Lanzarote – 2006

We arrived at Lanzarote airport at 9pm, collected our hire car and then struggled to find our apartment.  It wasn’t easy to translate the map to the road system in the dark ! We eventually found ‘Nautilus’ (our home for the next 2 weeks) an hour and a half later – it’s actually only a 10 minute drive 🙂 !

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We woke up to a glorious hot sunny day, with a lovely warm breeze 🙂.  Obviously the first thing to test out was the pool.  The children were desperate to try out the diving board – we said that if they could swim a width of the pool first.  Our son swam it easily and our daughter was so determined to use the board that she swam the distance 🙂. Both children scared the life out of us with their antics on the diving board – forwards, backwards and even sideways !!  

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Later we walked down to the beach ‘Puerto del Carmen’.  It was lovely walking at the edge of the sea – the water was a lot warmer than I expected, being the Atlantic.  We then enjoyed a cool refreshing drink in one of the cafés.

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 Manrique’s House

The artist César Manrique has had a huge influence on the island of Lanzarote.  His artwork is everywhere, so we thought that visiting his house would make a good start.  Apparently, he was driving and noticed a fig tree emerging from a huge expansion of petrified-lava.  He stopped the car, walked over and discovered it had taken root in a ‘jameo’ (volcanic cave) around 5m in diameter.  He noticed there were 4 further jameos and decided it be the perfect site for his house The landowner said the land was worthless and he could have as much as he wanted.  So here Manrique built a truly amazing house 🙂. 03 Manrique House 003  to 006

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The guidebook, recommended the ‘Playas de Papagaya’ as the best beaches on the island.  Papagaya is right on the southern tip of the island, but not far by car.  We took the advice of the book and took a short-cut, which considerably shortened the length of the drive on the bumpy dirt track. We had to pay 3€ to go into the protected ‘Reserva Natural de Los Ajaches’ where the beaches are situated, considerably less than the £5 we paid for the day on Devon’s beaches!! After parking, we walked down to the beach, the sand was boiling hot, so we were very glad we had shoes!!  The sea was calm and full of fish, which occasionally nibbled a leg or toe !!! At the end of the day, we climbed up the steep bank and enjoyed a cool drink and the shade at the café at the top 🙂.

Papagaya beach

Papagaya beach

 

After a hot day on the beach, we thought that a day visiting the caves in the far north of the island, that had been created out of molten lava would be a good idea. Our 1st stop was at the ‘Cueva de los Verdes’ (Green’s Cave), which took us on a 2km journey round a spectacular labyrinth.  It was beautifully lit – really different to other caves we’ve seen as they were totally dry and without stalactites/stalagmites! At the end there was what looked like a huge cavern which stretched out below our feet.  A child was invited to throw a stone so we could see how far below us the cavern stretched, but instead of the deep cavern that we expected, the stone hit a shallow pool of water probably only 10cm deep!!  The illusion was spectacularly shattered and then as the water stilled it was re-created – the water a perfect mirror.

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Jameos del Agua’ (Open-air volcanic caves) are only 400m from Cueva de los Verdes, so it was an obvious place to visit next.  We climbed down the lava steps into a cave with crystal clear water, with 1,000’s of tiny, almost fluorescent spider-like albino crabs.  According to the guidebook, they once lived deep in the ocean some 2,000m beneath the waves, but long ago were stranded in this cave and is now the only place where they can still be found.  Bekah in particular was fascinated with the little crabs and enjoyed counting them ! We walked through the cave, climbed up some more lava steps and came upon a beautiful white swimming pool with aqua-blue water – a stark contrast to the black lava rocks – Manrique’s thumb print.  No swimming though unless you are the King of Spain !!

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No swimming – unless you’re the King of Spain 😦

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Mirador del Rio

I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this, but as it was marked on the map as a place of interest and also nearby, we decided to take a look. Apparently César Manrique, rebuilt what had been an old Gun Battery – he had a hollow cut into the rock and put a restaurant inside. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but inside the restaurant is a spectacular panoramic view of nearby islets and the ocean.  Our entry ticket also gave us a free while looking at the view 🙂 16 Mirador del Rio 004 to 007

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Scuba-Time!

