Additional Information for a Holiday in Gran Canaria
On this page I present more information about Gran Canaria as also some tips and hints for a pleasant holiday in the Canarian Island. I would be very grateful to anyone who sent me some further tips by e-mail.
Tips for a pleasant holiday in Gran Canaria
Travel Time in the Summer Time
Those who fly to Gran Canaria during the summer months will be spoilt with permanent sun shine days and hardly have rainy days. During the day, the temperatures are most one of the times pleasantly below 30°C, but during the nights, they seldom fall below 22°C. Thus, it is possible to go out in the evening in short trousers and t-shirt, even though it is late; As the hotelrooms and apartments are very heated during the day, one should have, specially during the summer months, an air-conditioned room, as with 25°C room temperature or more and a high air humidity it is very hard to fall asleep no matter how tired one is. Most of the hotel rooms have exactly only one window and/or one balcony door, so that even during the ventilation, the air does harly move.
Travel Time in the Winter
Gran Canaria is a popular holiday destination for those Europeans who are bothered by the coldness in the winter time. Most of the times, the temperatures are pleasant during the Winter months with a little more than 20°C. But during the winter, numerous clowds move over the island. As long as the sun shines, 20°C or a little more are fully sufficient in order to sweat at the pool or the beach. If the sun is crowded by some thick clowds it soon gets fresh again. In the winter, there are also rainfall days, it is even possible that it rains during the whole week.
Many hotel rooms and apartments certainly have an air conditioner but no heating. In the winter, the temperatures in a room can easily fall below 20°C. This is why one should also take in any case some warm clothes even though one of course hopes not to have to wear them. But many hotel rooms are have a view to the west and the south so that the even in the winter, the rooms are heated up more than 25°C; than one is happy by being able to cool down the air a little before going to sleep.
In the South, the weather is clearly better than in the North
Those who think the weather in Gran Canaria is the same everywhere are completely wrong. Specially during the winter months there are heavy differences of the weather Bbetween the northeast and the southwest of the island that can be lively experienced by a simple island tour. The clowds of the north-east trade wind accumulate in the precipices of the north-east and provide a cool humid weather with rainfalls. Due to the foehn-effect, some warm air masses come from the nountain ridges so that most of the times there is a warm weather.
Thus, be careful with bargain-offers of hotels, apartments and fincas in the north-east of the island during the winter months. This almost guarantees a life in the shadow side. For the local inhabitants of the island from the capital of the bigger cities in the north east of the city, the consequence is very easy: to go on the week ends to the south-west for bathing and going out.
When it is raining and clowdy...
While for a local person, a rainy day is something pleasant, the bathing tourists feel soon bored and frustrated. But it does not have to be like that! There is ine thing I learned in the Canarian Islands: if it rains where I currently am, it does not mean at all that ir is raining in the whole island. Many times, it rains just on one side of the mountains and at the opther side, the sun is shining (this applies extremely to the islands with high mountains as La Palma, Tenerife and Gran Canaria).
Thus, if it is raining in a holiday place or if the sky is clowdy, one should simple get into the rented car and browse the island a little. of course, it is easier asking at the reception of the hotel for the weather. Often, the employees live in different areas of the island and are able to provide the best weather forecasts.
Drive to the highest mountain Pico de las Nieves
The drive to the peak heighted almost 2000 m Pico de las Nieves is part of the absolute obligatory programme of the visitors of Gran Canaria. The fantastic views to the islands and over to Tenerife are simply indescribable. but despite of this, the visitors forget that at the highest peak of Gran Canaria the temperatures are clearly lower than in the coast. For example, if the air temperature on the beach is of 25°C, then, there are only 10-15°C at a height of barely 2000 m. If additionally, the typical strong foehn wind arises, the temperatures get soon under 10 °C.
Thus, those who get optimistically from the beach in shorts and t-shirt in direction to the mountains will suffer a small cold shock by getting out of the car. Then, one cannot do the one-hour hiking tour on the Roque Nublo or the Roque Bentayga anymore, as one is already cold on the parking place. Thus, those who are on excursion to the mountains should in any case take some long trousers, a coat and of course some sturdy shoes.
