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A LETTER FROM LAS PALMAS.

A review of life as an ex-pat in Las Palmas Gran Canaria, the Canary Islands. 

Almost 100,000 people turned up for my 60th birthday last week.  Four concerts took place on Las Canteras, followed by fireworks at midnight.

 

Ok, the San Juan celebrations happened at the same time which may be why I received no presents. 

 

I have never seen such a large crowd for San Juan.  It had been cancelled for two years during covid.  The atmosphere was electric and even better than new years eve. 

 

It is great to see things getting back to normal. 

I received a surprise letter in my postbox the other day.  A final warning for a court judgement against me and the last chance to sort it out the next day. 

 

There was a name on it, but it was far from clear, but it had my address.  

 

As far as I know, legal judgements and any money owed follows the property you own in Spain.  When I brought my apartment, there was a thorough search done as part of the process.  You won’t be able to sell unless all is in order. 

 

I have had a few good nights out since the start of the year, but I think I would have remembered if I had been arrested or if I had been subject to a court order. 

 

I decided to head down to the courts with my limited Spanish. 

The Ciudad de la Justicia, building on Calle Malaga in Las Palmas is massive.  There are many different departments there. You can pay all kinds of fines there and many other functions. 

 

Getting inside is similar to going through airport security, only maybe a bit faster these days. I was able to find the section I needed.  

 

When I am faced with a situation where the person I am dealing with has zero English, I manage most times to I manage to communicate in Spanish. 

 

I have tried to learn Spanish, but I do find it difficult. Maybe it is an age thing or possibly a stupid thing. 

 

With the effort I have put in, I should, at this stage, be able to get a job reading the news on Spanish TV. 

 

Anyway, I could explain I was not the person in the letter and had brought the apartment five months ago. The guy was helpful and just got me to sign a statement.

 

He said it was good I came in as the Police would have come knocking on my door.  

 

There maybe will come a day when the Police will come looking for me. I prefer to wait for that day instead of trying to explain I am not the guy they are looking for this time. 

When I am in Ireland and having a beer, I drink only Guinness. I know it’s an acquired taste, but for me, it’s the best beer in the world.

 

That said, I have decided to boycott Guinness outside Ireland. It is just not the same. I hear a lot of reasons for this. It does not travel well is a popular reason put forward. I am not sure as I am sure there are ways to keep it fresh in transport.

 

I could be wrong, but I think it is more likely the way it is distributed in the pipes in Ireland. 

 

Anyway, I have decided to boycott Guinness here in Las Palmas (and most other places) 

 

My logic is, why should I drink something I am not enjoying when I can have a local beer for half the price. 

 

The manager of one of the Irish bars (who is not Irish) here is a nice guy. He is doing everything possible to break my boycott, even offering me a free pint. So far, to no avail. 

 

Recently he said Pat; an Irish guy told me tonight the Guinness was not too bad.   I said I was sorry to hear that. He asked why. 

 

I told him if an Irish person says it’s not too bad, that means it’s bad. It is up there with its ok. 

 

He looked confused, and changing the subject; he asked me what I thought of the Las Palmas football club display that evening.   

 

They had lost a crucial game 1-3 at home. I said they were not too bad. I think he understands better now.

 

On a positive note, it is great to have two Irish bars nearby. The staff are great, and I know when I go there, I will always have a conversation with someone.

 

The Canarian people are very nice, but it can be hard to find the same atmosphere in most local bars. 

A comment I frequently hear here is that we are living in Paradise.  Las Palmas is a lovely city and has big plans.  I like living here, but Paradise may be pushing it.  The amount of people asking for money on the streets is a testament to that.  This, of course, is an issue for many cities.

 

There are many positives to living in the Canary Islands.  The weather and a lower cost of living than most other places in Europe are just two.

 

One negative if you decide to live in the Canary Islands is bureaucracy.  That can be the local government or a business. 

 

Since I moved into my apartment, the worse company I have had to deal with (so far) is the water company Emelsa.

 

I had some previous experience with them when I used to rent.  I used to pay the bill in a local shop, but every few months, I would get a letter saying they were turning me off for non-payment.

 

I would have to visit their office to show proof of payment.  This would happen again a few months later.

 

Part of the handover of the apartment involved the estate agent sending my details, including setting up a standing order for payment.

 

Alas, that was always going to be too easy.   Every bill is still coming in the previous owner’s name.  This is followed soon after by an email with a  threat of turning off the water for non-payment. 

 

Funny enough, the email is coming to my email.  Contact is then made with the company.  A promise to update the customer details is made.  This, of course, is followed by another bill and an email threatening to turn off the water. 

 

The positives of living here outweigh the negatives.  However, if you do decide to live in the Canary Islands, you will need to accept that some of your time will need to sort out problems that should never be required to be sorted out. 

It is part of the deal of living here. 

I took a trip down south the other day for a walk.  I usually go into the interior for my walks.  Well, I get a bus up and walk down.

 

As a resident, I can get a bus pass for 28 euros for 30 days.  This allows me to travel on any public bus in Las Palmas and Gran Canaria.  

 

I think I rack up at least 100 euros worth of bus trips each month, so it is fantastic value.

 

I started at Anfi del Mar.  Founded in Gran Canaria in 1988 by the Norwegian entrepreneur Björn Lyng, the white sand was imported from the Bahamas.  

 

It is made up of timeshares, but the beach is public.  It also has an upmarket shopping centre. 

The walk to Arguineguin is a short 45 minutes, and there are many cool places to pop in for a swim.

 

Arguineguin is one of the few places down south I think feels and looks Spanish.   However, during the winter, it becomes very Scandinavian.

 

The Nordics are a vital market in the Canaries during winter.  During covid, the market collapsed.  I am sure they will begin to return in force this year. 

I popped on another bus to Maspalomas.  From there, I walked down the beach to Playa del Ingles.

 

On the way, you will pass the nudest section.  I find myself wondering how come good-looking people never go naked.  I, of course, do include myself in the not-good-looking category. 

 

Back on the bus to Las Palmas, courtesy of my monthly pass.  This is definitely one of the positives of living in the Canary Islands. 

Inflation in the Canary Islands was approximately 7.5% annually in May. 

 

I have noticed prices going up here in Las Palmas.  I think it is more noticeable in the resorts.  Business in Las Palmas still primarily relies on locals.   If prices go up too high in a bar or restaurant, people tend to vote with their feet.  Wages are not going up at the same pace.

 

The business in resorts is very transient.  A tourist is less up to date on what the price was last month.  I recently paid €5.50 for a beer in Playa del Ingles. 

 

So what will you pay for accommodation in 2022 v pre covid days? 

 

The latest accommodation report for May 2022 shows the average daily price for a hotel room in the Canary Islands in May was €94.51.  That was 15.4% more than pre covid May 2019.

 

The average daily price for an apartment in the Canary Islands in May was €59.79.  That was 17% more than pre covid May 2019.

 

November is usually one of the busiest months on the Islands.  Average accommodation occupancy in November 2019 was 82.62%

 

The quietest month tends to be May.  May 2019 had occupancy of 68.47%.  May is usually the month with the lowest prices.  It is also a popular month for hotels to renovate, so be careful if the price looks too good. 

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