Monday, October 3, 2016

Ten Reasons to Fall in Love with Gran Canaria

1.The Food.This could also be reasons 2-10 but that might make me look a bit gluttonous. I say this as someone who, ironically enough, could not eat about 70% of what was on most menus. Island cuisine=lots and lots of seafood. But the things I could eat, particularly the papas arrugadas (or wrinkled potatoes) and the tortillas EspaƱolas were more than enough to keep me fat and happy. Add to that the tapas, usually marinated olives or homemade chips, that came with every drink and it is a miracle I did not roll off the island.

2.The Public Transit. For three days, we stayed in the capital city of Las Palmas. I briefly considered renting a car to explore the surrounding areas but once I took a look at the bus schedule, it was clear that there was no need. Public buses frequently do the loop around the island in either direction, making it easy to get to anywhere you want to go, usually without transferring.

3. It is city designed for walking. There are plenty of pedestrian streets, open squares and parks to encourage people to get out and enjoying the always perfect weather.

A traditional home that is now a cafe, museum and meeting spot for the lace makers of Las Palmas.

La Casa de Colon: Not his actual house but where he stayed while he was getting a ship repaired in 1492

4. Pop-up Parades. No one knew where this marching band came from.  No one cared.  It was reason enough for dancing.

5. The view from the rooftop of the Cathedral de Santa Ana. Bonus points for the fact that they have an elevator to take you most of the way up.

6. The Painted Caves Archeological Site. Located in the northern city of Galdar, this museum shows how the indigenous people lived before the Spaniards came and did their usual colonizing thing. There is a 3D explanatory film, a guided tour and a couple reproductions of the original dwellings. There is also the titular painted cave, but no photos are permitted and maybe art was not exactly their forte.

-1. Minus one point for the Dedo the Dios.  God's finger is was a rocky outcropping in the middle of the sea that appears in all the tourist brochures. The map shows it fingering away in Puerta de las Nieves. What they don't mention is that if you want to see it, you best bring a snorkel. The holy digit now swims with the fishes since it was felled by Tropical Storm Delta in 2005!! Now, all you find is a sleepy fishing town with the occasional lost looking tourist trying to find the damned finger.

We did get to hang around long enough to see a nice sunset.  But no dedo.

6. (again) The Sand dunes of Maspalomas. Located in the southern part, they are part of a protected natural preserve set among lots of tourism-related development.

If you take the bus to Maspalomas and walk along the beach to the next town, you will find, in this order, a chilled out beach....

...a nude beach.  There is no sign indicating that this is coming up but at some point, the usual European topless sunbathers are joined by an abundance of wangs, mostly of the mature variety. This is where you will be compelled to make a papa arrugada joke.

...and finally a gay nude beach. There is no sign marking it as such either but unless all the women went to the bathroom together, I'm pretty sure that's what this was. If you happen to be walking with a slightly nervous straight guy, you will not be able to stop at the bar for a drink, lest "one of those things rubs up against me".

7. The weather.  Technically an African archipelago, there is next to no rain, warm temperatures and a constant breeze.  None of these things exist in Amsterdam, where I'd just spent two months.

8. Las Canteras Beach. Smack dab in the city of Las Palmas, this is where I would hang out if I were a Gran Canarian.  Cafes, street art, a boardwalk and a beach: what else could anyone want?

9. It's cheap af. Everyone of our many stops for tapas, drinks or more papas was followed by shock over how low the bill was. This was often used as justification to order yet more tapas, drinks and papas. The same applied to museum entrances, bus fares and shopping in general.

10.  The people. Funny, warm and happy to answer any questions you may have. We were immediately made to feel welcome. It's the kind of place I could easily see myself living. Had we had just another day or two, I have no doubt that we would have ended up going to someone's house for dinner.  The problem with that is that much like a stray cat, once fed, I'm not sure I would want to leave.

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