Canary Islands travel diaries: Lanzarote

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For those of you who missed the last post, we started our trip to the Canary islands in Fuerteventura, then caught a boat to the nearby island of Lanzarote. After bouncing over the waves for about 45 minutes due to some strong wind, the sea grew a little bit calmer, and soon we were approaching the little harbour.

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Approaching Lanzerote

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Harbour in Lanzerote

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In the background you can see a ferry headed in the opposite direction, back to Fuerteventura.

From our first arrival at the harbour we noticed that the island was distinctly different to Fuerteventura, which we didn’t expect as they were not so far apart. Later in our trip we found the island Gran Canaria completely different too, so it seems like each of the islands has its own character. Lanzerote seemed to be a hot-spot for British tourists, more so than Fuerteventura, where we’d come across a lot of Italians, for instance. Near the harbour were many restaurants offering English breakfasts and roasts. If we were staying longer I might have indulged in some English food since I don’t get that often in Germany.

From near the harbour, we took a bus to Puerto del Carmen where our accommodation was. We’d chosen this side of the island because it was near the airport, and we had to catch a plane the next morning already to Gran Canaria. From the bus there was a great view of the volcanic landscape, with lava fields and cones. Another thing I noticed is that their traffic circles are beautifully landscaped, often with statues or cacti inside. Next time I think we’d rent a car on Lanzerote to be able to drive around and explore the landscape of the island some more. The Timanfaya national park in particular looked amazing from the postcards we saw. They also have camel caravans there, which must look stunning against the volcanic landscape.

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Salt pans

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Lava fields

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Volcano cones

I could have sat on the bus all day enjoying the scenery, but eventually it arrived in Puerto del Carmen and we had to climb out into the heat. For some reason we got off literally miles before our street and had to walk a long way in the searing sun with backpacks, At first it was interesting because Puerto del Carmen is packed with restaurants with all kinds of international foods, full of tourists doing different things, and part of the route had a beautiful view of the beaches and sea, but towards the end it was too hot to enjoy it. The best times of day here are the morning and evening, in between that the sun is too intense, and walking anywhere in its searing heat is taxing. I often thought of the South African saying “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”, especially since we were surrounded by British tourists. In the morning and evening, green parrots fly squawking around between the palm trees, the sea breeze sways the palm trees, doves coo. In short, I was very relieved when we finally arrived at our accommodation, especially because it was so lovely (little apartment rooms in white plastered buildings surrounding a pool). We sat in a puddle of sweat while filling in forms, and were relieved to finally get to the apartment, get rid of the backpacks and freshen up.

Kitties at our accommodation complex

Kitties at our accommodation complex

Feeling revived, we then headed back out along the same way we’d walked to the accommodation, which was even lovelier when we viewed it without heavy backpacks. We thought it would be too hot to sit on the beach so first we sat in the shade for a while having lunch, then took a slow walk along the coast, with its many palm trees and white, flat-roofed buildings. It was perhaps more touristy than Fuerteventura, but also lovely. It’s interesting how many of the British tourists there were tattooed, with blue swirls on their arms or backs. I never noticed before that the British like tattoos, but normally I’ve only seen them in the UK when it’s colder and they’re covered up. Doing a little research, I read that 29% of 16-44 year olds are now tattooed. Interestingly, I read that the English have actually being tattooing themselves for over 1000 years.

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It being so hot, we stopped often to rest in the shade of palm trees or enormous succulents/cacti.

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Strelitzia – this South African plant has made itself at home far and wide

After our walk we went back to the apartment to change into our swimming costumes, then went for a swim at a nearby beach. It was in the opposite direction to the one in the main touristy area and was emptier, which was nice. By the time we left the beach the heat had started to reduce a little, and suddenly we saw a lot of green parrots flying from palm to palm, squawking to each other. Our friend, who had been staying on Fuerteventura, had also arrived in Lanzerote by now. He would be staying on for a while, while we were flying to Gran Canaria the next morning, so he invited us to meet him and some others for dinner at 10pm, which seemed very late, but why not. We changed at the apartment, then took an evening walk along the beachfront, stopping for cocktails to fill the time before dinner.

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At 10pm we met the others for dinner at an Italian place, expecting the restaurant would be quiet by that time, but to our surprise the place was packed and we had to wait for a table to free up. It remained packed up till the time we left – the food was delicious, so it was worth the wait in the end. It was quite late by the time we walked along the beachfront back to our apartment, so not too much sleep because we had to get up relatively early to take a taxi to the airport. Luckily the airport was only 15 minutes away and not big, so we didn’t have to be there too much in advance. it’s easy to wake up when the mornings are so fresh and beautiful. After packing we sat for a while watching the green birds flying between palm trees, until finally it was time to go. Next stop, Gran Canaria!

