A small rock in the Atlantic

All about the island of La Palma, in the Canaries.

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Saturday, 16 January 2010

Travel Between the Canary Islands

Perhaps surprisingly, flights are not necessarily the fastest way to travel between islands. Certainly they are if you want to go to Santa Cruz de Tenerife: there are 17 flights a day, and they take about 30 minutes.

But if you want to go from one small island to another, say La Palma to El Hierro, then that means two flights. By the time you've checked in, flown to Tenerife, waited for your connection and flown again, it can easily take four hours.

The Armas ferry takes four hours, and it costs €12.50 one way, instead of about €41.70 (and that's a special offer). The catch is there's only one direct ferry a week, on Sunday afternoon.

If you're going to Gomera, it'll take you four hours to fly, and only two on the Fred Olsen ferry or three on the cheaper Armas ferry.

Most inter-island flights to Tenerife go to the north airport (Los Rodeos, TFN) whereas the ferries go to Los Cristianos in the south, which is near the international airport (Reina Sofia, TFS).

Mostly, it boils down to what's going in the right direction at the right time, and whether you want to take a car.

Oh, and for people who suffer from travel sickness, the usual tablets are Biodramine.


Fred Olsen Fast (2 1/2 hours) ferry to Los Cristianos in southern Tenerife
Naviera Armas ferries Slower and cheaper. Also the only direct ferry to El Hierro.
Trasmediterranea Ferries to S/C de Tenerife, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Arecife and Cadiz


Binter Canarias Inter-island flights
Islas Airways Inter-island flights (website in Spanish only, but usually a little cheaper)

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Wednesday, 13 January 2010

La Palma's Museum

The entrance to the island's museum, beside the church of San Francisco, Santa Cruz de la PalmaThe entrance to the island's museum, beside the church of San Francisco.

The Island's Museum is in the old convent of San Francisco. The building itself is lovely. It dates from the early 16th century; work started in 1508, just fifteen years after the Spanish conquest. (Forty years ago, it was the technical school, and my husband studied there. It certainly looks better than the concrete box I studied in.) The church is still a church, and the music school stands beside the museum, so you often get music floating out over the square.

The building has two courtyards, one of which is full of orange trees, planted by the great and the good who came for the official opening of the observatory, in 1985.

The courtyard of orange trees, Island Museum, Santa Cruz de la PalmaThe courtyard of orange trees.

The inside reminds me of a cross between an attic and the Discworld's Unseen University. There's a bit of almost everything. It's a surprisingly large museum for such a small island, and I think most of the collection was donated by people who felt they couldn't throw the Granny's old stuff out, but certainly weren't about to give it house room. Don't get me wrong: it's all nicely displayed and labled. It's just that you never know what you're going to find around the next corner. That's exactly what I loved. Besides, I wouldn't want a collection of stuff sharks heads at home either. Much better to have them here, delighting blood-thirsty 8-year-olds. (Kids will be happy to hear that some of them have serious teeth.)

Downstairs, I they have woodworking tools (lots for shipbuilding), lots of sea shells, starfish, turtles, a seal, lots of birds, tools for preparing flax, wool and silk, a loom, drinking troughs for animals, straw baskets, and probably a partridge in a pear tree and a kitchen sink.

Upstairs there's a small selection of paintings (some very old) and musical instruments.

For most of the year the museum is open from Monday-Saturday, 10 am to 8 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm. In high summer (July August and September) they open Monday-Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm only.
Stuffed sharks and other fish, Island Museum, Santa Cruz de la PalmaStuffed sharks and other fish.

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