Saturday, December 31, 2016

The best New Year's Eve parties to end 2016

Vueltas harbour village in Valle Gran Rey is the place to be for this New Year's Eve. The main fiesta will be held in the harbour where a huge marquee has been put up and salsa and merengue bands will play for the dancers from 11pm until 6am. There will be lots of alternatives in the village with different live music followed by a disco later in the legendary Cacatua bar and beer garden, and just across the lane a vacant shop premises will once again house a sound system with DJ's playing electronic dance music all night and this event is also open to the partying public. Just a bit up the same lane the bar La Tasca will host another party and is renowned for their excellent cocktails. Just take a stroll around Vueltas village tonight and you might discover more...
Elsewhere in La Gomera the largest fiesta with salsa bands is in San Sebastian de La Gomera's main square from where this year the midnight bells for the countdown to 2017 will be transmitted live on RTVC  to the rest of the Canary Islands, but some of the other towns on the island will have fiestas, too.
Let's just hope the wind will die down as predicted.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Very breezy

Winds will be strong to gale force today, Friday Dec.30th, in La Gomera and a warning has been issued by the meteorological service for gusts of 75 km/h or more. The weather station in the Agulo area which is located at the visitor's centre in Juego de Bolas has already recorded a gust of 94 km/h at 8:20 this morning and winds are strong and very gusty in Valle Gran Rey as I write. The winds will be mainly from a south-easterly direction and the warning is valid until tomorrow lunchtime. Winds should then begin to ease gradually over the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Recording folk for TV

The popular Canarian TV programme 'Noche de Taifas' is going to be recorded in La Gomera tonight Thursday Dec.29th from 7:30 pm. The show is open to the public and this time it is Valle Gran Rey's turn to be the host. The location is Plaza San Pedro at the beach in La Playa and all are welcome to attend what essentially is a night of Canarian folk music, dance, and more.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Take a seat at the back of the town hall

Sit down and relax for a while when climbing the steps behind the town hall of Valle Gran Rey which lead into the centre of La Calera, with its many small lanes and hidden corners just waiting to be discovered...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Hurry to get poisoned

The comedy show on the pier was postponed, but there's a good and entertaining act on in La Puntilla where 'Poisoned Folk' will take on any folk from 9pm - get there soon !

Comedy show postponed

The comedy show with the group 'El Supositorio' (above) which was to take place in the harbour of Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey, as part of the Christmas programme tonight has been ''postponed until further notice'' according to the official website of the local administration who organised the event. No reason was given, but the strong easterly wind may be to blame.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Calima sailing

Calima was an unwelcome Christmas visitor late yesterday when the air became loaded with dust from the Sahara in the strong easterly wind. This time of the year it is a cool Calima as the desert air is cold now and there's even been snow in some lower parts of the Atlas mountain range in North Africa. The forecast is for more of the same for another few days before the air will finally clear over La Gomera. See regularly updated weather column on top right.
Above image was taken just a short while ago and in the dusty haze you can barely make out the Dutch sailing vessel 'Morgenster', a converted former herring lugger, heading for Vueltas harbour in Valle Gran Rey, where another larger sailing ship, the three-masted 'Alexander von Humboldt II' (the beer ship), is already berthed.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas under palm trees

... to all readers of this blog with this palm tree decorated for Christmas in Valle Gran Rey

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A breezy Christmas 2016

A wind warning has been issued by the meteorological service valid from early today, Saturday, December 24th 2016, until Monday 25th of Dec.:
Strong to gale force easterly winds will affect La Gomera (and most areas of the Canary Islands) with winds gusting to 80 km/h or more in exposed areas, especially in the mountains.
While there are only light breezes here in Valle Gran Rey at the moment, the weather station on La Gomera's second highest peak, the Alto de Igualero at about 4500 ft, has already recorded a gust of 71 km/h just after 8 am this morning.
Drive with caution and be careful generally as sudden gusts and resulting debris can be expected.

