Tag Archives: Mondalon

Gran Canaria Day 6 – Hike Quality

Wednesday 9 March 2022 –  Three days of dashing about the island (plus one of going back over some of the original workings) had left us with the luxury of not having to dash about to find multiple exciting new sites with which to dazzle our senses (and, of course, yours). There are a couple of things we’d like to do before we go, but since one of them was to go up to the top of the island (Pico de las Nieves) and the forecast was for fog up there (something I suffer from increasingly, these days), a day of leisure beckoned.

I spent much of this day of leisure battling up a mountain, and back down again (don’t ever let them tell you that downhill means speedy progress, unless they’re talking about ageing). Jane elected to stay at the hotel and drink tea.

The excellent Augustin, at the hotel reception, had given us a map of a local hike, plus  the key information that we’d need a, erm, key to get through the hotel’s fields, so I set off, armed with the map, sunscreen, water, hat and the key. Very soon after that I returned to the hotel to change my sandals for the walking boots I’d always intended to wear for the hike had not the downhill ageing process taken hold quite so effectively. Then I set out again, this time properly equipped for what turned out to be somewhat tougher than I had expected.

Quite soon after the start, and some initial intellectual exercise in connecting the map provided to the reality of what I could see, I started to rise above the level of the hotel and local houses.

You can see the hotel’s vines in the foreground and a further ammo for the comments I made in yesterday’s blog about the “sludgy” colours of some of the buildings (you can skip down to the last couple of paras if you’re pressed for time, or have a life to live).  In the sunshine, these look quite jolly, but when it was dull and rainy we really noticed the ochre shades.

The path ascended gently through farmland (more vines, mainly) and I noticed an attractive plant, so took a photo for Jane to look at.

It turns out to be an Echium, which is apparently a member of the Burridge Borage family. Yes, it’s an in joke.  If you don’t understand, just read on; nothing to see here.

All of a sudden, the gentle ascent started to be a bit steep

and it jolly well stayed that way right up to the top, I may say. At one stage I paused to take a photo (not a breath, oh, no) which seemed to show a slope similar to the one I was toiling up.

It may not look much to you, languishing there with a cocktail in your hand as you read this blog with a slight smile twisting your lips, but it looked fucking steep to me as I toiled up it.  I approached what I thought was the top

only to find that cruel fate was laughing at me and I had more uphill terrain to conquer.  But conquer it I did, and the views back down the valley were quite rewarding.

I was by this stage on the edge of a caldera, a volcanic crater, and, as one might expect, this was also quite a spectacular sight.

If you look carefully at the top left of this picture, you can see evidence of the oldest golf club in Spain,

Real Club de Golf De Las Palmas. Really. Founded in 1891 to cater for the English tourists of the day, apparently.

(I actually spent quite some time waiting for some sunshine into the crater.  Although the clouds were moving rapidly, they weren’t uncovering the sun; I suspected that the clouds themselves might have been caused by the very hill that I was standing on.  For amusement, I recorded the cloud’s movements. Please note that this represents ten minutes of watching the shadows. Just wanted you to understand the extent to which I suffer for my art.)

There were paths along the lip of the crater and I pottered about on them for a bit, appreciating the view, and working out whether to carry on up to the top of Bandama.

you can see that the final bit of the route to the top is simply a spiral round the peak, and this is actually a road, which wouldn’t be too rewarding to walk on.  That, and the fact that I’d used up nearly all my water, and wasn’t sure about whether spending the next three hours getting up there and back was a good idea or not, persuaded me to limit my ambition.  So I started down again, but not at all at high speed.  The going was steep and over slippery, gravelly paths.  Going up was hard work; going down was a little nerve-wracking, as a fall would certainly be annoying and possibly serious. Anyway, I made it down, back to the gate into the hotel vineyard.

I arrived back just in time to go for lunch in the hotel’s restaurant.  Those of you who have been paying attention will remember that we lunched there on out day of arrival, last Friday, and were not particularly impressed, so we thought that we’d try again in the hope that it would be better.  And, frankly, it wasn’t.  I was fortunate in that my food was very good, but Jane was left unimpressed with hers and aspects of the service were really not up to the spec one would expect of a destination hotel.  I did try the hotel’s own wine

and it was pretty good.  It’s unusual for me to drink wine these days – this was the first wine I’d drunk in three holidays in Spain over the last two years.  While I enjoyed it, it left me feeling a bit more bleary than the equivalent hit of gin would have, so I shall continue to avoid wine for the time being.

However, there’s still half a bottle of it left, and it won’t drink itself; Jane won’t help me, so I shall have to man up and take on the task of ensuring it doesn’t get poured down the drain.

We have one more full day here before travelling home on Friday; the weather auguries are favourable for a clear day in the mountains tomorrow so we may well take on the twisty roads once more and head up to Pico de las Nieves en route to exploring some more of the north of the island.  Come back and find out if that’s what we did, OK?


Lanzarote Day 7/8 – Bin to Lanzarote; Binter Gran Canaria

Friday 4 March 2022 – Changeover day!

Yesterday was spent doing Not A Lot; five days of relentless tourism and 500 km of purposeful driving around Lanzarote, we decided, Was Enough, and so we contented ourselves with simply driving over to El Golfo in Il Fiat Hybrid and had a nice – and very substantial – lunch in a restaurant called El Pescador.

I made the mistake of starting with a tuna stir fry which turned out to be an entire meal even though it was in the starters section of the menu; so when the huge lump of grilled Fish Of The Day turned up for main course I could only finish half of it. It was all good food though. The only other thing we did there – apart from discover that the restaurant which had been recommended to us was closed on Thursdays – was to revisit the green lake to see if it had increased in verdancy since our previous visit almost a week earlier. It hadn’t really, but it was nice to see it again.

Near our car in the car park was one that was decked out rather fetchingly in a design by That Manrique – further evidence of his lingering influence over the islands.

The rest of the day was spent in mundane activities – checking in to our Gran Canaria flights, catching up with the news and other bits of the papers and saying farewell to the lovely Dominica in the hotel restaurant.

Today was mainly spent getting from Lanzarote to Gran Canaria. We left the Casona de Yaiza at about 0930, got to the airport, dropped off the hire car, had coffee and got on a flight with the idiosyncratically-named Binter Airlines which took just 45 minutes to get us there. Once there we were greeted by not one but two Castaways reps, which was fine, because one of them could speak no more English than I can Spanish, i.e. almost none. The other, however, did a fine job of making sure we had a map of Gran Canaria and some suggestions as to places to visit whilst here. More importantly, the pair of them navigated us through a huge underground car park to the Cicar rental office where it eventually became apparent that they hadn’t quite got a car ready for us. It was thus great having locals to argue our cause and after a short wait we ended up with a Peugeot which we think is probably a 308; whatever, it’s a lot bigger than the Opel Corsa to which we were entitled, and it seems like quite a posh car.

From the airport to our home for the week – the Hotel Rural el Mondalón. This looks like it’s going to be a nice place to stay; it’s a working farm as well as a hotel and it’s quite swish.

We have a ritzy room above a lovely little courtyard

with a small balcony that has a view over part of the farm.

We arrived at 2pm, and its restaurant was still open for lunch, and we were told by the excellent Augustin at reception that it had just reopened, so we counted ourselves lucky on our timing.

Once we got to the restaurant, it was indeed reasonably clear that they had indeed just reopened, as it looked like they were sorting through minor teething troubles on an ongoing basis. Also, it’s a meat-focussed menu, and we ordered the fish, which arrived looking splendid on the outside but undercooked (well, raw, actually) on the inside. They bunged it in the microwave for a short blast and it returned rather better cooked. It was actually a good fish but one of the accompaniments – a fried plantain – was unrewarding to eat. But it was overall OK, even if it looks unlikely that we’ll rush back for lunch every day.

Whilst the Casona de Yaiza in Lanzarote was quirky in appearance and very comfortable, it had a couple of things that I missed: a lounge where one could just sit and order a drink whilst, e.g. writing the day’s blog; and facilities for making a Nice Cup Of Tea – the only mugs of tea we got were at breakfast. And, look, I know that’s pathetic, but when you get to our age this sort of thing begins to matter. So we were delighted to find that our room in Gran Canaria (named “Albillo” – a type of grape; every room was named after a grape variety) featured not only a kettle but also a fridge! This meant that a trip to the nearest supermarket was high priority so that we could procure a selection of life’s essentials – gin, tonic and milk. The nearest place was nearly a mile away and down a busy road with no pavement, so we drove there, bought the goods and hightailed it back to the hotel for a delicious cup of tea. Or three.

I took the chance to wash out a few smalls and hung them out to dry on the rack on our balcony put there specifically for that purpose. That is why it then started raining. Quite heavily, actually.

And that’s about it for the day, actually. We seem to have fallen into a pattern of having a big lunch and no evening meal, so the rest of the day has been given over to relaxing and, on Jane’s part, thinking about expeditions we can make on the morrow et seq. Not a lot to report in this posting, but hopefully lots to come over the next week, so do check back in and find out what we get up to.