Eight Days in the Canary Islands -- Day 5

Have I ever told you about my first trip to Gran Canaria (or "Great Island of Dogs"? Probably not. It wasn't a pleasant trip. It was one of those cheap holidays that turned out to be a bit more expensive than we'd planned. Here's how it went:

"I don't think we can park here," I say, spotting lots of signs that seem to say this in Spanish and again in international sign language. You know: the car being towed away by a guy with euro signs in his eyes.

"I can park wherever I want," Alexander the Pool Shark doesn't say this, but I know he's thinking it. "It says here SOLO CARGA."

"Uh-huh?" I wait for the explanation.

"That means ONLY CARS in Spanish," he says. We both know this is untrue, but he points to a sign not far away that reads SOLO OMNIBUS. Hmmmm. SOLO OMNIBUS/SOLO CARGA? Even I can see the logic in the association, despite the fact that I know carga means loading. We pull into the parking space.

Now, between this moment and the moment we realize our carga has been towed, the following scene transpires:

"Bandit! Bandit! Bandit!" It's an elderly woman near us on the beach Playa del Inglés. She's screaming and pointing at a young man running away, up the dunes. He must be the bandit, and I'm hankering for a chase. I shoot off after him, follow him all the way up to the shops. The owner of one of the shops, when he sees I've been chasing the robber, nods in the direction the guy ran. Yes, he is a bit faster than I am, but let's not focus on that.

I finally catch up to him and yell "Police! Police! Police!" until miraculously two appear (where they were in Nice when I was beat up, I don't know). It turns out the guy is Irish and panting almost as much as I am. He denies having stolen anything and the police can't find anything on him. Still, they take his name. Whoopie. The chase has been good exercise, I suppose.

Then we spend three hours getting our car back, and then I am pickpocketed and then later that evening a bartender, I assume, slips me a knock-out drink because I wind up passing out (which has never happened to me), and Alexander the Pool Shark has to drag me home. Not pretty. Have I said I'm not a fan of Gran Canaria? Great Island of Dogs indeed.

So when I discover that we will be making a stop in Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), I offer to stay on the ship, hold down the proverbial fort, keep the home fires burning, that sort of thing. But this doesn't go down well with Alexander the Pool Shark, who has his heart set on an excursion.

"We want to visit the old city."

"No we don't."

"I will buy you a gluten-free double cheeseburger at McDonald's."

"Y patatas fritas?"


"Muy bien."

Have you ever been to Gran Canaria? Have you ever walked from the port to the old town? I'm not suggesting you do so, just curious. It's five kilometers. We hike it because we sort of missed our morning trip to the gym due to the late night of karaoke galavanting. Here is my impression of our 5k walk to the old town and the old town itself. Obviously, this is not an ad for tourism on Gran Canaria.

This is what the walk looks like pretty much the entire way.

Boring Church at center, and this is about it.

Back on board, we gorge on dinner and wine and head to the theatre to get good seats right down front for tonight's show--an ABBA review. I'm excited. I'm an ABBA fan through and through. My piano instructor when I was nine years old--Eva Jo Alpress--was horrified to learn that I wanted to learn how to play "Take a Chance on Me." It was the last straw, actually. She wrote a letter to my mother the following week saying that I was "an arrogant, opinionated juvenile," and I suppose I was. Thank you, ABBA.

I'm also an opinionate adult. I promised to say good things about the ship's shows, so here it is: the ABBA show was brilliant. Everyone in the audience was singing along, and I saw some tears. Sappy. Sappy. But so much fun. The singers' voices were well suited for the songs, and I was pretty schnockered.


Tomorrow Day Six of my Eight Days in the Canary Islands.

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), available from Amazon Anything.


  1. I don't blame you about not liking Gran Canaria - I've been there once, and I lived right across that island for many years. I remember considering whether I should study there or in Valencia. As I arrived at the port adn took a cab to University, I heard of 3 cab drivers being robbed that morning and one being stabbed. Even though I didn't want to be a cab driver myself, I decided then and there that Valencia mighte a better option!

    That said, I'm sure there are beautiful (and less risky) places to visit.

  2. Hi, Katherina! On that first trip we also drove into the mountains, which I remember as very nice. I wonder why there's so much crime on Gran Canaria. I didn't notice this on the other islands.

  3. So glad you weren't traveling alone though! Although, alone maybe you would still have had your car....


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