Escape from the Canary Islands
Wednesday, February 23, 2022 10:13 pm

Today was supposed to be our last day on the Canary Islands, with a simple plan: sleep in, and then go to the airport and fly to Tenerife, Lanzarote, and finally to Frankfurt, Germany. We did make it off El Hierro as planned, but the Canary Islands decided they weren’t done with us.

Sunday, February 20

It was another beautiful morning in Valverde, El Hierro, and we took full advantage of our flight leaving El Hierro scheduled at 1 pm, allowing to sleep in and have a generally slow morning. This was fine. We were done hiking the Canary Islands (for now, anyway), but we didn’t really want to leave. Alas, both CareFree and I had work to do, and (especially since neither of us had our laptops with us) the Canary Islands weren’t especially conducive to actually getting work done.

One Last View From El Hierro
One Last View From El Hierro

We arranged for a taxi to the airport. We probably could have used the bus, but the timing seemed a bit tight, even knowing that El Hierro’s airport was tiny and it would probably only take five minutes to get from the front door, through security, and to the gate.

When we arrived, the airport felt considerably more populated than the airport on La Palma; possibly this was because it was a much smaller airport, so the same number of people in a much smaller space made it feel more occupied. We’d gotten there so early for our flight that security wasn’t even open. Instead, we had to wait in the waiting area just outside security. A pair of kids played in a children’s play area, and were surprisingly quiet.

Our plane left El Hierro a few minutes early, heading northwest over the ocean to Tenerife. Along the way, we could see both La Gomera and Tenerife from the air, both with cloud cover. (La Palma was on the other side of the plane, and probably would have been visible as well.) Teide poked its summit above the clouds. The mountain now has noticeably more snow on it than it did the last time we saw it.

The flight to Tenerife was only about forty minutes, giving us about ten minutes to wait before we re-boarded the same plane and flew to Lanzarote. That flight was a little longer, just under an hour, and we arrived at Lanzarote’s airport shortly before three, giving us about an hour and a half to collect our luggage, change from the regional terminal to the international terminal, check in to our flight back to Germany, and get through security and get to the gate. We had plenty of time, but still I felt a bit rushed.

It was a little bittersweet. We were back where we first arrived in the Canary Islands just over four weeks ago, about to leave the islands of beautiful, warm weather, and fly back to still-cold, still-wintery central Europe. Being rushed meant we couldn’t really take time to enjoy the nice weather one last time before going inside.

In the international terminal, our flight now showed as delayed. (Wish we’d have known that ahead of time, we wouldn’t have had to rush!) But, when we got to the kiosk to check in, we learned that our flight to Germany was delayed until sometime tomorrow! There were apparently mechanical problems, and the plane hadn’t even left Germany.

Fortunately, our airline (TUI fly) was also part of a tour operator, and they did an excellent job of taking care of us. Three tour busses took us and the rest of the flight’s passengers to Hotel San Antonio, about 10 minutes away in Puerto del Carmen.

At the hotel, check-in was amazingly fast. The airline had pre-arranged everything, and the hotel was clearly prepared for handling an airplane-full of people showing up all at once. We didn’t have to do anything for check-in, not even show our ids; they just checked our name against a list, gave us a room key, and told us that it was an all-inclusive hotel and everything had been taken care of.

View from our hotel window. Fuerteventura and Isla de Lobos are just barely visible, obscured by haze.

Our unexpected delay did give us a little more time on the Canary Islands, but it did provide us with chores to complete. We had a hotel room in Frankfurt tonight that we no longer needed, and cancelled the reservation and put in a request for refund due to the cancellation not being our fault. (Our flight would have landed so late that we wouldn’t be able to get a train back to CareFree’s house tonight, so we got a hotel for the night and a train ticket for tomorrow morning.) Unfortunately, the delay meant we were going to lose our non-refundable train tickets for tomorrow morning.

After dealing with that, we went for a walk, briefly along the beach southwest of the hotel, and then further along the very wide walking and bike path through Puerto del Carmen. It was definitely a tourist town; a group of very tacky ethnic-themed restaurants lined the street a short distance from our hotel.

Evening on Lanzarote
Evening on LanzaroteView south.

We returned to our hotel for dinner; the buffet was not bad, and it really was all-inclusive: we didn’t have to pay for the wine we got with dinner.

Monday, February 21

We started off our last day on the Canary Islands with the hotel’s breakfast buffet. It was okay, but the scrambled eggs were the worst I’ve ever had (worse, even, than the scrambled eggs at La Pared on Fuerteventura, which was quite an accomplishment).

With a new departure time in hand (the busses to the airport would leave at 11:30 am from the hotel), we took the opportunity for one last walk along the beach. it was a wonderful morning out, and we were happy to have one last chance at enjoying Lanzarote before heading back home.

Fuertevetura and Isla de Lobos make their appearance in front of morning clouds.

Our bus back to the airport got us there with plenty of time, which we needed because the line to check in was incredibly slow even though they had three check-in counters dedicated to just our flight. After making it through security, we were funneled through the large duty-free shop, which was both chaotic and (thanks to the perfumes on sale) extremely stinky.

Our flight back to Germany left and arrived on time, but nothing else was quick or easy. The plane landed at a secluded terminal and we had to take a bus from the plane to the gate, presumably because the police were looking for someone on the flight. Getting our luggage took forever; we were near the end of the line for check-in, and they must have unloaded the plane in the same order they loaded it, so our bags came out almost at the end as well.

From there, we rushed to a overly crowded bus that took us to another terminal attached to a train station, and from there, we got tickets back home (no longer at a discount since they were last-minute). This involved a transfer, and our second train was delayed by an hour, forcing us to wait in the very-not-Canary-Islands cold weather for far longer than we’d planned.

Once our train finally did show up, the rest of the trip was uneventful, and CareFree’s parents picked us up at a train station near their house shortly after midnight, our adventure to the Canary Islands now concluded.

Wednesday, February 23

After some hemming and hawing, the hotel in Frankfurt we planned to stay at after arriving back in Germany gave us a refund. They really didn’t have to.

We asked TUI fly to reimburse us for the cost of the train tickets that we lost as a result of their plane being delayed almost a day. They were unable to do that, but instead, offered to pay us almost twice the cost of our flight tickets to Germany, more than covering the lost train tickets and essentially giving us entirely free travel from Lanzarote to CareFree’s home in the middle of Germany.

Next: Some closing thoughts on the GR131 and the Canary Islands.