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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Some tips for New Year's Eve



Spanish guitarist Ulises, one of the
musicians who will be playing at
the Cacatua bar  on New Year's Eve
There's plenty of entertainment to welcome the new year on La Gomera during 'Noche Vieja' (literally 'old night', i.e. New Year's Eve). The main fiestas will be in the larger towns' squares and in Valle Gran Rey it is the turn of the Plaza San Pedro in La Playa with two bands playing until 6am. In the capital the town's main square will fill up for the music around midnight.
Usually people ring in the new year with 12 grapes, one for every month of the coming year and a glass of cava (Spanish champagne) at midnight, often after a meal in a restaurant. Most restaurants will have special set menus which should include the grapes and a glass of bubbly. But do book early as they will fill to capacity.
There will be many open private and public parties and live music gigs in Valle Gran Rey, e.g. in the Cacatua the beer garden there''ll be live music and in its upper bar a DJ. It's situated in the harbour village of Vueltas, generally the most lively area at night. There's always a surprise in store at the now famous and best music venue of VGR, the Casa La Familia, a social club complete with camp fire and an alternative bohemian flair, which you'll find a bit hidden just off the main  road along the beach in La Playa. There's many more options all over Valle Gran Rey and I'm sure you'll be able to find them as you will hear them.
Some parties only get really going after midnight and continue until the early hours of the 1st of January, so make sure you have a good siesta-nap during the day before you go out...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Another UK newspaper features La Gomera

Large UK daily The Mirror published a nice feature about La Gomera written by Jaqui Thake in its travel section just a few days ago. I've posted most of it below and hope you can spot the few forgivable errors the author made:

''Island paradise of La Gomera is worth so much more than just a whistle-stop tour



Tall order: Dizzy diners look over the sea to Tenerife


''I have received a few whistles in my day – albeit many years ago – but never one as shrill and censorious as this. At the time I was driving in a pitch-black tunnel through a mountain in La Gomera. Loosely translated it meant: “For heaven’s sake, put your bleeping lights on!”
Whistling, as I will explain later, is a very important part of the island’s culture, but right then it only added to my stress
Of course, I would have put the blinking lights on, had I been able to find the switch. But I’d only been in the unfamiliar hire car for a short while and I was still trying to get to grips with driving on the wrong side of the road while negotiating continuous hairpin bends on precipitous mountain roads edged with sheer vertical plunges.

Hubby Tom was no help ­whatsoever. I could feel his fear as he sat rigidly hanging on for dear life – with both hands – to the handle above the door. Through tight, terrified lips he whined about how I should have left him on his sunbed...
Driving around this unique and fascinating island in the Canaries can only be described as ear-popping, heart-stopping and jaw-dropping. 
If you’re looking for discos, drinking orgies, fast-food outlets, tattoo parlours and bright lights (OK, I could have done with some in the tunnel) then La Gomera is not for you.


Scenic: The picturesque town of Agulo
There are no McDonald’s, there’s not even a single traffic light. But there are some of the most stunningly arresting views you’ll see anywhere. Craggy volcanic mountains, dense forests and black sandy beaches all paint a dramatic picture.
Even Tom had to admit it was worth the “discomfort” of my driving to experience this raw and wild adventure
We were told that La Gomera – which as the crow flies measures a mere 15 miles across (although it climbs to nearly 5,000ft) – has as many as 400 microclimates. I’m pretty sure we encountered all 400.
One minute we were driving through blazing sunshine, the next we would be shrouded in mist. Further up, or down, the road we’d be rocked by a furious wind or a sudden burst of torrential rain.
But it all added to the excitement. And only intensified the exhilaration of reaching probably the most sensational viewpoint on the island – from the Mirador de Abrante restaurant. Here we were given the best table in the house, right next to the overhanging glass balcony from which you can look literally straight down on to the cute town of Agulo, 1,300ft below, and across the sea to La Gomera’s big brother, Tenerife.
Height-phobic Tom sat with his back against the wall, refusing to budge any closer to the glass. He muttered something about already being on enough of a high holidaying with me. But it was a beautiful clear day so when he plucked up courage to open his eyes, he was rewarded with an outstanding view of Tenerife’s imposing volcano Teide.
But he shuddered as I followed a large group of “well-eaten” (as the locals put it) German tourists out on to the balcony as they gleefully jumped up and down on the glass floor.
However, he was compensated with a tasty traditional lunch of cress soup, fresh fish and an egg custard desert, plus delicious local wine. All the while we felt as if we were flying – along with the paragliders swooping and soaring as they jumped off a nearby cliff.
During lunch we learned more about the island’s ancient ­communication through whistling. This extraordinary language, called the Silbo Gomera, was developed centuries ago to cope with the difficult geography. ­Whistling carries much further than shouting. It can be heard up to two miles away.



