CANARY ISLANDS 2 (cont) and Verse


La Palma Island is another small island, well known for its many wonderful walking tracks and spectacular scenery. This is a quieter island without the heavy tourism seen elsewhere. In C16 it was considered the third most important port in Spain.
All the roads here are steep, narrow and winding, with wonderful views.
Traveling north up the east coast we come to the Los Tilos laurel forest. This is a misty evergreen rainforest. Also growing here are ferns, myrtles and lime trees. It is beautiful walking through here, now a biosphere reserve.
Somehow we take a wrong turn along the north coast, (we are finding the maps here hard to follow!), which gives Ross a particularly difficult, and sometimes hair-raising drive, but the scenery is magnificent. There are not many towns or restaurants in this area but one the tourist information man suggests is excellent, with local cuisine and in a lovely setting.
The archaeological site of La Zarza near La Mata, has rock carvings by the ancient inhabitants of the island. These are very simple , mostly of spirals and circles. The walk in to see these is again lush green, with laurel trees and a large diversity of bird life.

Rock carvings

A dug out cave

The scenery along the west coast is equally spectacular as the east and the north coasts. the greenery is due to the heavy rainfall in these areas and the warm climate.
Turning east we approach the southern boundary of the Caldera de Taburiente, near El Paso, which is quite a large town. We descend down to the bottom (another scary drive) where many walks lead off for exploring the park. Some campers are just returning from a long hike and are very pleased with themselves. We are very happy to just be looking today.
Ross is pleased to park the car near the marina and we walk along the waterfront boulevard with its attractive houses, cafes and bars to find a simple dinner. Many of these places have the wooden balconies and overhanging baskets with colourful flowers. Many of the houses on La Palma Island are painted in bright colours.

Houses painted in brighter colours here

The following morning we stow the boat to prepare for an overnight sail tomorrow. The provisioning is much simpler here where we can buy fresh food regularly. i am just keeping 2 spare meals in the freezer in case.
Amazing cloud formation driving up to the national Park
Mt. Teide is seen above this

Arid drive up to volcano summit

Then we head up to Roque de los Muchachos to the National Park. The steep walls of the crater are a fantastic sight, some over 2,000m high. We are fortunate to have a clear day with breath-taking views.

Top of the crater looking over the e.coast

There is an astronomical observatory up here. It is known world wide because with the clear skies at this site it is a perfect place for making these observations.

Some of the observatories

While we are still descending, we find lunch at a charming al fresco restaurant with its overhanging grape vines and views across the Atlantic , which is very pleasant.

Restaurant overlooking the Atlantic

View down to Santa Cruz port

This is excellent preparation for the 4 hour walk at La Galga up to Cuba de la Galga, on the east coast with its wonderful examples of deep ravines and vertical cliff faces. The forest here is lush green and very cool to walk through.

Hiking to Cuba de la Galga
-with laurel trees

View from the summit

The gorge we walked up

Well organized walk

Tonight while we still have the hire car we drive 8 ks. out of Santa Cruz to a well known restaurant, Las Tres Chimeneas. It is a delicious dinner and a pleasant atmosphere. We also enjoy seeing another area of the island.

A typical house in La Palma with flowered wooden balcony

Today we enjoy a "home" day on the boat and have our delightful Swedish neighbours on board for a drink before dinner. They have no children or commitments at home, so have set off for 5 years to travel the world. We hope to see them after crossing the Atlantic next year, and they also hope to come to Australia.

Friday 20th. August

Leaving La Palma

We leave La Palma about midday to time our overnight sail towards the east to arrive at Gran Canaria Island at 8 or 9 am. It is a pleasant afternoon out here motor sailing with the headsail and most of the mainsail up, averaging about 7 kts.

