Tag Archives: Lanzarote

Lanzarote Day 7/8 – Bin to Lanzarote; Binter Gran Canaria

Friday 4 March 2022 – Changeover day!

Yesterday was spent doing Not A Lot; five days of relentless tourism and 500 km of purposeful driving around Lanzarote, we decided, Was Enough, and so we contented ourselves with simply driving over to El Golfo in Il Fiat Hybrid and had a nice – and very substantial – lunch in a restaurant called El Pescador.

I made the mistake of starting with a tuna stir fry which turned out to be an entire meal even though it was in the starters section of the menu; so when the huge lump of grilled Fish Of The Day turned up for main course I could only finish half of it. It was all good food though. The only other thing we did there – apart from discover that the restaurant which had been recommended to us was closed on Thursdays – was to revisit the green lake to see if it had increased in verdancy since our previous visit almost a week earlier. It hadn’t really, but it was nice to see it again.

Near our car in the car park was one that was decked out rather fetchingly in a design by That Manrique – further evidence of his lingering influence over the islands.

The rest of the day was spent in mundane activities – checking in to our Gran Canaria flights, catching up with the news and other bits of the papers and saying farewell to the lovely Dominica in the hotel restaurant.

Today was mainly spent getting from Lanzarote to Gran Canaria. We left the Casona de Yaiza at about 0930, got to the airport, dropped off the hire car, had coffee and got on a flight with the idiosyncratically-named Binter Airlines which took just 45 minutes to get us there. Once there we were greeted by not one but two Castaways reps, which was fine, because one of them could speak no more English than I can Spanish, i.e. almost none. The other, however, did a fine job of making sure we had a map of Gran Canaria and some suggestions as to places to visit whilst here. More importantly, the pair of them navigated us through a huge underground car park to the Cicar rental office where it eventually became apparent that they hadn’t quite got a car ready for us. It was thus great having locals to argue our cause and after a short wait we ended up with a Peugeot which we think is probably a 308; whatever, it’s a lot bigger than the Opel Corsa to which we were entitled, and it seems like quite a posh car.

From the airport to our home for the week – the Hotel Rural el Mondalón. This looks like it’s going to be a nice place to stay; it’s a working farm as well as a hotel and it’s quite swish.

We have a ritzy room above a lovely little courtyard

with a small balcony that has a view over part of the farm.

We arrived at 2pm, and its restaurant was still open for lunch, and we were told by the excellent Augustin at reception that it had just reopened, so we counted ourselves lucky on our timing.

Once we got to the restaurant, it was indeed reasonably clear that they had indeed just reopened, as it looked like they were sorting through minor teething troubles on an ongoing basis. Also, it’s a meat-focussed menu, and we ordered the fish, which arrived looking splendid on the outside but undercooked (well, raw, actually) on the inside. They bunged it in the microwave for a short blast and it returned rather better cooked. It was actually a good fish but one of the accompaniments – a fried plantain – was unrewarding to eat. But it was overall OK, even if it looks unlikely that we’ll rush back for lunch every day.

Whilst the Casona de Yaiza in Lanzarote was quirky in appearance and very comfortable, it had a couple of things that I missed: a lounge where one could just sit and order a drink whilst, e.g. writing the day’s blog; and facilities for making a Nice Cup Of Tea – the only mugs of tea we got were at breakfast. And, look, I know that’s pathetic, but when you get to our age this sort of thing begins to matter. So we were delighted to find that our room in Gran Canaria (named “Albillo” – a type of grape; every room was named after a grape variety) featured not only a kettle but also a fridge! This meant that a trip to the nearest supermarket was high priority so that we could procure a selection of life’s essentials – gin, tonic and milk. The nearest place was nearly a mile away and down a busy road with no pavement, so we drove there, bought the goods and hightailed it back to the hotel for a delicious cup of tea. Or three.

I took the chance to wash out a few smalls and hung them out to dry on the rack on our balcony put there specifically for that purpose. That is why it then started raining. Quite heavily, actually.

And that’s about it for the day, actually. We seem to have fallen into a pattern of having a big lunch and no evening meal, so the rest of the day has been given over to relaxing and, on Jane’s part, thinking about expeditions we can make on the morrow et seq. Not a lot to report in this posting, but hopefully lots to come over the next week, so do check back in and find out what we get up to.

Lanzarote Day 6 – The Third Man(rique)

Wednesday 2 March 2022 – As yesterday, our plan was to explore more of the northern end of the island, ticking off tourist boxes as we went. That Manrique had a hand in much of the content of the day. It’s a tribute to the man’s vision, influence and energy that this will be the third day of exploring his works across the island.

