Party on La Gomera

We are taking a short break and we’ll be going to la Gomera for a couple of days. We leave by plane on tuesday and return home on thursday. A short trip but very welcome to break up our daily routine.

We will be going with a few friends and at la Gomera we rented a big car for 7 people where we can all just fit. In addition to a big car we also rented a big house, hopefully with a garden so we can maybe even have a bbq! It will be quite the adventure. Of course there is also a big celebration! It is Alan’s birthday, so there will be a great party.

Baobab

Baobab in the rain!Our expectations were set quite high for Baobab. A 5 star hotel should be the best of the best. Everything is arranged to make the guests stay as nice as possible. This was also our expectation, but sadly we found a couple of issues that were not as we expected.

First there was the weather. It rained all the time, and there were warnings about a cyclone! That is not a very common thing here in Gran Canaria, and of course this is not the hotels fault. The rain caused the hotel to turn into a place where the floor was covered with lots of towels and buckets. There was water everywhere, and the African themed hotel was clearly not made for rainy weather. All the entertainment was cancelled. At night there was nothing to see or to do, even inside.

There were other inconveniences. We could not park near the hotel. The guy near the entrance of the hotel had no idea. We were offered a welcome cocktail during our check-in. Two without and two with alcohol, but the offer never materialized. We did not receive anything and we were not explained anything about our drinks. We were clueless.

An elevator did not work, but this was not indicated anywhere. There was a huge queue for the breakfast buffet, where the queue was standing in the rain. Our room had a broken coffee machine. The drinks machine at the breakfast buffet (primarily used for coffee) also had hot water and milk options, but whatever your selection a drop of coffee was added at the end. The buffet had a big tray of raw eggs (next to the slightly hidden cooked eggs). I took a raw egg by accident, no idea why anyone would want a raw egg?

Before our checkout the kids were playing ping pong. Nice! but it was not meant to be. A member of the animation team came, saw and conquered. The pingpong table had to go, because of the bad weather. The simple fact that the table was located at a sheltered dry place (and in use by our kids!) did not matter.

The hotel itself was stunning. The architecture was breathtaking. The pools where everywhere and were really very nice. The greenery looks very nice. There were elephants, zebras, crocodiles and flamencos (all fake) all over the gardens, and it helped with the nice African feeling. There was a lot of personal walking around, doing their jobs, and the personal was very helpful. The rooms very nice and very big. Except for a broken coffee machine, and a led strip that was hanging around everything was in order. We had a well stocked mini-bar and a really nice big bath. Good beds. The room was great. A very nice view and a nice balcony, but this was unusable because of the weather.

Fuerteventura

Quite literally the name of the island means ‘Strong wind’. We stayed in a little village called ‘Costa Calma’ (Quiet coast). In both cases the name perfectly fit the place. The coast was quite calm, with only some very small waves, and we spend 3 days on the very windy island. On the way there (by boat) we spotted a large group of dolphins! Around 25 dolphins that were jumping out of the water. Sadly we were going in opposite directions, so we quickly lost sight. After arriving we drove to our appartement and quickly jumped into the pool. Later we visited the beach. The next day we went to the zoo and at night we visited a sand dune, and our final day we spend with some impressive caves and a nice beach. After the beach we went back home by boat. A short but very pleasant break.

Feeding the giraffes!Oasis Wildlife Fuerteventura
A big park, a lot bigger that what I had expected. The restaurants were pretty good. A lot better that the typical hamburger places you normally have. There were three big shows to visit. A sea-lion show, a show with big birds, and a show with smaller birds and all kinds of smaller animals. The park looked very nice. There was a lot of greenery and lots of shadow. For some animals a part of their food was sold to the visitors, so Alex and Alan could feed the giraffes and the camels their fruit that we bought for 1.50 EUR per bag. A very nice experience. One camel did not want to miss his piece of apple, and left Alans little hand all licked and slimy. The kids were also invited by the caretaker of the elephants to feed them an union and some lettuce.

– First we visited the sea lion show. It was the standard show, like most other parks. The focus lay in our responsibility to take care of animals. They explained a lot about the species. This kind of show was nice for the kids, but they always leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. These animals are forced to do their show three times a day. They live much shorter lives that in the wild. They are forced to eat dead fish (which they normally would never eat). They are sick a lot, and
they live in a very confined space.

A human in a comparable situation would be forced to stay in her room all the time. Only be given raw fish to eat, be required to perform three times a day and would be kept alive with lots of medicines and drugs. To top it off, the story that was acted out during the show was like a love story between the trainer and the animal, well, that is just a bit too much.

– The small birds and reptiles show was very nice. There were parrots, lizards, turtles, snakes. Each with a little bit of information. The animals seemed quite content. Alex even got visited by a parrot on his shoulder.

– The big birds show had owls, hawks, eagels, and all kinds of birds of prey. It was a nice show, maybe a little chaotic, but this is also a bit of the charm of shows with live animals. Alex got selected as a volunteer. He had to run with a rope with some food, which some bird attacked (in this case even two birds attacked the food). Later a bird had to pass over his head, through his hands to get to the trainer.

Ajun Caves
The caves of Ajun were a very nice visit. It is a nice route to get to the caves, easy to do with kids. The caves at the end of the route are quite big. On the way back there was a colony of chipmunks asking for a bit of food. After the caves we spend some time at the beach, and found a natural aquarium in the rocks where we could swim with the fish. On our way over it was clear the island does not get a lot of rain. Everything looked so dry, and there was always a lot of wind.

