5 to 13 May
As I mentioned previously the beginning of May (just May in general really) brings a lot of holidays. This year both the 8th (VE Day) and 10th (Ascension Day) fall in the middle of the week meaning most French people are bridging both holidays and taking the entire week off. We figured why not do the same!
As many of you know we have been diving many times over the years, but each time it was a resort dive and we had never gotten our certification. Through some research on where to go on this trip we found that not only was there great diving in the Grand Canaries, but also it was much cheaper than a lot of other places. So with that in mind we booked our week long trip to not only get certified, but also enjoy the great hiking and golf we read about as well.
Luckily there are direct flights from here (Grand Canaries are part of Spain), however it did cause us to be awake super early this morning as our flight was at 06h50! We got our Uber at 04h45 and because of the time of the day, and the fact that we were departing from Orly, we made it there very quickly and dropped our bag with no problems.
After an uneventful flight, and some naps, we arrived at the airport in Las Palmas grabbed our bags and got our rental car. We were not staying in Las Palmas, for now anyway, we were headed to the other side of the island and the town of Puerto de Mogan. After about an hours drive we arrived at our Airbnb for the week, Bella Vista Sun Club. Other than the walk up the steps with our luggage this place was stunning. It was a 4 room house which each room had its own bathroom, but there was also a shared outdoor kitchen and terrace on the roof, which we would get very familiar with over the next week. The incredible view out over the harbor was more than we hoped for.
After we settled into our room we walked around the town a bit in order to get a lay of the land, and also made our first stop at the supermarket in order to get some of the food we would need while we were here.
Once we had gotten what we needed we went back and enjoyed lunch on the terrace as well as some time in the sun while also trying to complete our book work for diving. Eventually it was time for Jer to go for his run so that we could then go to dinner later in the evening.
We had received some recommendations, but while we were walking around earlier we walked past Restaurante Jack El Negro and it smelled incredible and looked like a place we would enjoy. We were not disappointed as it was exactly what we had hoped for. Very much a local place and the owners were so incredibly nice. We had some outstanding fried peppers with salt that was typical from the area and I think we may have found a new dish that we both really enjoy.
After a long day we just headed back to the Airbnb once we finished dinner, and enjoyed a few beers on the terrace before calling it a night.
The weather was not great this morning, but since we only had a hike planned we were able to wait it out before we left around 10h. The Canaries are a very mountainous island chain so it did not take long driving before we started to hit the switchbacks and go higher and higher.
When doing some research about hiking we found that the trail to Cueva de las Ninas was not a far drive and offered some incredible views as well as some cool waterfalls. After about an hours drive, and then an hours hike, we arrived at Cascada de Soria which is where we wanted to stop for lunch. One of the amazing things about this hike is we literally saw 5 people the entire time, and no one the entire time we enjoyed lunch at the waterfall!
After enjoying lunch we headed back to our car and then back to the Airbnb to enjoy some sun and relaxation.
For dinner tonight we decided to walk around down by the marina until we found somewhere to eat that looked good, and of course stopped to grab a drink at one place first. Unfortunately the one place we were thinking about was not open, but we eventually settled on Tapas Tapas right along the water and of course also because El Clasico was playing on the TV. While we were walking around we got some beautiful views of the sunset too.
Once the match was over, and after enjoying some good tapas and beers, we were back around 10pm so that we could get a good night sleep. Tomorrow was the day finally we would start our diving certification!!
After all the book work, and all our times doing discovery dives before, it was finally time to start our certification process. We were up early as we had to head a few towns over to where the headquarters of Blue Water Diving, the dive shop we would be getting certified with, was.
After completing all of the paperwork, and confirming all of our book work had been done it was finally time to start working with equipment and testing our skills in the pool. Our instructor, Virginie, lead us through all the different things that we need to learn and the skills we would be repeating once we were in the water tomorrow. Thankfully because we had been diving so many times before we were able to get through our skills quickly and in only a few hours before it was time for lunch.
Once we finished lunch we headed back to the Airbnb with a stop at Spar on the way for some things for dinner tonight.
We took it easy for the rest of the evening as we had another day of diving tomorrow and enjoyed the evening upstairs on the balcony yet again.
