27th November – 2nd December
We really enjoyed our time at anchor in the beautiful bay of Francesa at the island of La Graciosa, it was so peaceful and gave us the chance to recharge our internal batteries after several days at sea!
However, we needed to move on! Lanzarote was our next stopover and we thought that we would stay long enough to catch up on the chores and re provision. We were not looking forward to spending time on this island but we very quickly discovered that any preconceptions we had about Lanzarote were totally unfounded, we needed to spend more than a night stop here!!
27th November ~ Passage to Arrecife, Lanzarote!
We were soon to discover that there was much of interest for us to see on this island, we were very pleasantly surprised! Arrecife is the capital of Lanzarote and quite a large commercial port with cruise liners arriving and departing daily.
The marina was only 27 nautical miles from our anchorage and so a very pleasant day trip was in prospect! The conditions were perfect for using the cruising chute and since we are now well practised in hoisting it, up it went! We had spied another British flagged yacht in the distance and so we were immediately in competition with it!!
We did very well as the other boat had much more sail up than us but we left it ‘standing’ and arrived at the entrance to the harbour at Arrecife way ahead of them – very satisfying!!
Having checked that they had space for us, we motored into the marina and found our berth! Once Musetta was all secure we ‘checked in’ at the marina office and organised for one of our gas bottles to be refilled and we also arranged to pick up a hire car for the following days which was easily done as the hire car company was right by the marina!
28th November ~ Starting to explore!
We were anxious to check that Élise and Petit Goustan were ok! They couldn’t find a space in Arrecife marina and so had to go further south to another marina past the airport! We also wanted to say goodbye to Gay and Guy who we had met up with in La Graciosa, their holiday was coming to an end!
This was our first experience of driving in the Canary Islands and witnessing the volcanic landscape with it’s VERY black, gritty soil, so unfamiliar to us! The roads were amazingly good and all seemed to be new?! The money received from the EU was being put to good use in the Canary Islands!
Élise seemed keen to come with us again the following day so we arranged to pick her up and go to the Volcanoes!
29th November ~ Timanfaya National Park at Tinajo!
There appeared to be much to see on the island and so we made the decision to go south on our first day of exploration to the Timanfaya National Park! The entrance to the park has this very distinctive symbol, ‘El diablo’ created by César Manrique, Lanzarote’s famous son who has had a such profound influence on the visual appearance of the island with his artwork and sculptures! More on him later….!
Lanzarote is the northernmost and easternmost island of the Canary Islands and like all the islands, it is volcanic in origin and emerged from the break up of the African and American continental plates! The greatest recorded eruptions occurred between 1730 and 1736 in the area now known as Timanfaya National Park! The park covers an area of 51 square kilometres and it is covered in volcanic soil where little grows save various lichens!
We arrived at the visitor centre and soon realised that the tour of this very lunar like landscape would be by bus! The tour was fairly long as the bus slowly made its way along the route, meandering around the volcanoes and stopping at intervals so that we could take photos! The driver pointed out all the different formations, it was fascinating!
The lunar-like landscape of the Park National at Timanfaya!
The ground is extremely hot and it is only possible to walk in designated areas. At the end of the bus tour and back at the visitor centre a tour guide poked some dried hay into a hole in the ground and within seconds it was smoking and then burst into flames! Secondly he poured water into another hole in the ground and this was the result……..!
With this finale our tour came to an end and so we made our way back to the marina.
We arranged with Élise that if she would like to come with us the following day perhaps she would stay on Musetta over night so that we were ready to set off northwards this time without first having to go to her marina and pick her up!
30th November ~ A visit to the César Manrique Foundation at Tahiche!
A friend of ours had impressed upon us the need to investigate all things César Manrique and so we did and were amazed by everything we saw!
He was a Spanish artist, sculptor, and architect. He was also an activist and was passionate that his beloved island should be developed in a sympathetic way, fitting into the landscape. To this end after he became involved in the aesthetics of the landscape you will not see any high rise hotels.
The foundation was set up by Manrique with a group of friends in 1982 but it wasn’t officially opened until 1992 after he had died. At the time of it’s instigation, the foundation was Manrique’s home and was set up to allow tourists access to all his work and the art gallery he had created which also featured other artists including one Pablo Picasso! It was stunning!
