Alec and I booked a short holiday to Lanzarote just as winter was setting in, so we could remind ourselves that sunshine and warmth does exist somewhere in the world! Far from ‘Lanzagrotty’, Lanzarote proved itself to be beautiful island with its volcanic past, martian-like landscape and interesting art to explore…
We got an early plane from freezing cold Gatwick airport. Four hours later, we were welcomed with some wonderful sunshine and 20°C warmth on the other end which felt nothing like the November we had left behind!
Punta de Mujeres & Arrieta
We chose to rent an apartment in a seaside village called Punta de Mujeres, on the north east coast of the island. The apartment we chose had a lovely sea view, and I would definitely recommend this area if you don’t want to be in a super-touristy area surrounded by a zillion British people 😉
On our first day, we took a walk along the coast to another seaside village called Arrieta. We came across this house, apparently called The Blue House, which stands out as it looks nothing like all of the other square white buildings on the island.
During our stay, we had a few lovely evening walks along the coast in between Punta de Mujeres and Arrieta… usually when we were in search of food…
Timanfaya National Park
On our second day in Lanzarote, we drove over to visit Timanfaya National Park on the south western part of the island, an area that was devastated by the Montañas del Fuego (‘Fire Mountains’ a.k.a. volcanoes) in the 18th and 19th centuries.
It’s apparently not changed much since that time so the landscape still looks very volcanic and martian-like, and the closer we drove to the area, it certainly seemed to look more and more desolate.
It was extremely extremely windy that day, so we were glad to hop on a bus which drove us around the park for a narrated tour. People are not allowed to walk around the national park on foot as it is still classed as an active volcanic area, and temperatures just below the surface of the ground can be extremely high. Obviously pretty dangerous for casual wanderers!
The landscape isn’t traditionally beautiful, but it is spectacular in its own right; it does indeed look like a different planet – minus the red sky 🙂
The temperatures are so high just a few metres beneath the surface of the ground, that dry wood will catch on fire immediately when thrown into a pit. A staff member also carried out a demonstration of pouring water into a hole, and waiting for it to shoot back out again seconds later in the form of a geyser.
Food is cooked over another naturally-heated pit and served in the nearby restaurant. Volcano-cooked food!
César Manrique Foundation
After a cheeky nap in the car, I woke up enough to see the César Manrique Foundation building, a studio/home designed and lived/worked in by César Manrique, an artist and architect who had a large influence on the way Lanzarote looks today. His kinetic sculptures can be seen on most roundabouts, and we were greeted with this ‘windmill’ at the entrance…
The Foundation was set up by the artist and his friends in the early ’90s to promote his work and spread the creation of art on the island whilst respecting the natural environment; it is made up of a house with gallery areas and grounds filled with palms and cacti.
Another colourful moving sculpture at the entrance…
I loved this mural on a wall in a courtyard area out the back; it’s quite Piscasso-inspired (one of his influences)…
The rooms within the building are formed from lava bubbles linked by corridors, which makes for a very cool and interesting space.
This is one of the rooms – a sort of living room area with seats around the outside and an ceiling open to the outside world – the whole thing looked like a spy’s lair – I loved it 🙂
An outdoor pool with a lava rock bridge forms another outside space. The whole building is really serene and I love the way the outside and inside spaces all flow together. I would love this to be my house (maybe wouldn’t work in England though – too much rain and cold!).
The last thing we did that day was to drive to a town called Teguise for dinner. We had a wander around beforehand and found this pretty church in the town square.
Cueva de Los Verdes
The next day, we headed to Cueva de los Verdes (Green Caves). The caves aren’t actually green – they were apparently named after the Verdes family, who lived within them in the 18th century.
We had a guided tour through the lit cave, where the guide told us all about how it was formed. The cave is a lava tube formed thousands of years ago by a lava flow – lava flowed through a valley and the surface layers cooled, whilst the rest of it flowed away towards the sea, leaving the cooled part as the roof of the cave.
We were led down to an underground concert hall in the middle and a very clever optical illusion, which I won’t give away here, just in case you wanted to go!
There will be a second Lanzarote post soon, as I couldn’t fit everything into this one!