We were watching a Spanish game show on local TV the night before when this conversation broke out between Angel and I:
Me: Have you been everywhere in the Island before?
Angel: Not really!
Me: How come? You lived here all your live. It’s not that big!
Angel: have you been everywhere in the UAE?
Me: Got it. Let’s go see it then….
I love road trips, mainly when I am not driving. I had not been on one outside the UAE for a while, therefore I was especially excited about this one. We ventured off in our small rental right after breakfast armed with guidebooks, maps, snacks and plenty of sun block. We decided to take the western route of the island then close a circle through the north and east on our way home.
We first stopped in Puerto de Mogán in the southwestern cost. This fishing village has some of the finest resorts in the island and a clean beach with amenities. We didn’t come out of the car as I have visited Mogan the last time I was in Gran Canaria and still remember the amazing seafood Lunch we had here. We also took the Yellow Submarine ride and I discovered that you could get seasick underwater! Who knew? This time we only drove around briefly to refresh our memories.
We headed up through the town of Mogán where the road started getting much curvier. If you drive carefully and keep to the speed limit this drive can be extremely rewarding. Apart from the few moments when Angel was gruffly snapping at other drivers who tried to take him over looking beyond the windshield was healingly calming.
Our second stop was at the Puerto de la Aldea, another small fishing town with a charming beach. We walked around the port to stretch our legs and get some fresh air after what was starting to prove a demanding drive. The wind blew sturdily and crushed the tall waves on the rocky beach. I wanted to walk the length of the paved shore to get a good view of the town from the opposite side. Angel held on to my arm tightly as we walked; I am not sure if he feared the strong wind would fan me or him away.
We followed the coastline further north towards our next planned stop in Agaete. The road hung on the side of a daunting seaside cliff up to 500m high above sea level. We stopped at “Mirador El Balcon” view point after San Nicolás de Tolentino for a quick glance at the Teide peak (the highest mountain in Tenerife) which can be seen from a distance. On a clear day this is supposed to be a great view, but it unfortunately wasn’t one of those days.
The balcony is carved into the cliff. If you dare look down you will be enjoying an amazing views of the western coastline of Gran Canaria.
A tour bus arrived and it got a bit too crowded, so we moved a bit away and found us a quiet spot to sit and souk up the atmosphere.
We passed Puerto de las Nieves where you can take the ferry to Tenerife, but we didn’t think we had enough time to make a stop there. We drove into Agaete through lush vegetations including the famous Canarian banana farms, papaya, mango and orange fields. The streets were narrow and interconnected, the houses were mostly white, red roofed and of slight Moorish character. It was a different variant from what I have seen so far. It was at this point that I realized why it was important to go on this road trip.
After lunch we wandered outside the main town near the beach to see the rock structure of “Dedo de Dios” (God’s figure). Its unique natural formation that looks like a finger inspired its name. The finger actually broke during a severe tropical storm in the Atlantic Ocean in 2005 so it is just a fingerless godly rock right now!
This tour was getting a bit too long when we arrived in Gáldar in the most northern part of the Island, but there was still one historic must see site to look at. “Cueva Pintada” (the painted caves) is a reminder of the aboriginal population that inhabited the Island long before the Spanish arrived. The museum built over the sight offers guided tours in four languages (Spanish, English, German and French). The guide talked us through the less than complicated lifestyle of the perished civilization and explained what is believed to be the meaning of the colored symbols on the caves’ walls. It was some sort of a calendar apparently, which is rather creative.
We returned home via the eastern route. Our drive home wasn’t any short of dazzling scenery or a mesmerizing sunset.
My suegra wanted to take me shopping for handmade woven tabletops. I saw it in her house and thought my mother would love them too. We went to get the good stuff at “El Mercadillo Municipal” which is on every Saturday and Wednesday at 8:00am – 2:00pm. You get clothes, shoes, fake designer bags (I thought you only get these in Thailand!), local cosmetics, and many other things at this place. The key is to bargain hard, and that is where my suegra came into play; those Canarios won’t bend so easy.
After that we went camel trekking in the “Valley of the Thousand Palms”. The tour bus picked us up from the Playa del Inglés area and transported us about 12km north to the small village of Fataga. Riding the high tour bus on those curvy mountain roads was as scary as hugging a land mine, I thought it was going tip off any second. We finally arrived to a farm called “La Baranda Camel Safari Park” and we were given a short briefing and a tour of the premises before we had to ride the camels. Lunch and a visit to the tropical garden followed the short trek.
Don’t you get to ride camels in Dubai? Asked my suegro earlier that morning. Yes we do, but only in the desert I told him. I am not sure I made total sense, but this 30 minutes camel trek turned out to be quiet enjoyable. It was so tranquil out there, the loudest audible noise was the sound of the wind brushing the palm leaves (except when a camel started chewing up a girl’s hair in the back and put her into a screaming fit).
Sunday came and my Suegros didn’t have to work. We invited them to lunch but of course it couldn’t have been just around the corner. This time we decided to cut through the island by driving across the center in San Bartolomé de Tirajana.We chatted for hours in the car as we passed the roads where Angel’s father used to mountain cycle professionally until few years ago. We came out of the car perhaps twice to click few family shots against the amazing natural canvas.
At Lunchtime we were somewhere above clouds in Tejeda. Except in an airplane I have never experienced passing through a cloud before which was pretty spectacular and at some level majestic.
The highlight of our day was eating at the Hotel El Refugio. The hotel’s restaurant was traditionally decorated and I am going to go ahead and assume that it has looked that way for a long while now. The manager was hospitable and cheerful; she escorted us to a table by the window where we can continue to enjoy the view, then she took the time to get to know us before passing over the menu. I thought that was incredibly sweet and smart; it must be the key to keeping the business successfully running for such a long time. She asked if we were a family and if we were celebrating something special. Of course she thought so! Why else would I squeeze myself into a one size too small brand new white RL dress for a Sunday picnic? Who does that? She jokingly told Angel that she would pay a lot of money to get my tan. I would’ve paid all mine to give it to her if I could.
Many starters, mains and desserts later we were ready to walk the bloating off. We reached terror after 2:00pm; hence we had just missed its famous Sunday Market. A bit of a shame because I really wanted to visit it. Instead we roamed about the square and the nearby streets aimlessly then we visited the “Our Lady of Pine” Church.
Teror seems like a hushed town, or perhaps it gets quieter on Sundays. That square was a perfect relaxation and people watching location.
Back in Playa del Inglés my suegro claimed that he knows where the best sunset watching spot in town is. He took us to Hotel Riu Palace Maspalomas. We crossed through to the backside and came out at a ground level balcony overlooking the Dunas. When the sun came down he was certainly right we figured; that spot had to be the best.
After a faboulus day at the spa our visit ended just like it started; around the dinner table in the family’s kitchen. We exchanged as much light chatter as my Spanish allowed and I promised to improve it before coming back, hopefully soon.