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Favourite things of the day:

Me: lava fields and green birds

Husband: fuzzy cactus

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Canary Islands travel diaries: first stop, Fuerteventura

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In August we took a last-minute trip to the Canary islands, as a friend of ours was working there for a while as a digital nomad, and he invited us to join him there for some exploring. The volcanic landscape of the islands is amazing, and there are also lots of beaches for swimming and watersports. We visited Fuerteventura, Lanzerote and Gran Canaria, all of which had very different atmospheres. I’ll start with some travel notes from our first stop, Fuerteventura. Continue reading

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Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #25 – Winter is coming!

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Like Thistles and Kiwis, I’ve reached 25 posts for the Weekly Small Pleasures Blog Event! The organizer, Mani of a New Life Wandering, is on number 100 already, that’s amazing! In this blog event you record the little things that make you happy during the week. This week mine seems to be mostly about food. Maybe that’s because the temperatures in Berlin have plummeted. Last week we were on temperatures of 30 degrees Celsisus during the day and 20 degrees or so at night, and this week we’re having night time temperatures of 8 or 10 degrees! That said, the days have still been mostly sunny. I suppose now that it’s cold the leaves will start changing colour too, so that’s something to look forward to, although it’s still hard to accept that summer is over.

Anyway, here are this week’s small pleasures (in no particular order!) Continue reading

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Slovenia: Photo Diary

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We’ve visited Slovenia twice, once for the Easter weekend, and another time en route to Croatia from Czech Republic. It’s truly a beautiful country, containing the aquamarine Soča river, the Julian Alps, charming old towns, green countryside and friendly, kind people. Here are some of the photos we took along the way. Continue reading

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South Africa meets Czech Republic: our Protea-themed wedding

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As soon as I knew that I would be getting married away from home (South Africa), I knew there was one thing I definitely wanted at my wedding: Proteas. Proteas are a genus of flowers indigenous to South Africa, and the King Protea (Protea cynaroides) is the national flower of our country. 92% of Protea species grow in the Cape Floristic region. They are big, beautiful, hardy flowers, and you see them growing wild when you hike on the mountains. The first time I found some proteas in Berlin, I inhaled their subtle scent into my lungs and could smell home. Continue reading

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Weekly small pleasures #24 – Holding onto summer

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Where did August go?

Well – we  were getting married! Most of August was consumed with wedding preparations. Organizing a wedding (not to mention the paperwork for the marriage) takes a lot more time than I would have expected.  We also snuck in a brief trip to the Canary islands, which I will definitely share some photos of at some point! My parents stayed with us in Berlin the week after the wedding, which made me think I should also share some photos of Berlin and Prague at some point.

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Anyway – now things are back to normal, and we have been lucky enough in Berlin to be having really hot September weather. September is often still sunny and nice, but this year we’ve even had really warm temperatures to go with it. This is a great pleasure, and I feel a bit sentimental about every sunny day knowing that the autumn temperatures will probably set in from this weekend (the forecasts for next week are 18-20 degrees Celsius). But, before they do, here were this Week’s Small Pleasures. Thanks to Mani at a New Life Wandering for hosting this blog event. It’s great that she and Thistles and Kiwis are regular posters! Continue reading

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Castles, vineyards and solar observatories on the Saale bicycle trail

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Germany is full of surprises, and I am continually finding out about new places here. Last Saturday has to rank as one of the best days of this year. We spent the weekend cycling on the Saale bicycle trail in Thuringen and Saxony-Anhalt, an area of vineyards, castles, ancient archaeological finds, medieval villages and beautiful countryside. Here it how it all began. Continue reading

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The complications of a multi-national wedding

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When people get married in the movies, there’s never any mention of all the paperwork, and so I naïvely thought that on the day of the wedding you go to the church or government office, sign some papers and that’s it. Unfortunately that’s not the case, especially when it’s a marriage between two people of different nationalities, as in our case!

Someone in my German class told me he and his wife (both Italian) got married in the US, and all they needed were passports. The European version of a Las Vegas style wedding is apparently to go to Denmark as less administration is required there, but even for a wedding in Denmark you do need more paperwork than just passports, so a little bit of advance planning is required. My advice to anyone going into a multi-national marriage is not to set a wedding date until you have your paperwork in order. However this is also tricky, as venues need to be booked in advance and some papers expire (for example, a letter of no impediments is only valid for 6 months).

Our case is more complicated than most, as four countries are involved. I am South African but also have British citizenship, as my mother is British. My fiancé is Czech. We are living in Germany at the moment and we will get married in Czech Republic. As a result, we started with the administrative process for getting married in January, and are still not finished, in August, two weeks before the wedding. Continue reading

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