A diary of an Irishman who moved to live permanently in Las Palmas Gran Canaria.
One great thing about living in Las Palmas is the many swimming places.
If you don’t fancy the beach, the northern coast has many sea pools.
Last week I popped down to La Laja on the city’s outskirts. There are a few sea pools, and it is a popular spot all year around.
After a swim, a friend and I had lunch nearby in San Cristobal. A big plate of local sardines and mineral water came to €11 for two. A nice day out for €5.50.
So what is it like moving to a new place in your not-so-young years?
When I first came to Las Palmas over seven years ago, I did not know anyone. I was renting at the time.
The first day I was here, I met a fellow Irishman, and we continue to be great friends today.
The local people are friendly and mostly polite. I have a few local friends, but it can be challenging to get beyond a brief chat with locals. I think that can be the same anywhere when you are not local.
Probably the best way to make friends with other ex-pats. They usually are the flowing types.
People who are staying short-term. Many are working online. During covid, Las Palmas received an unexpected boost from these people.
Many baled out of their counties where restrictions were tight. Things were still open in the Canaries but with curfews at night.
People who come for the winter.
These tend to be more mature people. A lot of Scandinavians spend the winter in Las Palmas.
People who took the plunge.
I’m in this category—people who have decided to make Las Palmas their home.
I have travelled a fair bit of the world, and I always have avoided Irish bars. The Guinness is usually horrible, and they look very little like bars back home.
I do, however, visit the Irish bars here in Las Palmas. The Guinness is still horrible, but ex-pats and visitors seem to gravitate to Irish bars.
It can be difficult to start a conversion in a local bar (but not impossible). I have never visited the Irish bars here and not had a conversation with people from all over the world.
Inflation in the Canary Islands hit 9.4% in July, but inflation does not stop people from visiting the Canary Islands.
1,071,083 international visitors landed in the Canary Islands in July. That is 2.7% more than pre covid July 2019.
478,626 people arrived from the UK. 5% more than pre covid July.
The biggest arrivals came from the Spanish mainland at 487,987. 7% more than pre covid July 2019.
Visitors from Ireland at 54,269 were 7% behind 2019 levels.
High airline prices may be affecting Irish visitors. A friend of mine was quoted a one-way price of over €300 from Gran Canaria to Dublin.
He eventually booked a flight with Wizzair to London for £11 and from there to Dublin for €20 on Ryanair. He did have to wait five hours at the airport in London but doesn’t everyone these days?
On Sunday, I visited with friends the charming town of Santa Brigida in northern Gran Canaria.
We were surprised when visiting the church. It was named after the Irish saint Bridget. I am unsure how an Irish saint from 451 got her name on the town in the Canary Islands.
The town was a popular place to settle for people from the UK. The cooler climate was the main reason.
It reminded me of the Irish saint Brendan the Navigator. There is some evidence he sailed near the Canary Islands. He was born around 490 ac.
He is known in the Canaries as San Borondon, and many here do not know he was Irish.
There is a legend here that the Canaries have another large Island, San Borondon Island.
When the Spanish arrived, they heard stories about the island and spent time over the years looking for it.
The monks who sailed with Saint Brendan wrote about visiting the island.
They also, however, wrote about seeing fire-breathing dragons on the island, so I wouldn’t be booking my holiday to San Borondon anytime soon.
Some rain is forecast for the Canaries this week. Most people living here are happy to see some rain after a very hot summer.
People arriving on holiday maybe not so. Rain here tends to be heavy and brief.