Lanzarote 2004

July 16/17, Friday/Saturday night

It’s finally time for our summer vacation! Nicole had been excited and nervous for days . We had to get up shortly after midnight, after not even 2 hours of sleep. We just had a cup of coffee, said goodbye to our cat, who looked slightly irritated, and off we went. We stopped at my sister’s, she and her husband joined us to drop us off at the airport and to take back our car. Check in – Nicole’s boogie board is bulk luggage! The flight was smooth, Nicole and I managed to get a little sleep.

July 17, Saturday

We arrived Saturday morning 7.30 am local time (it’s an hour earlier than in Germany) and it didn’t take long before we were picked up with the rental car. Arriving at the bungalow, it didn’t feel like being somewhere foreign on vacation, since we’d been here before in 2000. It’s warm and cloudy, and breezy, which feels really nice. First thing we did was shopping for groceries in a huge supermarket on the way to Arrecife, which is the capital of the island. The rest of the day was spent at the pool. In the early evening, we went down to the beach promenade to have dinner. Back "home", we went to bed, after a very short night before, we really needed some sleep!

July 18, Sunday

We spent the day at the beach. We rented two sunbeds and an umbrella. Nicole bought a floating tire and off she went into the water! She loves water of any kind – either the pool or the ocean! It was sunny and hot. The wind was a real relief! Still, since we all burn quite easily, despite of sunscreen, we spent the afternoon at home, playing cards. In the evening we went down to the harbor, having seafood for dinner, with a view across the harbor.

July 19, Monday

On Monday we made the first trip across the island, we visited Jameos del Agua, on the Northeast coast. It is a cave, designed by Lanzarote’s most famous artists, César Manrique. Actually jameos means hole, the kind of hole that forms when a cave collapses. Jameos del Agua is part of a big cave system, which was formed by volcanism. Lanzarote is a volcanic island, the earth is everything between yellow, red and brown, with very little vegetation. Back to Jameos del Agua, in there little white crabs are living. Those crabs are unique to that cave, they are nowhere else found. There’s also an exhibition about volcanoes, which is very interesting. It describes the different islands, each of them is in a different stage of volcanism and shows very different kinds of vegetation. Well, Lanzarote is in the earliest stage of developing a vegetation, it actually has none except some shrubs and cacti. Everything else, like palmtrees or tropic flowers only thrives on water given by men.

July 20, Tuesday

Another bright and sunny morning! We planned to look for a small beach where we could snorkel, a recommendation of my coworker. We drove around Puerto del Carmen, seeing really nice villas. Here must be the area for the wealthy people! Finally we found a little shop with snorkel and dive gear, bought a snorkel set and fins for Nicole and the shop owner told us, that that small beach is just down the road! It turned out that we knew this place from our last visit, but didn't realize it was perfect for snorkeling. We all loved to snorkel, and we have to buy a second set! There were lots of little colorful fish swimming in that bay, it was great to see them in their natural habitat. Unfortunately we got sunburned that day, so we decided for another trip the next day.

July 21, Wednesday

Nicole wished to visit El Golfo, a bay on the West coast, with black sand and stones on the beach. It’s actually half of a volcanic crater, and there is still a greenish lake, a remainder of the crater lake. These rock formations look absolutely fantastic! We definitely have to come here again at sunset. It was extremely windy though. In the black sand you can find small green gems, called Olivin, and you can see most of the people walking there heads down! We collected quite a handful and of course also a plastic bag of the black sand.

July 22, Thursday

It was a really overcast day, so we stayed home. We just bought a bunch of postcards to send. We spent the afternoon at the pool and in the evening we took a walk at the beach promenade.

July 23, Friday

The morning was cloudy and foggy, so we decided for another trip to the north. Close to Jameos del Agua is Cueva de los Verdes, the green caves. Both belong to the same cave system. We take a guided tour through the cave, which is about 5 miles long, but only a rough mile is open for visitors. The highlight is a lake, which lies extremely still; it reflects the roof of the cave so that it looks like there’s a way down into the rocks. Way down into the cave is a small open room, where concerts are held every other month. The rocks look very impressing and even though we’ve been there before, it’s still fascinating. On our way home, we just visited a supermarket and that was it.

July 24, Saturday

It was a really hot day. After toodling through the bungalow, playing cards and stuff, we again spent a few hours at the pool. It’s quite crowded and it’s hard to find a place in the shade under the palmtrees! We go back, take a shower and stroll down to the beach again. We had dinner in a Tex-Mex restaurant, where Christian and I shared a liter of sangria (red wine mixed with orange juice and fruit). Boy, was I dizzy! I had a rough night, with a headache. Besides, it still is hot, the temperature didn’t fall below 85°F and it was way too hot to get a good sleep.

July 25, Sunday

The weather forecast said, it would be 105°F today! I like it warm, but that’s definitely too much. We didn’t plan on a trip anyway, since Christian wanted to watch the Formula 1 race at 1 pm (we get German satellite tv), so we just went where? Yep, to the pool. Nicole constantly played in the water, there are two other German girls she plays with, they’re a little older, and unfortunately they will leave on Tuesday. The wind became really hot, so we went inside. During the afternoon, the temperature raised up to unbelievable 111°F, which is almost unbearable! I have never experienced this high temperatures before! But Nicole really wanted to go to the pool again... At 7 pm, the temp has at least fallen to 100°F and a light breeze was blowing.

July 26, Monday

Well, the temperature didn’t fall any further. We had a little below 100°F the whole night! It was really stormy and we couldn’t sleep. I texted with my sister and she said, this is Kalima. Kalima is a weather phenomenon, when the wind and the sand comes from Africa. This can happen everytime, not only in July, but in every other month too. The housekeeper lady brought us a fan this morning, which gave a little relief. It’s 1 pm and it’s already 105°F again. We stay inside, sit in front of the fan, watch tv, move as little as possible and spray each other with water once in a while to cool off. We may just drive around with the car later, since the car has air condition! I just hope that the fan will work against the sticky and hot air in the bedroom tonight. We couldn’t open the window last night, as it felt like lying under a hairdryer! I slept on the sofa in the living room for the last two nights, since it wasn’t as sticky as in the bedroom. Sticky enough though! I really wonder if I can take it any longer. Last night I felt like my head was exploding, I was close to going nuts. People say, this can last from 3 to 7 days – let’s just hope it will be over soon! Brigitte (the housekeeper) said, this is not the extreme Kalima yet. The extreme one brings a lot of more red sand from the Sahara, so much that you can’t breathe outside. Plus, there’s no place on the island where it’s not like that. She said, in the villages inside the land, it was up to 120°F! Can people survive that??? I really wonder why not many people have air condition here.

July 27, Tuesday

Today we went to the beach again. A few weeks before we left, one of Nicole’s classmates told us, they would be on Lanzarote at the same time, so I called her mother. They are only half an hour by car away, and I gave her my cell phone number to call or text us. They finally called last Friday and we agreed to meet at the beach today. It was still very hot, but at the ocean it was bearable. The wind was blowing heavily, sometimes we felt kind of sanded! Those little sandcorns can hurt! The kids had a great time, Nicole’s classmate Leona and her sister Daria are only a year apart. Unfortunately they moved to the other side of the city, so they won’t be classmates any longer... Anyway, we really had a fun day! We talked alot and they said they would like to do a boat trip the next day. We weren’t really sure about it due to the weather.

July 28, Wednesday

Well, it looks like the heat wave is over! Finally! The night was cooler and a fresh breeze is blowing. We took a trip to Jardín de Cactus, a cactus garden, once again designed by César Manrique. We’ve been there before and really liked it. We had a drink in the cafeteria, walked around and bought cactus jam as a souvenir. We returned quite early, so we took the chance to go down to the harbor and meet Leona and her family. We bought tickets for a 3-hour dolphin search tour, and luckily enough, about a quarter of an hour before the ship was to leave, Leona, Daria, her mom and her mom’s boyfriend René came. It took a while before the ship really left, but then it was fantastic! The girls had a blast, watching the fish in the glass bottom, then we took off in the direction of the neighbor island Fuerteventura, but unfortunately we didn’t see a single dolphin. The guide said, the rumor is that even three whales cruised the sea around Lanzarote, but no sight of them either. We saw quite a few flying fish instead! In the end, it wasn’t really a dolphin search, we just went to Fuerteventura and back. The ride back was like a rollercoaster ride – the waves were high and everybody was laughing and screaming when we hit the wave valleys. What the crew did was collecting a few rings and air beds that were blown away by the storm the day before. When we arrived back at the harbor, we all went for dinner, having freshly caught fish. Yummy! There was a fair at the harbor and the kids begged us to go. I wasn’t in the mood but I gave in. 2 rides for each kid, we said. Nicole isn’t the kind of child who likes scary rides or rollercoasterlike ones, so she just did a caroussel (she said, that was boring ), and then she decided for bullriding! There were four bulls in a row and they moved to a certain song. Even Christian and René did it! At first she looked like she would cry when it started, but then she had a lot of fun and didn’t fall off once! It was late when we said goodbye. Too bad they are already leaving on Sunday. I hope we will be able to hold contact – at least the girls.

July 29, Thursday

Once again we went snorkeling! We bought another snorkel set, so two of us could go at the same time. I love the lazy time at the beach, Nicole is occupied with playing, swimming and snorkeling, she doesn’t even mind that she doesn’t have anyone to play. Water is her element. A coworker of Christian is a diver, and we will meet with him to ask about diving courses and diving holidays. I really would learn to dive! We saw alot of groups in that bay, who did an introductory dive lesson. Nicole still is too young, but I know that she could do the first course when she’s 10; and I also know that she can do it at home in a public pool. What I would like to do most, is a family holiday, where each of us could learn to dive.

July 30, Friday

It has cooled off to normal temperatures again, in the high 80s during the day and in the high 70s at night. We used a blanket again for sleeping. A long awaited trip was on our agenda – the Montanas del Fuego, the Fire Mountains. But before that we went camel riding! That’s something extremely touristy, but Nicole loved it, and we all enjoyed it. The Montanas del Fuego are a National Park, we took a bus tour to see the volcanoes. You are not allowed to drive there on your own. It's a National Park since 1974. The natural landscaping was done by a long time of eruptions between 1730 and 1736, a huge area of fertile soil was destroyed. The last eruption took place in 1834, but that one was shorter. It really is scary to realize that the island once was a fertile place, with corn filled valleys and farms. Below the surface the earth is still very hot, the hottest spot is where the restaurant is, a bundle of deadwood held into a hole burns within seconds! And the bbq that is used for the restaurant is heated without any other energy than the heat of the earth itself.

July 31, Saturday

Christian and I went grocery shopping and finally bought stamps for the postcards, while Nicole stayed in the bungalow and watched tv. She hates grocery shopping . The rest of the day is pool time!

One thing I was wondering about. On the road to the north, there are a few signs "cattle crossing". I have never ever seen one single cow in the rubble, and I really wonder what these cows would eat! Hmmmm...

August 1, Sunday

Teguise was our destination for today. Each Sunday there’s a huge market, with souvenirs, t-shirts, ceramics and everything else. I never imagined it that huge, we needed a couple of hours to stroll through the stands. Most of the stuff is very touristy, and we didn’t buy much. Nicole got a few t-shirts and a little wooden frog that makes real croaking sounds when you stroke it with a wooden stick. At the end we got stuck in a shop that sells rocks and ceramics, and Christian and Nicole talked to the shop owner, who appeared to be German. He gave Nicole a crystal as a gift . In the evening we went down to the harbor to have dinner.

August 2, Monday

Today was another beach day, but not in Puerto del Carmen, but in Playa Blanca, which is the southernmost town in Lanzarote. I guess, there only are hotels and apartments, it really grew since we’ve been there last time. It took us a while to find a small beach, but then we’ve really enjoyed the day. Nicole took her snorkel gear and again saw quite a few fish. The tide came in slowly, we and the other people moved back gradually, until all of the beach visitors gathered along a narrow stripe of sand, while the water moved really close!

August 3, Tuesday

Another trip to the north – our destination is the Mirador del Rio, a Vistapoint about 470 m high above the coast, with an awesome view over three small islands that lie off Lanzarote. The biggest of them is La Graciosa, the only one of the three that is inhabited. It is very windy today, but the view is breathtaking. On our way back we drive cross-island, through The Valley of the Thousand Palmtrees, close to Haría. I’m sure no one really counted them, and I think there aren’t nearly 1000 palmtrees! Up the serpentines had been a small restaurant with a great view, but to our disappointment it is closed and abandoned. Another Vistapoint is up the road, but many clouds covered the valley. We made another stop at El Grifo, in the main wine area, there’s a small museum, which Nicole wanted to visit, quite interesting. We thought about taking a few bottles of wine home, but we know that the wine doesn’t taste as good as here at home, so we just bought a new corkscrew. For dinner we go the a restaurant in a little community north of us, in Macher, called La Finca. The owner is a friend of my sister and her husband, but right now she is in Germany, so we told the waitress to say hello from us and them. The food was pricey, but outstanding!

August 4, Wednesday

Gosh, I wonder what Nicole will do without a pool at home! We spent a couple of lazy hours, laying there and reading, while Nicole is more under water than above. Our plans for the evening included a picnic at the black beach of El Golfo, watching the sunset. Before, we visited Los Hervideros, a cliff just south of El Golfo. We walk around and enjoy the salty breeze, watching the ocean surf beneath. At El Golfo, Christian and Nicole, armed with a screwdriver and a hammer, climb in the rocks to find more and bigger stones of Olivin. Then we played a little in the surf, watching a dog, which belongs to another German family, who apparently did a picnic at the beach as well. The sunset wasn’t as spectacular as we thought, as clouds covered the sun. I was a little disappointed, but we couldn’t help it. With a little sadness we left, El Golfo is one of my favorite places in Lanzarote, knowing that it will take a lot of time to come back. Hard to believe that our vacation is over soon.

August 5, Thursday

We went cross-island to a beach near Famara, known as Lanzarote’s surfer’s paradise. We have strong winds and lots of clouds, so we just take a long stroll through the surf, watching the surfers. We drove back home and spent another few hours at the pool. It takes a lot of conviction to get Nicole out of the water!

August 6, Friday

Our last full day! In the beginning of the vacation, we strolled past a tattoo shop and Nicole fell in love with Henna tattoos! I told her she would get one at the end, since I don’t think it would last long with the daily layer of sunscreen, salt and chlorine water. She was content with it, but reminded me everytime we were in the area of the shop! I was rotating thoughts in my mind, since I have wanted a permanent tattoo for quite a few years now. During the several sights of the shop, I finally decided to get one. So, after an hour at the beach and a few hours at the pool we went to the shop and had the tattoos made . It didn’t hurt much, much less than I expected! It’s a small lizard on my left arm, easily hideable under a t-shirt. I don’t want to expose it always. We then went for dinner at the harbor and went home.

August 7, Saturday

We spent the time packing our things, tidying a little bit, and waiting for the housekeeper to pick us up for the airport. As I had expected, we were finished much earlier, so we spent the afternoon watching tv, playing cards and reading. The flight itself was smooth, despite having several whiny toddlers around us, who took turns in crying. Unh. At least the movie was one of my favorites – You’ve Got Mail - so the last 2 hours went by quickly. Arriving in Berlin, we got our car that my sister placed at the train station near the airport and drove home. We were home at 2 am Sunday morning, our cat greeted us slightly irritated, but he seemed to be happy to see us. We were in bed by 3 am – finally back in our beds .

August 8, Sunday

Laundry, laundry, laundry! But we were invited for a bbq at our friends from across, so at least it was an enjoyable afternoon. The temperatures here are now the same as in Lanzarote so it doesn’t take much to adjust. Further travel plans? We have to save up enough money to make an old dream come true – 4 weeks West Canada with an RV. We will go in 2006, next year we’ll stay at home.