Tag Archives: Courtyard

Lanzarote – Taro de Tahiche

The entrance to César Manrique's amazing house

The entrance to Cesar Manrique’s amazing house

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

Lanzarote – Costa Teguise and the Gran Melia Salinas Hotel

The Melia Salinas, beautiful

The Melia Salinas, beautiful

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.

The sun, low of the Costa Teguise shops

The sun, low over the Costa Teguise shops

Bougainvillea, if only they'd kept still I'd have taken a better photo

Bougainvillea, if only they’d kept still I’d have taken a better photo

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.

A pre dinner walk along the shore

A pre dinner walk along the shore

Big black boulders, a gold flecked sea, paradise

Big black boulders, a gold flecked sea, paradise

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!

We found a lovely spot by the pool

We found a lovely quiet spot by the pool

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

Barcelona – Ghosts and the steep climb to Parc Guell

The gates of Parc Guell

The gates of Parc Guell

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

Southampton – walking the historic medieval city walls

Ferns growing on the historic walls, Southampton

Ferns growing on the historic walls, Southampton

Walking the medieval city walls of Southampton

The last time I walked the walls was when the boys were at school. In fact I think it was part of a school history project. Living in a city packed to the gills with history, I tend to forget about it most of the time. There are bits I stroll past on a regular basis but I don’t really think about them. Other bits I’ve barely even seen, despite living here all my life. Continue reading

Marrakech – Ourika Valley and a visit to a Berber village

High in the Atlas Mountains

High in the Atlas Mountains, Ourika Valley

The Berber village – Ourika Valley, no mod cons but wonderful views

We stopped to visit a Berber house belonging to one of Driss’s cousins. The native Moroccan population is made up of Berbers and Arabs and Driss was very proud of the fact that he is a Berber, although his wife is an Arab. As soon as we entered the village we picked up a stream of little Berber followers. When we booked the trip we were warned that the children would follow us as lots of tourists bring sweets for them but sweets weren’t such a good idea where there is no dental care. I felt mean not giving them anything so I had come prepared with a big bundle of cheap ballpoint pens. The children seemed to love these and were fascinated by clicking them on and off. Continue reading

Marrakech – a secret, hidden garden, the Saadian Tombs

Intricate carvings and patterned tiles

Delicate carvings and intricate tiles, Saadian Tombs, Marrakech

An evil sultan, and the story of the enchantment of the Saadian Tombs Marrakech

Our final visit was to the Saadian Tombs. These graves have a history to rival any fairy tale. Hidden by an evil sultan they were lost and forgotten in the heart of the city for centuries almost as if he cast a spell. You will need a guide if you want to find them. Continue reading

Marrakech peace – the Medersa Ben Youssef

The Medersa Ben Youssef

The Medersa Ben Youssef, Marrakech

The peace, beauty and tranquility of Madersa Ben Youssef Marrakech

On my very first visit to Marrakech the Medersa Ben Youssef was part of my city tour. I’d seen the square and the mosque, I’d wandered around the souk and had a neck massage and a sit down at the apothecary, now it was time for some culture. Continue reading

Marrakech hotels – reviews

I’ve stayed in Marrakech several time, mostly at the Es Saadi Hotel, but also, once at the Riad Noga. I’ve visited many hotels but I don’t feel it’s fair to review a hotel I haven’t actually stayed at. If you’re looking for good hotels though both of these fit the bill for different reasons. Continue reading