Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Gran Canaria

First part of the island that we explored was the area around the marina. We wanted to find some shops, maybe some restaurants and see the North beach that is just across the narrowest part of the island. We had luck and the first week in Las Palmas was windy, but very sunny and warm, ideal to walk around.

This is the view to the marina from a small hill in the town.
North beach is huge, has showers and a nice promenade with plenty of restaurants. Towards the East the beach is protected from swell by some reefs and this is where most of the swimmers and sunbathers are ...
... and to the West the swell gets into the bay and that's where the surfers are.
On Thursday we rented a car for two days, the prices for cars are as those in Lanzarote pretty low. Years ago we already saw the touristy South part of the island, so we decided to drive to the Norh side and into the hills. We drove by the colourful town of Gualdar...
... and made a stop on the North coast at Los dos roques. There is not much there, except vast banana plantations and a nice beach...
...and this concrete pool, that is flooded during the high tide. It is quite big and there's plenty of fish in there, and I imagine that water gets warmer there at low tide as well, and at high tide fresh water gets in and fish can swim out.
Our next stop was Puerto de las Nieves. It's a small fishing town with small port with marina and lots of restaurants. It's biggest attraction was a Dedo de Dios, god's finger, the spiky rock in photo, which upper part unfortunately broke off in hurricane several years ago. Now it's just a rock in the sea, without the finger pointing to the sky. There is also a small anchorage there, maybe for two boats, but only when the swell from North is not too big.

We continued along the NW coast along the cliffs and stopped wherever there was some space.
One of our stops was Mirador de balcon. It is a balcony made in the cliffs above the sea...
...with pretty nice view to the South..
...and to the North. The place in the distance is Puerto de las Nieves.
Then we drove to La Aldea and turned East into the hills. The road was not very good, at the beginning we thought we got lost. But then it was a bit better, but still very narrow. Luckily there was very little traffic there and most cars were honking their horn when approaching the bend. But the scenery was beautiful.

There are several lakes with damms there.
This was our nice car, almost new, not too big and not too small and with enough horse power to easily manage the hills and the bends.
More hills and rocks
The ride was such a joy, but road was really narrow, chiseled into the rocks.
Another lake. There was obviously more water in there in the past.
We followed the road towards Roque Nublo, there were parts of it where it was so steep we were driving in first gear all the time.
We again stopped at every point we had the chance to. At some places one could see the different materials and colours of rocks of which the hills are made.
Nice view over the hilltops. To the right of the photo is Roque Nublo.
The road where we came from.
It looks rather dry in the hills, at least in the SW part, but there are still interesting things growing - like this lichen..
...and other plants adapted to dry environment.

There are also some villages almost at the highest hills.

This is the view to the West and the white plastic covered plantations are where the La Aldea is, where we came from. And if you look carefully, you can see the peak of Pico del Teide on island of Tenerife above the sea and clouds, some 60 miles away. Mountain Teide is 3.718m high and the highest mountain in Spain.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Back to Canaries

So, we're back on Canaries. We returned to Lanzarote ten days ago, after being home for six weeks. It was a sad time, but I was overwhelmed by all the love and support, warm words, real and virtual hugs I got from our friends. Thank you so much. As our lives got back towards normality, we decided to return to our boat, captain was already super anxious and concerned if all was well.

Here are couple of photos I shot before we flew home. They are made with my new camera, Olympus TG6. My previous was TG2 and served me well for over six years, so I decided to stay loyal to the brand. I'm still trying to figure everything out about TG6, but I already noticed the new photos are sharper and macro function is better. These two photos of anemones and hydroids are the only test of how TG6 operates under water I managed to make - I was kneeling on our pontoon in marina in Lanzarote and stuck my arm with the camera in the water and blindly shot couple of photos. I was quite happy with results, but to test the camera under water more thoroughly, I'll need warmer sea than what we're having here.

Captain was very happy to see the small fish eating the growth on our hull. Could this be a new marina service?
This is the famous Playa papagayo, we visited one afternoon. It really is pretty. Marina Rubicon is to the left in the background.

