Sunday, 23 March 1997

Canaries with Attitude

My travels and other animals, a brief account of a holiday unbounded

Morning, Sunday 23 March 1997
Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Woke up. Oh dear, what happenend last night? What did I do? What did I drink? How much did I drink? Did I just drink? Did I do anything else? Technically, it is 2 o’clock in the afternoon, but I haven’t had breakfast yet.

We arrived at the seaport a little late and a little tired. We were the last of the boat, for some reason Christian wanted to go to the toilet on the boat after we had docked. I guess everybody goes to the toilet when they need to. We quickly located a ‘phone box after disembarking, without having to ask anyone where it was in Spanish. We had learnt it after all. We tried ringing Nicolette’s number but a Spanish woman’s recorded voice started telling us something at about 90 mph. We couldn’t work it out at all. Was it that we were ringing the national code as well? Or was it that Nicolette’s ‘phone was barring calls from pay ‘phones?

We eventually gave up and trudged outside to the taxi rank. The taxi driver looked perplexed at the addressed but motioned for us to get in. He drove off the dock, no not into the sea, but into the town. The taxi driver headed one way up the promenade, went down an undepass, turned around and headed back. After a couple of minutes he stopped and pointed to a pathway. It felt like we could have walked, but since we didn’t know where to, it did seem worth paying the 500 pesatas for the trip. The apartment was on the first floor with no view, so EM Forster was a little lost. However, it was about 30 yards from the north beach, with palm trees and waves crashing in from thousands of miles away.

The town is a strange shape being built next to, and on, an isthmus. The main part of town faces across the sea to the east, the north end of which is the isthmus with the port on it. Then other side of the isthmus, which stretches to an island to the north east, has a north facing coast which is the part of town that we will be in. The north promenade is called ‘Paseo de las Canteras’ with the beach known as ‘Playa de las Canteras’. Well that’s hard isn’t it. It has a reef about hundred metres out into the bay called ‘La Barra’ which shelters the beach from the really rough weather coming in from the north. When you look out to sea, you see massive waves crashing over La Barra, windsurfers doing their little dance over this turbulence, followed by a much less dramatic lapping of waves on the beach itself. Sometimes this gentle lapping bursts over the paseo, so I dread to think what the windsurfers put up with further out.

The evening began well, at about 10 o’clock with a Mexican restaurant at the east end of the paseo. The menus were in Spanish, which is actually okay since the food is as well. The beer was easy, Sol. The only perculiar thing was the free Tequila slammers at the end. This was perculiar as they provided you with a hardhat and then slammed the Tequila on your head. It had the desired effect.

After the meal we walked back along the paseo to a bar at the western end. It was about a 10 minute stroll with, at points, waves crashing against the walkway sending their spray over us. It was very windy but still warm enough for shorts. We met a number of Nicolette’s friends at the bar, all teachers, and proceeded to start on the vodka and tonics like they were going out fashion. The measures are a little different to English ones, like triple, so this a glowing affect. The bars are like Paris, where you order you drinks all evening and settle up at the end. Just imagine trying to do that in the ‘Falcon and Firkin’ in Hackney.

We decided to go on to another bar that had live music. This involved a taxi ride to the other end of Las Palmas, or 3 taxis as there were 10 of us by now. So we dashed of, leaving the last 3 people to pay for all the drinks (oops!), and got to this very dodgy back street bar with a couple of ‘gentlemen’ on the door. The music was an interesting combination of rock and roll and more traditional Spanish salsa, not really sure where it wanted to be. It might have been better to pick one camp or the other as it would have had a clearer message and been easier to let loose to enjoy. Perhaps it’s my expectations of what both those types of music ought to bring to me.

We left the bar at about half past three and headed to another place back in the north part of town. By now all was getting a bit hazy, and I decided that heading for bed was a good move. Well, actually my eyes were closing as tried co-ordinate the beer in my hand and the opening of my mouth.

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