The reason I want to escape the daily grind is to do less of things I don’t like and more of the things I do. Currently, I’m time poor and when that changes I want to have enough things that interest me and keep me fulfilled. Otherwise, what’s the point of stopping work? Last year I tried surfing for the first time and loved it, being in the sun, sea and visiting exotic places – who wouldn’t? I find it gives travel more of a purpose vs aimless sightseeing. In an effort to continue my surf education, I recently visited a Lanzarote surf school in Famara while getting some much-needed winter sunshine ☀️
Getting to Lanzarote from the UK was relatively easy. This was the first time I’d used Jet2 and have to say they were decent, I paid around £100 for a return flight from London. On arrival, I took a cab from the airport to Famara which cost € 35 and took 20 minutes. Famara is a small fishing village so it wasn’t difficult for the cab driver to find my AirBnB apartment. After fumbling around with the lockbox which was affixed to the wall outside, I eventually got the key. After completing the self-check-in process it made me think about how AirBnB has become a machine, completely different from its originating roots, you rarely meet the host and quite often it’s managed by an agency.
On the first day, I had to be at the surf school by 10:15 to get my wetsuit and board. There were already a few people there, a mix of Europeans, I got speaking to a fellow Brit called Keith from Bristol who’d already been here a few days. After about 20 minutes we all loaded into the minibus and headed towards the beach with our wetsuits and packed lunches, closely followed by a trailer full of surfboards. It was less than a 5-minute drive which made me think I could have walked but I shouldn’t complain. Once we arrived at the beach we got changed into our wetsuits and bright yellow surf t-shirts. Our 2 surf instructors for the day were Bert and Phil. Every day we were reminded about safety and told not to expect much from the resident beach lifeguards who were either asleep, surfing or stoned in their lifeguard cabin. The resident lifeguard uselessness wasn’t an issue as the beach was peppered with surf school instructors who were all qualified lifeguards. Anyway, I wasn’t feeling worried about drowning in the shallow white water today, but good to know I shouldn’t expect Micheal Hasslehoof to come charging out of the lifeguard cabin in the event of an emergency.
When I woke up my body could tell it had been surfing until 3:30 pm the day before. I was over-exuberant on the first day, so the plan is to tone it back a bit today. Down at the beach, Phil (our surf instructor) kept on using the analogy that the surfboard is like a seesaw. You want to distribute your body weight evenly so your board is horizontal when catching a wave. He also said the seesaw, like most things, was a British invention (…I’m not sure if that’s true). Phil also managed to bring up Brexit and some terrible impersonations of Italians and Spanish while explaining how to surf. The 2 Italians in our group didn’t understand or didn’t find his impersonations funny! If anything else his explanations were engaging and you could tell he enjoyed his job as a teacher.
Today was a day off from surfing. The surf school recommends having a day off every 3rd day (which is needed). I liked this honest approach and one of the reasons I choose this surf school. Most schools wouldn’t try and discourage you from booking as many surf lessons as you could possibly afford. My day of rest was spent wandering around Famara (which didn’t take long!). In the afternoon I went to one of the local fish restaurants which was excellent. Eating fish is one of the reasons I love to travel, eating fish back home is expensive and never tastes as good.
I woke up and started to prepare my regular morning staple of avocado, tomatoes and cheese omelette. Not only is fresh fish a joy but so is fresh fruit and vegetables. The avocados from the small convenience store are absolutely delicious, they taste so much better compared to what you get in Tesco. Down at the surf school, we had a new surf instructor, Vicky. She was excellent and spent a lot of time paying attention to the students and correcting their mistakes. It’s made me realise the previous surf school instructors I’ve had from other schools weren’t that good.
Today was a day off from surfing. In an effort to see a little more of Lanzarote, I decided to take the number 31 bus from Famara to Costa Teguise. Having spent all my time so far in a small fishing village, Costa Teguise is more of your stereotypical Lanzarote. With that being said it was nice enough for a day of wandering around by the seafront. Based on the general demographic and prevalent mobility scooters scattered around the seafront for hire. It made me think this was an “old person’s Ibiza”. One thing I do like about these expat locations is how much friendlier your native nationality is towards you. I experienced this effect when living overseas too. I put this down to a combination of factors: the sun (which releases serotonin), less stress and there are less of you, which means expats are receptive to conversation and friendship.
The weather has changed for my last 2 days of surfing. Although I was travelling in early January the weather had been low twenties, bright-blue skies and warm. However, when it’s cloudy and you don’t get the sunshine hitting your skin, the wind makes it feel cold. The lack of sun has been compounded by rough sea and strong currents. It’s made me realise that without nice weather surfing just isn’t the same!
Final holiday notes
All in all, this was a successful holiday. I want to make travel a bigger part of my life but there needs to be something that gives structure to my day and surfing does that. The added bonus is you can travel alone and it’s still sociable as you’re part of a group. When I quit my fulltime job, I’ll need to change a few travel habits though; cook at home more, go to places where food and accommodation are cheaper, drink less alcohol. This in part would accommodate trips being longer. Next trip is Peniche in the spring/summertime.
I enjoyed learning to surf in Famara so much that I came back 2 months later. This time I stayed in a wonderful small villa right by the beach. The last Airbnb I stayed in had no outside space and very little natural light. The improved accommodation on my subsequent trip made such a positive difference. You cannot beat having a coffee in the early morning sunshine while hearing the sound of the ocean. I took a few new photos which you can see below 🙂