until I got on the train where it's free! We are armed with antibacterial and tissues. Thanks for the advice Judy

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