Hey, I’m Jo, a travel blogger, freelance travel writer and passionate explorer. For the last four years I’ve been travelling slowly around Europe, running my business on the road while exploring different places, experiencing other cultures, and trying lots of delicious food and wine. The Road to Wanderland is the home of my travel stories. Here you’ll, Read More
I arrived in Gran Canaria at the end of January, just as the island was revving up for the onslaught of Carnival. February was certainly an experience – an explosion of riotous colour, outrageous drag queens, thumping drums, outlandish costumes, sultry hip action, huge dance parades, all-night parties, and a spectacular fireworks display.
But while Carnival is the big one, don’t be fooled into thinking the rest of the year is quiet.
Canarian culture is filled with a rich tapestry of customs and traditions, many of which involve some kind of party. There are numerous fiestas held around the island throughout the year, with almost every town seeming to hold its own celebration at some point.
So imagine my delight when my friends, by now fully aware of my love of Canarian cheese, announced a Fiesta del Queso (yup, that’s right – a cheese festival!) in Montaña Alta de Guía. I was all set for a trip to cheese heaven! Read More
Psst… The locals won’t like me mentioning this because they like to keep it a closely guarded secret, but I was recently introduced to a delightful green oasis in the heart of Gran Canaria.
I’m a sucker for clear, fresh mountain air and a day surrounded by lush, verdant countryside, so when friends suggested a trip to the Finca de Osorio, close to the historical town of Teror, I didn’t need asking twice. Read More
For the first time in my digital nomad life, I had a visit from my parents. It was wonderful to be able to show them around my home town of Las Palmas and explore the rest of Gran Canaria with them. However, while Las Palmas is a proper working Spanish city, I was unprepared for the south of the island. Of course, I knew it was going to be very touristy, but I didn’t realise I had to watch for unscrupulous people out to scam tourists. And we got caught up in a typical Canary Islands scam.
Overall, I have to say I wasn’t particularly impressed with the south of the island (with the notable exception of the Maspalomas Dunes). The weather is generally better because of the Panza de Burro (Donkey’s Belly) – a natural phenomenon that sees low cloud hang over Las Palmas for much of the time. But the bits of the south I saw were overcrowded resorts with large white, impersonal hotels, restaurants serving English breakfasts and fish and chips, and beaches with rows of sunbeds packed in like sardines. I know lots of people enjoy this and each to their own, but it’s not what I travel for.
The interior and north have temperamental weather patterns, but I love Las Palmas, the interesting northern coast, the lush, green forests, and the diversity of the landscapes found in the interior of the island.
Aside from the ethereal beauty of the Maspalomas Dunes, the one resort people generally rave about is Puerto de Mogán. It’s described as picturesque and Venetian-like. It is better than many other southern resorts, but I still found it a little like Clacton-on-Sea, only with better weather. Anyway, for me it will always be known as the place the Amos family fell for a ridiculous scam!
Northern Gran Canaria is a leafy, mountainous landscape of craggy coastline, fertile valleys, deep gorges, and terraced hillsides planted with avocados, tomatoes, mangoes, figs and delicious little Canarian bananas. There are picturesque villages dotted around, their streets lined by colourful, colonial-style houses with traditional wooden balconies. Woven amongst this misty landscape, you can find evidence of pre-colonial Canarians, a cave-dwelling race of people known as the Guanches.
Gran Canaria is divided into a number of touring routes that visitors can take to explore the main sites on the island. Shortly after my arrival, I was invited to join a group of locals to explore some of the Guanche sites on the Northern Route running between Agaete and Las Palmas. So I set off to see what I could discover about Gran Canaria’s aboriginal history and explore some of the archaeological sites in the north of the island.
2015 was my first year as a digital nomad. It was a huge adventure, and a steep learning curve. While there’s little I would change about last year – because I learnt some valuable lessons – there are plenty of things I want to do better this time around.
So here are my goals for 2016. (Yes, I know it’s rather late for setting goals. I actually spent New Year’s Eve planning these, but I want to put them out there so I can hold myself accountable.)
Here goes… Read More