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. Continue reading
Cueva de los Verdes was not the end of yesterday’s adventure by any means. Our next mission was Jameos del Agua and, as it turned out, we didn’t need Tom Tom Tim to help us find it. It really was just down the road from the Cueva de los Verdes, unmissable. Continue reading
Today’s mission was Taro de Tahiche, the astonishing house built by artist Cesar Manrique in 1968 on the larva fields just outside Costa Teguise. From the rather basic map we had it seemed it was only about six or seven miles. We asked the very helpful concierge if it was walkable and, although he looked a little surprised that anyone would think a six or seven mile was was walkable anyway, he said it was possible, not too hilly, not too hidden away. He even showed us on the map where it was and what route to take. It all seemed fairly straightforward, what could possibly go wrong? Continue reading
My first impression of Lanzarote was that people seemed very friendly. A taxi driver, seeing us looking lost as we emerged from the terminal directed us to the kiosk where we needed to pick up our transfer. The Scottish woman working there was super helpful, telling us about the island and what to see, obviously a little in love with it herself. An unfamiliar vista of volcanic mountains, black soil and strange contorted larva mounds beside the roads sped by outside the window of our transfer taxi. The hotel, designed by César Manrique, was beautiful. Best of all there is free wifi, ok so it doesn’t seem to be the speediest or most reliable but the price is good.
We took a little walk to get acclimatised to the twenty seven degree heat and our surroundings. The scenery is stark in comparison to England’s verdant hills and verges but it has a beauty to it, black or red soil dotted with fat trunked, stubby palms and globular spiny cacti, square white buildings and everywhere black volcanic rock. Walls, paths, sculptures all carved from blocks of grey black porous stone. I guess you build with what you have available and on a volcanic island that means igneous rock.
The sun was getting low in the sky as we walked up the hill past little supermarkets, shops and bars, low cloud hid it from view but the clouds were haloed with bright light and beams spread out across the blue sky like something in a painting. Snap, snap, snap went my phone. Strange papery petals in brilliant cerise on the bourganvillia outside the hotel were blowing about so much I had trouble taking a photo. In actual fact the papery petals are not petals at all, but bracts of leaves, the flowers are the tiny white frilled circles in the centre that look like stamens.
A pre dinner walk along the shore outside the hotel gave me even more beautiful snaps of the sunbeams radiating from a golden cloud turning the waves breaking on the greyish sand to liquid gold. Breathtaking stuff. Then there are the huge black boulders, worn smooth by the waves framing a gold flecked sea and the white buildings of Costa Teguise spread out before us. There will probably be walks along this shore and lounging on this beach tomorrow.
Hunger took us into the hotel restaurant for dinner. Our half board meals are buffet style with a banquet of fresh salads, meat and fish cooked to order, pastas and fresh sauces not to mention the array of fruits and ice creams. With good food like this every day I’m hoping for a nice healthy holiday and not too much extra poundage at the end of it. Mind you the tiramisu ice cream probably doesn’t count as healthy but still, it’s been a long day, with not much in the way of food at all and I am on holiday!
Part of being on holiday is relaxing and the next day was a chill out day. After breakfast we wandered round the pool looking for some sun beds that hadn’t already been nabbed by the early morning towel brigade. Luckily, as it’s out of season and the hotel is by no means full, we managed to find two beds in a quiet corner by a little pool with tinkling fountains and a fringe of umbrella plants. We set out our blue towels and Commando settled down to sunbathe. Continue reading
If you only visit one place, make it Parc Guell
If you go to Barcelona this is the one sight you must not miss. It really is worth the walk. It’s free to go in, unless you want to go inside Gaudi’s house and I get the feeling you could go back again and again and see something new each time. Continue reading
El Ravel, El Barri Gothic & El Born – The old town Barcelona
Next on our list was a visit to the old town. Everything I’d read warned to be on guard against pickpockets here so it was with some trepidation that we took the metro to Parallel and stepped out onto the corner of Carrer Nou de la Rambla. This is a narrow road filled with traffic and run down looking little shops and restaurants leading to La Rambla. The closer we got to La Rambla the more interesting the buildings became culminating in Palau Guell, a town mansion designed by Gaudi with huge wrought iron gates that carriages used to enter. It is possible to go inside but, yet again, time was against us. I guess it is one more reason for us to return to Barcelona in the future though so it’s not all bad news. Continue reading
Hot feet in the sea – Barcelona Beach
By now we’d had enough of craning our necks to stare up at buildings and, being Sunday, shopping was out of the question as the only shops open are cafes, bars, restaurants and big shopping centres. I’m not a fan of big shopping centres, give me little local shops any day. We decided we would round off our day with a few hours relaxation at the beach so we consulted our maps again. We took the metro from Passeig De Gràcia to Estacio de Franca and, despite all the miles wed already walked, decided to walk from there rather than change trains. Continue reading
Casa Milà or La Pedrera – Barcelona
The next thing on our list was Casa Milà’ known as La Pedrera or the stone quarry because of the way it looks. This was the last building Gaudi worked on before he devoted all his time to Sagrada Familia. Built as rental flats for Pere Milà Camps it is now the property of Caxia de Catalunya. There is an exhibition of Gaudi and his works on the upper floors but sadly we had no time to see it. Some of the flats are now privately owned. How wonderful it must be to own and live in such a magnificent building. Continue reading
Sagrada Familia outside and in – Barcelona
The building is impressive, despite all the scaffolding and cranes and has to be seen to be believed. Each side is different and our first view was of the face depicting the crucifiction. This was also where we got our first glimpse of the queue to get inside. Walking round into Carrer de Provença, we stared up at the mass of spires then turned into Carrer de la Marina to gawp at the astonishingly intricate nativity scene built by Gaudi himself. Turning into Carrer de Mallorca, we found most of the building ensconced in scaffolding. Then we were back where we started staring at a very big queue. Continue reading
Casa Batlló, my favourite Gaudi building
When I studied art at college I learned about Antoni Gaudi’s amazing designs and I have wanted to visit Barcelona ever since. It took me many years to live out that dream but it was well worth the wait. Barcelona isn’t just about architecture though, there are about eight miles of beaches, some great designer shops, a vibrant nightlife and they have a pretty good football team too. Continue reading