The hop-on, hop-off bus worked fine for our all-too-brief visit to Las Palmas

The Santa Catalina Hotel … A grande dame

LAS PALMAS DE GRAN CANARIA –Yesterday morning we awoke after a solid night’s sleep with a new outlook on life. The frustrating day before was past and we were off to explore this city.

We stayed in the city’s grand dame hotel, the Hotel Santa Catalina, which is set in a park near the city center. It is where the Spanish royalty stays when they are visiting the island. It is midway between the historic Triana area and the newer Santa Catalina beach/port area.

Colorful houses high on the hill above the historic quarter

We stayed here because the people signed up for Silversea’s pre-trip are staying here and it was easier to join their ship transfer. We decided to do this rather late so we booked our rooms on at a very favorable rate. However, our room is quite small and oddly shaped, no doubt why the good rate. But it is only for two nights.

As we only had one day to see the highlights, we decided to take the Hop-on, Hop-off bus – better known as the “red bus” – like the ones you see all over the world. We bought our tickets for 15 euro each in the hotel and the bus stop was conveniently right in front. Passengers arriving here by ship can catch the bus right near the cruise terminal and the price there is 17 euro.

The lively 6 km beach bar La Canteras

This worked perfectly for the time that we had… we got off at the stop near the beach and took a stroll down the promenade. Las Palmas boasts one of the nicest urban beaches in the world, 6 km long, and it is lined with open-air restaurants and hotels. The weather was perfect – sunny and slightly cool – so we sat outside for a very reasonably priced lunch while watching the swimmers on the beach. Most of these seemed to be either German passengers or crew from the two AIDA ships in port.

After lunch, the wind increased and it was amusing to watch as the large waves from the incoming tide swept over unaware sunbathers, shocking them from their prone positions.

The popular hop-on, hop-off red bus

As we walked back to hop back on the bus, we noticed that most of the shops were now shuttered – it appears that the people here do observe the traditional Spanish siesta hours, closing from 2 to 5 p.m. Back on the bus, we continued back to our hotel where Chet got off. I decided to stay on for another loop as now my audio system was working well and I wanted another chance to observe the city. The second loop took another hour but I was glad I did it.

Las Palmas is quite an ancient city, dating back to the 15th century. Christopher Columbus visited here on his way to North America. Its port has long been very important, as it lies between three continents

Back at the hotel, it was obvious that a large number of our fellow shipmates had arrived. We decided a siesta was in order…surprisingly, the hotel dining room also observed Spanish dining hours, open from 8:30 to midnight. After a light dinner, we went to bed … determined to catch up on our lost sleep.

Today, our bags have already been picked up and soon we will head off to board the Silver Spirit and the next part of our adventure will enfold.

November 6, 2012


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