Unspoiled: La Gomera is unlike any of the other Canary Islands
It almost died out some years ago, but since 1999 has been a compulsory subject in school, and has even merited the protection of UNESCO. Nowadays almost all the island’s 22,000 population understand it and many still practise it, particularly during festivities and ceremonies.
It’s very sophisticated, as demonstrated by our two waiters. One was sent outside while the other whistled to him: “Come back in and retrieve the pen from the pocket of the wimp in the checked shirt cowering against the wall.” Which he duly did.
The language is also very useful to express tunnel road rage.
Back on the road, we roamed all over the island. We were based for the first three days on the east coast in the main tourist area of Valle Gran Rey before making our way back to the capital, San Sebastian, for the last two days.
Our travels took us through the lush national park full botanical wonders, and north to Agulo where we stopped for a delicious tapas lunch at Restaurante La Vieja Escula. 
Another day we headed south to Playa de Santiago for lunch at the posh Hotel Jardin Tecina – beyond scrumptious.

Romantic Tom was upset that we didn’t have time to enjoy the hotel’s special dining experience in a real cave set in a hill. It’s so private dinner is delivered by basket on a cable. The cave is well furnished – it even has a huge bed. One wonders why, as you can’t stay overnight…
To further ensure we went home looking “well eaten”, we can recommend the delicious meal of fresh tuna, Canarian potatoes and salad served at sea while whale-watching aboard the Tina.
It was thrilling enough to see around a dozen Pilot whales and several Bottlenose dolphins. But we were totally overwhelmed when a pod of around 200 exuberant Atlantic spotted dolphins chose to leap around our boat.
If only I could whistle, it would be a piercing one in appreciation of all that La Gomera has to offer. We had a blast. ''    (www.mirror.co.uk)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Spanish April Fool's Day December 28th

If you should be in a Spanish-speaking country today don't believe everything you're being told or read in the paper. As our April Fools' Day is little known in Spain and Spanish-speaking Latin America the rough equivalent is El Día de los Santos Inocentes and is observed on Dec. 28th each year in much the same way as our April Fools' Day.
In its origins, the day had a sort of gallows humor. The Day of the Innocents observes the day when, according to the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible, King Herod ordered the baby boys under 2 years old in Bethlehem to be killed because he was afraid that the baby Jesus born there would become a rival. As it turned out, though, the baby Jesus had been taken away to Egypt by Mary and Joseph. So the "joke" was on Herod, and thus followed the tradition of tricking friends on that day.

La Gomera - not so far from the Sahara

Damien Enright, a former resident and connoiseur of La Gomera, reported the following in the Irish Examiner just before Christmas:

'' Robed figure resembled character from nativity scene

All that was missing was the camel. The half-lit scene of the large man wearing full Palestinian-style head-dress and robes standing by a stable beside a remote road in La Gomera, Canary Islands, the clear cobalt sky and a single star behind him, could have been a tableau for a Christmas night at Bethlehem, and the man one of the three kings.
He certainly looked authentic, a real Arab. The stable, supported by rough-hewn posts and roofed with broken terracotta tiles, could have been a stable 2000 years ago.
As my pal and I drove past, I wondered what a man in full Arab dress was doing in in the proverbial middle-of-nowhere, on this island that where there are almost no Arab immigrants whatsoever, and whose last north African visitation was the Mountain Berbers, the Guanches, who arrived on the islands, then unpopulated, around the 10th century.
The sudden glow of a cigarette tip convinced me that he was a local, probably having a quiet smoke before heading off to take part in some fiesta or other. He’s not an Arab, I said to my pal as we drove past. Oh yes, said my pal, he most certainly is. He’s from what was once Spanish Sahara. He and two dozen others are here to work in the banana plantations at La Dama.
They have little contact with the Gomero people, except at work. Almost all are single men, but there are three or four families — lucky for La Dama, because their children keep the local primary school open; otherwise the village would no longer have sufficient children to warrant a school. The area of Spanish Sahara, bounded by the Atlantic ocean to the west and the ocean of sand stretching from the Mauritanian border to the Red Sea to the east, was 266,000sq km. Ireland is 84,400sq km.
Its population, Desert Berbers called Sahrawis, wandered the oases of the vast territory, trading in camels, or lived in coastal villages, where they fished. They were uneasy with Spanish colonial rule, which lasted from 1884 to 1975, when Spain ceased to govern at the behest of the UN de-colonisation initiative. It was the last of Spain’s extensive colonies, which once stretched from the Americas to the Philippines.
I recall, when I lived in Ibiza in the early 1960s, the locals complaining that their sons were posted to Spanish Sahara’s dusty, no-horse town of Al Aaiún for their two-year compulsory military service while young men from the neighbouring island Majorca got postings on mainland Spain. Ibiza had been on the anti-Franco Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, and was still suffering for its allegiance.
When Spain gave up its colony, Morocco and Mauritania laid claim.
Meanwhile, a Sahrawi guerilla force known as Polisario attempted to create an independent state. They blocked Mauritanian occupation, but were defeated by Morocco in the Western Sahara War in 1975. The Moroccans built a berm, a sand wall running the length of what is now the western border of The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Polisario). It is economically useless and heavily mined, The Sahrawis fled to Algeria where 150,000 have lived in camps at Tindouf, and 25,000 in Mauritania, longer than almost any other refugees worldwide. The camps are largely self-governing.
Polisario’s socialist policy heavily emphasises modernisation through education, the emancipation of women and suppression of tribalism. Sahrawi women played a major part in pre-refugee life and now in camp administration. Western Sahara remains a disputed territory where the UN recognises neither Moroccan nor Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic sovereignty.
It is strangely apt that Berbers should find work in the Canary Islands where the pre-Spanish, indigenous settlers were Berber Guanches — and, especially, that they should come to La Gomera where Guanche DNA is found in 60% of the local people, double or triple that of the other islands.
The Guanches maintained no contact with home. Local names, however, and surviving phrases of their obsolete language reveal the connection; there is, for example, a town called Gomera in Libya. Once a Berber town, it might since have become Arabic and Muslim.
The Guanches were not Muslims; they worshipped gods of sun, moon and rain. Possibly they fled to the islands before the onslaught of Islam spreading across north Africa in the 6th and 7th centuries. They fell off the world’s edge and found paradise....'' (Damien Enright, Irish Examiner)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Swimmer bitten by shark

The tooth marks of the shark in the swimmer's arm. Image published on Twitter by the victim: @ojedathies

A 38-year-old doctor from Madrid on holidays with family on Gran Canaria had an unpleasant Christmas surprise when she was bitten in her lower arm by a shark while swimming only 20 yards out from a cliff near the beach at Arinaga, just south of the island's airport on Christmas Day.

