Las Palmas 2020 Trip report

Friday 14th Feb: When you are going to be travelling for a few weeks leaving home is more challenging. We cleaned and tided the house, threw away what might spoil and unplugged what can be unplugged. When you see the house tidier than it has been for a while you wonder why in fact are you leaving? All the effort was motivated by the “clean underwear because you might be knocked down” advice you received from mother and as compensation to your faithful abode that you are now deserting.
After all that was completed and we took the E65 to Kastrup. It was warm and sunny when we boarded our flight to Las Palmas. Whilst I waited to board I got a messenger message from a Spanish student with 20 questions about a book I wrote in 2004. I used the 5 hours on the plane to draft my reply.

Our hotel is newly renovated, small and kitsch but the beds are fine. As soon as we arrived I donned a tee shirt and shorts and we strolled in the warm sun to the bar Los Anos Locos. The old men played guitar and sang whilst we ate Baccala. You know you are in heaven when you hear the angels sing.

It’s carnival time in Las Palmas. We saw some of the carnival dance teams on an enormous stage near the harbour. A great deal of energy and enthusiasm had been invested. Inclusiveness was an obvious theme embracing transvestite and comfortably overweight dancers who had equal vigour but perhaps suffered from more after shake. My camera failed to function so it will remain a memory apart from blurred phone pictures.

Saturday: After acquiring a new camera we retired to the Beach for an hour or so. We now have a pink tinge.

In the evening we wandered down to the market which is filled with small bars. We drank Rioja direct from the fridge and ate Bruschetta like open sandwiches with an amazing array of toppings. Too much Riola was imbibed because we were entertained by an array of carnival characters who posed and postured. They ate masses of food but consumed very little alcohol because later they will be singing in the Carnival Murga competition.

Sunday: An English breakfast in the sun was a good start to the day. We took to the beach this time with an umbrella to shield my delicate English skin. Lunch was wine, ham and cheese on our balcony. The carnival event in the evening was small children dragging elaborate carts whilst miming to cartoon film songs which was bizarre but appreciated by the audience. We later ate a taste free Paella which we compensated with espresso and Grappa.
Monday: After breakfast we walked a couple of kilometres through town to a camera repair shop. They promised me a fix by Friday. Lunch again on the balcony and then some time on the beach. We were entertained by a group of young people having canoe training. High spirits and lots of capsizes into the 19°C sea.

Tuesday: We took a bus to the old town and wandered for a few hours. Lunch of cold Rioja and sandwiches was in the market. Before dinner we walked in the residential area at the back of our hotel. A potpourri of two or three storey terraced house and like rotten teeth some very dilapidated examples. We decided on a classic restaurant we had used earlier. When we entered Anna noticed a lady lying with her face down on the table and her man holding her hand. She signalled to the waitress who called an ambulance. They were Swedish and I went over to talk to them and assure myself the lady was breathing and conscious. The waitress was concerned and wanted me to leave them perhaps to make the incident less noticeable. I agreed when it was clear she could communicate. The ambulance arrived and took the lady away before leaving the ambulance man asked her if her blood pressure was normally so high to which she replied, “No.” Pity to spoil their holiday or perhaps their life.

Wednesday: We hired a car and drove to a Rum distillery where we toured and then sampled 18-year-old rum which was good but we declined to sample the 30-year-old rum which costs 100€ a bottle. Tight bends, steep roads, nice towns and scenery. Back on Las Canteras we drank a G&T whilst a young, probably disturbed, lady penny whistle player had a long drawn out compulsive preparation routine before she competently played Hey Jude and Ravels Bolero. After Tapas we bought some Rioja to enjoy on our balcony. A lady at the checkout left her card in the terminal and Anna sprang after the Spanish lady and managed to explain her mistake. She was glad to get her card back. Not a bad day.

Thursday: This morning we bus surfed. The idea is you hop on a bus and hop off where it looks interesting. We found an area with lots of schools, embassies and gardens. Quiet, elegant and pleasant. Then we surfed back to have lunch on our balcony. Afternoon was on the beach. It was hot!

This evening was a culinary high. We enjoyed dinner at Bodegon El Biberon where we drank Vina Norte Tinto Maceracian Carbonica a wine from Tenerife with superb Tapas which included blood sausage. Wow what a meal! We took coffee and a digestivo at Camino Al Jamonal which is a stylish always busy restaurant near our hotel. We booked a table for tomorrow.

Friday: My camera came home repaired and Anna was on the beach all day. Dinner at Camino was up to all expectations. We ate Jamon, vegetable strips done tempura style drizzled with a little palm syrup and small rare tenderloin stakes topped with sliced garlic. The food and the atmosphere were fantastic. We chose to eat at the bar to see all the action behind it. The Mom and Pop restaurant had a tight family cohesion and delivered a focus on the customer and their enjoyment. We have booked a place at the bar for next week.

Saturday: The sun shone early so it was the beach after breakfast in a local cafe. Las Canteras is a three kilometre plus beach promenade. It is very access friendly so it is ideal for the elderly and handicapped. Sometimes it feels as if we are back in Lourdes. It is wonderful to see a one-legged man take his wheelchair down to some rocks and ease himself into the sea unaided. Impressive! It is the weekend so the beach was full of local courvilinea ladies and their children.

The Carnival came to Las Canteras. Murga choirs, drummers and the courvilinea were here too, this time dancing. It lacked the sensuality and energy of a Rio Carnvival. The cloud of sand from the Sahara which appeared suddenly this afternoon has covered the island and was perhaps a little depressing for the performers. Everything is coated in orange dust and face masks are worn by many. The airport was closed of course causing unavoidable disruption.

Sunday: The sand was still here so we went to a technology museum. Lots of adults with smiles on their faces as they played with the exhibits that were designed with children in mind. The wind was gusty and the sand was everywhere. When we ate a light jamon lunch we read about another fire in the south of the island in the newspaper. There were people on the beach despite it all. The latest news is not good with fires and damage all over the Canaries. The airports are closed and the sand is still with us giving a terrible air quality. But the most important decision we have to make is where we will have dinner this evening.

Monday: Las Canteras has returned to normal just some orange sand and people with face masks to remind us of the Calima. The TV news reports that some fires are still burning in Tenerife and Gran Canaria. TV reportage of a tearful old couple whose house has burnt down was very moving.

Tuesday: We awoke to the news that an Italian doctor on Tenerife has tested positive for Corona Virus Covid -19. When we planned our 3-week trip to Las Palmas Corona was just the name for an English fizzy drink. When we flew we made the assessment that Covid-19 was constrained to China and South Korea. When we arrived here we heard about the Northern Italian outbreak. That took out risk assessment into the uncomfortable zone. There are not many Chinese tourists here but Italians a plenty. After the Calima I expected there to be a flight scarcity. We tried to change our flight home to two or three days ahead but everything was booked almost up until the date we had planned to fly. Two seat were available to Stockholm tonight so reluctantly we took them.

It was warm on the packed beach today. Firefighting planes flew low over us to land in the harbour to take on water and continue the fight against the forest fires. A swarm of dragonflies flew around us. The Carnival continued with swarms of enthusiastic costumed revellers.

Well now it is back to Sweden. It may be a long and uncomfortable journey but we are the victims of our choices.