Gran Canaria, a marvel of the Atlantic Ocean

First Day. Driving on GC210 one of the most scenic and dangerous roads of Gran Canaria

It was few months since my last escape and I was beginning to become impatient. Being January and really not fond of Winter my eyes turned towards the Canary Islands once more. This time, Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria.…this name was haunting my adulthood since I was reading the book ``Gran Canaria“ by A. J. Cronin when I was a teenager. Life works in a mysterious way, because after so many years, here I was. Flight ticket with my buddy Ryanair. Checked! One casita rural in Barranco Saint Bartolome de Tirajana booked with Airbnb. Checked! One Opel Astra rented with CICAR. Checked! What else..? I have the feeling I forgot something…Oh yes. One credit card. Checked!

I had the money, I had the tools, so it was time for fiestaaaa!!! I mean, it was time to explore the Island.

Gran Canaria Island, Canary Islands, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Gran Canaria Island, Canary Islands, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Gran Canaria Island, Canary Islands, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Gran Canaria Island, Canary Islands, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

It might seem a bit strange but the first trip was not at all straight to the beach. Although, I was missing the smell of the ocean and the sounds of the waves, but straight to the mountains. I could not resist. Seeing their rugged edges made me want to be there, I had to be there. I missed that sight since Tenerife.

As always, we went West. Somehow all the islands seem to have the West more spectacular than the East and Gran Canaria makes no exception. Part of Canary Islands it is also of volcanic origin, only here the last eruption was 3500 years ago. So, this million years old island shows signs of heavy erosion. Since I have seen the neighbouring Tenerife too,  I can compare one with the other, but, I will never say one is more beautiful than the other. both are equally beautiful.

In the first day, I took a map and we drove around, trying to get acquainted with the island as much as possible, although, I had already a homey feeling. It was like turning back after I was away for so long.

La Aldea, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
La Aldea, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
La Aldea, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
La Aldea, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
La Aldea, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
La Aldea, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Here it was, the Barranco/canyons/ravines, the deep valley formed by tens of thousands years of constant erosion crossed by winding roads with curves so tight that I kept wondering how the locals move around? Because villages were built on the steep valley. People were living there. Growing animals, goats especially and almond trees.

Wandering around we reached La Aldea. A small fisherman village which now looked so deserted. The reason I went there, because apparently I had a plan, after all, was to go from La Aldea on the West to Agaete on the North following the road GC200. This road offers the most scenic views on the island and from Mirador del Balcon the view is breathtaking. Sadly the road was closed due to a rockslide. The winds are very strong in the region and the steep walls of the mountains heavily eroded so it represents a hazard for people and the cars.

Since I could not reach Mirador del Balcon we went toward the inside of the island following GC 210. This road is on the list of dangerous roads in the world being only for experimented drivers. Scenes from “ Fast and Furious 6 “ were shot here.  Gran Canaria is almost round shaped, like a bulky old chap, with high peaks in the centre of the island with radial canyons/Barranco going towards the ocean. So more or less all the roads are going to the centre of the island and every Barranco has a road which goes alongside it.

GC210 road, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
GC210 road, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
GC210 road, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
GC210 road, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
GC210 road, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
GC210 road, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

I was still thinking about Mirador del Balcon while we were deepening in the Barraco, but soon I forgot all about it. I was in the middle of such a dramatic scenery. The corroded peaks and the narrow road which sometimes was not wide enough to allow two cars to pass simultaneous in opposite direction. On every turn, a view more spectacular than the other appeared and I could not believe my eyes. I came here for this but it was beyond my imagination. It was captivating.

Roque Betayga and Roque Nublo, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Roque Betayga and Roque Nublo, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Gran Canaria Island, Canary Islands, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
Gran Canaria Island, Canary Islands, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
View from Mirador del Molino, Gran Canaria, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
View from Mirador del Molino, Gran Canaria, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Needless to say that we stopped as much as we could to take pictures and I was using my phone and the new camera my friend Raluca gave it to me. I wished that somehow the images I see to be reproduced in the pictures I took. Although. I knew that no picture can reproduce what I saw and what I felt that instance.

Apparently, the excitement can tame the hunger and we realised that we should look for a place to eat. Not really an easy task since we were basically in the middle of nowhere. Any major town was miles away and we still had many hours till we could reach the south where our small house was.

When in the middle of nowhere and hungry one can do only two things. Either hunt. There was nothing in sight not even a stray goat to chase. Or starve till reaching the next city. We decide that we will survive till the next city and maybe who knows we will find a village in our way.

After an hour of wandering on those roads, we reached Artenara. A beautiful small village where in a restaurant with the best view we were able to eat the best Spanish food. Less fancy and more traditional this family run restaurant offers not only the best view but also the best food. The traditional soup was delicious and everything we ordered was just delicious. It did not seem that way just because we were hungry but because it really was.

View from La Esquina Restaurant, Artenara, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
View from La Esquina Restaurant, Artenara, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
La Esquina, Artenara, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
La Esquina, Artenara, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
La Esquina, Artenara, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
La Esquina, Artenara, Gran Canaria Island, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Artenara is one of the oldest villages being placed on the highest altitude 1270m. Some of the hiking trails which are crossing the surrounding area are merging in Artenara. Also, this little village is the perfect spot from where to see Roque Bentayga and Roque Nublo.

After the short stop soon we were back on the saddle. Since the rain started we were thinking to take the shortest way home, so we went on GC 130 to Telde which took us to Caldera de Los Marteles a long extinct volcano. Well, is a volcanic island, so I think it was inevitable to find a crater sooner or later after all.

Caldera de los Marteles, Gran Canaria, Spain, by Mirela Felcia Catalinoiu
Caldera del Martines, Gran Canaria, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu

Back to Maspalomas, it was sunny again.  Here in the south clouds were barely passing. I was drinking a coffee and looking at the sun going down. The first day was ending and I was overwhelmed. I was thinking if the first day was so intense, what is going to happen in the next one? Is it anything else on this island capable of overshadowing this first day?

I was tired but too excited to be able to sleep. It was such a good choice to come to Gran Canaria. Again, my instinct was right.

El Tablero, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu
El Tablero, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain, by Mirela Felicia Catalinoiu