Gran Canaria 2005



What's covered?

The pictures and story of our September 2005 holiday in Gran Canaria, staying at the apartment of our friend David Poole.

It's mostly an album and diary for ourselves but you may find it useful if you are planning a visit or just want to find out what it is like on Gran Canaria.

Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria, The Canary Islands

Several times Gill and I had considered asking our friend David Poole to let his apartment in Gran Canaria to us and we finally got round to organising it. It was an easy solution to not having booked anything earlier and fitted our preference to either self-cater or stay in a hotel but without meals included. Both leave us free to plan our days as we wish and eat when and where we choose.

Gran Canaria is one of those places that really does not understand the concept of summer and winter. It's more that there are two summers, one warmer than the other but at worst the temperature is in the mid to upper twenties centigrade. It is a four hour flight from the U.K.

Puerto Rico gets write-ups in the guide books that are a bit less than favourable because of the extensive development of holiday apartments. The flip-side of that is all the local businesses are geared to the needs of tourists and that is what we were. Regard it as a base to travel to other parts of the island, take into account that there are plenty of good places to eat, and suddenly it has its attractions. Oh and did I mention the topless bathing? (No pictures here, don't get excited.)

David's Apartment

The apartment is comfortable and sleeps four in two bedrooms. It has all you need and is ideally located for the beach which is just five minutes walk away. There are also plenty of restaurants within a five to ten minute walk so no worries about driving home.

The entrance is down the steps by the right mirror of the motor-scooter.


Looking in the opposite direction.


Views from the balcony.



Over the roof you can see the harbour and beyond that is the Restaurant Puerto Escala.

The best red mullet I have ever tasted.




Thursday 8th September

In the morning we just pottered around Puerto Rico to get our bearings and did some shopping. After some lunch we went off to Mogan and Puerto de Mogan, a lovely fishing village which retains much of its character. Although there are modern developments there, they are on the edge of the village and there are strict controls on the old part.

We went to Oscar's new restaurant in the evening where David had left a bottle of Herederos Del Marques de Riscal, Rioja Reserve 2000 for us. It was an excellent choice and it was naughty of David to have left such an expensive bottle of wine, but it was greatly appreciated. The special was pork medallions on mustard sauce with spinach and potatoes. We both chose that and it was excellent.

Puerto de Mogan


Yes it is the yellow submarine.



On our way down to Oscar's we saw this guy who seems to make his living from building sand sculptures. As you can see, his dog had just given birth and was quite exhausted. Although he looked like a pretty hard sort of person, we later saw him feeding some of the puppies who were not getting enough milk.

This is the view from our table at Oscar's.

Friday 9th September

Friday saw us heading off into the mountains. Our route was via Maspalmonas, Fataga (do take a walk around), San Bartolomede Tirajana to Ayacata. From there we took the east route to Cruz de Tejeda and back to Ayacata via Tejada. The roads in Tejada are so steep you feel you are going to fall forward out of your car seat! We stopped at a very nice cafe on the outskirts of the town, near the petrol station. From Ayacata we returned on a different route that took us through Mogan and Puerto de Mogan. The roads are pretty twisty so even in a small car with very light steering it can be a bit tiring, but the views are worth the effort.

The evening found us back at Oscars enjoying an excellent rack of lamb in a herb sauce and swordfish on tagliatelli. When we got back to the apartment, we found the old Ealing Studios film, Kind Hearts and Coronets. A real classic. It was interesting to see Alec Guinness made up as an old man and how accurate they were in how he would look later in life.

There was no one to take a picture of us, so...




Back to the journey




Our hire car.

The ice cream stop.

In a village near Puerto de Mogan


Saturday 10th September

A fairly quiet day and unusually it was overcast all day. In the morning we went to the Commercial Centre for some shopping and to visit the internet bureau. We stayed in for lunch as Gill's back was a bit painful and in the afternoon Violette visited us. She looks after David's apartment and came to make sure everything was OK.

In the evening we strolled down to La Paloma for dinner and then returned to watch Sean Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. An apt title.

Sunday 11th September

David has a friend Georgette who is 84. Don't try to keep up with her social life, she will wear you out, even if you are still in your twenties. But I digress, David had told us of taking her to the village of Teror and it sounded like a nice place. Just don't go there on a Sunday, it's market day, and particularly not just after a festival. The police block access, the locals on the outskirts let you park on their property, for a fee, and it's a pretty steep walk. But do go some other day. We had lunch in a restaurant where we were the only non locals, they didn't speak any English and we didn't speak any Spanish, but we managed to communicate and the owners were very nice.

