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Sun Sea and Sand

What more could a body ask for ?

Earlier   this year after an accidient involving an incidient with a tractor and a momentarily lapse of sanity it was just what the body asked for. It turned out to be exactly the right thing to do, as we got exactly what we were looking for.



We found a very good deal with  in a quiet resort, Playa de los Amadores on the south west of Gran Canaria  Island. It was convienient to all amenities, and close to a bus route for the beach in Maspalomas.  After a short walk we took the bus each morning to the beach and enjoyed the sunshine while walking along the shore with the sea breeze to keep cool. The sand dunes here are spectacular and are in part a protected nature reserve. We spent some time enjoying the enormity and scale of this unique area 12km long. We had a picnic close to the centre of the dunes and it seemed as if we were alone in the desert, awaiting for Laurence of Arabia to appear at any moment or for a camel train to cross on it's way to Morocco.  Must be all this sun affecting our imagination better get out of here, run Forrest run... I mean Jimmy run....phew just in time I think.....


In the evening we sat by the pool sipping cocktails, firstly pina colada's shaken and served by Kiko.

Later we watched the sun sets from the balcony late into the evening. Magic !

We met some fellow sun seekers from Ireland and shared stories, food, drinks and laughter, who knows we may meet again some time back home, it's a small country.























BACK HOME...Summer came and went !

Disaster struck the garden as our vegetables just sat there in water logged soil waiting for the sun to shine. But the rain came and it rained and it rained. We have stunted Carrots, Turnips, Parsnips, Beetroot, Swiss Chard and believe it or not even Onions. The Peas and Beans are just ok, not a great crop, the winter Brassicas all look fine.  The early potatoes were good but the main crop have rotted into the ground. The weeds have had a field day as this weather suits them, it was impossible to keep them under control.  We are so disappointed all our hard work has been in vain. If we had not set up a Polytunnel last year there would not be much for us to harvest. Everything in the pollytunnel has been great, we have used a crop rotation system which means that just as we are finished harvesting one crop of beans, peas, carrots, cauliflowers etc. the next is ready for eating. We even had our first little bunch of grapes, 5 melons, lots of squash, tomatoes, cucumber, basil, and chillis. It is the second week of October and there are lots of wonderful varities to choose from.

Just as the garden needs sunshine and warmth to thrive and be healthy so too do we. We have been taking daily dips in our river pool the Dubh Linn which has kept our spirits up, but our bodies crave  sun.

So for the good of all and to remain healthy this winter we, like the swallows head south to meet our bodily requirments.


There's more to Gran Canaria than the Beautiful South beaches and resorts.

This adventure is going to be different to the last one, as we plan to explore the island with our very good friend and neighbour Dave.

This time we choose to book a car in advance of our arrival, what a freedom for €94 !  On the first evening we had been enjoying the sunshine and cocktails by the pool, again served by Kiko for more than two hours before the transfer bus arrived with fellow sunseekers from our flight, already is was a good choice.


Next morning we headed for the hills, west of the island in the direction of the national park. Once we moved away from the seaside resorts and up into the hillside villages it seemed like we were in a different country.  We took time to stop off in some of the villages. This one seems to have been developed around the restoration of the wind mill. The pictures displayed on the walls inside of the restoration tell their own story. Each stage showing the specialised work taking place, and there are no houses along the roadside.   The restored el molino brought about a new community.


 El Molino is just on the outskirts of Mogan, a bigger village, with extremly narrow streets, each driver needing to be aware of the oncoming traffic as there is only room here for one at a time. We took a walk around, bought some herbal infusions to take home, orange blossoms and lemon grass. Every town and village caters for tourists and has public toilets, clean and well equiped and no charge.  { not rocket science but Irish co.councils just don't seem to make the connection with tourism }jtoilet

It is encouraging to see that quaint little villages have remained just that and have not lost their charm and beauty by being spoilt by new unoccupied houses.  But we are saddened also in the knowledge that we have lost this same beauty that once was the attraction that brought visitors from far and near. Shame on the people in power,

"There is none so blind as he who will not see".


Next stop was to visit a front and back garden musuem, the gates were open to freely invite courious passing tourists or villagers alike. First we had a tune (where's Pat)  a big pocket would be necessary to carry replacement strings for this one. There were goats and chickens and a myriad of items including this rainbow machine collected over the years that it had taken to create someones little paradise.  The beauty and colour of the flowers caused us to stop, and as luck would have it there were seed pods lying around waiting for us. who knows maybe in a few years there will be new specimens in the west of ireland. If Dave's green fingers and patience can't do it then there are not many who can.





