We spent a week with our daughter, her husband and young baby in early April 2010 and managed to explore almost all the island had to offer
by catsholiday on January 9, 2011
IJameos Del Agua – LanzaroteThis very special attraction was initially formed by the lava flow from the eruption of La Corona volcano. These caves were formed as gas became trapped beneath the surface and after some time a part of the surface collapsed. I think this is similarto what is known in Mexico as a cenote, a sort of open topped cave but this one is actually formed by a lava tube that has collapsed leaving this cave which is partially open at the top and partially underground. In itself it is geologically quite interesting but after Cesar Manrique has added his special touches it has become one of the ‘MUST SEE’ places on Lanzarote.This site is now Lanzarote’s second most visited attraction after Timanfaya National Park and enjoys 700,000 visitors on average per year. Apparently Rita Heyworth described this as "The eighth wonder of the world", I’m not sure I’d go that far but it was well worth a visit.Useful to know:Opening times: Every Day from 10.00 until 18.30 and then also in the evenings on Tuesday, Friday & Saturday 19.00-02.00Parking is free and there were plenty of spaces when we were there but it might get crowded in the summer and Easter holidays.Entry: 8 Euros as was everything we visited on LanzaroteHow to find it:It is in the north of the island close to Punta Mujeres. From Tahiche follow the LZ-1, signposted for Orzola, past Arrieta and on through Punta Mujeres and then follow signposts for Jameos Del Agua.Cesar Manrique again:Thus wonderful man had the foresight to protect his beloved birthplace from becoming just another place where people came to sit in the sun. He wanted Lanzarote to be known for its natural beauty combined with art and culture. Many thought he was mad back in the 1960s but he managed to convince the powers that be to go with his ideas. He worked with them to create the Timanfaya National Park to ensure that it could be seen and enjoyed without spoiling it in any way and I think that the way they have achieved this is quite astonishing.The Jameos Del Agua was another and indeed the first of this great man’s projects. With the help of two other visionaries, Luis Morales and Jesus Soto, Manrique transformed this giant collapsed lava tube into this unique, subterranean auditorium.By 1968 this collapsed lava tube had been transformed into the underground auditorium with tropical hanging plants and gardens, bars and a restaurant surrounding an underground lagoon. There was a small stage but I think they must cover part of the lagoon with something to seat more people. I am not sure how it works as an auditorium as we only visited during the day and there was no concert happening at the time. I believe that the auditorium might even be in another area anyway I am sure if you book to go to a performance all will be revealed. The acoustics are meant to be very special.Our visit:We walked down some natural stone curved stairs that were damp with dipping wet walls into the actual ‘cave’ area. The feeling was a bit like being in a cross between a damp cave and a large cathedral. It seems somehow very quiet, a bit like in a library and everyone spoke quietly. It is damp and cave like with beautiful hanging plants but as part of the surface above is ooen the light reaches in around the bar and restaurant area. It was very quite when we were there and we enjoyed a coffee while admiring the surroundings. It is cool down there so if you decide to visit take an extra light layer to wear even in summer.Unique white crabs and a swimming pool for a king:I was really very taken with these tiny little blind albino crabs which live in the underground salt water Lagoon. This particular species Munidopsis Polimorpha is found nowhere else except in Lanzarote in this lagoon. Throughout this attraction Manrique has incorporated symbolic crabs and lobsters including the giant statue of the lobster at the entrance and the lobster pots used as hanging baskets around the cave which hold beautiful ferns.After leaving the lagoon area with the tiny crabs you come out into the open air again and a magnificent pool, very similar to that in Cesar Manriques’ house almost blinds you with its brightness. The pool is surrounded by bright white and the water a stunning turquoise blue. This pool is solely reserved for the use of the King of Spain, I wonder if it has ever been used!We had our little granddaughter with us and after climbing up the spiral staircase we reached the Casa de los Volcanoes where we were able to look around an exhibit showing volcanic activity in the Canaries as well as other art exhibits but we didn’t spend long as it was getting close to feeding time againIf you ever find yourself in Lanzarote do take a look around the island as it is quite an unusual place and the attractions that Cesar Manrique had a hand in creating are very different and worth a visit in my view .I was very impressed as I had gone to Lanzarote thinking it would be very like Tenerife but it really is a different world, almost lunar in its landscape.
