Chill out day
A long day just getting from A to B with a little bit of haste thrown in.
Hayley left for the airport this morning so I escorted her to the bus stop to see her off.
We packed up and got a bus in the other direction to Morro Jable.
This is a nice little port town but does have extensive holiday hotels close by, this is the most touristy area we have been to on this island.
On arrival we did take a stop in a small bar for a couple of beers, we wanted to check Hayley had got to the airport OK. She responded to tell us she was still stuck on a bus, which was a surprise as the bus she took should have got her to the airport 2 hours early.
Her flight was only an hour away so we were pretty concerned, so much so we did some research and found a later flight she could take and let her know so that she didn’t need to worry.
She eventually got to the airport in time and managed to check in with 10 mins to spare before check-in closed.
A nice older German couple stopped for a chat, their granddaughter lives in Cardiff and they had very good English.
We had lunch on the sandy beach of tuna on a fresh baguette with tomato and a lemon drink, this felt a little surreal as this is our normal lunch method to buy from a spar and each as a picnic but we were sat in front of a load of restaurants that were serving the hoards. I am only a little jealous but it seems so extravagant spending our hard earned savings on the food we can prepare ourselves.
We took a ferry to Gran Canary, it took 2 and a half hours the weather was OK but the ship was rolling enough that you bounced off the walls, simply walking down the corridors.
As we disembarked the ferry, a staff member called us back, there was a bus they wanted us to take into the city of Las Palmas. We waited for ages for this bus, it turned up eventuality and was free. Another couple from Germany had also been called back, they started to get very agitated by the process as they had a meeting to attend at 21.00 and it had already gone 20.00. The ferry staff insisted we could not walk off the port, which seemed very strange and a little frustrating.
We had tried to book some accommodation for our first night in Gran Canaria but the cheaper accommodation was AirBnB type places. This isn’t normally a problem but the booking system means that the host has to confirm the booking and this can take up to 24 hours.
Our first request was turned down as an existing booking had extended their stay, the second was cancelled by Agoda, for no apparent reason. The host contacted us to offer us a discount but after a lot of ping pong email, we decided against using the property. Agoda blocked our telephone number exchange which made it really difficult to communicate with each other. As it was late we ended up booking a serviced apartment at 50 euros this was much higher than we normally pay and was very small and not really worth the money we spent.
The free bus service drove us past the room we had booked and deposited us a fair walk away. I tried to negotiate with the driver, but he was having none of it. Ginette’s foot is still very sore so rather than walking the 5m back to our room we, fortunately, found a taxi, which was very cheap only €4.
We finally settled down in our noisy room with a home cooked meal, the kitchenette was small but functional. To chill out and block out the noise we watched a film on Amazon videos.
We have watched 3 films in the past week and all have been decent, usually, we flick through lots and end up watching rubbish or none at all.
We are open to any recommendations for books or/and videos
Slept surprisingly well. We had a number of tasks to complete in the morning including, shopping for food and support shoes for my feet. We also had to find some accommodation. Las Palmas was virtually full and the accommodation that was left was either bunk rooms or too expensive for our tight budget. I decided to look further afield and found a hostel in the mountains. I had hoped to rest by the sea, by the hostel had a good write up, it was set in a cave and offered free bikes and great walks in the surrounding area. The only issue was it was 80km away. Fortunately, public transport in the Canary Islands is really easy to use, punctual and very cheap. We had to take a taxi to the bus station, costing 6 euros, followed by a bus to a town called Teror which is beautiful, it had a real Swiss Ski resort feel to it and worth the 4 euro bus fare (for 2 people). We had an hour and a half in the town before catching the second bus to Juncalillo a further 6 euros for the pair of us. The drive up to the town was stunning, the road hugged the mountain, the scenery was so green and vibrant, and a stark contrast to the other islands we’ve visited on this adventure. The bus had to sound its horn every time it went round a bend the road was very narrow and cars coming down the hill had to give way to the bus. I would not like to be a bus driver in this region.
From Juncalillo we had a 3km walk to our accommodation, which was a downhill road with stunning views across the valley. Daniel our host met us at the accommodation, which was a little run down, it could be described as rustic. The bedrooms are set into the caves, ours is a very dark compact room, with a small lamp sat on a chest of drawers and a mirror. Our bags are on crates at the end of the bed. There’s no room to walk around the bed, which means we are going to have to be very organised otherwise it could be very uncomfortable. The hostel has a shared kitchen and living area. The kitchen is well stocked with coffee, tea, herbs and spices and the fridge contains beer with an honesty box system (1 euro per small can). The seating area is only big enough for 2 people and is really only useful for watching the TV, which we are not likely to do. Outside the property, there’s plenty of seating area, a couple of hammocks and some rest beds. I would love to have a couple of pots of paint to tart the place up, it is a little neglected and is in much need of some TLC. However, it has a nice, relaxed vibe to it.
We are sharing the hostel with a young Spanish couple and a man named Gary from Carlisle. We spent some time with Gary, getting to know him, he reminds me of Hayley, he is 50 years old, works in a care home, he has two teenage boys and he’s separated from his wife. He confessed he has a tendency to fall over. We enjoyed his company, he was easy going and he’d booked in for the same time period as us. How strange is that, we travel to a remote part of Gran Canaria to book into a hostel with another Gary from the UK. It is a small world.
We took a walk to the bar come supermarket for some provisions, this was situated 0.3km away from our cave and was quite expensive. The nearest large supermarket is a further 13km away, Gary has agreed to take one of the bikes to purchase our next lot of shopping. It is very hilly around here and I do not have my cycle shoes with me so I may give that trip a miss.
The evening was spent cooking dinner and reading our Kindles.
Slept well in our cave last night, it’s cool but not cold and very dark and quiet.
We walked across the other side of the green valley with Gary from Carlisle, there are some older cave drilling’s in the hill and some are of archaeological importance. There was some information about these caves. One has a conical shape with a skylight which is thought that the sun was used at certain times of the year as some type of marker – I wasn’t paying full attention to the signs. The area is fascinating as it’s all on steep cliff edges and even though these particular caves are ancient just across the valley are many similar but more modern cave houses still lived into this day.
Ginette took the road back to our cave-dwelling once we reached the reservoir after all she is supposed to be resting.
Gary and I did a longer circular walk
I had taken the fishing rod in the hope to catch dinner, the first reservoir was green algae colour and had no fishing signs. The higher reservoir was a much better colour and we could see lots of large fish, unfortunately, there were also no fishing signs here as well.
We saw a sign for pottery and walked up the track, we didn’t find the pottery but the narrow pathway actually led to several houses. I thought to get to our own home in Loxton was bad enough but how these people get to and from there homes must be a daily struggle. We did see other caves dug out of the rock by the road which may be carports but we didn’t see many cars.
Walking further up the track we disturbed a lone male dutch walker having a naked swim.
The area is so green, as green as the UK but the vegetation is very different, loads of cacti for a start. And a plant called a century plant. This has a main stem that grows about 10 feet and only flowers once after about 20 years, once flowered the whole plant then dies. There are loads of these around some still alive and others dead and collapsed having flowered.
Now I am getting on a bit I think I am a bit like one of these century plants but at least I eventually recover after flowering.
This afternoon I have been trying to learn the chords on the Ukulele I have with me, and Ginette is having a go at learning Spanish.
We popped to the local bar in the evening for a small beer and to pick up a bottle of red wine for €2.50 to bring back to the cave.
I didn’t sleep well last night, perhaps the little walk didn’t wear me out enough.
Ginette is still resting her heel, she is doing Yoga to stretch her calves as this is supposed to help her condition.
I used one of the mountain bikes to go shopping at the closest larger town.
The route was pretty much up all the way, which was 13k. the town was Artenara, this is the highest town in Gran Canary at 1260 m.
The views on the route were great but once at Artenara they turned out to be stunning as you could now see to the South across a very mountainous landscape.
The town is not that big but was very pretty and well kept, there were three mini supermarkets to choose from and in the end, I did a bit of shopping in each one, filling up my empty 50ltre rucksack with lots of food and some drinks. The shops were a little cheaper than our closest ones but still pricy compared to the main towns.
The ride back was down, down and down again. There was a short uphill stretch to the caves and this was pretty difficult with the rucksack on my back, especially when the chain jammed when trying to get into a lower gear, so I had to sort it out and restart on a steep section.
Dinner was Papas Arrugadas with Moya Picante, fish and broccoli.
We have a new guest staying in the hostel, a 35-year-old greek girl that is working in Berlin called Olympia. She was free-spirited, played a strange instrument and sighed a lot.
Daniel, our host (returned to do some cleaning, he’d been on site when we arrived. Apparently because the wifi is poor he spends most of his time in Gaudy so most of the time we don’t see him). Once he’d cleaned the hostel, he let us use his distillery. He had purchased this online and although it can be used to distil alcohol we only had the natural ingredients to produce an essence.
We cut fresh lavender and added this to water in the main pot. Lit the boiler which was a bit like a paella cooking ring. Once boiling we cooled the evaporating steam with a coiled water coiler and produced a large bowl of Lavender essence.
It smells nice but tastes shit.
Still resting in the cave hostel.
I went for a walk on my own up the hills opposite the reservoirs, this was a 13 k round route and as it was pretty hilly gave me a bit of exercise.
I met a Local walking group, they were going down the same track I was on, one of the group spoke excellent English so we chatted for quite a while, swapping E-mails so if they came to the UK we could offer help in some manner.
To pass the time I have been trying to learn the Ukulele, like Bruce I been plying till my fingers burned.
Ginette is pretty chilled and using her time to rest her foot, do some yoga and practice her Spanish. She is a little restless and concerned that the pain in her foot is not healing.
It is a beautiful and chilled out place to rest for a few days but we are looking forward to moving on, we’re not very good at resting.
I spoke too soon, last night we were joined by a couple from Holland, they took ages to settle, giggling and smooching, making several trips to the bathroom. Thankfully, they did not stay another night.
The Gary’s went for a walk to Artenara, it was a challenging and wet walk, they both returned exhausted, cold and very wet. Not long after returning the sun came out and warmed them up.
I had hoped to have the hostel to myself but Daniel returned to replenish the fridge and clean the hostel. As it was wet and cold outside I spent a good part of the day in our cosy cave reading. I love the cave it is so quiet and peaceful.
In the afternoon Gary, Gary and I were joined by another houseguest, Nanna from Holland, over dinner we realised that we had been in La Graciosa at the same time as her. We could remember her doing yoga and moving her tent. Sometimes the world seems so small. We had a good natter over dinner, it is great meeting new people.
We left our cave this morning deciding to walk down the roadway, it’s a bit longer than the cross country route but it had rained a lot the previous day and would be wet.
We walked approx 9k up to Antanara, this was mostly up as you expect when you are walking to the highest town in Gran Canaria. On route, it was mostly tarmacked small roads but I took Net on a little excursion up a track so she could hear the frogs making their dinosaurs calls.
Ginette’s foot was initially OK but by Antanara she was sore.
This prompted us to consider our options.
We spent a while chatting and researching some possibilities, some of the sensible ones are as follows.
1. Hire a car.
2. Go around the island by bus.
3. Go home, get the bikes and travel the UK
We are not sure yet if Net can cycle.
4. Go home, get the bikes and take a ferry to Spain
5. Gary to finish the walk in Gran Canaria and Net go to Maspalomas
We have 4 more islands to visit, three of these are small so we may be able to set up camp and walk with no kit.
The above list seems straight forward but this was not an easy decision-making process. I was worried and a little selfish, after all, if Ginette can’t walk and can’t cycle what are we to do with the years we have off for travelling? (I have considered a rickshaw).
We have gone for option 5,
The bus Net needs only departs from Antanara at 11am each day, we decided to walk to the next large town Tajeda as the bus from there leaves more often. This was a 7.5k walk along a road.
The views from this road were great but there was no path so it was not great for us, at least the road was fairly quiet. Due to the terrain of cliffs both sides we couldn’t find a campsite until we were just outside our destination.
We camped in someone’s lemon grove hidden from sight.
I took a walk into the town to get Net her ration of wine and sweets.
Dinner was cuscus veggie and tinned fish.
Ginette actually managed this 7.5k better, she’d popped lots of anti-inflammatories so we will see how she feels tomorrow.
Ginette’s foot is not well enough to walk far on so we did the short walk to Tejeda so Net could catch the bus to Maspalomas.
After swapping some kit around and a little food shopping I left Net waiting for the bus.
My walk from Tejeda went up for 5k to intersect the Camino route. It was all on unpaved tracks and quite steep in places so a hard start to the day.
Once on the Camino trail, the walk took me up even higher and followed mountain ridges for most of the day. Some fantastic views but a lot of thigh burn.
Most of the morning I had clear views but you could see the clouds building up, by later in the afternoon I was walking in the clouds with only a few glimpses of the views when the clouds cleared for a minute.
One of the downs today was on a raised stone parapet what could be described as looking like the Great Wall of China, except this one zigzagged its way down the mountain like the switchback roads you have in the alps.
This was very scenic but again very hard work as it’s a lot of down and all on cobbled stones.
I ended up walking further than my body wanted as there was nowhere to camp on this downhill stretch, once I reached the outskirts of San Bartolomé de Tirajana I spotted a small pine wood in a flat area that would make a campsite. I detoured into town as I was getting low on water, it turned out to be another couple of k and all downhill.
Once stocked up I made my way back up the hill, my decision on where to camp came easily as it started to rain. Whilst the rain was heavy I sheltered under some trees then once it had died down a bit headed back to the woods I spotted earlier.
I am now hiding in said woods but it’s quite close to the houses.
As I write this one of my neighbours is playing loud and annoying music.
Missing my Net, camping wild in wild places is great, but having to hide in places close to towns is very restricting, for a start I am having to be quiet.
I waited an hour and a half for the bus to arrive, it was a long and cold wait. Some cyclists stopped to talk to me, the leader owned a bike/hiking company in Gran Canaria. He was really interested in our walk, he felt that walking and cycling in the Canary Islands was not as rewarding as the Alps. He explained that in the evening it was great to meet up with people but in the Canary Islands it was very quiet in the evenings unless you were in the tourist areas. I explained we were wild camping and therefore we had not noticed. He was most impressed and a little shocked.
The bus took 2 hours to get to Maspalomas, I hadn’t booked any accommodation so headed off to find a bar with internet access. I ordered my drink and asked for the wifi password only to realise I only had 15 minutes free time. I managed to write down an address to hand to a taxi driver. Unfortunately, I had not checked whether the hotel had a reception desk and I was dropped off in front of an apartment block with no access. It wasn’t a big problem I could see a hotel down the road so decided to book in there for one night and sort out my accommodation the next day. It wasn’t my day the hotel had a minimum booking policy as had all of the hotels in the area and I needed to book in for 3 days. As they had free internet I agreed to stay for the 3 nights but I was totally frustrated to find the internet was intermittent at best. I complained and the receptionist informed me with a big smile, it works sometime, sometime not.
The hotel is brilliant for people taking a weeks holiday, there are swimming pools, restaurants and bars. A number of families and couples are on site and I have a room full of loud young men next door to me. It is not so great for a woman on her own, but I shouldn’t complain, there’s plenty of sunshine and I have my kindle and the internet to keep me company.
I do feel a bit low, it was my idea to walk the Canary Islands and I really enjoy walking but I have looked on the internet and the advice is really clear I need to rest it or make it worse. I will make an appointment to see a doctor tomorrow. I can’t believe that after a week it still is really painful to stand on it.
A cold night, I had to sleep fully zipped up and with my head fully covered inside the bag.
It was still wet in the morning and I packed up all the wet kit and set off with no breakfast.
After an hour the path had again gone up the side of a mountain so I was in a great sunny spot. I put the tent up in the path and laid all the other wet stuff out to dry.
This gave me time to have breakfast of porridge and coffee and practice my Ukulele. This was a lovely spot and it’s a shame that we haven’t been able to find camping spots like this to sleep each evening.
I had just packed away when a walker came by, it would have been funny if he came by with all my kit laid out. The walk continued up this mountainside giving great views of St Bartholomew below. At the top was a small saddle which presented views both sides of the mountain, in the distance, you could just make out where the mountains meet the sea, my target but for tomorrow. A German couple had reached the top with me so they kindly took my photo.
This was a crossroad of tracks and I was the only one that took my route that I was aware of. Heading towards the sea along the mountain ridge with some stunning scenery was beautiful.
I was trying to learn some new Spanish phrases so was repeating these like a mantra as I was walking the problem was that the song I was learning on the Ukulele get getting in my head and I found myself forever singing over and over again the same bloody tune “are you lonesome tonight”. I could look at the Spanish phrase and start repeating it only at some stage to find this song playing again.
I took several breaks and snack breaks, even played the Ukulele several times, might as well as the song was still running on a loop.
The going was hard on the legs, thigh burn and calf ache as the terrain was hilly up and down and the paths were sometimes large rubble type so you had to take care where to put your feet.
The last 14k followed down a valley and along a riverbed, this was really hard going like 70% of this was large rounded loose stones so it slowed down the pace and I had to watch my feet constantly. It was raining a little so I covered the rucksack with its waterproof cover.
At 5k to go, it was 5pm, there was no point setting up camp when I was so close to the end so I text Net to let her know I would be in Maspalomas for the night.
The last 5k was just about grunting out the miles, the track had changed to a loose gravel road so I set a good pace, initially the walk was still in a ravine which may have been pretty but because I was nearing a large tourist resort there were the usual signs of human rubbish in piles dotted around where we useless humans feel we have the right to dump our shit.
I was now encountering a few more of these human things, I had a few runners go by and a guy on a motorcross bike.
Reaching Maspalomas I took a taxi ride to the hotel for 3€, but it cost me 5 as I didn’t ask for the change.
It was great getting back with my lover, my body was weary but I had a good walk.
Ginette – my day was spent finding a doctor and then later finding a pharmacist. I have lots of inflammation in my foot. The doctor did not speak very good english, I asked what caused it and he said ‘walking’ and ‘impact’. I explained I had rested it for a week but it was still painful and he told me ‘no you do not rest, you do not take care’ I risked asking what would happen if I continued with our walk and he said ‘you stupid, cause more damage, disability, wait until you have no pain’. He prescribed two lots of drugs, one for pain one for inflammation and two lots of creams. One for the inflammation and one for scar tissue injury. At least this is what I think I have got. I will continue to take it easy. We are heading for El Hierro, we should be able to walk without our rucksacks.
I was so excited to get Gary’s text message, I thought I was going to have 2 or 3 nights on my own. He looked so weary when he arrived but it was so good to see him. He’d walked 56km in two days – just so he could see me. Love is….
Slept well, we had a lazy morning choosing which island to visit next, it is a hard life. We have decided to fly to El Hierro, our flight leaves on the 31st March from Las Palmas.
Once we’d booked accommodation etc we made our way down to the famous sand dunes – WOW!! I am sure many of you have visited them already but they took our breath away. We stumbled across a naturist beach and thought what the hell and stripped off, when in Rome… it was so liberating taking our kit off and just letting everything hang out. Gary was braver than me and took a dip in the sea, it looked pretty cold so I remained on the beach enjoying the sea and the views. It is amazing to think at 18, I would never have dreamt of taking my clothes off but now I’m 50 it seemed the most natural thing in the world. I suppose that is the beauty of getting older