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CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN

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This delightful chain of seven main islands is located roughly 65 miles off the coast of  Saharan Africa in the tropical Atlantic Ocean.

The Canaries enjoy an eternal perfect spring climate.  Average daytime highs range from roughly 70 to 76F.  Overnight lows dip down to 60 or 62F.  I would imagine that if you built a home there, you could actually build it without any furnace or air conditioning system!  I asked a local what the coldest temperature he had ever seen there and this life long native said 12C.  That's about 54F.

Admittedly it does get a bit nippy at night, especially when the wind is blowing.  And even during the daytime when the sun sneaks in behind clouds, your sweat turns to a slight chill.  So this is the perfect place to bring a light sweater.

Our trip brought us first from the United States to Madrid.  Then we flew down to the island of Gran Canaria on an Iberia Airlines A340-300 for our first stop.  From Madrid we flew south passing over or near Toledo, Spain, just off the coast of Casablanca and the on down to the island.  After visiting Gran Canaria we headed for Las Palmas where we caught a ferry to Santa Cruz on the island of Tenerife.  Then it was a long and expensive taxi ride to our resort destination down south on Tenerife.

One important thing to keep in mind as you make your dinner plans in the Canaries or anywhere in Spain is the late dinner hour.  The average Spaniard wouldn't even think of going out to dinner at a restaurant until at least 9:30 or 10pm!  Many don't even open until 9.  So enjoy a snack to keep you going or better yet, hit one of the many tapas bars where you can enjoy small portions of various things like olives, sardines, ham, shrimp, etc, along with cocktails to hold you over until dinner.  Also, lunch is usually taken sometime between 1pm and 4pm.

There aren't really very many truly local dishes on the islands.  Perhaps the most popular local dish is wrinkled potatoes with mojo (pronounced "mo-ho") sauce.  New potatoes about the size of golf balls are boiled in seawater and then allowed to dry.  The skin will appear to be wrinkled and will have a white coating of dried salt on the outside.  You then take your mojo sauce and pour it over them and enjoy them.  What is mojo sauce?  That's a hard question to answer.  There are several different varieties including a picon red sauce to a garlicky green sauce.  All are very good.  In fact you should plan to bring some back home to share with your friends.  They are sold in glass bottles and jars all over the islands.  Or you can try to recreate your own with a recipe here at home. 

I eagerly anticipated the mouth watering fresh seafood dishes we would be enjoying on this trip but to be honest with you, we were disappointed.  The shrimp and prawns were large and impressive looking but very expensive and with little flavor.  Grilled fish was okay but again seemed to lack flavor.  And it's not just that you're used to our preparation methods back in the U.S.  We've enjoyed grilled fish from Scandinavia to Greece to Portugal to Thailand and found it to be quite tasty.  Here the fish simply does not have much taste, for some reason. And worst of all were the clams and mussels.  If they had any flavor at all it was fishy.  Worst clams I've ever had anywhere in the world and they were consistently bad at all the places we tried them.

You can find a general guide to Canary Island food here.  To attempt to whip up your own mojo sauce, try clicking here.

They have an interesting and fearsome dog native to the islands.  They're called "El Dogo Canario" and often have a greenish color to them.  They're kind of like a pit-bull on steroids.  Local families value these dogs tremendously and they are extremely loyal---to their families.  To an approaching stranger, watch out although I did see one guy at a beach letting his El Dogo do a little swimming.  The guy whistled for him and he came flying out of the water ignoring everybody around other than his master.  Technically the pooch is known as the Canarian Presa.  You can read more about these muscular dogs here.

Shoppers should keep in mind that folks in the Canaries really do take siestas during the middle of the day.  Main shops tend to close at 1pm and then re-open at 4pm.  Seriously!  If you arrive at a Gucci store at 2pm, it'll be shuttered.  Ditto for Cartier, Rolex, Camera Stores, etc.  Now if you need some suntan oil and a bag of chips at a tourist store, no problemo during siesta.

