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Published: January 4th 2016
Monday 21st December, 2015. La Gomera
While we were enjoying a posh breakfast in the dining room with one of M's bridge buddies we were joined by Alan. He had come to find out whether there were any repercussions to the fact that we had returned yesterday's car minus a hubcap (we don't know whether it was already missing when we picked it up or not). Anyway cut a long story short Alan and Jan decided to join us for another day of car hire and touring.
After breakfast the four of us went to the cruise terminal where there were two car hire desks. We took a queue each and M won so we hired a car from the chica at her window. Once in the car we headed out of San Sebastian towards a town called Agula. We could see immediately that this island was not going to disappoint - it was stunning. We stopped at a number of points on the way to a little town called Hermigua where M paid a visit to the tourist office to get a better map. Hermigua was a very quaint little place built on the side of a valley.
The valley itself was planted with bananas and other crops across some spectauclar terraces. Hermigua itself is not on the coast so we continued towards Agulo and took a turning off to Playa de Hermigua. This was a rocky black volcanic beach with a red flag flying to indicate that it was too dangerous to swim. We turned around and rejoined thte road to Agulo where we stopped at the Mirador La Punta. This viewpoint had tremendous views to the north and to the south down to Playa de Hermigua. We could clearly see the Davits on Playa de Hermigua. According to the blurb at the mirador in the early 20th century, 3 large structures were built on the coast of Vallehermoso, Agulo and Hermigua. These were called pescantes or davits. They were erected in order to load bananas directly from the valleys because land transport to the nearest wharves was very expensive. At that time roads were virtually non-existent and they weren't built until 50 years later when the port of San Sebastian was also created. Such advances led to the rapid decline of the pescantes. The metal structure of the Hermigua davit was soon sold off but the
concrete columns have remained as a testament ot bygone days and could still be clearly seen at the end of the beach. From the the Mirador La Punta we also had fantastic views of Mount Teide on the neighbouring island of Tenerife.
We continued on to Agulo where we tried unsuccessfully to find somewhere for a coffee. Once outside of town though we found a real local place where we had 4 coffees at bargain prices where there was a terrace with a great view over Agulo. We drove along the north of the island and into the National Park. There was a mirador here but the actual view was a long walk away. We took some pictures of the north coast from the car park. We continued across the north of the island to Vallehermoso and down the east of the island through Arure to the Mirador de Palmerejo. This viewpoint has amazing views over the Rey Valley and the delta of La Gomera. We could see the lower part of the valley floor of Valle Gran Rey, one of La Gomera's largest ravines known locally as valleys. At the mouth, a small delta has formed over millions
of years from materials brought down the watercourse towards the sea. Among the hamlets visible from here, La Calera is particularly interesting as it has headed the borough since 1880. At that time, irrigation crops for export were just being produced along the coastal strip, until then barely cultivated and of little value. Development began to gain importance and soon the owners of coastal farms petitioned for La Calera to become a borough town.
From the viewpoint you could survey the hillsides of La Merica and Teguerguenche that flank the valley mouth and on the coast we could see one of La Gomer's main tourist destinations and places of considerable ecological interest such as Charco del Cieno, one of the largest natural salt marshes in the Canaries. Of the 7 Canary Islands, La Gomera boasts the most exuberant natural surroundings. The finest representation of laurel forest is located in the central massif from where you can see incomparable remains of palm and willow tree groves. The conservation of these natural areas has enabled many unique species of flaura and fauna to endure until now. The most fragile is the giant lizard of La Gomera (Gallotia Bravoana), one of the
most endanged vertebrates on the planet. The few remaining free-roaming specimens can be found on the rocky outcrop of La Merica.
We continued down into the town of Valle Gran Rey where we found a nice eatery by the sea. There were lots of German tourists here. The ocean views were lovely and the town very picturesque. The steep mountain road we had travelled down to get here was a fantastic backdrop. After lunch we drove back up towards Arure but just before we reached the town we turned right to head back into the Garajonay National Park. It was quite cold and murky in the park - a bit like La Palma yesterday. We decided to descend the mountain to where it was warmer and clearer. Then we drove the loop down past the new airport and a town called Playa Santiago before returning to San Sebastian. The loop was a nice drive. We stopped at a viewpoint and took some photos of the southern hills before heading back. We dropped Jan and Alan back at the cruise terminal as they are on 1st sitting dinner so need to be ready a couple of hours before us. It
was a bit nippy so M suggested we do a short drive north of the city but this time truning off left towards some reservoirs or Presas that were shown on the map. We had seen one of these reservoirs from the high road this morning. The extremely narrow road led to a little village called Chejelipes. We made our way along, pausing occassionally to allow oncoming traffic and goats to pass. Wee took some photograps of each of the reservoirs and dams which were called Presa de Chejelipes, Presa de Izcagun and Presa de Palacios. We drove back as it started to get dark. We stopped at the fortress in San Sebastian which has become a monument. The fortress was plundered by French, Dutch, English and Algerian pirates. It was attacked by the aboriginals in what was known as "the uprising of gomeros". It was never a military fortress but was used as a prison and arsenal.
Once back on the ship we go dressed up in our glad rags for the Captain's Farewell Cocktail party. The show was the Braemar Crew show which was a bit of fun. Tomorrow is our last day and we are hoping
to meet up with Angela and Audrey.
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