How to eat fresh and local in Gran Canaria – the foodie adventure!

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We have been having some seriously good eats in Gran Canaria!

I am a total foodie and so far the restaurant offerings on the island are yet to impress me. It is so hard to get away from flavourless dishes, ‘tourist food’ and meals that go ‘ping’. Yes, it’s true there are restaurants out here that think people want to eat out on microwave meals! The easiest way to spot these bad boys is to check that there is actually a kitchen. If there is a menu and no kitchen…well you know what is going on.

Our most memorable food adventures have come from exploring the markets and the harbour.

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Our favourite place to get fresh fruit and vegetables is San Mateo Farmers Market in the north of the island. It is open on the weekends from 7am to 7pm, on Saturday, and 7am to 2pm, on Sunday.

Gran Canaria’s  main products include tomatoes, bananas and aloe vera. So get hold of these when you see them because the quality is top notch.

We stocked up on sweet peppers, oranges, carrots, sugar apples, avocados, onions, lemons, pears, pomegranates, courgettes, strawberries, spices, fresh herbs, Lanzarote wine, cakes and cheese. The prices are cheaper than in the more touristy areas. The stalls all have different prices so it’s worth shopping around. Also there are lots of cheeses so try before you buy.

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Next stop was to Arguineguin. There is small fish store at the port that sells the catches of the day until 3pm. The variety changes depending on the haul but the quality is always great. Here, we found red snapper, shark, squid, salmon, tuna, sardines and many others selections of fish, which we had no idea what they were because of the language barrier and our lack of knowledge about fish. There was a poster on the wall labelling the fish in Spanish…

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The harbour is a working place. Fishermen sort out their equipment and engineers work on boats. There is a eating place next door but, like I said, I am yet to be impressed by Gran Canaria’s restaurants.

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So back home and stocked up with the best of Gran Canaria’s produce we cooked like our lives depended on it! Lol!

We fried the fish one morning. It’s a big smelly job. Dip the fish in spiced flour first and then fry. Simples. Those fish were great steamed over onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes (see above).

The paella was a lot more complicated. We found a recipe online and adjusted it to our tastes and it came out a treat.

I keep saying we, but I was merely sous chef and my boyfriend Mario was head chef.

 

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And then came a wonderful tapas meal. We made a salsa, guacamole, grilled courgettes, spiced shrimp, fish, bitter peppers and served it with the wine from Lanzarote.

Everyone was in the kitchen for this one, chopping, frying and seasoning under the direction of the lovely Mario. It was a fun-filled evening that ended with great eating!

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My well planned day trip in Gran Canaria was an epic fail! Here’s what happened…

The night before the ‘ill fated trip’ I checked the map of and found a route through the pretty towns of Arucas and Firgas and on to the highlight, which was a picnic in the forest beside the famous natural sight that is Roque Nublo. All of this is the north of the island, which is famous for its gorgeous mountainous terrain.

I woke up early and packed a picnic, warm clothes, yoga mats, blankets, a frisbee and some books. I had everything I thought we could possibly need. We set off in our hire car in good time and I knew my itinerary was going to please the whole family but there was something I didn’t take into consideration – those sheer drops along the mountain roads are certainly not for the faint-hearted and made for some tense moments, bad moods and arguments.

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See look a the map. My idea was to take the highway from Maspalomas along the east side of the island up to Arucas, bypassing the long drive up through the mountains that lie in the middle of the island. The mountain route takes 3 hours but the highway takes about one hour so I thought, lets get to Arucas and then travel down through the mountains. See how lovely Arucas is. Everyone was so happy…

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The beautiful cathedral next to the car park leads onto the historic streets, which are lined with coffee shops and boutiques.

Arucas street scene

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Oh, and guess what? Arucas has a rum factory that does free tours and tastings. We tried about 10 different rums. The one aged 14 years put that smile on my face. My favourite, and the bottle we bought, was the toffee rum. I am so excited to splash that over some good quality vanilla ice cream. Yeah baby!

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Rum tasting before lunch!? We had little choice because factory is open from 9am to 2pm (click here for more information)

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My thoughts were ‘I’m on to a winner here’ as we walked around with the tour. It was short and sweet, like the rum!

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Lots of Spanish celebrities have been there and have put their mark on the aging barrels. It was so cool to see.

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I hadn’t even tasted the rum yet and I was feeling pretty awesome!

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I did a check. The whole family was happy and ready to move onto Firgas. We only needed a short half hour stay here because the main sight is the Paseo de Gran Canaria. It’s an artistic monument that pays tribute to the different towns of Gran Canaria with plaques lining a water feature.

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Further up are plaques on the ground representing all of the islands that make up the Canaries.

