I am writing this post on Christmas Day but, being alone at this time, I want to write about anything other than Christmas to avoid bursting into tears for the third time today… preferably recalling more enjoyable, recent times.
In my last blog post I mentioned Seasonal Affective Disorder, I have not been clinically diagnosed as having this but I am totally certain that I suffer it to some extent – every year in autumn and winter my mood is lower, I find it difficult to get up in the morning when the hours are short and especially when there has been a prolonged period of dreadful weather (today being typically awful, with grey skies and increasing rain since before 10.00am this morning), and so on….
…so this year I thought that I would do something about it, at least for a short period, and so I decided to go away for an end-of-year holiday, in mid-December. I had thought of doing something new, as I have become more prone to adventure and willing to try pretty much anything (except for bungee jumping, parachuting, and vindaloo curries) at least once, and the idea of visiting one of Germany’s Christmas markets came to mind… but the price of the flights last-minute (for I only started planning at the start of this month) was ridiculously expensive, and I am not made of money. Then I figured that that was a dumb idea, because if I am already suffering from S.A.D. then surely I need to go somewhere with at least a marginally better climate to home, and so I looked for the cheapest flights possible to somewhere reasonably warm… and ended up booking a return flight to Lanzarote for only £84! Less than two weeks after I booked that, as well as three nights half-board at a reasonable hotel and ridiculously cheap car hire, I was setting off on my break. Canaries here I come… AGAIN… only six weeks after I had left Tenerife! So… this is another holiday post, and as I’m lagging behind a bit in what I want to write to you about, I’ll cover the whole break in one post… probably with the usual bucketful of photos.
The only downer was right at the start of my holiday in that I had to get up at 2.15am as my flight was departing from Dublin at 6.15am!!! But it was worth it, as I was leaving Lanzarote airport at around 11.00am in my little hire car for a full day of exploring… in BEAUTIFUL sunny weather, 23C and a cloudless blue sky. After a couple of stops along the east coast,
passing some nice beaches and coastline, I got to Stonework Beach near Orzola at the northern tip of the island… my first favourite spot of Lanzarote (see picture, above right); there was a bit of a breeze, but the temperature was still wonderful, and I was warm enough in just a girly T-shirt. There was quite a swell in the sea, and some great waves for surfers. From there I headed up a pretty scenic road to a small village called Ye, and then to a viewpoint that offered a lovely vista of a long, thin island, called La Graciosa, pitted with collapsed volcanic
cones (photo 2, left). After some more driving around, and a few little stops, I ended up walking very happily in my T-shirt on a scenic beach… in December!!!! With time getting on, I started heading south to my hotel, through the amazing Timanfaya Volcanic park that I would see much more of the next day (see logo statue right, and late-afternoon photo below). Shortly after 6.00 I checked into my hotel in Playa Blanca and was given a glass of Cava by the friendly porter who showed me to my room; the hotel had taken onboard my request for a quiet room, and it was perfect, away from any noise, and very spacious inside too. I dressed smartly for dinner in summery, floaty trousers, a thin top and matching cardigan, and ate outside… in December! Such fun… and a very enjoyable dinner too, with a HUGE buffet spread, including fish cooked freshly by a friendly chef in front of me; the waiting staff were very friendly… and madamed me several times.
I awoke on Saturday to another beautiful day and, after a plentiful breakfast from another bountiful buffet (where I got ‘ladied’ by a waiter), I set off for a full day of exploring. My first stop was one of the number one tourist attractions on the island, the Timanfaya Volcanic Park… and rightly so, because the scenery is stunning and other-worldly, different from anything I have seen before, a landscape drowned in immense lava flows from the last major eruption lasting six years from 1730 and littered with numerous volcanic cones in assorted burnt colours; see photo below of one example from the park itself. At the car park one of the tour guides said “my dear” as he gestured me to the next tour bus, which soon left, along an extensive road through some of the major volcanic sites; he stopped several times while the tour tape explained the history of the area, and he was kind enough to roll the door window down so that I could take some photos without reflections in the windows. There was also a geyser near the car park that sprayed passers by every so often. The only aspect of the park I didn’t like was that the experience was all a bit synthetic compared to Tenerife, in the park itself it is practically impossible to stop anywhere to take a photo – I understand that they don’t want people wandering all over the volcanic rocks, but it would be nice to have a few stopping places for marvelling at leisure at the amazing scenery.
