Over the past few weeks Popcorn Beach in Fuerteventura has been featured in both the UK and US press. I have no idea why it should suddenly feature as it has been here forever but that’s the press for you.
Popcorn Beach is on the north shore of Fuerteventura between Majanicho and Corralejo. It is basically made up of broken pieces of white coral that look very much like popcorn – hence the name.
As Fuerteventura beaches go it is certainly not one of the best but if you are driving along the north shore then it is worth a look at.
I drove from Majanicho along a very bumpy track first of all staying right by the sea shore. I was in my trusty old 4×4 so I was ok but you would struggle to take this track in a normal car. You certainly wouldn’t want to take your own car on it, although, as we all know, hire cars can go anywhere!
There is a much easier maintained track you can take too so that is quite easy in a normal car.
There is a small cafe/bar at the beach but it was closed when I visited. I don’t know when, or if, it opens.
How to get to Popcorn Beach
To get to Majanicho first go to Lajares and at the roundabout by the football ground take the turning along the side of the football ground – signposted Majanicho. Continue down there, past the entrance to the Origo Mare complex and then into the quaint picturesque fishing hamlet of Majanicho.
Turn right to go to Popcorn Beach (or left to go to El Cotillo – see video) but definitely stop there for a little walk around as it is a lovely little place. See my video – Majanicho.
Once out of the village keep to the best track (right-hand) for about 10 minutes or so until you come to the little cafe. Turn off and park right by the beach.
To drive from the Corralejo end, take the back road which goes to the port. Look out for the two wind turbines by the desalination plant. Take the track which goes from the rear of the bus station and passes near the wind turbines and just keep going until you come to the little cafe.
This is a rough transcript of my video about things I miss about the UK. You can watch the video or read the article – aren’t I kind giving you a choice!
I’m going to talk about the things I miss about the UK and what I don’t miss living here in Fuerteventura as opposed to living in the UK.
I was going to record this while I was walking the dogs but typically the wind has really got up again so if I did that you wouldn’t be able to hear what I was saying above the wind noise. Mind you, that might be a bonus!
The dogs are here in the car so they’ll probably start whinging because they want their walk but we’ll carry on regardless. I think we’ve adapted pretty well living here. There’s not much we actually get people to bring out with them when they come over from UK. There are just a few things like loose tea because we like our pot of tea and Sue likes a M&S Earl Grey tea bags. She used to be able to buy them here but that shop has closed so she now gets people to bring those. She also likes mint Imperials but you can’t buy those here.
Some other people we know here really seem to miss loads of things. They get people to bring back English bacon, English sausages and all sorts of other things over with them. We substitute them with local things in the main and these are different yes but ok nevertheless.
The things I miss about the UK
One of the things I do miss about the UK is the green countryside and the forests. I’d love to take the dogs for a nice walk through a forest like I used to with my previous dogs in the UK. Here you don’t see green very often.
2. Good Beer
This is bit odd for someone who doesn’t drink. Here the beer is rubbish quite frankly, which is one of the reasons why I gave up drinking five years ago. If you could get decent draught real ale I probably would have the odd pint but you can’t unfortunately.
The dogs are starting to whinge now.
3. Fast Internet
I guess is pretty obvious really from things I’ve said in other videos. Fast internet! The internet here is stone-aged and I would love to have quick reliable internet like we used to . We had Virgin fibre optics in the UK which was fast and I don’t think we ever lost the connection. You never know, one day they might catch up.
4. Decent Shops
Shopping is a a bit of a pain here at times because there aren’t that many really good shops like there are in the UK. As an example if you’re doing DIY or decorating in the UK you can go somewhere like a big B&Q and know you are going to get everything you need. But here there’s a sort of a DIY shop called Ideal, and that’s the biggest, but it is a tiny shop in comparison to the warehouse type shops you get in the UK. The rest (called Ferreterias) are just tiny little places so if you want something specific you have to travel around from shop to shop and probably not get it anyway. So it would be nice to have some good specialist shops here.
5. Fish and Chips
Last, but not least, is takeaways. We really miss at times being able to just go and get fish and chips or good Chinese takeaway. it’s not something we tended to do very much in the UK. Probably in a month we had one fish and chip meal and one Chinese takeaway meal. But here, although you can buy fish and chips to take away from some of the restaurants, it’s not quite the same and you’re paying restaurant prices too so you may as well eat it there and save the washing up. I think there is a fish and chip shop in Caleta de Fuste but that’s a 35 minute drive from here so they’d be cold by the time I got back.
