Monday, 2 November 2020

My Trip To Lanzarote

Hello Everyone,


This time last year I went on my first international trip with VICTA and Seable. Today I’ll tell you all about this trip. Plus explain what both these organisations are about. I know it's not safe to travel right now, but by the end of this post you'll learn why you should still check them out. Not to mention why Lanzarote is a great holiday destination. Keep reading to find out how visually impaired people go on holiday semi-independently. 


What Is Seable?

Seable is a tour operator that organises holidays abroad for blind and partially sighted individuals, couples, families and group of friends. It’s the only company that has a local chaperone service to provide you with the assistance you need the entire holiday. They will:

  • Wait for you at the airport upon your arrival 

  • Drive you to your accommodation

  • Help you check in

  • Assist during meals

  • Guide you during excursions


It’s a tourism company that take you on amazing, accessible and inclusive trips abroad. Go to the Seable website to find out more. On my trip, I was lucky enough to meet Damiano and Emma, who founded Seable!


What Is VICTA?

VICTA is a UK national charity that provides support to blind and partially sighted children and young adults aged 0 to 29 and their families. They provide activities, services and grant programmes for people with sight loss. The activities can range from outings across the UK, family events and semi-independent international trips for young adults. Previously I’ve been on a trip to Edinburgh with them. 


VICTA is a great charity for you to visit if you want to do something that’s accessible, but also help you become more independent and confident. Visit the VICTA website to see everything they have to offer. On my trip I met their volunteers Holly and Bob and staff members John and Francesca.

 

The Trip: 

I applied for this trip from the VICTA website. VICTA covered most of the cost of the trip and their staff travelled to Lanzarote with us. All I had to do was pay a deposit, pack beforehand and bring money to spend. Plus get to Gatwick airport on time. Seable arranged all the activities we did, the places we would eat and our accommodation. So the next sections are about the most important parts of my 7-day holiday: The activities and the food. 


The Activities: 

Our days were packed with activities. There was always something different for us to do. If I told you everything we did, we’d be here all day. I loved everything but had to narrow it down to a few that I felt were unique to Lanzarote. So, below are some of the highlights from the trip. 


Visiting Los Hervideros:

Los Hervideros is part of the coastal area of Lanzarote, where you can see ocean waves force water into underwater caves that were produced from the solidification of lava and erosion. You can hear the water at such a force, where it sounds like the sea water is bubbling and boiling!  We arrived by car and walked up the cliffs, where you could see the waves hitting rocks on the clifside. 

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: photo from the cliffs where you see both the clear blue ocean and the waves hitting rocks as they go into the underwater caves.

During our walk, some people were guided by the VICTA team, Emma, Damiano or by other visually impaired people. At first, we stood around this large whole, with rocks around it that were carved like a railing to hold onto. Here we looked down below to see large cliffs pointing down to a dark whole and heard the sound of waves hitting rocks as they entered the underwater caves. It was our first look into what underwater caves were like. We also walked down to lower levels where you could see sea water going into the underwater caves. Whilst guiding my friend I noticed that the steps on the footpath were made from the rocks, which where quite steep. I loved how beautiful the water looked, glistening in the sun. It was a great opportunity to take a few photos! For safety, I made sure we used our free hands to carefully hold onto the large rocks on our path as we walked. So, if you do go take it slow because it's easy to miss a step, or cut yourself from the sharp rocks!

Walking Tour of Timanfaya National Park:

Tamanfaya National Park is a place where you explore Lanzarote's volcanic landscape, which covers a quarter of the Island. It's a great place to visit to learn more about the history of the island. The people that visit the national park can range from school children on a school trip, to Geologists researching the rocks. During the tour, you're taught that a lot of rocks people take from the national park either end up thrown away by security at the airport, staff in hotel rooms, or people end up sending them back by post. Plus, you learn other fun facts like how the entire Island used to survive on rain water collected from 1 week of rain that occurred every year. More recently (50 years ago to be exact), they figured out how to use the sea water to meet their everyday needs. 
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: an area of the National Park where there is dark grey soil on aIm mountain and green bush plants scattrrd from top to bottom. Below it is the stone path we walked on and different coloured small rocks.

For those of you that know me in real life you'll know I hardly go on hikes, so a 3 hour walking tour sounded like a lot. To be honest, I didn't have high expectations about this activity, after all isn't a hike just a really long walk where you look at nature? Being visually impaired often meant that unless someone pointed out why something in the great outdoors looked beautiful, or it stood out with different colours I wouldn't know. I've also always been more of a city girl, not exploring nature much. In reality, I really enjoyed this walking tour! If you're visually impaired, a great way to enjoy tours is if you can touch the things being described. Not to mention descriptions where the surroundings are brought to life. Throughout the walk, our tour guide gave us samples of soil and rocks to hold in different parts of the park, that way we could feel the differences and understand more about the Island's ecosystem. For example, we learnt the ash from the volcanoes created a soil that was used to grow plants on the Island. Also, there was a particular rock which had beautiful blue patches on it, but if you took it to a colder climate the blue colours would become moss. I even got to feed water to a lizard that was the same colour as the rocks!

