Archive for the ‘Lanzarote’ Category

Art, wine & food

November 1, 2017

César Manrique is a well known Lanzarote artist and architect who had a great influence on his home island and its buildings. He advocated successfully for low rise buildings across the island as well a traditional paint colours. We visited his home not too far from where we were staying, the home has now been turned into a museum and art gallery.

The house is built low in amongst the lava tubes and bubbles with rooms cut into the rock, art decorates the walls which is not only his own but other artist friends as well such as Joan Miró and Picasso. I have to admit that I was not particularly enamoured to his art work but I did enjoy his sculptural works.

The pool area looked inviting too.

It would not be a holiday with the Vannini’s without a post about wine & food. We went out of our way to try local food rather than stick to the usual tourist haunts, and we did find a few gems as well as eating at the villa

BBQ at the villa


All in all a fun holiday for us all, with great company, good food and wine, and some great sightseeing.

A day at the beach

October 29, 2017

It’s not all sightseeing and gallivanting on our holiday, we do chill out as well. Swimming in the pool at the villa is always on the agenda, and to be honest, to allow us to cool down, we also went swimming in the sea and we can now say that we have swum in the Atlantic Ocean.

A couple of mornings before breakfast, Roy, Alex, Christine and I went to the local beach at Costa Teguise for an early morning swim and after a few days of running around it was decided that a day off to chill out would be in order. Alex & Ian were to spend the day at the beach (and to have a break from hanging out with the oldies!!), Roy and I were going to go down to meet them for a swim before going off to explore another beach on the other side of the island and Barry & Christine were going off to visit a cactus garden in the north.

Having a swim later in the morning meant that the beach had filled with tourists and locals alike all enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful clear waters.

yes, that is Ian at the left of the picture with ice cream in hand

Once we had had our dip, we left them to relaxing in the sun and Alex was also keen to have a go at paddle boarding.

Alex coming into shore from paddle boarding.

Roy and I headed off over to the other side of the island to a beach area renown for its surf, a beach called Playa de Famara.

it was a lovely drive over, with the landscape changing from volcanic to more tussocky and sandy, a lot like the dessert road we thought.

We came over the hill to be met by a large sweeping vista down to the ocean.

The entrance to the parking area at the beach

There were lots of people surfing and many more swimming, although I could not figure out the flag system they had set out as it appeared that people were swimming and surfing all along the beach.

After a wander along the beach, which we noticed was bereft of any shells, and watching the surfies battle the waves, it was time for us to return to home base, and another dip in the pool.

perhaps this time someone will tame that unicorn!!!

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.

Family connection

October 26, 2017

Who would have thought that I have a family connection to Lanzarote? My cousin Pauline and her husband Pat live in Playa Blanca so it was without a doubt that we were to arrange a get together. Now the last time I saw Pauline was 7 years ago which was a very brief meeting at a family gathering in Yorkshire, prior to that it would have been 1963 when I was 4 years old that I last saw her as this was when we emigrated to New Zealand.

We arranged to meet in Playa Blanca, Pauline had given us excellent instructions on how to get there and exactly where to park, and sure enough she was waiting for us in the car park. I cannot explain how emotional and exciting it was to finally meet up, but let’s just say that I was really quite overcome.

After the welcome we wandered down to the main part of Playa Blanca and ended up at a lovely restaurant on the waterfront where we all had lunch together. I really admire Pat & Pauline, as they have really immersed themselves totally into the local culture including learning Spanish and organising their own residency applications, it takes some courage to step out of your usual comfort zone and routine to live a very different lifestyle and move away from familiar surroundings especially when you are retired…..oh wait, it must be in the genes, we have also been known to up sticks and move on to new horizons!

L-R, Pat, Bernice, Pauline, Barry, Christine, Ian, Alex and Roy.

We had a lovely lunch overlooking the sea, and just as we had finished our lunch a familiar figure wandered up to our table to say hello. Yes, it was my neighbours from the flight over! Small world eh? We chatted for a bit before they continued on their way. I must be memorable!

After a look around the foreshore, Barry, Christine and Ian went off to have a look around the shops whilst a Roy, Alex and I headed off to Pauline and Pats lovely home for some family talk.

Pauline’s mum Maude and my mum Hilda were sisters, part of a very large family of 19 children, my Mum Hilda was number 17 in the line up, whereas Maude was the 11th. Our grandma was an amazing woman, well, she must have been to birth, feed and clothe all those children and it was lovely to hear that Pauline knew lots about her as she had spent a lot of time with Grandma in her young days.

Pauline had some photos for me, some of which I had never seen before including a picture of my Grandma as a young girl as well as some pictures of my parents wedding day with Pauline as a wee tot presenting Mum with a horseshoe.

I was completely blown away when Pauline brought out a couple of letters that she had kept, both from me! One was written by me as a 4 year old (clever clogs that I was!!), when Pauline had just had her first baby and before we emigrated.

the letter and envelope.

She had another letter written by me from when I was 12, it brought back some hilarious memories of everyday life. I had forgotten that I was in an all girl pop group with 4 of my friends, we sang at socials, and apparently we even wrote a couple of songs as well….we were obviously the original Spice Girls!! Shame the fame and fortune did not follow.

Pauline also had a picture of Grandad and Grandma together, Grandad died when my mum was 10years old and I don’t think I have ever seen a picture of him before.

Grandad and Grandma Womersely (OMG, Mums double)

But the next picture of the family (14 surviving children) brought shouts of laughter when Alex Roy and I were pointing to the different characters in the photo as we could see that my nieces Sarah and Frances resemble a couple of these characters and brother Steve as a young man has a doppelgänger in the picture!!! We shall see if they agree.

back row l-r: George, Fred, Doris, John and his twin Maude, Tom (his twin died),Alice, Bill

Front Row l-r: Betty, Alec, Mary, Grandma (Alice), Ella! Hilda, Edna

I am picking that this photo was taken in around 1938.

After talking, laughing and swapping information throughout the afternoon, it was time for us to leave to drive back to our villa in Costa Teguise.

I shall treasure our visit for years to come, and we hope we shall be able to meet up again soon.

Timanfaya National Park

October 25, 2017

Timanfaya National Park is volcanic National Park on the southwest of Lanzarote island

The volcano last erupted between 1730 and 1736 which resulted in the island being covered in the volcanic matter we see today. Timanfaya volacano remains active as the surface temperature in the core ranges from 100 to 600C at a depth of 13 metres.

We drove to the park entering through the gates some way from the mountain and the car park with the queue of traffic snaking its way for some kilometres in front of us as well as behind us.

The entry into the park is well controlled as the car parking area is very limited so you are only let in when space is available.

Cars queued in front of us

And cars snaked for kms behind us

we have no idea why it was so busy on a Monday, when there were no public holidays and it is not as though it is peak tourist season either.

Once we reached the car park and safely negotiated the parking area we then hopped onto a bus for a tour of the park, the only way to view the park as it is a one way, narrow winding road.

the motley crew

this is known as Manto de la Virgen, which we took to roughly translate as nuns mantle

The view across to the Caesar Manrique designed visitor centre and restaurant nestled on the top of the mountain.

Back at the parking area we were invited to watch the attendants show just how near the surface the heat is. The attendants shovel in dried scrubby material which ignites almost immediately.

Next they poured a bucket of cold water into a vent hole which then spurted with a hiss and a roar, much like a geyser, into the air to the oohs and aahs of spectators.

After watching this show, you can appreciate how a visit to Rotorua thermal area in New Zealand would be a mind blowing experience for some people!!!

It was time for some lunch in the Caesar Manrique designed restaurant nestled into the top of the mountain, with an impressive view over the whole park. (More on Caesar Manrique in another post).

After lunch we left the mountain to head down to an area further along the road where we all decided to have a go on a camel ride. This is a bit of a different camel ride to others that we have done as on this ride the seats are astride of the camel.

our rides waiting patiently

yes that is Roy waving madly at the camera, with Christine and Barry in front of us.

Alex and Ian led the way on the safari into the dunes.

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.