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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gran Canaria Eleanor Visit 21 to 26 March 2011

21st March Eleanor arrived on time by Easyjet as planned - unfortunately we were a little late at the pick up as the arrival formalities went much quicker than anticipated.
Marina Las Palmas

The next day we visited the Guayadeque valley with its many caves, cave church, cave homes and cave restuarantes.
The beautiful blossom that we were treated to last time we were there had all gone and the trees were busy producing the almonds.

Stopped briefly at the School of Embroidery in Ingenio and admired their handiwork

On the way back, we explored the Quatro Puertas (4 doors) caves archeological site

However, the most spectacular caves with superb views over the countryside were the Cueva de los Pilares caves on the other side of the hill, accessed by an "interesting" scramble along the steep cliff face.

In one of the caves were geometric rock paintings similar to those at Galdar in the north east of the island

The direct road back to Las Palmas was closed for repair. In our attempts to find a quick alternative route back we were stopped by these canine guards whose job seems to be to repel all strangers from this private residential compound.
The next day saw us hot footing it to the south of Gran Canaria to find the sun, where we joined seemingly endless streams of lemminglike crowds marching determinedly along the water's edge at the side of the dunes on Playa des Ingles in Maspalomas.

Couldn't resist an icecream at a cafe with a view over the dunes.

Continued along the coast to the pretty, modern resort of Puerto de Mogan where we had lunch.

Took the mountain route back - many hairpin bends on narrow steeply winding roads.

With stunning views, including that of Roque Nublo

Stopped in Tejeda to sample the almond pastries and almond icecream
whilst admiring the views of Roque Bentayga

On past the Cruz de Tejeda
with a brief stop in Teror to admire the balconies and the church Nuestra Senora del Pino
Thursday saw us at the Jardin Botanico Canario where we admired, amongst other plants, the huge cactii

The weed filled pond was full of wildlife, including moorhens and their brood
Eleanor spotted this colourful beetle
Visited the nearby Pico de Bandama from which one has a superb view of Las Palmas as well as the Bandama caldera
The caldera gets its name from a Dutchman Daniel von Damme who grew vines inside the crater in the 16th century

Friday had a relaxing start with coffee and appelgebak on the aftdeck
Then had a walk into the old part of Las Palmas and visited the Santa Anna Cathedral and the Casa de Colon

Every time we visit the house where Christopher Colombus is supposed to have stayed there seem to be new exhibits. This time the room with maps showing his various voyages has been extended with copies of the first world charts from the 15th / 16th century - very interesting.

Had to have another icecream at the Fiordilatte icecream parlor

Then took the 17 bus to the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium

and the ladies paddled along the Playa de las Canteras
as the sun set over Galdar

admiring the sand sculptures

26th March came all too quickly and sadly Eleanor had to return to London.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gran Canaria Carnival Las Palmas 15 Feb to 12 March 2011

The Las Palmas Carnival started on 15 February and finished on the 12th March with the burning of the Sardine .
During this time, New Zealand's Christchurch was been partialy destroyed by an earthquake, Pro-Democracy protests in the middle east have continued following the stepping down of Tunisia's and Egypt's presidents, Gaddafi ruthlessly bombed his own people in Libya and Japan is battling to survive the tragic 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, complicated by nuclear power station near-meltdowns.
However, life must go on and Las Palmas enjoyed its annual carnival.
We enjoyed several of the many events, the first for us being the selection of the child carnival queen.

Many of the events took place on the very elaborate specially constructed stage in Parque de Santa Catalina

Another event was the selection of the senior lady carnival queen - some of the contestants were at least in their 70's.
The weather was not too kind for the Grand Carnival street parade - rain poured down for much of the evening. This amazingly did not dampen people's party spirit.

The glamorous Carnival Queen was towed along in the procession
at times needing an umbrella
followed by her equally glamorous competitors

The senior Carnival Queen was also there

Couldn't resist taking this picture of these two delightful youngsters

The dogs were not forgotten - they had their own Canine Carnival show

The Sunny Carnival procession along the northern beach promenade, Playa de las Canteras, was a very colourful event - and the weather was perfect for it

On the stage at Santa Catalina, there was a Body Make-up contest - amazingly elaborate designs painted on almost naked bodies

The handicapped people were also not forgotten and gave an unforgetable show at the Social Integration Gala

The penultimate night was the funeral procession of the Sardine
complete with mock cleric in a landrover conducting a "funeral service"
as the huge Sardine was born through the streetsfollowed by mourners in black, and beautiful ladies in blue on stilts

and various sea creatures
Click on the bottom left arrow to see a movie of the procession:-

On the final evening, the Sardine was towed through the streets from Parque San Telmo to the Playa de las Cantares preceded and followed by various bands and carnival clad figures

Once at the beach, the Sardine was carried to a raft and towed by an inflatable dinghy a few meters offshore
There it was set alight

A very impressive firework display then signalled the end of Carnival