It is almost six years since I first visited Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. I liked the city the moment I saw it. Six years on I am more aware that everything is not perfect in Las Palmas, but I have never stopped liking this unique city.
Six years ago this was a different city. When I was looking for somewhere to stay, I had a choice of 100s of cheap apartments. The world economic crisis seemed to have hit Las Palmas harder than most. Restaurants and bars struggled to fill. Slowly the city has recovered for the good and bad.
The cranes are back. New apartments are rising from derelict sites. There are tourists now coming to Las Palmas as a first choice. Not because they could not get accommodation in the tourist resorts down south.
Happy days? Not for everyone. Las Palmas now has joined many other cities in that finding a place to live or rent has become out of reach for many local people.
So how do more apartments mean skyrocketing prices and rents? Most of the new developments are in the Las Canteras beach area. Here is where foreigners like myself want to live. It has a 3km beach in a city what’s not to like.
Rent that was 400 euro a month is six years ago is now 800 euro. Wages are low in the Canary Islands compared to most European countries. 650-800 Euro a month is not uncommon for most local people working in the local bars and restaurants. Unemployment is dropping but still over 20%. Salaries have hardly increased in six years.
More and more local people are not able to afford to live in areas they have lived all their lives.
During my travels in the Balkans, I also saw this. Sofia Bulgaria rent 350 a month. Salaries 650 a month and the same pattern in all the other counties. Rent and house prices in most of the places people want to live in have increased by massive amounts. Wages have more or less stayed the same.
When I was in Belgrade Serbia during the summer, they had closed the historic train station near the riverfront. They are saying this area will be a new Dubai. High -class apartments. The people who live there now make 400 euro a month. A new Dubai for who? Not the people who make 400 a month. No wonder people worldwide are angry.
Sundays in Las Palmas
My favourite day in Las Palmas is Sunday. From what I can see the Spanish still observe Sunday as a day of rest and leisure. In my own country Ireland in the cities, Sunday has become the busiest shopping day. The days of seeing car-free streets on a Sunday are long gone.
In Las Palmas away from the beach area Sundays are normally a quite affair.
I have a routine I do many a Sunday in Las Palmas. I leave my apartment in the Las Canteras zone and begin walking towards the old town.
My first stop is at Parque Doramas. Every Sunday in the park there is traditional music, and dance from 11 am until 1 pm.
I have to admit when I first heard Canarian music I thought it was a contest to see who could shout the loudest. I have since grown to like it. I might even take it up as I can’t sing but can shout quite loud.
Another great place to enjoy a Sunday morning in Las Palmas is the Sunday market in the old town Vegueta. You can also enjoy traditional dance and music as you check out the local food and crafts.
I usually make my way back to my apartment on the seafront walk. This walk goes on for over 10km.
The Gran Canaria behind the beaches
Arucas Gran Canaria
Last week I took a day trip to Arucas just 12km from Las Palmas. I like towns like Arucas in Gran Canaria. It is an attractive town to see, and it has got history.
It was in Arucas in 1481 that the last real resistance by the original settlers to the Spanish came to an end. The local Canarian chief Doramas had won a few engagements with the Spanish conquers. The Spanish captain Pedro de Vera was determined to have revenge.
During the battle of Arucas Doramas was killed by a lance. The Spanish severed his head and displayed it in the capital Las Palmas. The next year Gran Canaria was incorporated into the Spanish crown.
Arucas is, also where the favourite drink of Gran Canaria is distilled. Rum.
Arehucas rum distillery is in the town. The name of the rum and Arucas are spelt differently. This is because under Spanish law alcohol cannot be the same name as a place.
The distillery has tours which take around 30 minutes. In the end, there is an opportunity to sample some of the rums made onsite.
Las Palmas Carnival 2019
The scafolding has appered in Parque Santa Catalina. That can mean only one thing. Carnivallllllllllllllll.
If you had to pick one reason to live in Las Palmas, it would be for the one month of what is known to be one of the best Carnivals in the world. Carnival Las Palmas 2019.
The party kicks off on the 15th of February and runs until the 10th of March. I often wonder if the thousands of holidaymakers laying on the southern beaches have any idea that 50km to the north is a unique event.
I always say Carnival cannot be explained. It has to be experienced. I will try to give a guide to what for me are the best events of Carnival 2019.
Ok after that build up I have to say the first week of Carnival starts at a slow pace. The first week is taken up by the Murgas singing competition.
The locals love it. A lot of people don’t. I had a friend that had rented an apartment near the stage last year. By the end of the Murgas competition, he was a broken man.
Once Murgas is over Carnival really kicks off.
My picks for the best of Carnival 2019
23rd Feb from midday Vegueta Carnival
The event takes place in the old town of Vegueta during the daytime. The carnival used to be located in Vegueta until it became too big. It is a daytime event, and it is thousands of people dancing in costumes.
02nd Mar from Midday Carnival del dia Triana
A new event this year. Similar to Vegueta it is a day event that takes place in the historic shopping and restaurant area of Triana. Expect salsa bands and dancing.
The same day the Drag Queen preselection event takes place in Parque Santa Catalina at 2100.
My favourite day of Carnival. At 1900 in Vegueta Los Indianos begins. This festival started in the small Canary Island of La Palma. It celebrates people who returned from Cuba having made their fortune from the sugarcane industry. People dress in all white, and throw talcum powder at each other as they dance behind a salsa band.
Later that night the Traditional Carnival take place in Santa Catalina where events go onto the early hours. The next day is a holiday so this a night the whole city dresses up Carnival.
09th Mar The Grand Parade
The parade takes place on the last Saturday of Carnival. The whole city gathers on the streets to parade from the old town to Parque Santa Catalina.
These are my picks, but there is so much more going on during Las Palmas Carnival 2019. For more details click here.
This week’s short video is from my day trip to the northern town of Arucas Gran Canaria.
Join me on my journey.
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