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WELCOME TO LANZA PLENTY; Canary isle keeps Mail writer George Johnston busy.

Byline: George Johnston

If relaxing with a few beers and taking in rays is your idea of a break, fair enough.

But if you fancy a holiday with a bit more bite, Lanzarote in the Canaries will keep you occupied for as long as you like.

A must-see is Timanfaya National Park and Cueva de los Verdes - a natural wonder.

It's like taking a journey to the centre of the Earth - the ground a few inches below the surface is too hot to handle. You can't help but be impressed.

The rugged, petrified landscape is a reminder of the forces that shape our natural world. Lanzarote has been sculpted by its volcanic past, the most recent eruptions in the 18th and 19th centuries. Two hundred square kilometres of material was added to the south side of the island and it is still covered with solidified ash and lava.

Take an organised tour through your English-speaking rep to ensure seeing the best parts - and a short camel ride.

The tourist centre in the park was designed by the late Canaries architect and artist Cesar Manrique, whose work is an integral part of most attractions on the island.

Most of the unusual and intricate sculptures you see on the roundabouts and traffic islands on Lanzarote were created by Manrique.

His house is open to the public as a museum and gallery which hosts his work and that of other artists including Picasso. The weird architecture seems to grow out from the natural remnants of five volcanic bubbles.

At Cueva de los Verdes you can explore a real lava tunnel produced by volcanic activity. It's breathtaking to follow the path of a river of lava and see solidified rock frozen in time as it dripped from the ceiling.

This excursion costs 34 euros (pounds 24.50) per adult and 24 euros (pounds 16.50) per child and includes a stop at the Mirador del Rio viewpoint.

While Lanzarote is a place of special interest, there's still plenty of regular holiday fun on offer. After a couple of days working on the tan, it's worth heading to the marina. Book through your rep or head straight to the Catlanza office and reserve your day on the fantastic catamaran cruise. A luxury boat with a professional crew make for a perfect day. You get to see the beautiful coast and when they drop anchor it's time to take a dip, snorkel, or go on a jetski ride - all for 61 euros (pounds 42) per adult and 35 euros (pounds 24) per child.

For those who want to spend an hour doing something different with the kids, a ride on the yellow submarine might just be the ticket.

Lanzarote has some great food on offer with its own specialities and super seafood dishes. Stand-out places for great grub include Amura Restaurante in Puerto Calero, an elegant restaurant overlooking the marina.

Casa Rosa, also in Puerto Calero, offers fusion dishes and Restaurante Playa Quemada, in Playa Quemada is a small and friendly eaterie in a picturesque setting.

El Ancla in Puerto del Carmen old town serves up a wide variety of local and international dishes.

Stay at the Marina in Puerto Calero for drinks at night where you'll find McSorley's, a friendly wee bar with a great atmosphere overlooking the marina.

La Ola, on Puerto del Carmen's seafront, is great for chilling out, with an outdoor pool and comfortable couches.

Teguise market is the place to go for bargains. It takes place every Sunday and you can book your place on a return coach for14 euros (pounds 9.50) per adult and 7 euros (pounds 5) per child.

LANZAROTE FACTFILE

I booked with Direct Holidays. For a brochure call 0870 242 2404 and to make a reservation call 0870 191 9082 or book online at www.directholidays.co.uk

All-inclusive holidays cost from pounds 535 per adult and pounds 253 per child.

The average cost of a three-course meal, including drinks, is pounds 20 each.

Flying from Scotland takes 4hr 30min.

Average summer temperature varies from 24C in May to 29C in August.

I LOVED Cueva de los Verdes and the Catlanza cruise.

I HATED the two Picasso drawings in Manrique's house - it just ain't art.

CAPTION(S):

Tourists ride on camels in National Park' Lava fields in Timanfaya National Park' Magnificent scupltures by Manrique are part of isle's character' Boat crew help make trip perfect' Sun lovers at Puerto del Carmen beach
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 2, 2006
Words:746
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