I love going on holiday. I don’t mind whether it’s in the UK or abroad as I simply love that time to switch my brain off and hopefully catch up on some sleep. Yesterday evening, we returned from a week in Lanzarote. We’d been so looking forward to it as it was our first trip overseas post-pandemic. Like many people, we’d cancelled a holiday when that first lockdown hit (Portugal in May 2020) and the idea of sitting on a plane or round a pool wearing face masks didn’t appeal so we’d waited until things settled before booking another holiday abroad.
We’ve visited the Canary Islands before – Gran Canaria twice, Tenerife and Fuerteventura – so we decided to complete the set of the four main islands with a trip to Lanzarote.
We were that excited about the prospect of going abroad again that we didn’t do as much research as usual. We also hadn’t really thought about our changing needs as a family. Our daughter will be 16 at Christmas and is in her final year at senior school. She was approaching 11 on our last Canaries visit (Gran Canaria) and in her final year at primary school. Very different situation.
So we bodged. We choose a much larger hotel than we’ve chosen before in a resort which looked pretty central and therefore easy access on a small island to anything else we wanted to get to. We knew it would be different but we’d overlooked quite how different it would be. And how it wasn’t going to be right for us!
When we looked at the hotel on the website, the pirate ship and slides in the middle of the pool should have been a big clue. The many kids’ clubs for different ages up to 18 should have been another. The giant daisy mascot should have rung bells. But nothing clicked until we took a wander round the hotel grounds (an early flight meant our room wasn’t ready on arrival) and were hit by a wall of sound. Oops! This was a large family hotel and the majority of the children were primary school age and younger. There were children absolutely everywhere, squealing, shouting, laughing, crying. The quiet read by the pool I’d been looking forward to suddenly became a distant dream. (Note, the photos were taken before the pool opened in most cases so don’t be deceived by how few people there are!)
Before anyone yells ‘Bah, humbug!’ at me or whatever would be the appropriate equivalent for a ‘summer’ holiday, I’ll just clarify that there’s nothing wrong with this type of holiday and I absolutely agree that young children should be squealing, laughing and having fun in the pool, enjoying their holiday. It’s just that it’s not for us at this point in our life and not for our daughter either.
The resort itself – Costa Teguise – was very pleasant. It was clean and had a lovely promenade along the sea into the town – something we’ve always loved about the other Canarian resorts we’ve visited. However, this one didn’t have as many bars and restaurants alongside it as we’re used to so it was a little different and we ended up doing that walk into the town for lunch or dinner a lot.
There were some trips that had appealed but, with the pound not performing well, these were very expensive. The three places we’d have liked to go would really only have been 1-2 hour visits and we couldn’t justify £45 each per trip on that basis. We did go to Rancho Texas Park near Puerto Del Carmen where there was a mix of animals from a Siberian White Tiger to dolphins to buffalo to guinea pigs. Yes, that’s a very eclectic mix! The park was nicely arranged and if you attended all the shows and spent time in the water park part, you could easily spend a full day there but we didn’t do the water park or attend all the shows so we only needed a few hours.
I loved seeing the guinea pigs in their cute wigwams and a baby buffalo in his food trough but I do struggle with seeing some animals in captivity and like to know their story. At the Sealife Centre in Scarborough, there are some resident seals but they all have stories which mean they would struggle in the wild e.g. one is blind, another has a brain injury etc. I wanted to hear those sorts of stories about the dolphins here but they didn’t share any and the show was very much the traditional jumping through hoops and jumping for balls type. Looking on the website since then, they were all born in captivity. Does this mean they can’t be released into the wild? I don’t know. I’m no expert on this. All I can say is it makes me a bit twitchy. Same with the tiger. He was amazing to see but is it cruel to have him there? Again, I don’t know. One of those things that makes me go hmmm.
As we hadn’t been there all day, we caught a taxi to Puerto Del Carmen’s harbour thinking we could catch a boat trip to see dolphins in the wild but there weren’t any running which was disappointing. I’m sure Puerto Del Carmen is lovely if you’re in the ‘right’ part but the walk from the harbour to the town wasn’t the nicest.
