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    Lanzarote Short South Tour

    I’m still not totally accepting of the fact that I am home from Lanzarote and back in boring Wigan. Nope. Hopefully, with Spring officially here, the weather will start to look up. Can’t say the same for work though haha!

    Anyway, whilst in Lanzarote this year, we decided to go on a tour. There are a lot to choose from – some just half days, some full days – and we chose the ‘Short South Tour’. The full days mostly just included a meal as an extra, and with me being vegetarian and my cousin vegan, it just probably wasn’t worth the fuss. Looking through the options, the Short South Tour sounded pretty good, and included a camel ride opportunity, wine tasting and then volcanic experiments and views.

    Lanzarote Short South Tour // lifeofkitty.co.uk

    As we drove into the area, we had some lovely views from the coach and a great tour guide telling us things about Lanzarote and the island. When rain clouds appear and it starts to rain, you usually only get a few minutes worth of rain because it can get so windy that the clouds just get blown away so quickly! It rained a few times whilst we were there, but only ever for a couple of minutes if that. I think that’s so fascinating haha! “Lanzarote has on average around 5 days of rain per year. About the same that England gets of sun.” Funny. Sadly not far from the truth!

    We also discovered on the journey that the buildings in Lanzarote are painted white to contrast the black volcanic landscape. If you decide you want a differently coloured house, you’ll be paying up to 2000 € every year it isn’t white! Damn. Traditionally, all houses inland have green windows/doors, and the ones on the coast have blue to reflect the sea. I’d always wondered why every building was white and green/blue, thinking it was actually something to do with the sun. Modern houses tend to have brown windows/doors – but I like the reasoning behind the green and blue!

    Lanzarote Short South Tour // lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Camel Rides

    First up – camel rides! I can’t say I’ve ever really wanted to ride a camel, so I didn’t. It was an extra 6 € and they took you on a little walk around the base of the ‘Fire Mountains’. The people on our coach who did it said it was worth the money, but then they also looked like they were holding on for dear life as the camels were moving… I kind of wish I’d done it, because the views would be amazing, but then I still don’t fancy taking a camel for a ride. There must have been a good couple of hundred of camels here though. Our tour guide told us they even had their own special road that took them back to their village – and the journey was always quicker on the way back because they were hungry…

    Lanzarote Short South Tour // lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Wine Tasting

    Next up – wine tasting! I’m not a big wine fan. I could drink one glass and probably be drunk, but nevertheless I wanted to try them. We headed to the wine district of Lanzarote – La Geria. Grown in the surrounding areas, the vines are planted in craters dug into the black fields. Quite a sight to see hundreds, thousands of circles on a black landscape. These craters are protected from wind erosion by the natural lava stones, built up to create a wall. You can see what they look like below!

    When we walked into the building, the smell was so strong and overwhelming. I suppose if you are some sort of wine connoisseur you may enjoy this smell. It was fine once you’d gotten over that initial shock!

    How was the wine? Well we tried a white and a red, and I really thought I’d hate the white and like the red. Wrong! The white wine was actually quite soft and sweet. Nothing like the white wines I’ve previously tried ha! The red wine was really sharp and quite tangy, and I didn’t like it at all. Took one swig and that was it – off to my mum so she could finish it.

    Lanzarote Short South Tour // lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Lanzarote Short South Tour // lifeofkitty.co.uk

    the Volcanoes

    Finally, we headed towards the Timanfaya National Park. On the drive up, we could see miles of land affected by previous volcanic eruptions. Just loads of lava fields, everywhere. It was pretty, and still a strange sight to see. We also got a small glimpse of actual grass – on a roundabout. Apparently grass is hard to come by in Lanzarote.

    We drove up a really steep hill, parked the coach on a precarious angle and headed towards the ‘experiment’ centre. First up, our group were told to stand in a circle. This area was known to be the hottest bit of land in Lanzarote. You could actually feel the heat through your shoes! The kind man who was working there dug up some of the stony ground and put a bit in everyone’s hand. It was bloody hot! A lot of people dropped it straight away from the shock, others – like me – just quickly kept passing the stones from hand to hand because it was so damn hot.

    Then we moved on to a hole in the ground. Because of the heat from the ground, when the guy shoved a load of dry hay type material into the hole, it just set on fire straight away. Pretty crazy. Then we were onto the hot steam. This guy put water into a hole (i think?) and this huge billow of steam followed. I was sad that he’d done the one on the far left for us, but the group before had the middle one and I’m guessing you have to give it a few minutes before trying again. The final experiment was to see how they cooked food there, just from the heat of the ground – no fire. Although this small room stunk of chicken, it was interesting to see.

    Overall, the experiments were interesting, and I enjoyed seeing them and hearing the information at each step. The downside for me is that it felt rushed. You could tell it was a popular tourist attraction, as you were just quickly moved through each station ready for the next group. Not much time to just look and reflect. I can only imagine what it would be like in Summer at peak season!