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The next stop was what I was most looking forward to. The drive past Tejeda into the pine forests next to Roque Nublo where we would have our picnic and chill out for the rest of the day. As we drove higher my ears popped and the landscape gradually looked more green. We were so high we could see for miles. I thought it was breathtaking.

We made it to Tejeda…

Tejede

Pretty isn’t it? In the distance you can see Roque Nublo. It looks like a finger pointing towards the sky.

The drive to this point is impressive. Narrow mountain roads lined with blossoming almond trees. A treat. True wanderlust but when you look straight down all you can see is cliff edge and a sheer drop into the wilderness…

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The aim was to go higher but the whole family was NOT in agreement. It was too scary so I took the decision to picnic here and then head home afterwards.

You know those moments that are not funny at the time but you laugh at them afterwards? This was one of them. We thought the quickest route back was southwards on the mountain road past the famous Roque. I should have thought we would have to go all the way before going down. OMG, I was clenching my bum cheeks too. The road was super windy and right on the edge of the mountain and it went on for at least an hour. I thank goodness that my boyfriend Mario is a very skilled driver but, if those mountain roads put you or anyone you  know in a panic, don’t travel from Tejeda south towards Maspalomas, unless of course you want tears at bedtime!

I got it wrong, you don’t have to be rich to relocate for the winter

Hi guys. It has been a while, but trust me I have been finding out how to make life into the ultimate adventure. Not just once in a while, but everyday. Here’s the latest..

I used to think that popping off long-term to a sunnier place when the winter months became too much was a privilege of the rich but I was wrong, it’s something anyone can do if you are prepared to change your life.

This is my new life.

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I came to Gran Canaria for a month to see if it was really possible to live the dream and be a digital nomad. The temperatures back in Germany were heading towards freezing and having spent the last three years of my life living and working in Thailand, it just felt too cold. So I had to do something about it. It was time to pack up the ‘office’ and change location, but could I really do it on the cheap?

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One thing living in Thailand taught me was that there is a growing number of people working at the beach, by the pool or soaking up the sun in some other wonderful place. It was a discovery that changed me and made me change my life. Who says I have to go to the office, deal with the commute and put up with the humdrum? When I left Thailand I came back to Europe knowing whatever my next career move was going to be, it was going to be online. For me, teaching English online and writing was an obvious choice.

When winter came all I knew was I needed some sunshine and some heat so I Googled the cheapest hottest place in Europe and Gran Canaria was my answer. Flights were 100 GBP so all I had to do was find a base. I used ihacom.co.uk to book an apartment, near to the famous sand dunes of Maspalomas, direct with the owner. My mother, stepfather and boyfriend all wanted to go so we paid 300GBP a head for the apartment for five weeks.

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I wanted to be able to work with good internet connection and then go for a stroll on the beach or swim. Mum needed conveniences and my boyfriend Mario wanted to find some good surfing spots so we ended up in the tourist area. It is easy to rent a car for about 150GBP for the week. When you take into account taxi and bus prices this is the most cost effective option for a group of people.

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Internet connection in apartments are notoriously slow because they are often shared among a lot of flats so I had to invest in renting a mobile wifi modem. I used a company called Traveler Canaries Smart, who delivered the fast wifi connection to me at the airport. A representative was waiting for me as soon as I got off the plane. He signed me in and I was connected. It cost 100 euros for the biggest package.

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So here I am, working and exploring the island. It has amazing mountains and these stunning sand dunes. It doesn’t have the glamour of a tropical country but it has what I need within my budget. Let’s see how the next few weeks turn out…

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8 amazing sights to see in Gran Canaria this winter

 

When the temperatures dropped and the nights got shorter I thought, ‘I’m out of here, I need some sun!’

I did a little research on the cheapest, sunniest and warmest destination to get to from Europe and that place was Gran Canaria. I managed to book five weeks in a two bed apartment for four adults and get return flights all for just under 400 euros a head.

You might wonder isn’t Gran Canaria just package holiday hell? Nope, check out these gorgeous sights.

  1. This is Bufadero de la Garita. It’s a water vortex in the Telde area next to El Hombre Beach and quite the geological spectre.

2. Believe it or not these are volcanic vineyards. They are actually in the La Geria region of Lanzarote but I have included them because I found return flights from Gran Canaria to Lanzarote for about 83 euros. So a short trip is possible.

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3. These amazing dunes are in Maspalomas and make the area look like a desert. Look hot enough?

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4. Roque Nublo is a famous landmark so it’s an ideal goal to reach when off on a hike.

5. The small village of Tejeda looks so quaint. It is on the highest point of the island and well worth exploring.

6. This quaint little fishing village is in Puerto de Mogan. It has canals linking the marina to the fishing harbour so people call it Little Venice.

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7. These colourful buildings are in the old town of Las Palmas, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

 

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8. What a dog? Isn’t he cute! This pup in fancy dress was part of the annual carnival that takes place in January and February each year.