Introduction: the Gran Canaria experiment
I recently moved to Switzerland and doing so in winter can cause quite a climate shock if coming from South-East Asia. Two weeks of rain slightly above freezing is tough so I decided to look for a getaway down south in hopes of seeing the sun again and being able to wear shorts.
After some research, the most viable options seemed to be the Canary island of Gran Canaria – home to year round warm temperatures and plenty of sun even in January. Competition for airfare is tough and I was able to snag tickets for a total of EUR125 return – not too bad for a 4.5hrs flight.
While I’ve never been to any of the seven Canary Islands (El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, Lanzarote, La Palma and Tenerife), I knew that most of them had succumbed to the lucrative mass tourism. While this is usually enough to deter me from going to a destination, I also knew from a prior trip to the the Balearic island of Mallorca that the hinterland of such islands can be charming and (slightly) off the tourist trail.
So I asked myself: can I travel to a mass tourism destination and yet still find places off the beaten path and travel the way I like it?
So I decided to give it a shot and hopefully find some charismatic spots in the mountains and the less touristy North.
I didn’t really prepare much for this trip. A few days before departure I booked a car for EUR104 for the six days. Once I started looking at hotel options, I was
slightly surprised to discover that most options are sold out and what little was remaining, was pricey for what it was. Previously I figured that since it school holidays were over, the Christmas/New Year’s peak season was over – apparently not.
In the end I ended up booking a place in a small village about an hour away from the airports. We’d stay there for two nights, giving us some time to get a feel for the island and figure out where we’d go next.