So, to start: Jameos del Agua. The word “jameo” is of ancient island origin and refers to a hole that is produced as a result of the collapse of the roof of a volcanic tube. Jameos del Agua was the first Art, Culture and Tourism Center created by César Manrique, and it is the reflection of one of his creative pillars: the harmony between nature and artistic creation. The space includes a restaurant/nightclub, an underground lake, an auditorium and a pool; it’s quite a place, and a deservedly popular tourist attraction.  We thought it would be best to start the day here before it got too overwhelmed by bloody tourists.

Apart from the fact that it’s signposted from all over the island, the entrance is relatively easy to find.

After buying tickets, you go down stairs into the restaurant/nightclub part.

You can, if you wish, pause to stare down into the depths of one of the caves to some subterranean water.

There is a subterranean salt lake,

which is quite zen to stare at for a bit, accompanied by birdsong

provided by chaps like this.

In the water there is a unique and endemic species of squat lobster,  Munidopsis polymorpha, which is blind and albino.

The water is beautifully clear

and you can walk alongside it and look back along the tunnel from the other end.

After this zen experience, you emerge blinking to what looks like a swimming pool.  Well, it is a swimming pool, but, allegedly, only the King of Spain is allowed to swim in it.

The setting features a lone canary palm tree stretching over the water and several species of cactus (I won’t bore you with pictures – there are plenty of cacti shown later in this post).  At the far end is the entrance to the auditorium which is another zen sort of setting

which features several touches typical of Manrique, such as lobster door handles

and a remarkable light fitting (seen here reflected in the mirror which forms the back wall of the auditorium).

The auditorium section concluded our visit to this remarkable place.  Having been inspired about the aloe plant by our visit to Yaiza’s Aloe Museum, we thought it might then be interesting to visit an aloe plantation.  The company Lanzaloe has a showcase park near Orzola, at the northern tip of the island, where you can walk around and learn about the growing of the Aloe plant.  Quite large areas are given over to the plants. We’re not quite sure if they flower constantly, or if we were just luckily visiting in the right season, but the yellow flower spikes made quite a sight!

That the plants flourish in such numbers is due to a process labelled “fertigation”, which Lanzaloe are quick to explain is a natural and sustainable way of using composted aloe and goat manure, and vermiculture, to create an organic liquid that promotes growth.

The site also features some cute cacti

as well as some olive and argan trees.

After this visit, we decided that it would be a good idea to go for some lunch, erring slightly on the early side in the hope of avoiding full restaurants. We drove into Orzola and, mirabile dictu, found what looked like it might very well be a parking spot.  It was surrounded by blue lines, and we weren’t at first sure what this meant; but we found a sign which explained it all.

I find the self-reporting aspect of the parking rules to be rather amusing, and, indeed, somewhat charming.  Fortunately, Jane had pen and paper and so we were able to leave a note of our parking time on the dashboard and we set off into Orzola.  We didn’t get more than a few yards when we stumbled across La Nasa Restaurante El Norte, which looked to have tables available, so we went in and were very cheerfully and briskly served a decent fish lunch.  It was a nice lunch, but not a Nice Lunch, if you see what I mean – we were out in about an hour, but had dined quite well; Jane even had a parrot fish.  It repeated a bit on her later, but that’s another story.

Where we had parked was near the Orzola rocks, so we went for a wander among them to settle the lunch a bit.

Among all the lumpy bits of volcano which form the rocks is some actual sand-coloured sand, which is something I didn’t expect – I tend to expect black sand in such assertively volcanic places.  The ocean splashed pleasingly against the rocks, as you can see in the photo above.

Our next item, again inspired by the Yaiza Museum, was cochineal; slightly to the south is an area around the town of Mala which grows large amounts of prickly pears in order to harvest the cochineal beetles that infest them in order to create cochineal dye. We’d read about the Cochineal Museum in Mala, so thought we’d visit. Reader, we found the museum. It was closed.  It’s all a bit bizarre – there’s a building with “Museo de Cochinilla” in large friendly letters on the outside, but its doors are locked and there’s no reference to it on Google Maps.  If Google Maps says it doesn’t exist then it doesn’t exist – but there it was.  A Schrödinger situation if ever there was one.

It’s clear that the area is still one where prickly pears are grown in profusion

and the beetle infestation is clear to see.

Not all plantations are so well-organised, though.

Mala is also home to another of Lanzarote’s famed tourist attractions, and another Manrique creation – the Cactus Garden. Again, the entrance is difficult to miss

and, once inside, you realise that it does exactly what it says on the tin.

For those interested in cacti, there is an extraordinary variety in different shapes and sizes.

(I have several dozen other cactus photos, but I won’t bore you with them.)  The garden features several typical Manrique touches, such as cactus-shaped door handles

and some attractive features among the cacti.

There’s a coffee bar with a decent view over the garden, which also features a very Manrique staircase down towards the exit.