Arinaga, Gran Canaria
The experienced hobby diver is a fellow of the European Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons and appeared unruffled by the ordeal. She smilingly declared that after hitting the shark hard with the arm that was not in the predator's mouth, ''the beast'' finally let go. The shark then vanished into the depths of the sea. The victim also stated that afterwards she was disappointed that it didn't return so she could have had a better look at the animal which she described as large and about 1,7 metres long. Immediately after the attack she attended the local health centre where she received a number of stitches in her arm and a course of antibiotics. She also said she was lucky that no tendons were severed.
Meanwhile biologists and other experts have issued statements that shark attacks in the waters around the Canary Islands are extremely rare and at most occur of once every 50 years and that Arinaga remains ''one of the best locations for swimming and diving''. From the victim's description and the corresponding bite marks the scientists conclude that the animal in question was probably a Silky shark (Carcharhinus Falciformis), one of the most abundant sharks in the seas between 40ºN-40ºS and highly migratory.
In Novermber 2013 a fisherman was bitten by a shark 22 miles off the coast of La Gomera after he had accidentally caught the animal.

In The Heart Of The Sea showing in Ireland and Britain

Filming on location La Gomera (image: © AK)
The long-awaited latest Ron Howard movie 'In the Heart of the Sea', which was partially shot here in La Gomera (and had me working on set as a picture double rowing whaling boats and 'drowning' three times before being reborn with a new wig as a different character), is now finally showing in cinemas across Ireland and Britain. It opened earlier this month in most other countries worldwide and it's definitely a must-see film. Here's what the Irish Times had to say about the movie a few days ago:

'' It’s 1850 and budding novelist Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) has arrived at an inn belonging to Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson), the last surviving crewman of the whaling ship Essex. Nickerson proceeds with a tale that is as catastrophic as it is swashbuckling. As a 14-year-old tearaway, he boarded the ill-starred vessel. The Nantucket whaling industry was at the peak of its economic powers, replete with makeshift stock exchange and venture capitalists. To keep up with the demand for whale oil, boats were travelling further and further into increasingly treacherous waters, often for years at a time. The Essex would be no different.
The voyage would, however, be characterised by the high tensions between a privileged inexperienced young captain (Benjamin Walker, channelling the movieverse’s mean-spirited interpretation of Captain Blyth) and his first mate, the heroic veteran whaler Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth makes with the derring-do). Relations improve after Chase’s first kill brings in a decent haul of oil. But then they mess with the wrong whale.

''Squall of the wild: Chris Hemsworth having a whale of a time in Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea'' (Irish Times)

There are many pleasures to be derived from Ron Howard’s adaptation of In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, the award-winning historical chronicle by Nathaniel Philbrick. In common with Moby Dick - the epic novel that was inspired by the events depicted here - it might reasonably be argued that the vengeful white sperm whale who picks off the sailors, one by one, is actually the movie’s hero. The scenes depicting whaling are, in fact, as horrific as the terrible fates visited, respectively, on the Essex’s crew.
There are fascinating historical details and ecological warnings to be gleaned but, at heart, this is a delightfully old-fashioned high seas adventure. Unsurprisingly, Howard and regular DOP Anthony Dod Mantle fashion some spectacular images and the terrific ensemble acquit themselves with aplomb. ''

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Drowning on Christmas Eve

Playa de Santiago 
Yet another drowning happened on La Gomera's coast, this time in Playa de Santiago on La Gomera's south coast around 4:30 pm  on Christmas Eve. 
A male Swiss national, 71 years of age, was brought ashore apparently dead from the sea at the generally safe beach where he had been swimming.
The doctor and nurses from the nearby health centre with the assistance of the crew of an ambulance tried to revive the man but their efforts proved fruitless.
Only a few weeks ago a 77-year old Austrian had drowned at another beach on Gomera's south coast and a 45-year old man drowned at a dangerous beach west of Valle Gran Rey last week.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Reindeer can fly if..

Christmas in Vueltas, La Gomera. To see reindeer video click below:
              

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Two very different ships

In the port of Valle Gran Rey yesterday
Two very different ships were in the harbour of Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera yesterday. First the tall ship Picton Castle arrived the night before and the the large yacht Harmony V berthed the following morning. The latter is 165ft long and offers 25 spacious cabins. This Greek-registered yacht is currently cruising the Canary Islands and has left Valle Gran Rey by now. The tall sailing ship Picton Castle is a 180ft former Welsh trawler (MFV) built in 1928, now converted to sail (STS), and registered in the Cook Islands. She is based in Nova Scotia and has just completed an Atlantic crossing from Canada. The sail-training three masted barque arrived here with forty adventure-seeking trainees of many nationalities besides her 12 professional crew. The Picton Castle is a true working tall ship and she will remain in Valle Gran Rey until Dec. 30th 2015.
Adventure... 
...and luxury

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

General Election Results 2015

How La Gomera and the Canary Islands voted:
La Gomera:
Please note that the above does not include parties that won less than 3% of the vote.
La Gomera itself has no voice in the Spanish parliament, but in the Spanish Senate La Gomera had one seat to fill and this was won yesterday by the new ASG party of the island's president C. Curbelo (see: Local elections 2015).

Dec. 20th 2015 election results in the Canary Islands, 
which have 15 seats in the Spanish parliament :
Note: Only parties that have won seats are shown above

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Rowers finally started for Atlantic crossing

Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge
The 2015 edition Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge rowing race started from early this morning. After a delay of several days due to adverse weather conditions the boats have been leaving the harbour of San Sebastian de La Gomera one by one in a staggered start. First off were the two teams of female rowers followed by the solo rower. You can track the boats' progress across the Atlantic to Antigua and get news updates on the official race website: www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Another drowning at Playa del Ingles

News just in: A 45 year old man has drowned at the notoriously dangerous Playa del Ingles beach in western Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera this afternoon. Police and an ambulance were at the scene.
I always advise people not to swim at this idyllic beach even in calm conditions as there can be dangerous currents anytime. The exact circumstances of this latest drowning there are not yet known, but there is a fairly strong swell today, which further increases the risks there even if you only go in knee-deep. Many people have died at this beach over the years, including trained rescue personnel. 

'White Night' in Valle Gran Rey

The annual Christmas 'White Night' takes place in the harbour village of Vueltas and neighbouring El Llano area from 6pm until 11:30pm tonight with lots of activities for young and old, various live music acts and a Christmas market. Many shops will stay open late.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Winning lotteries

La Palma island seen from La Gomera on a clear day in October 
The following I found on Sheila Crosby''s La Palma blog:

''Lotteries are big business in Spain. And I’m happy to say that people do win – in 2012, 70 people in Breña Alta shared 7 million euros. Good luck to them.
The two big lotteries over Christmas are particularly popular, “El Gordo” (the fat one) on December 22nd and “EL Niño” (the child) on January 6th have extra large prizes, but your extra unlikely to win because they sell so many extra tickets.

I don’t buy lottery tickets, because I prefer to make my own luck. I also know enough about probability mathematics to know that the house always wins. Tickets for the big Christmas lottery in Spain cost €20, and your chances of winning are tiny.
One year my brother-in-law was celebrating because he’d won 250€. But then he bought about 15 tickets, and that cost him 300€.  See what I mean?

I think I’ve probably got a reputation for refusing to join syndicates. I have to stop myself from banging on about the remoteness of your chances. If you buy a ticket for the British lottery on Monday, you are more likely to drop down dead before Saturday than you are to scoop the jackpot. But some years ago at a Christmas dinner I bought two strips of tickets for €20. Now obviously the top prize was tiny compared to the €3,000,000 of the national lottery, but literally millions of people buy national lottery tickets, and this raffle had only about 50 people entering it. Besides, any profits go towards next year’s dinner.

And I won a prize – a ticket to the national lottery for 22nd December. I thought that was pretty funny – spending €20 to get exactly €20’s worth of something I didn’t actually want. It wasn’t until I was on my way home that I realised I could have swapped it for a bottle of wine. Never mind, I thought, I could indulge in a few day-dreams until the draw took place and reality set in.

Well blow me down, I won. No, not the €3,000,000 jackpot. Of course not. I only won €20, so I’m back where I started, except for the laugh.''

