La Gran Canaria In The Coalmine

by | Nov 29, 2023 | Canary Islands, Crisis, Fail, November 2023: The Canary Islands, Spain, Weekend Trips | 0 comments

 

The plan was to get up at 8:30am, pick up our rental car parked on the street to drive to the airport by 9:15am, and board our 10:45am flight from Tenerife North Airport to La Palmas, Gran Canaria.

However, in true adventure monsoon fashion everything went wrong at the same time…and somehow getting resolved just as quickly:

  • Once we arrived downstairs we found out that the rental car was gone and had been towed for what looked like for illegal street-side parking
  • Sabrina informed us that the name on her flight ticket — Sabrina — was not her real name listed in her passport and that she did not have any other ID that had “Sabrina” on it.

We sprinted into a plan without a plan: Paul would return back to the lodgings to get our lodging owner and host Marta (who already had been extraordinarily helpful in even getting us her garage to use last night, and which we foolishly turned down having lucked out so far with street-side parking) to drive him to the impound, where I would take the rest of the group to the airport thanks to a nearby taxi stand and get the office to change Sabrina’s name on her ticket.

We were prepared for Paul not being able to find the car, miss the flight, and having the whole itinerary turn itself upside down. But like all good monsoons, that was not going to happen: by 9:15am we were able to change Sabrina’s name on her ticket for €19 at the AirEuropa ticket office at the airport, Paul had got the car out of the impound thanks to Marta’s help for €130, and I was in the airport lounge by 9:45am. Paul was then able to drop off the rental car and join us at the gate with 30 minutes to spare before boarding.

The best part was that this was probably the adventure Marta had been waiting for all along (she loved taking photos of us and messaging them to me on the booking.com platform lol):

 

 

After an uneventful 30 minute flight and landing into Las Palmas (hometown of Javier Bardem!) at 11:30am from Tenerife, we looked for our rental car at the LPA airport. After a broken elevator that wouldn’t go down, being led from office to office to office, we then waited for another 20 minutes for one of the only car operators that offers automatic drive. As instructed, we had to wait for them to pick us up in front of a specific part of arrivals before boarding a shuttle bus.

Although they say on the website that the shuttle service is “every 5-10 minutes” and after I had called to let them know we were (they have this automatic “press 1 to let us know you’re waiting for us” on their number), it took nearly half an hour before I decided to go outside to tell the driver of the car rental’s shuttle bus that we were waiting. He promptly ran over with his clipboard, checked us in, took us on the shuttle to the car rental site, and we picked up our Toyota. We then drove out by 1pm.

 

 

In exploring more of the island we first stopped for a local Canarian lunch at the town of Valsequillo de Gran Canaria:

 

 

These towns by the mountainside such as Valsequilla and Teror are so tiny it’ll take less than an hour to walk around. Satisfied with our tiny town tour, we then drove to our lodgings located by the central district of Triana.

 

 

The check in at Santa Ana’s Suites in the central plaza was so contactless that unlike Marta’s daily and nightly greetings in Tenerife, we never met our hosts. They had us find our keys and check into our rooms like an Escape The Room activity (which I always actually enjoy), and left the entire property to explore. Their terrace, for example, has these views:

 

 

After freshening up, we decided to get in our daily sunsets early and drove south 45 minutes to the Dunas de Maspalomas. The wild thing about this 998-acre nature preserve is that they somehow hid it behind a massive hotel complex:

 

 

You might feel skeptical that sand dunes covering an area of 998 acres could be totally out of sight as you’re walking through the hotel, but once you see it, you can’t unsee it:

 

 

Families and couples of all ages, locals and tourists, all just milling about sand dunes that could make you think you were in the Sahara.

 

 

Grab a picnic blanket and watch the sunset.

 

 

You’ll have to hike 20 minutes over the dunes to reach the beach below, but we circled back to our car and drove around for dinner by the sea at one of the elevated restaurants northwest of the dunes.

 

 

We returned back to Las Palmas at 11pm. While Sabrina went to bed, Paul, Ainsley and I enjoyed a bit of drinks and hookah at Origen until they closed their outdoor part at midnight. Then taking advantage of how late it was by then and that there were barely anyone around, we continued our prior dinner conversations about death, time, and reincarnation as we took a stroll down Calle Triana, a pedestrianized street (and Canary Islands’ oldest) that was once voted the best outdoor shopping area in Spain.

 

 

Way better than if we had gone during the day:

 

 

The next morning we slept in late and enjoyed a breakfast outside our hotel by the cathedral. Then we set out for a 15 minute drive to northern Las Palmas and parked our car by Poema del Mar (about €27 per person for entry), the city’s aquarium (which Paul took 3 attempts trying to enter) and in my limited experiences of aquariums, plays a little Spanish brother to the one in Okinawa.

There’s a cylindrical tank that artfully shows how deep and packed with life under the sea can be:

 

 

There’s a tank shaped like a tunnel similar to the one in Atlanta and the underwater restaurant in Maldives (and probably numerous other aquariums I haven’t been to yet):

 

 

And the main tank that the aquarium here argues to be protected by the largest acrylic window in the world:

 

 

After not more than an hour at Poema del Mar, we walked around some more in the neighborhood outside Poema del Mar beginning at the Parque de Santa Catalina:

 

 

From there we walked west to the famous stretch of sand at Playa de Las Canteras:

 

 

It’s a long one, taking almost 45 minutes to walk end to end:

 

 

Once at the northern part of the beach, we walked back east passing by a food hall and marketplace at 19th century Marcado del Puerto:

 

 

After 3 hours wandering, we returned back to Triana for a tour there beginning at the Catedral Metropolitana de Santa Ana de Canarias (€6 euro per person).

 

 

If you’re a little hesitant about climbing the usual winding staircase to reach the top of any cathedral, this one has an elevator that takes you straight to the top:

 

 

We then finished at Casa de Colón, a former governor’s house that was once visited by Columbus and is now a museum about his voyages.

 

 

We then spent another half an hour wandering our charming little neighborhood of Vegueta.

 

 

After that and another round of hookah and drinks by Calle Triana, it was time to say goodbye to Paul who had booked a night flight out tonight from Las Palmas. Hopefully the car hasn’t been towed again (it wasn’t) and that you make it out safely!

It’s free time now and the end of another monsoon.

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- At time of posting in Gran Canaria, it was 19 °C - Humidity: 40% | Wind Speed: 8km/hr | Cloud Cover: sunny and nearly perfect

 

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