As Ned Stark would have said: Winter is coming. While some people around the world look towards the change of season with hopes of ski trips and snowy days indoors or just a respite from the summer’s heat, I’ve always found that winter is an all around miserable time of year for me.
Maybe if I’d grown up in the northern hemisphere and associated the winter months with Christmas, New Year’s, and my birthday I’d think differently, but as it is I’m battening down the hatches for a lengthy, bitterly cold, and generally miserable winter here in China. Without a pretty girl to warm my bed or a halfway well insulated apartment to cozen me while I play World of WarCraft in my underpants, I’ll be relying on my always active imagination to get me through.
While I’m lucky enough to be headed to the beaches of southern China this weekend, I like to dream just a little bit bigger than Chinese beaches. I’m thinking that some time in Spain’s fabulous Canary Islands would be the perfect last dose of sunshine before I batten down the hatches for four to five months of shivering and complete outdoor avoidance.
So, I’m going to pack my fantasy bags, apply plenty of fantasy sunblock, and (fantasy) fly to Lanzarote with Monarch.
I’ll be completely honest with you. Sometimes I’m that kind of traveler. You know, the kind who has no interest in doing anything cultural or exciting and instead just wants a hammock (or deck chair), a good book, some cocktails, and close proximity to some restaurants with good food.
The beaches of Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura are perfect places not only for this kind of lazy relaxation, but also offer up perfect conditions for all manner of more active aquatic pursuits. I’ve tackled learning to surf in Manly in the past, and I’ve made no secret of my unabashed love of scuba diving – but there’s also the opportunity to ride the trade winds for a bit of kite-surfing or wind-surfing.
A bit of luxury sailing off the beaches of Lanzarote wouldn’t go astray either…
Getting in Touch with Nature
You might not be able to tell it from looking at me, but I’m actually a guy who loves getting out and hiking. Some of my favourite travel memories have been of getting out and getting sweaty amidst nature. Whether it’s a hike through the Blue Mountains or trekking through the steamier climes of northern Thailand, I’m not adverse to getting drenched in sweat and making sure my calves feel the burn.
Thankfully, there’s an abundance of unique and interesting hiking options across the Canary Islands. I can feel like I’m walking on some volcanic moon in Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park, wander the massive sand dunes of Gran Canaria, check out the nature reserve on Lobos island, or I can climb (ha!)/take a cable car up Spain’s highest mountain, Mount Teide.
Food! Glorious Food!
You almost certainly can tell it by looking at me: I’m a guy who loves his food. Between just being a bit of a fattie and being a frustrating exponent of eating myself happy (still trying!), I’m a sucker for a good meal.
Canarian cuisine is this dizzying fusion of Spanish, Latin, and African cultures and I’m dying to try it. Washed down with some good local beer or wine, it sounds like the perfect end to a day that would doubtless leave me either sore and sunburned or relaxed and sunburned.
What? I’m of British stock. I burn at the mention of sun.
Have you been lucky enough to visit one (or more) of the Canary Islands?
Or are you yourself hankering for some respite from the coming winter? Where would you most like to be as the temperature spirals ever lower and summer fades into a distant memory?