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Gran Canaria Tours

GRAN CANARIA


- HISTORY
- BEACHES AND NATURE
- CLIMATE
- SPANISH CUISINE

> Map of Gran Canaria <

HISTORY
Opinions are divided as to how Gran Canaria came into existence. The most obvious
explanation for the existence of the Canary Islands, which Gran Canaria is a part of,
are the volcanic eruptions in the past. The islands are all more or less of volcanic
origin but legend would have it that the islands are part of the lost world of Atlantis.
However no proof has ever been found for this.
Some scholars think that the Canary Islands were once known as “Fortunatae
Insulae” (the Lucky Islands). They were probably already known by the Phoenicians
and Carthaginians.
According to the Roman scholar Pliny huge packs of wild dogs (Latin - canis)
roamed the islands and that is why he called the islands the “Canaries”.
The Guanches, probably ancestors of the Vikings, inhabited the islands after having
been stranded there during their travels. The Guanches were a tall, blond, blue-eyed
race which was a rare sight in and around the Canary Islands.
During the time of the Guanches the island was divided into kingdoms. The kings
regularly fought bloody wars which are vividly recorded in the history books. There are
still many place names in Gran Canaria which date from the time of the Guanches
and once of the main towns still bearing a Guanche name is Galdar. In addition,
many of the present inhabitants give their children Guanche names so that you
hear names like Jonay, Mencei and Janira alongside the typically Spanish names,
Julio, Juan and Dolores.
The islands were awarded to Spain in 1344 by the Pope at that time. He had
declared himself ruler of all yet undiscovered areas and thus given this position
had the right to award the islands to Spain. The Spanish did not manage to
overthrow the Guanches until 1483 and could only call the islands Spanish from that time.
The inhabitants of the islands have never ever really felt or considered themselves to
be Spanish and they do everything they can to maintain their own identity. Las Palmas
was an important stop-off point for Columbus during his trips to America.
He changed his crews here and loaded his ships with provisions for the long journey ahead.
At the end of the 1960’s mass tourism began in western European countries and led
to the rediscovery of the Canary Islands.



BEACHES AND NATURE

Although the name might suggest otherwise, Gran (big) Canaria is not the largest of the
Canary Archipeligo. However, its beaches, beauty, entertainment opportunities and charm
allow it to compete on equal terms with the larger islands of Tenerife and Fuerteventura.
This circle-shaped island is on the one hand small enough to explore completely and on
the other hand large enough to offer a huge variety of landscapes with different micro climates.
Most of the more than 1.5 million visitors per year head for the south of the island. It is always
sunny, dry and warm in the south because the mountains in the middle of the island stop
the clouds that move in from the north. So you can imagine that you can “bake” in the sun here 365 days a year.

There is a garland of beaches around the southerly point of Gran Canaria with many
kilometers of the finest sand and the sometimes impressive waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Most of the beaches are very wide and on Gran Canaria you never have to look far for a bit of
beach which you can call your own. Many of the beaches are suitable for a wide range of water
sports such as windsurfing, sailing, parasailing and deep sea diving.
The most famous resorts in the area, San Agustin, Playa del Ingles and Maspalomas,
are one of the most important tourist regions in the whole of Spain. In addition to the long,
sandy beaches there are also extensive tourist facilities, great night life and great fun parks.
For those who have had enough of all the activity and sun bathing and want a change of
scene there is the beautiful inland area to explore. The landscape in Gran Canaria is dry
but not arid and it is very pretty. Inland it is rough, hilly and pretty much uninhabited. Once
past the rain boundary towards the north the landscape becomes greener and once you
near the capital, Las Palmas, you could even describe the vegetation as luxuriant. Every
visitor to Gran Canaria who takes the trouble to make a day trip and drive quite a few
kilometers is impressed by the natural beauty and enjoys the adventure. If you want to
discover the island for yourself you can do it in several ways. On a clear day you can see
Tenerife from Puerto Rico, the highest point in Gran Canaria.
The island has varied scenery and surprising views, such as extensive fir forests, volcanic
openings and craters like Bandama, or funny-shaped, high rock formations like Roque Nublo,
or deep ravines, luxuriantly wooded valleys and picturesque white villages like Terror, Agaete
and Tejada. The more northerly you go the cooler and damper it becomes. This is the area
where the hillsides are covered with banana and coffee plantations and other subtropical
plants which give the landscape such a beautifully intense green colour. The coast in the
north is also dramatically different from that in the south. Here you find small black lava
beaches between the steep rocks that rise out of the sea. The holiday paradise of Gran
Canaria with its many faces and mild climate throughout the year is one of the most popular
parts of Spain.
There are an incredible number of agaves and they last about 6 years and a lot of fig cacti
which produce a delicious, edible fruit. Apart from them there are about 1700 different sorts
of plants two of which are the Palmera Canariense and the many kinds of eucalyptus.
At dusk the eucalyptus produces a sweet, fresh scent which pervades the surroundings.
All this without even mentioning the fantastic bougainvillias which seem to fall from the roofs like waterfalls.