Important suggestion.  Load up on Euros before you leave your gateway airport in the U.S.  And once you figure out how many Euros you think you'll need, increase that amount by a third or so just in case.  Examples:  When charging meals at restaurants, the bill is totaled on the card slip so you'll have to leave the tip in cash.  Usually when you book ferry tickets through a hotel, you can charge them.  Not here.  You pay cash.   Normally when you hire a car and driver through your hotel, you can charge it.  Here you pay cash.  And depending on how  you travel through the islands, you may get stuck with some very expensive taxi rides.  Local taxi jaunts are very reasonable.  But if you have to go :45 minutes to an hour, you're lookin' at something approaching $100, U.S.  We've traveled all over the world and our projected cash on this trip was as tight as we've ever run into. So just keep this in mind.


GRAN CANARIA

Pictures of Gran Canaria:
 
Hotel Melia Tamarindos & Beach 
Hotel Melia Tamarindos Tropical Landscaping
Island Interior Views and Vistas
Village of Fataga
Other Assorted Images

Airplanes and Airports

After doing careful homework on this trip we decided to stay at the Melia Tamarindos Hotel right on the beach at San Agustin beach in the Maspalomas area.  The hotel was lovely with immaculate tropical landscaping leading to the pool area and beach.  There were plenty of wild parrots flying all over the hotel grounds.

A nice but not overwhelming breakfast buffet came with the room.  The guy at the fresh egg station had a not so nice expression on his face.  He didn't seem like he enjoyed being there.  This buffet was a little different than most in that you couldn't just help yourself to bacon and sausage.  The guy with the bad attitude had to cook it for you on the spot.  When we each ordered two fried eggs, he cracked the eggs onto the griddle and at the same time placed four slices of raw bacon on the hot surface (two strips for each of us).  As the eggs fried the cook turned our bacon over once.  The eggs took about 4 minutes to cook---and so did the bacon!  The end result -- absolutely raw bacon.  We didn't eat it.

We spent our first full day just hoofing it around on foot exploring the area near the hotel and enjoying the beach.  There's a nice promenade that runs behind the hotel and goes a long way in either direction right along the beach.  Hundreds of tourists from the Melia Tamarindos and other hotels take advantage of this pathway to get their exercise.

A couple of interesting observations about this resort town.  When it comes to the nationality of visitors, by far, Spaniards were the most apparent.  Next came German tourists, then British visitors and French holidaymakers.  We saw only one other American couple during our entire visit.  Locals told us that Americans used to come here in great numbers thirty years ago.  But now, they said most Americans simply found the Canaries too far to travel.  The other interesting thing we observed was the age of visitors.  Most were probably 65+.  Not that it matters but there were very few young people visiting at this time of the year. 

Since we only had three nights on the island we chose to maximize our experience by arranging for the hotel to provide us with a car and English speaking driver.  Usually this works out well but we had a bit of a problem here, which I'll explain in just a bit.

The front desk said they could set us up with a car and driver for $120 for a four hour tour.  I had suggested a two or three hour tour but the front desk person insisted that we do a four hour trip to capture the essence of the island.  So I told her okay and asked her to book a four hour tour.

We came down from the room and confirmed at the front desk that our four hour tour was going to begin at noon.  The desk person affirmed the time but said there had been a change in the price.  The tour would cost $200 instead of $120.  This was irritating.  This came to about $50 an hour.  Most "tours" with English speaking drivers go for more like $15-$20 per hour.  But we wanted to see the island so we agreed.  And mind you, if you JUST took a taxi and covered all the ground you wanted to cover, you'd be paying at the rate of $100 an hour or a total of $400 bucks for a four hour tour.  So this is really a good deal.  Besides you usually get a nice, roomy, air conditioned Mercedes instead of a sardine type taxi.  And...your driver will speak English.

"Francisco" was our driver.  While his English wasn't perfect, it was pretty good and we were able to get most of our questions answered as we toured this pretty island.  He suggested that we start out with a trip across the interior of the island.  He also suggested that we head to the summit of the highest mountain on the island and then end our trip with a visit to the relatively large port city of Las Palmas.  So off we went.

The main internal roads are small but good and well marked as they climb up and down mountainsides while twisting and turning all the way.  If you tend to get car sick, this is not a trip you should even consider.

We actually came across an oasis in this desert environment.  You could tell by the dozens if not hundreds of palm trees all clustered together in a small area.  That particular area has a spring which causes the lush growth.  Water is often scarce around the island.  Our driver told us that they had been blessed with a good, steady rain two weeks earlier and that's why most of the island was relatively green during our visit.