We enjoyed our short stay in Fuerteventura, but there are lots of things we did not get a chance to see, so we will have to visit the island again sometime in the future.

Fly El Hierro – Alan

Alan is just five years old, but that is enough to have some very clear ideas. He also has a bigger brother that serves as a perfect example. When Alex takes flight with a paraglider, it is clear that Alan will do exactly the same. Alan flew up to over a kilometer high, passing right through the clouds. Then flew around for a while checking out the scenery and went back down to earth for a very smooth landing.

Preparation, equipment check, double check, patiently waiting for a breeze, take-off, flight, journey into the clouds and, very important, the landing were anxiously watched by Alan’s parents, but Alan also had some very special attention! The instructors daughter (already an experienced para-glider herself), who made sure everything was okay and Alan was in good hands :).

After Alan’s journey he told us he had a great time, but once his flight outfit was removed he almost ran to a nearby almond tree to pick some Almonds. It made me suspect that Alan was still a bit to young to realize the value of this experience. Something which was clearly different with his bigger brother.


Alan’s flight resulted in a great experience for him, and some great photos and videos for us. If you want to float across the valley on El Hierro you can do it with Ondrej from Fly El Hierro. A massively experienced professional who provided a great experience. Highly recommended when jumping with kids!

Fly El Hierro – Alex

Alex is only 10 years but that did not stop him from conquering his fears and making a big jump. We are so proud of him and he had a really good time. As a preparation we first went to just look at the whole process. Everything involved from preparation, gearing up, checking and double checking everything. Getting ready, patiently waiting for a good breeze, take-off, flight and, very important, the landing at the end.

The first day we only observed. Alex had started out a bit anxious, but quickly became more and more confident as we got to know the instructor a bit and familiarized ourselves with the routine involved. The next day Alex was the first who wanted to go. He took off to the skies and went up to over a kilometer high! He dived into the clouds, and got to handle and turn the para-glider. After a bit of sightseeing from the sky he went back down for a smooth landing. After Alex showed the way his little brother Alan also ventured into the skies.

Alex was very happy with his jump. His instructor told us that Alex was really enjoying himself up in the air. It was a great and valuable experience for Alex, and together with the preparation we did a day earlier it is easily the best experience Alex had during his holiday this year. He has really grown because of this experience. Adapting to a new situation by first observing, gaining trust, and shedding unjustified fear is a lesson that can prove valuable for the rest of his life. For Alex it easily won over his other experiences like the boat trips, Loro park, Siam park, the encounter with an octopus, the watering of lizards, various swimming pools, forest walks, the bbq, etc.

Alex is already planning his next flight. The next time he wants to do something special. Solve a Rubiks cube while up in the air! We are still evaluating if this is something we are confident with. Alex’s instructor Ondrej on El Hierro is literary one of the best para-glider in the world, but paragliding is still an inherently dangerous sport (hanging in the sky at a huge altitude with nothing but a couple of strings connected to a big sheet == clearly dangerous, even if the instructor is packing a backup parachute), so we need to see if this is something we want to repeat closer to home.


Alex’ flight resulted in a great experience for him, and some great photos and videos for us. If you want to float across the valley on El Hierro you can do it with Ondrej from Fly El Hierro. A massively experienced professional who provided a great experience. Highly recommended when jumping with kids!

Sioux City

Sioux City in Gran Canaria is a nice park to have a look at the wild west. With a bank robbery, gunfights, stampedes, running horses and cowboys and indians everywhere it is a really fun place to discover. We even had a BBQ included with our entry ticket.

The saloon was also in typical Cowboy like fashion. There was even a piano where Alex tried some of his songs. To bad the rough cowboys had already disables a couple of keys.

Torrevieja

This year we visited Torrevieja again with the family. A vacation marked by hanging around the pool, or squeezing our towels in on a small piece of beach populated by a massive crowd. Keeping in mind we need to apply sunblock every couple of hours because the sun here is merciless.

Overall the most important thing is that the kids enjoy themselves, and this is very easy here. At times even we get some profound relaxation done then the kids doze off, or when they are playing with they friends.
Zwembadje Torrevieja 2017!

Movie or picture

Sometimes I find myself with a dilemma. Do I grab a movie, or is it better to shoot some pictures. A difficult choice at times and in Leeds I made the wrong choice. I made lots of pictures, and only a short movie of a wonderful micro-concert by our own Alex.

Ryanair and Leeds

It was the typical spam message that notified us of some very cheap tickets to all over the world. Directly to the trans I thought, but Ana thought different. She started to look around and figure it all out. All the destinations around the world were quickly reduced to only a very few options. From Gran Canaria we could fly for cheap to Leeds and that was about it. Still, a round trip would cost us only 22 euros, so why not, we got the ticket.
Leeds!Four days we were in Leeds, and it was cold and rainy, but we had a lot of fun. We took Alex with us and he loved the early norming breakfasts with bacon, and ofcourse the fish and chips.

In the news, thanks to Angelina Jolie

Ana in the news!
Who would have thought it possible that Ana would be the main news in the local papers thanks to Angelina Jolie. Ana does research and screening for generic markers related to breast cancer. A topic that recently became world news thanks to Angelina. The current awareness resulted in interviews, newspaper articles and publications.

Of course it makes me feel very proud of my Ana!