While we were relaxing in+ by the pool, a couple of guys from a local scuba-diving school, gave us the opportunity to try out scuba-diving in the pool – a free taster session for anyone 8+ years.   Graham so enjoyed it that he booked  to go for a ‘proper’ scuba lesson which will end up in a 6m dive where there is abundant sea life.

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In the evening we walked along the promenade of Puerto del Carmen – it was nice to go for a stroll in the cool of the evening.  We walked by a number of rather tacky shops + bars, but we did eventually find a reasonable café and enjoyed an ice-cream together.

There are so many sculptures and pieces of César Manrique’s art work all over the island.  This one was by the promenade which of course the children had to explore!

We visited the nearby ‘Castilo de Santa Bárbara’ situated at the top of  ‘Guanapy Volcano’.  The castle was built as a watchtower in 16th Century but soon became a refuge for the town-folk of Teguise who fled there to avoid frequent pirate raids.  Unfortunately, not everyone could be accommodated there and those left in the town were often slaughtered!

Inside the castle, we found a museum, dedicated to the 23,000 emigrants who went to Cuba – there were quotes and artefacts from ordinary people telling of the difficulties and struggles they faced during the journey there and as they settled.  It made interesting viewing.

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Costa Teguise

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We walked to the marina and enjoyed a lovely meal – Graham’s starter was dates wrapped in bacon and fried – he said it was the best he’d tasted.   Our meal had filled us up, so we went for a walk along the promenade, before returning for ice-cream and hot chocolate!!

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One evening we drove out to ‘San Bartolome’ – a picturesque little village for an evening walk before it got dark.  It was lovely to walk round in the cool of the evening 🙂

 

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We visited the ‘Jardin de Cactus‘ (cactus garden), which was a totally different experience.  Manrique designed and made this from a former quarry and is reminiscent of an amphitheatre.  Apparently there are 10,000 cacti, comprising of over 1,100 different varieties of all shapes and sizes.  It was interesting spotting those that looked like snakes and totem-poles and those that we recognised from famous cartoons like ‘Road-Runner’!

Our tickets again gave us a free drink and we enjoyed a lovely meal in the restaurant overlooking the garden.  The sign for the toilets, by Manrique, were unusual to say the least !!

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The landscape is barren but strangely beautiful.

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One evening we drove to nearby Puerto Calero for a drink and an enormous ice-cream, which for once did actually look like the ones pictured on the menu ! 🙂

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The Water Park

Although we had to queue for some 45mins to get into the water park – it was well worth the wait and rather steep entrance fee (21€ / £15).  The water slides were great fun but our youngest was not quite tall enough being just ½cm too short for the bigger slides 😦  A bit frustrating as she is very good at swimming now and it meant we couldn’t go on slides together.

However, we did manage to sneak her on a double-ring with us which was great fun, til the life-guard spotted us and blew her whistle !!!

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The Salt Marshes

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Los Hervideros

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Scuba Dive

Graham booked his scuba lesson for 9am and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  He saw numerous fish, including an Angel-Shark, Plaice, Parrot-fish and a Spider-Crab.  He took these photos using a disposable underwater camera.

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In the evening following Graham’s scuba-dive, we drove to the little bay where he’d dived, with a view to buying a snorkel so that we might see some fish too.  Our eldest climbed on some rocks and then slipped off and fell into the sea trying to get back to the beach – he did look funny!!!

He was soaked through, so we popped into a local shop and bought him some dry clothes.

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We drove out to Timanfaya National Park also known as ‘Montanas del Fuego’ (Fire Mountains).  On entering the park we stopped at ‘Echarado de los Camellos’ (Camel Park).  We had the chance for a camel ride up and down the mountainside – not the smoothest ride, but great fun 🙂

We then visited the little information centre and small museum which included interesting facts on the traditional use of dromedaries on the island – originally used in farming, the camels pulled ploughs and carried heavy loads.  Now the camels are just for the tourist industry.  

