Today I visited the ancient city of La Laguna. This town was founded in 1496, shortly after the Spanish conquest, and for a while was the capital of the whole Canary Islands. The city is full of old churches, pedestrian streets, and old town houses with magnificent flowery courtyards inside.
First, I visited the Church of Nuestra Señora de La Concepción, the oldest church in the Canary Islands. I was dismayed that in La Laguna the churches charge for entry and post very assertive doormen to bar entry to anyone without a ticket – in my country entry to a church is free on principle. But I still stumped up 2€ to visit the bell tower, with nice views over the old town, and the church interior, which was a bit plain and not worth my euros!
After that I simply roamed around the town to see what I could find, occasionally checking with my guidebook where I was. My next stop was a former monastery, which now housed an art gallery and a separate school.
The entrance to the art gallery was through a beautiful cloister, in the centre of which was a garden with beautiful tropical plants. There was an exhibition of paintings by a local artist, Pino Ojeda, and I really liked here work.
After that I continued my stroll, checking out the other churches (from the outside – they didn’t get my entrance fee, nor the money I’d normally invest in lighting candles for my loved ones) and other historical buildings.
I stopped frequently – first for coffee, then for a cold drink in the grounds of the former casino.
Finally I stopped for a late lunch in a café on the main square where a talented guitarist was playing.
La Laguna is really made for chilling out, drinking coffee and watching the world go by, something I think I’d earned the right to do after trekking on La Palma, La Gomera and Mount Teide. However, there is only so much coffee and low alcohol beer a little bear can drink, and in the mid-afternoon I set off back to my hotel.
In the evening I tried some typical local food in a “Tasca” – a cheap local restaurant. The décor was very simple, and most of the food was good.
I couldn’t resist trying another of the local fish specialities, “Cherne” which apparently translates as “wreckfish” in English, although it isn’t served anywhere other than here. It had a very strange salty and oily taste – no surprise it doesn’t get exported. Like parrotfish, it is not something I’d order again, but my motto has always been that if you never try new things, you never know what you are missing. To take the taste of the fish away I had a very nice local desert and headed back to the hotel for bed.