We began a long climb of hairpin bends, we could see the mesh covering over the crops below, and wondered if bananas were the crop being protected as we had noticed the covering of bananas in other areas of the Island. Onwards and upwards slowly, as there was a lot of cyclists on the climb, it was difficult to overtake on these sharp and frequent bends but we've got all day.  Higher and higher up the mountain,  it is exciting for me as the driver and scary for the passengers as they are on the side with the long drop to the bottom.

rock-colourdavejuicebarWe were trying to capture a picture of amazing colours in the rocks on the mountain above when we spotted what looked like a shop ! surely not way up here far from the nearest village and not a house in sight.  A few hairpins later and there it stood a Zumo Bar.  We stopped to sample the delights on offer. Firstly some ripe juicy melon, then some smoothies, followed by a first taste of Opuntia Cactus. Opuntia Cactus is farmed on the Island but it also grows wild just about everywhere, it has a very interesting texture as you eat the seeds which are quite big but I liked it,  I have never yet tasted a fruit that I don't  like.
















We leave here ajuicebarnd climb even higher, who could believe when walking the warm 5km. beach and sand dunes of Maspalomas on the south east that there were hidden treasures in the west just awaiting to be explored. All signs of cloud have dissapeared and the day is hotting up. We can see the sea in the distance, it calls to us.




We begin our descent to Puerto de la Aldea. It is a small village with a little harbour, there is even a place for a swim. Si ! Una momento por favor , while I check the washing  !

 We walked through an archway which led to the small beach area. As always it was just perfect. A nice dip to cool off and the time and place for our picnic.    

We traveled on, we marvel now at the height, soon we stopped again at a viewing point, we were still at the coast and the view of the coastline seemed endless.  As we returned to the car we could hear the roar of a speeding vehicle. The road was very narrow and there is a sheer drop opposite. A yellow van came around the bend at such a speed that it was touching the road on two wheels only. It was the postman ! We were gob smacked, left with dropped jaws, each looking at the other. If a dog, child, car reversing, best not to think ......... Later as we reflected on the lunacy, we figured that this is probably a daily occourance to impress any tourists stopped here. Well it worked, as we are still in complete memory as if time were frozen for that moment. 

We arried at the north west point of the Island, Punta Sardina, a small seaside town with a harbour. There was a small beach before the harbour and again we had a swim and took some sun. We passed the town of Galdar, which is known as the Royal City. It sounds like an interesting town, with an old and new town, a painted Cave Museum, and a tomb built of Lava rock. It is built on the side of a mountain, and looks very colourfull, it has been a busy day and thoughts of relaxing, sipping coctails at the pool and enjoying the evening sunset are enticing. It is time to make our retreat and leave the Royal City behind to be explored on another adventure.



Next day we set out for an adventure to Roque Nublo. It is located in the centre of the Island. We took the coast road to Arguineguin, from here we took the road north in the direction of Soria. We drove through the most beautiful valley. Images of living in this place visited our vivid imagination. Isolated places, in  quiet unspoilt regions, a vast wilderness with mountains on either side. We stopped for an ice-cream in Cercado Espino. The village shop stocked everything, three floors of food fresh and frozen, hardware, bed linen, floor covering nic nac's, if only Ryan Aer would approve. We did purchase some plasticine which Jimmy later had some explainations to make when we arrived at Knock Airport. {more abut that later}.  Jimmy spoke to some shoppers who were renting accommodation in the village, very cheaply, they had previously rented in Puerto Rico, but this place suited their lifestyle much better. They had come here to Gran Canaria from England, by now they looked like locals.


We took a walk to eat our ice-cream.  There were Mangoe's growing everywhere, oranges and lemons. We watched a woman tending to her garden, helped along by her dog. Across on the opposite side of the valley we watched a farmer, he had his animals under cover, procted from the weather. As we watched we realised it was like watching fish in a bowl, What a beautiful place, but there was no privacy, and as we listened we heard the voices of children indoors in the classroom, cows and goats too, and the most striking of all was the barking of dogs, in this amphitheatre all were amplified  and echoed throughout the valley.  




We drove on to Soria, a beautiful small town high above the valley, it was very hot when we got there, and a ripe fig while watching these well cared for goat family tasted like meade.  We drove on towards the Roque only to find that we had run out of road. There is no way up from here unless in a four wheel drive. We met a couple from Germany who decided to walk, at least part of the way. We were not equiped with either the right footwear, or with food and water. We were very dissapointed, so they told us of another route which was a long drive from here. We took some time to collect and eat almonds before deciding.jdundertreejjfarm

We drove back through the village and when we came to the alternative route decided  to take it. Now there is only the moment. The road was rough more like a mountain track in places, very steep with frequent bends, all too familiar to us now. We hoped not to meet any oncoming traffic. It seemed as if we were all alone, no traffic in either direction. We were committed now, so we kept going, stopping only from time to time to take a look below, which was a long way down. The road surface was a bit hit and miss now, sometimes smooth, sometimes absent. There was a lot of forrestry on both sides, it had recently been burnt with new vegetation appearing. From here there was a new tarmacadam road. We were feeling hungry, but had not taken food with us today as Tapas was our intention. There was nowhere in sight for food.

Jimmy spotted people swimming in a resevoir below, but how would we get there, through the native pine forest with the steep descent ?


Around the next bend there was a sign for a Recreation area, we drove on to find
an area for picnics, barbeques, camping and of course swimming. Is it real ? well a swim always comes before food in my book.




