Canary Islands. Lanzarote

Lanzarote is a Canary Island but with a difference, Benidorm did not stop here, it didn’t even get a look in.

César Manrique a talented Spanish artist and architect came via Madrid and New York in the 70’s and then took the local council by the scruff of its neck and got them to agree to: no high rise buildings, no billboards, all houses to be painted in uniform white and window shutters either, blue brown or green; land, sea, and green …an organic feel comes to mind. The result is all of a piece and pleasing to the spirit.

It is a place I return to most years. I continue to think I should buy somewhere here but then the thought passes as I realise there is much of the world I have yet to see. But it provides an easy place to be, the food is simple but fabulous. Grilled fish and Canarian potatoes (boiled in heavily salted water till the water evaporates), with mojo sauce, usually two sauces one green, one red, then add in a bottle of wine from the Bermejo winery (the bottle with a unique lip for pouring) and that is difficult to beat. The best baby squids or puntallitas/chiperones I have also had here. The Mar Azul restaurant in Manrique colours White and Blue, in El Golfo is the place to be for all of this. Be it lunchtime or even early evening watching the sunset. It is also fun to watch the fish being cleaned and the entrails being fed to the seagulls. Doesn’t get much fresher! Luis the chef patron has been here for over 20 years. He has a deft hand when it comes to grilling fish, and adorns it with a truck load of roasted garlic.  Large honey rums and Cointreau on the house round off the meal!

The oenology is interesting here as the grape is principally Malvasia and each vine is grown in a round shallow hole often with semicircular wall built around for protection from the constant winds. So growing wine is very labour intensive. (Try pruning in and out of these holes). Red white pink and pudding wine can be found here. The bottles themselves are unique, Yaiza blue and the Bermejo with a lip for pouring. Though the wines do not travel really apart from the other Canary Islands, there isn’t sufficient quantity produced unfortunately.

For an occasional visitor a week will find enough to do, be it active or otherwise. The Timanfaya park I have tripped round several times, and they can cook chicken pieces on a grill over the remnant heat of the volcano, visit by all means but there are better places to eat. And the visit will rumble you round on a bus (no other option, sorry) and fascinating it is to see the volcanic landscape. Plus it is here in this volcanic moon-like landscape, they filmed The Planet of the Apes.

The island is easily drivable, some of the best roads in Europe carved through the lava. There are wineries to visit, César Manrique had two homes both worth a look. The capital like many island capitals is I think disappointing. There is a brand new marina and cruise ships are now coming in. The best new restaurant found was Naia on Ave César Manrique a pedestrian walkway around an inland harbour. An area that has been spruced up and is definitely worth a wander.   Until next time.

Timple (TImplay) a 5 stringed kind of ukelele indigenous to the Canaries

Los Hervidores

Teguise market every Sunday morning

Glue all these bits together in the Timple museum and hey presto!

Famara beach the best spot for surfing and kite-flying. La Graciosa in the distance an island with 721 inhabitants now part of the Canaries!  If you go the eat at El Risco, but book!

El Golfo cleaning fish

Timanfaya cooking chicken over the volcano