Friday February 25 – And so the adventure begins – with an 0330 alarm for an 0430 taxi to Heathrow. We can tell when we’re on holiday – it’s pretty much the only time we have to get up early.
The UK is well on the way to unlocking as the pandemic recedes – restrictions no longer legally required but left to personal discretion. So we were not too worried about falling foul of paperwork as we left the UK, but still felt a little in the dark about what would await us as we arrived in Lanzarote. Jane had, as ever, done a masterful job of ensuring that we had completed all the things we thought we needed to do, but there was always a tiny lurking doubt in the corner of the mind that perhaps we might get an unwelcome surprise. So, clutching vaccination records and Spanish QR codes (backed up to Dropbox coz you never know), we stumbled out into the dark and into the taxi.
We actually arrived before the official start time for dropping off bags for our flight, but that didn’t seem to matter, and the bag drop and security parts of the process were swift and largely trouble-free, bar a poke at my laptop with an explosive detector swab. I didn’t see any instructions to wear a mask, but pretty much everybody was wearing one as they walked around. So we found ourselves a seat in what had by then become quite a busy terminal.
So busy, in fact that the queue for a coffee was sufficiently daunting that we didn’t bother.
The flight was uneventful and on time. Mask wearing was mandated whilst not eating or drinking, but since I had a rental car to drive at the far end I couldn’t join in with the chap sitting next to me as he waded into a couple of G&Ts. The main concession to Covid on arrival was that disembarking was done in sections. The first ten rows were called out through the front exit of the plane, then the last ten through the rear exit. Finally the middle rows were called and we shuffled off onto the mystery bus tour that ended at the terminal building.
UK passports are still accepted at the electronic gates and after the passport gates were some desks set up to review Covid paperwork. Courtesy of Jane’s efficiency we had the right QR codes on paper and were waved through immediately, so in practically no time at all we were in the baggage hall, doing the carousel stare thing. I took the time to pick up the keys to a rental car, the process for which took less time than the arrival of our cases. My bag took so long to come through that I was actually beginning to fear the worst, but it finally made its appearance and so we went out to meet the Castaways rep, Eva, who escorted us to our motor, a tiny Fiat Hybrid – brand new, just 18km on the clock. Tiny as it was, we could fit everything in and so we embarked on a tour of the car park trying to find the exit, which we managed on the second go round, with Jane getting reassurance from a nice chap that the exit was actually open.
I had brought a satnav with us which made the journey to our hotel, the Casona de Yaiza, pretty straightforward, and I discovered that I actually could still drive a car with a steering wheel on the wrong side and a manual gearbox, apparently without upsetting any of the other road users. I also discovered that I had got out of the habit of wearing a mask for short transactions indoors, and was politely reminded, when I refilled the car, that mask wearing indoors in Spain is still a legal requirement.
Because of our early start, our arrival at the hotel was quite early, too. The reception wasn’t quite ready for us, but after a couple of minutes a nice lady called Chus (short, I think, for Maria Jesus) checked us in and explained a few things about the island – good places to go, places where you’re not allowed to go, that kind of thing – by which time it was lunchtime, for which I was frankly quite ready, having had only a bowl of cereal and two large sandwiches by this point. So we went into the restaurant, which is quite charming
where we were served by a lass called Dominica, who was equally charming. The meal included a gazpacho based on papaya, which Jane pronounced to be delicious, and a fillet of a fish we eventually found out was called a pejerrey, a Peruvian Silverside (?) which was equally delicious.
Replete and tired, we had a short rest and then pottered round the hotel, which is as charming and quirky as the restaurant.
There are artistic touches all around, including some nice mosaic work
and plenty of succulents, some of them very substantial.
So this is to be our home for the next week as we discover the delights of Lanzarote – some walking, some driving, some appreciation of the art of César Manrique (who was to Lanzarote what Gaudi was to Barcelona) and some Nice Lunches beckon.
As the afternoon drew to a close, we thought we’d take a walk around, particularly taking up on a route mentioned in the book “Walking in Lanzarote”, one of the Sunflower books which we’ve valued so much over the years as a source of ideas for destinations and walks. So, off we strolled, past some amazing gardens.
One house had converted its garden into a vineyard.
Also, we passed some open spaces covered with just the black laval soil (more like fine gravel, really), in some cases with people working on them, although we couldn’t see any plants or other evidence to explain what they were trying to achieve.
Some of these expanses of black soil had circular enclosures in them. We can’t quite work out what’s going on, here – is it cultivation? Clearing for building?
The route description mentioned a flight of steps leading down to a roundabout which surrounded a Norfolk Pine. We found some steps
but they clearly weren’t the right ones. Heading back to the hotel, we eventually discovered what the route description had been talking about, but by that stage it was quite dark so a photo wasn’t possible. However, since this is close to the hotel, rest assured that I will eventually and photographically take the necessary steps.
That’s it for today. It’s been a long one and so rest and recovery is the order of the, well, night. Do check in again over the course of the next days to see how the week develops.