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A very sunny Christmas

Christmas drinks by the pool

Christmas drinks by the pool

Sure, for most people this holiday season is associated with snow, winter tires and the occasional frostbite that turns your ears purple red. Coming from Sweden and Russia, we have been there, done that. Dragging the Christmas tree while trying to balance on the slippery pavement making pirouettes that even Baryshnikov would be impressed with. Freezing one’s butt off, installing the Christmas lights on the house. Trying to de-frost the car lock with matches that are falling out of the already frozen hands. Hell, absolute hell!

Well, this year we said: no more five pairs of socks and six sweaters, no more boots and furry hats! We want hardcore warmth, sun caressing our backs while lying by the pool sipping on a tropical drink with real tropical fruits in it. We want our clothing options along the following lines: today to be a t-shirt or not to be. Cold weather is out. Basta! Palm trees and little umbrellas in our cocktails are in!

So, how did we celebrate Christmas this year? We ended up sitting on a terrace at the Salobre Golf Clubhouse in Gran Canaria, drinking Champagne and watching the sunset. Wearing t-shirts and big smiles, chatting away, happy as two clams. Sounds boring? Maybe, but sure beats trying to get the heater on in -30 degrees weather.

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Christmas going up in smoke?

Last year we celebrated Christmas in Agadir feasting on oysters and champagne in the Sofitel Hotel. This year we are in a bit of a dilemma: obviously, we are in Gran Canaria (hey, a 40 minute flight, how can we say no) but suddenly we realized we have no clue where to go.

Alex suggests: SushiMex restaurant (yes, it does sound funny but they serve some awesome dumplings and Alex, coming from Russia, can’t get enough). Then off to listen to some cover oldies at a bar next door that he likes and a clientele he feels kindred with, bottom line, his age group or a bit older. Hanna is not really thrilled – seeing Alex and several dozen half-drunk guys trying to re-live their youth shouting along to “Smoke on the Water” is not her idea of a perfect Christmas.

Hanna suggests: get the corkscrew out early, pop the champagne, lounge at the pool, eat a late lunch at Golf Salobre and then get comfortable in our villa and listen to some Christmas music (Hanna REALLY likes that stuff, no joke). After a few annoying melodies, Alex is promised a short visit to a bar (Boy, that of course will happen, won’t it? Alex is not betting his wine cellar). Not to mention the bar suggested does not offer live rock ‘n’ roll music.

So, what are we going to do? Stay tuned and you will find out all the gory details in our next posting.

PS. we forgot to mention that Sam opted for a separate vacation this year; he is currently being pampered by friends, fed home-made cooking and taken on long walks. He doesn’t call or send any e-mails. That son of a bitch!

Alex, this is cozy, isn't it?

Alex, this is cozy, isn’t it?

O Sole Mio

I was really enjoying the house me and Sam stayed in for three weeks in Gran Canaria. If you by any chance read our previous blog post, you already know I was especially amazed by the kitchen which resulted in that mountain of meatballs we have in the fridge right now.

I told you… the kitchen is inspiring

One who didn’t enjoy the house as much as I did, or the trip for that matter, was our beloved Sam. I thought he was going to love the new house, the garden and the several kilometer long walks we had every day in the mountains but, nope, not at all.

In fact, his behavior reminded me of Ferdinand the Bull (remember that Walt Disney charachter  who preferred smelling the flowers under a cork tree instead of fighting and playing with the other bulls?). In other words, he is the friendliest and nicest dog, at home, but he has tantrums that scare the living daylights out of people as soon as we go out somewhere.

Above all, Sam hates flying. Even though he sits next to me and Alex during the entire trip, there is nothing we can do to calm him down. The barking drama usually starts already in the taxi on the way to the airport. Friendly people might try to say “hello” but he just continues barking and acting crazy. At one point, somebody asked us if Sam was the dog equivalent of Pavarotti (his bark can be described as somewhat tenor-ish). We smiled and said “yes” but we are not sure that the late Luciano and people around us (covering their ears) would agree.

Sam is mentally getting ready to go back home (he can’t even look at a suitcase these days).

Anyway, once back home, the howling immediately stopped, his eyes lightened up and suddenly he became fully relaxed again. And for all we know, he is still sitting under his favorite tree, smelling the flowers, just quietly.

