The ship docks as the sun is rising, casting beautiful light on to the town of Las Palmas. A few quick pictures on deck before we get ready to take a half-day tour. The weather is cool – 63 degrees – and it feels refreshing after all the tropical ports. A few naval ships are docked, as is a Red Cross ship. This island was settled in 1478 so lots of history around the island. One of the cities on the island – Vegueta – is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Unfortunately time won’t allow us to visit that city. Our tour is to Arucas, two beautiful old churches and a rum distillery. Las Palmas is walkable from the ship, to explore, another day, on another trip. It’s a very cosmopolitan city we’ve been told. I’ve never been to Spain, doesn’t this count?
Our tour takes us to the lovely small village of Firgas, which sits on a hillside.
A 500 year-old church anchors the main plaza with tiled benches and city names in the wall that runs up the hill. A terraced fountain lined with flowers transports you up the steps to the next street. Then the next terraced walk has large murals representing each of the Canary Islands. The streets are narrow, winding to the town and in the town. Very quaint. Very peaceful.
Our next town is Arucas. It’s anchored by the neogothic style St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, constructed with volcanic ‘blue stone’ from Arucas. The first stone was laid in 1909, it opened for worship in 1917 and was completed in 1977. Lots of small altars inside with beautiful stained glass windows.
The streets near the church are filled with small restaurants and coffee shops.
The tour concludes at Gran Canaria’s very old, very unique rum distillery, Arehucas. Here they make several different types of rum and some liqueurs using all local ingredients – locally grown organic sugar cane, and a touch of honey. The liqueurs include their own bananas. The distillery sits up on a hill and has fantastic views of the countryside.
Touring the inventory of barrels, we are told there are over 300 barrels bought, signed and saved by celebrities. We are offered a sip of those that interest us. A little early but…..just a taste.
Back to the ship, lunch and sort pictures for the blog. While we are walking back to the ship, we are stopped by a young woman with the tourism bureau to ask us questions about our visit. It turns out her father was from Texas and her mother from the Grand Canaria – her Texas-American English is perfect; so says my Oklahoma spouse. For a tourist, this is great place. Clean as your countertop, friendly as family, athletically and aesthetically oriented, rich in history, a crossroads for explorers, pirates, whalers, modern-day sea merchants, and a perfect climate….
…Gran Canaria is our final land visit before we disembark in Southampton and is a beautiful place to end our world cruise land touring. The weather and island landscape is spectacular – definitely a place to vacation. Easy to travel around the island, English is spoken and the currency is the Euro.
Now our ship will head north for three days through some of the most turbulent seas we will travel on this voyage, including the Bay of Biscay. Significantly – at least for us – we will be packing for our cruise-ship-switcharoo on Sunday. Hmmm, packing and rough seas, how’s that going to work out for us land lubbers?