This is my original blog for all our non-caravanning trips since 2009 and more recently posts about coming to terms with being single again having been widowed in 2018. And anything else too really!

My caravanning blog is (Get Your) Legs Down and all our trips in the caravan are there. My grog blog is The Ale Archive where I list every beer I’ve ever tried.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Puerto de Mogan - Pt 1

Yep, here we go again! More illiterate drivel designed to cure even the most severe cases of insomnia.........

The gentle dulcet tones of the 'Tellytubbies' theme tune emanating from my mobile signalled the arrival of 03:00 and the start of a long day of travel to our favourite corner of Gran Canaria, namely Puerto Mogan.

Now the thought of getting up at three in the morning may fill some with dread. However I would have happily got up even earlier if necessary as long as it meant the start of a nice long relaxing holiday. And by Christ we feel we've earned this one. Since our last jaunt (in October) we've delivered nearly 10,000 parcels, picked up about 800 returns and dropped something approaching 2000 catalogues. That's a awful lot of cheap Chinese tat that people have bought!And what with the bad weather both before and after Christmas - we're ready for this one.

Anyway, we arrived at the airport in good time and, I'm not kidding here, we were off the car park bus, through check-in and security in less than 10 minutes - fantastic.

Even at this early hour, my belly was beginning to think that my throat had been cut, so we headed to Wetherspoons for a good old fry up and a cuppa. Now one thing in particular gets to me about airports, (well lots actually but one will do for now!) everything post security or 'Airside' as it's called is supposed to be tax free - so why is everything so damn expensive. Our breakfast was twice the price that you would pay at most Wetherspoons - and don't get me started on what you have to pay for that most basic of requirements - water. Our politicians should spend more time looking after the people they are there to serve, but most of 'em seem rather more concerned with keeping their snouts well and truly buried in the trough!

There is not a great deal of choice of airline from Gatwick to Gran Canaria. Sleazy, sorry, Easyjet took over the old GB Airways route a couple of years ago. The alternatives are the likes of Thomson's or Thomas Cook which only go on certain days, or flying via Madrid which makes it longer and expensive.

Soon it was time to board - well go to the gate anyway. It is at this point, when you see the number of kids that will be on the same flight that our blood pressure starts rising. We've got nothing against kids - blimey, I even remember being one some say Trevor still is, however Easyjet may be a 'no frills' airline but I wish someone would start a 'no kids' airline. I have a feeling there would be quite a demand!

The boarding process was, well chaotic and slow. With everyone on board we eventually took off about half an hour late, giving us time to get used to some of the refinements of what appeared to be a fairly new Airbus A320, such as er, non reclining seats and well, that’s it really. We managed to grab one of the emergency exit rows though so there was a bit more leg room.

The flight was just over four hours long but felt like twice that. It was largely uneventful apart from one old soak over doing the vino tinto and making a general nuisance of himself and eventually depositing the contents of his stomach in a brown paper bag. The poor sod who had to sit next to him was having a right go at one of the flight attendants as he left the plane and I don't blame him. The guy would never have been allowed to board the plane in the condition that he left it, still Easyjet have made a few quid on the drink sales and that is obviously all that matters!

We chose to rent a car for the duration rather than muck about with buses or taxis. We planned to do a bit of sightseeing in-between the sunbathing and relaxation and the car worked out good value. Be warned though - if you get an 'all in' price off the 'net then it probably isn't. There is always some obscure insurance that seems to have been missed off the original quote! Anyhow, a short while later we were exiting the airport and heading south in, whilst not exactly shiny, a little black Renault Clio. The weather was looking good, clear blue skies, a slight breeze and the mercury reaching about 24 degrees. Just perfect.

