Lanzarote – the indoor gardens of the Gran Melia Salinas

It's nice to have the time to sit and watch the dawn

It’s nice to have the time to sit and watch the dawn

Tuesday morning, my last full day in this little volcanic paradise where the sun always shines. The trouble with holidays is they’re always way too short, and cold, hard reality is always there at the end of them. For some reason I’ve woken every morning at around seven, later than I would at home but earlier than I normally would on holiday. Each morning I’ve crept out onto the balcony as quietly as I can and sat, listening to the pigeons cooing, the birds waking up and the sea crashing against the rocks below my window. Slowly the sky has turned from dark, inky blue to white clouds tinged with pink. It’s nice to have the time to sit and watch the dawn.

It feels like we’ve just scratched the surface of this wonderful little Island. There is so much we haven’t seen but, of course, this means we can return to see some more. Today is about taking the time to sit, with the warm sun playing on my skin, in a little garden where I can gaze at the scattered pink bracts fallen from the bougainvillea, drifting in the breeze across the courtyard. Taking a leisurely stroll along the beach with the sea lapping at my feet. Sipping a cup of wonderful coffee in the Nud d’Naplun with the breeze cooling us. Wandering along streets of shops filled with tacky souvenirs and almost buying things for their tacky, quirky awfulness.

Scattered pink bracts fallen from the bougainvillea

Scattered pink bracts fallen from the bougainvillea

A leisurely stroll along the beach

A leisurely stroll along the beach

The sea lapping at my feet

The sea lapping at my feet

A wonderful cup of coffee in Nud d'Naplun

A wonderful cup of coffee in Nud d’Naplun

We lingered over our coffee, gazing at the breathtaking view reflected in the window, then turning around to see it for real. No matter how much we dawdled, the coffee was gone all too soon and we went inside to say a final goodbye to the surfer dude. We may pop in tomorrow before we leave but then again we may not have time. On the way back a cat that looked suspiciously like fluffy crossed our path, surely not!

Here even the views reflected in the window are breathtaking

Here even the views reflected in the window are breathtaking

We turned around to see it for real

We turned around to see it for real

We went inside to say our goodbyes

We went inside to say our goodbyes

A cat that looked suspiciously like fluffy

Surely not?!!!!

With one last look at the bikes for hire that we’d dodged every day and the pretty tables outside Nud d’Naplun we turned to make our way back. One last paddle in the warm sea. One last chill by the pool on our sun beds. Sand between my toes and sun on my skin. I will miss this. We joked about winning the lottery and island hopping for the rest of our days. If only…

One last look at the bikes we dodged

One last look at the bikes we dodged

The pretty tables outside Nud d'Naplun

The pretty tables outside Nud d’Naplun

We made our way back

We made our way back

One last paddle in the sea

One last paddle in the sea

Sand between my toes

Sand between my toes

While I was doing all this I felt a buzzing in my handbag. My phone was ringing. It was Jessica from the agency to tell me the cruise firm liked the sound of me and wanted to arrange an interview on Friday, just after I get home. Good news? Maybe. It is at least encouraging that someone is interested. Even so, the real world worries worming their way into my little slice of paradise unsettled me, brought the grey skies and cold rain crowding in along with the thought of a job to be found. In short, it reminded me of what I have to go back to all too soon.

A few days ago I promised I’d give you a little tour of the Gran Melia Salinas hotel so I guess, while I’m sitting here catching some rays, I will tell you all about it. Designed by the architect Fernando Higueras, with a great deal of assistance from none other than Cesar Manrique, the hotel won the prestigious Pritzker International Architecture Prize. Meliá Salinas is filled with art, paintings, sculptures and murals, many of which were designed by Manrique himself. The thing that makes it so very special though is the atrium, set out as three large round interconnected spaces, designed to mimic larva bubbles, and planted as lush gardens. There are more than three hundred plants, ponds, pools, waterfalls, little larva paths and bridges.

The Melia Salanis atrium, blue sky and lush vegetation

The Melia Salanis atrium, blue sky and lush vegetation

Encircled by the hotel

Encircled by the hotel

little ponds

little ponds

Pools

Pools

waterfalls

waterfalls

Running right through the gardens

Running right through the gardens

Paths and bridges

Paths and bridges

exotic plants

exotic plants

The largest of the three spaces, closest to the reception is open to the sky above, the other two have glass roofs. Walking on the meandering paths feels like walking through a rain forest, trees towering above. It’s easy to forget you are actually inside a hotel, until you catch the occasional glimpse of the hotel shops through the foliage. I could have spent hours just wandering and looking at the amazing plants and beautiful flowers, the fruit forming on the palms, the tinkling water features.

Covered by a glass roof

Covered by a glass roof

The occasional glimpse of the hotel shops

The occasional glimpse of the hotel shops

Bird of paradise flowers

Beautiful flowers

I could have wandered for hours

I could have wandered for hours

Fruit forming on the palms

Fruit forming on the palms

This wonderful garden won the Euroos Nistra, the Global Ecology and Tourism prize, the Golden Medal of Fine Arts, the Goslarer Monchenhaus Prize for Art and Environment and the Nederlans Laureat Van D’Aheod. It is kmown as Lanzarote’s botanical cathedral and I feel privileged to have called it my home, even if only for one week. Every morning, when I come out of my room and look down over the gardens I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, it is so very beautiful. Here plants that I have only ever thought of as delicate pot plants grow like huge shrubs. This is where I saw the monstera fruiting along with bird of paradise flowers, crotons acting as underplanting, like the garden of my dreams. Manrique wanted to create an area of harmony between art and nature and I think he did a pretty good job.

Bird of paradise flowers

Bird of paradise flowers

image

So lovely

The indoor garden I always wanted

The garden of my dreams

Just one more waterfall photo

Just one more waterfall photo

I make no apologies for all the photos, I couldn’t help myself but I think you have to agree it is truly spectacular. I am going to miss that view every morning for sure. Right now we are sitting with our coffee looking over the pool as the sun goes down, something else I’m going to miss. I wonder if they need any live in staff?

One last poolside sunset

One last poolside sunset