by catsholiday on January 4, 2011
The Cesar Manrique Foundation We spent a week in Lanzarote last April with our daughter and now ex husband with our granddaughter of four months and during that time we were looking for places of interest that we could visit easily with a young baby. Prior to our visit I had not heard of Lanzarote’s most famous artist Cesar Manrique but during our visit I became quite a fan.Cesar Manrique felt so strongly about keeping the island of Lanzarote unspoilt by high rise buildings and tourist tacky stuff that he fought the powers that be strongly It is largely thanks to him that Lanzarote has no building higher than a palm tree and that all the houses should be the same colour .The painted wood of the houses however changes on location of the houses. Now most people are aware of the fact that the Canary Islands are volcanic and that Lanzarote was unfortunate enough to be the place to suffer the world’s longest volcanic eruption. This started in 1730 and lasted six years during which time lava spewed forth from a series of volcanoes and molten rock covered a quarter of the island.This wonderful artist not only saved Lanzarote from having its beauty spoilt by tourists coming to see the volcanic scenery but he also has created a number of the sites of special interest. He designed the restaurant in Timanfaya National Park and created the amazing amphitheatre in the Jameos del Agua as well as his own beautiful home that I am reviewing now which he gave to the Cesar Manrique Foundation which supports up and coming artists. The Cesar Manrique Foundation is located in Taro de Tahiche not far from Costa Teguise and is very close to a roundabout with a large windmill also built by Manrique. He began building this unique house in 1968 partly as a way to show that houses could be built in a more eco friendly way in keeping with the landscape surrounding it. He was passionate about the island and his work is inspired by the stark contrasting colours seen on the island .This amazing house was his dream home and as such it is probably the work that best represents Manrique's artistic and personal ideals. After his death in 1992 he left his house to be the headquarters for the foundation and also opened it up to the public.The house is open daily from Monday to Friday from 10am-6pm then Saturday & Sunday 10am-2pm. Parking is free and the entrance fee like everything on the island was 8 Euros per person.The house looks like a fairly traditional Spanish house from the entrance and is inspired by the traditional architecture of Lanzarote. There are beautiful heavy wooden doors and shutters, a courtyard garden, with thick walls and North African style chimneys. However once you have entered the actual house and moved on through what was once the living room, you step out onto the balcony and stairs which hang over the sunken garden and from here on you realize that this is a very different house as you look out over the black rock landscape that it is part of.The main house is built using the natural formation of five volcanic bubbles for the various rooms of the house. After going through the original living room you carefully descend a volcanic stone staircase into the five volcanic chambers. The visitors move through the house in the same direction and even though there were a number of other visitors we found that we could find ourselves in a room by ourselves. I’m not sure what it would be like on a summer’s day as we visited in April prior to the Easter school break so not the busiest of times I suppose.Each of these living spaces built within the lava bubbles has an individual character. The first bubble has a lovely gentle fountain bubbling in the background and hanging plants coming down the walls and then you go on through a short passage carved or naturally formed in the lava and painted bright white then you reach the first living area or the white room. This room has white furniture, table and white vinyl cushions on a concrete sofa It looked rather like something Elvis would have liked and not too comfortable to sit on either. A lovely palm tree has pride of place along with some beautiful china jars and a rather strange goat’s skull on the wall which is meant to be something inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe.Next you move into the Red room which has a dead fig tree in the middle and seat cushions of red vinyl and Manrique’s life sized wooden sculpture ‘Man and His Shadow ‘. As you follow the arrows guiding you through you pass a shower room with the shower nozzle coming straight from the lava walls then you emerge into the garden with its dazzlingly white painted outer and the cool bright turquoise swimming pool. The ‘garden’ is more like a pool surround as there is no grass but there are hanging plants and a lovely seating area near the barbecue there is a winding pathway laid out with large volcanic slabs and a small bridge over the pool. All of this is down in a volcanic hole with light coming through but surrounded by high lava walls.Following through the house the other bubbles are similarly decorated in 70s style with vinyl, looking cool but not very comfortable in my view.The next room is upstairs and was Manrique’s studio and is now where the exhibitions of art work can be viewed.Finally as you come out into the back garden you are immediately drawn to the most amazingly brightly coloured mural made from broken tiles. It is a scene of several bulls but it is the primary clear bright colours that attract you and below the mural are beds of flowers or at least there were when we visited.By this time baby needed a feed and we needed a coffee so we popped into the small Foundation shop and then bought coffees and cake from the small café. We took these to a cosy seating are in the shade and sat enjoying the view and chatting about this amazing house and gallery. While it was beautiful, original and like nothing I have ever seen before I am not sure how comfortable it would have been to live in as the seating offered looked hard and rather cold to me.There were some very clever parts of the house and one that attracted me was the huge window overlooking the lava fields towards a volcano. The window was placed so that this volcano is central in the window so that it looks like a piece of art in itself.The garden in the very front was rather typical of Lanzarote with citrus trees, cacti and other plants that were capable of surviving the poor soil and hot dry climate. If you are ever in Lanzarote I would strongly recommend a visit even if you are not in to art or artist you couldn’t fail to be impressed with the house built into the lava bubbles. I can promise you that it is unlikely that you will have seen a house quite like this anywhere else. It is further of interest as it was the home of Lanzarote’s most celebrated artist and the person who had a strong influence over the fact that Lanzarote has remained largely unspoilt scenically by the visiting tourist trade.Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.©Catsholiday