We drove back via the outskirts of Las Palmas and through Anguineguin. Dinner was a Chinese takeaway while we watched Patrick Muldoon and Tori Spelling in Deadly Pursuits.

Monday 12th September

In the morning we went to the beach where the breeze made the temperature quite comfortable. We just lounged around reading and listening to music and Gill ventured into the water for a long swim.

The afternoon was mostly spent lounging around the apartment although I did go to check my emails. Something had gone wrong on the servers and one mail box that should have had perhaps half a dozen emails had 2,300! That took a bit of sorting out. On returning to the apartment, I learned that England had won The Ashes!

The evening had a treat in store for us. We wandered around the harbour and saw the Restaurant Puerto Escala. It didn't look anything special but they had some passable live music and excellent views across the harbour from your table. We started with Home Style Fried Octupus, now that is basically garlic with some octupus for texture! An Irish couple nearby saw it and ordered it as it did look wonderful. We warned them it was strong on garlic but they assured us they loved garlic dishes. Later we asked if they had enjoyed it, their eyes were the answer! This was followed by the best red mullet I have ever tasted. It was done in the style of Canarian potatoes which is in a very light salt crust. Including drinks and the largest Grand Marnier seen, the total bill was just €51.


Tuesday 13th September

The guide books warn that Las Palmas is not a city for strolling around, it is too spread out. Typically we decided to go by car to give us flexibility and having parked under the Museo Elder, we left the car all day and used buses! First we took the bus to Triana which is one of the older areas of the city and walked along Calle Mayor de Triana, the main shopping street. There were many examples of the typical wooden balconies to be seen.

After walking through Triana, you find yourself in Vegueta with the Catedral de Santa Ana and Casa de Colon (Colon being Spanish for Columbus as in Christoper Columbus). Whilst the cathedral is not spectacular by international standards, the courtyard is quite beautiful. It is known as the Patio de las Naranjos and has orange trees and a small fountain.

The guide books are all careful to point out that Casa de Colon is somewhere that Christopher Columbus might have stayed at and they cast some doubts on the authenticity of what can be seen. We walked around the outside of the cathedral and found a pleasant square where we sat for a while. Then feeling hot and tired we made our way back to Alcaravanas, the commercial area near to where we had left the car. We found the El Corte Inglis department store which is located in two buildings on opposite sides of Avenida Mesa y Lopez and went straight to the seventh floor restaurant for a long cool drink. Some very nice stock in both buildings but a bit expensive by local standards.

On leaving the city we found ourselves heading north instead of south but decided it might be better to continue that way and then skirt around the city, rather than go back through the centre. It proved to be a good move and we soon found ourselves heading back to the apartment.

Again we went to the Restaurant Puerto Escala where we enjoyed the sea bass and swordfish, but it was not in the same league as the red mullet last night.

Patio de las Naranjos


Inside the Catedral de Santa Ana


A wonderful old printing press in a building linked to the cathedral.

The square just around the corner.

The side of the square.

The Catedral de Santa Ana.

Wednesday 14th September

Hmm! Today we booked for a boat trip but we don't seem to have taken any photos! A lack of enthusiasm for part of the day accounts for that...

The sales pitch for the trip on the Sagitarius Star was seeing dolphins and / or whales, two swimming stops, a buffet lunch and drinks all day plus optional jet-skiing, para-skiing or banana boating and they delivered what they offered.

For the first hour or so I sat at the front of the boat. That is also the worst place to be in choppy water, which it was for a boat of this size. I have only once been travel sick on a on a sea-cat crossing of the English Channel when virtually everyone else was sick as well. However, my stomach did feel a bit unsettled so I took advice and sat inside at the back of the boat. Hence few photos. Fortunately I fairly soon recovered and enjoyed the excellent lunch provided. As you can see, Gill enjoyed the swimming stops.

When we got back to the apartment, we decided that we didn't really want a large meal so we stayed in and had a pizza with some extras that Gill conjured up from nothing, which she is good at. This was accompanied by tonight's DVD, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges in K-PAX.


Thursday 15th September

A lazy day. We just hung around the apartment reading and listening to music. During the day we had looked through David's folder of business cards from recommended restaurants and decided to try Maria Salinas. A wise choice.

The lady at the entrance told us that the chef had won several awards and the descriptions in the menus suggested that the chef was more professional than some others. When we asked what the fish of the day was Carlos, the chef, came to our table. He explained that there were in fact three choices and went to a lot of trouble to explain the differences and the relative merits of each. We followed his advice that this is the best time of year for tuna, at least in that part of the world, and it was truly excellent. With a dessert and half bottle of wine for me, the bill came to €72 but it was worth the extra.

