Up until November last year I had never been to the Canary Islands in my life, and had a naive pre-conceived idea about what they were like… which proved ill-judged as, having then visited two islands in as many months, I was bowled over by the scenery of both Tenerife and Lanzarote and, apart from the touristy towns which I skirted or avoided, they were interesting places with individual and likeable character. So, into another year, and it was time to try out another one… and try and find that elusive ‘winter sun’ too with miserable weather back home, with a long weekend Gran Canaria.
The first day was simply spent travelling to the island, with a four hour flight which arrived at about 6.00pm. I do worry a bit about flights, especially longer ones like that, as being on hormones I am at a somewhat increased risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis; I do wriggle my toes and my feet now and again on flights, and I arrived all in order… although slightly disappointed in the weather, because although the airport was in sun much of the island elsewhere was shrouded in cloud and the pilot warned of high winds getting out of the plane. I hurried through arrivals to try and get ahead of people at the car hire desk… and soon my heart sank, as this time I had chosen hire company Goldcar (as cost much lower than Hertz this time) and the queue at their desk was massive. The staff were hopelessly slow, and the queue took an age to diminish, and only an hour and a half later was I at the front of it picking up my keys. Another issue I had with Goldcar is that they don’t pre-authorise ones credit card, they actually debit it with a deposit… and as they operate in a different currency then I am being penalised by fees. Another disaster with the car hire was that when I went down to the garage to pick it up, there was nobody in sight and another hire car had rolled in front of mine as some idiot had not put the handbrake on!! So I had to unlock it by putting my hand through the open window, pushing it forward myself, and then jumping into the seat to put the brake on. All that trouble to pick up an awful, plastic Toyota Yaris! I drove to my first hotel in the dark, and managed to get lost, much to the amusement of the locals of a tiny village in the hills that I asked directions from. But I eventually arrived, and had a good night stay at my hotel, below one of the island’s tourist attractions, a volcanic crater called Bandama.
Waking after a good night sleep I pulled the curtains and was dismayed to see it raining! I had hoped to leave rain at home!! As I got ready the rain showers were mixed with sunny spells, but the weather prognosis was not good, and as I popped up in the car to visit the crater grey skies and rain-filled clouds were visible in the distance all around! Having earlier looked at webcams in the hotel, it appeared as though the best of the weather was in the south east towards Maspalomas and so this is where I headed… and low and behold, by the time I had got two thirds of the way down the motorway on the east coast I found sun, and 24C temperatures. At the junction for Maspalomas, I headed in the opposite direction inland away from tourism for interesting or impressive scenery, and found it soon enough (see above right); further inland and at higher altitude I was eventually driving into mist with heavy grey clouds higher, and so I headed back to the coast along a different route in the sun, and then on a scenic road to the west… although at that point the weather deteriorated making photos and scenic diversions pointless. Then things got worse, I had hoped to travel along road GC200, a very impressive road along the west coast, but it was closed due to rock falls! So I had to take a much longer road inland climbing into the mountains, and once into the northern half of the island the rain became torrential, with flash waterfalls appearing along the road, and a very tedious decent along windy, flooded roads to where I was staying for the remainder of my holiday, at Puetro de las Nieves; all that driving with little in the way of breaks hurt my leg, which caused me worries after my holiday for a while about DVT and fractures. A few miles out, I finally found the sun again after about three hours of grey skies and increasing rain… although once in the sun that rain did allow me to take this picture of one of a number of rainbows I saw; I also had a nice little walk to a pretty little beach and impressive coastline beyond (see below). It was good to get to my hotel, especially with tea-making facilities available, and after a little rest I smartened up and ate at a local restaurant… having a rather average meal served by a grumpy guy who couldn’t be bothered to pick his feet up whoever he served.
The next day the weather was thankfully rather better, although I did have to head clockwise on the motorway around the island again towards the south to find it; I had a lovely breakfast at a café on the seafront, with good views of the dramatic cliffs beyond the small port. I firstly went inland in the north though to a typically Canarian town called Moya, with pleasant streets and old buildings, and a very imposing church… although disappointingly it was locked and so I could not visit the allegedly impressive interior. In the south, I ventured inland along a different road, and found some splendid scenery, firstly seeing clouds lifting from the mountains, and then along higher roads revealing impressive rocky outcrops and valleys. The highlights of my explorations were two outstanding rocky lava plugs, Roque Bentayga, and top attraction Roque Nublo, the latter mysteriously poking through the late-afternoon clouds (see photo, right). That day I could not walk to Roque Nublo, as by the time I got to the car park the cloud had lowered, and so I drove back towards my hotel, hoping to be able to head along the western coast south – I made it in good time, and saw some dramatic coastline, although after a while the road was blocked due to the aforementioned rock falls; I stayed until the sun had nearly set (see below photo), and then headed back, with an achy leg from driving again. My final dinner, on the seafront, was a bargain indeed, with three courses (seafood soup, sole and salad, and almond cake with ice cream) and a beer with tip for €19!! I also enjoyed being Ma’amed to death by the waiter once he discovered I was English.
On my final day I once again headed south, all the way around the motorway (which takes about an hour and quarter from one end to the other), past the town where Kirsty stayed last year, and then inland, past Mogan in which there is an old windmill, and up a windy mountain road past numerous cyclists torturing themselves to get to the summit. Once there I again I encountered lovely, dramatic scenery, including a distant view of a snow-capped Mt Teide on Tenerife as I explored. This time I was able to take a good walk up to Roque Nublo, an immense monolith from which super views were available. The final touristy thing I did was to go to nearby Pico de las Nieves, the highest point on the island from which there are incredible views of Roque Nublo, Mt Teide, and all scenery in between (see below).
So, another Canary island visited, although not completed for there is much left that I feel is worth seeing and doing, but despite the variable weather I had 20+C temperatures every day… even though I had to search to find them; won’t be renting from Goldcar again though!! Once again, I was away with nobody making any indication to suggest that they even wondered whether I was transsexual… which is just how I like life… fitting in like the woman I am.