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.

Day 0

A bit of a horrible journey this time. The plane had to wait almost an hour before leaving the airport and it was very hot and humid. I was stuck in the middle and the guy next to me was hogging the armrest. Felt really glad when we finally arrived and Madrid was windy and cool. Straight off to the hotel and bed.

Day 1 

We woke up early in Madrid and were picked up by a work collaborator for a tour of the clinic  where he works, and some coffee and tostados (toasted bread roll) with tomato and olive oil. It was surprisingly cool in Madrid, but it was actually nice.

After breakfast we headed back on to the empty metro (people were on summer holidays) to Madrid airport. We found it a well organised, comfortable airport. The flight to Fuerteventura was three hours, so I finished my book, Dictator.

We arrived to a balmy climate, but the weather got steadily hotter throughout the day until it was unbearable. We took a bus to Puerto del Rosario and, as we are both very hungry and the next bus to Corralejo was only in an hour, we stopped for lunch at a small café. I had fish croquettes, and J accidentally ordered tostados with jam (I can’t remember what he really wanted). Afterwards we took a short walk around and took a first look at the Atlantic. It didn’t seem to be a big town, but we liked the cactuses on the roundabouts and roadsides. It became very hot and walking back to the bus stop felt like crossing the Sahara desert.

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The bus ride to Corralejo was interesting, because the landscape was different to what I’d seen before. It was as dry as Namibia (maybe dryer), but with burnt, black volcanic rocks and white sand, then the azure sea. Hearing some Africans on the bus talking a language I didn’t recognise but which sounded vaguely familiar reminded us that Western Sahara was only 100km away, and that the Canary islands are really closer to Africa than to Spain.We caught sight of one of the volcanoes, a brown cone, top clearly blown off long ago. Earlier this year we were in the Azores, also volcanic islands, but the landscape was completely different because of the latitude.

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We arrived at our bus stop – actually we get off one stop too late – and took a very hot walk to the hotel we’d booked on Booking.com, backpacks on. When we arrived, it turned out to be less a hotel/hostel and more a house, with two shirtless guys lying on couches in the living room. They barely looked up as a young women almost wordlessly took us to see the room. It was a very weird atmosphere. I thought it was a bit strange when we headed downstairs to basement level, and when she then stopped and showed us “our” beds – two places in bunk beds in a multi-person dorm. I shook my head firmly, “No”, as I’d booked a double room. “Yes,” she said. “No – I booked a double room, I have the paper,” I told her. She took us back upstairs then, looked at my booking, and said something quietly to one of the guys lying on the couch in Spanish. He then also seemed to say no, and then she showed him the reservation confirmation. He sighed and got up. It turned out they had double booked the one and only double room, and had given it to someone else on Airbnb. Afterwards I read in reviews that it’s  happened to other people too. The guy then phoned various other places, waiting to hear back if there was a place for us to stay. It took quite a while, and they didn’t even offer us water, which would have been nice considering the sweltering temperatures and the long walk from the bus station. In the end he found a place for us in a hotel at the port, and paid the difference. We took a taxi to the hotel (the taxis on the island actually turned out to be very reasonably priced), and I was glad as soon as we saw it that we were staying there instead of the place we’d booked, as I really didn’t like the atmosphere of the other place, The hotel on the port was very well located, a few minutes from the ferries and a nice walk to the beaches and restaurants.

By the time we’d checked in, the friend we were meeting in Corralejo had headed off on a boat ride to Isla de Lobos, an island off the coast of Fuerteventura. We decided to go for a walk along the beachfront and go for a swim, before meeting him later for dinner. We enjoyed walking along the promenade, had a cocktail in a place with a nice view of the sea. We also went for a swim to refresh ourselves.

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After freshening up back in the hotel room, we popped into a supermarket to pick up some dessert and drinks for the dinner our friend was hosting. There I came across these cute gecko souvenirs. Of course I couldn’t resist getting one (and later two more as gifts). It was a nice walk to the suburb where he was staying, which was full of white buildings.

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Our friend was staying in the Canary islands as a “digital nomad”, i.e. freelancing from his laptop, so he’d planned to stay there quite a while and explore the different islands. He’d met quite a few people doing watersports, and one of them, a Sicilian, prepared us pasta carbonara for dinner. It seems like there are quite a lot of young people who come to the islands, stay in hostels, and spend all day at the beach doing watersports.