Exhausted by the effort of going to the restaurant, we returned to the apartment to watch Jaded. The film was written, produced and directed by women and told the story of a woman raped by two other women. The law at the time only recognised rape as being a crime that a man could commit and covered the difficulties of bringing the case to court. Subsequently US law has been changed.

Friday 16th September

Today started with a bit of a panic when the landline phone rang at 8 am. Only three people had the number. Unfortunately not having my glasses on, I managed to cut the call off instead of answering it. I managed to find the instructions for the phone and found out how to ascertain who had called. That told me it was our neighbour John. Thinking he would not have phoned unless there was a problem, the thoughts that went through my mind were that his wife who was ill in hospital had taken a turn for the worse, something had happened to the house or our cars, or something had happened to our cat who spends half her life with our neighbours.

I made several calls back to our neighbour but there was no answer. So then I phoned our younger son who lives in the area and the concern levels were raised when he responded that he had just spoken to John. There was no cause for concern though. The only reason they had spoken was that Philip (our younger son) had been talking to his builder before leaving home and that had distracted him. When the conversation finished, he shut the boot of his car and went to the door to get in. Because the car had been unlocked for some time without the doors being opened, the security system kicked in and had automatically locked the doors. When Philip reached for the key, he realised it was in the boot which by now was also locked! So he had to borrow the builder's old van (bit of a come down from a Porsche) and drive over to our house for the spare key. That is why he had spoken to our neighbour and all was well.

So why had John phoned. Quite simply I had spoken to him soon after we arrived in Puerto Rico to ask after his wife and make sure he was OK. I had said I would phone at again at the end of the week but he had decided to phone us instead. What a chain of events ensued!

Friday is market day in Puerto de Mogan so we caught the ferry rather than drive there, we knew parking would be an issue. By the time we had wandered around the market, it was late morning so we found a nice little bar with some tables outside and a nice outlook (see first photo below). By the time we had finished our drink it was lunchtime so we stayed and order some tapas. We had to wait a long time for it but it was worthwhile, plenty to eat and very good. It became our main meal of the day and when we got back to the apartment in the evening we just snacked while watching Anthony Hopkins and Brad Pitt in Meet Joe Black.

Taken from our table

Puerto de Mogan

How many harbours have water this clear?


Saturday 17th September

Not having used the car for a couple of days we decided we would take a trip up the west side of the island. It turned out to be a trip around the whole island! Our route was via Mogan, Veneguera, San Nicolas de Tolentino, Agaete, Galdar and Las Palmas.

The west coast road is very twisty but even though it was Saturday, the roads were quiet and the scenery made the drive worth the effort. If anyone should trace this route, you will come to some green rocks just after Veneguera and nearby are some roadside refreshments. Do try the mix of papaya, orange and banana. Very unusual and very enjoyable. Lunch was at Puerto de las Nieves and you might want to consider retracing your steps from there. Whilst it means driving along the twisty roads again, it's good for the arm muscles and the scenery does justify it. We went back via Las Palmas and it was nothing like as spectacular.

In the evening it was back to Restaurant Puerto Escala intending to enjoy the red mullet again but they had run out. We settled for sea bass which was good but just not in the same league. This was followed by the video "I know what you did last summer". The moral of this one was "if you murder someone, do make sure they are dead".

Sunday 18th September

Another lazy day. Gill went for a swim while I went up to the internet bureau where I went through the process of checking in. My thanks to British Airways web site designers for letting me go through the process up to the point where you select an airport and finding Las Palmas was not on the list. That was followed by the usual attempts to find other ways of doing it. My reference number told them where I was flying from, why not just say that I could not check in online?

We decided we had enjoyed Maria Salinas so much that we went back and Gill enjoyed suckling pig while I had an excellent steak with Spanish sauce (a mix of herbs). While eating we realised we had not had the paella we had promised ourselves. You cannot go to Spanish territory and not have a paella. The chef told us that they were not open the next day which was to be our last but he recommended a place nearby.

Then back to watch Michael Douglas in "Don't say a word". The story of a psychiatrist whose daughter is kidnapped to force him to extract a code from a patient.

Monday 19th September

After packing and tidying the apartment we went off for our paella. The name of the restaurant was Popeye and it was in an area where most of the places we would have walked past. However it had been recommended by someone we trusted and they served us an excellent paella.

Late afternoon we set off for the airport and our flight home.


Map of Puerto Rico

For the benefit of David's other friends who might stay at the apartment, I have marked some locations on the map below.

1 = The apartment

2 = Restaurant Puerto Escala

3 = Oscar's Restaurant

4 = La Paloma (next but one to Oscar's Pub)

5 = Maria Salinas Restaurant

6 = The Commercial Centre