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Resort Guides

LanzaVisiting Lanzarote for the day can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. Those of us with an impadriamento (available from the local town hall as proof of residence) can enjoy a subsidised trip on the boat and then drive through the island . Otherwise I recommend going with an organised trip. The price includes the ferry, entrance to all the tourist sites and sometimes lunch as well. They are very good value as the cost of entrance mounts up if you want to see all the beautiful places created by Cesar Manrique throughout the island.

Take the ferry fairly early in the morning and head first for Timanfaya, the magnificent natural park filled with volcanoes.On arriving, you pay an entrance fee and leave your car to join any of the free coaches which will take you round the volcanoes, stopping for you to take photographs from the coach window (no-one is allowed to set foot on the area) and accompanied by an atmospheric commentary in Spanish English and German. The views are breathtakingly gorgeous and so different from here as the volcanic activity is much much more recent,

When you get back do go and see the demonstrations of the hot water geysers and cooking over a volcano. There is also a small shop with some lovely photographs, books and calendars with photos taken by professionals of the wonderful landscape.

 

Moving on from Timanfaya, if you are driving, head right to the north of the island to the Mirador del Rio, perhaps stopping at one of the many bodegas (wine producers) on the way to sample the local Lanzarote wine, the fabulous goat,sheep and cow's milk cheese from Uga or the local smoked salmon.


Our favourite Bodega is called Stratus, not often used by the coaches, but it boasts a very wonderful selection of wines and has an amazing shop with a vast range of gourmet goods. You can sample the wine for a euro or have a full glass for a little more.

 










Driving through the Lanzarote countryside you will see how different it is from Fuerteventura. The fields are black with picon and arranged with small semi-circular walls each protecting a vine. As you get nearer the top of the island, it becomes more and more lush and green and the drive is very beautiful.

Reaching the mirador, you would be forgiven for wondering why you are there, Manrique has so cleverly hidden the building in the landscape, with just a round window above the entrance which is all made from lava rock. But what a sight greets you once inside. You can sit at the enormous picture windows, or venture outside on to the cliff top walk to see the magnificent and if you are lucky, sun-drenched island of Graciosa. Look down at the shore and the rocks beneath you they are so different to this island. Look around the viewing room and see the magnificent and interesting sculptures Manrique has made from iron. I would not recommend eating there unless you are desperate, far better to have grabbed a tasty snack on the way through. You are likely to get a plain cheese roll and not much else, its the view that's important, not the gourmet experience here.

 

Working your way back down the island, Manrique has created two more amazing places, one is the Jameos del Agua, near the coast, entering down a set of stone steps, you come into a breath taking cavern which has a lake at the bottom, as clear as can be with special tiny white crabs found nowhere else. You cross the lake on Manrique's signature bridge and climb back up into a truly wonderful garden, with such an inviting pool (sorry no swimming allowed!) Don't miss the underground auditorium at the back of the garden at the far end of the pool. This had been recently refurbished and is used for concerts now. The chandeliers have to be seen to be believed. The auditorium is set in a space made from a huge bubble of lava which has caused so many of these interesting spaces to be left as the lava cooled and decayed. There is also a museum of volcanic activity at the upper level of this place whichhouses a lot of interesting exhibits to explain how and why volcanoes erupt. It also monitors volcanic activity.
 

 
Next you really should visit Manrique's own house, set underground in a series of lava bubble caves, all with an opening to the sky above (in case you feel claustrophobic in caves, there is always an opening to let in air and light and they are all high and spacious) Manrique had just converted it for the public to use when he was unfortunately killed at the roundabout by his house which boasts one of his stunning " Juguetes con viento" or games with wind sculptures which turn and move with the wind. The entrance fee is slightly higher here as it is run by a private trust rather than being sponsored by the island, but I think it is really worth while. Apart from the house, which is a series of underground level rooms, leading in and out of his lovely gardens, there is also an exhibition of his paintings, inspired by the volcanoes and some works by his contemporaries such as Picasso. Coming out of the building you arrive in the largest garden, the wall of which boasts a lovely Mosaic designed by Manrique. There is also a small shop, don't miss this one, there are gorgeous tiles inspired by Manrique's drawings,together with some really lovely hand-made jewellery at quite reasonable prices as well as other tasteful gifts. There are places to sit and re;lax in the shady garden too and a small refreshment kiosk.
 
Leaving Manrique's house, if time permits, you should try to visit the cactus gardens, which are truly lovely, on your way back to the ferry. We never do seem to have time as I am so fascinated by Manrique's work and always want to linger. If you have taken the organised trip I don't think it includes his house, which is a shame, but it does save you trying to find your way from one place to another. If you are driving,, buy a tourist map before you start, the places I have mentioned are all marked on them, you can pick one up at Timanafaya which is well signposted from the ferry.
 
If you haven't been there before, I hope you will give it a go and find it as enjoyable as I do.
Sue Brown

 

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