A Week in Gran Canaria

By October 12, 2004No Comments

Fridges must have a very hard time in Gran Canaria.

By the second day of our trip to the sunny Canary Isle, as the heat climbed up the the early 30 degrees and I dripped like a wet towel, my concern for our fridge was paramount. The poor thing was commended to freeze our drinks in temperatures that were climbing into the 30s by 11am. It was a tall order.

But still, let me start at the beginning. The very early beginning.

It was 4am. Even the bloody birds were asleep. But for the second time that week, I was up, busily preparing for a trip abroad. Michelle was being her usual organised self, reading off a prepared list of things to take, whilst I laid back and left everything until the last possible moment. Michelle’s mother has drawn the short straw, and drove us through wind and rain to Gatwick airport. The take off in this weather would be fun, I surmised.

After we’d managed to queue-barge a long line of travellers at the check-in desk and braved their glares, we shopped a little, worried at the weather a little, ate a little, and headed for the gate. The howling gales outside made the grey, unremitting interior of the airport look almost inviting. We were happy to be indoors.
20 minutes later, we were decided unhappy. Trudging up to the plane, across the wind and rain, we cursed our luck that the plane hadn’t been allocated a berth. After several minutes of buffeting, and a particularly loud cabin crew announcement, we were flying into the grey, overcast sky, the turbulence causing small children to scream. I was brave – I merely whimpered.

The flight over was uneventful, save for the excellent choice of in-flight movie – Shrek 2. How I laughed – how I annoyed the person next to me with my chortling shoulders. And then, 4 hours later, the volcanic isle of Gran Canaria hove into view. As we descended through the clouds, the perfectly flat sea gave way to land, and as we touched down I could sense the heat.

It wasn’t long before we arrived at the hotel, on the seafront of a large town called San Augustin. We’d read in the brochure that there was a “nudist sun terrace”. I eagerly began scanning the ground for hints of genitalia, so that I could recoil in disgust. There were none forthcoming, and I slumped back in my seat, waiting for the cue to alight.
We alighted with 2 other couples of dubious age. Probably around sixty-five to seventy years old, I reckon. This was the first hint that this hotel may not have a carnival atmosphere, but on a few minutes reflection we decided this was a good thing. Now we’re cracking on a bit (24 and 25 years old repectively), Michelle and I were pleased that our holiday was not going to be ruined by raucous folk. The thought of the nudist sun terrace, however, was distinctly less appealing.

This being her 6th trip to the island, Michelle was eager to show me the highlights. “Shall we go for a short walk down the coast to a place I know? Mum says it’s only a few minutes away.” One and a half hours later, my feet were like stumps, and asthma was beginning to grab hold of my lungs. But despite the length of the journey, it allowed me to take in the sights and sounds of the Canary Islands. And it wasn’t half bad. The sea was flat and calm; the sun was starting to set over the horizon, and people were wandering carefree along the sand, playing in the dunes and rocks near the water. Life seemed very peaceful, and I’d warmed to the place already.
Warm was as good a word as any to describe the weather too. It was past 5pm when we found a seaside bar, before taking in a nicely limed-up lemonade or two. We’d found the Playa del Ingles, the mystical destination Michelle and I had trekked to. The one and a half hour walk back was completed in three and half minutes by a handy taxi, costing 3 euros. We decided, belatedly, that taxis were the way forward. Our feet were immensely relieved.

The rest of the holiday was a mix of sunbathing (unfairly, I’ve no tan to report), getting the in-room and aforementioned fridge to work, and visiting the nooks and crannies of the local towns. There were an unbelievable number of shops, mainly centred around the Kasbar and the Yumbo Center, all with eager shopkeepers trying extremely hard to make us a bargain. I eagerly wanted to purchase several bargains, but at the end of the week managed to buy only a baseball cap. On the second night, we went to a few bars, one of which Michelle has known for years – the barman remembered her, bless him – and another which is a spitting image of Chinawhite’s nightclub in London. It’s even called Chinawhites.

We went on 2 excursions and we chose well. One was a musical, where the singers and dancers came and served us dinner when they weren’t singing and dancing. The quality of the production was astounding, and the idea really should be brought over here. The second excursion was a trip around the island on a catamaran. This required no effort at all, and from 9am to 3pm we mostly laid down on the deck, sunning ourselves while the boat took us past the villages and beaches of the island. There were water caves to explore, and snorkling to indulge in. And I still didn’t get a tan.

So, come Monday, we were sad to leave. The airless coach took us to the airport and deposited us at the entrance. We queued, shopped, queued and boarded the plane, horrified at the thought of trudging back to work the following morning. Still, our objective had been successful – we were fully refreshed after a couple of months of hectic action, and ready for the days ahead.

I never did find the nudist sun terrace.

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