Back to school it was again this morning, but this time it was time to test all of those skills in the water.
Our first dive spot of the day was at Playa Amadores back in the same town where the Blue Water Diving office is. After gearing up and checking everything we made the walk down to the beach and out into the water. Unfortunately quickly after getting into the water and doing a couple skills at the surface we realized we weren’t going to be able to do much on this dive. Just a few short minutes after going down we were brought to the surface because the visibility was just terrible and all that really could be done was a few skill checks.
Once out of the water we packed everything up and the instructors called around trying to figure out if the visibility was better elsewhere.
They eventually decided that we would go to Puerto de Mogan, which was nice for us because that meant we were back int he town we were staying in.
Once we arrived it was immediately time to get geared up and head out for a dive. We again had to walk down to the beach with our gear on, but it wasn’t too bad. Once we were in the water we could see that even though not great the visibility was definitely better here.
This dive was a bit of a mix with some more skills, including taking off our BCD’s and putting them back on under water as well as having to navigate by just looking at a compass on your wrist, and some fun as well.
Once we were done with the dive and took care of all the equipment I walked back to the Airbnb while Jer took care of getting the car parked where we needed it to be for the evening.
We had planned a relatively relaxing afternoon before we were going to go out for dinner, but while I was waiting for Jer to return from parking the car our host came by and said “Your husband looks quite sporty would he be interested in playing paddle later?”. Jer is usually up for anything so I figured why not and he said to message him confirming when he returned.
As I suspected Jer did agree and so they had a paddle game set up for later that evening. Apparently our host and his local friends have a standing game on Tuesday evenings and they only had 3 people who were around this week so they needed a 4th.
Around 18h30 the host stopped by and picked up Jer to head to the paddle courts which were just in the center of town not very far. What I didn’t realize, and neither did Jer, was that before these matches they always stopped and got a beer which they had to drink very quickly because they were a bit late arriving.
I headed down to watch the match and as anyone would guess this “friendly” game became quite competitive as it went on. Paddle is certainly an interesting game as it is like tennis, but the rackets and court are both much smaller, and it has some racket ball esque aspects to it as well.
I left after watching a few minutes to do some shopping along the waterfront, and in case you were wondering of course Jer and our host ended up winning…
Jer did a quick run back once they were done playing as by now it was getting a little late and then it was off to dinner.
Tonight we ate a bit further into town, at Restaurant Zona Verde, instead of along the water. We had passed this place a few times and liked the look of the outdoor space to enjoy the beautiful weather. It didn’t disappoint and we enjoyed a wonderful meal before calling it a night early to be ready for our 3rd and final dive day and receive our certifications!!
Certification day!! This morning we headed back to Blue Water’s offices to get everything together and head out to today’s dive site which was about 45 minutes drive up the east coast of the Island.
We arrived at Tufia Beach around 10h30 and started to get ready for our first dive of the day, and the dive where we would finally complete the last of our skills. This site is likely to go down as one of the most interesting walks to the water we will ever do. Honestly it felt like we were back in Greece with the steep hills and the whitewashed buildings built into them. The walk back up the hill between dives wasn’t any fun either.
We completed our final 2 dives and although not official until we went back to the office and signed off on everything, we are finally certified divers!!!
After our drive back, and once we completed the paperwork, we can now officially say we are PADI Open Water Certified and never have to do discovery dives ever again.
We were so excited and we really liked our instructor so we stuck around the hotel by their office for a while and chatted over some beers enjoying what we had just finally done.
A little after 18h we headed back to the Airbnb for the rest of the evening. Jer got another run in while I relaxed and got everything ready for tonight’s dinner which we were again going to enjoy on the rooftop to enjoy the beautiful weather and views.
Jer was excited this morning because today was his first round of golf during the trip. He was up and out around 07h30 so he could drive to the next town over and play at Anfi Tauro Golf Club which he was very exicted about.
He will complain that there was no driving range and he had to go out and play without hitting a ball for 5 months, but I told him he was playing golf so he wasn’t allowed to complain. Also he shot 75 so, yea as I said no complaining.
While Jer was out golfing I had a wonderfully relaxing morning enjoying more beautiful blue skies and reading on the rooftop.