Hakuna Matata in La Gomera

Live African music session with 'Papa Boni' in the Gomera Lounge in Valle Gran Rey last Thursday (video by KL)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Weather contrasts

The weather this holiday weekend is a bit mixed and as you can see in the picture above people were enjoying the sunshine on the harbour beach in Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey, yesterday afternoon. However, the image below shows the fairly grey skies this morning and there has been a steady light rain falling since before dawn. It is also fairly cool for this time of the year in La Gomera today and the forecast for tomorrow is for similar weather. There will also be a few brighter and even sunny spells today and tomorrow and a general improvement is forecast from Monday - see the regularly updated weather column on the top right.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

There's still room at the inn

Nice double bed in a cosy cave in the mountains ready for you with fresh greens included free of charge.
(I took this photo a few years ago in the deserted settlement of 'Cuevas Blancas' in La Gomera's northeast.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Ferry schedules for holiday season

There will be a revised ferry schedule operating over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. The most important changes are on Christmas Day and on New Year's Day when both ferry companies Fred. Olsen and Naviera Armas will operate only one crossing between Los Cristianos on Tenerife and San Sebastian de La Gomera and only one return journey on this route, and all those sailings have evening departures. Intending passengers over the busy holiday period are advised to book in advance and to check ferry times. For direct links to ferry schedules and bookings in English you can go to my TRAVEL page.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Upper Valle Gran Rey

Part of upper Valle Gran Rey seen from El Guro last Friday evening after a light shower

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Two bands for beach party

Tonight the 'noche en blanco' promotion is taking place in the La Playa area of Valle Gran Rey and a short walk further out at the uninhabited western end of the valley at the Playa del Ingles beach just beyond the sports grounds two bands will be performing after sunset - see flyer above. This gig is the rocking alternative to the X-mas shopping promotion in La Playa and not part of the official programme below:

White Vallehermoso

While other towns on La Gomera are having white nights with their 'Noche en Blanco' Christmas shopping promotions, the northwestern town of Vallehermoso is making a day of it with their Dia en Blanco. The programme looks interesting with the local samba drummers starting the day at 12 noon followed by jazz and swing with the 'Dixieland Indiana' band plus many more activities for young and old, including a tapas-tasting trail, exhibitions, workshops and various live music acts until late at night. Vallehermoso is a lovely traditional market town with many small shops as well as inviting bars and restaurants, and well worth a visit.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Avocado deserving laurels

Avocados are in season and La Gomera has a plentiful supply. I was given the monster in the picture above yesterday and it weighs 2,65 lbs. It is by no means the largest specimen I've come across here, and it comes from an avocado tree which isn't even fertilised, growing almost wild. The avocados in La Gomera are the best I've ever tasted and simply delicious. Most of the fruit here could be called 'organically grown' as nearly all of the avocado trees in La Gomera are left to themselves without being fertilised or sprayed. They do extremely well in the island's climate and soil, the only problem may be strong winds which can sometimes tear unripe fruit off the trees and diminish the harvest. 
The avocado (Persea Americana), originally from Mexico,  is a member of the Laurel family of trees. In the ancient forest in La Gomera's national park another member of the Laurel family, Persea Indica (locally called Viñatigo), is very common and the tallest tree in the Laurisilva woods. The two are closely related, but the Persea Indica which can grow in excess of 100 ft tall, contains a highly toxic alkaloid and should not be confused with another member of the Laurel family growing in La Gomera's forests which is Laurus Nobilis, the bay leaf tree. In all more than a dozen different varieties of the evergreen laurel have been growing for nearly two million years in what is now the island's national park.
The avocados grown in La Gomera come mainly in two varieties. The one pictured above is the more pear shaped type which has a smoother skin of shiny green colour. Its taste is very mild, light, creamy and it contains less fat than the second which is more rounded in shape. This one has a rougher, thicker and more wrinkled skin of dark geen-brown colour and is generally smaller than the former. Its taste is fuller and slightly nutty because of the higher fat content.
They're called 'aguacates' in Spanish and are grown here mostly for local consumption, available most of the year.
(B)utterly delicious and nutritious !

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The unique whistled language of La Gomera

Above UNESCO video is still one of the best introductions to El Silbo, La Gomera's unique whistled language. It was released by the organisation when El Silbo became recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009. Click El Silbo to find out more...

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Irishman to start solo row across Atlantic today