    Lanzarote Short South Tour // lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Seeing the volcanic landscape

    Back in the coach, we headed out for a drive through Timanfaya National Park where we could really see the landscape and the volcanoes. Lots of winding roads, and sometimes driving along a cliff side made this coach trip scarily exciting. Not for those who don’t enjoy heights! We had a recorded tour guide giving us some information (along with some cringy sound effects) and I really enjoyed this bit. I’m a sucker for information. Love it. The bottom photo here is our view from near the top of a mountain/volcano, and that bus was behind us on the route.

    Lanzarote Short South Tour // lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Lanzarote Short South Tour // lifeofkitty.co.uk

    The tour lasted from 9am to 2pm and whilst bits did feel rushed, I really enjoyed it. Was super interesting to hear about the history of Lanzarote and it’s land, as well as the few interactive bits. I’d definitely recommend doing a tour like this if you visit the area.

    How about you? Been on any interesting tours lately?

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    Europe, Travel

    Diving in Lanzarote!

    Diving in Lanzarote | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    Diving has been something that I’ve wanted to do for so long, and when I discovered we were visiting Lanzarote I just had to take that opportunity. I researched months beforehand, looking at all the different places and checking out prices. Manta Diving was the place I settled on, and after a few friendly emails, my brother and I were all booked in and had a lift from our villa to the diving centre on the morning of our dive sorted! I’d booked it for our third day, and it was honestly the highlight of the holiday for me. I know my brother enjoyed it too, so I’m sure he’d do it again!

    The guys at Manta Diving were brilliant, and I couldn’t fault them at all. So friendly and helpful, and considering we did a beginners diving experience, I never felt like I was out of my depth. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that one!)

    We were diving in Playa Chica Bay and it was soo gorgeous! The waters were pretty calm, and there were tons of fish, as you’ll see in the videos below! Breathing underwater through the diving equipment felt so strange – you actually have to think about breathing! We got to 6 metres, and honestly the worst thing is getting your eyes sorted! Imagine being on a plane, and then times the amount they pop by 10. Definitely something you need to get used to, but it wasn’t all that difficult. Of course, as we were just on a discover dive, the guys leading us did all the hard work – sorting out weights and our buoyancy for that first one. We did the follow up a couple of days later, going down to 12 metres and this is where we actually got off the seabed, and swam/floated about instead.

    (Make sure you watch in HD!)

    Keep Reading for snorkelling in Lanzarote

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    Europe, Food, Travel

    Eating in Lanzarote

    One of the things that I was looking forward to when going to Lanzarote (besides the hot weather!) was food. Food, glorious food. I’m a big fruit lover, and living in England is just disappointing. If you’ve eaten fruits such as watermelon, pineapple and mango in a hot country, you’ll know just how much sweeter and juicier they are! Of course, going on holiday isn’t all about eating healthy – there’s got to be a few treats in there too! We over 7 days we ate at 6 different restaurants (I haven’t got photos from each though!) and we had a great time tasting different foods.

    Eating in Lanzarote: Fruit | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    The fruit of course was amazing. The best watermelon I’ve ever tasted, and such a sweet pineapple too. I actually went through 1 and a half pineapples whilst there (my mum ate the other half!) it tasted that good. We also tried a dragonfruit, which was very mildly sweet, and a lot brighter than expected! Plantain crisps are something I’ve tried before, but i got a couple of bags whilst there and they were great to snack on throughout the day.

    As we had a villa, we ate breakfast there, had a little walk, came back for lunch and to relax during the hottest period and then ate out for dinner. So for lunches, it was often sandwiches on freshly baked bread or salads. Funnily enough, we actually had a Lidl just round the corner from our villa!

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    Europe, Travel

    Puerto Del Carmen, Lanzarote

    Visiting Puerto Del Carmen, Lanzarote | lifeofkitty.co.uk

    It has been a week since I got back from Lanzarote, and I’m still sad about it. We had a lovely week there in the sunshine; eating good food, swimming and sunbathing all day long. It’s really hard to come back into the cold weather and straight back into work!

    Puerto Del Carmen is a pretty popular place to visit in Lanzarote, though I didn’t really see many hotels. Not like when I’ve been to mainland Spain. It seemed to be mostly apartment style ‘hotels’ and lots of villas. We had a villa and oh, it was brilliant. We had our own pool, a table tennis table and a pool table! Town and the main strip were both a 10/15 minute walk away from our villa, and we went down there most nights. Puerto Del Carmen is such a beautiful place, and I’d definitely love to go back. I’m going to let the photos do the speaking for the most part for this post – there’s a mixture of both phone and camera photos.

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    Crafting, Europe

    Homemade travel journal. (SMASH/Scrapbook)

    As I have mentioned previously, I’ve been creating a travel journal to document my expedition to Finland. Well, it is finally complete (or near enough) and I have done a video to show you the pages. Yes, I have done a video! A little scary to be honest, but I’m afraid you’re only getting my voice…

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    Europe, Travel

    Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #3.

    Part #1Part #2

    imageThe last bit of our expedition was very different to what we had imagined. Looking online, Rovaniemi looked lovely and interesting. In reality, it was just like any other city in England! I don’t know why I expected so much more haha.

