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31 December 2014

New Year's Eve on the Canary Islands


The Canary Islands are the perfect place to celebrate New Year. The pleasant climate offers the perfect conditions to receive the new year relaxing in the sunshine on one of the beautiful beaches of the Canaries. On the 31st December there are options for every taste. Many luxury hotels organize gala dinners, there are New Year's Eve parties in bars and clubs and many towns and cities organize fireworks and parties. As elsewhere in the world, New Year's Eve is celebrated with champagne and fireworks, yet there is a Spanish tradition that is also very popular on the Canary Islands. The tradition of the "doce uvas de la suerte" ("the twelve grapes of luck") began in the 19th century within the Spanish middle and upper classes, who celebrated "Nochevieja" with champagne and wine grapes. In 1909 the tradition was adopted by a majority of the population. This year there was a large grape surplus and Spanish farmers from Alicante promoted the "grapes of luck" in order to sell their crops. Over the time, the grapes became a New Year's tradition and today they are almost mandatory. The grapes symbolize prosperity and according to superstition they give good luck. Each person gets twelve grapes that are eaten in the last minutes of the finishing year with the last twelve chimes of the clock. And who did not choke in the attempt, can now wish a Happy New Year to all!

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15 December 2014

Christmas on the beach - Belén de Arena, Gran Canaria




The Nativity scenes, called "Belenes", are an important tradition in Spain and the Canary Islands. Their origins are found in the 14th century in Italy, where some churches were decorated with them, and then this custom spread to other Catholic countries, like Spain. Almost every household had its own lovingly constructed Nativity scene. Traditionally, the set up of the scenes started on 13 December and the baby Jesus was added on 25 December. But nowadays with the increased popularity of the Christmas tree, most Nativity scenes only consist of the most important figures. However, many churches and communities are trying to maintain this tradition with detailed and artistic Nativity scenes. The most spectacular one of the Canary Islands is located in Gran Canaria. The "Belén de Arena" in the capital city of Las Palmas is made with sand by international sculptors on the beach Playa de Las Canteras. This year, the work was done by six artists, who, in just eight days, transformed more than a thousand tons of fine sand into a spectacular artwork, which occupies about 2,000 square meters of the beach of Las Canteras. The Sand Nativity Scene is one of the city's top attractions during the Christmas period and ensures that even the beach with its warm temperatures gets a little bit of Christmas flair! The "Belén de Arena" can be visited until January 7 - a perfect destination for a trip during your holidays on Gran Canaria!

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5 December 2014

The green heart of La Palma



La Palma is also called "Isla Bonita", the "beautiful island". Why this is so, one can best understand on a visit in the green heart of the island, the National Park "Parque Nacional de La Caldera de Taburiente". It is one of Spain's oldest national parks and in 2002, the park along with the entire island was designated as a World Biosphere Reserve. The depression was originated about two million years ago and, just like the rest of the island, it has a volcanic origin. The "Caldera de Taburiente" also has a special place in the history of the Canary Islands, because it was the place with the strongest resistance against the Spanish conquerors in the 15th century. At that time, La Palma or "Benahoare" ("my land"), as the island was called by the Aborigines, was divided into twelve kingdoms ("cantones"), each governed by a chief ("mencey"). The natives of La Palma were mainly goatherds and collected fruits and roots with which they made a kind of flour known as "gofio". In 1492 the conquest of the island began under the leadership of Alonso Fernández de Lugo.

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28 November 2014

5 places to visit - Tenerife




1. MASCA

The "lost village" is located in the north-west of the island, near the hills "Montes de Teno". The beautiful village is located amongst impressive rock formations and lush vegetation. Until 1991 there was no road to Masca, but today the village can be reached by a winding road. This isolation has contributed to make Masca the best example of typical Canarian architecture. Masca is also a paradise for hikers who can walk through the canyons to the bay. The bay was once a hideaway for pirates. From there you can take a boat to Los Gigantes if you don't want to return to Masca by foot (it takes several hours). You can also enjoy this unique landscape from the "Mirador de la Cruz de Hilda" in Teno.

