Lanzarote Parts One and Two

So in 2020 and 2022, we had family holidays in the Spanish isle of Lanzarote, off the North West Coast of Africa in the Canary islands The main motivation for my wife Rachel, who organised the trips, was that on the Isle of Eternal Spring, the climate is the opposite of our rainy and damp climate here in the NW of England, a dry heat of about 18-26 C all year round. Both times we went to Playa Blanca, which, although a tourist destination, is the quietest of the island’s resorts.

Weirdly, we’ve spent two weeks there, and in many ways, it’s one experience with a break of two and a half years Since I didn’t document the first week, back in March 2020, I’m going to do a combined post with the week we’ve just come back from, December 2022.

Part 1 March 2020

We went at a very quiet time of year, just after our Spring half-term and Playa Le Blanca’s Carnival. So, in many ways, it was like a big deserted movie set. This suited us since we had a rough year, Henry’s autism had become an issue at his school, and we just wanted to chill out in a quiet villa with a pool for Henry to splash about in.

Villa Carabella was a perfect fit. It was slightly larger inside and actually had a garden (of palm trees and cacti) than the typical tourist unit (which, although kept in the white-flat-roofed style mandated by island hero architect César Manrique, are multiplying at a terrifying rate). It was stylish and sleek and that much-needed sense of calm we needed for our break. We spent most of our time there, and with the cool breezes keeping the temperature bearable and the ever-present Red Mountain on the skyline, I really felt like I was in a totally different world. One of calm and spiritual healing.

And it was Evie who was first in the pool and spent most time splashing about 🙂

Playa Blanca town was our next visited destination outside of the villa, apart from the nearby mini-market, and we had short outings to the seafront, with its icecream bars and resturants.

We had one big day out, to the Timanfaya Volcanic national park. The entire Canary Island chain has its origins in volcanic activity. Over a six-year period in the 1730s, a series of massive eruptions converted one-third of the island to a lava-based landscape. Most of the population left the island, and that left had to repurpose their agriculture from grains to succulents (such as Aloe Vera). The park is right in the volcanic heartland of the island and is the nearest thing I’ll get to visiting Mars. As a sci-fi fan, I was already over-excited, but the actual trip was beyond epic.

We spent an afternoon at the most awesome waterpark Aqualava, which had the most excellent waterslides. Henry loved this. My middle-aged-overweight body was unable to keep up with my inner child on this one 😀

We ended the holiday at the Rubicon Marina, which was at the opposite end of the town. Here the endless villas gave way to a yacht dock, with attendant shops and restaurants, and at its far end, a large hotel.

Rubicon Marina, Playa Blanca

Despite the massive tourist presence, the island has a calming spiritual dimension, which I can’t exactly put my finger on. By the end of the holiday I was well tuned into it, restored and chilled out.

Afternoon nap and chill, wait I never get to do this!?!

My soundtrack for a holiday was the rather melancholy rocker of Queens of the Stone Age …Like Clockwork

Intermission: Covid

We saw the storm brewing via news from home and by following in disbelief posts on Twitter.

We missed the Spanish Lockdown by one day! The gravity of the situation hit me when we reached the airport departure lounge, and duty free was closed, and the food court staff was standoffish.

In the coming months of lockdown, the fun and serenity of the Lanzarote holiday kept us going. It was also the number one destination the family came up with when I asked, “Where would you like to go on holiday when we can again?”

Part 2 December 2022

This holiday was gifted by my mother-in-law Elaine, who died in early August this year. Rather than have a funeral, she used a cremation-only service and told us to go and have a holiday with the saved money. This was so typical of Elaine’s life-affirming spirit.

So four months on, I’m getting the family up at 1, so we can be at Manchester Airport to catch a plane at six. We travelled from a record-breaking low (for us anyway) of -9 C in Manchester to a lovely hot of 21 C when we arrived on Lanzarote.

On the plane Where’s isle 13? Where did all the people go?!

The new villa was in the more built-up area nearer the town centre. It was available at a fantastic rate, was more functional and less pretty than Villa Carabella. Which was initially a source of great disappointment to Evie. But it set us up for a more active holiday. For starters, it was a short five-minute walk to the beach and across the road from Aqualava. For which I and H got a week pass and went every day, sometimes twice!

About 5 minutes’ walk from the villa was Playa Flamingo, a local beach with supermarkets, restaurants and local cats. Evie and I made it a regular thing to have an evening walk there, and H had a snorkelling swim around the man-made bay (it has huge concrete blocks to stop the terrifying North Atlantic waves washing it away).

We literally picked up where we ended the first holiday by returning to the Rubicon Marina on the first full day of the holiday, killing some time by wandering about, stocking up on provisions at the Super Dino (a dinosaur-themed supermarket chain), and having lunch La Grill the big family restaurant at the edge. It was our default centre, and we went to La Grill, for an evening meal (something we rarely do) on the penultimate evening.

We did Playa Blanca town centre a couple of times, revisiting the green restaurant to have veggie paella during the day and going to the ice cream/coffee shop on the seafront one evening.

We knew what we were doing this time round, and Rach was more confident driving on the wrong side of the road, so we explored more of the island.

We went to Purto Del Carmen, a more urban Lanzarote closer to the capital and airport but no less touristy. We wandered around the shopping centres, visited the Irish District, and had lunch at a lovely restaurant on the seafront.

Our big day out this time round was the Jameos Del Aqua or the Cave of Crabs as we called it (due to the tiny white crabs that live in the pool). This was another creation of Island hero Artist/Architect  César Manrique, and it was a stunning piece of art. Up there with the Volcanic National Park of the previous holiday in epicness!

On the drive back, we visited the Aloe Vera Museum, which was fascinating. Still, being mainly text-based exhibits (an oddity of all the places we visited), I’ve not bothered taking any photos.

My Soundtrack this time out was the chilled electronica of Amon Tobin’s Out from Out Where.

Would we go again? I’d love to, as a midwinter break, feel refreshed and relaxed and that I’m not going to hit that big wall of tiredness in February, triggering a Long Night of the Soul. But as a family, we feel we’ve done everything to do on the island. This is important since we aren’t a sit-on-a-beach type of family. We like doing and seeing stuff. And there are other similar islands in the sun to explore. The other Canary islands and Cyprus, for example. However, Rachel and I can see us going in later life, just the two of us, when the children have flown the nest.

2 thoughts on “Lanzarote Parts One and Two”

  1. It sounds like you had an amazing time, both times. It makes me want to spend a week in the sun!

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