So I told you that we recently travelled to Gran Canaria to stay in the beautiful Seaside Palm Beach Hotel. One of the reasons for our visit was to complete a few challenges set by Three UK to test out their Feel at Home service (you know, the one that allows Three customers to use their phone abroad without incurring international data roaming charges, which basically means you can make calls and text to the UK, and use data, at no extra cost).
There are TONS of really fun things to do within easy driving distance of the hotel, so although it was tempting to loll on sunbeds and sip the gorgeous sangria, we did also want to get out and about a bit to explore. The challenges turned out to be great fun and took us to some incredible places. Here’s how we got on:
Challenge One: get online
Our first challenge, frankly, was to get online (which is as easy as making sure your roaming is switched on) and find our hotel. Luckily we had our iPad mini with maps, and had no trouble at all connecting straight to the internet and getting on the road:
Challenge two: download and use apps
There are masses of really helpful apps and websites to use when you’re travelling: TripAdvisor can be useful, but it’s always worth taking some of the reviews with a pinch of salt (some people will literally complain about anything), and new Tripscan is fab for finding your way around too. The boys are mad about paintball, so when we were looking on TripAdvisor and Hangar 37 airsoft came up, we decided to book in. Airsoft is kind of like paintballing without the mess. The guns fire little plastic balls (it’s not painful if you get hit, I have it on good authority). It’s the most incredible place – literally like a military outpost perched right by the glittering sea with a jaw-dropping set up: military bunkers and buildings, tanks and jeeps… quite amazing. The boys absolutely loved the battles, even in the extreme heat, and Mr E and I got to watch all the action from the lovely little air conditioned café which has a huge window so you can watch the skirmishes while sipping a cold beer. The equipment was first class and I was impressed with the very serious concern for safety too. Highly recommended!
Challenge three: plan a day trip
The lovely people at Seaside had told us all about the Traida del Agua, the traditional water fight festival of Lomo Magullo, a small town on the outskirts of Telde in the north west of the island, and we decided it was a must-see. There are only 12 rainy days a year on Gran Canaria so water is a precious commodity. Participants dress in national costume (apart from the local rampaging teenagers) and parade through the town. A brass band plays and everyone drenches each other in water. Locals spray hoses from their rooftops, everyone chants and cheers – it’s just absolute chaos – and incredibly good fun.
Here’s a very noisy video we took:
… and here’s our ‘after’ photo – drenched!
It was excellent fun but very very busy and noisy. We were quite glad to finally leave the crowds behind, which brings me neatly on to our next challenge:
Challenge four: find and book a restaurant
Jumping back in our little van, we headed into the stunning Barranco de Guayadeque region of Gran Canaria. It’s unbelievably beautiful – a sweeping volcanic valley dotted with yukka and almond trees.
We’d read about a unique restaurant, The Tagoror, which is set in a network of caves, seemingly carved out of solid rock. It was well worth the winding, hilly journey, and we took our place at our stone table in our little corner of cave and feasted on Canarian dishes: serrano ham, local goats milk cheese, potatoes with red mojo, a wonderful fish dish with green mojo, salty padron peppers, a delicious chickpea stew with tender octopus, tomatoes and thyme called ‘ropa vieja’ (literally ‘old clothes as it’s traditionally a dish made of leftovers) and massive hunks of fresh bread. We were starving and it was an awesome feast.
Challenge five: discover somewhere incredible and take a selfie!
Our final challenge was to discover somewhere incredible using the internet. This one was easy. We’d read all about Agüimes on grancanaria.com and were desperate to visit. We weren’t disappointed. The historic centre of the town is beautiful, with pretty cobbled streets, random statues and brightly coloured, interesting little buildings as well as the beautiful Parish Church of San Sebastián. It’s well worth a visit if you’re every in Gran Canaria.
After the water fight, the boys were exhausted, so we left them perched in the town square while we explored (another bonus of Feel at Home – perpetual Facebook access):
As for the selfie? I don’t think we managed a single one without someone gurning or looking the wrong way, but actually, I’m quite pleased with this one:
Next up, in the last part of my Gran Canaria diary, it’s all about the food!
Massive thanks to Three UK (Feel At Home currently covers 18 destinations including USA, Italy and Australia, more information at three.co.uk), to Seaside Palm Beach Hotel, and the Gran Canaria Tourist Board for their hospitality.