There is no time to be wasted, down to the water just a short walk, a Kestral flew between us focus on lunch. The most beautiful bird orange and black  Hoopoe had a narrow escaphoopoee, we had probably saved it's life by being there, but we had also been the cause of mr.Kestral going without lunch. {nature} !

Wow ! This is magic.

Swimming in a valley between two mountains......

Hunger eleviated for now, as we seem to be floating on the wonders that nature provides daily.



Not too far to Roque NNublo, Ayacata is the next village, so we make a stop there for food. The waiter greets us with Spanish and English menue's. We ask what kind of fish he is serving, and his wife who was hanging out the washing at the time shouted that there was no fish today. Ok we said, we would like some potatoes and some vegatables, sorry we don't have any potatoes today, but we do have steak and burgers, sin caldo de carne we explain, that's ok he said, we have chicken would you like that ? We thanked him for the offer but left for the Roque.aroquenew

There were a lot of cars parked at the Roque when we arrived. We were so high up that we were in the clouds and it felt cold after the heat of our swim and our hair not yet dry. The sign said 100mts. Just a hop, but we could see nothing because of the cloud cover. It could lift at any moment so we set off hopefully for a glimpse. 100mts no sign, there were a lot of people coming back, so we kept going. another 100mts. no sign, we were now in a forest and well above the clouds, still a steady stream of treckers. We continued our climb for probably 1000mts and there she stood the "Roque Nublo"  high above us about 262ft on the mountain top at an elevation of  5950 feet.. It was formed by a volcano 4.5 million years ago.

The large flat stone plateaux created an illusion of sand from which this towering sand castle emerged.

It was worth the extra climb, as it was a sight to behold, and the views of the road we had traveled to get here gave us a true sense of our location.  We met some people from county Roscommon, who were not impressed with the signage either. Most people would still undertake the climb if they knew the distance but the Centro Insular de Turismo Spanish should give us the choice. ( how about it ? )


A long and winding road back,a slightly different route, all the way to the coast, no stops this time. We had one thing on our minds " pescado" and sardines in particular. Where better than a fishing port. Puerto de Mogan, the first restaurant on the pier seemed like the right stop. We sat in the sunshine at the edge of the terrace while we waited, it was good to relax after a busy day. We watched as the passers by headed back from the beach, with their beach bags and toys, children were tired from the heat of the day. The water sport equipment was being stored away for another day. The friendly waiter chatted to us about music. He soon brought out our meal, 6 sardines, with 6 potatoes and lots of fresh vegatebles per person. There was nothing to be said now," Silence is Golden ". What a beautiful meal, we were so happy to have waited all day for it, and it cost just €6 each. 










Next day we went to the beach, not too much driving. Later we went to the Botanical Gardens, Jardin Canario, near Tafira Baja in the north east of the Island close to Las Palmas. To be able to see all the native trees and plants growing here was a delight. Firstly we were greeted by a red dragonfly,( es bonito ), then dragon trees, a sea horse, a wonderous place this is. With Entrada gratuita it was an even bigger surprise. What hope of growing specamins like these in our Irish damp conditions but a pleasure for us  to admire in their natural setting.



The weather was becoming hotter every day. So the beach was the focus of our day as driving in the hot sun was not pleasurable. The waves were inviting strong and warm





It was like a fairground, with exciting unending water rides. We stayed for hours, each day we had a beer on the beach before leaving, this was a new experience for us, but why not try something new every day.

adancers As we were returning to the apartment building earlier in the evenings we became friendly with some people from England, firstly at the coctail bar and then again in the pool. Trish was giving Helen instruction with her front crawl which I tried to copy, but haven't managed the breathing tecnique yet. Sounds like we live similarly and have exchanged contacts. Maybe our paths will cross again. We shared a special coctail made by Kiko on their last evening and gracias por la bailar to the music of  " Leonard Cohen "  Kiko.



We took the bus route to Meloneras, this is an arid route along the coast. We had been noticing the drainage along the coastal roads and stopped to take a closer look. It seems that they are hand built drains to take the rainfall and direct it to the sea. 









adangersignWe noticed some camper vans taking shelter under the only visable group of trees. To our delight we stumbled across a flea market somewhere in the San Fernando area. There is always time for a browse at the many colourful stalls.

















Paella was also high on our things to taste while here in Gran Canaria. Puerto Rico port was the place chosen. We were not dissappointed, the service with an Irish speaking waiter, well, Slainte in his best Spanish accent is a good start. To walk along the port at night with the music bars and the bright lights is not what we see everyday at home so we stroll along and soak it up, for  Tomorrow we depart.

Hasta Luego


Back to the plasticine, well we arrived safely at our destination   Knock International Airport, and Jimmy was carrying the bag with the two slabs of Plasticine, one black and one white. They were put through the scanner at the customs and were perceived as suspicious looking packages. So the customs officer needed to take a closer look, when he realised that they were exactly what the package stated he courtiously bade us good day and wished us well on our way. Thumbs up for the Irish Airport security.