After the park, I headed north, for more exploring and much photo taking, I got a bit hungry… and decided for the sheer novelty value of it to have an ice cream, just because it was mid-December and the weather suited it. Then I went to my favourite place on the island, a place with what I consider to be magnificent, unspoilt scenery and, best of all, little-discovered and in fact devoid of any tourists. One reason is because it was not easy to get to – I had to drive off the main road, beyond the suburbs of a small town, down a gravel road, and then at a make-shift parking spot walk a half mile to the coast and then another half mile to the spot where the coastal photo below is taken. To me the waves were lovely to listen to, nature and nothing else, and the red rock in the distance quite unusual and
spectacular; I may return and explore further. I visited quite a few other
sites, and took loads of photos, but I won’t detail them laboriously or drown you in photos… though I will soon put more photos on my Flickr page if you are interested. I always think that there is a certain romance in watching the sun go down at the coast, seeing the sun dip below the horizon… although I didn’t have anyone to share it with… but it was rather nice, the photo below is of the sun setting beyond the still ‘harvested’ salt works on the island; the best thing of all, the sun set at 5.55pm (nearly two hours later than at home), and yet the temperature at that time was still 21C! In the evening I went shopping in Playa Blanca for bargains, haggling with a guy in a perfumery to get a bottle of my favourite My Burberry for a very reasonable price, and then spending rather too long in an electronics shop as an Indian guy tried to flog me a camera that must have been a fake for the price he was trying to sell it for… and so I was not tempted to buy even though he madamed me to death. The staff at dinner was really nice, I asked one of the chefs what the meat was that he was slicing off a leg bone and he joked “donkey”, and when I looked agog he laughed and said it was lamb. As I ate outside, quite late, there was some quite enjoyable entertainment at the Arabian bar nearby, belly dancing… though it was more the music I enjoyed, having little interest in the actual dancers… but as I sat back after my dinner and finished off my drink, I wore a huge smile on my face, having had SUCH a good day and feeling SO on top of the world.
Sunday was another sunny day – how lucky was I, huh!! EXACTLY the weather I went away to find. Another day of exploring (I don’t do relaxing / pool), more so inland than the other days, marvelling at the other-worldly lava flows almost devoid of vegetation, and also the endeavours of the locals to farm the land as best they can – see right for a vineyard, where cones of ashy lapilli are raked out of the land to plant vines in the fertile ground below. I eventually ended up at another really interesting tourist spot, a volcanic cone called La Caldera Los Ceurvas which was the very first one that made up the eruptive activity of the 1730s – it was a bit of a walk to get to the cone itself, which was fine, and then I started walking around the base of the cone… and then inside it!! It was sooo eerie, but lovely and peaceful, with bold, colours of ochre… and the amazing thing was that the landscape actually smelt burnt! But despite that, as I walked further around the cone, there was some flora and fauna, including these beautiful geraniums. After visiting a number of other places, including Teguise which is one of the bigger and more attractive old towns on the island, I eventually ended up at the very volcanic coast not too far from my hotel near the salt works where there is an impressive natural feature called Los Hervidores, basalt columns of rock jutting into the sea, with a cave all the way under one of the rocky spines (see photo below) through which sizeable waves crashed like thunder. Alas the sun was going down, and I returned to my hotel and started packing for my departure the following morning. I had a lovely final meal, greeted by a friendly wasiter who as usual said “Good evening madam”, treating myself to a very good half bottle of Spanish wine… and proving that I can still walk in sizeable heels when tipsy! While I was eating my dinner I was surfing on my tablet and playing Words With Friends, I was chatting to one guy on it and telling him about the lovely bath I had and he said “Bet your boobs didn’t freeze when you got out!” – uh, no! 🙂
Sadly Monday morning I left my hotel about 8.45am for the airport, though there was just time for one or two short stops for photos before getting there; in the arrivals area was a Christmas tree… and I guess as it is Christmas Day then I should include a picture of it. Several hours later I was back in Dublin… to totally grey skies, pouring rain, and single-digit temperatures… but I didn’t mind, as I had had three, perfect days of holiday away in a place I had not even considered venturing to prior to a few months ago… and although this afternoon, on my own at Christmas, I have been very upset a couple of times, writing this blog and reviewing my photos has cheered me up – that’s what these happy memories are for, a temporary lift to S.A.D. and some at least temporary buoyancy for my mood during Christmas.
I hope you all have a good Christmas yourselves, however you are celebrating it.