5 reasons to go to Lanzarote

1-Sunshine

Hello from chilly Dublin! The cold spring months have dragged for me this year so I’m doing a post on the eternally sunny island of Lanzarote to remind myself that there is a sun in the sky somewhere.

Sunshine is a good enough reason to be number one. If your aim is to escape the cold weather in autumn, winter or spring without taking a long flight, Lanzarote is an ideal sun spot. As its just off the coast of Africa it enjoys year round sunshine. Temperatures ranged from 18-25 degrees during our December stay which was perfect. It does get a little cooler at nights so pack a light jumper for walking home.

2 -No Billboards, No High Rise Buildings

The island is so small and beautiful that it would be a shame to have it destroyed with high rise concrete apartments and billboards. A famous painter, architect and town planner named César Manrique influenced the planning regulations on his native island. I noticed as we drove all around the island that all buildings keep with a colour scheme chosen by César and they all fit in with the authentic Spainish theme.

Peurto del Carmen is the ‘main’ tourist destination. I had initially decided to avoid it as we wanted somewhere quiet to relax. Playa Blanca at the south of the island was quiet and had all the facilities that you need for a relaxing holiday. We stopped at Peurto del Carmen while we were driving around the island and it was a little busier, but still very quaint and pretty. It wasn’t as busy as I had imagined so I’d recommend going to either.

Renting a car is a great option as the island is small and safe for driving, and you can explore small villages as you go along.

It takes around one hour to drive from the south to the north of the island. Pictured below is the the very north of the island which is a pretty lunch spot.

3 Volcanic Landscape

Lanzarote means ‘island of fire’ and a must see is the volcanic landscape of Timanfaya National Park on the southwest of the island. Access to the park is restricted to protect the flora and fauna so you can’t walk around the park, but the coach trip will take you all around the volcanic area. At the summit there is restuarant where your food is cooked using volcanic heat, which is a novelty!

I also recommend a trip to ‘Cueva de los Verdes’ which is at the north of the island and is one of the longest volcanic tunnels in the world. Its displays 2 km of a 6km lava tube formed 4000 years ago. You’ll find yourself crouching and ducking along behind a tour guide in beautifully lit caves. Its a little eerie being in a cave that was once flooded with lava!

4- Accomodation options

There are a wide range of accomodation options in Lanzarote, from hotels to apartments to villas to even luxury yurts! I had chosen the H10 White suites in Playa Blanca for our stay as it is an adults only boutique hotel with chic and contemporary feel- perfect for relaxing!

5-Food

Seafood paella is one of my favourite foods so it is a good reason for me to go to Lanzarote. There are lots of different types of restuarants but if you like fresh seafood you’re in luck as its one of the traditional foods of the island.

Papas Arrugadas are worth trying, ‘wrinkly’ potatoes boiled in sea water and served with mojo, a traditional canarian sauce made with garlic and herbs or paprika.

There are many other types of restuarants to try if you don’t want canarian foods. Taj Indian Tandoori in Playa Blanca does amazing Indian food and is worth a visit.

So with warm sunny weather all year round, beautiful scenery and quaint whitewashed villas, volcanic landscapes and caves to visit, fantastic choices of hotels and lots of delicious food, I’d happily go again.

Finally, a fantastic reason to go to Lanzarote is the chance to drink Sangria in the sun, any month of the year!

Happy Holidays!

Alesha x

Pompeii-The Lost City

Hello from Italy!

I visited the ancient city of Pompeii, just south of Naples, a few days ago. It has been on my bucket list for years and it exceeded my expectations!

As we learned in history class at school, the city of Pompeii was buried under a blanket of volcanic ash and debris in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The ruins were discovered in 1748, preserved by the volcanic material. The town was frozen in time and walking through the preserved remains is an amazing experience, allowing us to imagine what life was life back then.

When you arrive at Pompeii, you can opt to do a guided tour, or walk around yourself. Guided tours can be great in some situations, but I decided to roam around at my own pace, without a guide. There is a map and an app that can help you find your way around. The first thing worth noting is that you will be here for hours! I expected the site to be smaller. I spent 3 hours here but some tours recommend up to 6 hours.

Mount Vesuvius towers in the background of the ruins of Pompeii, a reminder of the cause of the fate of the city.

The ‘basillica’ is the remains of a building where legal and business matters were discussed.

 

These are some of the remains of statues in the ‘Forum’  which was the main square of the city. It was the economic, religious and political hub of Pompeii and it was my favourite area in Pomeii. It’s easy to envisage the hustle and bustle of the people of Pompeii moving around the markets, courthouses and bathhouses.

The Forum is a square which leads to you to a web of cobblestoned streets. There are a range of houses to see, from small basic stone buildings to magnificent villas with lavish designs. There are brothels, temples and bathhouses, many with details such as paintings, sculptures and mosaics well preserved.

The saddest and more errie part of the tour is seeing the ‘body casts’. During the eruption some bodies were covered with a thin layer of ash which hardened to a shell. This preserved their final terrified postures before death.

The amphitheater is the oldest surviving amphitheater in the world, the second oldest being the Colosseum in Rome. These venues were used for entertainment, performances and sports. Standing in the middle of the amphitheater is a surreal experience, knowing that many sporting and entertainment celebrities from back then stood in that very place.

 

How to get to Pompeii:

  • I recommend taking the train if you are travelling from the nearby city of Naples. The train route is strightforward as it stops at ‘Pompeii Scavi’ which is the Pompeii stop which is directly at the Pompeii ruins entrance. From Naples Central station, take the Circumvesuviana ‘Sorrento’ train. Its a slow local train and it depends how many stops it takes, it can take up to 40 minutes.
  • There is another train station served by Trenitalia, which is about 20 minutes walk from the ruins. Look up the route to these stations from where you are staying.
  • There are also bus route and the option of hiring a car. I wouldn’t recommend driving as drivers here are known for their creative applications of road rules! I’ve noticed many cars with dents on the bumpers, so I personally wouldn’t chance it when public transport routes are quite good.

Tips:

  • Most important tip is to wear comfortable shoes, as there is a lot of cobblestoned ground to cover to see the entire site.
  • There are cafes on the site but its easy to exit to Pompeii town and eat there as there are plenty of restuarants. Once you are out you cannot get back in, so keep that in mind.
  • Bring water bottles- there is no bag check to stop you bringing in your own things. I can only imagine if you visit in summer that you will need lots of water. Its also a very open area, so add extra suncream and hats to your list too.
  • Visit off peak if you can. January was perfect, it wasn’t crowded at all and the weather was mild, sunny and crisp.
  • Book online if you are going peak season, no one likes to queue! Pompeii is very popular with tourists.

So as a final note, I would recommend visiting the ruins of Pompeii if you are in southern Italy. No pictures can describe or capture fully the experience of walking through such an amazing archeological site, it really feels like travelling back in time.

If any of you have tips on the nearby site of Herculaneum, please share them in the comments section as I’m thinking of visiting there too.

Alesha x