If you love food, you’ll love Lanzarote. The islanders take a great pride in using locally grown, specialist ingredients to create a unique and rich fusion of food for which the island is renowned. From the freshly caught shellfish to the delicious vegetables grown in volcanic gravel, the flavours and quality of the food in Lanzarote are set to surprise many of the tourists who visit.
Tastes to try on Lanzarote
There are a few ingredients you’ll see popping up frequently on menus and as accompaniments to dishes. These are the key ingredients for Lanzarote chefs, and should definitely be experienced when taking holidays to Lanzarote.
Fish: The most frequently served fish on the island are cherne (sea bass), vieja (parrot fish) and delicious dorada (sea bream). In the majority of restaurants these will have been caught the same day or certainly very recently in the same seas you’ve been dipping your toes in.
Papas arrugadas: These funny looking wrinkled potatoes are a must-have with any meal on the island. These potatoes have a distinctly nutty flavour and are sourced from the black gravel fields inland.
Mojo: These sauces are readily served with the papas arrugadas and come in a red or green variety. Essentially a rich sauce of garlic, olive oil, herbs and spices, the red version is rather spicy with chillies and peppers incorporated, whereas the green mojo is flavoured with coriander or sometimes parsley.
Gofio: Created from maize flour and toasted corn, gofio was once a staple of every meal in Lanzarote, back in the days when bread was a luxury. Today it is used in soups and stews to add flavour and to thicken the liquid.
Great restaurants on Lanzarote
The island is dotted with incredible gastronomic delights, and you could very well find a superb restaurant in the most unexpected of places. Head away from the tourist spots and into the smaller villages or old towns to experience true Lanzarote cuisine at its best. Here are a few recommendations to start you off;
Castillo De San Jose, Arracife
One of the best restaurants on the island, this place specialises in fish dishes and has an enviable portside setting, letting diners watch the ferries and cruise ships dock just steps away from the 18th-century Castillo. Try the house special shellfish soup, flavoured with locally grown saffron.
Casa-Museo Al Campesino, Mozaga
Serving a wide range of traditional Lanzarote dishes, this restaurant offers more than just a great dining experience. Diners get to eat their meals in a vast cave-like space which was formed during volcanic eruptions, known locally as a jameo. Try the sancocho too, a rice dish with sweet potatoes and salty fish which is a specialty of the house.
El Diablo, Timanfaya National Park
This stunning restaurant right on the viewpoint of the National Park is only open for lunch – but it’s worth making the effort to get there in time. You will be rewarded with delicious sweet potatoes and chicken dishes, all grilled by superheated 300-degree air from the volcanic vent below!
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More things to see on Lanzarote
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In this article, our guest author, Mina Mahrous describes Dahab, one of his favourite places to relax, go diving and above all chill out in his home country of Egypt.
Thinking of Dahab, you would normally imagine diving and some great coral reefs, but while this is true, Dahab has much more to it than just diving. My first visit to Dahab was as a child with my family, as a 2 days trip from Sharm el Sheikh. We spent the night in the Blue Hole, camping under the stars and using the cool sea water as a fridge for our watermelon. Dahab held a special “hippie” place in my heart since then.
I returned many years later, this time with my friends, and even though the city has developed a lot, it still holds its hippie and simplistic charm. Diving is still one of the top activities to be enjoyed in Dahab, but I was never a diver, and I still enjoy Dahab more than any other beach city in Sinai.
Water adventures in Dahab
Whether it is diving or snorkeling, Dahab promises amazing views, colorful corals and hundreds of fish species. There is a reason it is called the divers’ Mecca. Inside the city you can sit in one of the many restaurants and start your dive/snorkel from there, or you can book a diving adventure with one of the countless diving centers that dot the promenade.
If you decide to get out of the city, you won’t run out of places. Very near to the north of Dahab there is the Blue Hole (literally) which is one of the most famous diving spots in Sinai. Other very famous diving spots include The Canyon, The Caves, The Eel Garden, Gabr El Bint and many others that are close to Dahab. To the south, about 100km away there is the famous Ras Mohammed national park, where more than a 1000 water species are kept for divers to watch!
Other water adventures are also available in Dahab, from snorkeling to boat trips that will take you to amazing scuba diving spots to glass bottom yachts (I’d recommend these if you are afraid of swimming around fish) and even to water sports like kite boarding and wind surfing. There are several ways to get interactive with the waters and witness the colorful underwater world in Dahab.
