Cesar Gomez loves his life in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. As a father of two and a passionate biker he has every reason to: it is the perfect place to enjoy both these passions. Cesar tells us about the nicest routes on the island, gives family tips and reveals why he feels a special connection to Switzerland.
The aircraft with the distinctive alpine flower emblazoned on its tail fin is about to take off from Gran Canaria Airport. It is bound for Zurich, where the passengers on board this Edelweiss flight will land in a few hours. Meanwhile, Cesar Gomez in the control tower gets ready to end his shift. It has been a good one for the air traffic controller. “I like the Edelweiss pilots, they communicate clearly and understand my instructions well.” It is time for the father of two daughters to say goodbye to his Swiss darling and make his way to his other love: his wife Monika. “I feel a very special connection to Switzerland,” Cesar, who originally hails from Madrid, says with a laugh.
“My job is what brought me to Las Palmas. Before that, I worked in the Basque country, also as an air traffic controller. When given the chance to move to the south, we didn’t hesitate. We love it here.” Cesar’s enthusiasm for Gran Canaria is not without reason. “Somehow, the island gets under your skin,” he explains. One factor is the climate of course. But, according to Cesar, it is above all the people, whom he describes as incredibly friendly, open and relaxed, yet in no way lazy. “Things definitely get done, but in a relaxed manner.”
Passion for motorcycling
But there is something else, something that makes Gran Canaria even more attractive for Cesar – and for many other visitors: the Spaniard is a passionate motorcyclist and loves to ride across the island, regardless of the season. “Be it February or June, you always feel a sense of freedom!” He shares his favourite route with us: “I start in San Gregorio, a small residential area in Las Palmas, and ride to the small town of Ejido.” Cesar’s next stop from there is the viewing point “La Breña” that sits at a considerably higher altitude. He then continues on to the little town of Cazadores situated at an even loftier height. “This is where it can start to get chilly. It is good to be prepared and have some warm clothing with you.” The mountain village of Las Mesas is a few miles from there – and temperatures naturally get chillier. “The difference in temperature between this point and Las Palmas can be as much as ten degrees Celsius!” Cesar finally reaches his favourite place on the island – which is also the reason he puts up with the temperature hardships: “Roque Nublo”, a volcanic rock and island landmark with a very distinctive summit. Rising to 5948 feet (1813 m) above sea level, spectacular vistas are to be had from its peak. “Every time I come here, I am amazed by the spectrum of different landscapes this one route alone has to offer.”
From brown to green
The variety of climates and landscapes is arguably one of the most exciting aspects of Gran Canaria. The island offers the whole spectrum: from barren, desert-like landscapes in the south to lush green vegetation in the north. And Cesar is well aware of it. “You start off in shorts and trekking sandals, and a few hours later you’d be better off wearing a woolly jumper and a jacket because it gets cold and wet.” In that respect, this volcanic island is unpredictable.
The family island
“Gran Canaria is very family-orientated,” Cesar says. “It is not like Ibiza. Of course there are young people here, too, and they like to celebrate. But it is not just a party island.” The father of two recommends Anfi Beach in the south, located about thirty minutes from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Thanks to the beach’s shallow waters, there are hardly any waves. Children can play freely whilst their parents can indulge in some good old chin-wagging. “We like coming to Anfi Beach on the weekends with our children and with friends.” “Parque Urbano Del Sur” in the south of the island is a good choice for those who prefer the countryside. The park is about thirty minutes south of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Featuring lush green areas, a lake and cafés, it is ideal for family outings and offers plenty of space to expend energy and for walks. It is a good idea to pack a picnic basket. “We also like to take our children to the farms and the rural regions in the north of the island,” Cesar adds. “One such place is the ‘Granja El Tío Isidro’ in Telde, which is an agricultural school. Our children get to see the animals, have fun in the farm playgrounds and learn about farming and the cultivation of cereal in a playful manner.” “La Laguna” in Valleseco is another choice destination for Cesar and his family: people of all ages delight in the horse races organised several times a year by the municipality in this recreation area.
Family time is all well and good, but couples who come to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to spend time together (or who want a break from their parental duties) can also have a fabulous holiday on the island. With two small children, these time-outs are important to Cesar and Monika. “Once a week we try to feel like normal people,” Cesar jokes. On those occasions Cesar and his wife have lunch down at the harbour and enjoy watching the boats arrive and depart. “Allende” is where they like to be. It belongs to a chain of several restaurants in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Cesar and Monika’s favourite one is “Allende Muelle” by the “Puerto Deportivo”. The food is Mediterranean style, the ambience modern and the prices are affordable. Their true love can be found on the drinks menu: “These days, my wife refers to the restaurant as ‘The Lemonade Place’. So make sure you try their homemade lemonade!” The “Bienmesabe Ciudad del Mar” is another popular restaurant choice. Situated in the small fishing neighbourhood of San Cristobal in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, guests can expect to enjoy excellent fish dishes in a surprisingly modern ambience. Cesar recommends ending the day with a cocktail on the terrace of “La Azotea de Benito”. “In the evening, when I see the boats lit up in the harbour, I am reminded of how happy I am with my life here.”
Cesar‘s three top tips for Gran Canaria
Gran Canaria is a popular travel destination for Swiss nationals, who chiefly come to soak up the sun at the beach. But the truth is, when it comes to multifariousness, this volcanic island is hard to match and thus well worth exploring.
To the peak: “Whether by motorbike, car or on foot in hiking boots: the temperature difference between your starting point and end destination at the peak of ‘Roque Nublo’ can easily be ten degrees Celsius. That being said, the sweeping views across the island are ample compensation for all the hardships.”
To the hinterland: “Away from its golden beaches, the island offers some delightful places to visit, particularly in the hinterland. We like to take our children to ‘Granja El Tío Isidro’ in Telde, where they can learn about agriculture in a playful manner. We want them to know what cows look like and understand that food is cultivated on the fields.”
(Camino al Maipez s/n, 35220 Jinamar - Telde, Spanien)
Good food and the best lemonade: “My wife and I love to spend our tête-à-têtes in the ‘Allende Muelle’ restaurant down at the yacht harbour. The food is inexpensive and very good, the service friendly and the sea view second to none. Our choice beverage: the restaurant’s homemade lemonade.” (CC Sotavento, Avenida Marítima, 2, 35006 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spanien)