Tuesday, July 30, 2013

La Gomera's new local boat service with glass bottom catamaran 'Yani' (updated)

'Excursiones Yani'
in the harbour of
Valle Gran Rey
Contact: Phone

Original Post:
On La Gomera a new glass bottom catamaran will start a regular connection between the harbours of Valle Gran Rey in the southwest, Playa de Santiago in the south, and the island's eastern capital San Sebastian de La Gomera. 
The 2-decks 70-seater 'Yani Primera' which is powered by two Yanmar 255hp engines and operated by 'Viajes Yani' will begin sailings this week already. The comfortable excursion boat will also offer whale and dolphin watching tours and gives passengers the unique experience of observing La Gomera's marine fauna through windows below the waterline.
The brand new boat is entering Valle Gran Rey's very competitive boat excursion market where several companies like 'Tina' and 'Speedy', 'Amazonia' and 'Oceano' are offering responsible and conservationist whale and dolphin watching, but 'Yani' is the first company to offer a regular connection between the three ports of La Gomera since the 'Fred. Olsen' high speed ferry ceased operating this route in early 2012. The only criticism that was voiced by those who've seen the timetable (below) is that it doesn't give you much time in any of the three ports unless you go back by bus or stay overnight, but hopefully 'Yani' will realise this and change the schedule to attract passengers. This new service is a step in the right direction, but it is still far away from a regular daily passenger ferry and without any subsidies the fares are attractive to tourists only.
Whale and dolphin spotting/watching  excurions from Valle Gran Rey on Mondays and Wednesdays will depart at 10.30 am and on Sundays these also sail from Play de Santiago at 9.15am with a pick-up in V.G.R. at 10.20am.
Regular services will be available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays as follows:
    -From Valle Gran Rey at 8am to Playa Santiago (arr. 8.45am), and continuing
     from Playa Santiago at 9am to San Sebastian (arr. 9.30am).
    -From San Sebastian at 11.30am to Santiago (arr. 12noon) and continuing
     from Playa Santiago at 12.10pm to V.G.R. (arr. 12.55pm).
 Sundays: Two sailings just between V.G.R. (dep.8am + 1.45pm) and P.Santiago (dep.9.15am + 3pm).
Fares: --- V.G.R. - San Sebastian: € 18 one way/ € 30 return --- P.Santiago - V.G.R.: € 12 single 
         --- San Sebastian - P.Santiago: € 8 single --- Whale watching tours cost € 30   
Apparently my prayers were heard and 'Yani' have introduced a second sailing on the regular route between the 3 ports on the route, so that passengers will have some time at their destination. I'll post the new times/revised timetable as soon as I can get it all confirmed. Meanwhile, if you're in a hurry you can phone 'Yani' on 0034-639889122 to find out more. They do speak English, I'm told. Demand for tickets appears to be strong, particularly from Playa de Santiago. More as soon as I can get the hard facts....
... and the latest hard facts are that I spoke to Yani who told me that the initial timetable still 'more or less' applies and that a revised timetable will be released when the the introductory phase has passed. For the autumn season he hopes to have a revised timetable that will suit all. In the meantime intending passengers will need to phone 0034-639889122 for reservations and enquiries. Calls can be made in English and German, as well as Spanish. Or go down to the boat in the harbour directly - and remember the song 'Don't pay the ferryman until…'
Final UPDATE Jan. 5th, 2014: 
Yani has not proved to be a 'real' regular ferry service up to now and has become more of an excursion boat. Connections between the ports are fewer than expected and some connections have been dropped altogether. We still hope to get Garajonay Express back soon to have a regular ferry service.

Great to have a regular connection !

Monday, July 29, 2013

DJ roadshow coming to La Gomera

Click to enlarge

The well known Tenerife disco chain 'Nooctua' is bringing their DJ roadshow 'We love Nooctua' to La Gomera again for a big event in the harbour of Valle Gran Rey this Saturday, August 3rd 2013, from 10pm. Last year the event proved very popular with over 1.500 punters attending, many opting for the 'VIP tickets' which include a free bar all night. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ridley Scott to film in Canary Islands

Ridley Scott spotted
in the Canary Islands
Photo:The Canary News 
Film director and producer Ridley Scott, whose extensive work includes films like 'Alien',  ‘Blade Runner’,, ‘Gladiator’, ‘Hannibal’, ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Thelma And Louise’,came to in the Canary Islands recently with several members of his crew to scout for film locations that could be used in his future projects.
The Oscar winning director remained tight-lipped about his plans, but revealed that he is looking for wild landscapes with tall mountains and deserts in their natural state for a ''great movie'', and that he found several suitable locations. There are rumours that Scott's new project will be 'Exodus', the biblical story of Moses leading his people through the wilderness.
If this project would indeed be filmed here in the Canary Islands, it would make it the second such large-scale film production after the announcement that Ron Howard is to begin shooting 'In The Heart Of The Sea' here on La Gomera this autumn (see: La Gomera a location for Ron Howard's new film 'In...)
It has transpired that Ridley Scott will be shooting his new film in Spain, with about 60% of the production being done in the region of Almeria, with further locations in the Seville area, and some 5 weeks of preliminary work plus 3-4 weeks of filming will also be done in the Canary Islands in one ore more locations yet to be confirmed. Casting is to take place in Madrid and the production company is said to be looking for extras and tradesmen in Almeria already. 
Second film shooting in Canary Islands

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Festival 'Atlantico Sonoro'

The 9th edition of the festival 'Atlantico Sonoro' is taking place in the town of Vallehermoso on La Gomera this Saturday, July 27th 2013. All day from 11am there will be a wide range of demonstrations and workshops of alternative therapies, massage, yoga, music, percussion, and many more. Tradtional Gomeran skills such as El Silbo whistling and traditional pottery will also be shown and taught - most take place in the beautiful location of the 16.000 sqm botanical garden near Vallehermoso (on the road to the sea). At night there will be a concert on the town square with an interesting dance and music group called 'Terekitetap' starting at 9.30pm, followed by a Bob Marley tribute band called 'One Love'. All activities are free of charge and all are welcome.
Click poster to enlarge

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fiesta in full swing


Here are some impressions (click to enlarge) of yesterday's daytime proceedings during the 5-day Fiesta del Carmen in the harbour of Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera (see Fiesta time)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Anger vented on Olsen ferry delays on Sunday

Last night's Fred Olsen Express ferry was more than three hours late arriving in the harbour of San Sebastian de La Gomera despite perfect weather conditions. Subsequently the last sailing from Los Cristianos on Tenerife by the same ferry was delayed by a similar amount of time and when it arrived on La Gomera well after midnight the public transport system had shut down for the night, leaving travellers stranded in the port of San Sebastian. Similar delays were experienced on previous Sundays and it seems that the new Fred.Olsen summer ferry schedule itself is flawed on weekends. I had to wait a very long time myself in smouldering afternoon heat  in Los Cristianos without being given any information by the company on Sunday, 30th of June.
Passengers are now demanding a more realistic ferry schedule and better information. Imagine having to catch a flight that night !
Below is a short video of travellers venting their anger with a concert of car horns and whistles as the ferry finally arrives in the port of San Sebastian.

The Fred. Olsen Express ferry company have issued a statement sincerely apologising for the inconvenience caused by the delays.
The company says that the cause was a problem with one of the engines of the ferry 'Benchijigua Express' which resulted in slower than normal speed of the vessel. The problem existed since June 29th and they hoped to have it resolved very soon.
They didn't say why it took them more than two weeks to inform the public. Were they afraid that passengers would have booked sailings with the competing Naviera Armas ferries?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fiesta time

Summer time is fiesta time in the Canary Islands and next week it is the turn of the 'Fiesta del Carmen' which is celebrated in many seaside towns, harbours and fishing villages. This fiesta involves a procession by boat and here in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, it is one of the major fiestas in the sheer endless fiesta calendar. It is celebrated in the port of Vueltas and lasts five days. The boat procession is on Tuesday, July 16th, from 5pm and you can join in the fun by just queueing for a place on one of the many participating boats, but be prepared to get wet - not only on the outside, 'cause the drink flows freely. There'll be a fireworks display in the harbour just before midnight on the same day, followed by salsa-dancing all night. Highlights on other days include children's amusements, a DJ night, folklore groups, etc. - click poster above.
For more about fiestas see my previous post The Great Fiesta

Sunday, July 07, 2013

El Silbo featured in Daily Mail article and in video

La Gomera's whistled language El Silbo is featured in a recent article of the Daily Mail which includes the video below produced by the government of the Canaries. Read it HERE and see my previous post on the subject El Silbo - La Gomera's Unique Language

Friday, July 05, 2013

La Gomera's own Romeo and Juliet: Gara and Jonay

According to legend, on the Guanches festival Beñesmen the girls of La Gomera would go to the Epina jets to discover their future lover. If the reflected image was calm and clear, this meant that within the next 12 months they would find their love, but if the reflection was cloudy, no handsome lover would be shortly appearing on the horizon.
Gara was a beautiful princess from La Gomera, the place of water.  When she looked at her reflection her image was clear but then her face became a fiery sun and the water viciously bubbled and boiled – not good signs as it meant only disaster lay ahead.
For the Beñesmen festival the menceyes (Guanche royalty) travelled from Tenerife, the land of fire, to La Gomera to take part in the celebrations. The Mencey of Adeje was accompanied by his son, Prince Jonay, who took part in all the competitions and when Gara and Jonay saw each other they fell madly in love.
Legend tells how Jonay sailed his raft every day to the neighbouring island to visit his love, but their happiness was short lived. The great volcano on Tenerife began spewing out lava, the sea around La Gomera turned blood-red and the Epina jets prophecy was remembered. Gara and Jonay’s love was impossible, the fury of the volcano was confirmation that water and fire should not mix.
The couple’s parents forbade them to meet again and forced Jonay to return to Tenerife but Jonay couldn’t forget Gara. He needed to be with her. In the middle of the night, Jonay tied two inflated goats’ hides around his waist and swam across the sea. Exhausted but guided by his love for Gara he reached La Gomera.
Gara and Jonay fled through the forests hiding in the woods until they reached the highest mountain on the island. When Gara’s father found out, he ordered his army to follow and surround them.
Neither of the two could find a way out of their situation so in a last desperate act they took a lance made of laurel, sharpened at both ends, held it between their chests and in a final deadly embrace drove the stick through their hearts. The lovers met their deaths and Gara, the water and Jonay, the fire were one, their spirits united forever.
Today, the mountain, the beautiful misty forest and its national park go by the name Garajonay in memory of the young couple who chose death rather than living apart.
NOTE: I had planned a post about Gara and Jonay when I found the legend beautifully told on  Red Queen Musings  and as I'm in a lazy mood today, I've just copied it above - with many thanks to the Red Queen.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Bolivian president stops over in Canary Islands today - without Edward Snowden aboard his plane

After having been unable to leave Vienna for more than 13 hours after a forced landing there due to the closing of European airspace for suspicion of having Edward Snowden (the US whistleblower) aboard, the Bolivian President Evo Morales is now on his way to the Canaries for a technical/refuelling stop. His government jet is expected to land on Gran Canaria later this afternoon (between 4pm and 5pm) before continuing on its way to Bolivia . The Spanish authorities have declared their airspace open after tense diplomatic activity.
Morales who had left Moscow on his presidential plane earlier yesterday, today called the incident ''an agression against Latin America'' and his stay in Austria ''a hijacking''. Many people in the Canaries have strong ties with Latin America and are equally outraged.
The large Las Palmas de Gran Canaria airport also has a military section east of the runways where fighter jets of the Spanish air force are stationed. Some minor disruption at and around the airport can be expected today as security forces and press have already begun to take up position in large numbers.
The Bolivian president's plane has left Gran Canaria for La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, at 4.45pm after having been on the ground for little more than an hour for refuelling.
Morales' plane on the runway on Gran Canaria (Photo: Arcadio Suárez)