We had rented an apartment from the owner of an Irish bar over the 'net but were greeted with a blank look when we presented ourselves at the bar with our reservation. The look changed to a broad smile however as we were handed the keys to our home for the next eleven days. Dry Irish humour, don't ya love it! The apartment was bigger than expected - two bedrooms rather than one - if only I'd have known prior I could have brought HRH aka the mother-in-law (yeah right!) It had a large roof terrace and two, count 'em, two balconies from which to people watch and catch the rays. We settled up with the owner over a nice cold beer (well two actually) then headed back to unpack and enjoy a much needed siesta.

The apartment was equipped with all the essentials, i.e. a kettle for the tea and a fridge for the beer. We headed out to the supermarket in our little French fancy to stock up on provisions, then enjoyed a nice meal at the aforementioned Irish bar.

At the time of typing we have been conducting a very thorough experiment into the cooling capabilities of the fridge in relation to the earlier procured slab of 'Tropical' beer, the results of which have been more than acceptable!

Anyhow, time for tubby bye-byes. It's been a long day and I'm gonna need all the strength I can muster for all that serious relaxation tomorrow!

A much more civilised start to the day today - tea in bed then cereals and toast at the kitchen bar.

The weather was set fair so we spent an hour this morning on the roof terrace before checking out the weekly market descends upon Mogan every Friday. A fair bit of tourist tat courtesy of our Chinese friends with plenty of fake designer labels on show but also some quality local arts and crafts mixed in as well.

Our good friends Kevin & Lawrence were staying just east along the coast at Playa Del Ingles and Lawrence braved the tortuous bus journey around the cliffs to join us for lunch and a stroll around the town. Now we've done this bus journey a number of times. The bus drivers here do not hang about, which is fine, they are professional and know the road well, even factoring in the knowledge that it's a sheer drop several hundred feet to the sea below, it's still somewhat unnerving when they spend the whole journey with a mobile phone clamped to their ear and only one hand on the wheel!

Anyhow, he arrived in one piece with nerves more or less intact, even so we thought that that great British cure of all ills - a cup of tea - was called for which was taken on the roof terrace. We then had a stroll around the harbour before grabbing some fresh bread rolls  and enjoying our lunchtime holiday favourite of ham & cheese rolls and crisps, all washed down with a glass of Rioja - lovely.

After lunch we had a stroll along the beachside promenade and around to the end of the sea wall eschewing the obvious lure of a cheap beer or two by a very enthusiastic bar owner tucked away at the end of the prom.

Not wishing to see a grown man cry we decided to give Lawrence a lift back to Playa Del Ingles rather that subject him to the torture of another bus ride, although it is a matter of debate whether Trevor's' driving was an improvement or not! On arrival we stopped by at their hotel before heading over to the Yumbo Centre. The Yumbo Centre, for the uninitiated is a concrete jungle of shops, restaurants and mainly (but not exclusively) gay bars.  A  the establishments here have one thing in common - to extract as many Euros as possible from the maximum number of people possible. The bars do not open until later anyway, but and eclectic mix of shops selling everything from more Chinese tat to quality leather goods and genuine designer label products do their best to haul you in and prise open your wallet. I did have a glance at a couple of leather blazers - something I've been toying with for a while but to be honest couldn't be bothered to haggle - en essential requirement if you don't want to be ripped off.

Over a coffee we entertained Lawrence with a tale of our holiday here four years ago. We were staying in Ingles and for once we had decided to go with the flow and head out to the bars late. At the time there was a bar called the QE2 bar which was our establishment of choice for this particular evening, the nautical theme perpetuated in the main by a very pleasant young man in a sailors uniform. Unfortunately he was very generous with the gin, as our friends and travelling companions at the time; Roy and Joe  will tell you! As night turned to the morning we staggered back to the apartment (quite how we found it I shall never know) for some much need kip and to start the increasingly long recovery process!

Anyhow, back to the present. It was time to head back to the relative tranquillity of Mogan. The late afternoon sun was calling so we climbed the spiral staircase to the roof terrace and enjoyed a pleasant hour in the company of another couple of very good friends - namely Gin & Tonic!

