Features » Twitters from Spain
SMALL, BUT BEAUTIFULLY FORMED
Barrie Mahoney / 2012-08-12 11:15:48
A special anniversary and the need for a break away recently led us to El Hierro, the smallest and most westerly of the Canary Islands. As we live on one of the larger islands, Gran Canaria, it seemed strange to many of our friends that we should chose to spend our holiday on one of the other islands on the archipelago.
However, each of the seven inhabited Canary Islands are very different in character, scenery and tradition to each other and, being a relatively short hop away, made an ideal break.
El Hierro is within the sphere of influence of Tenerife, but is nothing like its bigger, brasher brother. This island is quiet, very quiet and, at times, I had the feeling that maybe only half a dozen people actually lived there! In reality, it is more like 10,000 residents, but where they all hide, I really cannot say.
If you are only really interested in bars, clubs and entertainment then forget El Hierro. If you are interested in beaches with golden or white sands, then El Hierro is certainly not for you. However, if you are interested in spectacular, long walks, a healthy sea breeze and breathtaking scenery, I can highly recommend it as a place to relax and unwind. The real world seems a very long way on El Hierro.
This island makes little allowance for the tourist. Although maps are relatively easy to find, and obtaining a guide book in English, or even Spanish, was a challenge. Finding one in German was easier! Even the tourist information office in the island's capital, Valverde, seemed politely disinterested in tourists, and despite a visit when we first arrived in the town, it took a second visit to extract information from the tourist office that there was actually a museum in the town, quite close to the Tourist Information Office, but hidden from view and considered unworthy of a mention, it seemed!
Visitors travel to El Hierro to walk, photograph and relax. There is also considerable interest in the island’s volcanic activity, which may explain why many houses appear to be boarded up. It was fascinating to overhear groups of seismologists talking earnestly over their laptops at breakfast, examining charts and graphs of recently recorded volcanic activity. Whilst we were on the island, a visiting party of elderly men and women visited from Lanzarote, another Canary Island, complete with their folk music group. It was only a day visit, but they were certainly out to enjoy themselves.
I didn't really want to hire a car on this holiday, as I see quite enough of them during the year, and so we decided to make do with local buses! Needless, to say, that was our greatest mistake. The microbus to our hotel, which also delivered newspapers, ran only once a day, and links with other routes were almost impossible to work out and it was not the most reliable of services. A hire car is essential if you want to make the most of your holiday and see all that the island has to offer.
I left the island determined to return again one day, but next time it will be with a car and preferably a direct flight from Gran Canaria, as a stopover in Tenerife North Airport is not particularly pleasant due to the strong crosswinds!
© Barrie Mahoney