Friday, 30 September 2016

Go To and Drink, Eat, and Do: Lanzarote

Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today we will be looking at Lanzarote where I just spent a week drinking, eating, and doing!

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Ola hop heads! It's been a week of beer from the Canary Islands because I spent a week on one of them: Lanzarote.

Here's quick guide to Lanzarote. I had never been there or to the Canaries before so I didn't know what to expect! If you would like to see more of Lanzarote then check out my video on YouTube. There's a craft beer review as well for a Lanzarote craft beer.

If you are interested in craft beers and micro breweries then check out my reviews for Bermeja and Willie Sutton. Two Spanish Canarian craft beers.

Location
Lanzarote is an island in an archipelago off the north west coast of Africa call the Canary Islands. They are part of Spain. Not just a territory or a protectorate. But SPAIN. Like Hawaii is America. And they have all the mod-cons, infrastructure, and prosperity of that country.

Getting There
From the UK, Lanzarote is a 3 hour 45 minute direct budget airline flight away. Depending on the time of year you can get there cheaply. We went in early September, just after UK "school holidays" and it was about £150 each return. With BAGS!

Climate/Geography
Hot and dry and volcanic. The whole island (as are most of the Canaries) is a big giant chain of volcanoes. Very mountainous with volcanic peaks and huge craters. Lunar or Martian are good descriptors.

They get very little rain so don't expect lush tropical landscapes you might see in Hawaii. There are actually no naturally occurring wild trees outside of towns and villages. The entire island is literally black and brown. And it has a kind of rugged breathtaking quality that isn't exactly beautiful but isn't exactly not.

It is also windy. Fairly relentlessly. Great for sailing. Take lots of hairspray.

Getting Around
Rent a car. It's cheap. The roads are fantastic. And it is the best way to see the whole island. It isn't very big. You could drive south to north and across the middle in less than 3 hours if you didn't stop to look at anything.

There are buses, taxis, and excursion companies and things but even if you want to get out for just a day, the car is so convenient for the price. Like £20 a day for a compact. Gas is dirt cheap because it's Spain.

Culture
Spanish. Very decidedly Spanish. I was expecting more African influences in food, architecture, and the like but it was very much like going to mainland Spain. Don't get me wrong, the Canaries have a unique flavor and there are some local dishes you must try.

Everything was very European and prosperous. Supermarkets and the like were pretty much the same I am used to seeing in Spain, France, and Portugal. All hail the LIDL! The only difference would be that they had better hours than Spain or France. They were even open from 8-8 on a Sunday!

Language
Spanish. We got by with a Spanish/English dictionary ok. Anything service related in the big towns like bars and restaurants had staff that could speak our language as well as Dutch, French, and German. Lanzarote runs on tourism.

My recommendation when travelling anywhere is: Don't insist on being an ignorant hick and make an effort! Learn please and thank you at the very least. We got on far better with the taxi company when I worked out how to book a cab in Spanish. Google Translate people. It is your friend.

Food
Pretty Spanish/Mediterranean. There are some Canarian dishes that were fun to try and they tend to have a more North African flavour with lots of cumin and turmeric and earthy spices. The salt boiled wrinkled potatoes with the green and red sauce were on every menu.

If you don't like fish then Lanzarote is wasted on you, you foodie philistine. It's an island and fish is abundant, fresh, and delicious.

There is no lack of eateries in the towns and the resort towns boast some very sophisticated fayre. We usually ate out at lunch time when we would take a break from sight seeing with a few plates of tapas: fresh cheeses, cured meats, and local seafood.

We had dinner out a couple of times in Puerto Del Carmen Old Town and went to the same place both times because it was so good! Sal y Pimento. I recommend the locally smoked salmon and, if it is one of the specials, the tuna.

Other than that we enjoyed BBQ and salad at the house.

**It was recommended that we not drink the tap water. I am not convinced we would have had any issues but you don't want to risk two or three days with a squirty tummy when you only have seven days to do all the things. Water is scarce there and I am not sure where they would even get a sustainable local source. It might be more to do with getting you to drink shipped in bottled water so that local sources can be used for agriculture**

Costs/Accommodation
We thought it was a pretty cheap holiday compared to some others we have had in Europe. There were four of us sharing costs. The currency is, like Spain, the Euro.

We rented a four bedroom house in Old Town Puerto Del Carmen (10 minutes from the airport) for £1000 for the week. For two couples that is a bit pricey but consider if you split that amongst 4 couples or 8 singles. Dirt cheap for a HUGE modern house with a pool, BBQ, 4 bedrooms, and 4 bathrooms. We were there 8 nights. That is £125/night. I know some budget hotels that cost more!

It was in an ideal location as well. Central and 2 minute cab ride from the town (we were with a couple of septigenarians so we didn't walk as much as we usually would on our own).

We prefer renting a house or flat to hotels because we LOVE cooking the local food and going to the markets.

Food was cheap and eating out was also reasonable. The way we work it out when we travel is we have a single kitty which everyone puts the same amount into and all shared expenses like food, meals, and gas, come out of that.

We were there for a week and £600 for four people covered 7 days of groceries (including beer and wine), 4 tapas lunches out (including booze), 2 posh dinners out (also including too much booze), gas for the week, and a few sundry expenses. So that was £150 per person.

Not a shoe-string holiday I grant you but we thought it was good value.

To Do
The huge massive Sunday market in Teguise was amazing. And there is a crazy house on the south end of town that is worth a gander.

The Mirador del Rio is the construction of a famous Lanzarote artist at the north end of the island. It's 4.50 to get in but totally incredible. Trust me. Just pay your money and go in and you will see what I mean.

The Timanfaya National Park are the huge lava fields on the west side of the island. Well worth a drive if you haven't seen that kind of landscape before. There is a visitor centre there that is free and has toilets AND... A Penny Press/Mangle Machine!!!!

We went sailing and if you ever want to try sailing then Lanzarote, with its warm waters and warm rainless windy days, is the place to do it. We went out of Puerto Calero with Endeavor Sailing. We had two days of private tuition on a beautiful 37 foot cruising yacht for £300. Which is a bargain. You could probably get out for cheaper than that if there were more of you and all you wanted was a few hours sailing.

To Drink
Beer and wine are cheap by UK standards just like they are in mainland Spain. The local type beers are Dorada and Tropical. As I mentioned in a previous post, we found a place selling Canarian craft beer but this isn't the norm. Have a cocktail. You're on holiday for heaven's sake!

Drink, eat, and do people. You get one life. Drink, eat, and DO ALL THE THINGS!

The Beer in Review is a blog about British craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.