    Due to the time that we went, the tourist trips were mostly shut. Too late for winter, too early for summer! After walking around on the first morning, we headed into tourist information and managed to book ourselves onto a snow shoeing tour. It was fun but not as difficult or ‘extreme’ as expected.

    The guide that we had was brilliant though, and told us so much information about the area, about Finland and his experiences growing up. He was entertaining and it was great to hear about his life. He also told us how he loved his job taking tourists out because it helped him with his languages.

    Rovaniemi was actually very warm, and had no snow – very different to the more Southern places we’d been! I figure it’s because it was a city. We drove out of the city about half an hour away and had knee deep snow in places when doing the snow shoeing.

    During this little trip we were given hot tea and chocolate to keep us warm, and this little bread thing which was kind of like a biscuit, but bread. I’m not really sure but it was crispy and tasted alright dipped in the chocolate!

    I’m glad we did this, but I also kind of wish we’d tried skiing!

    Rovaniemi itself had some really pretty parts, but also some not so nice parts. Just like any city, right? This river was huge, and parts were still frozen from the winter, and there were also chunks of ice just floating around! We saw one traditional Finnish restaurant in Rovaniemi, but it was just so expensive that we didn’t have the money for it.

    On our second day, we visited the Santa Village, as advised by the guide! It’s what most people come to Rovaniemi for… Due to the season, it was a little disappointing. The gift shops and buildings were lovely, but I guess the place just looks so much better in the winter and in the evening. I am glad that we went though, because otherwise I’d just be regretting it!

    One thing that I loved, and this was the same in Helsinki (airport!), was the packaging designs in the supermarkets! Everything for kids just looked so cute! I actually saved a couple of cartons/wrappers to put in my travel journal.

    Last but not least, Rovaniemi was covered in all kinds of cool graffiti. The images really helped to brighten up the area, and I loved seeing them. I’ll just let the photos do the talking…

    So, that was the end of our expedition. To get back to Kajaani for our flight, we had to get two trains and it was around a 5 hour journey. Not too fun, but with a good book and nice scenery it’s all fine! Here’s a wagtail seen at Kajaani station! It came so close – clearly used to people!

    Overall, the expedition was an amazing experience and I’m so happy to have had the chance! I would definitely visit Martinselkosen and the Boreal Wildlife Centre again. Lovely people, place and predators! Next time I’d maybe look at another place in the Arctic Circle – probably wouldn’t bother with Rovaniemi again! Although, Santa’s Village would be great in the winter. Hope you enjoyed looking at these photos!

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    Europe, Travel

    Matka – An expedition to Finland. Part #2.

    Part #1Part #3

    imageAfter visiting Martinselkosen Eräkeskus Wildlife Centre, we headed towards the Boreal Wildlife Centre. There was a two hour drive between the two, with this place being further South. This meant that there was less snow in the area and more green forest! It’s crazy how sort of isolated Finland felt. This two hour drive was literally down one big road with only trees surrounding each side. Occasionally there would be a building, but 90% of the drive was just trees. Oh and the occasional rabbit running down the side of the road.

    On the first day/night, we just explored the area a little and relaxed mostly. We were actually so tired that we went to bed quite early, and set an alarm for 11pm to get some night shots! I really wanted to do a timelapse but it just didn’t work out. I don’t have the right lens for it so anything I try just seems kind of lacking in some way ha.

    Anyway, this night was brilliant. There’s something quite eerie about being outside in the middle of the night, in a new country and with the knowledge of there being bears about. (Not anywhere in the immediate surroundings, of course!) We ended up seeing a tiny glimpse of the Northern Lights! It was only a bit of green in the sky (which was hardly visible to the eye but could be seen in camera) but it was so awesome. Green, purples and pinks… The sky was pretty!

    I definitely need to see them properly to really tick seeing the Northern Lights off a bucket list though. A visit to Iceland is top of the list!

    The next morning we did some more exploring. Walking in the woods and just taking in the beautiful scenery. I took so many tree photos here.

    Also managed to see and photograph a red squirrel and brambling. The red squirrel had funny colouring! Body mostly grey, white chest, red tail, red paws and red face/ears! It was cute though.

    After lunch (3pm in both of these centers) we headed out for our first night in the hide. This hide gave us a very wide an open view – a lot different from the trees and the swamp in the first place. We were waiting for 4-5 hours for the first bear to appear but, once one had arrived, two more quickly followed. There was one bear that had a white patch on it’s back and I think it looked awesome! Whilst we were waiting for the bears, we just had lots of ravens in sight.

    Now for the best bit… The morning of our second stay in the hide, we saw two wolves! Yes, wolves! We felt so lucky because the guide had told us that the wolves would constantly patrol their territory and as a result they would only pass through the hide area once every 7/8 days. They didn’t stay for very long, but I’m happy that I managed to get some photographs! It was an incredible sight.

    Phew, that was a long one, wasn’t it? Next Friday post up is Rovaniemi!

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