Canary islands holiday
09.04.2012 - 16.04.2012 25 °C
I am at home back after a great holidays in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands and I would like to share with you some of my experiences over there. Although the island is well known as a wonderful resort spot with a mild and pleasant weather most of the year round and a destiny for sun and beach lovers, I was quite impressed to discover the amazing variety of landscapes from North to South, as they change every few kilometres, a see different kind of trees and vegetation from sea to the mountain.
As I wanted to stay somehow far from the mass tourism I decided to book a lovely rural house, contacted by internet with a local agency called Grantural, and was happy to do so because the house was absolutely perfect: charming, nicely finished with much eye for detail, clean and very well equipped. The situation next to a tiny village near to Teror was strategic as I could learn first hand local customs and traditions.
I split my 10 days holiday like this: 3 days for cultural activities, 3 days for sunbathe and swimming in the beaches, 2 days for hiking in the mountains and 2 days for relax in the house garden.
1st cultural day, I took the day to visit the historical quarter of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria called Vegueta. It was here the site of the original Spanish town settlement back at the end of the 15th century with narrow cobbled road and colonial style architecture. It is a delightful area and really worth paying visit of at least half a day. You should not miss under any circumstances a visit to the Columbus House, which was the house of the island’s first governors. Now it’s a museum with plenty of information about the history of the city and the voyages of Admiral Columbus to America.
Museo Canario is a museum with information about the prehistory, archaeology and natural history of the islands with a large collection of Cromanoide mummies and an imposing big room full of skulls! Quite interesting collection.
Plaza de Santa Ana and Cathedral. A lovely place with a colonial square surrounding by beautiful aristocratic houses. You just imagine that can be somewhere in a Spanish colonial South America plaza. Nice terraces and coffee shops around.
And finally just stroll around the Plaza Cairasco with the gorgeous palace of the Gabinete Literario, Literary Cabinet (you can eat or drink in its restaurant) and the famous pedestrian street of Triana. Walking along Triana is a wonderful feeling where you can see nice boutiques and stores with reminiscent in its façades of the Belle Époque and Modernism arquitecture.
2 nd cultural day. Visits to Telde, Agüimes and Barranco de Guayadeque.
Telde is Gran Canaria's second city after Las Palmas. Pre-Spanish colonialist invasion Telde was a major town and the eastern centre to the Guanches The historic quarters of San Juan and San Francisco are the real attraction areas in Telde, and both this quarters are named after their respective historic churches. A labyrinth of narrow alleys and cobbled streets with relaxed atmosphere. If you are a fan of Canarian architecture or shady little plazas this is a good place for you. The museo Leon y Castillo is a nice old building with a beautiful canarian patio. From Telde I drove to Ingenio , not worth stopping and arrived to Agüimes. The view from the road as you approach Agüimes is wonderful and this lovely town is a gem to explore walking. Because most of the historical center is a pedestrian area. Its is well preserved and you sometimes think you are back in the Middle Age.
Barranco de Guayadeque is one of the finest ravines in Gran Canaria. The entrance to the ravine is between Agüimes and Ingenio and leads you to a small troglodyte settlement. Some footpaths leads you to a series of cave dwellings and there is even a small church carved into the rock. I had meal in a cave restaurant called Tagoror, really spectacular!
3rd cultural day. Visits to Teror, Arucas and Guia.
From the rural house I drove to the nearby town of Teror which is probably one of the places more pleasant, delightful and beautiful in the island.
It's known as the "town with the balconies" because of the many beautifully carved wooden balconies that are on display all throughout the town, I specially fellt in love with the ones situated in the calle Mayor (main street) that leads to the Plaza del Pino, where the church is located. The church was built back in the 1700's with pretty colourful stone masonry and it's quite an impressive structure.
From Teror I continue my trip towards Arucas, at several km. of distance. Arucas is a medium size town with an marvellous Church of neo-Gothic which resembles a medieval Cathedral and can been seen from far away. Next to it , the old town has colourful manor houses that show the wellness and fortune that the sugarcane industry generated in the past. Something that I enjoyed was seeing the many banana plantations that are still preserved around the Villa.
From Arucas to Guia, where a visit to the old town again makes you feel like being somewhere in Cuba. Declared a National Historic-Artistic Monument, offers visitors to see places of historical and cultural interest such as 'la Iglesia Parroquial' - the Parish Church - distinguished for its neoclassical facade and two towers.
1st Hiking day. Roque Nublo – one of Gran Canaria's highest points in the munitipality of Tejeda, right in the center of the island.
Roque Nublo can be accessed very easily by a short hike of around 30 minutes beginning at a nearby, custom built car-park. To get here, you must have a vehicle: two kilometres before reaching the town of Ayacata (coming from the north), look out for a place where the road drops sharply away, with the Nublo in plain view on the right. Park the car and climb westwards along the clearly signposted, central path.
The views of the surrounding landscape in this area are spectacular, but they are even better once you reach the summit and walk out onto the tableau del Nublo. From this point I was highly impressed and excited with incredible views over the far-reaching pine forests, the nearby Pico de las Nieves which is the highest peak on the island, and the volcano Teide on the neighbouring island of Tenerife. There are a few different treks and tours on and around Roque Nublo, ranging from the short 30 minute direct hike to an all-day 6 hours tour, making this area very popular with hikers.
2nd Hiking day, Barranco de los Cernicalos. In this ravine is the only place in Gran Canaria where you can find running water all year-round. The flora and variety of birds is also remarkable. The ravine is situated between Telde and Lomo Magullo. From Telde head to Lomo Magullo, park at the end of the road when you see the sign for the start of the route. As I read in my walking book I at the beginning I just follow the water pipes that run near the path. I found this hike quite easy, as for the most part of path only needs to follow up the water stream. After one hour walk I reached a precipice with some nearby caves, took the path to the right and passed above the small river. I continued following the path along the valley floor and could reach several small waterfalls closed to each other, a lovely spectacle. So until it was impossible to walk further, you will know when you reach there, there is a high waterfall of around 12 meters and you can not cross it. Just relax and go back.
Finally my 3 days in the beach I went to those which I highly recommend, specially the first one: Las Canteras, Melenara and Puerto de Las Nieves. My day of relax I enjoyed reading at the terrace facing the garden and listening to the singing birds. I had recover from my stressing life and was ready to return home! Good bye Gran Canaria, I shall return !!!