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Start to row across Atlantic postponed


Some of the boats being readied in the marina of
San Sebastian de La Gomera last week
The start of the world's toughest rowing race, the 2015 edition of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, which was due to have taken place in San Sebastian de La Gomera today has been postponed until the weekend (see previous post). 
On Sunday an official race farewell party was held when rowers, friends, family and race organisers gathered in La Gomera to celebrate the efforts of the entire 2016 fleet and to wish them well.
There were successful rowers from past races and an announce­ment that the teams had already raised over €1.6m for charity before the race had even begun.
However today race organisers have taken the decision to officially delay the race start due to the strong southerly winds and Atlantic swell. If the rowers had left as planned today it was considered there was a significant risk that their boats would be pushed too far north.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Atlantic rowing challenge 2015

Some of the competitors in the marina of San Sebastian de La Gomera
The countdown to the start of the world's toughest rowing race is on. The 2015 edition of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge will have 26 teams and solo rowers competing unaided for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic. The more than 3000 nautical miles distance will take the teams between 40 to 90 days to row, depending on currents and weather conditions. The teams, including a team of handicapped rowers and two ladies' teams are getting ready on La Gomera and will star their arduous journey from San Sebastian on Tuesday, Dec. 15th 2015, at lunchtime with a large contingent of the international press in attendance. The rowers will head west from San Sebastian in La Gomera to Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour in Antigua and once they leave the safety of the harbour here in their small boats they will be completely on their own.
 

The rules for the race are as follows:
1. Boats can be raced as a solo, pairs or four man team in two different classes: Pure Class and Concept Class, with an overall winner in each of these two classes.
2. No outside assistance is permitted throughout the race. Each team shall carry all necessary food, cooking gas, medical kit, and safety equipment for the entire crossing.
3. Each competitor shall hold a valid RYA Yacht-master Ocean Theory, First Aid at Sea, Sea Survival and a VHF Radio Licence.
4. Each competitor shall have undertaken a qualifying row and qualifying courses before race start. 
5. The boat shall only be propelled by the rowing effort of the crew and the natural action of the wind, waves and currents acting on the boat.
6. Any emergencies, urgent incidents or problem solving must be dealt with in accordance with the Race Crisis Operations Document.
7. All packaging and refuse shall be retained on board until disposal can be arranged at an appropriate location ashore.
8. All drinking water shall by produced using a watermaker from sea water.
The race headquarters and media centre opposite the marina of San Sebastian de La Gomera

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Gospel choir comes to La Gomera

In San Sebastian de La Gomera this Friday at 8pm : Gospel choir and band.
No cover charge and all are welcome

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Red light for the 'Island without traffic lights'

Just some of the new traffic lights
Image: gomeranoticias.com
La Gomera island with a population of just 20.000 has always managed its road traffic without any traffic lights, but now several sets of traffic lights have been installed in the port of San Sebastian de La Gomera where recent road works have created a new traffic system for the busy harbour area. They have not yet been switched on and it is hoped they will only be used when there is a lot of cars coming off the ferries. The local population were always proud of the fact that La Gomera didn't need any traffic lights and many are calling the newly installed ones unnecessary, considering that the larger port of Los Cristianos on Tenerife doesn't have any.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ferry connection viability to be studied

The director of the Canarian ferry company Naviera Armas, Antonio Armas Fernandez, has publicly stated recently that his company will study the economic viability of the so-called 'interior ferry line', connecting the ports of La Gomera's capital San Sebastian, Playa de Santiago and Valle Gran Rey. His company runs ten ferries, connecting all the Canary Islands  and also intends to run a ferry from Fuerteventura to Tarfaya in Morocco soon.The announcement came after his meeting with the Canarian minister for transport and other officials at which various other options for this route were also discussed.
The 'interior ferry line' ceased operations early 2012 despite having been declared an 'obligatory public service' by the Canarian government some years previously and the decision to subsidise resident's tickets further.
The ferry route had been operated by three different companies over the years and attracted 150.000 passengers per year on average before it ceased operating.It is worth remembering that by taking the now sorely missed ferry  it took just about 30 minutes to travel from Valle Gran Rey to the capital San Sebastian, while the public bus needs about 110 minutes to get there. The route by sea would also reduce the amount of traffic that currently has to squeeze through the centre of the national park, and that Valle Gran Rey only has one access road which is very narrow in places and prone to rockfalls.
Let's hope that the outcome of the study will be positive, leadiing to a renewed connection between the southern ports of La Gomera.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cruise ship delayed

