Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lord Nelson heading for Vueltas harbour

The 'Lord Nelson' sailing past the beach of La Playa close to shore under engine power, heading for Vueltas.
The STS 'Lord Nelson' is a sail training ship of 368 gross tonnage and was launched in 1986 by Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson for the Jubilee Sailing Trust and is berthing in Valle Gran Rey's port of Vueltas as I write. She'll be dwarfed there tomorrow with the arrival of the huge cruise ship 'Thomson Majesty'. It seems the British are coming - despite 'Brexit'...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The expected rain is taking its time

The rain forecast for today is taking its time arriving here as the cold front associated with a depression to the north of the Canaries is slower than expected in its approach. However, if the front doesn't weaken too much it should rain moderately later tonight and early tomorrow. Rainfall amounts are difficult to predict in the current weather situation, and the front has become so slow-moving that it may dissipate before it gets to us. We'll soon find out... See updated weather information on sidebar top right.
The above webcam image (gomera-info) of the beach from La Puntilla towards La Playa taken just after 5 pm shows the pretty grey sky with brighter areas and some sun which we've had for most of the day.
The outlook is for more sunshine from later tomorrow until Thursday night. 
Current indications for Friday and Saturday are for a further and more vigorous low pressure systems to bring abundant rain and possibly thunderstorms in freshening southerly winds to La Gomera.
The very stable blocking high pressure over Ireland is to blame as this helps to steer low pressure closer to the Canary Islands. See forecast chart for Friday below:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Roundabout rainbow

🌈There are lots of rainbows to be seen these days in La Gomera, and more are promised for the coming week which again should bring a mix of sunshine and showers, ideal for creating rainbows like this one spotted at the roundabout in Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey, yesterday morning by HP.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Old folks party

Lunch being served with live music from a mariachi band for La Gomera's OAPs.
There was a huge marquee recently erected on the pier in Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey for today's 10th annual get-together of elderly people from all over La Gomera island. The event is held in a different parish every year and free buses bring old folks from all the other parishes. The day-long event offers activities and entertainment as well as food and drink free of charge. About 700 pensioners took up the offer and were enjoying a festive day out.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Live music making cautious comeback

Spontaneous session in a tiny bar recently ♫

Tonight at Manolo's in
La Puntilla (near statue)

Live music in La Gomera and especially in Valle Gran Rey, the busiest and most cosmopolitan town of the island, is back and there are now numerous options for good night out again. Nightlife as regards live music had been severely restricted for a couple of years due to the over-zealous enforcement  by the police of obscure regulations which meant that venues would have needed a special licence for live music 'events' and alas this licence could often not be obtained, while DJs could play canned music anywhere. For a tourist town Valle Gran Rey had become almost a ghost town at night, but this year a lot more visitors and locals are out and about at night enjoying the diversity of the live music on offer once again.
A more workable solution seems to have been found and especially at weekends musicians are back entertaining locals and visitors. Great care is being taken by the bars and restaurants  to finish the live music well before midnight so as not to upset those neighbours and tourists who want to go to bed early. A lot of music sessions are not even being advertised to avoid the entertainment being labelled an 'event'. From the new small bar on the beach in Vueltas to the 'Salsa Burger' in La Playa live music and also DJs can be enjoyed in a good few bars and restaurants and it is worth having a stroll after dinner to listen to the varied music on offer, which once was the major attraction that made Valle Gran Rey's ambience so pleasant. 
Most Sunday afternoons there are open sessions at the bus station bar in La Calera where anything can happen and the Restaurant 'El Palmar' hidden among the palms near Borbalan never stopped being a focal point for local live music.
The 'Gomera Lounge' in La Playa has now installed costly soundproofing and after having been closed for some time is back with a full programme. Among the regular acts there are 'Los Satelites', the former house band-cum-session of the famous 'Bar Maria' which sadly is still closed after Maria's death. This recently taken video by A.Lindemann below proves that there's a great atmosphere in Valle Gran Rey once again:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cruise ship season has begun

With the visit of the large cruise liner 'Mein Schiff 1' the cruise ship season has begun in La Gomera. While a few cruise ships visit La Gomera all year round, the winter months are the busiest time for La Gomera's main port San Sebastian and five cruise ships will dock here this week alone. A good few smaller  cruise ships and sail training vessels  also visit the southwestern port of Valle Gran Rey and even the very large 'Thomson Majesty' is scheduled to dock there four times this winter.
Cruises are becoming an increasingly popular form of holidaying and there's a further 65 large cruise ships under construction at various shipyards all over Europe at the moment.
La Gomera has rated very highly with passengers, who are very impressed with the island's beauty and atmosphere, praising the quality of the shore excursions. Many passengers have voted the visit to La Gomera the highlight of their cruise.
This is good news, as even though most passengers do not spend all that much time and money here, some will return for longer stays and many more will recommend La Gomera as a holiday destination to family and friends. As we all know, word of mouth endorsements are the perfect publicity, of the type that money can't buy.
Some of the many buses awaiting passengers booked on shore excursions

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Craft fair

La Gomera's annual craft fair opened in San Sebastian de La Gomera on the main square yesterday and continues today. Sixty exhibitors from La Gomera and from other Canary islands show and sell their handmade goods to the general public until later today. The event was well attended yesterday and many passengers from a visiting large cruise ship were also seen buying from a wide range of goods ranging from handmade fountain pens, pottery, jewellery, and textiles to typical Gomeran goatskin drums. Handmade chocolates, local cheeses, wines and other delicacies can also be sampled and bought at the fair.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Road improvements

Road to Valle Gran Rey between the two tunnels

The island's government has allocated 4,2 million Euros for improving La Gomera's roads and to upgrade road safety. 
Among the many projects to be financed is the illumination of the two long tunnels between Arure and Valle Gran Rey, a long overdue measure as the tunnels are used by a lot of cyclists and pretty dangerous for them without lighting. 