After dinner we walked back to our hotel – it was lovely to have the cool of night again. Throughout the trip the mornings and evenings were the best times to be out and about, as the days got very hot.

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Our favourite things of day 1:

Husband: swimming in the sea

Me: walking on the boardwalk by the sea, the dragon sandcastle, the gecko I bought in the supermarket

Day 2:

We sought out churros with chocolate for breakfast and found it. That is a must-have (as often as possible) for me when in Spain.

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Afterwards we headed to the port to take a boat to Isla de Lobos. The day before, the boat our friend had taken had caught on fire (or at least started smoking) and everyone had had to jump overboard. He was swimming in the sea holding his phone above his head until another boat picked them up. Luckily our boat ride was less eventful.

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Someone we’d met recently from Fuerteventura had recommended that we visit Isla de Lobos, although she said there is no shade, it is basically a rock, so to take a hat and sunscreen. That is very true – it was hot as hell, and when we were walking around the burnt landscape it felt almost like it was hell. It’s definitely worth a visit though, as the volcanic scenery is fascinating. You can swim or walk around the island, and of course we chose to hike up the volcano (after first walking around the whole island), although it was swelteringly hot. The views of the whole island were worth it.

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Afterwards we headed back to the port to catch a boat back to the island. We were the only two on the boat this time, so they drove extra fast. It was quite a joy ride, bumping along over the waves.

After freshening up back at the hotel (you see a theme here – in that heat a lot of freshening up was necessary), we met our friend the digital nomad for lunch. We all had fish and chips, since good fish is hard to come by in Berlin.

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Afterwards it was time to head to the beach – the bigger one this time – for some body-boarding. Our friend tried to work on his laptop while we body-boarded, but afterwards joined us in the water. The one disadvantage of the beach was that there were a lot of stones on the sand under the water, so often you would end up bashing yourself on them. So the body-boarding was a fun but painful experience. Other people surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing on this beach, although that day the wind wasn’t that good.

After the beach our friend said goodbye as he hadn’t managed to do much work at the beach (it was too hot and too bright) and he had to do some things for some clients. We went back to the hotel to freshen up (take 3) and then headed out for a walk along the promenade and dinner.

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For dinner we had tapas for two accompanied by sangria. It was a huge amount of food, delicious but too much for us. The dishes included Canarian salted potatoes, tomato with local cheese (goat), prawns with garlic, scrambled egg fritters, Canarian style pork, cheesy croquettes, bread and aïoli. The food defeated us, we were stuffed afterwards. After the heat, the hiking, being pounded by the waves during the body-boarding and the huge meal, we both feel physically tired, which doesn’t happen often anymore.

We walked back along the promenade one last time and I felt quite sad that it would be our last evening there, as I really enjoyed that walk by the sea. However I hoped that there would be a similar walk in our next destination, Lanzerote.

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Our favourite things of the day:

Husband: walk up the volcano

Me: fast boat ride, walk up the volcano, body boarding

Day 3:

Up early (but not too early, since our hotel was right near the port) and to the ferry. There was even time to have breakfast at the port, so I had another one of my favourites: tostados with tomato, and some cafe con leche (we like the Spanish coffee too). There was a huge ferry loading up outside the window, and it was interesting watching all the cars driving inside.

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Eventually it was time to head for our boat. We watched the big ferry leaving before ours arrived; it wasn’t as huge. The waves on the way to Lanzerote were huge. A British couple travelling with their young son basically talked him into being sea-sick by asking him every five minutes if he felt sea-sick, until eventually he said “I think I feel sea-sick” and then “I think I need to throw up”, and then they disappeared to the bathroom. That was quite a relief as he was almost making me feel sea-sick too. The best thing is just to focus on the fresh air and think about the fun ride over the waves, is what I’ve found. Eventually the island of Lanzerote drew nearer, and soon we were disembarking at the harbour. But that is a story for another day!

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2 thoughts on “Canary Islands travel diaries: first stop, Fuerteventura

  1. Pingback: Canary Islands Travel Diaries – Gran Canaria | Middle Europe

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