Lives in Cervo, Italia
Since Oct 2007
I'm an avid globe-trotter. I have been to over 30 countries - so far - and hope to visit at least a similar number in the rest of my life. My number one preference is undoubtedly New Zealand, which has satisfied my quest for unspoilt nature and very different lifestyles. Number two preference goes to where I've left my heart: London: for me it is a world concentrate. I go whenever I have a chance, and it never tires me (I'm still alive, dear Dr. Johnson!). I've seen most of western Europe, but I still miss most of eastern Europe. I'm also missing the whole of Africa, Latin America, the Asian giants and Australia.
Walking Tours, Boat Tours, Eco Tours, Nature & Wildlife Tours, Wine Tours & Tastings
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Castles, History Museums
Bodies of Water
Wineries & Vineyards
Other Outdoor Activities
The club we joined for our hikes is Lanzarote Active Club, run and enlivened by the exceptional Michele, Carmen, Isabel and Alena. We couldn’t have had better luck. The little Church of Yé, in the north, is our first meeting point with a group and the guides who show us wild beauties, native vegetation, lava formations, the colours of nature. Our hikes include Monte Corona, Caldera Blanca, Montaña Colorada and El Cuervo, all extinct volcanos, each with its history and characteristics. Everything was made very enjoyable by the competence and frielndliness of our guides.
The Cactus Garden, one of César Manrique's creations, is an extraordinary collection of cactacee and has a number of wind sculptures around the garden, complete with an original windmill.
César Manrique's legacies are ubiquitous in Lanzarote. One of his most popular creations is Jameos del Agua, a restaurant and concert venue built inside a lava tunnel, complete with an auditorium, exotic garden and a vulcanology museum.
Against the growing trend of mass tourism in the other Canary Islands, Lanzarote has preserved its ancient appearance tanks to the commitment of the local artist and architect, César Manrique, who fought strenuous battles against the construction of skyscraper hotels since as early as the seventies, up to his premature death in 1992. Manrique favoured a vernacular type of architecture, respecting local traditions and making it richer with a few of his flights of fancy. His architectural and artistic works are spread throughout Lanzarote, making it uniquely fascinating, very different from the rest of the archipelago. His concept was to fuse the impacts of humankind and nature to create a harmony of forms, shapes and colours that would be respectful and distinctive at the same time. His attractive inventions fill us with admiration and awe. Among his numerous creations are his home with studio and garden at Haría, a fascinating example of his artistic manifesto.
Now a museum of piracy, this castle is a true stronghold from the days when the main danger came from the seas. Its vantage point offers unlimited views over the surrounding land. It looks small from outside abut inside it is an incredible maze of rooms, cellars, courtyards, turrets. It appeals to everyone's inner child.
El Amanecer is a noisy, boisterous restaurant beloved by both tourists and locals. Sturdy wooden tables and jolly waiters create a pleasant comraderie. The cuisine serves almost exclusively fish, thoroughly fresh from the ocean, in very generous portions. The house wine is honest and refreshing and the bill very affordable.
Possibly our favourite restaurant in Arrieta, it stands out for its subdued international flair. The most original feature is the glass floor over an aquarium, where you literally walk over swimming fishes. The glass-panelled veranda affords great views over the ocean and the tables are nicely set. Silver sailing vessels adorn the walls. The service is competent and discreet; the menu is sophisticated and finely presented. We had some freshly caught white fish accompanied by an excellent white El Grifo malvasia from the most ancient Lanzarote vintners. Full satisfaction.
Mirador del Río is a restaurant with viewing terraces overlooking the Chinijo archipelago, another of César Manrique's projects. It is possible to wonder at the breathtaking views from other nearby locations, without having to pay an entrance fee. However, the inside restaurant is fine and you can comfortably sit at a table looking out of the glass panels to the three wild small islands and roaring ocean sheltered from the strong wind. The local artist and architect designed also this structure to be fused into nature as his architectural philosophy required. A very popular tourist attraction.
Don't go inside if you are not a child or a fan of Pirates of the Caribbean. The museum is designed to appeal to those two categories. However, the castle was a real stronghold in times when and pirates and privateers roamed the seas and it defended the surrounding lands. I found the walls, turrets, drawbridge, keep and inner chambers a fascinating maze and a wonderful picture setting.
We did not visit the underground complex, but were contented with admiring the overground monument composed of dozens of land working tools, all painted in white, standing in the middle (another work of the ubiquitous Cesar Manrique local artist) and the small constructions set in a beautiful garden. We had a cafe con leche and a piece of cake in the restaurant-cafeteria at the central area and bathed in the strong sunlight that reflected against the stunning whitewashed surrounding surfaces.
It was the first cafe restaurant we visited in Arrieta and the only one opened 'late' , i.e. 8:00 p.m. A true friendly place to have a beer or a coffee at any time of day till late evening, with a reliable wi-fi connection. You can also eat there, from breakfast to dinner time.
Another natural wonder: El Golfo. This is a volcano that erupted opening its crater inside the sea, and forming a bay – indeed a gulf. The colours here seem even artificial – from the bright red sandstone, to the glossy black basalt, to the silver grey sand of the bottom, to the emerald green lagoon (because of the algae). A natural palette certain to beguile you.
Last but not least, Lanzarote wine. Production is very limited due to the island’s size, but quality stands out, particularly the white Malvasía, a wine that keeps winning countless international prizes. The vineyards are concentrated in particular in the south, between Tinajo and Yaiza; the bodegas (wineries with public points of sale) are numerous along the main roads; Bodega La Geria stands out, offering wine tastings as well as restaurants.
Caldera Blanca is a very ancient, very wide – 1,200 m – whitish crater rising in the midst of a sea of black lava erupted from a nearby volcano in the 18th c. It is perfectly circular and affords spectacular 360° views.
North of Lanzarote is a small archipelago formed by La Graciosa, Montaña Clara and Alegranza, only the first of which is inhabited (by fewer than seven hundred people) at forty minutes’ ferry crossing from Orzola harbour, at Lanzarote’s northern tip. The other two islands are protected nature reserves. The crossing is unforgettable; we sail around Punta Fariones and we enter the Río, the strait separating the two islands, flanked by high basalt cliffs to the east and a low sandy coastline to the west. The sea is deep blue and the sun covers it with golden specs. La Graciosa’s harbour is tiny and only used by the rather frequent ferries and fishing boats. There are neither paved roads nor motor vehicles. There are no fresh water springs either; therefore we must carry our own. It is an ideal place for trekking, with dozens marked paths, volcanos, secluded beaches to enjoy in private and breathtaking sights. One of the most spectacular spots is Playa de la Cocina at the foot of Montaña Amarilla, where there is a grotto with view, ideal for a picnic.
Haría is one of Lanzarote's small and peaceful communities, rich in history and attractive with its white little houses surrounded by palm groves. Wonderful arts and crafts market on Saturdays.
Our Lanzarote base camp was in Arrieta, a lovely seafaring village on the northeast coast, where all buildings are two-floor small white houses, there is a long rocky beach, and the waves seem to be perfect for surf enthusiasts. Arrieta is very popular with young sporting people; it also has several excellent fish restaurants.