Entrance to one of the tunnels

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Even sheep stick to the safe paths here

The rescue helicopter was needed once again in the Argaga ravine near Valle Gran Rey yesterday around noon, after a 34 years old female hiker fell several metres in an area of difficult access there. The helicopter had to put down a rescue crew nearby from where they then had to fetch the injured on a stretcher to the pick-up point to be flown to the hospital in the capital San Sebastian de La Gomera. The injuries sustained by the women were said to be minor, so she had a lucky escape.
The area where the incident happened is notorious for bad falls and the the walk up and down that ravine is extremely dangerous and has been officially closed for years, yet many still attempt it. Also, there are still copies of outdated walking guides in circulation which list this walk, even though the gorge has claimed the lives of several walkers.
If you intend to hike in the mountains of La Gomera without a guide, make sure that your information is up-to-date, enquire locally and stick to clearly defined paths. Avoid areas such as Argaga gorge where the paths have eroded or collapsed. Even sheep wouldn't go there.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The beer ship is in

The 'beer ship' rounding the point in La Playa, Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera showing some of her green sails
The three-masted 200ft sail training ship Alexander von Humboldt II, sometimes nicknamed 'the beer ship', came into Vueltas, the harbour of Valle Gran Rey, yesterday. She is sponsored by the brewers of Beck's beer and has featured in advertising for the brand, hence the nickname. She has green sails and a green hull to match the colour of Beck's beer bottles, too, and is a regular visitor here, bringing about 80 passengers and crew.
Alex 2, as she's also known, in Vueltas harbour

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump's bar is open...

...and I woke up this morning to the news that the blond man of German extraction who owns it is to be the 45th president of the US and at 72 the oldest ever at the time of election. 
Well, I wouldn't have voted for any of the four, yes there were 4 candidates, but to be on the safe side I visited Trump's bar earlier this year where I took the photo and had lunch overlooking the Atlantic. The food was very reasonably priced and went down well with a blond pint. 
Well, the real reason I came there was that when I was at the Doonbeg International Jazz Festival, I ran out of cash and the 'Trump International Golf Links and 5* Hotel Doonbeg Ireland' has the only 'money printer' (ATM) for many miles around and I was hungry when I got the money.
What has all that got to do with La Gomera, you may ask ? Nothing much except that the fabulous band 'Skazz' who played in La Gomera many times, are based in Doonbeg and were playing at the jazz festival, too.
Part of Donald Trump's 5* Hotel near Doonbeg in Co.Clare, Ireland

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Video of spectacular rockfall last Saturday

The video above was posted by Ruben Martinez on his facebook page and shows the spectacular 'rock bombardment' of Vueltas harbour in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera last Saturday. There had been a very heavy shower during the night before, but this rockfall occurred well before the thunderstorm on Saturday afternoon. The video only shows the end of the landslide and rocks had fallen for about the same length of time before. No damage was done as the fishing boats are moored well away from the spot where the rocks hit the water as the spot where the large lumps fell is known for such incidents. It was lucky though that no swimmers were in that part of the water, as sometimes people who're not aware of this danger zone swim out to there and snorkelling is also popular there. Swimming and sunbathing on the larger part of the beach toward the pier is safe, however, and that's where most people go. 
Some rocks also fell onto the track that leads out to Argaga and the 'Finca Argayal' where the meditation centre is situated and many people walk under that cliff every day. See previous post about the dangerous path: Death in Argaga (click). There's an even more spectacular video at the end of that post. 
It is important to bear in mind that during and even long after rainy weather (when the sun heats the rock and soil) the erosion landscape of La Gomera is more 'active' and that being near cliffs then is even more dangerous than normally, but bear in mind that the sign below was put up there for a reason and that the rocky side of the beach is rocky for the same reason:
Warning sign just before the area where the rocks fell last Saturday

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Thunderstorm in Valle Gran Rey

Even though it was mostly sunny yesterday, there were dark clouds in the evening for a while and a thunderstorm brought some badly needed rain to Valle Gran Rey. The whole spectacle didn't last very long and there was a beautiful sunset later.
From today the weather is improving and the forecast for the next few days is for mostly sunny and warm weather.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Woman drowns in Valle Gran Rey

Statue of Hautacuperche at La Puntilla
Yesterday morning a 67 years old German woman drowned at La Puntilla beach in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera. The emergency services were alerted and arrived quickly at the scene but all attempts to revive the woman failed.
The beach at La Puntilla opposite 'Hotel Gran Rey' is generally considered safe for swimming in calm seas and the cause of the drowning is not yet known. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Stingray still meets kids despite nasty injury

This large stingray, locally given the pet name 'Sebastian' or 'Chano' (the latter being a diminutive of the former) has been a regular visitor to the steps in the fishing port of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera for several years now. He turns up to be fed and fondled by the kids who sometimes turn up in great numbers and feed him fish supplied by the local fishermen returning to harbour. It is an amazing spectacle to watch huge 'Chano', who's said to weigh about 300 pounds, and sometimes brings smaller but much more shy relations with him. At times he almost 'climbs' up a couple of steps out of the water to be fed and fondled. 
Some time ago he sustained severe injuries in the harbour, and a deep gash remains in his front, clearly seen in this very recent video, even though the wounds have healed very well (Click to see videos taken before the injuries). 
Despite all that he seems to come even more often, and despite the fact that agents for the department for the environment came and prohibited the feeding of stingrays, the kids still gather and slip him a few tasty fresh mackerel. 
He now even comes some evenings and when he's not hungry just to be petted by the kids who call him by striking the water surface with their hands, as happened in this video.