If you live in Europe and you fancy a cheeky bit of winter sun, without going long haul, then the Canary Islands are an obvious choice. [Warning; laboured historical ‘joke’ coming up] Many would give their right arm for a trip to Tenerife; Horatio Nelson* certainly gave his! Cue the guffaws from the historians…
Recently flight prices have gone up so much such that a week in the Red Sea costs about the same price as the Canaries, so we have been to Egypt for the last few years. This year, cheap flights were back on the menu, so off we went. The week cost us £400, excluding spending money; spank me. There are seven main islands and I’ve been to Tenerife, Fuerteventura, and La Gomera once each, but about five times to Lanzarote. What draws me back I hear you ask? Well, it’s not culture and history. If that’s your bag, and you find yourself landing at Arrecife, you’d best stay on the plane. Lanzarote ‘does what it says on the tin’, but it doesn’t say very much on the tin.
Costa Teguise is a typical resort on the island, and it offers sunshine, beaches, bars and restaurants. When we went it was cloudy and windy, so we only got bars and restaurants. The Canaries have a reputation for being windy at any time of year, this is a bonus in summer when it can be very hot. We only got one beach-worthy day when we could sunbathe and, if you were brave, swim.
We stayed at the superbly situated Celeste Apartments. They are basic, in the ‘very basic’ sense of that word. Some reviews on TripAdvisor seem to threaten a cockroach infested Gulag, but, to be fair, they’re OK. They’re in need of refurbishment, several were being noisily refurbished during our stay. The hammering and drilling started about 9.00 am and went on till 6.00 in the evening. If you’re out all day, you don’t notice it, but there were times when it got on my nerves. If the weather had been better, I wouldn’t have had a quibble with the accommodation. If we were to go back, I’d want an apartment that had been renovated though. Apparently they’re fine. The staff were very nice.
Celeste Apartments’ big plus is its proximity to the beach and the heart of the nightlife of the resort. Despite being so close to this, it’s also surprisingly quiet. Out of the school holidays, most of the holidaymakers are retired and most of them are British. Half of the bars seem to be run by Brits for Brits, and they do it well. You can get a pint for £1.50. Inevitably, perhaps the town doesn’t have a very Spanish feel to it. All the bars have big screens for the football and when there are no matches they show box sets of ‘The Benny Hill Show’ and ‘On the Buses’.
Many places boast of serving typical British food with real HP Sauce etc. Fair enough, but this determination to get the British punters in leads to some weird marketing ideas. One place was offering burgers cooked in Jack Daniels. Why? Around the corner was a bar that boast of specialising in sport, burgers and gin. Who has a gin with a burger?
There is an upside to all this, Costa Teguise caters for the eclectic British palette; consequently, the range of restaurants is superb. Alongside the traditional English seaside fare there are many other national cuisines. We ate in Spanish, Chinese, Indian, Italian and Peruvian places. Nearly all are priced cheaper than back in the UK.
We had a couple of favourites. Bodega Marcello was outstanding in every respect although, sadly, I think has now closed down (I’m not sure though). . They did plenty of tapas and traditional Spanish dishes, prices were very reasonable, especially for the steaks. A big plus was that the dishes were always piping hot. That isn’t always the case with Spanish food. The owner, and chef, was from Paraguay. When he finished cooking, he’d come out of the kitchen, grab his guitar and give the customers a few songs. He had a superb tenor voice, played skilfully, and sang songs from all over the globe. Naturally, his forte was Spanish and Latin material. There’s a little clip of him singing in the video. If the restaurant has gone, you can still enjoy the music! We went here twice in one week; the service and food were excellent.
Another place that warranted a second visit was an Italian restaurant called ‘El Patio’. They did more than Italian food, but that was the main thrust of the menu. Their pizzas were fantastic. The dough bases were spot on. I’ve been here many times over the years. In high season, you would be wise to book. When all the restaurants around them have empty tables, this place is always busy, and it’s pretty big. It does attract families earlier in the evening, but if the children are noisy, you can ask a waiter to strike them.
There really are too many restaurants to mention, but here’s one more. El Guachinche de Luis (you can find it on Google maps it doesn’t have a website) is a little café that is popular with the locals. Everything is very reasonably priced, it serves mainly tapas. Two dishes are enough for one person at lunchtime I’d say. I had some chorizo cooked in white wine which was splendid. Next to Celeste Apartments, there’s a little bar called ‘Motown’. For a mere £3.00 the full English breakfast was impressive. I also watched the football there, it’s a good place with a friendly vibe. I popped in quite a bit.
There are at least three good beaches in Costa Teguise; Playa de las Cucharas is the big one with loads of sunbeds, Playa del Jablillo is my favourite as it’s quite good for snorkelling, and there’s Playa Bastian which is quite usefully sheltered. If you have a car, there’s quite a few nice beaches in Lanzarote and none are too far away. I think the most charming is Playa de Papagayo. It’s set in a (frankly ugly) volcanic rock conservation ‘park’ but this means the beach is isolated and quiet. It’s a beautiful cove set between two little cliffs. There’s very little there except for one restaurant, no sunbeds, so take everything you need for the day. The beach is ‘Instagrammable’!
There is a two mile long promenade between Costa Teguise and the picturesque desalination plant down the coast. It’s had money spent on it and they’ve done a good job. It’s a pleasant stroll (or cycle) though there’s one small section near a sewage treatment point. As you would expect, it stinks, but oddly there’s a little bench there and there’s always a couple of people sat there taking in the view. Out of the entire two mile stretch, why pick the only bit that reeks like a stale latrine?
Should you go?
We like Lanzarote and have been to a couple of resorts. They all have great beaches, but our favourite place is Costa Teguise because of the restaurants. There’s plenty of cheap accommodation or flash hotels if you prefer. I wouldn’t go all-inclusive because of the quality of the food on offer in the town. The only downside is that there is not a lot to do if you don’t get sunny weather. I don’t think we’d go again in January.
*The Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 22nd July 1797. Nelson lost his arm. He also lost the battle.
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