Jameos del Agua was referred to by Rita Heyworth, of Hollywood movie fame, as the eight wonder of the world. Even artist and architect Cesar Manrique described it as the most beautiful nightclub in the world. Although these days it’s an auditorium with a swimming pool, garden and restaurants albeit blended into the landscape. Along with the spectacular Mirador del Rio, Jameos del Agua (in the North East of Lanzarote) is probably the greatest example of Cesar Manrique’s work. The Jameos del Agua, and nearby Cueva De Los Verdes, are part of a 6 kilometre long lava tube.
We spent a week in Lanzarote exploring from the volcanic south up to the lush north. The artist and architect Cesar Manrique has influenced much of the island whether it be interesting sculptures, breathtaking cultural attractions or inspiring projects. Consumed by the beauty of Lanzarote, Cesar Manrique took it upon himself to use his inspiration to preserve the island. His work as an ecologist was even rewarded when Lanzarote became the first island in the world to be awarded a UNESCO biosphere. Spending time here, it’s not hard to understand the impact he made and the significance his work has had. We were totally blown away by what we saw.
Overlooking the ancient capital of Teguise, not to be confused with Costa Teguise, is the Castillo de Santa Barbara. Also known as the Museo de la Pirateria, this fascinating museum sits on the top of Mount Guanapay. The old fortress was originally built in the 16th Century as a watch tower. Its purpose was to protect islanders from pirates and privateers such as Sir Francis Drake who was known as El Draque (The Dragon) to the Spanish. It’s even rumoured there’s a tunnel that connects Castillo de Santa Barbara to the town of Teguise which islanders used when they were being invaded.
If you fancy a getaway close to home, the Opal Coast, or Côte d’Opale, in France is great stretch of coastline to explore. Located just 20 minutes away from Calais, there are fishing villages, seaside towns and sandy beaches to discover. The D940 is a quiet route with dramatic scenery in abundance and views across the English Channel. This coastal route from Calais to Bolougne-Sur-Mer is full of surprises with the hidden charms very much part of the appeal. It’s the kind of region you want to venture back to as there’s so much to see and it’s super easy to get to. Here are just a few of the places we’ve on our travels there.
The rustic cottage we’d booked was located just two and a half hours drive away from Bilbao. Although we’d originally planned to stop in the capital of the Basque Country, we ended up heading straight to the small village of Trillayo. With a population of just 31, and the medieval town of Potes ten minutes away, it was an ideal base for our adventures. We’d totally fallen in love with this 200 year old cottage when we’d seen it online and really hoped it lived up to expectations. It really did, the views from our balcony of the Picos de Europa were magnificent. We’d enjoy breakfast there before heading out each day and evenings were spent watching the swallows fly in circles around nearby rooftops. There was only one day we weren’t out exploring but we’ve pulled together our top picks for things you really shouldn’t miss.
The Montanas del Fuego in the Timanfaya National Park were created between 1730 and 1736 when more than a hundred volcanoes devastated this part of Lanzarote. Although no-one died, many of those that had farmed the area left the island. There was so much ash and smoke in the atmosphere, even the sun disappeared for a time. There have been no eruptions here for 300 years now and much of the landscape has remained the same due to the low rainfall. The ‘martian-like’ scenery makes the Fire Mountains a must see when you’re on the island.
Of all the countries we’ve travelled to, Venezuela remains one of the most memorable. And it wasn’t just the ten flights in ten days either. Our first 24 hours in South America saw us exchange currency in the airport car park, stay in a hotel with armed guards and leave the majority of our luggage with strangers. But it was an incredible trip and we did so many awesome things while we were there. Here are our top five.
While we were in Cantabria, we heard a Heidi trilogy was being filmed locally. Based on the book by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, Heidi: Queen of the Mountain is said to feature Bill Nighy, Helen Baxendale, Mark Williams and Olivia Grant with newcomer Samantha Allinson playing Heidi. It was reported Mogrovejo, one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, would represent the fictional Swiss village of Dörfli with the grandfather house situated near the village of Pendes.
Located off the Northwest coast of Africa and only a 4 hour flight away, it’s no wonder the Canary Islands are so popular what with consistently warm temperatures, spectacular beaches and dramatic scenery. We recently enjoyed a trip to Lanzarote where we explored the likes of Playa de Papagayo, Montañas del Fuego (the Fire Mountains), the ancient town of Teguise, Mirador del Rio and the Jardin de Cactus. That’s not to say we didn’t make the most of our villa pool and soaking up that winter sun of course!
One of the things I love about having a car abroad is that it gives you the flexibility to discover places you might otherwise miss. Like Mogrovejo which is nestled in the Picos de Europa mountain range, in the Asturias and Cantabria region of Northern Spain.