Travel Day 2: To The Canary Islands
Friday, January 21, 2022 11:00 pm
Location: Arrecife, Lanzarote

Today brought us one step closer to the GR131, as we arrived in Arrecife, the capitol of Lanzarote, the first of the Canary Islands we will hike.

We got up at 6 am, with a plan to be at the airport by 6:45, two hours before our flight. However, my back decided to not cooperate, and it took longer than expected to leave our hotel in Frankfurt, causing us to miss the (very short) train ride to the airport by a few minutes. We waited half an hour for the next train (service was intermittent due to a shortage of conductors, probably due to covid), though in retrospect, we probably should have just gotten a cab to the airport.

We waited in line to check in to our flight for about 45 minutes, unable to use the much faster baggage drop-off lines because they needed to check our proof of vaccination. For a short time, we thought we were going to miss boarding our flight, so once our bags were checked, we ran to the gate, stopping first to use the restroom. Then, because we hadn’t yet had breakfast and our throats were parched from our jog, we slightly backtracked to each buy a cereal bar and outrageously overpriced bottled water (3.79 € for half a liter). Fortunately, we reached the gate before boarding began (it seemed slightly delayed).

Yesterday, when attempting to check in online and selecting our seats, the airline offered us to buy the empty window seat next to us at a discount rate to allow us to keep the row to ourselves. We figured that very few people would opt to pick a window seat when the center and aisle seats were already taken, so we didn’t pay extra to reserve the empty seat. Our “gamble”, such that it was, paid off: no one was in the seat when boarding was closed, so we got the row to ourselves, and we promptly moved one seat over. CareFree got the window, and I got the middle seat, allowing me to not get hit in the shoulder by the flight attendants every time they walked up and down the aisle.

Our flight was largely uneventful, taking us over France and Spain, separated by the snow-capped Pyrenees, and nondescript ocean on our four and a half hour flight. As we approached Lanzarote, we noted a substantial haziness in the air, and the plane’s captain informed us that it was from sand blowing off of the Sahara, a calima.

We quickly made it through the terminal at the airport on the outskirts of Arrecife. A somewhat makeshift stand of three tables and attendants checked that we filled out a passenger declaration form from the Spain Travel Health website. What they didn’t do was check our PCR test, which was mildly infuriating, since we went out of our way (and spent a lot of money) to get tests yesterday.

Longstride and CareFree in Arrecife, Lanzarote.

But the most important thing was, we had arrived in Lanzarote. We had a short wait outside in very nice weather (a mild 66 °F, with a light breeze), before a bus arrived to take us into town, dropping us off about half a mile from our hotel for the next four days, the Hostal Residencia Cardona, located a short distance from the waterfront.

The hotel was cheap enough, and the bus system on Lanzarote extensive enough, that we decided to stay there for our entire stay on Lanzarote, taking the bus to and from the trail each day. This will let us ease into hiking by letting us hike the first three days (and most of Lanzarote) without having to carry full packs.

One of the first things I noticed as we tried to find our way to our hotel is the extremely subdued signs for streets. In all cases so far, street names are on small tiles affixed on a building, somewhere in the vicinity of an intersection. I suppose those are more practical in terms of saving space than signs on poles as in the U.S., but it will take some getting used to.

After securing our room and decompressing for a little while, we went for a walk, exploring the waterfront and looking for a place to eat lunch. I was almost starving; it was now 2:30 pm, and all I’d had to eat all day was a cereal bar and a bite from a sandwich CareFree ate on the airplane. We decided to eat at La Rustica, mostly because they had a sign out offering a daily special, of a starter, entree, and desert for only 8.50 €. It wound up being less food than I wanted, but it was still quite tasty (and, I thought, reasonable for the price).

After our late lunch, we continued our wandering around the waterfront, walking around an old fort, now the Museo de Historia de Arrecife. Unfortunately, we got there too close to closing time, and weren’t allowed in. (And, we probably won’t actually be in town during its operating hours.) The water was surprisingly clear, and in a small protected harbor filled with boats, we saw a few fish swimming around.

An old fort; now the Museo de Historia de Arrecife.

We stopped at a food store on our way back to our hotel, picking up some fruit, snacks, and sandwich material for our hike tomorrow. We noted that there were large 5 liter and 8 liter bottles of water, and suspected that the quality of the tap water might not be the best. Of course, I brought my water filter, so that shouldn’t be a problem. On our way back to our room, we stopped at the front desk, and the attendant confirmed that the water was perhaps not the greatest. (Though due to language barrier, we were a little unclear whether he meant that the water wasn’t good to drink, or whether the water wasn’t good for us as foreigners to drink. Either way, a filter should solve whatever the problem is.)

We took a brief rest, and then went back out for dinner, to a place right around the corner called Hamburguesería Superguay (“supercool”). We each got a burger, and split cheese fries, and I got a milkshake. The milkshake was great; the cheese fries could have had meltier cheese, and the burgers, while passable, were definitely not super cool.

We returned to our hotel, picking up an 8 liter bottle of water, because, why not? At about 1.50 €, it was almost a steal, compared to what we paid in the airport.

Tomorrow, we get up early, again, to catch a bus to Órzola, a small town on the north end of Lanzarote, and the start of our hike of the GR131.