Our visit to the cactus garden over, we had just one more thing to see – the salt flats at Los Cocoteros, just along the road a bit.  As well as the salt production facility, the village has a “Piscina Natural”, a seawater swimming pool.  I took a video pan across it – it’s a bit noisy and shaky because of the wind, but I hope it gives some idea of the facility, which is filled with sea water coming in through a couple of large tubes at one end, and has a beach at the other.

The salt flats here are nowhere near as extensive as the Salinas de Janubio that we saw a few days ago, but there’s still  lot of area given over to salt production.

These are new salt flats – there’s also an area which was once given over to salt production but that seems to be disused now.

This left just one final box to tick, and it’s not really a tourist tick box, just something we passed on many occasions, including our original drive to the hotel from the airport, and wanted to take a photo of.  Doing this involved exiting the motorway and parking on the slip road with hazard lights flashing whilst I dashed across the road. But that sounds more perilous than it actually was.  Anyway, here’s the photo.

For me, these buildings have overtones of Binibeca Vell, the artificial fishing village-cum-resort on Menorca.  Whatever, they’re very appealing buildings and it occurred to me that one reason they’re attractive is that they’re different from the norm in Lazarote, which is angular and blocky, like below.

We have no idea what those buildings are, but their difference from the norm is striking. I think that’s why Teguise has such a different feel, too – the buildings have curves and angles that are not 90° and so feel refreshingly different.

That concluded our day; for once we had formed a plan and largely stuck to it, although the existence or not of the cochineal museum was a small diversion.

Accordingly, we have Done Lanzarote (Timanfaya bus ride excepted), which leaves us with a day to laze about, check in for our Friday flights and find a final Nice Lunch somewhere.  It’s been a full-on six days of relentless tourism and gale force winds and it’ll be nice to take it easy before we travel on to Gran Canaria.  Lanzarote has been a revelation and we’ve had a great time exploring it.  As I say, the adventure continues on Friday as we go to Gran Canaria, and I hope you want to check back in later to see what we make of the place.

Lanzarote Day 5 – It’s That Man(rique) again

Tuesday March 1 2022 – Long read alert – lots of photos!

We had formulated a plan for the day. Remarkably, the plan held together up to but not including lunchtime, after which we fell back into the old ways of making it up as we went along. Jane’s rather good at that, so we’ve had a good day and I have lots and lots of photos to share with you. There, I bet that makes you feel good.

The Plan, such as it was, was to get to a tourist tick box at the extreme north of the island,  and work our way basically southwards with a couple of eastward diversions.  The starting tick box was the Mirador del Rio, one of the many César Manrique landmarks which can be found across the island, and a very popular site, hence wanting to get there fairly early, before it was overrun by bloody tourists. That bit of the plan worked well, and the car park had plenty of space when we got there. (It filled up quickly and newcomers had to go to an overflow area)

It’s deservedly popular.  You buy your ticket and go into the building there, and the first thing that greets you is a coffee bar with very striking panoramic windows.

As you’d expect in a Manrique creation, there are typical touches all over, including the coffee bar’s light fittings

and a curved seating area with a porthole view over the car park. (The porthole is the only building feature you can see from the car park.)

From the coffee bar, you go outside and get blown to smithereens by the bloody wind are immediately presented with a splendid view over the neighbouring island of Graciosa.  You can then climb a spiral staircase

to a higher level, where you get an even more impressive view.

Upon leaving you are offered the chance to follow a narrowish road that follows the clifftop for a couple of kilometres.  The views are spectacular, but the track is sufficiently narrow that it can be difficult to stop to take photos, so we didn’t.  However, courtesy of the “Walking in Lanzarote” book, we’d read about a path that led off to a “stunning picnic spot”, so we thought that might be worth a punt.  I’m glad we did.  It was a short walk to what did indeed look like a convenient place for a picnic.

and it did indeed offer a splendid view.

If you look closely at the piece of mainland closest to Graciosa Island, you can just make out some salt flats (Salinas del Rio).  I only mention this because one option at this point would have been to continue down the mountain on a very perilous-looking track and walk to the salt flats and then back – back up the perilous track.  This walk is described in the book as “very strenuous”, to which my reaction is “no, really?”

Our route took us next to the town of Haría, where César Manrique made his final home, which has now been turned into a museum.  As we approached Haría, we had no idea how big the town was, whether the museum had parking or how crowded the place would be.  So we followed the first signs to a car park that we saw, which led to a frankly rather scruffy car parking area in a rather scruffy-looking area of town.  But at least it was somewhere to leave the car, and so we set off in search of the museum.

It was a mile away. On the other side of town.

However, as we discovered during the walk, there are many handsome buildings and pleasant sights in Haría; it’s not all scruffy.

We eventually found the museum.

It has a car park.

