“Things get clear when I feel free” – Manic Street Preachers.
This is where I possibly all began. This is where my journey in life started. At least, I want to believe this, and now at the ripe old age of 42, it felt like I finally needed to visit this place. Gran Canaria, and its capital city, Las Palmas. I’m going with the fact that I all began here. This is where my journey in life all got underway, back in the 1970s.
“Birds go flying at the speed of sound to show you how it all began” – Coldplay.
Why? Well I was never good at Maths at school but Dad always told me that him and my Mum had a holiday in Gran Canaria in the summer of 1979.
“They hypnotised the summer. 1979” – R.E.M.
So Mum and Dad were here, in Gran Canaria in The Canary Islands 🐕❣️🇪🇸.
I didn’t ask Dad for exact dates they were here because my imagination always thought of this place, all my life. It was always a mind back burner of yesteryear stored for my tomorrowyear. The day before it, I was ready for this moment, all calm in Fuerteventura.
I was born at the end of March 1980. Work it all out. Mum and Dad were here in Summer 1979. There is a clear and sentimental value in my mind about this. It takes 9 months to make a human come out into this world. I was born on week 40, naturally and on time. Did I all begin here in Gran Canaria? My mind felt it.
“This is where it all begins” – The Back Four.
Yet all those years backpacking the world, swallowing over 100 Islands into my global jigsaw. All those visits to nearby places like Spain, Catalonia, Basque Country, Gibraltar, Andorra, Portugal, The Azores and The Balearic Islands. They all held some magic but I never forced or pushed myself to ever visit Gran Canaria. Or any of them there Canary Islands. Even though my brain had placed my beginnings here. It wasn’t on my list of urgent places to visit.
Oddly, this was a fluke that I came here in July 2022. A complete fluke. I was supposed to be in Poland.
But a series of ridiculous events led me here. I couldn’t quite believe it. On Friday 22nd July 2022, I landed in Gran Canaria. For the first time ever. 22 is always and forever my lucky number. I flew in from Fuerteventura, a fellow Canary Island. I wasn’t meant to be on Fuerteventura either, nor my next crazy stopover on route back to Poland. Blame Wizzair for this catastrophic event, which in hindsight might be a good thing.
The replacement flights to Poland the next day were £400 a pop. Yes, even Ryanair, and I have now blocked Wizzair and added to my famous “shitlist”. 💩😂 Plus even if I took those flights, I’d have to get to London, Manchester, Birmingham or even Edinburgh. None of that was appealing at a time of my life where it was clear depression was rearing its ugly head again. It’s a never ending spiral somedays, someweeks.
The previous night, in Northern Ireland with Mum and Dad we had watched yet another Michael Palin documentary. This time, it focused on The Sahara Desert and included the famous iron ore train in Mauritania. This train, at 2 kilometres is the longest train in the world. I had originally watched that documentary with Dad when it first aired back in the late 1990s/early 2000s. By a freak coincidence I would be on route to that iron ore train journey, via the place where I all began – Gran Canaria.
Now that I was stranded in England, for fun I checked flights from Birmingham to Nouakchott in Mauritania as I couldn’t justify spending £400 on a single flight back to Poland. I did it for fun when a £426 option popped in front of me via Kiwi Travel. Basically I’d get a day in each of Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria and would connect to Nouakchott in Mauritania via The Canary Islands and Casablanca in Morocco. I just decided to book it there and then! It was a crazy decision. So for an extra £26, I’d get a day on two new Islands and a trip on the world’s longest train!! As soon as I booked them (thanks to WiFi at Liverpool Lime Street station), I bought a single train ticket to Birmingham and boarded it ten minutes later!
On a sunshiney morning, Friday 22nd July 2022, I landigated in Gran Canaria. This was only my second ever Canary Island to visit. The first was the day before’s arrivation in Fuerteventura.
Arrival was easy. No COVID checks, no passport stamp or check. This was a pity. I really wanted a passport stamp for Gran Canaria!! For the record, I was able to get a passport stamp in Fuerteventura the day before but I had to ask for it.
I only had a daytime here in Gran Canaria. It was a stopover of about 12 hours. I was still nursing and carrying my shoulder injury so backpacking hardcore wasn’t on my itinerary. From the airport, I hopped on a bus to the capital city, Las Palmas.
“Fly me down to capital city in the sun” – Noel Gallagher.
The capital is directly north of the international airport. It is called Las Palmas and they have a football team that have played many seasons in the Spanish top division. The bus was mask loyal and cost 2 Euros 30 cents. I arrived at stand 55 in the central bus station in Las Palmas.
This was the second very very sentimental journey in July 2022. You see, exactly a week earlier, I was in The Isle of Man for the first time andI visited The Sefton Hotel there and cried. It was there in The Sefton Hotel that my parents Joe and Muriel had their honeymoon back in 1972 and I was there exactly fifty years later. Here, this time I hadn’t asked Dad where they stayed in Gran Canaria nor where they were based, nor what they did. Here in Gran Canaria, I had some breakfast, I did some online work from a cafe in the central square. This cafe was part of the Hotel Parque complex.
I toured some of the capital city, I had a beer and a lunch and then…I just headed back to the airport. Part of me felt I had finally came here to see and feel where I all began. I knew it and could sense it, but this time I didn’t cry.
I headed straight back to the airport and then checked into my flight, which had been brought forward by a few hours and yet was a different flight. In the end I would be leaving Gran Canaria for Morocco! This was instead of a direct flight to Mauritania! Air Mauritania had cancelled my flight so I had to book a double flight with Air Maroc. This flight meant a 2 hour stopover in Casablanca, Morocco (a city I have already backpacked in). IN my crazy life, finally the original flight to Nouakchott was back on, after they had cancelled it and even odded in a sign was the only flight to Poland that evening was cancelled – a flight to Katowice!
So I went with my plan B – the second option – the flight to Morocco and onwards to Mauritania. I was given my boarding pass, went through security and immigration (to leave the EU) and all was fast!
Once through security, I had about 3 hours to play with before my flight was leaving, so I bought my Mum the obligatory fridge magnet, charged my phone and found out about a bar that is upstairs and outdoors and overlooks the runway! Yes I had to go here to this rooftop bar and this is where the sentimental moment all happened…
This bar was called Playa Padre and was up the stairs on the top floor of this main airport in Gran Canaria. I must say that I have been to over 300 different airports around the world and this bar was one of the best – just a relaxed atmosphere, good views, selection of beer and food and also free W-Fi. I found myself watching the planes go by.
In here I ordered a beer and a water! One of each – stay hydrated and keep the water for the flight (this was after security) and enjoy a San Miguel pint here. Then I started watching the aeroplanes fly in and I reminisced. It also reminded me of the fabulous Mahe Beach in Sint Maarten where aeroplanes fly right over the beach and I spent a full day just watching it.
I made a video for Mum and Dad here and I totally reminisced. This is the place where I started my existence and I was finally here. I was also quite satisfied that I was only here for a day (or 12 hours of a day). It was a nice bonus flight in and out due to the airline issues I had that week. It was meant to be.
“Here’s to those who bore us and made us what we are” – The Seahorses.
As my flight flew out of Gran Canaria that night, bound for Casablanca I got again sentimental and knew that this was an important dot on my globe.
Here are some videos from my time in Gran Canaria: