Friday, December 02, 2016

Her Majesty in Valle Gran Rey once again

Thomson Majesty approaching the harbour of Valle Gran Rey early yesterday morning...
The cruise ship 'Thomson Majesty' paid the first visit of this winter season to Valle Gran Rey's harbour of Vueltas. The passengers enjoyed the fine weather yesterday and many were seen exploring the lower valley while others were discovering the whole island by tour coach and appreciating the exceptionally clear views (see separate post). 'Thomson Majesty' will visit La Gomera seven more times this season and will dock four times in San Sebastian de La Gomera, while she'll visit Valle Gran Rey once each in February, March and April 2017. 
It is always nice to see a ship in the all too often vacant outer harbour which just begs to be properly completed and put to use.
...and berthing in the outer harbour of Vueltas a short time later

Extremely clear vision

Yesterday the air was so clear that La Gomera's neighbouring islands could all be seen very clearly and seemed much closer than they actually are. Even Gran Canaria could be seen distinctly. I took above photograph from Juego de Bolas (near Agulo) with a simple little camera at about 10:30 am yesterday morning. La Palma's capital Santa Cruz can clearly be seen and even one of the observatories (red arrow) on Roque de Los Muchachos is distinctly visible - a distance far in excess of 100 kilometres as the crow flies.
Rarely can La Palma be seen from here with such clarity and in such detail. Extremely clear vision when distant objects seem much closer is generally considered a sign of coming rain and this morning the skies look fairly grey...

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Sunset tonight

Tonight's sunset taken from the bus station in La Calera, Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera

100 years of Spanish national parks

Today a ceremony at the Garajonay national park visitor's centre in Juego de Bolas at 10 am will mark 100 years since a legal foundation for Spain's national parks was laid, the first one in the world. As marcaespania puts it:

''According to history, or to those who write it down, it all began in Yellowstone, back in 1872. The US Government intended to protect this natural area by designating it as a National Park – the first of its kind. The practice was soon adopted in Canada, Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia… It took longer for it to come to Spain, but it made its entry in style.
As various countries designated their own National Parks, Spain granted them legal protection by passing the first National Parks Act in the world at the request of Pedro José Pidal y Bernaldo de Quirós, Marquis of Villaviciosa de Asturias. Adopted by the Cortes Generales (the Spanish Congress), the law was sanctioned by King Alfonso XIII, coming into force on 8 December 1916.''

The Canary Islands are the region with the most national parks with four of a total of fifteen and Teide national park on Tenerife is the most visited, accounting for over 30% of all visitors to the 15 parks. 
La Gomera's 'Garajonay' national park is unique with its almost two million years old evergreen forest. The island's government is soon to take over ownership from the Spanish state and the long legal process for this change is well underway.
Location of the four national parks in the Canary Islands. Note: Garajonay is spelled wrong on map

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lord Nelson heading for Vueltas harbour

The 'Lord Nelson' sailing past the beach of La Playa close to shore under engine power, heading for Vueltas.
The STS 'Lord Nelson' is a sail training ship of 368 gross tonnage and was launched in 1986 by Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson for the Jubilee Sailing Trust and is berthing in Valle Gran Rey's port of Vueltas as I write. She'll be dwarfed there tomorrow with the arrival of the huge cruise ship 'Thomson Majesty'. It seems the British are coming - despite 'Brexit'...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The expected rain is taking its time

The rain forecast for today is taking its time arriving here as the cold front associated with a depression to the north of the Canaries is slower than expected in its approach. However, if the front doesn't weaken too much it should rain moderately later tonight and early tomorrow. Rainfall amounts are difficult to predict in the current weather situation, and the front has become so slow-moving that it may dissipate before it gets to us. We'll soon find out... See updated weather information on sidebar top right.
The above webcam image (gomera-info) of the beach from La Puntilla towards La Playa taken just after 5 pm shows the pretty grey sky with brighter areas and some sun which we've had for most of the day.
The outlook is for more sunshine from later tomorrow until Thursday night. 
Current indications for Friday and Saturday are for a further and more vigorous low pressure systems to bring abundant rain and possibly thunderstorms in freshening southerly winds to La Gomera.
The very stable blocking high pressure over Ireland is to blame as this helps to steer low pressure closer to the Canary Islands. See forecast chart for Friday below:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Roundabout rainbow