The things I don’t miss about the UK
1. Traffic James
Well one of the things has got to be traffic jams. I used to get so frustrated in the UK as you couldn’t go anywhere, particularly on a motorway and even more particularly at the weekends (which is when I did most of my travelling) without getting stuck in a traffic jam and not just one normally.
Mind you, traffic jams tend to be much worse in the UK than in most parts of Europe for some reason. In 2011, I was racing in Holland and having my car transported so I didn’t have to tow it on the trailer. Because of this Sue and I decided to make a holiday of it and after we finished racing we drove around on what we called our Grand Tour. We drove through Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco and France, staying in hotels along the way. We drove a total of 2500 miles in that two weeks without getting stuck in one traffic jam. We got off the ferry at Dover and within 15 miles we were stuck in a long traffic jam on the M2!
Here traffic jams just don’t happen.
2. Cold and Wet
I don’t miss the cold and the wet. I’ve always been a bit of a chilly mortal and a bit of a fair weather person. If the weather is bad I don’t do anything and let’s face it it is bad often in the UK. At least most of the time the weather is good here so I can’t go out and do things whenever I feel like it pretty much. And we never get days of nothing but drizzle here. When we do get rain it tends to be short and sharp and then it’s gone.
3. Bad Coffee
I don’t miss the bad and the expensive coffee in the UK. Coffee in cafes and restaurants tends to be pretty poor in the UK or you go to the likes of Costa and pay through the nose for it. Here it costs between 1.20€ to 1.50€ and it’s always good. I even paid just 1.00€ for a good coffee in a bar last week.
4. Short Dark Days
Another of the things I don’t miss are the short dark days of winter that you get in the UK, when it’s dark by half-past three. In the winter we still have around 9 hours of proper daylight here in Fuerteventura where it doesn’t get dark until 5:30pm on the shortest days. It is true that in the summer the days are a bit shorter here than they are in UK, because we’re further south, but who actually needs 19 hours of daylight anyway?
5. Rip-off Britain
Last but not least is the general high prices there are in the UK. I know it is a well used phrase but rip-off Britain does exist. Just about everything costs more in UK than it does here and frankly there’s no reason why it should. Many things here should cost more because they have to be imported.
Obviously taxes are much cheaper here – particularly indirect taxes. We don’t have VAT but instead there’s a small amount of purchase tax on things. There is no duty on petrol and cigarettes, not that I smoke, or on alcohol. Everything is generally cheaper and there is not much I can think of that is more expensive.
I was going through some old VHS home videos and came across footage of a holiday in Caleta De Fuste in 1987. I had recently got my old VHS-DVD player working so I decided to download the video and put it up in Youtube.
Caleta de Fuste was just in its early stages of development back then. It is very different to the Caleta of today.
My ex-wife, my son (who was 3) and myself went there for a two week holiday, and it was our first ever visit to Fuerteventura. We stayed in one of only two bungalow complexes that existed at the time. It is now called Cay Beach Villas but may have been called something different then, I can’t remember.
There was only one hotel in Caleta then which is now the Barcelo by the harbour. Next to that was the Castillo tower and a swimming pool. Then there was a little square with about two restaurants and a couple of small shops. That was it! Every night we walked across the beach to the square and asked the same question – “Are we going to eat there or there tonight?”
I have to say, it wasn’t a great holiday due to there being so little to do in the evenings. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I had hired a little Suzuki 4×4 I don’t think I would ever have come back to Fuerteventura. As we did have the car we got out and explored. Fortunately we found the dunes beaches of Corralejo so went there a number of times. We also went south and found the lovely Sotavento beach.
I am an avid Formula one fan and while we were there the Spanish GP was on. Believe it or not, the only tv I could find in Caleta de Fuste in 1987 was in the hotel. The day before I had spoken to the manager to ask if I could watch it on their tv, which he agreed to. About 30 minutes before the start I went to the hotel to find that the manager had gone off fishing for the afternoon and had the key to the tv cabinet with him! I jumped in the car and finally found a small bar near the port in Puerto del Rosario that had the race on.
Fuerteventura airport was just a single story building in 1987 too. I remember when we arrived the luggage carousels weren’t finished. They brought the luggage around the front of the terminal on the little luggage “train” and we took it from there.
