Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Visiting The Canary Islands: La Gomera, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote

The Canary Islands have been high on my bucket list for a long time. With our Windstar cruise, we finally made it to four of them. I've already reported on our days on Tenerife. The visits to La Gomera, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote were short cruise stops.

We elected to take ship excursions on La Gomera and Lanzarote. On La Gomera, our excursion took us to the forest of Garjonay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With parts of the forest reaching 4,000 feet above sea level, we had some fantastic views of the island. As we rode higher and higher into the forest, it got windier and colder. We drove through fog and along narrow roads twisting through the forest. Not what I expected from a tropical island.

From there we headed to a small village, down on the southwest coast. There it was warm with brilliant sunshine and I had a chance to shop in a local market, sit along the seawall and even rolled up my pants at the opportunity to put my feet in the water. We enjoyed the excursion and seeing an island that was very different from what we experienced on Tenerife.

Several excursions were offered for Las Palmas, Gran Canaria but it was the one stop where we had easy access to a Blue Flag beach. A 15 minute easy walk brought us from the ship's docking area to Las Canteras, a beautiful city beach. The weather wasn't optimal for the beach but as long as it wasn't raining, I was determined to go. We got two lounge chairs and an umbrella for 7,50 Euros. The young man setting it up for us knew what he was doing and the umbrella protected us from the wind and what there was of the sun. Jerry took advantage of the time to relax while I walked the whole beach and even got myself into the water ... I was determined!

Our final stop in the Canary Islands was the island of Lanzarote. We took another excursion here, this one taking us to the Fire Mountains, the wine district of La Geria, the salt pans along the coast at Salinas and views of the coastline of Los Hervideros. On Lanzarote, there is still a lot of geothermal activity and we saw examples of the heat reaching the earth's surface with an interesting 3-step demonstration near the visitor's center. First, soil from about 12 inches below the surface is placed in the palm of your hand. And it is QUITE warm. At the next step, brush is thrown into a pit about 2 feet deep, which smolders and then bursts into flame. At the third step, water is poured into a hole, with the result a man-made geyser. At the cafĂ© in the visitor's center, you can get a baked potato that is cooked over an open thermal pit.

We then reboarded our bus for a drive through the park. A very interesting fact about this road was pointed out to us. The gentleman who laid out the roadway wanted it to have the least impact on the landscape as possible. And it does, with almost no other part of the road visible from the part you were on. And while this island is volcanic like the other islands, it was very different from its neighbors.

Next stop was the beautiful coastline at Los Hervideros, created by the lava flowing into the sea. Love the color the water!

Our final stop on this excursion was the wine country. We have never seen wine grown this way, with the semi circular walls keeping out the wind and keeping in the moisture. Within each semi-circle is one grape vine, planted in a depression in the center of the stone wall. After a chance to sample some wine, it was time to head back to the ship.


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