When the sun went down the light got really pink. This is captain on the top of the hill.
Couple of people came riding by.
When we returned to our boat after being away for so long, we were both relieved that all was in order, there was some sand over the boat and in the cockpit, but luckily not inside. We did some cleaning and stocking up and next day we left the marina. We had plans to sail along Fuerteventura, anchor for the night if we found a good anchorage and sail to Gran Canaria. We thought we would spend the first night in anchorage at small island Isla los lobos near Fuerteventura, but it was rather rolly so we just took some photos and sailed on.
The ride along Fuerteventura was fast and bumpy, the waves were about 2 meters big. At one point I saw something swimming in the wave behind the boat, and it was white! Then I spotted two smaller grey things as well. As they raised their heads above the water, I saw that their heads were very round, like melons. And they were bigger than atlantic dolphins. But they were riding the waves just like other dolphins. First I thought they were pilot whales, but in the evening I checked the interent and learnt that they were Risso's dolphins (okrogloglavi delfini, Grampus griseus), although closely related to pilot whales they are the only species where adults are almost white. Unfortunately I didn't have the camera at hand so I didn't get any photos. I'm really sad, they are not seen so very often. 

In the evening we anchored near city of Gran Trajal. It was incredibly rolly and captain got up at 3 in the morning and lift the anchor. I tried sleeping on. At about 8 we rounded the lighthouse at Morro Jable...

...and then anchored in bay in front of the marina. It was quite calm, and we slept some more. Unfortunately the wether wasn't very nice. During the day couple of ferries came into the harbour and they turned not too far away from us. While nobody made any fuss, we had the feeling we were in their way.
So in the afternoon we sailed another couple of miles to SW point of Fuerteventura to spend the night there. It was a fast sailing over the flat water. We anchored in front of the lighthouse in not very calm anchorage...
...swell was getting in around the lighthouse.
But we still managed to cook us a good dinner and got some sleep. After the breakfast we sailed off at about 8 next morning. Day was unfortunately grey again, wind strong and lots of waves. It was a bumpy and fast ride. We almost got run over by this ferry, despite us being under sails and having right of way, and calling him several times over VHF, lastly we decided to change the course to avoid collision. We prefer to be unharmed and alive rather than right.
We arrived in Gran Canaria at 4 in the afternoon and anchored in anchorage between the breakers of the port. It got really calm in the evening and we were so happy to sleep well after two bad nights.
Ok, the view wasn't too great, despite the nice evening colours.
We took it easy on Sunday and on Monday we rowed with the dinghy to the marina to get a berth. The anchorage is a part of the marina so one pays for anchoring as well. In marina office everything is happening really slow and it took us one and a half hour of waiting and then another half an hour to pay for the berth. In the meantime wind picked up heavily and changed to SE and we started to wander if this was the best time to moor the boat. But the anchorage was getting rolly, as this was the only direction from where the waves could got in. Captain rowed back to the boat and brought Heron to the waiting pontoon. I was waiting there, but in 25 to 30 knots of side wind we could use some help from marineros, but nobody answered our VHF calls. While wrestling the lines in the howling wind a cleat managed to make a pretty deep dent into our hull. Luckily captain was not too upset, but now we have another boat project to accomplish, preferably before we do any sailing again. An hour later we got hold of marinero and he suggested we stay on waiting pontoon for the night and move to our berth next morning when there is less wind. We agreed.

In the night the wind died and it was quite calm, even more than in anchorage and we slept well. In the morning we moved to our berth, this time with plenty marineros to help. We've had a couple of quiet days here in marina, did some washing of the boat, laundry, and next on the agenda is to do some exploring of the island.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!

This year wasn't very kind to us, in December we lost my dad and a very dear friend. I hope next year will be much better, for us and for all of you.