Relax in Dahab
My favorite ‘activity’ in Dahab is just sitting and relaxing. Dotting the shore inside Dahab are numerous restaurants and bars, each with its own atmosphere, colors and music. Sit and order some drinks or fresh sea food, work on your tan, go for a swim or sit in the shade. It is just so relaxing in the warm mornings of Dahab to sit there, watch the sea and watch the divers come and go. A day in Dahab is almost always very relaxing. Personally I loved sitting at Yalla Bar, prices are more or less the same as most other bars, but portions are HUGE and the staff are really friendly, plus they always have amazing deals – usually for breakfast and evening happy hours.
Day trips from Dahab
Dahab is located on the Eastern shores of Sinai, centrally located between Sharm el Sheikh to the south, Nuweiba and Taba to the north and St. Catherine to the west. This makes it a perfect base to explore all of Sinai, taking day trips over land to the other cities, and also day trips on boats for some water adventures or some safari trips in the desert.
A day/night trip to St. Catherine to climb Mount Sinai for a breathtaking sunrise is my top recommendation. I did this climb before with a friend and hands down this is the best sunrise I have seen so far, although the climb is a bit tiring, especially the last part when the climb turns into a steep staircase carved in the rocks!
Also, a day trip to Ras Mohammed for diving or just snorkeling is a must. I’ve never been to Ras Mohammed on just a day trip, I usually go there to camp with my friends for a few days and I love it there, but a day trip would do if you’re short of time.
Getting to and from Dahab
Even though Dahab is known for being a relaxed town that feels like it’s left out from the rest of chaotic Egypt, it doesn’t mean that it is completely remote. On the contrary, it is very easy to get to Dahab; there are several daily busses from Sharm el Sheikh, and direct buses from Cairo, as well as a network of daily buses connecting it to the other cities and towns of Sinai. Just make sure you actually take the bus as touts will always try to sell you private car rides once you get in the bus station – Insiders tip: Those rides are worth it if you are 3 or more people. If you are two or a single traveler, the bus is definitely cheaper.
Also, from Dahab it is easy to get to Taba and cross over to Israel, or get to Nuweiba and take the ferry to Aqaba, Jordan. It is also one hour away from the international airport in Sharm el Sheikh
Desert adventures from Dahab
There is no comparison between the desert in Sinai and the western desert of Egypt like in Siwa Oasis. Yet, it is undeniable that the mountainous terrain of Sinai and Dahab has its own charm. Taking camel treks in the desert or visiting a Bedouin camp for dinner is always an entrancing experience. Take a jeep excursion to get in touch with the rough nature of the desert, climbing up and down sand dunes and rock mountains.
I didn’t meet one person who disliked their stay in Dahab; it always seems to meet one’s taste in adventure or relaxation. There is something for everyone in there!
Mina Mahrous is the first Egyptian travel blogger! Rather than accepting the conventional dictated future for people his age in Egypt, he decided to try and follow his dreams of traveling. He blogs about his travels and hardships of traveling with an Egyptian passport, all from an Egyptian point of view. You can follow his blog Someday I’ll Be There, or follow him on facebook, twitter and google+.
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Our visit to Rotterdam as part of our 4 day European Sampler Cruise on board Crown Princess was one of the most enjoyable days of the cruise. The sun shone as we stood on deck and the ship glided through the canal that led to the port of Rotterdam, the second city of the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. On the skyline were rows of windmills – the modern white kind rather than the picturesque old ones you get on every postcard, and the canal was lined with industrial buildings. We only had one day in Rotterdam, arriving mid morning and departing late in the evening but we managed to pack in plenty of interesting things, all within easy walking distance of the cruise terminal. So if you only have one day in Rotterdam, here are some of the things that we enjoyed on our cruise day ashore.
1. Spido Harbour Tour
From the cruise terminal we walked across the Erasmus bridge, known locally as the Swan for the sculptural effect of its supports, and from the jetty on the other side we took the Spido Harbour Tour, lasting 75 minutes. We were lucky to have bright and sunny weather, but the large boat would be suitable for all weathers with indoor and outdoor seating areas, and a café to buy coffee and snacks.
We settled on the open, upper deck from where we got a great view of all the interesting buildings alongside the Maas River. The commentary in English and other languages informed us about the modern buildings, many by notable architects, as most of the older buildings of Rotterdam were destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. We toured up one side of the harbour, past the Euromast tower and around the working shipyards where cranes were loading goods and colourful containers were stacked along the quay. Returning along the other side of the harbour we made a detour to pass the old cruise liner SS Rotterdam, the Hotel New York and the Crown Princess moored on Wilhelmina Pier, before being dropped off beside the Erasmus bridge again. Need to know: Spido Harbour tour lasts 75 minutes and cost €10.75 per adult €6.60 for children. The tours run all year round and in the summer there are around 10 sailings a day, with less in winter.