One stop Francisco made for us was in the beautiful little town of Fataga.  It sits at the edge of a huge mountain and is blessed with incredible tropical plants, winding little cobblestone streets, and we were told, a "no stress lifestyle" for the few hundred people who inhabit the area.  When you stroll into the heart of the village, the lanes are only 7 or 8 feet wide so there are no cars.  Just the pleasant sound of happy birds chirping away.  (See pictures above.)

The countryside was beautiful.  Tons of various types of palm trees, olive trees, almond trees, orange trees, etc. at the lower levels.  As you climbed up the tallest mountain nearing the 6,000 foot level, the tropical trees changed to pine trees.  From the summit of Pico de las Nieves (nearly 1950 meters tall) you could easily see the snow capped mountain top of Pico del Teide on the nearby island of Tenerife.  At an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet, it is the tallest mountain in all of Spain.

After visiting the summit of Pico de las Nieves, Francisco suggested that we head to a pretty town called Teror and then progress to the port city of Las Palamas.

Getting to Teror turned out to be a cause of Terror!  On the way to Teror we passed a guy taking a leak along side of the road.  Just a few meters down the way we ran into thick tar on the road.  Eventually the road was closed because it was being repaved.  The guy taking the leak was supposed to be standing there holding up a sign that proclaimed that the road was closed.

By this time it was nearing 3pm and with just one hour left to get back to the hotel to complete our four hour tour, we told Francisco not to bother with Teror.  We suggested that we move on to Las Palmas.  However Francisco was hell bent to get to Teror.  So we headed off on back roads and climbed up extremely steep cliffs on horrible and somewhat crumbling, tiny one lane roads.  The drop off on the passenger side was probably a thousand feet and the road was so narrow that if somebody on the passenger side had opened the door, there was not even enough road to step out onto the pavement.  I actually felt that this was getting dangerous.  My wife was extremely nervous.  I'm not adequately describing the condition of the road.  It was like a narrow alley way that just kept climbing and twisting and turning.  Every now and then we'd pass a small house but that was it.  We were out in the middle of nowhere.

By this time it was obvious that Francisco was totally lost.  Since the road he was familiar with was closed, he was trying to improvise and he was failing miserably.  He stopped in front of one woman's house when he saw her in the driveway and asked for directions to Teror.  Again, we, fearing for our safety, urged him to take us to Las Palmas.  But he continued toward Teror.

At one point we were forced to stop along the tiny roadway when we came upon a woman who had opened a gate to her driveway in a remote area.  Her car blocked the road.  I'm glad we came across her, however, because we heard this vicious growling and barking from an upstairs patio.  Peaking out over the railing were two Canary dogs which we described earlier.

By 3:30pm we were sick and tired of constantly hanging precariously on the edge of cliffs on bad roads and I then insisted that Francisco take us back to the hotel.  I told him that we only had a half an hour to complete our four hour trip.  His reply:  "FOUR HOUR TRIP???  Nobody mentioned to me that it was to be just a four hour trip."  He told us that we were probably at least 2 hours away from the hotel.  So seemingly, this four hour trip at $50 bucks an hour totaling $200 was about to turn into a five and a half hour tour totaling $275!  Ah yes -- the scam!

I assured the driver that our hotel had insisted on setting up a four hour tour and nothing more.  I was a bit angry over this situation because we've hired cars and drivers all over the world and nothing like this has ever happened before.  And had he NOT been told that we wanted to do a four hour tour, the first thing he should have established with us was how long we wanted to be touring.  So I consider this, plain and simply, a scam.  What if I had not mentioned that we were on a four hour tour?  Would this jokester have driven us around 'til midnight?  Three days?

Eventually we got through to Francisco that we wanted to get back to the hotel as quickly as possible.  We finally arrived just after 4:30pm so it wasn't as bad as he had indicated.  I should have been tough with the guy, paid him for a four hour tour and had him settle up for the rest with the hotel desk.  But we paid the extra half hour and gave him a decent tip because he was informative.

Because of the above circumstances, we cannot recommend hiring a car and driver through the Melia Tamarindos hotel.

If you don't speak Spanish and you visit the Canaries, there will be a bit of a language barrier.  And even if you do speak Spanish, you may have trouble understanding Canarian Spanish.  And please understand that I certainly don't expect everybody in the world to speak "my" language.  I simply mention this to give you an idea of what you'll find here.  I found the people to be very nice.  Almost too nice.  At one restaurant I ordered an assortment of grilled fish.  I pointed at a fish that I was familiar with and asked our server what it was just to see what he would tell me.  He told me it was sole.  In reality, it was a very small filefish about 4 inches long and a whole fish.  You could be conversing with a local in English and tell them that their pants were on fire.  They'd likely reply with a cheerful smile and:  "Si, senor."

One place many tourists visit is the giant, jumpin' Yumbo Centrum.  You'll find all kinds of discos, restaurants and shops here catering largely to the gay crowd.  But everybody is certainly welcome here.

Back to the beach, the sand is not native.  I'm told that it was shipped in from the nearby Saharan desert.  But it's reasonably nice.  On this part of the island the water was very calm and there were plenty of swimmers taking advantage of the abundant sunshine.  While we didn't take the plunge, we were told that the average water temp year round is 70F.  Anything under 70F is considered cold to the human body and if you're used to the Caribbean or Florida where water temps often top 85F, then you may be a bit chilly.

 

PLAYA DEL INGLES & SAN AGUSTIN AREA RESTAURANT REVIEWS

A La Carte Restaurant - Melia Tamarindos Hotel - turned out to be a good bet.  We were exhausted when we arrived at the hotel and didn't feel like venturing out.  We had crossed the Atlantic, had an 8 hour layover at Barajas Airport in Madrid, and then flew 2 1/2 hours on down to the island.  My wife started out with some local fish soup and it was good. I opted for a salad. For our main courses we each got a different fish prepared Canarian style with a rich, creamy sauce along with boiled potatoes, green peas and a handful of small clams.  I got the sea bass, my wife got the cod and to be honest with you we couldn't really tell the difference in the fish after sampling each other's dish.  One negative.  The clams were fishy tasting.  In fact during our entire visit to the Canaries, every single clam I had was far inferior to any clam I've ever had anywhere in the world.  And I thought I'd never meet a clam that I didn't like!  I finished the meal with coffee.  My wife had something sweet for dessert although we can't, for the life of us, remember what it was.

Restaurante Rias Bajas is a place specializing in fresh fish and shellfish.  It's located "downtown" in Playa del Ingles.  When you enter this place you pass by a case displaying the fresh fish on ice.  It was quite impressive.  I started with an incredibly rich, creamy fish soup.  Worth the price of admission alone!  My wife enjoyed razor clams her appetizer. I was excited to see these on the menu.  We lived in Boston in the 80s and whenever these somewhat rare clams were featured in our local market, I snarfed 'em up.  Unfortunately, these particular razor clams were quite small and had only a slightly fishy taste and not a clamy taste. For our main course, we chose a mixed grilled seafood platter for two consisting of monkfish, turbot, hake, stuffed calamari and sea bass.  It was good but not sensational.  In fact, we didn't have what I would consider to be an outstanding seafood dinner anywhere in the Canaries or in Madrid.  While everything was certainly fresh, it just wasn't as flavorful as we've found in other parts of the world. This restaurant is located near the giant Yumbo Shopping Center at the corner of Avenida de Tirajana and Avenida EE UU.  You can phone them at 928 76 40 33.

Restaurante Dayana is also located in downtown Playa del Ingles.  It's a little more than embarrassing just how we found this place.  We flew from Madrid to Las Palmas the night before, and as we landed the "air show" display that shows time, etc., on the video screen showed the time in the Canaries as being the same as in mainland Spain.  The next day on the beach the sun just didn't look right as noon approached.  We showed a local shopkeeper our watch and asked if that was the correct time.  He said:  "Si."  Again, these people are so friendly that I could have asked him if a nuclear bomb had just gone off and he would have also replied:  "Si."  Anyway we had intended to go to Restaurante Rias Bajas that night.  It opened at 19:00 (7pm) and we got there at that precise time.  But the restaurant was closed.  We waited a few minutes and then gave up on Rias Bajas and saw Restaurante Dayana across the street.  It looked good so we gave it a shot.  The reason Rias Bajas wasn't open was because we were on the wrong time!  What we thought was 7pm was actually 6pm.  But now --- back to the restaurant at hand, Restaurante Dayana.  This is a small Indian restaurant specializing in tandoori cuisine.  There was one other couple in the place besides us.  Keep in mind that most Spaniards wouldn't even think about going out to dinner until 9:30 or 10pm.  The guy who seated us was kind of a creep.  He had a hostile look on his face and we felt like we were putting him out by dropping by so early.  But we placed our orders and it was quite good.  I started with an order of "fried jumbo prawns."  What came to the table were four medium to large fried shrimp that had obviously been frozen and dropped in the deep fryer.  I can't imagine that these were actual local crustaceans.  Still, they tasted good.  My wife chose a starter called onion bhaji.  These appeared to be fried potato croquettes with bits of onions and were quite tasty.  For my main course I chose a mixed meat tandoori platter.  It came with chicken, lamb, sausage and some mystery meat.  It was all good.  My wife simply chose the tandoori chicken and was pleased with her meal.  While this wasn't a sensational place, if you're in the mood for Indian, this will scratch your itch.  It's located near Restaurante Barbados near the entrance to Yumbo Shopping Center.  More here.
 


