PLAYA DE LOS POCILLOS, LANZAROTE I know that Playa is Spanish for beach but I didn't know what Pocillos means so looked it up and it seems to mean small cup or bowl. I recently spent a holiday in Lanzarote, an island belonging to Spain's Canary Islands. This was early in June. I booked my holiday with just over a week to go before departure. I hadn't actually found much availability with flights and accommodation, probably as this was the schools spring half term week in Britain, and also the week of the Queen's diamond jubilee celebration. It was last minute and, to be honest, I wasn't really expecting too much from this holiday. I was looking forward to a change of scenery though. I had chosen to book a week at the ex-sol group owned, Morromar apartments in Puerto del Carmen. Really, these apartments are in Matagorda and, in fact, some distance from the heart of Puerto del Carmen. Not far by taxi or bus though, and easy enough to travel to. This holiday was for four adults who all wanted a week abroad to chill out. Actually, I was making a very slow recovering from dislocating my knee, and because of this I wasn't expecting to be able to travel far from the complex. However, on arrival at our resort, I was pleased to discover that I would in fact be able to get out and about and see a little of this interesting island as the apartments were in such a good location. The walk to Playa de los Pocillos was only a short one, and fortunately an easy stroll and, in my opinion, worth doing. The Apartamentos Morromar are situated in an excellent position, being close to the small but well equipped tourist area of Playa de los Pocillos. WHERE IS IT? Playa de los Pocillos is on the south side of the island of Lanzarote. It is an area that, I understand, has been purposely built as a tourist resort. It is in a good location, being only five miles or so from the airport of Arrecife. It leads, if travelling away from the airport, to the larger and busier resort of Puerto del Carmen. I thought it was especially ideal for families and older couples as it is modern, well thought out and well maintained and walking around here pushing prams or wheelchairs would be easier than in many places owing to its mostly level ground, ramps and car free zones. GETTING THERE The resort can be reached by car, taxi or bus and also, I would say, cycling here from nearby areas seemed to be easy. Although we had gone for a relaxing holiday we do enjoy a stroll to a few bars and shops and, as we found the food not up to standard in our complex (we went on an all-inclusive basis) it was good that we could visit this small resort easily; much more easily than expected. I had had visions of everyone pretending to be content lounging around the pool with books because I couldn't travel. It certainly was a bonus that we managed to have relaxing time whilst also venturing out a little. Throughout the holiday we tended to walk to Playa de los Pocillos, if visiting during the day, but would get a taxi, if going in the evening, from the taxi rank just outside our complex. It was easy to get a taxi for our return journey too as there seems to be ranks in most places around the island. Taxi drivers work on a queuing system. Also taxi fares are on a meter and are cheap too. Taxis from our hotel to around the centre of Playa de los Pocillos, cost around Euro3.50 which, for four people, I think is very good value. To walk here (which we did often) is easy, even fairly easy for me! On leaving The Morromar from the rear gate, one merely has to cross the quiet road (This is where the taxi rank is) and walk down some steps and pathways, which are well maintained, going downhill and towards the coast. After no more than a ten minute this easy route brings one to the sea-front and turning right soon leads to Playa de los Pocillos. Along this pedestrianized avenue there are many benches to be found every few meters or so, enough so that one never has to walk far without being able to have a rest and gaze at the view. I found the facility of public benches made the walk, especially in the heat, pleasant and much easier, although for anyone without mobility problems the walk is a very easy one. This road is also used by many locals to exercise their dogs and yet it still remained an extremely clean area. Even in early June the temperature was between 27 to 30 degrees but always with a breeze, and especially so this near to the ocean. On one side of the avenue are the sea and the other faces inland. A BICYCLE MADE FOR TWO...OR THREE, OR FOUR... OR EVEN FIVE! A very large area is a car free zone (taxis take a back road away from the beach and have a drop off point near to the restaurants) and the central part is a purpose built wide cycle route. This is a very well kept, smoothly paved area for bicycles and is family friendly. Indeed it is most popular and well used for cycles of various descriptions; two wheelers, tandems, family buggies, buggies for four, etc. My son and his fiancée paid Euro10 for an hour with a further Euro10 as a deposit. They went from the airport at Arrecife (close to our apartments) along Playa de los Pocillos to Puerto del Carmen. This was pleasant with the hired buggy having a sun canopy. They were able to make many stops along the way and took lots of photos of the scenery. BEACH AREAS The sea stretches all along this area and on the beaches the sand is dark and quite smooth. There are areas of black volcanic rock but plenty of places where it's easy to get into the sea and swimmers could be seen here and there, although there really is plenty of room on the beach here for everyone. I only paddled, as this island is in the Atlantic which is still cold at this time of year even though the air temperature is quite hot. As I have been many times now to Cyprus I tended to make many comparisons. I thought for well-maintained areas Lanzarote is better but in respect of facilities on the beach Cyprus offers more (or at least in the areas of Lanzarote that we saw) in this respect, as there didn't seem to be much in the way of toilets, changing rooms and public foot showers. Also there are vast areas of beach yet not many of them seemed to have sunbeds or parasols but this could