The 'Thomson Majesty' during her last visit in Valle Gran Rey
The cruise ship 'Thomson Majesty' was due to dock in the port of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera this morning at 8am, but due to the late arrival of boarding passengers in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The ship with a maximum capacity of close to 2.000 passengers is now expected to dock at around midday. As I write the vessel is just leaving the southernmost tip of Tenerife on her way here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sunrise San Sebastian harbour

Sunrise over  the harbour of San Sebastian de La Gomera. Image taken Nov. 20th, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Moby Dick

Original 'Moby Dick' poster
spotted on Gran Canaria in the
historic Hotel Madrid in Las Palmas
Very soon the new Ron Howard film 'In the Heart of the Sea' will be released worldwide. It will tell true story of the whaler Essex which was one of mainly two that helped inspire Herman Melville to write his fictional novel many years after the Essex tragedy. Melville himself (played by Ben Whishaw) will appear in the film In the Heart of the Sea. The Ron Howard film (see new posteraims to tell the true story of 1820 as told in the historical book by N. Philbrick about the whaler Essex and its crew's epic fight for survival after their ageing ship had been badly damaged by an enraged whale. It was the most talked-about tragedy at sea until the Titanic sank nearly 100 years later. However, it is true that scenes for the film Moby Dick directed by John Huston were shot on (and off) Madeira, as well as Youghal, Co.Cork, in Ireland and… in the Canary Islands on Gran Canaria, where I spotted this original poster (left) in the bar of the classic Hotel Madrid where the walls are  crammed with historic photos, documents and other memorabilia and where the film's actors were guests .
Now the Canaries were chosen once again for the outdoor scenes of the eagerly awaited 'In the Heart of the Sea', but this time the filming location was the island of La Gomera.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bar Casa Maria still closed and for sale

For Sale: Casa Maria
Interested ? The numbers are: 659444653 (mobile)
and 922805955 (landline). Prefix for Spain: 0034
The landmark 'Casa Maria' bar and restaurant with rooms to let remains closed after Maria's death in April of this year. There had been rumours that it had been sold, but recently new 'Se Vende' (For Sale) signs appeared on the facade of the substantial building at the beach in La Playa in Valle Gran Rey, fondly called 'Playa Maria' in her honour by many.
The legendary meeting point also known as 'Bar Las Jornadas' always pulled in large crowds year after year since the 1960s when young Americans avoiding the Vietnam war, world-travellers, hippies, artists and intellectuals began to gather on La Gomera and met up to watch the sunset in Valle Gran Rey. It is hoped that Maria's large family who inherited her estate will soon agree on a plan of action that will lead to the reopening of this formerly thriving business one way or another, but some overdue refurbishment may cause further delays. Let's only hope they will keep the huge old wooden chilling cabinet that formed the centrepiece behind the bar, and that the nightly live music will return.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Large sailing cruise ship visits La Gomera

The 'Wind Surf' approaching San Sebastian de La Gomera
One of the largest sailing cruise ships in the world, the 'Wind Surf' owned and operated by Seattle based Windstar Cruises, visited San Sebastian de La Gomera yesterday. The impressive ship can carry up to 310 passengers in a total of 154 staterooms, including 31 ocean-view rooms and 122 deluxe ocean view staterooms, along with a crew of 214. 
The 5-masted cruise liner which was launched in 1989 in Le Havre, France,  made her maiden voyage in 1990 and is now registered in the Bahamas. The ship boasts bour diesel-electric engines and computer-operated sails with a sail plan of ca. 2,400 m2 (26,000 sq ft) in seven triangular Dacron self-furled sails on five masts which can produce a speed of 10–15 knots .
The American and international passengers really enjoyed their stay on La Gomera and I must say that in the exceptionally good weather yesterday La Gomera really impressed the visitors when they explored the island.
The 'Wind Surf' berthing in La Gomera