Thursday, 29 May 2014

Lanzarote, part ten - Haria & Famara.

Next morning, more excitement, as we were going to Manrique’s second house, where he was living when he died in the car accident.

The drive to Haria was quite long, and the road very twisty in places. Manrique deliberately chose Haria for the remoteness and peacefulness.

This is the peaceful centre square of Haria. In the past the Town suffered many Pirate attacks, the worst of which occurred in 1586 when the pirate, Morato Arraez, burned the place to the ground along with all of the famous Palm Trees.
However the trees grew again, perhaps due to the local tradition of planting a Palm Tree for every child born (or two for every boy). Locally, this area is known as the 'valley of one thousand palms'. 

The grand entrance to the Manrique house (by now, we knew not to expect anything less from the man).
You can read up on him HERE

Another beautiful ironwork gate, this time paying homage to the palms.
He never missed a trick!

Now this DID surprise me. Obviously the car company had commissioned Manrique to paint this, but it DID seem to me to be below him? It sort of cheapened the art for me, in the same way that the Beatles painted their Rolls Royce in psychedelic colours.

After all the desolation, to see a flower was a joy. This one was in the garden, with small purple ones behind.

He really was into his BBQ’s, and we could almost ‘feel’ his presence here, laughing and socialising long into the warm nights.

Then we entered the house, and immediately were hit by the stunning design of the place.
All these years later, you’d think the place would be old fashioned, but this bathroom has such class, like the rest of the house, that it’s timeless and would not look out of place today.

I bet there’s MANY a happy, convivial night been spent at this table.

And many a gourmet meal rustled up in this kitchen, as I expect Cesar was a gourmand as well as all the other attributes he had.

‘Just’ a swimming pool would NEVER do for him, the addition of the black lava fountain is just SO him!
It serves no real purpose, except to draw your eye, and look beautiful.

This whole area was to be completely roofed and enclosed, but this is as far as he got with his plans, before he was killed.
The foundation have left it exactly as it was on the day he died.

Old, but SO, SO modern looking, even now.

This was a special guest bathroom, with twin sinks.

And the master bedroom, fit for the master of Lanzarote!

Picasso, schmicasso!
You can see by the light switch just how big this piece is.
To ME, this isn't art, but what do I know?

The relaxing area at the side of the garden.
They had a TV screen here running a loop, with movies of the man enjoying life, campaigning, painting, sculpting etc etc
It was strange to be watching him, feeling slightly voyeuristic, now he had passed away.

Even the retro sunbeds looked ultra-modern.

The nucleus – THIS was where the master created. Manrique’s workshop and studio, where some of his great works came to life.
Again, left EXACTLY how he had left it when he went on that fateful journey in September, 1992.

After the brevity of the house, we decided to unwind with a coffee in one of the street cafes in Haria town.

Time to leave this shrine to the great man.

We left Haria, looking out over the terraced and low-walled land above the town.

After the long drive from Haria, and still full of the wonderful experience of Manrique’s house, we decided to come here to Famara, a place he frequented when he was a boy.
As you crest the rise, the sight that greets you is epic! VERY reminiscent of the beach and backdrop at Cofeta on Fuerteventura, (you can see that HERE);
An incredible rise of volcanic rock forms the jaw-dropping background to this place,

There was a small housing ‘estate’ type of thing, holiday buildings, far too regimented for this place really. We parked up, and ‘went wild’.
This is a panorama of our playground that day.
You can watch a video of a Famara panorama  HERE

It was amazing to see this beautiful red flower blooming amongst the sand and rocks.

Yes, I had a fleece on! The wind was quite strong and we needed that extra layer. 

The dunes were fabulous, and the beach just called to us, so we decided to walk the length of it.
Alone for AGES, we saw only two other people on the entire walk.
Our aim was to walk as far as we could see.

Sculpted by the wind, the sand was forever on the move.

Patterns of nature, etched into the movable sand canvas.

There was, surprisingly, a good track and LOTS of places to park along here.
It must get really busy at times, as there were also litter bins every hundred yards or so, a bit surreal today, as it felt as wild as it could get?
We continued our walk, just trying to see how far we could get before having to turn back.

The sea was full of action, with wind and big waves being the order of the day.
Just offshore, we could see some vicious-looking rocks just poking above the surface. Boat navigation around here must be a very dangerous and skillful thing.
This huge lump of rock made a nice foreground for a picture. You can see the waves breaking over those rocks.

Sue, looking a bit windswept (but happy), with the volcanic ridge behind her.

Amazingly, there were some houses here!!!!
I am always fazed by just how remote people will go, and it ALWAYS makes me wonder what they do for basic services (if there ARE any)?
Again, reminiscent of ‘Villa Winter’ on Cofeta beach.

This is the track – not bad, is it?

Another of the ubiquitous shore markers, and another view of the ‘shipwrecker’ rocks.

Paradise, and all OURS!

When we got back to the main beach, there were LOADS of guys on kite-surfing boards, enjoying the brisk conditions.
You can see a video of this spectacle HERE
We decided to explore the (very) sleepy village. The harbour was a very up-to-date thing, probably had some sort of E.U. grant, but the place itself was really sleepy and quiet.
The houses went right up to the shore. If that law is passed that is threatening the houses at El Golfo, these must surely be in the firing line as well?