The daughter and I have a favourite shop called Ale-Hop aka ‘The Cow Shop’ as there’s always a cow outside it (not a real one, of course!) It sells a mix of things from stationery to hair accessories to toys to gadgets. There was an Ale-Hop in Puerto Del Carmen so we visited that, spent some Euros, and decided we were done with Puerto Del Carmen and headed back to the hotel.
I purchased the most gorgeous squashy cat who I’ve christened ‘Pusstachio’ because he’s pistachio green. I was quite proud of that name. I neeeeeeded him! My phone is actually full and I can’t take any more pictures (and don’t have the energy to go through deleting old ones) but if you’d like to see him, this is Ale-Hop’s Spanish website and a link direct to my green cat here.
I managed to shut out the noise and did read two books on a couple of pool days and loved them both: The Will of the Witch from Sharon Booth, book four in her fabulous The Witches of Castle Clair series and Happy Endings at Mermaids Point by Sarah Bennett which is the final of five books in this gorgeous series and was simply the perfect (happy) ending. It’s rare I get time to read so this was a luxury for me. I also caught up on a lot of sleep and I switched off completely from work which was much needed as I’ve had quite a tough year with my writing – several books in a row needing quite major editing which had taken it out of me. So I did achieve some of my holiday goals which is good.
Usually when we get to the end of a week away, we wish we were staying longer and had ten days booked, but this is the first time a week seemed too long. Again, I emphasise that there was nothing wrong with our resort or the island and I’m sure many readers of this will love the places. They just weren’t quite for us and we’ve learned a valuable lesson about what we really want from our holidays now. We don’t love the heat. We don’t enjoy lounging by a pool and, if we are, we prefer a quiet pool where you can swim properly. We love things to do and beautiful scenery. This is why our spiritual home is Keswick in the Lake District, even in the rain. You don’t get much more stunning than Derwent Water and the mountains surrounding it.
There were some stunning flowers in the gardens around the hotel and they’d made a brilliant effort with Halloween decorations in the lobby. There was a fabulous set of bookshelves and I took a couple of my books to gift to the collection. I would absolutely love it if someone spotted one of them and shared a pic on social media.
On our final evening – Thursday – we had a late lunch/early tea so that we could pack our cases. The daughter wanted one last ice-cream from a place called Crème which we’d visited a few times (highly recommended) so she and the hubby went for a final walk into town while I packed the cases. My phone rang. Husband. ‘We’ve just seen a hedgehog!’ How typical that the one and only time I stayed in the apartment, they spotted a hedgehog. How gutted was I? The daughter dug her phone out but didn’t manage to get a clear picture as it was dark and she didn’t want to use flash and startle it. Apparently the Algerian or North African Hedgehog can be found on the Canary Islands. It was introduced to all the Canary Islands and has a much lighter face than our European Hedgehog.
We had a delay coming home – late boarding and then about 3/4 an hour sitting on the plane having missed our departure slot as there was quite a lot of faffing about boarding (won’t bore you with that story) – but there was a strong tail wind so the flight was an hour shorter and we landed only about 20 minutes later than planned. We needed to get the shuttle bus to the car park and had just missed one. Despite them supposedly being on a 7-10 minute loop, we must have waited heading for half an hour and had even checked out Google Maps to see if walking was an option.
Finally a bus appeared and everyone piled on. Except nobody seemed to know how these buses work. There is luggage space to put large cases in with a lip to stop them rolling out and two shelves for the smaller cases/hand baggage. So many of those who’d boarded first had small cabin cases but they’d filled the large case space with them meaning there was no space for us or anyone behind us to put their large cases. The daughter managed to get a seat with hers beside her and hubby and I squashed into the mid-bus exit with ours. Then a family got on with 2 children and a gazillion cases between them and they hadn’t a clue what to do. The driver instructed people to move down the bus which is fine … but what do you do with your luggage? A woman getting on shouted some abuse at them, ordering them to move and they tried to but there was still nowhere to put their luggage. They ended up standing by us, completely blocking the exit.