The restaurant of choice this evening was sort of midway between the harbour and beach areas. The A-boards on the prom advertised a three course special for the diminutive sum of just twelve Euros. The place was unusually empty but we sat down anyway and were greeted with a large smile and two small martinis, along with a couple of tapas to whet our appetites. What followed was delicious - Serrano ham on melon, steak with potatoes au gratin and roast vegetables followed by, for me ice cream and for Trev a banana split. Tasty and extremely good value. We may be back here before the end of the holiday if we get stuck for choice which is probably unlikely given the number of restaurants about!

A stage had been erected in the main square. We ambled back from our meal to see what was going on. A leaflet on each of the arranged chairs explained all but most inconsiderately it was in Spanish (funny that!). However thanks to my rather patchy grasp of Espanol (and a quick text to Ash to translate) we  established that were to be entertained by the Brass & Woodwind Band from the Mogan School of Music and Dance. A twenty odd piece ensemble performed an hour or so of popular classics such as Let It Be, Moon River and Unchained Melody. It was an unexpected treat and really very enjoyable.

A couple of beers back at the apartment rounded off a very enjoyable day.

Not a great deal to report yesterday unless you consider several journeys from the sun bed to the fridge notable so I'll bore you senseless instead with a  brief overview of the area along with a few snaps and how I came to start writing all this nonsense.

Puerto de Mogan is the most westerly of a number of holiday resorts along the southern coast of Gran Canaria and can really be divided into four areas; the original port village rising up from the beach onto the hillside, the beach area itself with lovely golden sands and a smart promenade , home to a number of shops and restaurants, the valley area which has gradually grown further inland, and the harbour area, nicknamed the 'Venice of the Canaries' which is where we are. From the roof terraces of the one and two bedroom apartments that populate the area you can see across the marina out to see, over to the beach and the prom, up the valley and across to the original hillside village, absolutely delightful. It is without doubt the pick of the southern resorts for us and offers something different to its more raucous and commercialised neighbours.

Gran Canaria is the third biggest of the Canary Islands with a population of about three-quarters of a million, the capital being Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The Canaries where not as the name suggests, named after our little yellow feathered friends but after dogs. A very rough explanation is that the Latin for 'Islas Canarias' translates to 'Island of  Dogs'. Get Googling for a more thorough explanation. Thanks must go to Ann and the girls for imparting this information when met last year on our Egypt trip - the first of tubbystar's' travel tales. At the time I was boring you rigid with tales of ancient Kings & Queens and our cruise up the Nile. The only ancient Queens you'll find here are the ones staggering round the bars of the Yumbo Centre on Playa Del Ingles in the early hours!

But anyway, back to the diaries. Abroad as at home Trevor calls his mum most days to let her know what we are up to (well, most things anyway!) Virgin Mobile wanted the national debt per minute for the privilege of calling home from Egypt so we decided instead to keep a note of what we were doing and seeing on the laptop and email it when possible. Internet access was generally horrendously expensive as well but it worked out surprisingly cheap to send a few emails using the mobile. So there you are. That is how tubbystar's travel tales came to be. The whole lot, from tales of drunken weddings to trips down memory lane can now be found on my blog at Feedback is always welcome - even bad - then at least I know you've read it!

Anyway back to the present, there was more entertainment this evening on the stage in the square, this time a seventeen piece selection of vocalists, percussionists and Spanish guitarists. Again it was very good but  - and this is gonna sound a bit ignorant and Europhobic - it had a certain air or Eurovision about it. Now those in the UK will get this as I believe the Aussies will too. However to the uninitiated it is basically a Europe wide song competition played out on a Saturday night in May every year and transmitted throughout the whole of Europe and beyond. It is without doubt the campest thing on the telly since Mr Humphries in Are You Being Served.

Another very pleasant evening was punctuated with beers on the terrace, then bed.

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