by catsholiday on June 19, 2010
Rubicon Palace, Playa Blanca, LanzaroteWe were actually booked at Pueblo Marinera in Playa Blanca but the recent storm had caused flooding in some apartments so they moved us here and threw in free breakfast to compensate for the disruption.The hotel is all apartments so self catering really. We had a two bedroom apartment which was very roomy. There was a very spacious living /kitchen/dining area with tiled floor and a small veranda which looked over the pool area. The sofas were rather basic and two pulled out to become sofa beds while the third would have been okay as a single. The apartment would have been a bit cosy of all the beds had been full as there was only one bathroom and the toilet was in the bathroom.One room had a large wardrobe but the other had no storage which was a bit strange. If you had had people sleeping in the lounge there was nowhere for them to put any clothes either so it would have had to stay in cases. There was plenty of room for cupboards and sets of drawers so I can’t think why they didn’t have any. They provided a travel cot for no extra charge which was in good condition and was all set up for us when we arrived which was nice.There was one bathroom only with a shower over the bath but if you wanted to use the bath you had to fill it with the shower nozzle which wasn't great. It took ages to fill so we didn’t use it except to fill the bath for our baby granddaughter.The kitchen had a hob but no oven and basic crockery and cutlery only and a couple of decent pans. There were no laundry facilities in the apartment which could have been interesting if you were there for a couple of weeks with a family. We did some hand washing and hung the things in the bathroom on the string I always take using pegs I also always take with me. Once they were almost dry we put them over chairs in the sun when we were in the apartment in the afternoon. They were all baby clothes as she did go through quite a few but they dried okay.There was no hair dryer or iron either although there was meant to be a hair dryer I believe but I couldn’t be bothered to go and make a fuss as we could mange without one. The ‘white’ towels were a bit old, hard and rather tired and threadbare but they were clean and changed daily. There were a few sachets of shampoo but nothing else in the bathroom toiletry area which is always disappointing.The pool looked lovely but was too cold for me in March however others did use it. There was an indoor pool but we were too busy to use that. A small children's play area got plenty of use we noticed. There seemed to be quite a bit to entertain young families around the resort and certainly if you went a bit further out into Playa Blanca there was plenty for young people to do.The breakfasts were buffet style and there was plenty to choose from. The rest of my family got their money’s worth out of our complimentary breakfast. Some had two or three cooked breakfasts after the fruit and toast etc. The evening meals were also good. We ate there on the Carnarian and Spanish evenings and one other evening because the food was delicious, varied and well cooked. Our son in law is a chef at a quality restaurant so if he said the food was good then it means something. It was also very convenient as we could take sleeping baby in the pram down in the lift and she slept while we ate then we took he back up in the lift and popped her into her cot.The beds were a little hard but okay and the linen was changed at least once in our week's stay. The linen was all nice and fresh and there were blankets if you got a bit cool. I was not sure how often these were washed so I made sure I had them well below the sheet and not near my face.We found all the people who worked there to be friendly and helpful. They moved furniture so we could fit the pram near our table and were very sweet with the baby. I went down to ask about the internet and was told that it was only available on the computer in the reception area and at a cost. I took my netbook back to our original hotel as it was free there and they said i could come and sit in the reception area there at any time so that was okay as it was not too far away to walk to. I don’t think they would appreciate anyone coming in but maybe if it was busy there wouldn’t notice if you came in with enough confidence. According to the website wifi is meant to be fre in public areas but this was not the case when we were staying there.According to the website there are a grand total of six Swimming pools, a Sun terrace with sunbeds, Parasols and towels are but we didn’t test these facilities at all so cannot comment . The buffet restaurant did have great themed evenings which we made good use of but we didn’t sample the a la carte restaurant. We had a sandwich at the pool bar on the day we arrived but there are apparently four bars with entertainment but these we did not make use of either. Having looked at the website I am amazed at some of the photos the rooms look like a completely different hotel. The decor in the photos of the rooms looks quite tasteful instead of the rather tired looking 70s decor we had in our apartment. Some of the shots from the sea front look very classy and classy was not an adjective that sprung to mind when we were staying here. It was clean and functional and okay for families, not really a luxury place to stay at all.This was a decent enough family style self catering accommodation. It was far from luxurious but perfectly comfortable for a family on holiday. It was quite tricky to cook a proper full meal because of the lack of saucepans and oven but we managed pastas and salads without too much difficulty. I would suggest that it was more of a young family resort rather than teens and party goers. Most of the people staying were like us, either mature couples with their children and small grandchildren or just young families with pre-school children as it was in school time. I think it could get quite busy in summer time and a bit noisy as the hotel surrounds the pool area but when we were there it was very quiet and not very full at all.
