- AC Hotel Iberia – only a 10 minute walk from the Old Town, with a great rooftop pool and lobby with free WiFi. Spacious rooms and bathrooms. The only drawback is that the “cute” soaps shaped exactly like golf balls is a terrible idea. When you have wet hands in a wet shower and attempt to hold onto a perfectly round slippery ball of soap, and it precedes to drop and bounce all over the place just like a golf ball should, I can tell you, by the 5th time you start swearing a lot.
On a whim, I booked a last-minute extended weekend trip to Las Palmas, capital of the Canary Islands. Since moving to Europe I’ve gleaned that the European equivalent of Mexican all-inclusives is either Mallorca or the Canaries. However, I had heard the Canaries tend to be less touristy so I thought I’d give it a whirl. While I was still a bit disappointed by the touristy feeling in Las Palmas, I have to be fair and say that this was the capital city. I’ve heard from others that it’s easy to get away into nature if you rent a car and travel around the islands that way. But anyways, there were some wonderful parts of Las Palmas itself.
First, the old town. Absolutely gorgeous. Cobblestone streets, beautiful buildings which are worn down in a nice way, cathedrals and museums which speak of a previous lifetime. Christopher Columbus used to pass through the Canaries to stock up on supplies on his way to voyaging across the Atlantic – and the feeling of the old town somehow preserves this time from long ago. I visited two museums – first the Columbus museum (Casa de Colon), with lots of interesting details about his voyages and navigation tools at the time. And second, a modern art museum featuring two Puerto Rican artists. Outside Casa de Colon were some friendly parrots – reminding you you’re in a very tropical place.
Wandering through the old town afterwards really makes you feel like you’re in another world. Sadly you are wandering with thousands of British tourists fresh off a cruise ship, as well as numerous other nationalities with their cameras at the ready and white sport socks pulled high up on their calves. Alas, beautiful places will inevitably be overrun with people wanting to see them (like me!).
There are MANY restaurants along the main shopping street (Calle Triana) which should be avoided – things like Irish Pubs are never a good idea when one is in Spain. I stumbled upon a gem, an authentic tapas restaurant called Allende – with feverish servers shouting to each other over the din of happy and chatty customers. I arrived around 5 pm for a cool drink and snacks and the place was packed. Taking the last remaining seat by the bar was a great idea, as I got to see plates of beautiful-looking food flying out of the kitchen, narrowly missing the bartenders scrambling around filling different glasses with various wines, beers, and aperitifs. I tried some perfectly cooked chicken skewers, and after seeing the house made potato chips going to another table, had to get some of those as well. SO good and greasy.
Other activities for the weekend including lazing by the rooftop pool at my hotel, wandering along the beaches, more wandering through the town, and generally enjoying the sunshine. There are great Pastelarias throughout the city for your fix of proper Spanish pastries and sweets.
Overall, I enjoyed Las Palmas, but next time I’ll rent a car and get out into the more “natural” landscape.