He is very happy…

On our way home (inshallah)

On our way home (inshallah)

Dog-tired of waiting

Alex has been in Washington for well over two weeks and just as long me and Sam has been sitting in a house (far away in the mountains) waiting for him to come back.  Do I have to mention – time is not flying. Even Sam, who is the master-of-doing-absolutely-nothing, has started climbing the walls from distress.

In a desperate attempt to have more fun and think about something else, I decided to try every DIY project imaginable. Necklaces, bracelets, you name it. But somewhere in the middle of the process of producing an eco-friendly soap (out of pine tree!), I gave up.

In addition to my DIY failures, I suddenly noticed that I’m no longer in charge of my own house. These pictures demonstrate exactly what I’m talking about.

Good Morning! Can I have the standard breakfast, please. Yes, scrambled eggs and bacon. No salt, I have to think of my waste line.

Are you ready soon? I need the shower NOW. You know it takes me an era to dry up. By the way, did you buy a new blow-drier as you promised?

Are YOU planning to exercise yoga now? Well, I’m using the mat so you’ll have to wait. In the meantime, check out my perfect “downward dog” pose.

Don’t ask me…I have no clue where you put your slippers *whistling, looking at the ceiling*


Hello I’m back from the mall. Unfortunately no sale today but who cares, I payed with your credit card anyway.

Oh, I must have fallen asleep. Can you take my basket instead? And don’t forget to switch of the light. Remember you have to take me out early tomorrow morning. Good night!

Vintage bargains in Las Palmas

Vintage stuff

Beat Vintage is a great (but expensive) second-hand store located on Calle Presidente Alvear in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. It’s a small shop literally packed with cool retro clothes, sunglasses, shoes, etc. This time I (Hanna, Alex is in Washington, remember?) couldn’t resist two stylish wallets from the ’70s and a “golden” bracelet. Detachable collars were definitely the catch of the day and one of them I tried to give Sam but he refused. “I don’t take bribes,” he said.

“Eh, you shouldn’t have…”

Mmmm, Gran Canaria

Sunset-Gran CanariaSandy beaches, cliff-hanging mountains, desert-like dunes,  you find it all in Gran Canaria – a volcanic island in the Atlantic that has been a magnet for tourists for decades. With postcard settings, a climate to kill for and fabulous food this island is simply a must to visit. Interested? Read more about what Gran Canaria has to offer in National Geographic Traveler.

Also check out our hotel and restaurant guide to Gran Canaria.

Travelling in a material world

Stuff

Travelling throughout the world, we tend to buy different things in different places. (Hey, what do you expect from two wanderers who have very little else to do?) Here are some goodies that we brought with us from our latest trips: a goddess statue from Gran Canaria; a round metal lamp from Agadir; and candle holders (we can’t recall where we found them). You might call us materialistic but these things (that are not necessarily expensive) truly feel great to look at, long after the trip is over. If you think that we are shallow, well, then you should take a look at Sam’s porcelain dog collection; your grandma will be green with envy!

2000 under 25

Today nearly 300 men and women decided to brave the Atlantic Ocean outside Maspalomas (Gran Canaria), in a swimming competition stretching from the Meloneras beach to the lighthouse, Faro de Maspalomas. The winner made the 2000 meters under 25 minutes, an impressive result bearing in mind the pretty choppy waters. Basically it was a really fun day with plenty of people out on the boardwalk watching the race.

n the boardwalk watching the race.

Celebrating World Tourism Day in Gran Canaria

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the international tourism forecast is over one billion and will contribute $2 trillion to the global economy in 2012. This makes the travel and tourism industry one of the biggest economic sectors in the world. It also contributes to the social-economic development by creating millions of jobs world-wide. However, while looking at these impressive figures, it is of course unavoidable to start thinking of some of the negative impacts mass tourism has on global natural resources due to increased transportation, air pollution, water scarcity, littering, etc. But on the positive side, there is now an increased environmental awareness among governments, corporations and tourists.