TENERIFE

Pictures of Tenerife:
Hotel Bitacora & Grounds - Playa de las Americas
Life Along The Beach
The Beautiful Nearby Mountains
Downtown Playa de las Americas
Ferry Landing Area in Santa Cruz
Airplanes and Airports

To get to this island from Gran Canaria we grabbed a cab and traveled to the busy port city of Las Palmas to catch a ferry.  Our taxi driver was a great guy and it took the better part of an hour to get from the hotel to the ferry landing.  Once there we ran into big time confusion.  Our driver pulled up next to a big ferry and just as we started to get out of the cab he held up his hand saying to wait.  He was conversing in Spanish with a guy standing there.  Turns out this wasn't the ferry we wanted.  It was going somewhere else.  So we piled back into the taxi and we continued for a few more blocks until we pulled up to another ferry facility operated by the same company, Transmediterranea.  I'm glad our driver was alert or we would have had to have scrambled to get to the right dock in time for departure.  We made the journey from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria to Santa Cruz, Tenerife aboard an incredibly beautiful ferry---a high speed catamarin.  The crossing took just over 90 minutes to complete and the ferry's interior was nothing short of dazzling.  By far the most beautiful ferry we've ever been on anywhere in the world.  The thing seated up to 890 passengers in total luxury.

The ride was smooth and before we knew it we were approaching the island of Tenerife.  We left the boat in the busy town of Santa Cruz.  Unlike Las Palmas, which felt like a port town, Santa Cruz had more the feel of mainland Europe to it.

Tenerife is blessed with some huge mountains and Pico del Teide is the highest in all of Spain at about 10,000 feet.  It had a snow covered peak when we were there.  The drive from Santa Cruz is a mixed bag on a modern highway passing through little villages and more or less hugging the coastline.  And did I mention windmills?  There are perhaps hundreds in the Canaries--the modern, three bladed propeller types--catching the wind to generate electricity.

Our taxi driver indicated to us in broken Spanish that the journey to our hotel, the Hotel Bitacora in Playa de las Americas, would take about 70 minutes and would cost about 70 Euros.  Sure enough, we arrived in just about 70 minutes.  Unfortunately our driver wasn't familiar with our hotel and we were "lost" briefly until he stopped and asked another driver where the hotel was located.

The Hotel Bitacora is one of three properties owned by the Spring Hotel chain.

Although the Hotel Bitacora isn't located right on the beach (it's about a 5 minute walk) it was a lovely place.  The rooms were huge with a big bathroom and a couch and sitting chair in the bedroom.  They had nice balconies, too.   Just as with our hotel in Gran Canaria, parrots were flying around all over Tenerife.  We saw flocks as small as two and as large as 25 or 30.  And you heard them before  you saw them because of the loud screeching noise they made.

The hotel was nice but now without flaws.  There were two main elevators and, we think, two additional elevators---one toward the end of each wing.  The single elevator at the far end of our wing was out of service.  I'm not sure about the other single lift in the other wing.  The main elevators in the lobby said they could accommodate 6 passengers.  But if five and sometimes even four got on, a buzzer would sound indicating that the lift was overloaded.  This was a serious problem during the breakfast buffet stampede.  It was sometimes nearly impossible to get an elevator down from our fifth floor between 9am and 10am and in fact, we just took the stairs down.