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20 November 2014

The Picasso of the Canary Islands - César Manrique




César Manrique is one of the most famous artists of the Canary Islands. Painter, architect, sculptor and environmentalist - Manrique, who was born in Arrecife (Lanzarote's capital), had many talents. During the Spanish Civil War, the artist fought on the side of Franco. He would never speak about the terrible experiences he had during the war. After the war, Manrique began studying technical architecture in Tenerife. However, after two years, he interrupted his studies and entered the College of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid with the help of a scholarship. Manrique achieved great fame in the world of international art and exhibited his art in New York, where he was inspired by new artistic movements such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. In 1968 he returned to Lanzarote to make the island one of the most beautiful places on earth. In Lanzarote tourism was beginning to develop and Manrique committed himself to preserve the beauty of the island. In cooperation with the Government of Lanzarote, he developed a unique architectural look for the island: traditional white houses with green doors and the prohibition to place advertisements by the roads.

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29 October 2014

Little paradise - La Graciosa




In the north of Lanzarote there is located a group of smaller islands, lovingly called "Archipiélago Chinijo" ("chinijo" is a Canarian word for "small"). The largest of these islands is La Graciosa with 29 square kilometers, the only one of the archipelago that is inhabited - about 600 residents enjoy the beauty and tranquility of this little paradise where not even paved roads exist. The island has two small villages, Caleta de Sebo, the capital, and Pedro Barba, a little town where some families have their holiday homes. Most islanders live off tourism and fishing, because La Graciosa is located near rich fishing grounds. To protect the almost untouched nature, La Graciosa is a marine reserve since 1995 and was later appointed as a biosphere reserve and a nature park.

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23 October 2014

7 islands - 7 activities




1. LA PALMA - HIKING IN LA CALDERA DE TABURIENTE

In the heart of La Palma there is located the spectacular National Park "Parque Nacional de La Caldera de Taburiente". The park is located in a crater-like depression of volcanic origin, which has a diameter of 8 kilometers. The steep and abrupt landscape has differences in altitude of nearly 2,000 meters. The highest point is the "Roque de Los Muchachos" with 2,426 meters, which also houses the observatory of La Palma. The beautiful landscape is dominated by the Canary Island pine ("pino canario") and offers small streams and waterfalls. A hike in the "Caldera de Taburiente" is almost obligatory for any visitor of the island! There are different routes depending on how much time you have - a few hours, a day or even several days, because there is a possibility to camp in the National Park.

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15 October 2014

Valle de La Orotava - the garden of El Teide




In the north of Tenerife there is located a beautiful green landscape with lava formations and palm groves. It is the "Valle de La Orotava," which begins at the foot of the Teide, Spain's highest mountain, and extends to the sea. The valley is not only one of the most beautiful places on the island, it also has a past full of stories. In the "Valle de La Orotava", which was called by the Guanches "Valle de Taoro", the conquest of the island by the Spaniards ended in 1496 and it was there where the first church of Tenerife was built, the "Parroquia Matriz del Apóstol Santiago" in the municipality of Los Realejos. Even Alexander von Humboldt fell in love with the "Valle de La Orotava" in 1799 during his six-day visit to Tenerife and praised the beauty of the valley in his later writings. Nowadays, from the "Mirador Humboldt" you can admire the landscape and a bronze statue of the explorer.

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1 October 2014

The American Star - "the ghost ship"




Close to the beach "Playa de Garcey" on the west coast of Fuerteventura there is located the wreck of the "American Star". It was once a luxury cruise ship, but today it is almost completely submerged in the sea. The turbulent history of the luxury liner begins in 1939 when the ship was baptized by the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on the name of SS America. During World War II the ship was used by the army and it got a new name: USS West Point. Despite many attacks and countless trips across the seas, the ship survived the war unscathed. After World War II, the glamorous interiors were restored and the ship experienced its heyday as a cruise ship. Over the years, the ship was renamed several times and among other things it was used as a way of transport between Australia and New Zealand.

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4 September 2014

"Fire Mountains", Lanzarote




The National Park of Timanfaya is also known as "Montañas de Fuego" ("Fire Mountains") and offers a unique experience. Three-quarters of Lanzarote are covered with lava - the result of about 100 volcanoes and 300 craters. The last eruptions took place in the 18th century and in 1824. The eruptions in the 18th century destroyed several villages and covered the most fertile lands of Lanzarote with lava - a large part of the population was forced to leave the island. Today the National Park offers visitors a spectacular scenery consisting of lava formations with various red and brown tones. The sparse vegetation consists of scattered succulents, lichens and prickly bushes. Various demonstrations show that today there are still very high temperatures only a few meters below the earth's surface - at the most popular demonstration water is poured through a pipe into the ground, creating an impressive steam fountain. A 14-kilometer route ("Ruta de los Volcanes") allows to enjoy the scenery and the area also can be explored with camels. A popular destination in the National Park is the restaurant "El Diablo", which was built by César Manrique and has a grill that works with the heat of the earth. The exquisite Canarian dishes are the perfect ending for a great day between the volcanoes!

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1 September 2014

La "Danza del Diablo", La Palma



From 21 August to 8 September the feast "Fiesta de Candelaria" takes place in the village of Tijarafe on La Palma. The festivities give you the opportunity to experience music, folklore and Canarian culture. The highlight of the festival takes place in the night of 7 September to 8 September when the "Diablo", the devil, accompanied by the "Gigantes" and "Cabezudos" appears between the dancers. The "Diablo" is one of the villagers, who is dressed in a devil costume and is equipped with fireworks. The "Danza del Diablo" represents the struggle between good ("Nuestra Señora de Candelaria", the patron saint of Tijarafe) and evil (the devil). This ceremony takes place since 1923 and has evolved and improved steadily over the years. The "Danza del Diablo" also has gained popularity over the years and nowadays it attracts visitors from all over the world. On September 8 the final act of the ceremony, which consists of the eucharist, a procession and fireworks, takes place.

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28 August 2014

5 Places to visit - El Hierro


1. EL GAROÉ

The Garoé is a tree located in San Andrés and it is one of the highlights of El Hierro. The "holy tree" was appreciated by the natives of the island, the "bimbaches", because it provided them with condensed water from its leaves. Legend says that the natives tried to keep the tree in secret from the conquistadors, but a young woman fell in love with a Spanish soldier and revealed the secret. The tree was destroyed in 1610 by a severe storm and the current tree was planted in 1949 by the residents of Valverde to commemorate their ancestors. Today near the tree you will find a "Centro de Interpretación" that explains the history of the tree. The Garoé is located in the protected natural area "Espacio Natural de Paisaje Protegido Ventejís" and a trip to the "holy tree" offers a beautiful view of nature.

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28 July 2014

Wine and history - Tenerife


The "Casa del Vino de Tenerife" is a very special holiday hightlight, which is located in Sauzal in the north of Tenerife. The style of the house is typical Canarian and inside there is a wine museum "Museo del Vino", which tells the story of the wine on the island of Tenerife, a wine cellar and a wine shop, a hall for wine tasting, a garden with grapevines and a restaurant that offers the exquisite delights of local cuisine. The well-stocked wine cellar of the "Casa del Vino" offers tastings of local wines in a beautiful setting - the island of Tenerife offers an amazing wine culture, which is also internationally popular. There are also a showroom in which regular art exhibitions take place, an information center for the honey of the island and a museum about the biological diversity of the island for agriculture and food. A perfect excursion to spend a few precious hours! The "Casa del Vino" is located very near our wonderful Apartment Mara - a holiday paradise with ocean view.

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16 July 2014

Reasons to visit La Palma




NATURE

La Palma is a world biosphere reserve with 706 square kilometers surface. The island offers beautiful scenery and many endemic plants and animal species. The island offers a variety of leisure activities: hiking, mountain biking, diving, paragliding, boat trips and much more... Hikers will find a paradise on La Palma, because there are many hiking trails of varying difficulty: the island offers more than 1000 kilometers of marked hiking trails! The most beautiful hiking trails include the National Park of La Caldera de Taburiente, la Ruta de los Volcanos (Nature Park Cumbre Vieja) and Los Nacientes de Marcos y Cordero (de las Nieves Nature Park). Whether volcanic landscapes and exuberant nature - on La Palma you can admire diverse landscapes!

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11 July 2014

5 places to visit - Gran Canaria




1. ROQUE NUBLO

The Roque Nublo is one of the highest points of Gran Canaria. Especially known is its summit, which is crowned by a basalt rock and is considered the symbol of the island. The mountain has a volcanic origin and is located in a nature reserve in the municipio of Tejeda. The Roque Nublo is a popular hiking destination and is easily accessible via hiking trails. The climb is definitely worth it, because from the summit plateau you have a spectacular view which allows you to see Mount Teide in Tenerife in the distance.

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