We decided to take a vacation from our sabbatical year to visit the island of Lanzarote, which is located in the Islas Canarias (Canary Islands). We figured traveling to the Canary Islands was probably not going to happen if not on this trip, so we found a good deal on lodgings and airfare. The flights went non0stop from our local airport here in Asturias, only a three hour journey to the south, off the west coast of Africa. Two couples we know recently traveled to Lanzarote and we have a friend who lived there for more than a decade; they gave glowing reviews as well as many interesting spots on the island to visit.
Off we went, arriving on a Sunday, waiting in the cab stand line with our fellow tourists for a taxi to take us to Arrecife, the largest city on the island. We arrived at the hotel, which had a public beach across the street, and an excellent view of the ocean from the balcony. We dined at one of the nearby restaurants, choosing pimientos de padron (grilled small peppers), gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), and the local dish, papas arrugadas, which are small boiled potatoes (like little baked potatoes) with dipping sauces, mojo (green cilantro sauce) and mojo rojo (red sauce) while we enjoyed the view and sunny day. We followed that with a walk along the sea, where we were able to catch the sun setting behind some mountains in the distance.
We ate dinner while watching soccer at a local burger joint called Hamburgueseria Superguay (Hamburger restaurant Supercool) where the burgers were large and tasty, and the fries hot and cheesy. After our burger we returned to the hotel, and that evening a picture from our balcony gave off the impression of being alone on an empty beach, and while the beach was empty, there was a liveliness in the street below, giving off a latino-americano vibe.
The next two days we explored the nearby area on foot, walking next to the ocean, as well as near the tallest hotel on the island, easily spotted, even from far away. We walked past two centuries old forts (which now house tiny museums), across stone bridges, down windy streets, eating excellent fish dishes, drinking local beers and, of course, stopping for ice cream.
Once our time in Arrecife was up, we traveled back to the airport to pick up a rental car so we could explore more of the island. Our rental apartment was near Playa Blanca, which is located in the southern part of the island. All the homes on Lanzarote are painted bright white, and subdivisions dot the landscape, creating an contrast between the bright white homes and the arid, desert landscape of browns, reds, and blacks, with the blue ocean often as a backdrop.
Also, the wind began to pick up. While the temperature was moderate, it was quite windy, which made walking around much more difficult than one would think, with the loud wind and dust (luckily we encountered no dust storms). Once we arrived we decided to walk toward the lighthouse, which towered in the distance, near a spot that we heard was great for watching the sunset. The paths went from brick and stone to dirt and back again, eventually taking us away from the lighthouse and down a residential asphalt street, where at the end lay a short path to the ocean, and a stone bench where we enjoyed another spectacular sunset.
Our next day we drove to the north end of the island (which was less than an hour and a half away) to Playa la Garita, where we had a drinks as we sat at the edge of the ocean, eyeing the nearby beach for a quick swim.
Unfortunately the water was way too cold, and we were getting hungry, so we drove on to the northernmost town of Orzola, where we found another restaurant, the Mirador El Roque, where we shared pulpo gallego (octopus) and bacon-wrapped dates while taking in the sunshine and the sounds of the waves.
The next day was our beach day, as nearby our apartment there were a couple of resorts that were closed for the season, but had built stone coves, about 12 in all, with sand floors and straw umbrellas, for the guests to enjoy the ocean without actually being on the beach (as the beach was quite rocky).
We spent the next couple of days exploring the neighborhoods around Playa Blanca, seeing the contrast of the all-white vacation homes and the harsh landscape. There were also paved streets with sidewalks but no homes whatsoever, and broken and rusted street lamps that let us know, at some time in the past, a neighborhood was planned, but never completed. We even started a walk toward an abandoned resort hotel right on the water, but diverted that as the wind picked up and the resort looked like nothing special.
Our last meal on the island was at a highly rated Italian restaurant nearby, which provided us an excellent view along with tasty spaghetti carbonara, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, house red wine and tiramisu for dessert. Afterward, we walked the stone path to Playa Blanca, a man-made beach enclosure, which was nice but a bit too family/touristy for our liking.
With the weather taking a cloudy turn, and rain in the forecast, we made our way back to the apartment, stopping to take some final pictures of our surreal surroundings.
As we readied ourselves on our final morning, we heard the rain stop and start, and made our way outside to see a rainbow, slowly clearing the clouds, giving us a feeling of safe travels, and capping off a fine trip to the island of Lanzarote.