Teide showing above a heavy bank of cloud

Sunset off Tenerefe Island

With a magnificent sunset we are tracking towards the n.east cape of Tenerefe past
the top of Teide just looming above the heavy cloud formation below it.The wind has come round slightly so we are motor sailing with 3/4 of the mainsail up. There is just a slight swell.
Ross asks many people how far off the n. east coast of Tenerefe the accelerated winds are likely to occur. ( It is marked on the chart to be be very strong in this area) We are surprised when they are such a problem that no-one has the answer. Last night he visited the crew of a the large ferry and was told that about 3-5 n.miles off shore. We are very grateful for this knowledge and plan our course accordingly.
For sometime we enjoy the warm glow of the lights from Tenerefe, and later the
reflection across the water from the 3/4 moon.
Arriving this morning without having to experience any accelerated wind zones is a great relief. There is no pleasure sailing in these.

To avoid accelerated wind zones we decide not to return to Tenerefe to Santa Cruz marina. We are unable to make a booking for this time for a permit to the summit of Mt. Teide. We look at it on the internet and decide we don´t need to do this extra travel to go up the cable car, having now seen several volcanos and having been up to their summit.

Gran Canaria Island
Las Palmas
We spend several days here with a mixture of organizing Impulsive and exploring the more northern parts of this island

A major sculpture on the foreshore

We walk about 4 ks. along the foreshore to explore the "Old town". It is all very quiet
and even though it is Sunday most places of interest are closed early afternoon.

The Cathedral and the "Old Town"

The Santa Ana cathedral is huge with a neoclassical facade, set in the square of the same name, with its bronze statues of dogs. Casa de Colon, or Columbus House, is the palace of the first governors, and where Columbus stayed. It is now a museum showing aspects of Columbus´great voyages eg. part of an interior of one of the ships.

Columbus House

Nearby is a small church, San Antonio Abad where Columbus prayed. South of the cathedral is Plaza del Espiritu Santo which houses its monumnental fountain, a chapel and several typical historical houses.

Plaza del Espiritu

An historical house

The main theatre has a richly decorated interior. The Canary islands are known for their musical concerts, including classical.
Santa Catalina Hotel, built in the late C19 is near the marina , is very grand and is set in the Parque Doramus. These sub-tropical gardens with their water features have an impressive monument to the Guanches during their resistance to Spanish invaders.

Monument in the gardens

One of these days we call our "Mr. Bean" day. I never thought I`d experience seeing Ross having a day like this. He has so much to think about and organize, and most things just seem to "go wrong". We all have these days but this one is just incredible. In the end we just laugh and imagine many worse things that could happen. The last straw is we walk a long way to a recommended excellent fresh seafood restaurant to find no lights on and that it is closed until Sept. !st for holidays!
We take a drive inland visiting several charming small and quiet towns.
Telde is unique with its green and white painted houses. It once held the seat of the local king of the Guanches.

Typical houses painted green and white at Telde

Vega de San Mateo is an agricultural town set in a very fertile valley.

Vega San Mateo

Santa Brigida is said to produce the best red wine of the island. There are views over the slopes where they grow these vines on the town´s slopes. The streets here are lined with eucalyptus trees.Looking across the slopes

Santa Bridgita

Tafira Alta is in the hills near Las Palmas. There are lovely villas and gardens, and elegant hotels here.
We have some interesting dinners at Las Palmas at and near the marina.
We have thoroughly enjoyed the Canarian cuisine, including the famous small Canarian potatoes with Mojo sauce which red( spicy) and green. The fresh seafood has been delicious too.
The wines have been interesting with full flavours. One we particularly enjoy is a red from the area of the towns above where we were told they grow the best reds on the island.
It has been overcast as expected during our time in the northern part of the island.
Apparently it is sunnier in September. We enjoy the cool especially when we are on the boat in the marina. Also it has been quiet every where but the busier season here will begin soon with boats arriving for the Atlantic rally crossing. Also tourism is at its peak here during December and January.
We frequent the "Sailors´s Bar" near Impulsive often for the WiFi connection. It´s always buzzing. This is one of several places we post a notice about sailing across the Atlantic in January enquiring if there if anyone may be interested to sail in radio contact with us. They would have to maintain a similar average speed to us.