2. SS Rotterdam
We passed the SS Rotterdam on our harbour tour, but unfortunately we didn’t have time for a proper visit. This steam ship was the biggest passenger ship ever built in the Netherlands under the Holland America line and is now a hotel and museum. In her heyday she welcomed celebrities like Frank Sinatra and European Royalty like Crown Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands and Princess Margaret of England, but now anyone can eat in one of the restaurants and cafes or have a cocktail in the bar. You can take a 1 hour audio tour around the ship to see behind the scenes in the charts room, bridge and captain’s cabin. Need to know: SS Rotterdam, Katendrecht. Audio tour costs €16 Adults, €9.50 children 10am-5pm, free entry for the restaurants and bars
3. Schmidt Zeevis
Once we completed the Spido Harbour tour, it was getting close to lunchtime so we asked a local shopkeeper for a recommendation of where we might find some pickled herring, my husband’s favourite. We were directed to Schmidt Zeevis, a fishmonger’s and deli which had apparently won awards for the best in the city and was just a 5 minute walk away from the Erasmus Bridge. The chilled counters were full of fresh seafood as well as ready-to-eat dishes to take out, but there were tables by the window where you could stand and eat your lunch selection. In the open kitchen we could see large pieces of fish being sliced with great precision and the sharpest of knives. Display counters doubled as table tops and groups of local businessmen were eating anything from Japanese raw fish with dipping sauces, to battered fish goujons, all washed down with a glass of chilled white wine. We joined the lunchtime diners standing at a counters and Guy ordered a selection of herring and roll-mops from the deli counter, while I had the lunchtime special, which cost us around €10 per person Need to know: Schmidt Zeevis, Vasteland 60 – 3011 BM Rotterdam
4. HavenMuseum (Harbour Museum)
Strolling down the Leuvehaven area of the harbour full of old boats, we were invited on board one that was part of the Haven (Harbour) Museum. This Dutch barge named Geertuida or Gertrude, after the wife of the owner, was built in 1906 and was used to transport building materials like stone and gravel to Brussels travelling along the many canals. Even more fascinating, as the volunteer guide explained to us, was that the barge had housed a whole family who lived on board. The children continued to manage the boat until they were too old, when it was given to the musum.
We were taken into the boat to see the old-fashioned living room, bedroom and kitchen, with the childrens’ bunks down below. The rooms were small but cosy and well fitted, and in days when many people lived in poor housing conditions, would have been a very pleasant place to live. There were also many other boats that you could look at as part of the Havenmuseum, with walkways between them. Need to know: Havenmuseum, Leuvehaven 50, 3011 EA Rotterdam. Entry is free although donations are welcome. Open Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday 11am to 5pm although you can look at the boats from the quayside at any time.
5. Maritiem Museum
Walking further along Leuvehaven we reached the Maritime Museum where we found the Mainport Live spectacle on the ground floor, with a model of the port and a light and sound video presentation to give you the feel of the life and vibrancy of Rotterdam. Upstairs there was the Sea Palaces Exhibition with examples of cruise ship interiors since the 1920s. The exhibition showed how cruise ships had developed from luxury liners that only the very wealthy can afford, to the holiday playgrounds of today that everyone can enjoy. If you want to wallow in the nostalgia of towels folded into animals, dressing up for dinner at the Captain’s table and leather trunks full of finery, you will love this exhibition. Need to Know: Maritiem Museum Rotterdam is open every day except Monday, Adults €7.50, Children €4. Address: Leuvehaven 1, 3011 EA Rotterdam
6. Architecture walking tour
At the tourist information stand in the cruise terminal, we had picked up a leaflet for the Architecture Walking Tour. As Rotterdam was heavily bombed in the Second World War, much of the old centre was destroyed, but the city has more than made up for this with some striking modern architecture. We crossed the Erasmus Bridge with the 139m steel pylon which earn it the nickname of The Swan. The walk along the canal took us past the “Red Apple” residential tower which gets its name from the colour of the exterior and the apple market that once stood here. Further along was the Art Nouveau Witte Huis or White House, an attractive eleven story building which was considered the sky scraper of its day, and one of the few older buildings to survive the bombing. The walking tour continued through the city centre with over 30 buildings of architectural significance to see, although we ran out of time to see them all. Need to know: Pick up a leaflet for the Architecture walking tour or Rondje Rotterdam at the Rotterdam info tourism office or in the cruise terminal. There are also Black street signs marked Rondje Rotterdam to guide you. More information about Rotterdam architecture on Rotterdam.info
7. The Cube houses
A little way beyond the White House were the famous Cube Houses designed by Piet Blom, looking like a forest of cubes, each on its own trunk, containing the staircase. The houses overlook a small harbour area with a couple of bars which were a pleasant place to have a drink on the quayside and obviously very popular. If you fancy staying in one of the houses there is a hostel in two of the cubes joined together run by StayOkay. As the residents apparently got fed up of curious tourists wanting to have a nose around, one of the houses is now open as the Kijk-Kubus museum and I took a look around. The concept of Piet Blom was to create an urban village that included living space at the top level and small shops, businesses and play areas on the ground level between the houses, with each cube house being one of the trees in the forest. Having looked around the small show house, I decided that the houses are better to look at than to live in, with very small rooms and slanting ceilings tucked into the cube shape, but certainly an interesting insight into modern architecture in Rotterdam. Need to Know: The Kijk-Kubus museum is open every day 11.00-17.00 Adults €2.50, Children €1.50
8. A Water Taxi back to the ship
By the afternoon, we were a little foot weary and so we took one of the yellow and black water-taxis from Leuvehaven, near the Havenmuseum to speed us back to Crown Princess. We’d spotted the water taxis from the deck of the cruise ship in the morning when we docked and thought they looked rather fun – you could imagine yourself in one of those James Bond moments, weaving through the harbour with the baddies in hot pursuit. There was a crowd of people waiting but we all managed to squeeze in and I got the front seat beside the boatman as we left the harbour under the bridge, and then he pulled back the throtttle across the open water. In no time we were passing Crown Princess and Hotel New York on the end of Wilhelmina piers to be dropped off by the little boathouse jetty nearby. Need to know: Water taxis run from Leuvehaven and Veerhaven on one side of the river, to Hotel New York and SS Rotterdam on the other. They are normally running around every 10 minutes from 9am to midnight and our trip from Leuvehaven to Hotel New York cost €3.80 per person one way.
9. Hotel New York
Our water taxi from Leuvehaven dropped us at Hotel New York, at the end of Wilhelmina Pier, and before we made the short walk back to Crown Princess, we had to stop for coffee at this legendary hotel and cafe. The historic building was once the office of the Holland America cruise lines and the place where emigrants from the Netherlands left for New York to start a new life. Now the building is a buzzing hotel with bar, restaurant and outdoor terrace. Of course there’s plenty of seafood on the menu and a relaxed, brasserie atmosphere. We sat at the reading table, full of books and international magazines, under an enormous crystal chandelier, for a coffee an enormous slice of Dutch apple cake. The whole of Wilhelmina Pier is being redeveloped as a happening place with a photography museum and old warehouses being converted into residential apartments. The terrace café in front of the hotel was also busy and a great place to sit in the afternoon sunshine, with views of the harbour and boats going by. Need to know: Hotel New York, Koninginnenhoofd 1, 3072 AD, Rotterdam – On Wilhelmina pier, a short walk from the cruise terminal. Open from 7am to 1am
There was far more of interest to see in Rotterdam than I had expected, and it was easy to walk to many of the sights from the cruise terminal. Other guests used the free shuttle bus to take them to the central shopping area and the station, and I heard that some just stayed on the bus and used it as a mini-sightseeing tour. Another option that was very popular was to take the free bus to the station and catch the train to Amsterdam which I gather was a quick and inexpensive journey. There were also many excursions available to see various things in Amsterdam if you prefer to have transport and activities arranged for you.
More about our European Sampler Cruise with Princess Cruises
How to enjoy your Princess Cruise without piling on the pounds
Taster Cruise diary series at the Online Travel Journal
I found plenty of useful Rotterdam Tips in this podcast from Tips for Travellers by Gary Bembridge
My 4 night European Sampler Cruise with my husband was hosted by Princess Cruises who offer cruises to European and Worldwide cruises to allow you to explore fascinating destinations and escape completely on board their elegant and spacious ships. Our cruise took us from Southampton to Rotterdam to Guernsey before returning to Southampton. You can keep up with latest updates for Princess Cruises on their Twitter page @PrincessCruises and on the Princess Cruises Facebook Page.
You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey