Thursday, February 06, 2014

Top spots to watch sunsets - Part 1

Valle Gran Rey is the 'sunset capital' of La Gomera and I want to introduce you to some of the best and most popular locations from where to watch the spectacle over the Atlantic ocean with a cool or hot drink in your hand. The order in which they appear does not intend to give a ranking and my suggestion is that you'll try them all for the sake of variety. If you've got any further proposals please let me know, or even better send me your own post with your snapshots.

Today I'm starting with the spot that pulls in the largest crowds by far 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. The place is the legendary BAR MARIA aka Bar Las Jornadas aka Casa Maria at the western end of lower Valle Gran Rey known as La Playa. Even though the sunset can be seen directly over the sea only during the winter half of the year from there, today it still is the main meeting point at sunset time for everyone. 

People stand around outside the small bar and restaurant and even bring their drinks across the road to sit on the beach. As the sun goes down drummers start their rhythms, sometimes joined by various other instruments, and pass the hat around the mixed crowd who are sipping their drinks. Local artist Pero often shows his smaller cARTon works on his ingenious exhibition cart, itself a work of art. When the sun has set the dusk often brings fire-eaters and -jugglers to the beach to join the drummers and dazzle the crowd.

Bar Maria often hosts live music and Canarian music sessions when the spectacle on the beach is over, and keeps the guests  entertained from 9 to 11pm. The building also offers simple 70's style reasonably priced accommodation even if it is for just for the night. The bar's very old wooden fridge with its large electric motor on top is lovingly maintained in its original condition and the adjoining large 70's-furnished dining room offers simple home-cooked local dishes which can also be ordered from the terrace on the pavement. Open all day until 11pm, but closed on Tuesdays. 

The dining room


Many years before La Playa became the built-up small tourist resort it now is, Bar Maria was already the focal point for the population and visitors down there as it also housed a general store and a post office, and there still is a letter box mounted above one of the benches. Maria, the cordial old proprietress now in her 90s is still alive and well and she still sits outside the bar regularly enjoying the scene and meeting old friends. You never know who you'll meet and what might happen at her legendary establishment, but a jovial bohemian atmosphere is always guaranteed.

1 comment :

Anne said...

I just heard Maria died yesterday on Teneriffe . R.I.P.