Arrecife – Capital of Lanzarote

Lanzarote isn’t the kind of place I expected to be writing about on Anything But Paella, but our recent trip to the island was our first and we found a lot there to like. We were a bit unlucky with the weather but at least it was warmer than the mainland. It’s a volcanic island and that’s quite clear by the landscapes wherever you go. It does look a little barren in places but that’s part of its charm!

Having decided that car hire is currently far too expensive, we decided to do the whole trip using public transport. Having flown in with Ryanair, we were very pleased there was a regular bus from the airport to our first destination, the capital Arrecife. The island’s bus network is quite extensive and easy to navigate. The website Arrecife Bus has all the up to date times and routes and is quite simple to use. There is also a handy app for smartphones, Moovit, and their desktop version is pretty good too. Just remember to change your regional location before you start searching.

We decided against staying in a hotel and instead took an apartment in La Armada Suites. Well located, superbly equipped, and very comfortable; it was easily the right choice for us. Luckily we were allowed to move in at 0930 after an early flight. Getting there was a bit more complex than expected though, as the airport bus took us to a bus station on the edge of town and we had to transfer onto another bus (remember to keep your ticket!) to get to the old bus station. After that it was a 15 minute walk downhill through not the prettiest part of the city, passing by the Hostal San Gines along the way to pick up the key.

Arrecife is an easy city to explore on foot. Not everyone is totally enamoured with it but we loved it. Around the lagoon the boats bobbed in the water all day and night. Look for the statue of two carnival figures in costume, and for the man painting small boats made from recycled materials nearby. The whale skeleton is quite impressive too. It was also a very pleasant spot for a late night glass of wine. The city’s beaches are dominated by the Grand Hotel but don’t ask me how they got planning permission to build such a monstrosity! The top floor bar is supposedly well worth a visit for a sundowner but in January this coincides with our siesta time so we never made it!! Look out for the men playing dominoes outside the old parador too. Be sure to visit the San Gabriel castle (€1.80) and not just for its wonderful views of the city. Inside a rich tapestry of Canarian history unfolds before you. We found it fascinating. Strolling past Playa del Reducto, the main beach, brings you to a garden with a shipwreck on display.

Keep your eyes peeled for some cool urban art as you walk around the city. Some are your usual murals whilst others are pages from books pasted onto the walls. There are also some trade union posters outside the UGT offices near the police station.

If, like us, you like a good photography exhibition or a cultural display, La Casa Amarilla is the place to find. Located in the old cabildo building with its unique yellow-hued brickwork, it’s just off the main drag of shops near the life-sized statue of Heraclio Niz Mesa, a local actor who died in 2010 at the age of 80. We were very lucky to catch a collection of photographs on display showing us how life used to be on the island between 1897 and 1927. Photographer Javier Reyes really captured the soul of the islanders with his pictures. Luckily they are available online in the municipal archive.

There are some great places to eat in Arrecife but you can’t try them all in three days. We really enjoyed some tapas for lunch in La Rústica but everything we saw being served up looked amazing. Fans of Mexican food should head to La Lupe where the decor was just as impressive as the food. The picante sauce was truly spicy, even by my standards! For something more traditionally Spanish, try El Rincon Granaino. The dishes we were served were both delicious and cheap. We didn’t see another tourist in there either.

Bird watchers need to keep their eyes peeled too. There are parrots in the trees which you will probably hear before you see. There are also plenty of species to see as you walk along the shoreline.

As you can see, we found Arrecife to be a great place for a few days. Not everyone likes it, but why not go and see for yourself. From the capital, we had a good day out in Teguise and Costa Teguise.

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