Wednesday, 25th. August
We leave for our last sail of this season this morning to track down the e. coast of the island and then along the south coast to Pasito Blanco.
We start off motor sailing with both sails up and a large swell, with the wind behind us but varying. Now we round Punto de Ganda we have a starboard tack with wind blowing 30 kts. so we can sail. We are thrilled to enjoy a good final sail. Listening to Beethoven´s 9th. symphony adds to the atmosphere.

Favourite Recipe this leg:
Called "scallop steaks", is the english translation
Seared scallops and prawns
Arrange attractively on a plate with: a small serve of mixed salad greens
2 heart of palms, each topped with half a cherry tomato
Serve with crunchy bread and olive oil, and salad dressing if desired.

Arriving at Pacito Blanco to leave the boat here until setting off to cross the Atlantic.

Pasito Blanco marina is a secure, and is attractive being set in a resort area, with its streets lined with palm trees. There is nothing else here except a small supermarket. Being down south of the island it is very hot.
We need the planned several days here to prepare Impulsive to leave her for four months. Apart from the regular cleaning, stainless and anti-rust work Ross has issues with the furling system, the rigging and some electrical systems he wants to check.
There is quite an atmosphere here for the three day annual fishing competition. Ross sees the winning marlin fish which he says is magnificent. It weighs 420 kgs and is 8 feet long. The celebration dinner is booked out but at mid-night others may join in and drinks are offered all night we are told. We hear the band finish up at 5am!
It is very hot here and the voltage from the power supply from onshore is too weak to run the air-conditioning. We have hired a car to go to the centre we are advised we can have the gas tanks filled, but are disappointed to find this is no longer possible here. We will have to bring the suitable attachment back from Australia. Having the car we can find a beach for a swim though. As soon as we drive out of Pasito Blanco the scenery is barren land, and high cliff faces dropping down into the ocean.


Arquinequin is a nearby attractive old fishing village. Also there is the tourist town of Porto Rico and the largest resort of Gran Canaria, Maspalomas. It has the usual blackish sands here but has a backdrop of the sand dunes set beside the Atlantic. We have a swim here away from the main crowded beach, but have to clamber in over rocks and pebbles. There are only a few people swimming here and it is very refreshing.
We really enjoy a swim at the picturesque Paya de la Amadores, near Puerto Rico, where all the golden sands have been brought in from the Sahara.

Paya de la Amadores

We return to Puerto Mogan and stay our last night here as our flight tomorrow is very early and we want to leave Impulsive gleaming.We have a very relaxed time and enjoy it all the more with all the memories of having our week here with Scott, Jeanette and the girls.

Puerto Mogan

We have had another wonderful season with many happy experiences and some challenging sailing. We are ready now to go home to enjoy being with family and friends.

Canary Islands

If the forecast says expect 15 knots
You`ll get 35 at least
With lots of white water across the deck
And not always from north east

The volcanos that formed the islands here
Cause the wind to funnel through
The so called acceleration zones
Where the water`s more white than blue

And then when you`re tied up safely
The wind rolls down the slopes
And rattles through the rigging
And tests the mooring ropes

So spare a thought for Columbus
In 1492
As he took mass at San Sebastion
Before sailing off into the blue

Take time to see the volcanos here
Beginning at Timanfaya
The power of the mighty eruptions there
Make you feel like a very small player

One man who subdued the volcanic rock
Was the artist Cesar Manrique
He smoothed and rounded and softened it
Raw, rough power becomes almost meek

Fuertoventura island is aptly named
It blows hard,especially down south
We fished out a frog suited swimmer there
Nearly ready for mouth to mouth

If you want to tuck up right out of the wind
Puerto Mogan`s the place for a spell
Take some special Danish crew on board
For some sailing and swimming as well

Tenerife`s majestic Mount Teide
Stands tall above the cloud
You could ski across from La Palma
If gravity allowed

La Palma`s an island of scenic walks
Lush green ferns and laurel trees
Make the effort and climb up La Galga
(More fun for the eyes than the knees)

La Gomera`s also a hikers delight.
When you climb Mt Garanjay
The other islands all loom close
Though they`re 50 miles away

Now we`re ghosting off the Tenerife coast
A half moon lights the sea
We`ve tricked the wind acceleration zone
Sailing`s joyful again.Yippee!

We`ve spent a few days at Las Palmas
The base for the ARC
In November the port will be buzzing with life
Till the fleet all heads out to sea

Now we`re off to Pasito Blanco
Impulsive,we`ll find someone there
Who`ll recognise the good work you`ve done
And treat you with loving care.

August 2010.


August 30th.

Now we return to mainland Spain. We decide to do this having left Impulsive safely tied up as we have to fly home via Madrid anyway, and we were never keen to leave her at Malaga. It is relaxing to visit the following places knowing she is safe.


We arrive here in the evening of a day over 40 degrees. Fortunately the forecast for the following few days is cooler.
Seville is a lovely, compact city where we can walk everywhere. Everything is easily accessible with no cars allowed in the centre. It is filled with reminders of its history but is also a very attractive place to be today.
Highlights and places visited are:
1. Half day guided tour to: the palaces and the cathedral

The Palaces

Inside the Palace

The Palace the King uses when residing in Seville

The Cathedral

Examples of juxtaposition of arabic and christian architecture inside the cathedral

2. The Jewish quarter, cleverly built with its many narrow , winding streets with high buildings each side all planned to keep out the heat in the very hot summers here
3.Gardens:There are many lovely gardens and tree lined streets which all offer welcome shade in this extremely hot climate.

The gardens beyond the Palace

The Marie-Luisa gardens. These beautiful and large gardens have many water features.

A water feature in the gardens

The Plaza de Espagne and the Plaza de America were built here for the 1929 exhibition here, which was to improve relationships between Spain and America.

Plaza de Espagne

Ceramic tiles depicting each provence

There is also a ceramic memorial dedicated to Migual de Cevantes Savedra, b.1547-1616, and writer of Don Quixote. They are depicting scenes inspired by Don Quixote.
4. The tower - part of the original fortifications and the old city wall.

The tower

5. The Bull Ring - I have no desire to see an event here but am interested in the history of the sport. Ross is keen to see an event.

The bullring

Painting in the bullring gallery

6. Flamenco dancing , at Tablao el Arenal - the cultural passion in this dancing is wonderful and it originated here

Flamenco Dancing

7. The Alfonso X111 hotel where we are staying was built for royalty for the 1929 exhibition. It has marvellous examples of Moorish architecture.

Alfonso X111 Hotel

8. Cuisine
Restaurants: Rio Grande - views across the river
La Isla - excellent seafood paella
Pepe - in the Jewish quarter
Alcazar - in a very lively area, in Santa Cruz
General information:
Our guide explains with the limited rainfall here and not enough dams drinking water is a problem which has to be addressed. Most people use bottled water.
He also gives us an insight into the history of the city.

Approaching Ronda the the country becomes more mountainous.
This is a fascinating city perched high up and split into two by a deep gorge. Houses are seen to be hanging over the gorge. The old town is made up of a maze of narrow, winding streets, which are often steep, and have many examples of moorish architecture. The city is steeped in history since the Celtic tribes settling there about C5 B.C.

The Gorge

There is a 3 day festival taking place while we are here which adds to the atmosphere with many young girls and women, and some men and boys dressed in their native dress. Some are dancing in the major squares. Some riding dressed horses, some passing through in horse drawn carts.

The city is very lively.

The Festival

Dancing in the square

Places visited:
1. 18th. century Puente Nuevo and the marvelous views from here.

The Puente Nueva

2.City walls, gates and archways and plazas
3.Collegiate church of Santa Maria

4. Palacio de Mondragon - referred to as an "architectural gem"

Palacio de Mondragon

5. Walking through the old town noting the architecture with its moorish influence and the wrought iron work of the area

Houses clinging to the cliff faces

Driving to this city we first pass through some very dry areas, softened by the soft green of thousands of acres of olive trees.

Driving to Cordoba

The valleys become more fertile further north where many crops are grown and many acres of hay have been cut. We cross the steep and wooded Sierra Morena mountains leaving the Andulusian area and entering the Castilla province. The soil here has a red tinge and the country is flatter with many vines growing.

Places visited:
1. A half day guided tour:
The Jewish quarter

The Jewish Quarter

The old city walls

The Cordoba Palace

Cordoba Palace

2. Walking through the old town and by the river
3. The Roman tower

Cordoba is situated on the Guadalquivir River. It was founded in 169 B.C., and is the birthplace of the philosopher Seneca.
Our guide explains the Mosque/ Cathedral, a World heritage site, is "alive" and traces the long history here.
The history begins with its Visigoth origins, and the main church dates back to C6. It was during the period of the Islamic dominance that Cordoba reached it peak, becoming the most cultivated city in C10 Europe. After the Christian conquest the Mosque was consecrated as christian temple and later a cathedral was built in the centre of this great building. This building gives one of the best examples of architecture from the different times of arab and christian.
This city also gave the unique example of the arabs, jews and christians all living harmoniously for sometime. Ferdinand and Isabella choose christianity as the religion in Spain to make it uniform and decree others must join and convert or leave. This seems a mistake by the catholics as for example the jews chose to leave. The business men at this time were mainly Jewish, so the economy started to decline. It was the end of the Golden Age for Jews in Spain.

Ceiling of the library of an old mansion, now a hotel


This is a wonderful old city sited high on a hill overlooking Rio Tajo river. There are enough museums and monuments here to keep us busy for a week.
Walking in through Puertode Alfonso V1 is an arab gate from the early C10 and is an interesting example of military architecture of that time.

Puertode Alfonso

Entrance to the old town


Madrid is in central Spain and has been occupied since prehistoric times. It is now the major financial centre of Southern Europe.
Spain has been invaded many times. The Muslims invaded from the south up to the Castillo region (mid-Spain), and the Christians moved north of here.
All Spain suffered from the civil war from 1936-9. This was followed by Franco´s dictatorship, and now it has a constitutional monarchy.

Guided tour:
1. the Prado museum.
Highlights for us are: Goya, El Greco, Fortunay and Velasques and the sculptures
The Turner exhibition

The Prado Gallery

2. Tour of the city and the Palace

Surprisingly there are many trees in Madrid, second in number to Tokyo, because the rainfall is so low here. The subterranean supplies allow for this.
The transport system is well organized. We use the metro easily here and it is very efficient and cheap.
It is a good life for the elderly here. They pay €11 per month which covers all their transport .Public health cover is free, including ambulances.

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sophia
Thyssen Bornemizza Museum

The Palace - built in 1738 on top of the hill, with beautiful gardens (again with subterranean waters), and Italian influences.
Walked through the narrow streets in the old town, seeing the houses with their wrought iron balconies famous to the area
Walking through the Salamanca area with its lovely houses and shops (a wealthy and upmarket area)
Retiro Park - with its monument to Alfonso X11

The Spanish Square - a memorial to Spanish writers and literatures, with a statue of Don Quixote and Sancho

Plaza Mayor

The Bullring

Drove by:
Opera House
Gran Via - the boulevard
Little Broadway
Columbus´monument - passode Castilla
"the Gateway " to Europe
The Four Towers - claimed to be the highest buildings in Europe

Marques de Piscal - the market
Botin 1725 - Calle de Cuchilleros, claimed to be the oldest restaurant in the world

Botin restaurant

Casa Benigna - wonderful cuisine and wines
(salad, polpe, tortilla with tuna, seafood paella, strawberry based dessert)
Soy - Japanese - delicious and beautifully presented

La Venencia Bar at Calle Echegaray 7 - tasted the sherry famous in Spain and enjoyed the atmosphere here. This is largely the product of sugar cane from plantations on the Canary Islands.

Tasting the sherry

The famous Chocolate bar in Gines St - we just watched people enjoying their pastry delicacies and drinking their cups of warm, rich, pure chocolate.

This has been a very interesting part of the trip and has emphasized the influence of the past history of these cities with the many invasions of the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs and Christians over hundreds of years. The architectural changes also depict these influences.