Canaries Cruise 7: Lanzarote

This was the prime candidate for the day we opted for a shore excursion offered by the ship, rather than just do our own thing. There were several reasons for this – we were only docked for a short time (11 am till 4 pm), it was a shuttle bus trip into town at a cost of a fiver, and anyway it was Spain’s national day so most shops would be closed (even if it wasn’t siesta time). So we plumped for the Fire Mountain tour.

I wore my cotton trousers. coral and grey broad striped T-shirt, orange Landsend jersey unstructured jacket, grey scarf, Timberland leather thongs.

On board the coach, we got our first view of this strange volcanic island, whipped by strong winds, where little grows, and the crops have to be protected by low walls. Our firt stop was the camel ride. We’d ridden camels before when climbing Mount Sinai, but these were slightly different, and the beautiful beasts wore special carrying saddles that carried 2 people, one on each side. I can’t begin to calculate the average weight these beasts of burden were being obliged to carry! I only hope they were indeed being well treated, and only worked for a few hours each day.

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They really are astounding animals – enviable long eyelashes, dinner-plate sized feet, and extendible necks. And apparently they get sexually aroused by wet weather! Arrecife was till recovering from a bad storm 2 weeks ago, though I think it was the rain rather than the camels that did the damage.

Our next stop was Timanfaya National Park, for some astounding demonstrations of just how hot the volcano beneath our feet is – some dry straw thrown into a hole in the ground catches fire in a matter of seconds, while a bucket of water poured into a hole explodes back as a geyser. The symbol of Lanzarote is the devil, so I bought a little devil pin for my son, at 2 euro. The the bus took us on a tour round some of the weird lunar landscape and spooky Mordor-esque bleak rocks. Rog didn’t enjoy some of the terrifying cliffs that we were driving perilously close to, but it was certainly an unforgettable experience. Could have done without the atmospheric background music, though.

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Then to a wine growers. Wine? Really? On this blasted and barren inhospitable lump of hot rock? Apparently the layer of volcanic ash acts as a nutrient filled sponge, and vines planted in a little hollow, and protected by the customary wall, produce a grape that makes a superbly classy dry wine. The bottles for sale were handily already wrapped in bubble-wrap, ready to transport home. At 8 euros, I was only sorry that I had to restrict myself to just the one bottle. There was a superb tourist shop as well, where I picked up some cigars to give to my son at his impending graduation.

Back on the boat, we had our last dinner in the 7 seas, watched the Cool Britannia show, with an amazing succession of costume changes, and caught a bit of a duo called Word Gets Out, who I have to say were one of the worst acts I’ve ever seen.

Cruise tip of the day: Make sure you leave room in your luggage to bring home the delicious and unusual wines that you discover!

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