Adventure awaited in Gran Canaria
Five of us got together at a coffee shop to book tickets to Gran Canaria, the second largest island of the Canary Islands owned by Spain, for Carnaval (Spanish version of Halloween to start Lent). We had all ambition to go for the crazy festivities that would make up Carnaval, but ended up ditching every hope of a plan. Instead, we created one of the best vacation of all our lives, living out completely different trips from the same place.
Since we booked through a travel agent this time, we ended up in a great all-inclusive hotel in the heart of touristland in Maspalomas. Upon arrival we got fed and whisked to the pool immediately, where we soon realized this place was created to resemble heaven. Some of us dared to venture out the doors of the hotel in the afternoon to explore the beach about two and a half miles away. We ended up walking along the Atlantic coastline in the warm sun, a welcome change from the dreariness we’d had in Valladolid. We played in the water, saw our first nude beach, ate ice creams, and burned our skin.
The next day another handful of us rented bikes to tour through the city. We started out on cycling routes, but soon realized not all of us were cut out for massive hills. We opted to stay in the city, and spent the morning biking around inside of it and following a pretty path along the coast line. We stopped for a lunch where we ate fresh fish right on the beach. It was one of the best meals of my life. Returning to the hotel we basked in the sun poolside, and then one friend and I decided to head out for more adventurous routes on our bikes. We went out into the valley of the volcano and had a great night ride.
In love with the bikes, the same friend and I rented again the next day and set out in the morning for a more famous ride on the island, Soria. We biked about six hours, for almost 60 miles all the way up and back down a volcano. With the hot sun and make-shift rental bikes we definitely struggled to climb some of the 12% grade inclines, but in the end we made it to the end of the road. We were amazed at the view we were blessed with at the top. We loved being up here so secluded from everything else. It was a nice break from all the tourists and hubub of city life we’ve had back in Valladolid. Everything was quiet and peaceful, surrounded by nature, mountain, and greenery. We were tempted to park our bikes and spend the night, but the lure of the downhill speed and hotel buffet line called us back to sea level.
Coming upon our last day and not making it to Carnaval, we decided to still dress up in our costumes we had brought along and do our own celebration with our new friends we had met at the hotel. The were on a holiday from England, a family and their children with their friends who were all our age. They were a ball. When we first met them they simply wanted to be friends with us because we were from America, “I’ve never met a real American before!” This was fine with us because we felt the same of them, “I’ve never met a real Brit before!” We ended up spending a good portion of our vacation with them and their family. They were fun people and we all enjoyed listening to the other’s accents! When we left on our last day, we had a ‘going away party’ and they waved us off after donning our wrists with friendship bracelets. It’s amazing how quickly you can become friends with people when you travel! We are all hoping to see each other at least one more time before we go back to the US.
All and all we had an amazing Carnaval, regardless of the fact that we didn’t even celebrate a true Spanish Carnaval! We all had a different experience doing different things on the island, but had moments to remember forever together as well. If you’re traveling abroad, plan all kinds of trips with few people and lots of people! The diversity keeps things interesting for you, helps you get closer to more people, and gives you options to break away from the group and do different things!
Until next time Gran Canaria!
Courtney Cerniglia is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in business administration and Spanish.