If the fish in the restaurant is more expensive than stated on the menue card, if the hotel room does not have a hair dryer as promised or if the tank of the rented car is not full, then, in any case, one should not let it be like that but write down the own frustration; Each restaurant, hotel and each car rental must keep a complaints book that has to be handled to the guest if required. As a guest or a client one simply asks for the Libro de reclamacionces and/or the sheets of complaints Hojas de reclamacionesand writes down the problem in the mother tongue.
Each sheet of complaints has a file number and has to be presented by the respective company to the tourism authority, where each complaint has to be revised. If certain indicent occurs several times, the respective company is jeopardized to loose the license. For a gastronome or a car rental it is the worst thing that can happen, if a client asks for the complaints book. Many times, the requirement of the Libro de reclamaciones is enough to make the problem to be solved in an unbureaucratical way in favour to the client.
The right place in the Plane
Those planes coming from the north normally approach Gran Canaria from the east side. Those who get a window seat at the right side of the plane will be already rewarded before the approaching of Gran Canaria with a breathtaking view to Tenerife. The Teide rises majestically from the trade wind clowds. During the direct approach to Gran Canaria one has a nice view to the capital Las Palmas.
During the return flight, things are just the way around. Those who have a seat at the left window side, can look down during the take off (normally in northern diorection) straight down to the north east of Gran Canaria and will enjoy, after breaking-through the clowds, a fantastic view to the Teide of the neighboured island Tenerife.
Doctors and Chemistries
The medical attention is very good in Lanzarote, not at least because numerous german or english doctors made their dream of working in a sunny island come true. The doctors work in a hard competition to each other. Also, many nationals doctors compete to get the preference of the tourists by speaking german or english themselves or by employing medical secretaries who speak several languages. Many luxury hotels also have an own doctor and/or a consultancy, where a doctor is available several times a week.
But a visit to a doctor is very costly in Gran Canaria; here, the doctors really pitch in. And it is always payed cash. After a visit to the doctor, one should without fail get a bill that can be passed over to the health fund in Germany after the holidays.In the big tourist centers there are one or several chemistries that sell many medicines also without prescription. Many times it is enough to talk to a chemist in order to get the right medicine, a costly visit to the doctor is not always neccessary.
The craftmanship of Gran Canaria that in fact is nearly extinct, is currently experiencing a new flourishing since the mass tourism; Numerous tourists buy lots of souvenirs in the island before leaving home. There are hundreds of souvernir shops in the island. In each tourist city and at each sightseeing, everything is offered in souvernir hops, from a postcard up to ceramic pots. But be careful: long ago, the commerciants have discovered that it is more profitable to sell some cheap imitations made in far east than the national stuff. The best place to get original local products is in the small villages of the heartland where the craftmanship is realy made.
The Canarian Islands belong to Spain, and Spain belongs to the EU. But the Canarian Islands form together a free trade zone, so that as a vacationer one cannot, as usual in the other states of the European Union, buy any quantity of stuff and take it to the home country. Many vacationers do not know this until they - completely surprised - get into a customs control. For the import, the same rules are applied as the ones for the non-EU countries, thus for example a maximum of 200 cigarettes or 1 liter high percentaged alcoholic drinks.
Choosing the Travel Agency
In Gran Canaria there is a real mass tourism; this is already noticeable in the airport, when one plane lands after other and unloads hundreds of tourists. One of the biggest trabal agents is TUI, the one I traveled with. The disadvantage of such a big travel agent was noticeable during the transfer from and to the hotel by bus: at the airport, one gets into a bus with a lot of other tourists and is then taken to one's hotel. The bus stops at numerous hotels and releases other tourists. Thus, due to the many stops in between, the bus trip to and from the hotel took a lot of time.
I paertly traveled to the other Canarian Islands with some smaller travel agents; then, the shuttle took place in small buses or taxis. The waiting time at the airport for the bus was clearly shorter and there were maximum 1-2 stops in between and the buses were clearly faster.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz