GRAN CANARIA TRIP: INTRO

As promised, here begins my write-up of my recent impromptu holiday! It was booked only five days in advance, which is (by a comfortable margin), the least notice I’ve ever given myself before booking a holiday, but Mummy and I were entirely sick of grey winter skies, we had a few days where we weren’t dramatically busy (or at least we thought we did, but that’s another story), and the opportunity presented itself at a reasonable price, so we grabbed it with both hands.

Gran Canaria is a place that will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first holiday destination I ever visited. At the tender age of just-turned-three, we jetted off for Christmas 1985. Here’s what I looked like back then:

bbnez2

Yup: napping on the beach under a pile of towels and a t-shirt. You’ll be pleased to know this is still my go-to method of avoiding burning. It gets very hot there!

The island is part of an archipelago, off the coast of Morocco, called the Canary Islands: governed by Spain, it is consequently predominantly a Spanish-speaking country. Years of dedicated tourism means that a almost everyone on the island has some English, though, and many are completely fluent. Most restaurants will provide their menus with multiple language options (English, Norweigan, Danish, Swedish, and German being the most common), and shop assistants will usually be able to help you in English– or at the very least to be able to quote you their prices and your bill in English figures. It’s a four-hour (average) flight from Ireland, and while in the “olden times” you had to book a package holiday with flights, transfers, and accommodation in set one- or two-week intervals to get there, these days you also have the option of booking these elements independently to give better flexibility. (Bless those budget airlines! People can complain about Ryan Air’s customer service all they like, but I will always be grateful to them for opening up Europe to flexible travel at reasonable rates.)

We went back to Gran Canaria several times: when I was six, and eight, and eleven, and sixteen. Though I’ve visited many different places between now and then (Dubai, Tokyo, Paris, San Fransisco, New York, Miami, Atlanta, Stockholm, Amsterdam, the Bahamas, the Caymans, and others I’m probably forgetting), I’ve always loved the Canaries– most particularly Puerto Rico, in the South-West of the island.

image from lonelyplanet.com

It’s basically a medium sized resort built into a mountain cove –so it’s like a mini C-shaped city– and because of this, if you can handle a few (sometimes very steep!) hills, virtually everywhere is within walking distance. I like this, as I don’t drive– and even if I did, I would not want to drive there. The combination of right-hand-driving (in Ireland, we drive on the left), a high proportion of tourists-in-rental-cars, heavy inclines, and what appears to be predominantly a one-way system with minimal road markings all combine to make it my worst nightmare when it comes to road navigation.

Still, if you’re a walker like me, it’s super easy to get about, and you’ll come home fitter than when you left! Gran Canaria has lots of interesting local culture, though you will see very little of it in Puerto Rico, so if that’s something which would bother you, you would probably be better served by staying in Arguineguin or Vecindario, which are less tourist-focused and have a higher proportion of local home ownership. However, if you’re happy with a more vacation-y buzz where almost everyone speaks English and you will meet lots of other European tourists, Puerto Rico is a great place to visit.

The island gets on average between 7 and 13 hours of sunshine daily (it’s Northern Hemisphere, but near the Equator, so it has the same summer/winter setup as Northern Europe and America), and temperatures range between 18C at Christmastime and 24C in the summer, though summer highs of 28C and winter lows of 15C wouldn’t be unheard of. It’s especially lovely in the Springtime, when the weather is not incredibly hot, but far warmer than you’d ever get back home if you’re a European, and it’s really beautiful, too:

puertorico

This was taken from about 2/3 the way up the West Hill (you can see the East Hill across the way, both of which lead down to the sea) towards the Shopping Center. I think I took the picture on April 10th at about 1900 or 2000. Unlike at Christmas time, it stays bright pretty late, which is lovely! Compare the volume of buildings in the shot above with this one taken in 1988:

bbnez1

There are a lot more now than then! (Then again, I’m a lot bigger, as well.) I had a really great time on this trip. I’ll be going into more detail about the various things I saw and did while I was there in another post, but a conversation with an American friend made me realise that not everyone is as familiar with the island as the Irish are, so I thought I would write up this little intro before diving into my personal experience so people might have a better idea what I was talking about. Here are some other personal shots from older visits:

old-hols

Have you been to Gran Canaria? What’s your favourite holiday resort? Are you a fan of the impromptu holiday, or do you need everything planned months in advance? Drop me a line and let me know!
-A-

2 Comments

  1. Posted April 16, 2014 at 23:17 | Permalink | Reply

    I love the photos at various ages. Looks like a fabulous place to visit…and warm!

    • Posted April 16, 2014 at 23:40 | Permalink | Reply

      I know, right? It’s funny watching people grow up and through their gawky stages. πŸ˜€

      It’s a great place to visit if you ever get the chance! Definitely warm, especially at the moment. Thanks for commenting!

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