We wish you all a very joyful, healthy and happy 2020!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Back to Lanzarote

Our journey back to Lanzarote started with one hour delay and made me nervous that we might miss the plane. But luckily nothing else went wrong, we were at the airport on time and we landed in Lanzarote at late afternoon. We rented a car, then drove to marina. After unpacking, which didn't take long as we only had hand luggage, we drove to Playa Blanca and had some delicious tapas for dinner. 

Next day we still had the car, but it was already passed noon as we drove off. We drove to the North of the island and our first stop was near Salinas and Los Hervideros. Then we drove to Teguise and stop at Santa Barbara castle. There is a Museum of piracy there, but they were closing it in couple of minutes, so we didn't have to make a decision if we want to go in or not. So we just walked around a bit. Castle is not very big...
...but the views from it are pretty good - this is the view to the North.
Next we drove all the way to Mirador del Rio on the NE edge of the island. We were there several times already, but this time we even payed the entrance fee and went in. While the building is nice, it was designed by Cesar Manrique, there isn't much there other than coffee and souvenir shop and a couple of modern sculptures. And of course great view, but from the road couple of meters away you can get the same view without paying.
This is the strait between Lanzarote and Isla Graziosa...
...and this is Caleta del Sebo on Isla Graziosa and left below are small saline plants on Lanzarote.
On our way back we stopped in Haria in La Puerta Verde because I wanted to eat the wonderful gofio dessert again. Captain chose mango mouse with goat yoghurt and some flowers. I wanted to make some photos of it, but once they brought us our desserts we got big eyes and dug right in and didn't think of photographing until we ate it all. It was both really great, they obviously know how to cook and maybe we should have come here for complete dinner and not just desserts.

Next day we started early, we drove off before nine o'clock. We read that the best time to visit Timanfaya is before hordes of tourists and buses arrive in the middle of the day. There is an entrance fee, but you get a bus tour around volcanoes for that. All is well organised, and it has to be, since this is the number 1 attraction of the island and as such pretty crowded. We parked the car near the restaurant and got into one of the busses. The tour took little more than half an hour and it was breathtaking. Unfortunately all our photos were taken through the bus windows, so we were fighting with reflections, but I can totally understand why they don't want to let people out of the bus. You still get the feeling that you are right in the middle of it and you cannot get that by driving by car on any other road.

This is the restaurant, designed by Cesar Manrique as well.
My happy face after the tour says it all. Even with all the volcanos that we climbed and all the colourful  and oddly shaped rocks and lava that we've seen on our previous explorations, this tour topped it all.
One more photo from the parking lot.
Near the restaurant there were some demonstrations of how hot the ground still is - they put some dry branches into the hole in the ground and it started to burn...
... and pour some water into the tube in the ground and it became a geyser.
They also use the heath of the volcano in the restaurant to grill meat and potatoes.
We decided to try some chicken and it was good. It maybe wasn't the best chicken we ever had, but it was a great experience.
After lunch we drove back to the entrance and made some more nice photos.

And we were shocked to see how many cars were waiting to get in. We were soooo happy we were early enough to avoid the rush hour.
Our next stop was by the camels. Camels were working animals on Lanzarote for centuries, they were better adapted to dry land without pastures than cattle or horses. Nowadays there is less agriculture than before and most of the work is done by machines. So camels got a new job - they carry the tourists around Timanfaya. It is a small tour, nothing like a bus tour, more a camel riding experience than the volcano tour. We didn't want to ride camels, we just wanted to take a look and visit the small museum that is on the site.

It was a nice place to make a stop.

Next we drove to El Golfo for an ice cream and then along the NW coast towards marina - by on some pretty rocks...

...colourful hills...
...black beaches...
...and a lake.
On the black beach I collected some more olivine stones. They were just lying in the black sand, but on many other times I just picked them from parking lots. They are just small shards, not suitable for jewellery, but to me they are still precious. Mostly they are green, hence the name, but sometimes there are crystals of other colours hidden in the stones.

Last two days were pretty relaxed, we did some small things around the boat, washed some laundry and spent some time with friends. Who would have thought there would be three boats from Slovenija here at the same time.