I arrived way too early at the airport – most people seemed to show up 30-40 minutes before their flights and breeze straight through check in and security. I boarded a small plane with propellers that went to Tenerife, where I was met on the runway by some nice people that whisked me away in a small car to another small plane for the flight to La Gomera (La Gomera is so small that you can only fly there from Tenerife). The flights gave great views of the islands, and in particular the volcano Mount Teide towering over Tenerife.
As we approached La Gomera I admired its rugged landscape and wondering where a plane could possibly land, but eventually behind yet another cliff there was a small patch of flat land that served as the airport. Within 5 mins of touching down I had picked up my bags, collected my hire car and was on my way to my holiday home. The road wound its way steeply up one mountain and then down another one -all roads in La Gomera are windy and steep. I stopped occasionally to admire the views and take pictures.
Then I made a bigger stop in the main town, San Sebastian, to buy food for three days – my accommodation was out in the country and far from any restaurants or shops. Unlike charming Santa Cruz on La Palma, San Sebastian was mostly modern and felt rather poor – so far there is very little tourism on La Gomera. I found the market where I stocked up on meat, wine and vegetables at very reasonable prices.
My holiday home was about 15km north of San Sebastian along – yes, that’s right – another windy road. Initially I missed my destination and drove all the way to the end of the track, where the valley ended and gave way to steep mountains. I wasn’t annoyed – it was only a small detour, and it allowed me to admire the beautiful scenery – the plant life was even more luxuriant than on La Palma, and you could see Los Roques, a group of three volcanic rock formations rising vertically from the surrounding mountains.
Los Roques are the most famous things on La Gomera and feature in every guidebook and website about the island. I also noticed some interesting paths leading from the end of the road into the Parque Nacional de Garajonay, a large park in the centre of the island famous for its ancient forests and spectacular scenery.
I retraced my steps and found my home for the next three nights. After the wonderful huge town house in Santa Cruz, I was a bit disappointed by my choice this time. The setting was very pretty, with a little terrace overlooking the valley, but there was just one room that served as both bedroom and kitchenette. It felt a bit cramped, even for a little teddy bear. So, after unpacking, I returned immediately to the end of the valley to go for a short hike. There were two paths, one signposted to Parque Nacional and the other to Bailadero, which the sign said was 3.4km away. I chose the second path. It wasn’t shown on any maps, but Bailadero was, and from there it looked possible to circle round and return to the car via some of the island’s main walking trails. It was 4pm and I might just have time to do the complete circuit.
The path led up a very steep slope. The ascent was unrelenting and apart from the very first signpost, there were no other markings to confirm whether I was going the right way. Occasionally I came across small piles of rocks left by other walkers, which reassured me. The path led around to the right of los Roques; clouds were blowing over the top of the mountain ridge in front of me and spilling over the top of Roque de Agando, and then evaporating in the drier air of the west of the island.
I reached a sign saying “Parque Nacional” that marked the boundary of the park. I had been walking an hour and thought I would easily have covered the 3.4 km to Bailadero, but the map showed that there was still quite a long way to go between the entry to the park and my destination. The clouds were getting thicker and spilling every deeper into the valley, now completely hiding the Roque de Agando. I realised that if I carried on, I would be walking for a long time in thick mist, and I only had light clothes over my fur. I decided to go back and try again another day. The trip back was much faster – only 30 minutes – and soon I was back on the terrace of my holiday home enjoying a glass of wine whilst I wrote the day’s blog.