Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

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December 11th 2015
Published: December 15th 2015
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Friday 11th December, 2015. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

We were woken fairly early to the roaring of the ship's bow thrusters as we docked in Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. We went to the restaurant for a posh breakfast before disembarking and going into town. Las Palmas is the capital of the island of Gran Canaria and is known as Las Palmas GC in order to differentiate it from the island of Las Palmas which is also in the Canaries Group.

Gran Canaria is a roughly circular shaped island and Las Palmas lies at it's north eastern corner on a spit. Despite its name it is only the 3rd largest of the Canary Islands (about the size of the combined Shetland Islands). Las Palmas GC is the largest city in the Canaries and a major commercial centre, with a population about the size of Bristol. We docked in the Puerto de la Luz (Port of Light) in the enormous docklands area. Another cruise ship, Holland America Line's Rotterdam, was already alongside. On exiting the port we grabbed a map from the pop-up tourist office. We avoided the HoHo buses and continued past an enormous shopping centre (probably a mistake on this duty free island) until we reached Santa Catalina Square. The place was immaculate. We took some photos of a superb sculpture of a boot boy and admired the horse and carriages waiting for the tourists. With the help of the map we continued through the commercial centre, taking note of car hire companies and enquiring of prices with a view to hiring a car tomorrow. We then arrived at Playa de las Canteras on the other side of the spit. It was a long, beautiful beach with golden sands. There were plenty of people swimming in the sea as there was a natural reef keeping the beach protected from the Atlantic Ocean. We walked along the immaculate promenade taking in the lovely sculptures and street lights. D reckoned that word had got out that there were a couple of cruise ships in as we found a cafe offering a sandwich and a drink for 2 euros 90 cents or a Bocadillo and Bebida (Sandwich and a Drink in Spanish) for 2 Euros 10 cents (see photo). The 10 cents had clearly been doctored to make 90 cents! We spent a pleasant hour or so strolling along the promenade before returning (via the 10 Euro shop where M purchased some snazzy new shorts) to the ship for lunch. On the way we chatted to some locals in Santa Catarina Square in order to suss out the buses.

After lunch we returned to Santa Catarina Square and obtained an Oyster Type card loaded with 10 bus journeys. Then we waited for a No 1 or 12 in order to travel the 6 or so kilometres to the Casco Historico (Las Palmas Old Town). The architecture here was stunning with many colonial buildings with beautiful balconies. We stopped for a beer in a local Taverna - no tourists in sight. We walked along Dr Chil street - which we thought was a really cool name (forgive the pun) with its old apartment blocks before arriving at the church of San Francisco de Borja and Seminario. We continued on to the Museo Canario which details the pre-historic history of the island. D got in for a pencionista price. It was absolutely fascinating with models of cave dwellings and pre-historic houses, mummies, loads of skulls and skeletons and lots of ceramics that had been found on the island.

After the museum we made our way to the Catedral de Santa Ana which stands imposingly over the Plaza Santa Ana. The square was also home to the Town Hall and some lovely town houses. There were several statues of different breeds of dog (after which the Canary Islands are named - from the lating Cani for dog). We continued to stroll through the old town until we reached the modern theatre building. From here we caught a return bus back to Santa Catarina Square. We went to dinner and met our dining companions who are called Elaine and Eamon who have their son on board working in the shop. The show was All Shook Up which was an Elvis Tribute. All in all a very pleasant day.

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