Our expectations were set quite high for Baobab. A 5 star hotel should be the best of the best. Everything is arranged to make the guests stay as nice as possible. This was also our expectation, but sadly we found a couple of issues that were not as we expected.
First there was the weather. It rained all the time, and there were warnings about a cyclone! That is not a very common thing here in Gran Canaria, and of course this is not the hotels fault. The rain caused the hotel to turn into a place where the floor was covered with lots of towels and buckets. There was water everywhere, and the African themed hotel was clearly not made for rainy weather. All the entertainment was cancelled. At night there was nothing to see or to do, even inside.
There were other inconveniences. We could not park near the hotel. The guy near the entrance of the hotel had no idea. We were offered a welcome cocktail during our check-in. Two without and two with alcohol, but the offer never materialized. We did not receive anything and we were not explained anything about our drinks. We were clueless.
An elevator did not work, but this was not indicated anywhere. There was a huge queue for the breakfast buffet, where the queue was standing in the rain. Our room had a broken coffee machine. The drinks machine at the breakfast buffet (primarily used for coffee) also had hot water and milk options, but whatever your selection a drop of coffee was added at the end. The buffet had a big tray of raw eggs (next to the slightly hidden cooked eggs). I took a raw egg by accident, no idea why anyone would want a raw egg?
Before our checkout the kids were playing ping pong. Nice! but it was not meant to be. A member of the animation team came, saw and conquered. The pingpong table had to go, because of the bad weather. The simple fact that the table was located at a sheltered dry place (and in use by our kids!) did not matter.
The hotel itself was stunning. The architecture was breathtaking. The pools where everywhere and were really very nice. The greenery looks very nice. There were elephants, zebras, crocodiles and flamencos (all fake) all over the gardens, and it helped with the nice African feeling. There was a lot of personal walking around, doing their jobs, and the personal was very helpful. The rooms very nice and very big. Except for a broken coffee machine, and a led strip that was hanging around everything was in order. We had a well stocked mini-bar and a really nice big bath. Good beds. The room was great. A very nice view and a nice balcony, but this was unusable because of the weather.
Sioux City in Gran Canaria is a nice park to have a look at the wild west. With a bank robbery, gunfights, stampedes, running horses and cowboys and indians everywhere it is a really fun place to discover. We even had a BBQ included with our entry ticket.
The saloon was also in typical Cowboy like fashion. There was even a piano where Alex tried some of his songs. To bad the rough cowboys had already disables a couple of keys.
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.
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.
On the Monday after Carnival (this year on the 7th of March) there is a very typical celebration in Las Palmas. The party of the Indians. During this party everyone is dressed in white and the crowd slowly moves through the main street ‘Triana’ starting in the ‘San Telmo’ square towards the ‘Plaza de la Rana’ square. There is always some Canarian band playing and everyone tries to keep close to the music. At the same time everyone is throwing powder in the air. The distance is only about 1 kilometer but the crowd needs a few hours to reach the end point.
The main street can be recognized from a very big distance because an enormous white cloud is hanging above it. The cloud exists out of the power that is being strayed into the air by the attendants. Once you enter the street everything is white. The ground, the air, your glasses, your clothes, everything. In the street the only thing you do is follow the partying crowd and follow the music, stopping a lot of times to spray powder into the air.
This is one of the most original parties in Las Palmas, and you could even compare it to queens day in Holland, with the only difference that everything is white instead of orange, and of course it is a much smaller scale.
This Sunday the people on the Canary Islands celebrate. Everyone will be eating typical Canarian potatoes with a nice ‘mojo’ sauce, honey rum, fish prepared in water from the ocean, almogrote, and everything typical the locals like to eat and drink.
Of course there are little markets all over the place selling local products and to make everything even better the Monday after the party is a holiday as well!