We've been to Tenerife a few times, and Gran Canaria once, so this year, with our first chance of a foreign holiday in 3 years, we tried Lanzarote. It's a bit smaller than the other main islands, and we were on the east side of the island, close to the airport, so everywhere on the island was less than an hour's drive away.
Our hotel for the 10 day stay was Los Jameos Playa. Playa I knew means beach, but looking up "Jameos" just translated it to "Jameos". We found out later in the week what it means so more of that later. The hotel covered a large square of land on an outcrop at the end of the Los Pocillos beach, with rooms round the perimeter and pools and gardens in the middle. It looks a bit like an old western style building, with lots of polished wood inside and a great big wooden staircase.
Our room was pretty small. Just a bedroom and bathroom between the three of us, so it was a good thing that we didn't spend too much time there. Most of the days were spent by the pool. There were enough loungers that we didn't have to worry too much about getting in early to find them, and it was fairly quiet as we'd gone in June this year, when the school holidays hadn't started.
The hotel grounds were nicely landscaped, with paths through some lovely trees and lots of desert plants. There were two main pools, one slightly warmer than the other, and these were pretty quiet as well, so we got plenty of swimming time in. The paths led to the dining area at one end, and a gate out to the beach at the other. Outside there were plenty of beach shops and restaurants. I forgot my card once and had to walk all the way round to the front entrance, since the beach gate was card-controlled.
We only visited the local beach on one day, but it was lovely. A big open curve of sand with a dramatic mountainous backdrop, there were loungers set out for hire, and again it was pretty quiet. We didn't stay too long but it was good to get a swim in the sea. The salt makes the sea noticably more buoyant, so it's a bit of a different experience.
Back to the hotel took just a couple of minutes, and we got ready for dinner. It was all-inclusive, and there was a fair bit of choice, with a theme each night, usually based on cooking from a particular country. Claire took a liking to the lemon ice cream. The food was good, but still not quite up to the Marylanza, though maybe there are rose-tinted spectacles involved there.
While we lazed on our loungers around the pool, the activities team put on events throughout the day, including darts, sjoelen, table tennis, various pool exercises and even lazy games they would bring to your lounger. Cate was rarely up before noon, but we joined in a few of the games, Cate winning at table tennis and I won one of the sjoelen games.
Unfortunately winning meant you had to turn up at ten past nine to the lounge where the prizes were presented, in between the mini disco and the evening's entertainment. Thankfully when my turn came they forgot about me and just came out to find me afterwards with my t-shirt.
The mini disco had all the old favourites. There must be a CD that gets sold around Europe for mini discos everywhere, with Chu Chu Wa, Vio Vio, Chocolate and Svim, Svim, Svim in der Ribber. (Sorry to European friends for my terrible spelling). The entertainment section of the night was mostly singers. We had a Beatles night, some strange air stewards who took us around the world, and a magician, of course.
To break up the holiday we hired a car for 3 days in the middle, so we could explore the island a bit, without having to book up a specific tour. On our first car day we visited Jameos del Agua. It turns out that a Jameos is a lava tunnel with the roof caved in at a convenient point so people can get in and out. This one was special for two reasons: firstly it was beautiful. The section you walked through wasn't very long, just about fifty metres or so, but it was filled with a pool of water. There was also a hole in the ceiling about half-way through, and near midday the sun shone right through the hole, creating a visible beam of light, which continued as it hit the water, lighting up the bottom of the pool, but also reflecting off the water and lighting up a spot on the ceiling.
Secondly, the pool is home to a unique species of miniature lobster, only found in this one location. I thought they would be hiding away down at the bottom and rare to see, but in fact they were all over the place, crawling about on the rocks. They were only about a centimetre long and white, like tiny ghost crabs.
The tunnel had a few places to sit, and buy some lunch. It was lovely and cool, and a great place to spend half an hour just chilling out. A few of the reviews complained that 10 euros was too much for a short attraction, but it was only short if you walked right through and straight out the other side. I enjoyed it. They also had a building designed by famous Canaries architect, Cesar Manrique, and the lava tunnel continued after the exit gap down into a big room they'd formed into a music or theatre venue. It looked like a great place for a concert.
On the way back we stopped at an Aloe Vera Museum. It was basically just some information boards, and a shop to buy all things aloe, including a drink that is supposed to have great health benefits, but sounds horrible.
On our second day we drove down to the south of the island. Here sits the biggest tourist area, Playa Blanca. However just round the corner there is a smaller beach, Playa Flamingo. The back of the beach was a wall with little curved inshots, where you could feel quite insulated from the rest of the beach. I thought these were a good idea. Again we had a good swim in the ocean, and Claire ventured in for her first swim in about four years, and with two new hips. Thankfully she wasn't dragged to the bottom by her bionic joints, and we had a pleasant hour or two at the beach. Afterwards we had our only ex-hotel meal of the holidays, at the Cafe Bahia, right beside Flamingo beach. We shared a decent pizza and some lovely tempura prawns.
For our third driving day, we booked a camel ride. This was over in the national park area, where you can get a bus ride around the volcanic hills. The alternative was a short camel ride, which is what we went for. The camels took us up a hill, where there was a better view across the volcanic mounds, then back down again.
Nearby was another interesting landmark. In the bay called El Golfo there's a beach with a lagoon in it. Nothing too special about that, but this one is also fed by the sulphurous rock nearby, which turns it a bright green colour. You can't get down to the lagoon, so it was just a case of viewing from a distance.
On th way back we had another brief stop overlooking a large salt farm. You could see the area divided up into "fields" where the sea is let in and then evaporates to leave a layer of salt, which is then gathered up into piles.
And that pretty much covers it. It was great to get away for a long distance holiday again, we had lots of time by the pool, and Lanzarote was interesting to drive about. I only drove on the wrong side of the road once, coming out of the camel area, but soon realised my mistake when cars came towards us on the same side. The hotel was very nice, entertainment good, and we didn't feel bored after our 10 days there. The flights were fine and the only delay we had was waiting for our luggage to be offloaded at Glasgow Airport. No health drama this year either.
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