Sunday, 8 September 2013

Beyond the Bucket and Spade

Going Local in Gran Canaria
by Matthew Hirtes

How to turn a holiday destination into a home

Being asked to review an in depth guide to a place you know absolutely nothing about and have never visited, is a great way to broaden ones cultural and geographical knowledge. With this in mind, and when a copy of Matthew Hirtes’ Going Local in Gran Canaria was offered for my opinion, I agreed unreservedly.

Initially a newcomer, but now after eight years of residency a total native and still loving it, Matthew has researched the island to include information showing that - there is life beyond the bucket and spade. He covers things he himself would have liked to have known upon arrival and all that he has learnt over the years from his own experiences or via other expatriates and of course the local Canarians included.

His research has paid off. Matthew eases us into some background information and covers the island’s Spanish-African heritage, inhabitants and language. Once your appetite has been wetted, he continues with a comprehensive guide of the points to consider for those who wish to turn the holiday destination into a home - where will you live and work? How about healthcare, finances, schools for the kids, integrating with the other inhabitants? All this is supported by relevant resources, contact details and websites. Successful relocation requires an endless list to be worked through and items to be ticked off.

Those who choose to stay create what they miss: regular social meet ups help people keep in contact, talk in their native tongue and meet the island’s newcomers; if you can’t find what you want with regard to employment, you could start your own business. There are a lot of possibilities on this 590 square mile, mini continent where the micro climate is described to be “the best climate in the world”.

There is plenty to do on Gran Canaria. For the active soul there are clubs, cycling, walking on the beach as exercise, swimming, surfing, football and ballet etc. For trips further afield on the island there is a good local bus system or alternatively you can hire a car. If you prefer to kick back, and relax, whilst soaking up the maƱana vibe of the island, then sitting in cafes, watching the old men playing dominos, coffee, snacks, siestas and spas are the way to go.

For the lover of nightlife, keep an eye on the fiesta calendar, visit the Carnival and enjoy the exuberant nightlife, but watch out for the island-wide hangovers as a result of the rum being poured until you tell them to stop!

Going Local in Gran Canaria is an interesting introduction and comprehensive guide to the island and who knows, maybe in the future, when the weather in the northern Netherlands really gets my goat, I may find myself choosing it as a possible destination.

Faith is an island in the setting sun, 
But proof is the bottom line for everyone - Paul Simon 

©Alison Day - 08/09/2013
Blog: Alison Day Designs
Wesite: Alison Day Designs                              

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