Family Vacation

Heading Home

Thursday, Sept 6th marks the day we began our journey back home. To get home we had to take 3 flights. The first leg was on a ATC-72 Turbo prop plane with Blinter Canaries to get to Gran Canarie Island. The turbo prop plane was a very modern, fully digital aircraft. The second leg would take us from Gran Canarie to Madrid and then the final leg to JFK on Iberia airlines. We had a 20 hour layover in Madrid. So I booked a hotel room and planned a day around the old portion of Madrid.

As we boarded the Turbo prop, the pilot heard that he had Americans on board. He quickly came out of the cockpit and found Jill & I. Turns out he was planning a trip to New York and wanted to pick my brain on what to do and what to see. In turn Jill got to sit in the pilot’s seat with the co-pilot taking her through all the controls. I was very impressed with Blinter Canaries airline. It is a small airline catering to the Canary Islands, but the planes are very new and the staff is very professional.

The flight to Gran Canarie and then to Madrid went without a hitch. When we got to Madrid, we had our first travel problem to deal with. Both mine and Cathy’s checked luggage didn’t make the transfer in Gran Canarie. We found ourselves in Madrid with our bags still in the Canaries. We almost made it through the trip with no major problems!

Of course I made everyone pack thier carry on luggage with the remaining clothes to get all the way home. The Iberia rep was able to quickly locate our bags, they were already tagged for the next flight in the morning to Madrid. I had the rep ship the bags to our house, so we wouldn’t lose the day trying to track them down. As it turned out our missing bags crossed the Atlantic on the flight before us. Both bags were waiting for us in the JFK terminal before clearing customs. The Iberia flights across the Atlantic was as comfortable as you can be for a 7 1/2 hour flight in economy. The planes were nicly kept and the flight attendants very good. I would fly Iberia again if the need ever arises.

Family Vacation

Friday’s Activities in Lanzarote

Today, our first full day in Lanzarote, was a recovery day for us.  We all got some sleep and started to get used to being 5 hours ahead of NY. I’ve loaded a bunch of trip photos.

We started the day heading down to Puerto Del Carmen’s old harbour.  We strolled around the seaport and the side streets.  I am finding that Lanzarote is a very safe place.  The policia take security and safety very seriously. There is an old world charm to the old harbour area.  Small side streets that hide a lot of shops.  Lots of hills.  The entire town of Puerto Del Carmen sits on a hill side.  You definitely need to have a good pair of legs and a good pair of walking shoes to get around and really see everything that is to see!

We found the water sports center in Old Harbour, where they had jet skis, parasailing and banana boat rides.  We had a blast taking a banana boat ride across the harbour. The water sports center sits on a pier that is about 10 feet above the water.  The locals were jumping off the pier into crystal clear blue water.

After jumping off the pier we walked to the other side to swim at a small sandy beach with large pumice stones scattered around the beach and water.

As we walked around, MJ & I wandered into each dive shop that we found.  We decided to use Safari Diving.   There are a ton of beach dives in Lanzarote.  Because the islands are volcanic, the water gets deep very fast.  Within 200 feet of shore the water can be 100 to 150 feet deep.  Tomorrow morning MJ & I are going for a beach dive.  I’m taking the Go-Pro, so I should have some video to share.

Family Vacation

The Trade Winds

Yesterday I was concerned that we were going to be sleeping in a sweat box without AC.  It turns out the trade winds are constantly blowing over the islands.  When the sun sets, the temperature drops like a rock.  Around 2 am Jill and Cathy actually needed blankets.

Talking to the staff today I found out that there is a two week period, usually around the end of July or beginning of August when they have a heat wave.  During that two week period the trade winds stop.  If we were here during that time, my worst fears would have been realized.

Fortunately, we avoided the heat wave and sleeping here without AC is very, very comfortable!

Family Vacation

Arriving in Lanzarote

The flights last night were interesting. It was the first red eye flight for the kids and Cathy. This morning as we were landing in Madrid, MJ asked why it is called a red eye flight.  I told him to look in the mirror.

The flight to Madrid was 7 hours long.  We landed in Madrid at 6:55am Madrid time or 12:55am eastern time.  By the time Jill started to settle down and get tired, we were an hour out of Madrid.  So much for sleeping on the long flight over. We did get to see the sunrise over Madrid as we were landing.  That was a very beautiful sight.

Going through customs in Spain was the easiest, convenient, pleasurable border crossing experiences that I have ever had.  We were literally through customs in under 10 minutes from the time we left the plane.

We made our connection in Madrid for Lanzarote with time to spare.  We were all spent when we boarded the Lanzarote flight.  The fly time was 2 hours and 10 minutes.  I think everyone got a full 2 hours of sleep.

Our villa has semi-private balcony overseeing the bay of Puerto Del Carmen. We have 4 pools to choose from.  The villa doesn’t have AC, however everyone reassures us that it isn’t needed.  The breeze is constant through the night and there is no humidity.

The views and scenery are spectacular.  The Canaries are volcanic, so the mountains are jagged, the beaches have long stretches of sand with occasionally lava rocks interrupting the flow.

Tonight we’re creating our game plan for the week.  I wasn’t going to rent a car, but the traffic is very easy to navigate and to see the island on our time-line, I’m really giving it thought.  MJ & I have already scoped out a dive shop.  There are some underwater lava tubes nearby that sounds awesome to explore.

Family Vacation

Already this trip is going to be different…

We arrived at JFK at 3pm with plenty of time for our 5:55pm flight. Normally for family vacations Cathy & I split duties.  She handles getting the kids through the airport and onto the plane.  I handle the luggage,

On past vacations, depending on the age of the kids, we would have somewhere between 8 and 11 bags.  This trip has started with a really nice surprise.  The kids can handle their own luggage and they can deal with the airport security lines with just some guidance from Cathy & I.

I didn’t have to struggle with 300 lbs of luggage.  Wow.  What a treat.

Family Vacation

Countdown to Vacation

We’re down to the final 24 hours to our vacation.  This year we are heading to the Canary Islands.

The Canary Islands, also known as the Canaries, is a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara.

We will be on the island of Lanzarote, which is the north eastern most island.

The Canaries are largely a European vacation destination.  Spanish, English and German are the main languages spoken on the islands.  To get there from the US, you have to get a connecting flight in Spain.  On the way there we don’t really spend any time in Madrid.  However on the way home we do get a full day there.

We are planning to get at least one dive in and possibly try surfing.  We are also going to touring the volcano.  There is a restaurant, El Diablo, that uses heat form the volcano to cook.  If possible we may head to the north end of the island and spend a day on the black sand beaches.

Why the Canaries?  I’m tired of the Caribbean and Florida.  Really, how much rum can one consume in a week?  We wanted to try something really different. Something that a lot of people have not tried yet.

So tomorrow the adventure begins….

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