by catsholiday on July 4, 2010
LANZAROTE is the most northerly of the Canary Islands and is also one of the smaller islands. The first impression you get as you drive out of the airport is how black it is and as the most recent volcanic activity was only in the 1860s the evidence is actually very fresh geologically. When doing research prior to our holiday there did not seem a lot of things that you MUST see on the island. This holiday was one taken with our daughter, son in law and four month old granddaughter so we wanted somewhere warm, not too far to fly and where medical attention could be easily obtained if needed and Lanzarote fitted the bill nicely in March.What do you do on a small island with a tiny baby? Well as our little granddaughter is a very amenable baby we did quite a lot.TIMANFAYA NATIONAL PARK:One day we went to the famous Timanfaya National Park. This is almost like visiting the dark side of the moon. The landscape is black there is very little vegetation just miles of black rock and sand in various shapes. It cannot really be compared with anywhere else I have seen and is a must see if you are visiting Lanzarote.THE GREEN LAKE:El Golfo is a tiny village and it is where you will find one of Lanzarote’s natural wonders, El Lago Verde, or the green lagoon. This little lake of emerald green water is the center of a volcano that has been partly eroded by the Atlantic sea. The green colour has been created by the accumulation of algae which makes it slightly less appealing but it was interesting to look at.JAMEOS DEL AGUA: The collapsed volcanic tube has been converted by Cesar Manrique into a stunning place of natural and artistic beauty. The pool in the base has tiny little blind, albino crabs in it which I had never seen before. The café is so lovely and cool compared to outside and you can enjoy the hanging gardens and the pool/lake in the cave. At times this is covered to make a stage and the whole area converted to a concert hall.This part natural and part artistically created man made cave is a true delight. The white and blue pool (you cannot go in it) is a visual treat with plants hanging down and the blue sky peeping through the open cave top. A combination of tropical gardens, bars and a restaurant surround this underground lagoon and creates an atmosphere which is hushed and cathedral like.There is a further art exhibition area and a gift shop but we didn’t bother with these as we were enjoying the cave experience and the fantastic hanging gardens which cascaded down from the rocks around the cave opening .CESAR MANRIQUE FOUNDATION:Having been so impressed with Manrique’s creations in Tamanfaya National Park and Jameos Del Agua we decided we would continue our sightseeing with a visit to Manrique’s personal home which has now left to the Cesar Manrique foundation.This ‘house’ was designed by Manrique to use the natural volcanic rock formations and he created a fantastic house built in and around the rocks. It was fantastic; some of the walls were smoothed out and painted in a thick shiny white paint which lightened up the underground areas. The seats were shiny brightly coloured plastic – a bit like those in Elvis’ Graceland. PLAYA BLANCA:Playa Blanca has a very long sea front walk way which we enjoyed on a number of days. You walk past restaurants and shops at the town end but gradually you pass fewer buildings and looking out sea wards you can see Fuerteventura in the near distance. It is a pleasant quiet area in March but I suspect it gets busy in summer.There is a small market on Wednesday at the Rubicon Marina which was a pleasant place to wander around in the sunshine beside the harbour area. There were a number of cafés and places where you could sit with a drink and people watch or look slightly further and watch the activity in the harbour.TEGUISETeguise was once the Capital of Lanzarote but today' and is a really lovely little old town with over 500 years of History. On Sunday there is a busy Market with hundreds of stalls and entertainers around the area. The local bars and stalls serve a selection of food and drink to keep you happy while wandering round in the sunshine.In the market square there was a group of older people dressed in traditional costume singing and playing instruments. It was a most sedate affair but quite interesting and picturesque with the church behind but not greatly catchy musically.The entire town was one huge market and there were so many different stall selling everything from fresh cheeses ( we bought several) to aloe vera creams to T shirts and toys and many other clothes some more attractive than others. It was a lovely sunny day and we had a great time wandering round with the push chair stopping to enjoy different local snacks and a coffee or two.On the way from the car park to the market there was a house with the most extraordinary garden. It was full of what most people would regard as rubbish, computer screens, chairs, prams and dolls and some were quite disturbingly contorted. It was most bizarre and I can’t imagine what he was trying to create as it was obviously intentional but truly ugly and quite disturbing too. Everyone was stopping to look.Although Lanzarote is not a huge island it is extremely different scenically. Everywhere is black, the soil, the rocks and the sand. The houses are often painted white to contrast with the blackness. The area around Playa Blanca is blacker than the other end of the island but it is marginal. The landscape is strangely lunar and bleak and there is little natural vegetation. The vineyards have small stunted vines hidden in half moon hollows to protect them from the wind. It was interesting but I’m not sure that I would like to live there as it could get very monotonous.