CLIMATE

Gran Canaria has a warm and sunny subtropical climate. The temperature is fairly regular
throughout the year thanks to the north-easterly trade wind (Calisio) and the Canary stream,
a branch of the Gulf stream, ensures that the heat on the coast is tempered. It is often cooler
in the hills inland and the tops of highest hills may even be snow capped for a few months of the year.
The south of Gran Canaria is in the rain shadow of the hills which means it is sunnier and
drier than the north. In the winter the weather might turn rainy and stormy with lower
temperatures for a few days. In the summer it can be extremely hot because of the Sirocco,
the hot easterly wind from the Sahara which blows over Gran Canaria.
The average annual temperature is 25°C; the coldest month is January with an average
monthly temperature of 23° C and August is the warmest month with an average of 28°C.
The temperate weather influences mean that the temperature rarely rises above 32°C during
the day or falls below 15°C at night. The air temperature in the south hardly ever falls below
20°C during the day in December.
Gran Canaria has an average annual rainfall of 300 to 500mm but it never rains for long
periods. Most of the rain falls in November, December and January; the driest months are
June, July and August. The Gulf stream means that the water temperature is almost always
between 19 and 24°C.
The ‘Calima’, a warm Sahara wind engulfs the island in a cloak of dust, which is
impenetrable by the sun, for about 3 to 6 days per year .

A few figures:




SPANISH CUISINE

You can savour simple Spanish cuisine on the Canary Islands although international fare
is becoming more and more widely available on the most touristy islands. There is a wide
variety of fish available as befits an island but do not worry, meat is also to be found in plenty.
The islands do not differ much as regards cuisine although seasonings may vary according to
availability on the various islands. On the less touristy islands it is unusual to find chips on
the menu as a side dish but you often get mojo sauce served with your meal. This sauce
can be green or red. The mojo rojo (red sauce) is made from chili peppers which are grown
on La Gomera and is extremely hot. The mojo verde (green sauce) is made from oil mixed
with garlic, coriander, vinegar and herbs.
Spanish cuisine is known for its delicious paella. Fish lovers will be in their element as fresh
fish is brought ashore daily. Lovers of sweet desserts will leave the table contented in Spain.
Spanish meals are accompanied by fresh bread and a bottle: mineral water, wine or beer. Each
region of Spain has its own typical wine which often come from small vineyards, take for example
the well-known Rioja or Santa Maria. To keep the wolf from the door between meals the Spanish
eat the so-called tapas. Tapas recipes vary because of the different tastes and traditional
gastronomic habits of the various regions, however, you nearly always see olives and dried
nuts and these along with garlic, smoked ham or sausages, slices of cheese, peppers and
chorizo have become world famous.



Dishes

Conejo del Salmarejo
The rabbit is marinated in a clay pot smeared with garlic and herbs the day before it is to be
eaten and it is served with a hot tomato sauce. (Mojo picon).

Sanocho:
This is a stew of salt water fish, usually sea bass. The dish is seasoned with onions, garlic
and gofio (ground and roasted corn). Apples and pears are added.

Puchero Canario:
This is a meal of salt water fish with fried beef or pork, potatoes, vegetables, apples,
pears and a corn on the cob.

Zaruela:
Fish soup

Papas Arrugadas:
Small potatoes are boiled in their skins and then rubbed with sea salt. The potatoes are
pretty salty but are to be recommended because the taste with the skins is superb.

Bienmesabe:
This dessert is a mixture of almonds, rum and honey.

Potaje de berros:
A vegetable soup of the Canary Islands with berros (watercress) as the main ingredient.

Cheese:
Made from goat or sheep’s milk.

Paella:
This is a rice dish which is traditionally cooked on a wood fire. It is well-seasoned and
contains fish, prawns, mussels, squid, sausage, shell fish, chicken, rabbit, green beans,
green peas, red pepper, olive oil, rice and saffron.

Caldo de pescado:
Soup made of rice, saffron and fish and maybe mussels and shell fish.

Potaje de ajos:
Strong garlic soup

Tollo:
A speciality of dried cod (bacalo) which is marinated and grilled on a barbeque.



DRINKS:

Wine is only made in the area of Santa Brigida.
Most of the wine comes from the neighbouring islands of Landzarote, La Palma and
El Hierro or the Spanish mainland. Each island has its own wine. Landzarote and La Palma
have mainly malsavia wines from the volcanic ground. Most wines are of reasonable quality.
Gran Canaria has its own white rum and honey rum. The honey is really palm tree juice
which is harvested on La Gomers.
Beer is brewed in several breweries on Gran Canaria and is drunk more often than wine
by the locals.
Spanish coffee is generally speaking stronger than ours.
Café solo : black coffee similar to Italian expresso
Café cortado: café solo with a little milk
Café con leche: café solo with a lot of milk.