We bought our tickets and went in.  You’re not allowed to take photos inside, something which annoys me, as I can’t see what the justification is for the prohibition beyond selling you a book with photos in it. And actually the place was, unlike the Fundacion location in Tahiche that we’d visited yesterday, quite prosaic. It was just a home, not a work of art – and a very obviously 1990s home, at that. Nice enough but really not that striking (except the bathrooms – Jane thought that he gave great bathroom).  The outside is pleasant though.

and you can visit his studio

where I risked the anger of The Authorities and grabbed a quick illicit shot as I left.

Overall the place might be of great interest to a Manrique devotee, but I’m not one. That, and the photo prohibition, left me less than impressed.

And it was a mile back to the car.

But there were some more handsome buildings and nice sights to see en route, so it wasn’t too bad,

and it appears that the Aloe thing reaches even out here.

Miradors abound in this neck of the woods, and we wanted to visit the next significant one, Mirador de Haria, as it offered (as well as a view of Haria, as might be inferred from the name)  glass walkways over a precipice, just to give you that extra fillip.  Sadly, too many other people had had the same idea and there was nowhere we could leave the car safely to go in.  So we carried on to the next, somewhat higher, viewpoint, which is called Mirador de los Helechos.  Parking here was easy, and it was clear that a decent view would be forthcoming.  The turnstiles to access said view required a €1 coin, which was a bit of a facer, since we had no coins at all.  We went into the restaurant to try to get some coins, and it became clear that if you were to buy a coffee they would let you out to the view. So we treated ourselves to the second coffee of the day and accordingly got out to see what is indeed a great view.

If you look closely you can just spot, on the left hand side, the Mirador de Haria.  Here, let me show you:

You can see how inconveniently small the car park is.

There’s a view over the towns of Haría and Máguez, which you can see to the right here (I’ve left in the other mirador for context)

and the towns present a bit of an optical illusion of a witch riding a broomstick, with the upper part, Máguez, being her hat.

It’s interesting to see the extent to which the land is  cultivated, and this viewpoint gives a good insight.

You can see that terraces have been created from bottom to top of hills.  It must be back-breaking work to cultivate them but it’s clear that this is the way of things.

By this time, lunch was calling, and this is where our plan basically came unstuck. We had hoped to lunch at another viewpoint, Restaurante Mirador de Los Valles, a bit further along. But by the time we got there, it was full.  We would have phoned to book, but since we had no idea what time we’d get there we thought we’d try our luck.  Since it was by now 2pm – prime lunch time in these here parts – our luck was out. The staff made a desultory attempt to put us at an outside table, but since the wind was gusting around and they didn’t even come for several minutes even to ask if we wanted a drink, we decided to move on and try our luck elsewhere. So the improvisatory nature of this holiday came once again to the fore and Jane suggested we go to the nearby town of Teguise. This turned out to be an excellent idea.

Teguise was at one stage the capital of Lanzarote, and it shows.  There are many fine buildings and plazas and a general sense of Being Something.

On a hillside overlooking the town – and closed for obvious reasons when you see the photo – is something that simply had to be photographed – Santa Barbara Castle.

(I guess you have to be of a certain age to appreciate the significance of the name.  If you’re not, then look it up, OK?)

One place we wandered past had a blackboard publicising tapas on a roof terrace, so we thought we’d give that a shot. The first impression was a bit strange – it was dead quiet as we walked in. But a waitress encouraged us up the stairs and there was a nice terrace; in the shade and out of the wind.

We noticed that there were water bottles jammed into the eaves of the roof.

On reflection, we thought they were probably there to dissuade roosting and/or nesting by the doves which were in plentiful evidence.

The menu was handwritten on a notepad, but included some tapas and they also offered gin, so we stuck with it and it turned out to be a very nice lunch, particularly once a noisy family with kids had left.

The place was actually the Social and Cultural Centre of Teguise – a very quirky and slightly odd building

but handsome from the outside, like so many others in the town.

We walked around the town after lunch, admiring the place, and I tried my hand at some Arty Photos,

and a few other views of the place.

We saw a couple of unusual statues. The first was of a typical musician who might be part of a local troupe.

The second is a masked monster, to do with Carnival time – and, unplanned, we’d arrived on Mardi Gras; a complete accident of fate.  Amusingly, as we walked back to the car, we saw a chap dressed in a similar way to the statue for Carnival celebrations that very evening.

Because we never cover as much ground as we plan to, there were still many, many tourist boxes to be ticked in the northern reaches of the island – too many to attempt at this point, so we decided to head back to the hotel; after all, we’d had a full day. Just look at all them photographs!

So the morrow will see us back in the northern part of the island, where there’s aloe and cochineal and salt, and caves and cactus, and probably a whole load else.  So you’d better check in and see what we managed to cover, eh?