Sue and I enjoy a bit of people watching. This can be while lying on the beach, at the airport, at an event or while just sitting having a coffee or a sundowner at a bar.
The other morning we had a few chores to take care of in Corralejo. After we had done them we decided to go for coffee and a late breakfast. We rarely do the “full English” breakfast, but if we do, we like to go to the Cordon Blue restaurant on the sea front. There, sitting outside, you have a wonderful panoramic view of the whole of the Corralejo waterfront. You can also watch the ferries come and go to Lanzarote.
This particular morning there were two guys busking just by the restaurant. As it was nice there were also many people walking up and down the promenade in the lovely morning sunshine. We settled down, had a first coffee, and played one of our favourite people watching games – “Guess the Nationality”.
The buskers were very good, one playing guitar and the other a harmonica. They played a good variety of music too.
This week I was asked by a neighbour if I could take him, his dog (Indie) and their luggage to the airport as they were returning to the UK for good. His wife went in a separate car with other friends.
Dogs travelling by air to the UK from Fuerteventura have to travel by air freight and not as baggage. Because of this they have to be taken to the cargo terminal at Fuerteventura airport. This is located off of the first roundabout at El Matoral.
Animals can only arrive into the UK by air in a few airports that have an animal reception centre (Manchester, Gatwick and Heathrow) and also on a scheduled flight. This limits the options, and, of course pushes up the price. They were flying on a Monarch flight to Manchester, all booked through the airline and the costs were ridiculous. Just for a very small dog like Indie the costs were:
750€ – for the flight by freight 200€ – late flight fee because it was to arrive after 20:30 hrs 49€ – administration fee (only notified to them the night before) ===== 999€ – Total which is about £850/$1070
As you can see, taking dogs by air to the UK, is an absolute rip-off! Passengers in the cabin were paying around 45€ to fly so 22 passengers could fly for the same cost as one small dog in the hold! Travelling with a dog to the UK is extortion frankly.
Flying with a dog to other countries in the EU travel is much cheaper. It costs roughly the same cost as the passenger and they go as baggage through the terminal, not as freight. Small dogs, the size of Indie, can actually travel in a small carrier in the cabin too.
The UK has always been overprotective as far as this is concerned. For decades any dog coming into the UK had to spend 6 months in quarantine kennels (at great expense) in order to check that none had rabies. In all the 40 or 50 years that the poor dogs had to be separated from their owners not one case of rabies was found! So it stopped nothing.
The alternatives to flying with a dog directly to the UK are either:
1. Fly with them to somewhere close in the EU – France, Belgium, Holland and then arrange for someone to drive over on the cross channel ferry to meet you.
2. Overland/Ferries. You can either drive the dog yourself via the ferry to mainland Spain and then up through Spain (and France) to the UK or there are specialist transport companies that do this.
On 18th March the annual parade of the Corralejo Carnival 2017 took place. It started about 7pm and continued until quite late, as most things tend to here.
This is quite a large affair and takes probably 2 hours or more to pass by. Many people that go to watch also dress up even if they are not in the parade. This year’s theme was medical and science.
The Corralejo Carnival starts at the top of the main strip and runs all the way down to the Shell petrol station. It then turns left and goes up the hill and finishes behind the bus station.
My favourite in the whole night was the giant spider! A dog in fancy dress.
Everyone seem to have lots of fun at these events and the party continued at the end of the parade until 4am. It was lucky that the weather was ok as the north of Fuerteventura had heavy rain and hailstones that afternoon.
I remember equally big parades when I was a child growing up in Hayes, West London but that seems to be a thing of the past. I think it still takes place but is tiny by comparison these days.
The Spanish healthcare system is fairly similar to the UK system in that people pay a National Insurance contribution which gives them access to healthcare in Spain. This also applies to obtaining healthcare in the Canary Islands.
If you are an expat in Spain then there are a number of options:
1. If you are under State pension age then a) If you get a job in Spain you will pay NI so you, and your dependants, will be eligible to receive Spanish health care b) You can opt to pay to join the Spanish health system by paying 65€ a month if under 65 and 149€ if over 65. Spanish healthcare for retirees over 65 or receiving a state pension can join. c) You can take out private health insurance to get healthcare cover in Spain
2. If you, or your wife/husband, received state pension in your home country then you can register for the Spanish health service
You can use an EHIC card for emergency treatment temporarily.