well be due to it still being early in the season. But we did notice one area which had windshields around sun loungers. For refreshments, it looked as if one would have to leave the beach to go to the bars along the avenue. I thought the beach along this route both clean and pretty. Soon the tourist area of shops and bars begins. There are a few hotels in this area which blend in well with the area. We had a look around a couple for the purpose of research if we return to Lanzarote. SHOPS Playa de los Pocillos is equipped with several cash dispenser machines. We saw a uni-sex hairdresser's here, pharmacy, a supermarket or two as well as a Spar supermarket (super Mercado I should say, as - ¡Hablo Española un poco!) and many of the usual tourist shops selling assortments of goods ranging from alcoholic beverages, sweets, postcards, souvenirs, clothes and as much as could be crammed into the shops. Some of these shops have a good selection of purses, wallets and bags. I also noticed that lots of the stores were selling cabin type trolley cases and, as I had just bought one in England, I thought that many I saw looked good and, I considered were better priced (though I'm comparing to average type/priced ) than lots I'd seen in England. I do enjoy wandering around gift shops but my husband gets bored after going in about two or three. I can see his point as we usually shop a lot prior to a holiday. However, we both liked the handmade goods to be seen such as paintings, tiles and brightly knitted cardigans. Most shopkeepers will vie for trade and can be pushy but times are hard and I really can't blame them for this. Many shops will reduce prices; some when asked and others will offer a discount or reduce the price for multi buys. I was pleasantly surprised at the prices in the gift shops. As one who has mainly holidayed on the island of Cyprus in the last few years I thought that souvenirs, clothing and spirits were cheaper in this island's shops than in those of Cyprus. BARS/RESTAURANTS This tourist area isn't anything like as big as Puerto del Carmen but we liked it and thought it an ideal spot to visit several times during our stay. One thing we appreciated was that we could walk down here and spend an hour or so in the shops and have a drink then return to our accommodation OR we could stay for longer and enjoy a pleasant lunch; we also came here in the evening to eat. The bars were generally reasonably priced, we thought although varying a lot (from Euro1.40 to Euro2.50 for a large beer) with drinks and with their food menu prices. I did notice, especially after Cyprus, that vegetarian choices are few and far between. At the start of the avenue is The Aussie Bar which offers cheap all day breakfasts, fish and chips and a steak meal. We were served by Englishman so don't know if the bar is Australian in origin or not. I liked it here and noticed that a ramp was being built next to the steps. The toilets were tiny and anyone with mobility problems, even without needing a wheelchair would find these difficult. Further along there are more bars and restaurants to be found such as The Anchor, which is English, owned. The restaurant workers will try their best to entice you into their establishments and this can be a little tiresome, although they are polite and I've got used to saying -we aren't ready to eat yet. We ate at El Molino which we found more expensive but I have to say, gave us a pleasant dining experience. Food in the restaurants along here range from Spanish dishes such as paella, tortilla Española, pizza, plenty of fish dishes to choices of battered fish and chips. SMOKING Things have certainly changed, in the last few years. A short while ago I couldn't have imagined a Spanish island restricting smoking but, they have, even with cheap cigarettes on sale almost everywhere. It seems that most restaurants have an outside area which joins the indoor area (it all is open really but some of the area is uncovered) and there is a point where smoking isn't allowed. On one occasion we sat down ready to dine when a couple at a nearby table began to smoke and it was blowing our way. We decided to move further into the restaurant where smoking wasn't permitted. We were glad we did as the lady showed herself to be a chain smoker and I prefer to eat where the air is fresher. The manager said that smoking can be a problem when other diners are eating although things are improved as now smoking isn't allowed inside restaurants but only at the outside tables. DISABLED I would say that Playa de los Pocillos is generally accessible for those with mobility difficulties and wheelchair users. The ground is well paved and much of it traffic free. And it's well lit of an evening. Also where there are steps there are nearly always ramps, albeit steep ones. But my concern is that most restaurants' toilets were very small and wouldn't fit a wheelchair in or close by. Most restaurants seem to have a ladies toilet cubicle with the gents next to it and the doors separated by a shared washbasin in the middle. There are some exceptions with larger facilities but I could see problems arising if not forewarned. I do think this island makes an effort to be accessible and people are generally helpful. Taxis also come in all shapes and sizes; some can easily take a wheelchair. IS IT CHILD FRIENDLY? It's most definitely child and family friendly. The Spanish do seem to adore children and have plenty of patience with them. Restaurants supply high chairs and most offer child sized meals and child suitable meals. There seemed to be quite a few children on holiday here in June (half term) and we were told that in July and August the area is "hot and full of children!'' As mine are grown up now I would probably prefer to revisit at times other than in the high season. But for families with young children I would think this is an ideal place to go. OVERALL I liked Playa de los Pocillos. Although I wouldn't go back to the same apart hotel, I would like to visit Lanzarote again. Probably I would go to another area of the island next time, just out of curiosity, but then again, I wouldn't be at all averse to staying either in or close to the resort of Playa de los Pocillos.