I’m wondering how many blogs out there in the Blog-O-Sphere have entries that begin with some groveling excuse about “Sorry, Dear Blog, that I’ve forsaken thee”?
Well, here is another one.
My standard excuse is something along the lines of “Luxembourg is so normal/charming/lovely, that you will be tired of my constant glowing descriptions of Michelin-rated restaurants and encounters with professional cyclists.”
In Moscow, you could always count on seeing someone pooping by the Lenin Library or stumbling home at dawn through the park in a suit jacket, dress shirt, tie, and dress shoes but no suit trousers or passed out across the hood of someone else’s Lada.
It was so colorful. Never boring. Every day another blog topic.
Here, I have to leave town in order to generate some material for my long-neglected blog. It is scanty, but I do have a few things to share.
First, is that I finally ventured into the world of Package Tours. I always do my own travel arrangements myself, armed only with Expedia, Trip Advisor, and the ability to spend hours googling. For once I thought I’d let the travel agent handle everything for me, and over all, I have to say it was a pleasant change of pace. Not something I want to do every time. But worth trying. Although I didn’t feel that way immediately.
I had certain criteria: someplace warm (the three-weeks of Russian-style cold weather had wreaked havoc with my diesel engine and my patience), not in North Africa (too dicey these days), and less than a whole week (since The Spouse had to stay behind and work). All of this = 4 days/3 nights in Gran Canaria at the Hotel Riu Papayas.
I will confess, I was expecting a Little Britain sort of trip.
And the drive from the airport was grim at best:
The gene pool at the hotel was . . . shall we say “vintage”?
The weather was much colder than I anticipated (even though the forecasts were spot on accurate, predicting daily highs of 19-21C).
The hotel location was a bit . . . busy.
And the nearest shopping center was an eyesore:
But the skies could be dramatic:
Even the hotel featured three resident garden cats who slept on the chair cushions and wandered through the hotel like honored guests, eschewing palm tree scratching pads for upholstered lobby lounge chairs.
And you thought the islands were famous for dogs.
In all seriousness, the hotel staff was extremely professional, kind, and helpful. Canarians in general were delighted at my feeble attempts to speak Spanish (I tended to produce French; they tended to initiate conversations with me in German). Everyone let me slog on through, spoke to me in slow, simple declarative sentences, and gently corrected my mistakes.
The girls discovered a hilarious Spanish game show called ¡Ahora caigo!
We went out on two dolphin searching trips and saw not only dolphins, but a pod of about nine pilot whales. With minimal seasickness. Okay, there was a little seasickness, but no actual puking. Not by us, anyhow.
Looking back on the trip from the comfort of my own bed (why DO all Spanish beds seem to be holdovers from the Inquisition?), I think of the Canaries with a lot more fondness than I did, say, on Day One. It was exactly what I was looking for in a short trip. Baboo got to practice speaking Spanish. Skittles translated a good amount of German for us (generally humorous observations of things she overheard other tourists saying). Everyone got to have some great garlic shrimp. And we all came home surprisingly sunburned for no warmer than it was.
So maybe it is worth another look.