by catsholiday on July 5, 2010
TIMANFAYA NATIONAL PARK:Lanzarote was almost wiped out by a series of volcanic eruptions which lasted over six years from 1730. Amazingly eleven villages were buried in molten lava but incredibly, no one was killed. In 1974 the area was declared a national park which today provides tourists with an opportunity to see the effects of these years of volcanic activity.One day we went to visit this famous Timanfaya National Park. This is almost like visiting the dark side of the moon. The landscape is black there is very little vegetation just miles of black rock and sand in various shapes. It cannot really be compared with anywhere else I have seen and is a must see if you are visiting Lanzarote.A quick factfile for planning a visit:How to get there: From both Playa Blanca and Puerto del Carmen, take the LZ2 to Yaiza. Follow signposts for Timanfya and the LZ67.Opening Times: Daily: 10.00 – 18.00 Admission: €8 and Parking: FreeThe park has a visitor centre further along the main road after the entrance gate to the park and this is well worth a visit as it explains about volcanic activity generally and more specifically about the eruptions in Lanzarote. It is well laid out and a very interesting and educational visit both geographically and historically.You pay for the car at the entrance to the park and then you follow the road in the park until you reach the parking area near the Diablo restaurant. To reach this car park it is quite a distance from the gate and I would imagine that the queues really build up in summer as we were in a long line and the car park was very full.The entrance fee includes the bus tour round the most dramatic and unspoilt area of the park, The road has been very cleverly built so that the area has kept as unspoiled by human interference as possible.The only way through the National park is to have this bus tour which is okay but the windows do not open so photo opportunities are a bit limited and all photos have to be taken through glass which is a shame. The buses are packed full and they do not leave until they are full. You get on these buses from the reception area near the Diablo restaurant. Atmospheric music is played on the bus as you wind your way round some very tight corners on the very narrow twisty road. The commentary includes someone reading the emotional and quite dramatic account of the eruptions from Father Lorenzo Curbelo's personal account at the time.After the bus trip you can go and see a demonstration of the heat just below the surface as a pile of grass is stuffed into a pit and quickly catches alight. Another man pours water down a hole and seconds later a small geyser erupts nearby. This volcano is not extinct only dormant so volcanologists constantly study any changes that take place.In the Diablo restaurant which was designed by Cesar Manrique you can also enjoy a steak (at a price) cooked on a BBQ pit heated by the volcano below where temperatures of 600 degrees Centigrade are recorded only 10 metres below the surface. Having seen the price of the steak we opted for 4 bowls of very expensive soup instead! WE RODE A CAMEL TOO:After you leave the actual park on the way out on the road back to Yaiza we passed the camels that we had seen on the way in Our daughter was very keen to ride one and no-one else would go with her so I agreed so we had a ride up the side of a volcano on a the camel. The camels are led in a line. We sat two to a camel on sort of chairs strapped across their backs. They have a most ungainly walk, as they move the front and back leg on the same side of their body at the same time –it is a rolling gait and we wobbled from side to side. This is probably why the camel’s nickname of the ship of the desert. Our camel kept insisting on getting so close to the one in front that my leg was almost under its bottom which I wasn’t too thrilled about. The camel behind also seemed to want to whisper in my ear too so it was a very close and personal experience. Our camel also seemed to be more wobbly in its gait than others and we swung up and down as if we were at sea.You have to pay extra for the camel ride.Summary;This is a landscape that it is difficult to imagine unless you have experienced it. Everywhere is black and there are huge areas of flat black wilderness but this is interspersed with dramatic volcanic sculptures from time to time. The lava flowed down towards the sea and cooled at it hit the sea and this produced some very impressive shapes and sculptures.I would certainly recommend a visit to this National Park if you go to Lanzarote as I don’t think there are many other such recent volcanic parks that you can visit.Thanks for reading.This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name,
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