Thursday, November 28, 2013

Huge cruise ship docks in the port of Vueltas

The Braemor of the Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines has docked in Vueltas, the harbour of Valle Gran Rey this morning. She has about 900 passengers from various countries aboard and the sleepy fishing village is suddenly teeming with tourists. Two television camera teams were there to capture the event. Only the weather is not playing its part and instead of the usual sunshine low clouds obscure the impressive view of the valley and scattered showers are stopping some passengers from exploring Valle Gran Rey.
…later the weather improved and with a little sunshine the views could be enjoyed. The ship is due to leave at 1pm and will spend the second half of the day in San sebastian de La Gomera, where the passengers on bus excursions will board again.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wine festival this Friday

La Gomera's wines can be tasted in the main square in the island's capital san Sebastian de La Gomera this Friday, Nov.29th 2013, from 7pm to 11pm. Canapes with Gomeran specialities will be served together with the wines and there will be live music by Son Gomero.
This year viticulturists on La Gomera had a bumper harvest of grapes of excellent quality.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chris Hemsworth in La Gomera shipwreck

Scene of the accident. Photo:
Actor Chris Hemsworth was involved in a boating accident just outside the harbour of San Sebastian de La Gomera late on Sunday night, as reported by :

''Hemsworth, best known for his role as comic strip hero Thor in the Marvel Studios films of the same name, had to be rescued after a catamaran he hired for a party including himself, his wife Elsa Pataky, who is 3 months pregnant, and their 18-month daughter India Rose, ran aground off the coast of the island at night. A lifeboat, a Civil Guard patrol boat and a helicopter had to be mobilised to take the group of 8 to safety after the incident. Ironically, the Australian-born actor was in La Gomera to film the Ron Howard movie, In the Heart of the Sea, which is about a crew shipwrecked by a high seas encounter with a giant whale in the 19th century. The rescue has received prominent coverage in the Spanish and British papers, including the Daily Mail.''

Just let me add that thankfully no one was injured and that according to locals the Spanish skipper aboard blamed a technical problem for the accident. The skipper, an experienced captain and sailor who has won several yacht races, is at all times responsible for his craft and this is most embarrassing for him. Filming schedules for 'In the Heart of the Sea' were unaffected. The boat remained stranded at the site of the accident and is probably a write-off.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ron Howard promotes La Gomera

Ron Howard was spotted wearing a cap with the promotional logo of La Gomera while working on set for the production of In the Heart of the Sea here during the week.
Yesterday we were being filmed from a helicopter all day. The chopper with its special camera-nose had to refuel several times from a tanker truck which was stationed in the mountains over Playa de Santiago especially for that purpose.
Ron Howard on the deck of the Essex sporting a La Gomera cap. ©EuropaPress

Thursday, November 21, 2013

La Gomera rebels

Today marks the 525th anniversary of the most important rebellion on La Gomera - read more

Heart of the Sea continues shooting on La Gomera

The media are reporting extensively from the Ron Howard directed film 'In the Heart of the Sea' shooting on location La Gomera. The Daily Mail has lots of pictures and on the photo below one of the characters looks extremely familiar to me ;-)
Daily Mail:''Full cast: The actors wear period attire as they film In The Heart Of The Sea'' © Daily Mail

World's toughest rowing race starts from La Gomera

The countdown to the start of the world's toughest rowing race is on. In about 10 days' time more than 20 teams will start to row in 40 to 90 days from La Gomera to Antigua. The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge will have teams from all over the world competing unaided for the fastest crossing of the more than 3000 miles distance. The teams have arrived on La Gomera and were welcomed at a reception in San Sebastian de La Gomera, the starting point of the race.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hollywood moon over La Gomera

Today filming happened on dry land near to the beach bar 'La Chalana' and suddenly a small part of a beach on La Gomera became an international stage. The live 'donkey props' were patiently waiting for their appearance on the big screen. Film director Ron Howard shot this picture of the moon over our island, but I reckon his movie shots will be much better and now even camera helicopters were seen flying low to take shots of the beauty. 'Big shots' were spotted all over the island in their hired cars and limos in recent days and locals reckon that they're easier to deal with than most tourists. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

In the Heart of the Sea is at sea and rolling

… and as I'm under contract I'm so sorry to have to tell you that I'm not at liberty to tell you more. Suffice to say that all is going very well and that cast and crew are to enjoying the benign La Gomera climate and their organisation and communication are exemplary.
The hosts of a bar called 'La Chalana' in Playa de Santiago, one location of the weekend parties.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

'In the Heart of the Sea' first time in the sea

'In the Heart of the Sea' started production on La Gomera today amid a power outage which was pre-programmed by the electricity company to augment the local power supply to fill the needs of 'Gomerawood'.this caused a bit of chaos for a short while. Anyway, yours truly is working on the set as well. Just let me tell you that the buzz this morning was a wonder to behold with a 'mass meeting' of all involved on the pier in Playa de Santiago, La Gomera.
So now I'm bit tired after trying on wigs and rowing a boat - vice versa actually.
Hollywood has moved to La Gomera and I want to state this in block capitals:
THEY ALL ARE A GREAT BUNCH and they show great, great respect and appreciation for La Gomera.
…and PLEASE DO read The true story of the Essex as it will be told in the film.
Ron Howard tweeted this tonight:
''No more studio tanks or movie magic Just open ocean to shoot on.'' Quote and © Ron Howard  
Yeah, boys and girls - you've got to see Valle Gran Rey, the sunset capital of La Gomera   (Hautacuperche)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

White smoke in Playa Santiago: 'Habemos Hollywood'

Blubber boiler blowing test-smoke from the Essex
Commuter plane connection to La Gomera is in demand 
Early X-mas tree decoration for La Gomera
Working 'till dusk
Banana props - the donkeys'll be there soon
Ready to shoot, but this vacant flower pot is not part of the set
La Gomera is buzzing now, but retains its character
Properly propped-up

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mirador de Abrante to get better access road

The spectacular Mirador de Abrante viewpoint and glass 'sky walk' platform will get a proper access road very soon. The government of La Gomera is planning works to the tune of 140.000 Euros to improve and surface the existing dirt track. The works include the provision of a car park and will take three months to complete, everything going well.
The cafeteria and information point in the building could open soon as well as the town hall of Agulo has put the catering contract out to tender.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Howard's Heart of the Sea ready to shoot in Canaries

The party is here, and the filming of scenes from a great book can begin here with a great crew, cast and director. La Gomera is lucky to host this very conscientious version of Hollywood hullabaloo. Hooray! …and yes, we know this and that, but we won't say anymore except that they all are surprisingly modest and 'environmentally friendly'. Well, on La Gomera they wouldn't last long if they weren't. Shooting will start shortly… and it won't be only Sundays anymore that I take shots. The photos below were taken last night @ sunset on everyone's day off.
And just let me reiterate: This film is NOT going to be ''a remake of Moby Dick'' as it is often referred to in the press and there won't be any whales painted white as some expect.
The true story of the whaler Essex was just one of a few that helped inspire 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 aims 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 a 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 (Gran Canaria). 
Let's just hope that 'In the Heart of the Sea' will succeed in rising above Melville's tale.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Video of work on film location

The video below by gomeratvdigital is showing the progress of  work on the film location in Playa Santiago, La Gomera, was published yesterday. Shooting of scenes for In the Heart of the Sea  directed by Ron Howard will begin soon...

Vueltas village: The plans

At a meeting with residents and business owners of the harbour village of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, the following plans of the island's government and the local administration for pedestrianisation and upgrading of the existing centre of the town were hotly discussed. The construction of phase one was said to take only eight months and vehicular access for residents and business is guaranteed at all times. Click on images to enlarge.
Dark green: Pedestrian - Blue: Parks - Red: Two way traffic - Black:Restricted
one way traffic Orange: Existing pedestrian lanes - Dark red: New parking 
Grey zones 4 and 5 will remain parking initially - later to be
transformed into parks when additional parking (blue) is created
Paving and levelling
Proposed street furniture, paving and trees 
Street lighting
Traffic flow during construction phases 1-3

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Stop Signs for Walkers

On La Gomera STOP signs have been introduced along many hiking paths - for walkers ! They warn you that to continue on your route you will have cross a road and to stop. Make sure your feet don't move for a couple of seconds, check that the road is clear to cross, then put the hiking boots back into first gear, clutch in, accelerate and cross the road swiftly while keeping the fingers crossed that you've done it all correctly.
Stop sign for walkers on La Gomera, Canary Islands

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Fisherman bitten by shark

The fishing harbour of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey

A fisherman was bitten by a shark at sea about 22 miles off the harbour of Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera yesterday. The incident happened when the man in his thirties apparently had caught the shark by accident and was trying to get rid of it in the early morning. He received leg injuries and had to be transferred to La Gomera's hospital after having been treated first in the local health centre. He is said to be recovering well after his ordeal.
Shark bites generally are VERY RARE in these waters and this was just an isolated accident.

La Gomera popular cruise ship destination

Aida Vita approaching La Gomera at sunrise yesterday

La Gomera is becoming increasingly popular as a destination for cruise ships and for the current season about 85 cruise liners have included the island in their itineraries.  La Gomera has received the highest marks by passengers  over the past couple of years and the same was achieved for the shore excursions. The photos were taken yesterday when the Aida Vita paid us a visit. 
Exploring La Gomera's beauty (left: Roque Agando)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A good harvest

Potatoes and giant yellow courgette (note size
of the cigarette box) in a bar on La Gomera 
'Family-sized' (2,5 ft) gourds spotted in a local restaurant

Sunday, November 03, 2013

First decent rain

I was woken early this morning by the first decent shower this winter season and for today, Sunday there is a warning of showers that may be heavy and accompanied by thunderstorms. The temperature today will be down a bit on recent values, but should recover tomorrow with more sunny weather.
Rain radar early this morning

Thunderstorms forming just south of Canaries

Hotel Gran Rey webcam showing a fairly grey morning
at about 9:15am. Tomorrow it should be sunny again.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Harbour town of Vueltas to get overdue revamp

The ever-popular cosmopolitan and bohemian harbour town of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey   which boasts the area's only safe sandy beach and offers quirky shops, cafes, bars and restaurants while fishermen go about their daily business, is finally to get a long-overdue revamp with complete pedestrianisation of its central main road from the harbour to the top of the town.Today it still presents itself in a fairly neglected state with hardly any street lights, no litter bins and very little greenery. The pavements are too elevated and  constricted, forming an obstacle course that forces pedestrians onto the narrow road. Prams and wheelchairs can't be navigated at all on the pavements and the general state of the infrastructures is one of decay and disorganisation while all the other towns on La Gomera have had a facelift in recent years. 
Plans for the future
At a recent meeting in a local hotel plans for a major overhaul of the town centre were unveiled with the promise of a solid injection of funds, which were said to be available immediately so that work could begin very soon. Residents and business owners will be consulted and can make further proposals for amendments. On the plans it all looked very attractive, showing a pedestrianised road  with very nice level paving, street furniture, lighting, trees, shrubs and flowers. This is planned for phase one which will maintain car access for residents to the existing central car park, which will later be turned into a green town park when more car parking on the nearby vacant harbour plot will have been created. This huge area easily accommodated all the vehicles of the 5.000 evacuees during the fire last year
Restricted traffic of delivery vehicles and residents,etc., will continue to be allowed in the town's central road except for a short stretch of road now connecting the banana co-op's building and the harbour, which will become more like a plaza. In all the pedestrianised and traffic-calmed  areas bars and restaurants will be able to place seating outside of their premises  and this will add to the flair of the area. 
Further plans include the creation of another green area around where the bunker-like disused water tank now stands . The fishing harbour area, the fisherman's co-op building and the main access road from the roundabout will all get a revamp at another stage of the development which incorporates new buildings for ticket offices, etc and the fisherman's bar and public toilets.
Laudable initiative
Additionally there is a campaign by politicians to get the authorities to finish the extended outer harbour and to allocate funds for 2014 to tidy up the existing harbour facilities, so that it can accommodate smaller cruise ships and lose its disused and neglected image. The reality now is that the new harbour is silting-up because it lacks the final protective extension and it had to be dredged once already, having lost up to 10ft depth in places at the south-eastern side of the new pier.
All the new plans are very laudable and the final result will be worth the little bit of disruption and noise during the construction period which is said to take only about one year for completion of the first phase. Now is the time to invest to create jobs and plan for the future. Vueltas port is on the trade wind route to the Americas as navigated by Columbus and La Gomera's by-name is La Isla Columbina.
Plenty of sea room for all types
All what's missing now to give Vueltas the standing it deserves and to bring back the bustling life it had at the end of the last century are more positive news that ferries re-connect the harbour and that the badly needed but hotly discussed marina will soon become a reality. I know of several yacht owners who would gladly move their fine boats for longer periods to a safe marina in Valle Gran Rey. Having moored friends' yachts here, let me tell you that currently it isn't very comfortable, to put it mildly, and for all the trouble you have to pay almost the same harbour dues as for a luxury marina with all amenities not too far away. Present conditions might suit the 'hippie boats' but are not to the liking of serious sailors, as they prefer to have a shower and and a power connection before or after spending a long time at sea. For longer stays there simply isn't a safe berth when there's a swell running and even when the skipper has rented an apartment with harbour view he has to be almost constantly on watch even in mildly poor weather. A marina would remedy all that and it would provide a lot of new employment while giving existing business more income. I know many local fishermen who'd prefer the comforts of a safe pontoon berth, too, but for others it presents a threat to to their accustomed routine. There's enough sea room here for both types of sailors. 
The formerly envisaged protected artificial beach from the roundabout to the new pier is another vision that now has been almost forgotten, but it would certainly pay off if it was installed. The natural beach is often overcrowded and some don't like the smell of fish and diesel from the fishing boats, no matter how clear and clean the water is at times.
I meet first-time visitors to this town almost daily and they can see the potential for pulchritude, whereas sadly some long-time resident blow-ins pine for the romantic rural past and detest any change. The latter  tend to forget that their places of origin have since moved with the times, too, and that they themselves have contributed to many changes here.
For my part I definitely couldn't care less about the politics, but I just love bustling ports with the smell of fish and a whiff of the whole wide world which hangs about harbours.
I rest my case.
UPDATE with plans: Vueltas village: The plans
Vueltas port in Valle Gran Rey: The finishing of the outer harbour and a marina are long overdue as well