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We then drove further into the park – a bit of a queue as there is limited parking, but well worth the wait.  On arrival we were shown how the volcano is very much alive – one of the park rangers dropped a dry bush into a fissure which promptly ignited !!!  He then emptied a bucket of water into a tube into the ground, which then a second later, shot up as a scalding geyser – spectacular! 

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The temperature at ground level is 100-200°C but at just 13m below the surface, the temperature rises to 610°C !!  The heat is being generated by a live magma chamber some 4-5km below the surface.

There was a restaurant (again designed by César Manrique) with a 360° panoramic view of Timanfaya National Park.  The food is barbequed on a large grill cooked using the heat from the volcano – delicious J.

Our entrance fee included a 35 minute bus tour through the park – a really spectacular landscape, full of craters and lava, resembling a distant planet.  The coach driver expertly negotiated some very tight bends that I wouldn’t have believed possible !  The commentary made it very interesting.

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At the edge of Timanfaya, there is a visitor’s centre, which gave lots of information on volcanology.  It was very ‘hands-on’ and made an interesting end to our visit.  Part of it included a walk along the board-walk above the lava field, giving a great view.

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We decided to visit a beach and drove out towards Costa Teguise to the beach known as ‘La Cucharas’ which looked nice in the guidebook.  We were able to rent a couple of sun-loungers with sun-shades – makes such a difference in the heat.  The beach had black/golden sand, but the sea itself was full of stones and very large boulders.  The children made a sandcastle and then enjoyed collecting boulders to make a barricade (with a bit of help from Daddy) to protect their castle from the sea.

In the afternoon we walked out along a ‘pier’ made from lava boulders and watched windsurfers jumping the waves.

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We drove to Haria to visit the art & craft market.  It was lovely; the stalls had various paintings, jewellery, cacti and sand-pictures.  We bought a necklace and bracelet for our daughter as her souvenir of the holiday and a cactus for Graham’s Dad.

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We visited the Monument del Campesino

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We drove out to ‘El Golfo’ (The Gulf) the amazing rock strata can be seen and the colours of orange and red are set of beautifully by the black sand and blue sea.  We walked down to the sea and we all found the black sand absolutely fascinating – surprisingly not dirty, just black!! 

Graham and our daughter enjoyed writing in the sand before the sea smoothed over it again.  There was also a little rocky outcrop that our son made a beeline for !! 

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We walked along a high walkway and suddenly we could see this large green lagoon – a fascinating colour caused either by algae or olivine emeralds depending on which guidebook you read!

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We visited the ‘Museo de Cetáceos’ (Museum of the Canarian Whales and Dolphins).  The tour started with an 8min film of whales and dolphins found around the Canary Isles – it was really interesting as the sound track was music and the sounds of whales and dolphins.

The guide showed us a replica of a whale’s tooth which was huge!  She spoke excellent English and explained the difference between whales and dolphins with teeth who have a single blow-hole and those who have baleen which filter very small plankton and have twin blow-holes which are more like nostrils.  Whales and Dolphins are mammals and their tails move vertically, whereas fish and sharks’ tails move horizontally!!

 

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We then found a farm labelled as ‘the friendliest attraction on the island’ which was certainly our experience.  On arrival we were given lettuce leaves to feed the animals and told to watch out for the cheeky parrot who would nip if we got too close!  He was quite fun as he would try to mimic animal sounds and even said “ola” (hello).

After looking round, the children were given the opportunity to do some clay modelling and were encouraged to find natural products (stones, grass, sticks etc..) to decorate their models.

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We visited the beautiful beach ‘Caléton Blanco’ its white sand a total contrast to the black sand at ‘El Golfo’.  We discovered there a small stretch of beach and a shallow lagoon, perfect for the children to play ‘Sharks’.

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We returned again to Papagaya Beach for our last 2 days.  As the tide rescinded, a rock was revealed in the middle of the bay, inviting swimmers to it.  Graham and I swam out and discovered to our joy lots of fish of all colours which we could see with our goggles and swim amongst.  After a few minutes the kids swam out to join us – their swimming has so improved and they got the chance to see the fish too – a real highlight for us all.

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Sunset

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5 responses to “Lanzarote – 2006

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