This year we visited Torrevieja again with the family. A vacation marked by hanging around the pool, or squeezing our towels in on a small piece of beach populated by a massive crowd. Keeping in mind we need to apply sunblock every couple of hours because the sun here is merciless.
Overall the most important thing is that the kids enjoy themselves, and this is very easy here. At times even we get some profound relaxation done then the kids doze off, or when they are playing with they friends.
Sometimes I find myself with a dilemma. Do I grab a movie, or is it better to shoot some pictures. A difficult choice at times and in Leeds I made the wrong choice. I made lots of pictures, and only a short movie of a wonderful micro-concert by our own Alex.
It was the typical spam message that notified us of some very cheap tickets to all over the world. Directly to the trans I thought, but Ana thought different. She started to look around and figure it all out. All the destinations around the world were quickly reduced to only a very few options. From Gran Canaria we could fly for cheap to Leeds and that was about it. Still, a round trip would cost us only 22 euros, so why not, we got the ticket.
Four days we were in Leeds, and it was cold and rainy, but we had a lot of fun. We took Alex with us and he loved the early norming breakfasts with bacon, and ofcourse the fish and chips.
Who would have thought it possible that Ana would be the main news in the local papers thanks to Angelina Jolie. Ana does research and screening for generic markers related to breast cancer. A topic that recently became world news thanks to Angelina. The current awareness resulted in interviews, newspaper articles and publications.
Since the end of the world did not occur Alex got in the mood to take a little more risks. He wanted to visit some crocodiles. Luckily for his there is a big park with crocodiles (cocodrilo park) right here on Gran Canaria near Agüimes and they claim there are more than 300 crocodiles walking around the park. During our visit we could even touch a few little crocodiles and Alex liked this a lot. In the park there were a lot more animals like chickens, rabbits, parrots, snakes, dear, monkeys and more and Alex at times didn’t know where to look. Some of the animals like the chickens and the rabbits seemed to be in high risk to end up as crocodile food but this is maybe just my incorrect assumption.
The ark itself was very charming. It was almost the opposite to a normal commercial park. The tickets to get in were cheap. The food was priced normally and the park was big enough to spend a couple of hours. The park is closed on Saturdays and open the rest of the week from 10:00 till 17:00. At 1 they feed the crocodiles which is like a show and afterwards there is a clown performance.
Surprisingly, the personal was not commercially trained, but they were ‘real’. The boy that was clearly there to take our picture with some parrots did not even bother to make a picture. He started telling us about his parrots and that sometimes one of them bites. One female parrot could be held by men, but did not like to be held by women. We were allowed to pet the parrots and continued our stroll through the park.
An older Canarian that worked on the park took some time to tell us about his work and his relation with one of the apes. In his time working at the park he had developed a relation with one of the apes,Judith, and now he trusted the ape and the ape trusted him. I have never seen a person talk with so much emotion about his relation with and ape and even enter in a discussion with said ape. This was very nice to see.
Gran Canaria is a small island of about 40 kilometers. The capital of the island is Las Palmas and, surprisingly for such a small island, this is one of the 10 biggest cities in Spain. The strange thing about Gran Canaria is that the island is divided in two distinct parts, north and south. Las Palmas is in the north of the island and here it is often a little clouded. The south is the domain of the tourists. Here you will find lots of hotels and the best beaches. The area has the most sunshine of the island. The weird thing is that the inhabitants of the island actually refer to ‘the south’ when they talk about the tourist areas.
The passed Easter weekend we enjoyed a holiday in the south. Together with some friends from Madrid who were visiting the island we rented an apartment. We were three couples, three babies and one pregnant girl so basically what we did was bath in the sun (Alex beneath a parasol) and stay near the apartment because it is difficult to make plans with one baby.. but making plans with three babies is an impossible task.
