Archive for the ‘Island’ Category

A day to remember

October 27, 2017

We had a full day planned, first we were heading to the northern part of the island to visit Cueva de los Verdes, a cave system formed as part of a lava tube created around 3000 years ago after a major eruption. The cave system is formed by lava streams cooling on the top developing a solid crust before the lava drained away underneath leaving the top part as the roof of a cave. In many places the roof of the cave collapsed forming a cavern, known by the locals as a jameo. The caves extend for around 6km with around 2km open for guided tours.

We purchased our tickets and waited to be taken down into the cavern before entering the cave system. Can you see Roy? and Alex & Christine waving?

And I made it this far in

before looking over the edge and down underneath to the tunnel to where we were to go next and quickly came to the realisation that there was no way that I could go that far underground. I had a terrible sick feeling in pit of my stomach, my hands started sweating, my mouth was dry and the panicky feeling was steadily rising so I made the quick decision to turn around and make my way back outside, telling the others that I just could not go through the cave system and reassured them that I was happy to wait for them to do the tour, and I would be just fine outside in the sunshine.

They tell me that it was a great tour but they all understood why I could not make myself continue into the cave system.

reflections in a pool inside the cave system, it is so still that it is difficult to detect where the water starts and ends.

a backlit cave

Apparently in earlier centuries, locals hid in the caves to protect themselves from European pirates and Muslim slave raiders. A very scary thought, especially for those of us who aren’t keen on enclosed spaces.

About 45minutes later the rest of the crew emerged from the depths to join me in the sunshine after enjoying their tour.

From here we headed to our next destination, Mirador del Rio, a viewing point about 500metres above the sea, which is along a narrow winding road that climbs to the top. Now some of you will know that Roy is not good with heights, especially when he is in a vehicle and there are steep drop-offs to the side. And it seems that Alex has inherited similar traits so the drive up to the top was proving to be an interesting one. Roy wasn’t comfortable at all and I could feel the tension rising, so we asked Alex to pull over to let Roy out of the car. It did not help that there was no where to pull off the road and that there was a line of cars behind us, with tensions and stress levels rising all round Alex finally found a spot on to safely stop, Roy leapt out of the car saying he would wait for us at the road intersection where it would be safe to pull into on the way back. It turned out that we weren’t too far from the top, we safely parked in the car park and were reunited with the Denny’s. At this point it all became a bit much for Alex and a few tears were shed, but it was just a bit of stress relief and she was quickly back to her usual self and we were off to the lookout.

the entrance with the building in the background.

We headed for the entrance and in to the building and platform, it turns out to be yet another Caesar Manrique designed building which is cleverly built into the landscape so that it is barely visible from the road. Inside is a shop, a cafe and a viewing platform, but for us it was time for some refreshments and a chat before admiring the view. We couldn’t help wondering how Roy was getting on and if he was OK, I tried calling and texting him but he had his phone switched off! Oh well, I’m sure he will be ok so for us it was on with admiring the views.

the panoramic view

It is a spectacular view however it is a straight drop down and I must admit I did not like being too close to the edge. At the base of the drop on the left hand side of the picture is a desalination plant, one of five on the island supplying the only fresh water for the island. Once we had all finished admiring the view it was back to the cars.

Now, hopefully we will be able to find Roy approximately where we left him and that he is ok. He is known for wandering off and exploring so we weren’t confident that he would be where we left him.

The trip back down the hill was much better as we were now driving on the mountain side of the road rather than the cliff edge and it wasn’t long before we reached the intersection where we had dropped Roy off, sure enough there he was, grinning from ear to ear ….

with a glass in hand and a new friend!!

We should not have been concerned at all it seems. It turned out that Roy had taken a seat on this mans wall in the shade and before long they had started ‘chatting’. Apparently they had a long conversation with a Roy speaking no Spanish and his friend speaking not a word of English. Amazing what you can do with hand gestures, the odd familiar word and sign language.

From what we understood, Pedro (not sure of his name but this seemed to fit), was a farmer, he was cutting up corn stalks for feed for his 25 goats. He looked after his goats, milked them and made cheese from the milk – all of this information was gleaned with the appropriate hand gestures.

He also made wine, cue the picture above, and brought out a bottle of wine and two glasses, one large glass for Roy and one small one for himself. By the time we got to meet him, Roy was well into his second glass of wine and was very chirpy. I had a taste of the wine, it was very similar to grappa….in other words strong stuff! No wonder they both looked so happy.

We are not sure if Pedro knew where New Zealand was, or how much he understood, but as well as the above info we did get that he was ‘solo’, and he did get that we were married and that Alex was our daughter. What we do know is that we should not have been concerned for Roy at all as he was making new friends and enjoying local hospitality!! We Vannini’s are gaining a bit of a reputation for making friends with the locals.

