Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Days 7-11: At sea, and a Visit to the Canary Islands

Two days at sea.  Nothing happened, but here are a couple of shots from shows in the theater.

The aforementioned opera singer

November 13

Our (delayed) first stop was the port of Arricife, on the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.  The Canary Islands are part of Spain, so I don't get another country :-(   There's not much in Aricife itself, so we took an island tour.

Lanzarote is a volcanic island, with the last eruptions having taken place in the 1700's, which is recent by volcanic standards.  As a result, a big portion of the island is covered in lava, and even where grass and other plants are growing, there is still a lot of lava gravel around.  Most of the buildings are white, which makes for a big contrast. 

Heading out of Aricife

Center of a small town on the island

Some desolate landscape

Close-up of volcanic rock

After about a 45-minute drive, we stopped at the visitors center for Timanfaya National Park.  There are lots of volcanic vents near the visitors center.  At the center, one of the park volunteers held a stick with some brush in one of the vents, and it immediately caught fire.

Brush igniting in the vent

Another volunteer poured some water in one of the vents, which created a mini-geyser.

Here we go....

Don't try this at home

Volcanic pumice

From the visitor's center, we took a bus tour around the park, which was pretty much a moonscape.   Some shots from the bus ride are below.

Eventually, we arrived at an area where they had some camels tied up, so we took a ride.  Actually, these are dromedaries, which have only one hump.  That means that we each had to ride in a basket on either side of the hump.

Our transportation awaits

About as comfortable as it looks

You lookin' at me?

After the camel ride, we headed to the west coast of Lanzarote, which had some nice scenery.

Salt pans near the coast

Next we headed for a winery.

On the way to the winery

At the winery, we say that the vines were planted individually in depressions surrounded by rocks.  This is to prevent the vines from being blown away by the wind.  By the way, there's a reason why you don't see wine from the Canary Islands outside of the islands--it's not very good.

Grape vines

A little church near the winery

Some buildings near the winery

More scenery on Lanzarote

Eventually, we returned to Arricife, and to the ship.

An intersection in Arricife.

November 14

Today we arrived in Las Palmas, on the island of Grand Canaria.  Las Palmas is the largest city in the Canary Islands.  By the way, did  you know that the Canary Islands are not named for canaries?   They were named Islas Canarias, or "Islands of the Dogs" (Canariae meaning "dog" in Latin). In fact, the bird was named after the islands, not the other way around.  So there.

Las Palmas is laid out in a long strip along the coast.  Ships dock at the northern end, but most of the historical stuff is in the south end, about 5 miles away.  Fortunately, there is a bus that goes directly from the north end to the historical area.

View of Las Palmas from the ship
A shopping mall next to the ship dock

Santa Catalina Park, near the ship dock

After wandering around the northern part of town, we took a bus to the historical center.   Our first stop in the center was the Cathedral de Santa Ana, which was built in the 15th century.

A street in the center

Plaza de Santa Ana, across from the Cathedral

Cathedral de Santa Ana

Inside the Cathedral

The back of the Cathedral

After visiting the Cathedral, we walked around the neighborhood of Vegueta, which dates to the 15th century.  One of the buildings, Casa de Colon, was allegedly visited by Columbus in 1492.

Casa de Colon

On the streets of Vegueta

A local musician

A church in Vegueta

Another street in Vegueta

Some Canarian architecture

I don't think that's gonna happen here....

A view of the hills of Las Palmas from Vegueta

We then walked to Triana, another historical neighborhood, next to Vegueta.  

Teatro Perez Galdos, on the right

Calle Triana, the main street in Triana is pedestrianized and is the major shopping area in Las Palmas.  The three pictures below are from Calle Triana

At the end of Calle Triana is Parroquia de San Bernardo, a small church dating from 1849.

Parroquia de San Bernardo

From there, we went to get on a bus back to the ship.   When the bus arrived a big crowd was trying to push its way onto the bus and I felt something in my front pocket.  Unfortunately, what I felt was my wallet disappearing.  So, I contributed 50 euros to the local economy (what I had in my wallet), and spent a while after I got back on the ship on my cell phone talking to Capital One, American Express, etc.  Let that be a lesson to you kids out there--protect your wallet!

Another view of Las Palmas from the ship

After taking care of that, we took a walk to Playa de Las Canteras, a beach near the port, right in the middle of Las Palmas.

After visiting the beach, we returned to this ship in time for it to set sail to Dakar. 

A ship next to ours in port

Night time action at the pool

Sunset view of Las Palmas.  My wallet is out there somewhere.

Next: Two More Sea Days and a Visit to Dakar, Senegal

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