Thursday, February 12, 2009

Spain (sort of)

The last part of January was spent in Lanzarote. I have never been to Spain before, but as Lanzarote is one of the Canary Islands, some might say that I have not visited the real Spain.

A rocky beach near the village Orzola.

The Canary Islands is a popular vacation spot for Norwegians in wintertime. Getting away from snow, ice and freezing temperatures is always nice when the alternative is sun, beach life and different food (and drink).

Timanfaya National Park is a must for tourists to Lanzarote. This is the
symbol of the park: "El Diablo" by the local artist César Manrique.

Lanzarote is not the most popular of the Canary Islands, but the international airport still has about 5.5 million visitors every year. The island is volcanic of origin, and lava stones and sand is to be found all over Lanzarote. The special Lanzarote rock formations are an interesting view, and the black surface gives the island a different character.

Volcanic mountains inside the Timanfaya National Park.

I stayed in Costa Teguise for a week, and these days this is a tourist machine. Most of the little town consists of hotels and tourist apartments. There are also many restaurants, pubs and bars - and almost all of them cater to the tourists. Waiters more often than not speak to you in English and German, and often you find British citizens as proprietors. Everywhere you hear English or German spoken - and here and there some Spanish. If you live in the UK, visiting Lanzarote must be like visiting a warm version of Blackpool.

English bitter is widely available from tap in Costa Teguise.

The hotel I stayed at had evening entertainment, but watching parrot shows and local dancing is not my cup of tea. Most evenings were thus spent outside the hotel. Watching soccer is one of my favourite pastimes, and I got to see two Liverpool games live in Lanzarote. Food was also tourist based. There was only one night I had Spanish food, but the tapas were good. I also had some Italian and Chinese food, and one of the days I treated myself to a large portion of English fish and chips. That was great - but greasy!

Beer from a Netto supermarket in Costa Teguise.
Here you can find both local beer from the Canary Islands,
Spanish brews and international labels.

As Costa Teguise is a tourist town, the English pubs had some of the popular beers sold in the UK. Lagers such as Carling and Stella were available together with various bitters and stouts. Tourists could also try Spanish and other European beers from both bottles and tap. I even found a restaurant catering for Germans that sold draughted Erdinger weizen. Unfortunately I did not have the time to try it, as I have earlier enjoyed several wheat beers from Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Spain is first of all a wine country, but the Spaniards also brew beers. I have heard of Spanish craft beers, but in Lanzarote I only found the most well known Spanish lager beers and some local brands. According to some of the local waiters I talked to, people from Lanzarote prefer beers from the Canary Islands. Gran Canaria has its Tropical beer, and from Tenerife hails Dorada. The same waiters also told me that mainland Spaniards do not like the Canarian beer, and they will prefer their San Miguel, Estrella Damm or Mahou.

More beers from a supermarket in Lanzarote. Spanish brands like Mahou, Dorada and Cruzcampo are sold together with German Warsteiner and American Budweiser.

Of Spanish beers, I only drank Spanish lager while visiting Lanzarote. I did not find any other Spanish beer styles in the shops or bars I visited. Spanish lagers are nice in the warm climate, but they were a big letdown compared to the Czech beers I tried while visiting Prague in December and January. Most of them lack taste, and some of them are sweeter than I prefer.

Lanzarote's airport is found just outside the island's largest town, Arrecife.
Here you can see the line for an EasyJet flight to Gatwick.

The next few posts on Beer Sagas will present my views on some of the Spanish beers I tasted in Lanzarote. What do I think about San Miguel? Should the Canarians be proud of Tropical? Is Dorada to be preferred compared to Mahou or Estrella Damm? And what about Reina Oro? Is that a dark horse?

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