Fuerteventura hospital is located in Puerto del Rosario, the capital, and I have to say it is very good. Sue was admitted with Pancreatitis three years ago for 6 days and received very good care. Better than she received in an NHS hospital to be honest.
I have been asked by a number of subscribers to make more videos and posts about living in Fuerteventura. The most requested topic was the healthcare in Fuerteventura so that is what I started with. I will try and do one of these a month – although I don’t enjoy talking to the camera and hate seeing myself too! I actually did this video the previous day – without making any mistakes but when I checked the footage later something went wrong with the audio. Typically I made lots of mistakes when I re-shot it.
The Fuerteventura squirrels are found pretty much all over the island. Their correct name is the Barbary Ground Squirrel which are endemic to Western Sahara, Algeria and Morocco. They were introduced into Fuerteventura in 1965 and have thrived ever since. Many people refer to them as chipmunks or Fuerteventura chipmunks, which they do resemble.
Next to goats they are probably the most common animals of Fuerteventura, perhaps even more common. They live in colonies and family groups in burrows. I don’t know how they survive in the summer to be honest, when there is no water and little vegetation.
They are extremely friendly and very cute. They take food out of your hand and I have never known one to bite. I think they are definitely my favourite type of wildlife of Fuerteventura.
The local councils are trying to stop people feeding the Fuerteventura squirrels as they are considered “introduced vermin”. Well every living thing in Fuerteventura has evolved elsewhere and ended up here so perhaps that should apply to all animals – especially man! My advice is ignore the notices and carry on feeding them.
Fuerteventura Squirrels at the Volcano
I filmed this at the top of a volcano near Lajares in the north of Fuerteventura, not far from Corralejo, which can be seen in the background of the video. The walk up there was also filmed, to show how to get to the viewing platform. Unfortunately the camera didn’t record it. So I guess I will make a follow up video showing how to get there. Still the exercise will do me good. It takes about 45-50 minutes to walk from the road between Lajares and Majanicho.. I guess I will have to take some more food and water for the cute chipmunks of Fuerteventura.
See how cute the squirrels are by watching the video below:
Here in Fuerteventura we don’t have wheelie bins and a weekly or fortnightly rubbish collection. This is the case in many northern European countries. Instead we have large bins positioned in most streets are emptied overnight every day, except Sunday. There are also strategically placed recycling bins for paper, glass, cardboard etc around each town/village. I actually think the system works much better here.
In order that the bins don’t smell too much by being full in the heat all day you can only throw rubbish in them at certain times. These are between 20:00 and 02:00 hours from October to March and 21:00 to 02:00 hours from April to September. Not unreasonably, the waste must be in a closed bag when it is put in the bins.
If you are spotted by the local police (wardens with guns) throwing your rubbish in the bins outside of these times you can get a fine of up to 3,000€ . Well, if you aren’t a local that is of course! Mind you, it seems it is ok for the rubbish which is put in the bin on Saturday evening to sit in a hot bin all day on Sunday getting smelly until it is emptied on Monday morning. I can just imagine what my colleagues and I would have said in the Police if we were told we had to fine people throwing rubbish in bins outside of certain hours!
During 2016 295 fines were issued in Corralejo; 6 in El Cotillo; 2 in Lajares; 1 in Parque Holandés and Villaverde.
The Mayor, Pedro Amador, said “We live in a paradise that we must care for, a land that is visited every day by thousands of tourists, we must continue to give our best image.”
The New Road Finally Opens – The Fastest Road in the North
A number of subscribers asked if I could publish a trip on the new road, which surprised me. So here it is. Fuerteventura roads are pretty good which makes driving in Fuerteventura a pleasure.
This road was started about 10 years ago but then seemed to stall for a number of years. It became a bit of a local joke as occasionally you might see two men working on it, one with a shovel while the other watched him. Then, about a year ago, they really started working on it properly.
Only the southbound part is open at the moment, so ok for travelling from Corralejo to Rosario, but that is something. It is the first piece of dual carriageway in the north of Fuerteventura and it has a 100kph speed limit – 10kph more than any other road in the north.
They are continuing to work on the section which runs past Tamaragua down to the first roundabout in Corralejo. Hopefully that will open before the year ends.
Having a new piece of road open in most places isn’t such a big deal but here in Fuerteventura we take our pleasures simply 😉