All in all, it turned out to be a memorable day for the Vannini’s and their combined phobias.

Holiday in the Canary Islands

October 23, 2017

Sorry for the delay in posting blogs but we have no excuses except we’ve been too busy chilling out to write!

It’s not often that you can say that you are having a holiday, from your holiday, from your holiday, but we are!

We were picked up by taxi for our trip out to Stansted airport, Christine & Barry had already been picked up and it was our turn along with Alex & Ian. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our 4hour flight to the Island of Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, names not for the feathered variety of Canary but for dogs as the Latin word for dog is Canus……not that we have seen that many dogs either.

The Denny family all had seats together, with Roy, Alex and I in random seats scattered around the plane, not that we minded at all. I sat beside a lovely couple whom we sat quietly beside each other for the first part of the flight, however we struck up a great conversation in the second part of the flight and they filled me in on the ins and outs of life on Lanzarote. We were to later meet them again but that’s later in the week.

We landed late in the afternoon, the landscape is the first thing we noticed (after the heat) as the island is completely volcanic, as in, it is a barren scoria filled and lava flow landscape apart from the planted palm trees and cacti. The buildings in contrast, are all painted white, and all constructed from concrete.

We had two rental cars awaiting us at the airport and it wasn’t too long before we were on our way to the villa with Ian and Alex in charge of driving. The villa is well appointed and located in Costa Teguise which is about 15minutes north of Arecife Airport. The villa has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, laundry, lounge, kitchen and dining rooms and pool of course with bbq and pizza oven with outside dining area.

This is the pool at the rear of the villa

and yes, that is Alex Ian Christine & Barry looking over the fence from the path at the rear of the villa

And the view from the front door…looks desolate doesn’t it?

After settling in for the evening, we were soon all off for a good nights sleep.

The following day Ian, Barry & Christine went off to the aquarium whilst Roy, Alex and I went for a walk down to the local shopping and restaurant area to check things out. We saw some interesting sights including this one;

We did look up what this is all about, apparently one can join the club and you can go along buy what cannabis product you prefer and use it in the club in a booth. And no we didn’t go and check it out.

The weather was incredibly hot, with the daytime temperature sitting at about 35C, however, they were experiencing the Calima, a hot sand filled wind coming straight from the Sahara Desert which made the sky hazy, but kept the temperatures high and was apparently unusual for this time of the year.

We all met later in the afternoon back at the villa for a cooling swim before heading off into the town as there was supposed to be a market in the town square which we thought might be worth a look. We walked down into the town and found the market before settling down at a local bar to have a drink before finding somewhere to have dinner.

When in Spain, one must drink Sangria…

After a very pleasant dinner which included lots of local fish, it was then a leisurely stroll back to our villa.

The following day, Saturday, we decided to head into the hills where we knew that there were vineyards and to do a bit of wine tasting. Now they grow grapevines here quite differently to anywhere else we have encountered. For a start there is no soil as such, it’s all volcanic pebble like material, and to protect the vines from the wind the larger rocks are built up around the vine for shelter.

Some of the vines were grown along straight lines with the vines left to grow along the ground. But the higher we climbed, the landscape changed to resemble a moonscape. Over the years, local farmers have perfected an almost foolproof method for protecting the grapes. The plant is placed into the ground after the framer scrapes out a wide, shallow crater-like hole in the volcanic soil. Then, larger volcanic stones are balanced around the wind-facing edge of the crater, creating a low, semicircular barrier. The height of the makeshift wall and the depth of the the depression are important. The vine has to be able to soak in the sunshine without being hampered by shadows, and the hole has to be shallow enough that the plant is still getting nutrients and trapped water from the soil.Each vineyard has thousands of these holes and walls, each holding a single vine.

It is a sight to see.

We visited a number of bodegas (vineyards), one also held a museum which showed the development of wine over time on the island. We continued on and tried another couple of bodegas for wine tasting and some tapas, with the last one we visited proving to be the best. This was a very small family owned and run establishment, we were told by our lovely hostess Caroline, that her father was the 5th generation of his family to own the vineyard.

After ordering our drinks and tapas, Caroline told us that the goats cheese we were eating was made by her Mum, the tomatoes were grown by herself, and the wine made by the family. A lot of banter and good humour ensued, and we thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the sun with Caroline and her parents making us feel as though we were part of the family.

The bodega and the happy customers enjoying the hospitality.

the lovely tapas

with our new friend Caroline…..hi Caroline, if you are reading this, you made our day xx

We came away with a few of Caroline’s tomatoesand some of her mums delicious cheese, some wonderful memories having made some new friends.