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| Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2015 - 2016
Christmas and New Year Cruise - Part 3
Gran Canaria is the third largest of the seven Canary Islands. In previous visits we have spent our time ashore in the port and capital city of Las Palmas, visiting the cathedral in the Plaza de Santa Ana, the nearby Canarian Museum with its display of mummies and the yellow sandy Playa de las Canteras beach. The El Muelle shopping mall is next to the Queen Elizabeth Muelle Santa Catalina berth and is very popular. Las Palmas is an interesting town with plenty to keep tourists busy.
Our morning tour, the Highlights of Gran Canaria, covered some of the areas we last visited from the QE2 in 2003. The port of Las Palmas is in the northeast corner of Gran Canaria so gave easy access to the Crater of Bandama at 574m. The views in all directions were excellent and down inside the crater there was a house with its tidy kitchen garden and also a small derelict sugar cane mill. We were warned that the drive involved winding roads and was not suitable for anyone who suffers with vertigo and at least one passenger succumbed. The views on the right side of the coach were excellent and there were good views vertically down into the valleys. Only when other vehicles came towards us was there any difficulty and coaches had to reverse to the infrequent passing places.
The tour continued to Teror, 13 miles from Las Palmas. Teror is known for its many beautiful balconies and for the cathedral of our Lady of the Pine which is one of the most important churches in the Canaries. It was closed when we reached the main doors but opened for visits shortly afterwards. Teror is a small town which receives many tourists to visit the shrine and offers bars, cafes, souvenir shops and local produce. We purchased a bottle of local Desentidos Tintilla red wine which had been 6 months in oak barrels.
The next visit was to the historic city of Arucas, where a visit was made to the Marquise Garden. Our guide made sure we admired the dragon tree and the cactus garden and showed us a prize winning Jack fruit. There were tasting samples of the local rum, specialty banana liqueur, cactus liqueur and a very unusual but quite pleasant goats milk liqueur, we are not kidding. The alcohol levels were in the low 20s and the flavours did not appeal enough to buy any but it was interesting to taste them. Arucas is the centre of the banana-growing industry and seemed a bigger and busier town than Teror. The grey turreted church in neo-Gothic style is famous as a modern building. It was begun in 1909 and finished around 1979, designed by a student of the famous Gaudi who designed the famous cathedral of Barcelona. The dark volcanic stone hides the delicate decorations and it is reported that the interior is attractive – unfortunately we only had time for a 10 minute photo stop.
The route back to the ship did not pass through the old town so we descended at the port and then set out again to visit the Playa de las Canteras of fine yellow sand. From 4 December to 7 January there is a unique tourist attraction where sand artists create sculptures on the beach. The event started 10 years ago and is now a regular feature. www.belendearena.es. At the end of the beach there are still many old fishing boats drawn up and fishermen with nets laid out on the little quay, an interesting contrast to the modern hotels and ranks of sun beds.
In the evening we took the Alternate Dinning Option and went to Jasmine. The pictures all have details of the dishes, several are from earlier visits as we do not like to intrude by taking too many flash pictures.