Since 1980, the World Tourism Day (WTD) is commemorated on 27 September every year to specifically acknowledge the social, cultural, political and economic values of tourism. The overall purpose is to help reaching the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This year’s theme, “Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development”, is trying to raise the awareness of howrenewable energy can help making the tourism industry more sustainable. In a press release issued prior the conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that: “Hundreds of millions of people around the world depend for income of this energy-intensive sector. Sustainable energy will allow tourism to continue to expand while mitigating its impact on the environment.”

The official celebration of the World Tourism Day, 2012 is taking place in ExpoMeloneras Convention Centre in Gran Canaria.

This year, the official World Tourism Day celebration is taking place in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria (Spain) – a place with a long experience in both tourism and renewable energy. Gran Canaria is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, north-west of Africa, and is part of the archipelago of the Canary Islands. It is often referred to as a “miniature continent” thanks to its microclimate and varied flora and fauna (you find here a desert, beautiful pine woods, and nearly 2000 meter high mountains, all in an area of just 1,560 square kilometers). In 2005, the island was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and each year about 3 million tourists come here from all over the world to enjoy water sports activities, hiking, golf or just to have a leisurely vacation at one of the many holiday resorts.

Receiving so many tourists every year has, of course, raised the environmental awareness in Gran Canaria and renewable energy solutions such as wind power and solar energy are vital to make the tourism industry more sustainable. By implementing a number projects related to Research, Development and Innovation, the Technological Institute of Canary Islands (ITC) aims at improving the environmental conditions and supports sustainable development in the region. ITC has many successful projects in emerging technological fields such as water technologies, biotechnology and renewable energy.

Wind power farm in Gran Canaria.

Apart from highlighting the latest achievements in sustainable energy, the World Tourism Day is of course also the perfect occasion to get familiar with various local products. If you visit Gran Canaria you must try the delicious cow, goat and sheep cheeses, the local wine, the air-dried ham and, last but not the least, the Aloe Vera (known for its moisturizing effect and used in many skin care products, make-up, shampoo, etc.)

Delicious air-dried ham from Gran Canaria.

For more information about the activities on the World Tourism Day, 2012, visit the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) official website: http://wtd.unwto.org/en. You can also follow their latest news on Twitter: #WTD2012

Top five hotels in Gran Canaria

Summer has arrived and some of us might be scratching our heads while trying to come up with a last minute vacation plan. If you then decide to spend your summer holiday in a five star resort in the south of Gran Canaria (Maspalomas/Meloneras) we have created a list of the five best hotels this area can offer.

Maspalomas beach

1.      Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia
In our view, the best resort in Gran Canaria. It’s luxurious and offers everything imaginable for the picky traveller. The hotel is quiet but yet centrally located near numerous bars and restaurants. Be aware though, Grand Hotel Residencia is very pricey and you better hurry booking since it might be tough getting a room on such short notice.

2.      Lopesan Villa Del Conde Resort and Thalasso
Big, boisterous, lots of things to do, several pools, fantastic spa, restaurants, bars…you name it. On top of that, every evening you will be offered various entertainment at the outdoor stage located in the picturesque hotel courtyard. Rather expensive but a great place that definitely will satisfy the entire family.

Lopesan Villa Del Conde

3.      Lopesan Baobab Resort
A family paradise with plenty of entertainment for kids.The food is excellent and you have a pick of several restaurants to eat. Prices are relatively reasonable. We would not, though, recommend this hotel for a romantic or lazy holiday since there is a big risk you wouldn’t appreciate being overwhelmed by kids playing football in the hotel corridor in the early morning hours!! (yep, it happened to us).

View over Meloneras from hotel Baobab

4.      Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort and Spa
If you are into golf, this is your best bet. Located in the mountains a bit outside Maspalomas, Salobre Golf has one of the most picturesque courses on the island. The Resort offers several restaurants and pool areas (don’t miss the roof top pool with an extraordinary view). One big drawback though: Maspalomas town and the ocean are a 10 minutes taxi/bus ride away.

5.      H10 Playa Meloneras Palace
With a nice and quite location and plenty of entertainment in the evening this hotel is perfect for the family. It is not the most luxurious but definitely the most affordable 5-star hotel in the Maspalomas area.


For more information about Gran Canaria, photos, hotel and restaurant reviews, check out our free e-guide.

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