Upon arrival, we settled into the room and then took off on foot to explore the surround neighborhood and beach.   While our hotel beach back in Gran Canaria was somewhat rocky, the beach in Tenerife was decidedly rocky.  And the waves were huge.  There must have been 35 or 40 surfers lined up just offshore waiting to catch the perfect wave.  And they were pretty good at it.

As with the Melia Tamarindos Hotel back in Gran Canaria, the crowd in Tenerife consisted largely of the senior set.  The average age was probably 65.  And we have never seen more wheelchairs and motorized vehicles anywhere else in the world.  Obviously Tenerife takes great care to accommodate its handicapped visitors and we think that's nice.

To be honest with you -- we didn't do much exploring here in terms of the island of Tenerife.  We just hung around the beach and the pool back at the hotel and relaxed.  There's a nice walkway that stretches for miles right along the beach and it's fun to just stroll far and wide stopping in at the many bistros and coffee shops along the way.

There were a lot of shopping opportunities here.  Everything from the most swank stores to the cheesy tourist shops.  Again, as with most of Spain, watch out for the siesta period from 1pm to 4pm when most shops other than the tourist shops are closed.

Leaving the island to wing our way to Madrid and then back home the next day, we had another long and expensive taxi ride for our departure from the Los Rodeos Norte Aeropeurto.  To be exact, it was an hour taxi ride from Playa de las Americas and set us back nearly 80 Euros including tip.  That's about $104 in U.S. greenbacks.  Ouch!  There's another airport located just 20 minutes from the resort but I booked us on Iberia and they only fly out of Los Rodeos.  I couldn't help but think about what happened at this airport on March 27, 1977.  Mind you, I'm an aviation nut and there's nothing more than I love to do than fly on a commercial flight.  And I'm anything but a nervous flyer.  But I had to think back on that awful day when a KLM Boeing 747 started its take-off roll without clearance from the tower.  Just as it rotated and barely lifted off the runway it struck a Pan Am Boeing 747.  All aboard the KLM jet were killed and most on the Pan Am jet perished, too.  A total of 582 lives were lost. It was the worst commercial jet crash in history.  Crash pictures can been found here.  We took off on the same runway (there's only one runway there but we took off heading the same direction as the KLM jet) and we were aboard an Iberian Boeing 747-400.

We enjoyed some good food on Tenerife and below are some suggested places to dine
 

PLAYA DE LAS AMERICAS & LOS CRISTIANOS RESTAURANT REVIEWS

RESTAURANTE MESON CASTELLANO was our favorite restaurant during our stay here.  It was recommended by the hotel staff and turned out to be a big hit.  It was a brief ten minute walk from the Hotel Bitacora on a route where you can't get lost!  On our first visit here we popped in at about 7:30pm and without a reservation.  We knew this was going to be a good experience because it was packed with locals.  And it was unusual to see a restaurant so packed at such an early hour.  Remember, most Spaniards won't even think about going out to dinner until at least 9:30 or 10pm.  We were asked if we had a reservation and even though we didn't have one, we were seated immediately in a covered patio section right next to the door.  We waited patiently for a menu but none came.  Our waiter, who spoke pretty decent English, finally presented himself and asked us for our order.  I told him we hadn't even seen a menu yet to which he replied:  "Senor, we don't have menus here.  We have tapas, steaks, and rabbit."  I asked him how the tapas worked at this particular restaurant and he replied:  "Senor, just say the word and we'll start bringing the tapas to the table.  We'll keep bringing them until you say stop."  So we went for the tapas although the couple dining right next to us were digging into huge filet mignons and they looked great.  The first tapas that arrived at the table were green peppers roasted with salt.  They looked and smelled like jalapenos but they were very mild.  There were probably 20 of them on the plate and they were great.  Next came a plate of Iberian cured ham with cheese.  This is very expensive ham and delicious.  It's very thin and hard and loaded with streaks of fat.  It melts in your mouth!  Just as we were finishing that up came a plate with a curl of sausage that looked like a miniature fire hose.  It was great and loaded with garlic.  Next came a medium bowl of salad with lots of tomato wedges.  We finally waived the white flag when a load of fish croquettes arrived at the table. Oh yeah, I forgot about a cast iron skillet of sautéed, juicy, garlicky, peeled prawns!  Thanks to the sauce, these were actually flavorful!  We were stuffed and extremely well satisfied.  Each tapas cost a different amount.  As I recall, the little peppers cost a couple of Euros.  The ham dinged us 13. But it was a great experience.  We enjoyed it so much we came back for a second night.

If you'd like to view some of the tapas we enjoyed, click here.

On the second time around we started out with just two tapas---fish croquettes and four giant prawns, grilled.  As I mentioned earlier on this page, for some reason---at least to my taste---prawns and most other seafood in the Canaries just didn't have much flavor.  We got a salad for two and then ordered steaks.  I ordered a sirloin and my wife ordered the filet.  My sirloin was great.  My wife thought her tenderloin had an odd taste.  I sampled her steak, found it to be just fine although I did notice a slightly odd taste, and we switched.  Both steaks were cooked to a rare perfection.  I failed to get an address for this restaurant but it's in a crowded area where there are many restaurants clustered together.  But be sure to get the right place - Meson Castellano.  Their phone number is 922 79 63 05.  More, including pictures here.

RINCON DEL MARINERO was a long walk down the way in Los Cristianos.  You can get there by just taking the waterfront walkway although it's shorter if you circumnavigate taking some streets.  This place came highly recommended for seafood and while it was good, it was nothing to write home about.  It's a brightly lit restaurant that is a semi-open air type place.  If you take the streets, you must walk down stairs to get there.  If you take the waterfront walkway, it's right there.  Once seated I ordered a bottle of inexpensive house wine and it actually came in a one liter carafe.  For my starter, I tried seafood soup.  It was okay but again -- where's the cotton pickin' flavor from the fish and shellfish?  It is brought to the table in a big pot and then ladled into a bowl.  The fish was okay.  The clams and mussels tasted fishy, as all clams and mussels did here on this trip.  For my main course I got a mixed platter of grilled fish.  My wife went with an individual order of dusky halibut.  My grilled fish was okay.  Most of the fish were either small, whole fish and the rest were small filets.  My wife's dusky halibut, on the other hand, consisted of a thick, juicy filet.  She loved it.  We ordered some local wrinkled potatoes with mojo sauce and they were great.  Rincon del Marineo is located at Muelle Los Cristianos.  Their phone number is 922 793 553.

MESON RESTAURANTE MOJO PINCON  was conveniently located close to our hotel so we gave it a try.  It was literally only a five minute walk from the hotel and it came highly recommended by the hotel desk staff.  I started out with Octopus Gallega style.  And I hate to keep saying this--like most other seafood here, it had very little flavor.  It was, however, very tender and the mojo sauce that was on the table helped to enrich it.  My wife started with a garlicky sopa Canaria soup which was thickened with bread.  Our server explained that the chef was particularly heavy on the garlic in the soup on that particular evening which made it even better.  For my main course I had chose a sirloin steak and it was one of the better sirloins I've had anywhere in the world.  And yes, it was cooked nice and rare, just to my taste.  My wife ordered roasted suckling pick for her dinner.  While she usually loves pork, the flavor of this particular dish didn't sit well with her.  I tried it and while it was good, for my taste it needed to be jazzed up with additional flavors.  But hey, I'm not a Spaniard so who am I to tell them how to prepare their food?!  We ordered one of the national dishes of the Canaries on the side - wrinkled potatoes with mojo sauce.  They take unpeeled new potatoes about the size of golf balls and boil them in seawater.  When they come out they wrinkle up and have a white coating of salt on the outside. Then you pour mojo sauce over them.  Mojo sauce (pronounced mo-ho) comes in many forms.  On this evening two were presented at the table.  A green and very delicious garlic sauce and a red picante sauce which had a little fire to it.  Both were great.  I finished with a cup of coffee. My wife topped off her tank with a sinfully rich dish of crem Castellano, similar to our creme brule.  Overall this was a most pleasant dining experience.  I goofed up and didn't get a street address but you can get vectors by calling them at this number:  922 75 02 73.  More including pictures here.

YOU'LL NEED YOUR PASSPORT TO TRAVEL TO THE CANARY ISLANDS WHICH ARE OFFICIALLY A PART OF SPAIN.  DRIVING IS ON THE RIGHT AND FAIRLY SANE BY WORLD STANDARDS.  THE CURRENCY IS THE EURO.


 

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