[NOTE: Day 1 has not been fully documented yet, though I did show photos of the Botanical Gardens in Puerto de la Cruz.]
These pictures are going to be a bit messy for two reasons: I am using two cameras: my regular Panasonic Lumix and my iPhone camera, and below are mostly the iPhone photos, which are easy to transfer to my computer because I can email them. But I prefer using my regular camera, and you’ll see more from that equipment later. Further, once I get behind on a daily posting—as I am no—then it becomes confusing because I forget stuff and have to look it up.. So bear with me.
Our ship (photos below) is the M/V Sea Spirit, registered in Madeira but owned, I believe, my a British company, Poseidon. It holds only 114 passengers so it’s much smaller than any ship I’ve been on, and very comfortable. It was built in 1991 and then modified later for Antarctic cruises, so it has an ice rating of, I think, 3—smaller than the Amundsen’s, which is the highest for a cruise ship (6). I believe the Sea Spirit does Antarctic trips, but much less often.
You can see our position at any instant at this site: right now we’re heading north away from the Canaries and toward Madeira, which is Portuguese (the Canaries are part of Spain). Then we head east again to Morocco.
The ship from the bow: (Click on all photos to enlarge them)
And from the side:
The dining room, with great views, fantastic service and generally excellent food (they flubbed with the paella, but most dishes are great):
Omelet man! I am eating an abstemious breakfast (and skipped dinner completely last night), but tomorrow I plan to have an onion and smoked salmon omelet for breakfast. Will it match the perfection of Barney Greengrass in Manhattan? (Their scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and onion are ethereal.)
The two-page breakfast menu. It is easy to pig out at breakfast, but I resist. If you want espresso or lattes or other fancy drinks, there’s 24-hour espresso/latte/cappuccino machine in the bar. I get my usual: cappuccino with an extra shot of espresso, and bring it to breakfast,
Breakfast today: Salmon eggs benedict. It was good. But who was Benedict:
I see I am writing mostly about food this morning, but I have tons of sightseeing photos which I’ll work in as I get time. Time for posting is very limited on this trip as we’re either eating or gone all day traveling on a bus and walking.
Yesterday we visited the volcanic island of Lanzarote. All the Canaries are volcanic, but this one is almost all volcanic, with almost no vegetation. The locals are mainly engaged in tourism, and were hit hard by the pandemic
Lanzanote in the Canaries:
Lanzarote (UK: /ˌlænzəˈrɒti/, Spanish: [lanθaˈɾote], locally [lansaˈɾote]) is a Spanish island, the northernmost and easternmost of the autonomous Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. It is located approximately 125 kilometres (80 miles) off the north coast of Africa and 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from the Iberian Peninsula. Covering 845.94 square kilometres (326.62 square miles), Lanzarote is the fourth-largest of the islands in the archipelago. With 152,289 inhabitants at the start of 2019, it is the third most populous Canary Island, after Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Located in the centre-west of the island is Timanfaya National Park, one of its main attractions. The island was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1993. The island’s capital is Arrecife, which lies on the eastern coastline. It is the smaller main island of the Province of Las Palmas.
We first visited Jameos de Agua, an auditorium, swimming pool, and restaurant designed by the local artist César Manrique, who is much revered here. The entire complex is set in lava tubes and is underground. It also harbors a tiny, blind, and endemic “squat lobster” in a salt pool inside the tubes. That species is the site’s symbol.
The bar, in a lava tube:
The auditorium, which seats 600, in a lava tube. The acoustics, I’m told, are wonderful:
A panorama of the auditorium:
A few lights make things dramatic:
Before you enter the auditorium, there’s a natural pool where the blind lobsters live (see below):
Reflection in the natural pool:
More photos of the caves later, except that one pool before the auditorium contains a blind lobster. They are tiny. From Wikipedia:
Jameos del Agua is ecologically important as it is home to a unique and endemic species of squat lobster: The blind lobster Munidopsis polymorpha, a yellow-white and blind crustacean that is hardly one centimeter in length. These squat lobsters are very sensitive to changes in the lagoon (derived from sea water), including effects regarding noise and light. They are also very sensitive to oxide, which can even kill them, and therefore, it is forbidden to throw coins in the water.
A photo, also from Wikipedia. Endemic, tiny, blind, and unpigmented, they show typical features of many animals that live in caves.
This is what you actually see in the cave. The white dots are the animals. Try seeing them! No dice, and photographing them is impossible!
The pool complex past the auditorium, also below ground level but now open to the sky. The water is natural, and is probably seawater as there is little fresh water on the island. They have a desalinization plant, but before that water was brought in or collected by the locals as condensate on the outside of the island’s many volcanos.
The obligatory selfie:
Like all the Canaries, Lanzarote is volcanic, formed successively as the tectonic plates moved over the Canary Hotspot, a gash in the earth through which hot magma arises. (See here for more information about how the islands were formed.) Volcanoes on this island are still active. At 15 million years old, Lanzanote is both the youngest and most active of the islands. Everywhere you look there is lava or volcanoes.
The epicenter for observing the calderas and lava is Timafaya National Park. I have more photos; these were taken from the bus with an iPhone From Wikipedia about the park:
Timanfaya National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional de Timanfaya) is a Spanish national park in the southwestern part of the island of Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands. It covers parts of the municipalities Tinajo and Yaiza. The area is 51.07 square kilometres (19.72 sq mi), and the parkland is entirely made up of volcanic soil. The statue El Diablo by César Manrique is its symbol. It is the only Natural Park in Spain which is entirely geological. Timanfaya National Park represents a sign of recent and historical volcanism in the Macaronesian Region. The last volcanic eruptions occurred during the 18th century as well as on the 19th century
Before the tour we had lunch in the park’s only restaurant, El Diablo, where the meat is actually grilled over a volcanic vent. This must be nearly unique
Small boiled potatoes with red (hot) or mild (green) sauce, are a local specialty. I love them.
A huge salad (for two!)
Beef, pork, and chicken, with more potatoes and veggies. This is for ONE PERSON. I couldn’t eat it all, and even had to skip dinner that night. The magma-grilled chicken was fantastic. Note the boiled potato with yet a different sauce.
And dessert, consisting of ice cream on top of some delicious granular pudding. It must be a local pudding as well, but I have no idea what it is. Perhaps some local can comment below:
Later we visited the home (now a museum) of César Manrique. That is a post in itself, but do read about the man.
All the houses on the entire island are low and white, with one exception that I may mention later. All the villages look like this. Lovely, no?
Oh, and the lounge where I lecture. Five screens!