Paradise and cold hard reality – first published 22 October 2013

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The trouble with holidays is they’re always way too short, and cold, hard reality is always there at the end of them. Commando and I had come to the last full day of our 2013 Lanzarote adventure and it was almost time to say goodbye to the  volcanic paradise where the sun always shines. For some reason I’d woken every morning at around seven, later than I would at home but earlier than I normally would on holiday. Each morning I crept out onto the balcony as quietly as I could and sat, listening to the pigeons cooing, the birds waking up and the sea crashing against the rocks below my window. Slowly the sky would turn from dark, inky blue to white clouds tinged with pink. It was nice to have the time to sit and watch the dawn.

22 October 2013

It feels like we’ve just scratched the surface of this wonderful little Island. There is so much we haven’t seen but, of course, this means we can return to see some more. Today is about taking the time to sit, with the warm sun playing on my skin, in a little garden where I can gaze at the scattered pink bracts fallen from the bougainvillea drifting in the breeze across the courtyard. Taking a leisurely stroll along the beach with the sea lapping at my feet. Sipping a cup of wonderful coffee in the Nud d’Naplun with the breeze cooling us. Wandering along streets of shops filled with tacky souvenirs and almost buying things for their tacky, quirky awfulness.

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We lingered over our coffee, gazing at the breathtaking view reflected in the window, then turning around to see it for real. No matter how much we dawdled, the coffee was gone all too soon and we went inside to say a final goodbye to the surfer dude. We may pop in tomorrow before we leave but then again we may not have time. On the way back a cat who looked suspiciously like fluffy crossed our path, surely not!

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With one last look at the hire bikes that we’d dodged every day and the pretty tables outside Nud d’Naplun we turned to make our way back. One last paddle in the warm sea. One last chill by the pool on our sun beds. Sand between my toes and sun on my skin. I will miss this. We joked about winning the lottery and island hopping for the rest of our days. If only…

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While I was doing all this I felt a buzzing in my handbag. My phone was ringing. It was Jessica from the agency to tell me the cruise firm liked the sound of me and wanted to arrange an interview on Friday, just after I get home. Good news? Maybe. It is at least encouraging that someone is interested. Even so, the real world worries worming their way into my little slice of paradise unsettled me, brought the grey skies and cold rain crowding in along with the thought of a job to be found. In short, it reminded me of what I have to go back to all too soon.

A few days ago I promised I’d give you a little tour of the Gran Melia Salinas hotel so I guess, while I’m sitting here catching some rays, I will tell you all about it. Designed by the architect Fernando Higueras, with a great deal of assistance from none other than Cesar Manrique, the hotel won the prestigious Pritzker International Architecture Prize. Meliá Salinas is filled with art, paintings, sculptures and murals, many of which were designed by Manrique himself. The thing that makes it so very special though is the atrium, set out as three large round interconnected spaces, designed to mimic lava bubbles, and planted as lush gardens. There are more than three hundred plants, ponds, pools, waterfalls, little larva paths and bridges.

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The largest of the three spaces, closest to the reception is open to the sky above, the other two have glass roofs. Walking on the meandering paths feels like walking through a rain forest, trees towering above. It’s easy to forget you are actually inside a hotel, until you catch the occasional glimpse of the hotel shops through the foliage. I could have spent hours just wandering and looking at the amazing plants and beautiful flowers, the fruit forming on the palms, the tinkling water features.

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This wonderful garden won the Euroos Nistra, the Global Ecology and Tourism prize, the Golden Medal of Fine Arts, the Goslarer Monchenhaus Prize for Art and Environment and the Nederlans Laureat Van D’Aheod. It is known as Lanzarote’s botanical cathedral and I feel privileged to have called it my home, even if only for one week. Every morning, when I come out of my room and look down over the gardens I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, it is so very beautiful. Here plants that I have only ever thought of as delicate pot plants grow like huge shrubs. This is where I saw the monstera fruiting along with bird of paradise flowers, crotons acting as underplanting, like the garden of my dreams. Manrique wanted to create an area of harmony between art and nature and I think he did a pretty good job.

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I make no apologies for all the photos, I couldn’t help myself but I think you have to agree it is truly spectacular. I am going to miss that view every morning for sure. Right now we are sitting with our coffee looking over the pool as the sun goes down, something else I’m going to miss. I wonder if they need any live in staff?

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Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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