Kayaking to Papagayo Beach:

Lanzarote has a beautiful landscape with pristine beaches, cliffs and caves. On our trip we were taught how to kayak by the Kayaking Club in Playa Blanca. Personally I found it easier to understand how to hold the paddle, once we were in the water.  We were split into pairs, some people were lead by VICTA staff, Emma, Damiano or other visually impaired people. Since, I had some useful sight, I was at the front of the kayak chanting which ways to hold the paddle, it got a bit militant after a while so I had to break into song! The kayaks were all connected to one another and we followed the one in front in lines of two. Sometimes there were moments where you'd bump into someone else, or "accidently" splash them with water. Also, I'm not sure if this was because of my lack of skill, but when paddling I ended splashed with a lot of water. Whilst kayaking, we saw lots of cliffs across the sea and travelled straight from one beach to another. In 2019 Papagayo beach was voted Spain's most beautiful beach. I could see why! The sand was a soft golden colour, turquoise coloured sea water and mountains behind us in the background. I loved how the water sparkled in the sunlight! In hindsight I should have taken a photo, so you could see it for yourself, you'll just have to take my word for it. It was a lovely place to relax and get some much needed vitamin D, after all I'm from England we don't get a lot of sun here. I also got a chance to snorkel, which was an interesting experience. You put your head face down in the water, breath through a tube and see the sea down below. I loved it! 

The Food: 

I've always felt that one of the best parts of a holiday, is trying food you wouldn't normally have at home. Trying dishes you haven't heard of before, or wouldn't normally eat is part of the fun. Lanzarote had a lot of delicious food, but similarly to the activities there were some that were unique to the Island, or Spain itself. By that I mean you probably wouldn't find some of the food anywhere else. Here's a look into some of the food I ate on my trip:

Lanzarote Cheese Platter:

I had this as a starter for dinner on my first night. I'll admit the name makes it sound like something you've had before. When you think of a cheese platter, you picture a wooden board with pieces of different types of cheese cut up in nice little slices, crackers and grapes to go along with it. Well, a Lanzarote cheese platter wasn't anything like that. For one, the cheese was shaped as fried triangles that were the size of the palm of my hand. Fried cheese, sounds tempting right? I mean how could you go wrong with that! The twist though, was the fact that you dipped the cheese into cranberry jam. Yes cranberry jam. I know it doesn't sound like a good combination, but it worked! The sweetness of the jam really blended well with the cheese. It was really good! Plus it came in big portions, so it was perfect for two people to share as a starter. If you take a trip to Lanzarote, in the future make sure you give this a try, you won't regret it!  

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: a rextangle wooden dish with large pieces of fried cheese shaped in triangles and on the left is a generous portion of cranberry jam. The platter is on a table which has a green and white palm leaves design and you can see another white plate above it.

Paella and Black Rice with Squid Ink:

Paella is a Spanish dish made of rice, saffron chicken, vegetables and fish. It's cooked and served in a large shallow pan. On our second day we had lunch at a local restaurant near the beach, where they made three types of Paella dishes, vegetarian, sea food and meat. The meat wasn't halal so I had the vegetarian and sea food ones, both of which tasted lovely.  As someone who eats rice and curry everyday, I found it interesting to see how other cultures use rice to make their own dishes. As an added bonus, I got to be quite adventurous with eating rice. The restaurant, made black rice from squid ink. For me, this was quite adventurous because I've never had squid ink before, let alone with rice. It tasted great! I highly recommend you try it, if you ever get the chance. 

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: photo of some paella, black rice and a silver fork on a blue plate that has a gold outline. It's placed on a ite table.


Barbecued Fish Made From A Volcano:

I've saved the best for last! After exploring the National Park we went to the restaurant El Diablo for lunch. Here, they use the heat of the volcano to cook food! Restaurant El Diablo was built around the mouth of a volcano, six feet under the restaurant is a pool of lava. When we arrived, they took us to an area outside the restaurant with rocks and a whole in the ground. One of the workers there, got a long pole and attached a leaf to it, he then placed it into the whole and we could see steam and a fire emerge! I think that was a demonstration of how a fire is made to cook. Also they showed us gazers of water, wholes in the ground where they poured water and it came gushing out high in the sky Once inside the building, we went to a room where they had large grills over the whole to barbecue meat, fish and roast vegetables. 

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: the grill at El Diablo which is a large round grey rock, shaped like a table with a huge a whole in the middle and a silver rack with long tongs surrounding it. Varous types od meat are being cooked, some are pink and others are yellow. The chef is on the far right, wearing a grey uniform and bIlue gloves.


For our starters we had soup with cheese and barbecue as a main. I had some barbecued fish with potatoes, it tasted fantastic! The fish had a nice smoky texture to it from the volcano, which I thought was quite unique. Restaurant El Diablo is a place you should definitely dine in! 

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: photo of a white rectangular plate with roast potatoes, barbecued fish and a salad made up of lettuce and tomatoes. Behind it are different glasses of drinks people had. All of this is on a white table.

Overall, I really enjoyed my trip to Lanzarote. I met some nice people in my group and got to experience what a trip organised by Seable was like (,without the hefty price). I also got to know Emma and Damiano, the two of them seemed really passionate about the work they do. They do their best to make sure you have a nice time. Plus, they're amazing at sighted guide! Sighted guide, is when you hold onto someone's elbow or shoulder with one arm and they lead you to where you need to go. You're a step behind them, so instead of being pulled or dragged somewhere you naturally follow them. Doing it, does take some getting used to. In the past I've had to explain how it worked to people, but with Emma and Damiano I didn't. Also I learnt the reason why Seable holidays are so pricey is because all that money goes towards the trip itself, like the flights, hotel and activities. Seable arrange everything for you and make sure it's as safe as possible. For updates, on how they'll make sure blind and partially sighted people are safe on future trips visit Seable's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Recently, they did a survey about trips around the UK that they could do in the future, so they're a company that will adapt to any changes Covid 19 has in store for us. If you're visually impaired and enjoy travelling, Seable is a company you should definitely consider. That's all I have to share with you about my trip. I hope you enjoyed my post. 


Nanjiba 

2 comments:

  1. Very good post. Highly informative for travellers who want to visit Lanzarote. Keep up the good work.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed it

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