Canary Islands: The joy of the fiesta in Las Palmas
During fiesta time, seemingly the entire population of La Palma dresses in white from head to toe and parades the streets of its tiny capital, Santa Cruz.
The most north-westerly of the Canary Islands is the place to be – especially in February during fiesta time, when seemingly the entire population dresses in white from head to toe and parades the streets of its tiny capital, Santa Cruz. Talcum powder is thrown over the unsuspecting, while young men sport cigars and pockets bulging with money to recall the Fifties when returning workers from Cuba displayed their wealth.
We visited its highest peak, Roque de los Muchachos: at almost 8,000ft, it makes La Palma one of the steepest islands in the world. Near its snowy summit are a series of observatories, placed here because of the clarity of the night skies, and from where one could see Mount Teide on neighbouring Tenerife. In contrast, we explored the vast crater in the island’s centre, Caldera de Taburiente, which was hot, forested and fertile.
In spring there is a short international theater and concert season. Nightclubs and discotheques abound and many hotels have dinner dances and cabarets. Try to find your way to a most unusual and little known nightspot which is built in an underground galley near the Verdes cave on the coast of Lanzarote. Other nightspots are Mirador Vista Bella, Santa Cruz, Tropicana, Plaza Patriotismo, Santa Cruz, Tenerife; Rosaleda and Rega, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. An excellent discotheque is Monte del Moro in San Augustin, Grand Canary.
The Canaries calendar has many purely Spainish fiestas: the Cavalcade of the Three Wise Men, on 5 January in both Santa Cruz and Las Palmas; the Holy Week festivals on all islands and the celebration of Corpus Christi in March.
Food and Restaurants, Drinking Tips
Drink is cheap, no licencing restrictions. Single women welcome in most bars. In Las Palmas you can dirink in Santa Catala Square and at Terrazo de las Canteras on the beach. In Tenerife try Plaza del Charco in Puerto de la Cruz and Las paraquites in Santa Cruz. Local wines are good. Beer and rum are made locally.
Fish (octopus, squid, sardines, mussels, prawns and shrimps) is the islanders’ staple diet, especially delicious served with mojo picon, a hot spicy sauce made with herbs and peppers. Another speciality is potage de berros, a watercress and herb soup. Sanciocho Canario is salt fish in a piquant sauce. For desserts there are local grown bananas, melons and almonds.
For international cuisine in Las Palmas try the grill at the Hotel Reina Isabel (Alfredo L Jones 10) and the Pampa Grill (Columbia 6) well known fine steaks. For Spanish paella, try the Lberia or El Cortigo, both at Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife. Another restaurant there, Patio Canario, is good for shellfish. In Las Palmas the Restaurante Ikea has a Basque kitchen and good medium-priced meals can be found at Juan Perez, Tenerife and in restaurants around Santa Catalina Square and in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, Las Palmas.