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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Garachico – A picturesque suburb of Tenerife

Each time I come to Tenerife, this quaint little town, Garachico fascinates me.

I have blogged about this town several times.

“Garachico was once a port where ships anchored but this port was completely destroyed during the volcanic eruption. However the castle with the stone doorway of ‘San Miguel Castle’ still stands there at the end of the promenade. This is the finest building, a 16th century stronghold belonging to the Count of Gomera’ that survived a volcanic eruption in 1706 unscathed.”

Last week, I visited again and decided to walk inside the castle (which is now a small museum) to see the interiors of this stone structure. It was like entering a cave. It has windows on all sides. A big iron canon (with a thick layer of rust) stands in one corner, with its mouth jutting out of the tiny window. I could imagine the guards protecting their village in that era. There was a winding stoned steps leading up to the terrace of the castle. The view from the top was spectacular. Clean fresh breeze blowing over the vast sea and natural pools at the shores. On the other side of the castle lay a flowered lined motorway leading towards the by-lanes of the village.

I walked to the town square. People were in festive mood celebrating the annual festival ‘San Roque’. Every August, during the second week of the month, this village is glittered with music, dance and street market. There is no place to park. There were many people walking instead, their hips swaying slightly as they walk in a rhythm to the loud street music played at every food stall. The fragrance of freshly baked bread, pastries, cheese and roasted meat fill the air.

Farmers and artists display their products and handicraft stuff in their balconies and windows facing the road. There is procession during this festival, where people are dressed in their traditional clothes. They sing traditional songs, play the music on guitar and ‘Timple’. They bring along their farm products and their animals too and the prayers are offered to their deities.

What is interesting about is this village is the main square- ‘Plaza Juan Gonzalez de la Torre’. Numerous small red fishes swim in the small pond surrounding the fountain at the center of the plaza. There are wooden benches scattered all over the place where people gather in the evening for a friendly chitchat.

A big iron gate on one side of the plaza caught my attention. On the side of this huge gate is a plaque. I went up to read the plaque placed on a barbed gate

Behind the gate, there are stone steps leading down to the beautiful botanical garden called ‘Parque de la Puerta de Tierra’

The valley has been converted into a beautiful garden with neatly manicured trees. I wish they had installed some railings for support during climbing up the stairs. There were too many steps to climb and one needs stamina to enjoy solitude of this place. But it was very peaceful and picturesque.

I am never tired of visiting this place. There is so much to do, if nothing else, just go fishing? Yes, I blogged about that too…

“First thing that caught my attention were the rows and rows of boats parked side by side at ferry wharf. Creatively painted with bright colors and designs, they were a welcomed distraction.”

Modern civilization has not yet touched this rural suburb. There are no tall buildings or any fancy malls. This is a beautiful village with cobbled streets, centuries old stone buildings, tradition and culture retained and some of those quaint houses with beautiful patios, now converted into rural hotels. Here people can spend few days, away from hustle and bustle of the society, close to the nature, transported into the 18th century…..

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Exploring Lanzarote part 5

During my visit to Canary Islands, I decided to spend a week in Lanzarote. I had a choice to go by air or by sea. There is a boat service 'Armas' that can be used to hop between island. I used it to go to another island, Gran Canarias, and also wanted to go by this boat to Lanzarote as well, but it takes more than five hours by sea and the timings were late at night, therefore I decided to go by air, Binter airways, and reached the place in 45 minutes.

This island is very different from other islands. While Tenerife and Gran Canarias are very green and colorful, this island in comparison is very brown and hilly.

85% of Lanzarote is a protected area, full of lava from volcanic eruptions with only a narrow tar road for traffic to move at a slow pace….it seemed like I was on an outer planet...

At some places, it was too scary with open craters and lava stone. I was tempted to pick up some rock from the path, hoping to hit a fortune, but nobody is allowed to pick up the stones :))

You can imagine the strong winds in these open spaces, it is impossible to stand straight without support, hair are mess, skirt is flying high up (ha! ha!) Lava sand slapping against your face while you look for a comfortable posture to be able to click a picture...oops!

Some of the craters of the volcano Montana de Fuego ("Mountain of Fire") are still active, and have temperatures as high as 400 degrees. 

There are different shapes of hills and rocks, At one place I saw this rock that looked like a cloak.... I craned my neck to see if Virgin Mary was inside...

Even though it is so isolated, a nice smooth road is built for motorway which was quite narrow at some places but very safe.... When the driver took a steep turn, I was busy praying for my safety....

We passed through the tunnels, through narrow paths and through dangerous slopes but had an experienced driver who knew the road well enough to drive carefully...

In the place like this, what can one possibly grow? just algae? But farmers are intelligent and they have turned part of the island into green zone by using stones as barriers to control against the strong winds and have put soil in blocks....

 Some part of the island had large salt pans using the sea water

A milk diary had their goats in their farm

We passed the village that has 1000 palms. Legend has it that for every male child born in the village, one palm tree was planted and for every female child born the village, two palm trees were planted ...

The part of the island that is developed for tourist is beautiful. Tourism is the main industry here and paths next to sea shore are converted into beautiful promenades where you often find musician performing for a fee. I often went down the path and sat down on the rocks to read a book

What is peculiar about Lanzarote is that the houses are just one level and are white in color with green windows. This combination of white and green is uniform throughout the island except in the main town which had multiple story government offices and banks and colorful buildings.

During the day one can spend the day at the beach but in the evening, it is a pleasant walk by the seashore, there are many restaurants along the promenade. I used to sit for hours sipping coffee in the cool sea breeze and do people watching.

The other islands are so close by that they are visible from the sea shore. 

Fuerteventura is just 20 minutes boat ride from Lanzarote. There is Isla de Lobos on the other side of Fuerteventure.

From the north of the island, I could see another island called Graciosa. The island looked bare but there was a cluster of hotels closer to the beach

More details on points of visit in Lanzarote
Exploring Lanzarote part4: 'Jameos del Agua' Caves in Lanzarote

Exploring Lanzarote: part 3: 'EL Golfo' in Lanzarote
Exploring Lanzarote: part 2: 'The Mountain of Fire' In Lanzarote
Exploring Lanzarote: part 1: 'Camel Ride at Timanfaye National Park' in Lanzarote

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