The driver gave up getting everyone on and had to leave a handful of people to wait for the next bus. Perhaps if he’d instructed people as they got on to put their small luggage on the shelves, everyone could have squeezed on, but he gave no guidance and perhaps didn’t see that as his job. Mind you, you would think logic would say put small, lighter luggage on shelves, wouldn’t you?
Anyway, there’s a reason I’m giving you all this background because there was an incident. We pulled up at the first stop and not many people needed to get off – maybe 3-4? The man and woman from the family finally realised they needed to get off to let people out so they did that with their big suitcases but another woman getting off needed to retrieve her smaller suitcase from where it had been pinned in behind a load of other cases. This wasn’t easy with people and cases everywhere. In the meantime, the man and woman from the family had got back on the bus so I explained to them that they would need to get off again until everyone was off so they did that and hubby got off too to give even more space.
And that’s when the incident happened. Some woman sat near the back suddenly started on me. It came out of nowhere but, my goodness, she had opinions and I was going to be the butt of them. Apparently I was ignorant and blocking the exit and should have had the sense to get off. I wasn’t blocking the exit at all! I was squashed at the far side, away from where people were trying to get off. The family who’d got off after us were the ones blocking it and it was already resolved by me explaining to them that they needed to get off temporarily and by hubby getting off too. But this woman was on one and apparently it was all my fault. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I asked her why she was having a go at me when I wasn’t in the way but she just kept going on and on. I said could she leave it because everyone had had a lovely holiday and just wanted to get home and things were sorted now and there was no need for the abuse but, no, I was the one to blame for absolutely everything and she continued in her rant at me, complete with scary looks.
Crazy thing is she couldn’t have seen me when all the kerfuffle started as I’m too short for her to have seen me past everyone else so there was no way she could have pinpointed me as being the one in the way (when I wasn’t). She wouldn’t leave it. I can’t bear confrontation and was shaking at this point but I wasn’t going to just stand there while she continued with her verbal abuse so I said very strongly, ‘Hey! Stop it!’ It was all I could manage as I was on the verge of tears. Of course, she didn’t stop. This got a whole raft of further abuse about me telling her to stop it.
I had sympathetic looks from those round me and a couple caught my eye and I could tell they were stunned at what had kicked off and why it was directed at me. I know why. This woman was clearly tired and wanted to get home. I get that. I was tired and wanted to get home too. Things weren’t happening quickly enough for her. I get that too. The whole luggage storage thing was a disaster, but it wasn’t anyone’s fault and it certainly wasn’t mine. There were 6 people stood in the exit and she’d have taken one look at them wondering who she could vent at. She couldn’t have a go at the children but she couldn’t have a go at the parents either without potentially being accused of racist behaviour as they were people of colour. The hubby is over 6 foot so no way was she going to have a go at him. Which left the short fat woman.
She got off at the same stop as us. I shot across the zebra crossing to the car park, desperate to get away with her, praying she was in a different section to us. I feared her having a go at me again. I don’t know what she’d hoped to achieve by the abuse. If it was to scare me, it worked. I was terrified. I couldn’t stop thinking about it all the way home, wishing I’d been able to say something more effective or clever to shut her down.
I didn’t sleep last night.
It’s after 6pm today and I’ve been thinking about it all day today.
Why are there people like this? Why would someone verbally attack a stranger in this way? Why do bullies exist? And why did nobody defend me? My only comfort was that, as we got off, a man said to hubby that he has no idea why the woman had a go at me when I was doing nothing wrong. At least there was some support for me, even if nobody voiced it.
We didn’t have the best holiday but this wiped out all the positive memories and made it one of my worst experiences ever. I’ve already told hubby that we’re going to have to do the private parking thing at the airport so we don’t have to do that shuttle bus again. No way could I risk experiencing that.
Everything happens for a reason and all experiences are useful to an author. Perhaps I’ll use that incident in a future novel. I certainly know how horrendous it feels to be on the receiving end of unprovoked and continuous verbal abuse.
Anyway, to end on a bright note, I hope you enjoyed the photos. As you can see, we ate a lot of ice-cream and drank a lot of cocktails, milkshakes and smoothies!