I recently got back to England after spending a big part of the summer on a small Spanish island close to the coast of Morocco – yep, one of the Canary Islands…. but before you start picturing row upon row of sunburnt bodies splayed out on loungers, let me explain why the island is so different!
Dubbed the ‘Hawaii of Europe’ because of its black volcanic landscape, undulating mountains and strong surf,, Lanzarote is not your typical holiday island – forget any preconceived ideas of socks & sandal clad tourists or drunken groups piling out of nightclubs and headfirst into a fry up in the morning… I’ve been living on a charming island which is full of art, award winning wine grown at the foot of undulating volcanoes, miles of rugged coastline with crashing, dramatic waves – all under an ever-changing, breathtaking sky.
I’d always hoped I could live abroad and in all honesty, I really love exotic places – so if I had my absolute choice of anywhere to spend prolonged periods of time it would probably be somewhere in Asia or Australia… but that’s not realistic when it comes to also wanting to be near family.
I’ve travelled extensively and never imagined revisiting the same place repeatedly, but the weirdest thing happened to me the moment I first landed in Lanzarote – I felt like I’d come home ….
Something that’s always amazes me about this little island is the quality of the light … it’s hard to explain, but on certain days you can look at the mountains and see every single little detail of texture and colour, like you are seeing it in HD … those are great days to go round the National Park because the volcanoes will be a deep red glow against the sky.
It’s a wonderful island for photography and the sky is one of the key reasons – it always looks huge…. a very influential resident Artist agreed with the authorities years ago that there should be limits to the height of homes allowed to be built on the island, so you always get a huge expanse of space in front of you.
Combine that with the quality of light I mentioned, the rugged volcanic mountains and also the weather around the island which creates amazing, multi-layered cloud systems… and you’ve got something pretty spectacular to see most days.
I always find my creative brain goes into overdrive when I’m there, I think it’s a combination of feeling more relaxed but also because of the stimulating surroundings, so with the island having such a large amount of art and therefore artistic residents, it always gives me non-stop inspiration.
One of my favourite places to go for a little trip out is a village called Yaiza which is full of art and sculpture studios, an artists cafe that serves gorgeous locally produced food and a charming village square with its church and huge trees with benches under to sit and watch the locals go about their business – it also happens to be right opposite the bar that the local policemen seem to frequent 😉 #bonus
Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to hear I love going up into the wine region…. but honestly it’s not actually to do with the wine, although that is nice… but it’s the scenery – a smooth, winding road which climbs up through the mountains, with little vineyards off to the sides and loads of places to pull over to get good shots of the undulating grape crops.
I don’t really ‘do’ beaches – if I’m on a tropical island somewhere I might lie there for a couple of hours, but it isn’t massively my thing – however there are a couple of places I love to go – one being Famara which is a huge windswept beach with a little town on one side and giant cliffs on the other.
It’s the surfers beach where the waves are always dramatic and crashing, which is magnificent to watch…
But generally if I want to be by the water I will head to El Golfo, a little fishing village on a very rugged part of the coast which is particularly great on a stormy day because the waves are incredible against the huge rocks…
– or pop down to the Marina for a spot of shopping and a chilled lunch!
Road Trip! It’s a very easy island to drive round and you don’t have to go far at all to see the dramatic landscape with smatterings of quirky buildings built into the lava…
You can drive round the edge of the National Park without paying to go in, although there are plenty of tourist attractions – personally I prefer to look at the volcanoes than the overworked and depressed camels climbing them … that’s probably the only thing I don’t like about the island – animals are not necessarily respected – dogs constantly get abandoned (that’s why I have one of them back in the UK!) and dolphins were recently introduced to a wildlife park which has caused a lot of upset – like anywhere, there are always less pleasant things going on behind the scenes.
So if you do happen to visit Lanzarote, I would beg you not to support these types of tourist offerings – with either your money or attention – there are plenty of natural wonders to look at which won’t cost you a penny ….
…. and there are also plenty of wonderful people on the island who do an awful lot of good … so it’s still my happy place!
So that’s what I’ve been up to recently and a few of my favourite places on the island – I’ve come home to Autumn in full swing so while I acclimatise have had the heating up full blast and spent my first weekend back home digging out all my cosy jumpers!