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The Canary Islands

Yesterday I led a Rusters trip – not a sporting one – but a general travel one to the Canary Islands.

Daffers had indicated she needed some R & R after the horrors of making a family Xmas and Bob Tickler was up for it too.

The destination was left to me.

I had never been to the Canary Islands and in terms of sunshine it seemed the most accessible as the plane journey is 4 hours. I was influenced by a local friend who winters in Playa Blanca Lanzarote every year with her husband.

Conversely the general view was the Canaries represented 1960s mass tourism at its worst, were unattractive as the terrain was black volcanic, were windy and it was a cultural desert.

I have only been here less than a day. Certainly there was much black lava on view as we drove south from the airport near the capital Arrecife to Playa Blanca where we had booked the Hotel Mirador Papagayo.

The Canary islands, which number seven in all, have a long history. Early species of cru magnon were found there, then inhabited by Africans known as Guanches who must have used rafts to travel by sea from the mainland as there is no signs of any boats. The Greeks and Romans settled here.

Lanzarote owes its name to a Genoese adventurer called Lanzarotto Marcello who named the island after himself in the fourteenth century but it was colonised by the Spanish later in the fifteenth century under Ferdinand and Isabella.

Admiral Nelson lost his arm here in a naval engagement in 1779.

Moving forward General Franco was governor and plotted his coup here in 1936. Now it is still Spanish but under rule by regional council and some 18 million tourists visit every year. There appears to be no separatist movement.

The real founding father of modern day Lanzarote is the artist Cesar Manrique who became mayor.

He was a friend of Picasso and, anxious to avoid his island becoming another Torremolinos, banned high development. So most of the buildings you see are two-storey.

Our hotel is more than that but the reception is on the top floor and it descends. Manrique died in a car accident in 1971 but his legacy is pervasive so we intend to visit his foundation and cactus gardens.

After resting up we went for a delightful stroll along a sea walk. There was no more than a cooling and welcome sea breeze so one myth could be dismissed.

Dinner was the dreaded buffet which Daffers loathes so much.

Although the Canaries are on the same time band as us and it was not that late we were all happy to retire to our comfortable spacious rooms early.

About Nancy Bright-Thompson

A widely-respected travel editor, Nancy is a past president of the Guild of Travel Writers (GTW). She and her husband Phil now run a horse sanctuary in East Sussex. More Posts