I say that Lanzarote isn't glamorous but I'm being unkind and far too generalist. Admittedly, most of the coastal tourist region has taken on a kind of Ibiza anytown aspect with sports bars, karaoke clubs and night spots by the hundred. But there are some great restaurants if you're willing to hunt around the back streets (we found a fabulous seafood place last time and were the only guests in there every night. The food was superb and the fish so freshly killed that the relatives hadn't been informed yet). And there's art. Everywhere you go on Lanzarote you'll see echoes of Cesare Manrique. But more of him in a mo.
His wind toys are huge kinetic metal and wood sculptures that spin, dance and twist in the breeze. In the North, there is Jameos del agua, a series of extraordinary buildings and structures that Manrique created within extinct lava tubes and bubbles. There is a restaurant, an undergound theatre and the most amazing swimming pool you've ever seen. Manrique's house - now a museum (he died in a car crash in 1992, aged 73) is well worth a visit as is the Mirador del rio, an observation platform he designed on one of the Canary Islands' highest points. The views are extraordinary. And he also designed the scariest restaurant on the planet - The El Diablo Volcan Grill is built smack bang in the middle of the Timanfaya National Park (an area of the island decimated by volcanic eruptions as recently as 1894). The restaurant cooks all of its food by volcano. Yup, just a few feet down, the ground is hot enough to turn water to high pressure steam and human beings to a crisp. So they dug a hole, stuck some griddles over the top and that's how the food is prepared.
And that's why I like the place. Art, striking landscapes, great weather, and a little guy standing up to the big guys and saying 'To Hell with you. Art and beauty and style can exist side by side with nature.' In his own words:
And that was 40 years ago. If only all town planners and architects thought the same way. So that's why I go to Lanzarote whenever I need to recharge my body batteries. I love the place. And it's only a few hours' flight away - it would take me longer to drive to Scotland.
I can't wait.