We had a very pleasant morning visiting all the different parts of the foundation, the gardens, the art gallery, the subterranean caves all harmoniously interwoven with the volcanic terrain. It was hard to feel truly indoors even in the caves with trees growing through holes in the roof! To say that we were in awe of this man’s amazing work was an understatement!
The different areas created in the volcanic bubble of the Foundation at Tahiche, it was incredibly beautiful!
César Manrique moved from the foundation to live in a beautiful house in Haria which we did of course have to see! It was in a gorgeous setting, way out of the way and walking around it was quite special. It was left more or less as it was when he was living there, slightly spooky in a way but very serene.
Very sadly, César Manrique died in a car accident close to his foundation in Tahiche in 1992. He was aged 73.
Jameos del Agua ~ The Caves!
There are a series of lava caves close to the coast at Haria, not far from Manrique’s private home. The caves at Jameos del Agua are part of a 6 Km long lava tube which forms one of the longest volcanic galleries in the world! Here the water has many Blind Albino Cave Crabs. They are a species of squat lobster that are endemic to Lanzarote. They are small and pale as well as being blind!
There is also an art and cultural centre here which was created by César Manrique and where concerts are held in a cave in what must be amazing acoustic surroundings!
The cave and the pool at Jameos!
Mirador del Río!
The mirador was designed in 1974 by César Manrique, his style is unmistakable! True to form he wanted to create something for everyone to enjoy that didn’t impact adversely on the landscape! This he achieved remarkably, it is barely visible from the outside with it’s ingenious camouflage of natural stone. This sculpture marking the site is the only giveaway!
This sculpture by César Manrique is at the entrance to the site!
We wanted to see the mirador which is at the most Northern point of Lanzarote as we knew that it would overlook beautiful La Graciosa! It would be good to see the shape of the island from across the Rio Straits!
Teguise ~ The ancient capital of Lanzarote
We had had a very busy day and so we decided it was time to head back to base and deliver Élise to her Petit Goustan! We did however, make one quick stop on the way at Teguise the ancient capital of Lanzarote and a place where in ancient times the islanders would go to to seek refuge during a volcanic eruption!
Teguise seemed like a little oasis in the surrounding landscape with white-washed buildings keeping their original facades, lining its narrow paved streets centred around the square with it’s rather beautiful church. Teguise is now mainly all about tourism and has some charming restaurants, shops and bijou hotels, all blending in perfectly! It was lovely, we were so pleased to have made a brief stop here!
1st December ~ A day in Arrecife!
Having spent two days outside the capital we made use of the hire car to do our food shopping before returning it and completing our housekeeping chores! This done and with a gloriously sunny afternoon in prospect we got our bikes out and cycled to the old town, or at least what was left of it! We spent a very pleasant afternoon visiting the old port and harbour front.
This commemorative monument was incredibly beautiful even though the association of lives lost at sea was sad. It was set in the centre of a small plot of land close to the port, the landscaping forming the cardinal points of a compass, a clever idea! I think it’s possible to make this out from the photo?
The Castillo de San José
We ended our afternoon at this castle which overlooks the commercial harbour. It was built in the 1700s under the orders of King Charles of Spain to protect the town of Arrecife from invading pirates! It then became a refuge for the islanders following the devastation caused by the volcanic eruptions. It is semi-circular on the seaward side and with a moat and drawbridge on the land side.
Nowadays the castle is an art exhibition centre and restaurant having been renovated in the 1970s by César Manrique and is typical of his designs with it’s curved walls and spiral staircases! The fort is an unusual sight when you enter the harbour because of some very strange concrete sculptures of riders on horses in the water in front of it and depending on the state of the tide they are either clearly visible or not!
This is the Rising Tide Sculpture by Jason deCaires Taylor! The sculpture was originally installed on the foreshore of the River Thames at Vauxhall in London!
This brought to an end our stay in Lanzarote! It was an incredibly interesting visit to an island that we had previously never thought of going to! We had no idea that we would find so much to fascinate us! It was so much more than a stopping off point en route to the South!
I will leave you with this beautiful scene created by César Manrique at his foundation at Tahiche!