Gavan Hennigan aboard his boat 'Doireann' in the harbour of San Sebastian de La Gomera (
Galway native Gavan Hennigan is one of only four solo rowers in the Talisker Atlantic Challenge race across the Atlantic which is starting from San Sebastian de La Gomera this morning.
The event takes place every year from La Gomera island in the Canaries to Antigua in the Caribbean, and Mr. Hennigan will row in a specially-built Ocean rowing boat for a crossing which could take up to three months to complete.
The voyage is widely considered to be one of the toughest challenges on the planet and to date more people have climbed Everest, reached the North Pole, or ventured into space than have successfully rowed the Atlantic.
He explains why he decided to undertake such an expedition:
“That’s a big question a lot of people ask and I suppose I like the idea of the challenge. I’ve spent a lot of my time in extreme places doing mountaineering in the Himalayas, I’ve been to Antarctica, I’ve done some of the world’s longest and toughest ultra-marathons, I’ve also had one of the most dangerous jobs in the world as a commercial diver so I’ve lived this life of extreme adventure and this just looked like the next big challenge for me.
The athlete from Knocknacarra said he is nervous and excited but definitely up for the challenge. “I really like the idea of being out at sea for up to two, three months and being self-sufficient and the challenge of all that and making my own decisions.”
Throughout the crossing Gavan will face raging seas, howling winds, sharks, blisters, salt rashes, sunstroke and sleep deprivation but he said he is strengthened by his resolve to do this and raise monies for four charities; Cancer Care West, Jigsaw, RNLI and Sanctuary. He is hoping to raise in the region of €20,000. Cancer Care West and Jigsaw are both close to his heart and Gavan Hennigan has already raised thousands for Galway charities through other expeditions in extreme conditions.
You can follow his progress and that of the other contestants by clicking RACE TRACKER

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Super-fast internet coming to La Gomera soon

The majority of internet users in La Gomera will have access to high-speed internet by the end of 2017. The communications company Telefonica is already in the process of installing fibre-optic cables which will bring internet speeds of up to a whopping 300 Mbps to households, giving La Gomera the fastest internet connectivity available in the world. First to benefit will be four of the six municipal areas. Valle Gran Rey will be almost completely covered with close to 3.400 connections to benefit, followed by Vallehermoso, Alajero and San Sebastian de La Gomera with well over 1.000 high-speed connections each. By the end of the coming year 57% of all connections in La Gomera will have been linked with the super-fast fibre-optic network with the rest of the island to follow later.
Afraid my ageing hardware won't be able to keep pace, though...

Monday, December 12, 2016

Alphorn under palm trees

The Sunday music session at the bus station bar in La Calera, Valle Gran Rey had the addition of a very unusual instrument yesterday when an alphorn was blown. The Alpine instrument which sounded a bit like a trombone reverberated very well through the steep mountains of La Gomera and turned a good few heads. Imagine arriving with an alphorn as your hand luggage at the Ryanair desk...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Great fun with Barraquito Brothers

 Last night's 'Noche en Blanco' held a special musical treat on a street corner opposite the 'Bistro' in the Vueltas area of Valle Gran Rey which drew a large crowd. The 'Barraquito Brothers' from La Laguna in Tenerife played a very diverse set which ranged from jazz to pop to folk and much more, all delivered in a humorous and very entertaining way. At one stage they had the whole street street singing along. The above video doesn't do them any justice at all, but it gives a short impression of their talent. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Night in White

Street entertainment at last year's 'Noche en Blanco'
The annual Christmas 'White Night' Christmas shopping promotion takes place in the harbour village of Vueltas and neighbouring El Llano area in Valle Gran Rey from 5 pm until 11:30pm tonight with lots of activities for young and old, various live music acts and a fire show. Many shops will stay open late. 
A similar so-called 'Noche en Blanco' (night in white) will take place Saturday, Dec. 17th 2016 in the La Playa area.

Sample the Timple

Above a short video of the performance by timple virtuoso Victor Estarico in Valle Gran Rey last night. If you missed the concert you'll have another chance to hear him and his friends free of charge in the 'Auditorio Insular' in San Sebastian de La Gomera at 9 pm tonight, Saturday Dec. 10th 2016. 

Friday, December 09, 2016

Horizon on fire...

...or so it appeared at sunset in Valle Gran Rey earlier tonight. No colour enhancement used in this photo.

The X-mas programme in San Sebastian 2016:

There are plenty of activities in La Gomera's capital San Sebastian de La Gomera, too (click images to enlarge).