Alex enjoyed his holiday a lot and even applying factor 50+ sunscreen did not seem to bother him. He slept very well and got used to being around other babies. At first he was a bit scared of all those strange new people around but he adapted quickly to his new surroundings and to the new people picking him up. Alex even had a surprise for us, after the holidays he is suddenly talking a lot more! He keeps muttering and a word we hear a lot is ‘tit’. He’s just like his father.
In the first quarter of 2012 Spain needs to save 8,9 million euro. The government wants to reduce the deficit and does this by freezing the salaries of civil servants and higher taxes on income, savings and property.
We have noticed the changes up close. After 5 years of loyal service you suddenly get a contract for a month. You should have had an indefinite contract after being employed three years. Your salary went down last year and this year it drops again a little bit, and suddenly you have to work on some Saturdays. The future is unsure and nobody knows what will happen. Uncertainty and rumors are everywhere. This is what is going on with the personal of hospitals in Spain. The government is cutting back on spending, and doing it rigidly. What will be the result?
Thy cannot stop all these contracts, because it will increase the unemployment rate a lot, and they will have to pay all these unemployed people (there is already an unemployment rate of around 20%). It’s true that an unemployed person gets less money, but his contribution to the economy is zero. On the other hand the uncertainty is resulting in a direct stop in unnecessary spending. A new car… lets wait a while ans see what happens. Slowly the Spanish economy is coming to a stop, and it will be quite a task getting it running again.
This weekend I was planning to follow the wine route of the Gran Canary Island with a couple of friends.
Although I’m really ignorant about wines I do like to drink a glass of wine every now and then. I found out that the Gran Canary Island has quite a history of growing grapes and wine production. Between the 16th and 18th centuries wine was the most important exported product.
Right now wine has no more importance for the local economy but there are still a number of sites near the capital Las Palmas where the still have some production of wines.
The value of wine production for the touristic industry is slowly being increased, because the locals found out that there is profit in wine drinking tourists, but there is still a long road to travel. There is a route past six bodegas near Las Palmas. Sadly you need to inform quite specifically in an information point to get the information and than you need to arrange everything yourself. Call the bodegas yourself, make the appointments and arrange transport for the visits.
There is no need to go unprepared. A document to value the wines is a good thing to bring.
In the end the wine route proved to be a typical Spanish thing. If you don’t speak Spanish it will be impossible to make any arrangements. From the six bodegas 2 could not be reached. One was closed and another was only interested in bigger groups. A third was only open from 17:00 till 20:00, but only on Saturday. The last bodega told me we were welcome in October.
Finally we cancelled our wine route. Not so unexpected that this route is no so much published. Maybe in some months we’ll try again.
Right in the middle of Gran Canaria you find a nice piece of nature and in the middle of it all a nice big rock called ‘Roque Nublo‘. The name simply means rock in the clouds.
This rock used to be revered by the original inhabitants of the island who thought it was a holy rock. On this photo you see the rock and on the background the volcano of Tenerife, the Teide, which is also the highest point of Spain.
The most stunning think about La Gomera was the beautiful nature we encountered. Ancient forests with Laresilva trees and a huge amount of walking routes crisscrossing the island. In the forest we could at times clearly see the horizontal rain. These are clouds that are hanging low over a track in which you can see the wind moving. The wind makes the little drops in the clouds move horizontally of even upwards.
A lot of the mountains contained lots of terraces. These were created by the old Gomerians to cultivate all kinds of plants. Surely this must have been a lot of work. Still at times you can see banana trees, potatoes or grapes in some places, but the vast majority of terraces is not being used any more. The locals must have moted that working for the tourists is much more profitable than working with plants. A sad loss of tradition, but very good for providing beautiful imagery.
The boat trip to the island was like a roller coaster ride. I enjoyed it a lot, but Ana was less pleased with the trip. To see a typically shaped cliff you needed to get another boat trip to have the best view, but this was out of the question after our experiences arriving at the island. Anyway, there were really a lot of these typically shaped rocks visible all over the island.