That shore had the most unusual ‘rocks’ I’ve ever seen on a beach. They looked like white eggs that were full of holes, almost like a loofah?
They made for a great vase-filler at home though!

We had read that Manrique’s brother had a restaurant here called ‘El Risco’.
We HAD to go in, just to see the place. It now had a new owner, but there were still connections to Manrique everywhere.
We just shared a small snack, and had some wine before setting off back home after a really great day.

We might try our favourite beach tomorrow – then it’s time for the fireworks of Timanfaya!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Lanzarote, part nine - La Geria wines and WILD waves.

After the Manrique foundation, we decided it was time for a drink (well, to have some small samples of the local vino, maybe buy a bottle or two), so we headed for La Geria, the wine region of Lanzarote.
We knew we’d found it by this incongruous marker :-)

We’ve NEVER seen vineyards like THIS!! How many man-hours it must have taken to build all the walls, wells and harbours, is mind boggling. I must admit though, the DO look amazing, and seem to protect the vines from the almost constant wind here.

The first one we came to, ‘La Florida’ bodega, looked quite classy.
Everything neat and tidy, with bits of winery paraphernalia in the yards.

And this incredible piece of kit sticking through the wall.
A wine press, we imagined? (And a nice table and stools)

AHA! Inside it became obvious how it worked.
This place is super-neat inside AND out. One of the more ‘up-market’ bodegas.

 Like something from another planet, the vine harbours cover the hillside.
IMAGINE the man hours to do this lot? It reminds me of the stone walls in the Peak District.

This bodega did the famous goats cheese and meat tapas, so we called in.

Inside it was VERY rustic, not ultra-modern. like La Florida.
There were two Germans there when we arrived, but after they left we were alone.
We weren’t REALLY hungry, but felt we just HAD to try this cheese, accompanied by a glass of the local wine here.

The bodegas charged four euros each for wine tasting. To be honest, I can see why. After tasting, I couldn’t find ONE I liked enough to buy a bottle. Lanzarote wine isn’t what I’d call nice! Sorry, but it really is terribly mediocre and has not got any ‘mmmm’ factor about it. No wonder all the hotels and restaurants ‘house’ wines are from the mainland (usually Portugal).

We tried one last bodega, just to be sure. This one was the most rustic (and yes, the wine was awful again)

It looks like a hard life here, very hard!

 It was time to move on. Today had been a bit wild, wind-wise, but very warm and pleasant. Ideal for touring. We made our way towards our next goal, El Golfo, to see the green pool we’d heard so much about.
On the way, we drove past Salinas de Janubio (the salt flats of old) and saw these AMAZING seas!! We just couldn’t resist pulling onto a small car park and getting out to see it first hand and close up.
You can read up more about the salt flats here;
Anyway – out of the car, the seas were even more wild!
See the scene as we pulled up in the car, click here;
The crashing sound was great. Sue and I just LOVE wild weather, and particularly when it involves the sea.
We loved it at the lighthouse when we hired the bikes, but these seas were FAR more dramatic.
This picture doesn’t do it justice.

But THIS one does!!

We had to be careful, as the waves were really unpredictable. You wouldn’t dare turn your back on them.
Even though we were high up the beach, and the waves were (mostly) breaking much lower down the steep slope, every now and then, there was a BIG one.

And it COULD catch you out;

The spume off the wave crests was some of the best I’ve seen too.

That’s Sue on the (relative) safety of a bar of rock that ran for about a third of the beach.

You know that odd wave I was talking about?
This couple got caught, as one broke right up to, and over, the top of the beach slope.

See the raw wildness click HERE
Look how THIS wave almost reached me too.

You can see the steep angle of the beach on this shot, but it didn’t stop some of the rollers from climbing it.

Ready to run from the advancing wave!

In this one, it almost looks calm, doesn’t it, benign, almost?
I DO love the starkness of these black volcanic beaches.

After AGES spent on this beach, we decided to go to El Golfo while we still had light, maybe even watch a sunset there?
Here’s our little hire car, with another ‘montana roja’ behind me.

On the way, we passed a place called ‘Los Hervidoras’. THAT was a mistake, to pass, I mean.
I did stop to take more pics of the sea crashing up the rocks, but little did I know just what we were missing.

More of that later

One last thing today - a quick trip to El Golfo, to see the famed green lagoon.

And here it is - in all it's weird glory!
We'd seen all the pictures, but when you see it for the first time, it really DOES look alien!

There were only a few people here today, so it was good for pictures.
We climbed over the volcanic path and descended to get close up and personal.

A panorama of the beach - click on it got a larger version.

Even the cliffs were an unusual red colour.

The small settlement of El Golfo, mainly here for tourists, with lots of restaurants, bars and cafes.
 A local told us of a possible pending change in the law, which would make many buildings that were too close to the sea in National parks illegal. If this was passed, ALL these buildings would have to go!

A pose for one of the few people we met to take our picture.

We relaxed in a small bar, hoping for one of El Golfo's famous sunsets.
Alas, cloud rolled in, and the best we could do was a good set of 'ray' pictures as the sun streaked through the cloud cover.

On the way back, we called at the salt flats.
The beach with the amazing waves was just over that rise.