🌈There are lots of rainbows to be seen these days in La Gomera, and more are promised for the coming week which again should bring a mix of sunshine and showers, ideal for creating rainbows like this one spotted at the roundabout in Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey, yesterday morning by HP.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Old folks party

Lunch being served with live music from a mariachi band for La Gomera's OAPs.
There was a huge marquee recently erected on the pier in Vueltas, Valle Gran Rey for today's 10th annual get-together of elderly people from all over La Gomera island. The event is held in a different parish every year and free buses bring old folks from all the other parishes. The day-long event offers activities and entertainment as well as food and drink free of charge. About 700 pensioners took up the offer and were enjoying a festive day out.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Live music making cautious comeback

Spontaneous session in a tiny bar recently ♫

Tonight at Manolo's in
La Puntilla (near statue)

Live music in La Gomera and especially in Valle Gran Rey, the busiest and most cosmopolitan town of the island, is back and there are now numerous options for good night out again. Nightlife as regards live music had been severely restricted for a couple of years due to the over-zealous enforcement  by the police of obscure regulations which meant that venues would have needed a special licence for live music 'events' and alas this licence could often not be obtained, while DJs could play canned music anywhere. For a tourist town Valle Gran Rey had become almost a ghost town at night, but this year a lot more visitors and locals are out and about at night enjoying the diversity of the live music on offer once again.
A more workable solution seems to have been found and especially at weekends musicians are back entertaining locals and visitors. Great care is being taken by the bars and restaurants  to finish the live music well before midnight so as not to upset those neighbours and tourists who want to go to bed early. A lot of music sessions are not even being advertised to avoid the entertainment being labelled an 'event'. From the new small bar on the beach in Vueltas to the 'Salsa Burger' in La Playa live music and also DJs can be enjoyed in a good few bars and restaurants and it is worth having a stroll after dinner to listen to the varied music on offer, which once was the major attraction that made Valle Gran Rey's ambience so pleasant. 
Most Sunday afternoons there are open sessions at the bus station bar in La Calera where anything can happen and the Restaurant 'El Palmar' hidden among the palms near Borbalan never stopped being a focal point for local live music.
The 'Gomera Lounge' in La Playa has now installed costly soundproofing and after having been closed for some time is back with a full programme. Among the regular acts there are 'Los Satelites', the former house band-cum-session of the famous 'Bar Maria' which sadly is still closed after Maria's death. This recently taken video by A.Lindemann below proves that there's a great atmosphere in Valle Gran Rey once again:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Cruise ship season has begun

With the visit of the large cruise liner 'Mein Schiff 1' the cruise ship season has begun in La Gomera. While a few cruise ships visit La Gomera all year round, the winter months are the busiest time for La Gomera's main port San Sebastian and five cruise ships will dock here this week alone. A good few smaller  cruise ships and sail training vessels  also visit the southwestern port of Valle Gran Rey and even the very large 'Thomson Majesty' is scheduled to dock there four times this winter.
Cruises are becoming an increasingly popular form of holidaying and there's a further 65 large cruise ships under construction at various shipyards all over Europe at the moment.
La Gomera has rated very highly with passengers, who are very impressed with the island's beauty and atmosphere, praising the quality of the shore excursions. Many passengers have voted the visit to La Gomera the highlight of their cruise.
This is good news, as even though most passengers do not spend all that much time and money here, some will return for longer stays and many more will recommend La Gomera as a holiday destination to family and friends. As we all know, word of mouth endorsements are the perfect publicity, of the type that money can't buy.
Some of the many buses awaiting passengers booked on shore excursions

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Craft fair

La Gomera's annual craft fair opened in San Sebastian de La Gomera on the main square yesterday and continues today. Sixty exhibitors from La Gomera and from other Canary islands show and sell their handmade goods to the general public until later today. The event was well attended yesterday and many passengers from a visiting large cruise ship were also seen buying from a wide range of goods ranging from handmade fountain pens, pottery, jewellery, and textiles to typical Gomeran goatskin drums. Handmade chocolates, local cheeses, wines and other delicacies can also be sampled and bought at the fair.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Road improvements

Road to Valle Gran Rey between the two tunnels

The island's government has allocated 4,2 million Euros for improving La Gomera's roads and to upgrade road safety. 
Among the many projects to be financed is the illumination of the two long tunnels between Arure and Valle Gran Rey, a long overdue measure as the tunnels are used by a lot of cyclists and pretty dangerous for them without lighting. 

Entrance to one of the tunnels