He returned around noon and we had lunch and made our plans for the rest of the day.
We had read about a nice hike and some amazing views at Roque Nublo so we decided to drive up there and see what it was all about.
We haven’t really talked about it, but as you can imagine being an island in the middle of the ocean the terrain here is quite mountainous and rugged at times. This is the second time we were driving into the interior of the island and in order to get there you must navigate quite the number of switchbacks. Let’s just say I am very happy Jer is in the driver seat, even if I am wearing out my floor mat with the invisible break.
After about an hours drive we arrived and started our hike. Roque Nublo is a massive volcanic rock which seems to just be sitting on the top of a peak by itself. It is also the 3rd highest point on the island so on a clear day you can see the entire island and even over to Tenerife.
After enjoying the views and hiking back down we made the drive back to the Airbnb for another meal on the rooftop!
This time though we wanted to enjoy the sunset fully. Of course there have been some beautiful sunsets since we arrived, however where the Airbnb is we are blocked by a mountain to see it truly disappear into the water. When Jer was on a run the other day he found a place that was behind some buildings and out onto the edge of the water. It turned out he wasn’t the only one that knew about this place, but even so it was amazing. Nothing like a beer, the sound of the waves and a beautiful sunset.
Another day and another early round of golf for Jer. This time he was off to Maspalomas Golf Club in the most popular resort town on the island.
While Jer played I enjoyed another relaxing morning and searching for a place to have dinner this evening.
Jer got back around lunch time and we enjoyed one last lunch on the rooftop before heading out again. We were actually headed back to the same town Jer played golf in this morning as there are massive sand dunes we wanted to visit.
After struggling to find a parking spot for a while we finally found one and made our way down to the dunes. They weren’t joking when they said how massive they were as it seemed they went on forever. We walked around the dunes for a while eventually making our way down to the ocean, but we couldn’t stick around for too long because the wind was so strong you could barely look up without getting sand in your eyes. Well if we’re being honest sand everywhere, so we made our way back to the car and then back to the Airbnb.
Tonight’s dinner was in a really cool local restaurant just into the mountains north of where we were staying. I had found El Tomate restaurant earlier and heard it had some amazing homemade dishes. It was cool because we were able to sit outside in their garden area and the kitchen didn’t look much different than what many people might have at home.
After enjoying an excellent meal we headed back to the Airbnb as we had to finish packing to head to Las Palmas tomorrow morning.
This morning was a sad morning as it was time to pack everything up and head up to the capital of The Canary Islands, Las Palmas. We drug everything back down all the stairs one final time and headed out around 09h30.
After checking in to the hotel we took some time to explore the city and see some of the old churches and other parts of the city before lunch. It was really cool to see some of these amazing old places that served as stop overs for explorers such as Columbus and Drake, although the later tried to plunder the town during his stay.
We ended up eating at Midway because we heard that had some of the best tortilla in town and it was quick.
The reason we wanted it to be a quicker meal is that we had a tee time at 15h, and yes I did just say we. Jer had found the oldest course on the island, Real club de Golf Las Palmas, and since it was also the cheapest round we decided to both play.
After a short, but interesting drive, into the mountains we arrived met by some quite gusty winds and a significant drop in temperature for sure. After hitting some balls on the range we headed out for our round with a nice older gentleman from Croatia. Over the course of the round we ended up finding out that he was a European golf official and he was quite nice. We even enjoyed some beers with him after the round.
Unfortunately because of the wind our round ended up taking quite long due to some groups in front of us and we could only enjoy one drink with him after as we had dinner reservations tonight.
A quick turnaround at the hotel and we were off to dinner at MAjUGA which Jer had found a few days before. Dinner was absolutely fabulous and it was funny because even though we were in Spain, French actually ended up being the common language between us and the waiter.
We made the nice walk back to the hotel after dinner and called it another early night because we were finally headed home tomorrow and our flight was at 07h.
Up and at it early again this morning, but thankfully without any issues with arriving, dropping off the rental, the airport, the flight and just a little traffic on the way back to the apartment.
Once we were home it was of course laundry time since we had been gone for the past week. Today is also Mother’s Day in The US so we made sure to call both our mothers to say hi.