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Programme for festive season 2016 in VGR

Above is the programme for the Christmas and New Year season in Valle Gran Rey (click image to enlarge). The New Year's Eve and New Year's Day fiestas take place in the harbour of Vueltas this year.
It all culminates in the main Christmas fiesta on January 6th 2017 at the chapel above El Guro/Casa de la Seda which begins as always with the procession from La Calera at midday.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Wine fiesta

Main square in San Sebastian de La Gomera this Friday, Dec. 9th 2016
from 9:30pm to 11pm: Wine, snacks and music

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Keeping it Timple

The virtuoso timple player Victor Estarico from Fuerteventura will give a concert in Valle Gran Rey's 'Casa de la Cultura' in La Calera under the heading 'An Anthology of the Timple' on Friday, December 9th 2016. The timple is a Canarian five-stringed mini guitar that has a very sweet and pleasant sound and almost any music can be played on it. The concert is free of charge and begins at 8 pm. Don't miss this chance to hear the timple played by this accomplished musician.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Atlantic challenge now annual event

The race headquarters in San Sebastian de La Gomera
The world’s toughest row is back! The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, now an annual race, will start from San Sebastian de La Gomera on the 14th of December 2016, pitting 13 new teams of rowers against one of the most fearsome oceans – in what’s considered the world’s toughest row.
It is an international fleet with seven teams from the UK, three from the United States, one from South Africa, one from Ireland, one from Scotland and one from the Ukraine.  All will be at the mercy of the elements as they undertake one of the most perilous sporting challenges on Earth, rowing the 3,000 nautical miles from La Gomera, Canary Islands, to Antigua in the Caribbean. The short video below gives a taste of how arduous the journey really is:

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Disappointing rain

One of the very few short-lived light showers yesterday

Despite the very vigorous low pressure systems which had developed north of the Canary Islands recently and the high expectations for some more generous rainfalls, once again very little precipitation fell in La Gomera.
The water reservoirs which are used for irrigation in summer contain very little water this December. They had been almost filled by the end of October last year. The drinking water is not affected as it is all won from springs and wells and the mists and fogs in the mountains which condense on the trees keep feeding a steady supply of precious water.
Well, the winter season has only begun and hopes are high for some more decent rain. 
However, for the coming week there's no rain in sight yet as high pressure becomes established.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Her Majesty in Valle Gran Rey once again

Thomson Majesty approaching the harbour of Valle Gran Rey early yesterday morning...
The cruise ship 'Thomson Majesty' paid the first visit of this winter season to Valle Gran Rey's harbour of Vueltas. The passengers enjoyed the fine weather yesterday and many were seen exploring the lower valley while others were discovering the whole island by tour coach and appreciating the exceptionally clear views (see separate post). 'Thomson Majesty' will visit La Gomera seven more times this season and will dock four times in San Sebastian de La Gomera, while she'll visit Valle Gran Rey once each in February, March and April 2017. 
It is always nice to see a ship in the all too often vacant outer harbour which just begs to be properly completed and put to use.
...and berthing in the outer harbour of Vueltas a short time later

Extremely clear vision

Yesterday the air was so clear that La Gomera's neighbouring islands could all be seen very clearly and seemed much closer than they actually are. Even Gran Canaria could be seen distinctly. I took above photograph from Juego de Bolas (near Agulo) with a simple little camera at about 10:30 am yesterday morning. La Palma's capital Santa Cruz can clearly be seen and even one of the observatories (red arrow) on Roque de Los Muchachos is distinctly visible - a distance far in excess of 100 kilometres as the crow flies.
Rarely can La Palma be seen from here with such clarity and in such detail. Extremely clear vision when distant objects seem much closer is generally considered a sign of coming rain and this morning the skies look fairly grey...

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Sunset tonight

Tonight's sunset taken from the bus station in La Calera, Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera

100 years of Spanish national parks

Today a ceremony at the Garajonay national park visitor's centre in Juego de Bolas at 10 am will mark 100 years since a legal foundation for Spain's national parks was laid, the first one in the world. As marcaespania puts it:

''According to history, or to those who write it down, it all began in Yellowstone, back in 1872. The US Government intended to protect this natural area by designating it as a National Park – the first of its kind. The practice was soon adopted in Canada, Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia… It took longer for it to come to Spain, but it made its entry in style.
As various countries designated their own National Parks, Spain granted them legal protection by passing the first National Parks Act in the world at the request of Pedro José Pidal y Bernaldo de Quirós, Marquis of Villaviciosa de Asturias. Adopted by the Cortes Generales (the Spanish Congress), the law was sanctioned by King Alfonso XIII, coming into force on 8 December 1916.''

The Canary Islands are the region with the most national parks with four of a total of fifteen and Teide national park on Tenerife is the most visited, accounting for over 30% of all visitors to the 15 parks. 
La Gomera's 'Garajonay' national park is unique with its almost two million years old evergreen forest. The island's government is soon to take over ownership from the Spanish state and the long legal process for this change is well underway.
Location of the four national parks in the Canary Islands. Note: Garajonay is spelled wrong on map