Wednesday, May 02, 2007

La Bohemia en Las Palmas

Expectations and underestimations – knowing that every town has a special place for you...

Three weeks ago, I was not to be found in my office in Göteborg. Instead I had bought a fast and safe ticket to the sun. By booking a trip to the Canary Islands, I did one of the most ‘Swedish things’ there is. And please, don’t blame us for the sun craving people we have become up here in the northern hemisphere... :) To be more specific I booked my very first ‘charter resa’. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that Swedish travel agencies have arranged these ‘package trips’ to the Canary Islands for some 50 years now...

When landing at Gran Canaria airport, I however realised that I was about to do my first un-Swedish move. While 99% of my co-passengers steered direction towards the tourist resorts at the southern part of the island, I looked forward to my stay in the provincial town; Las Palmas. Rumours had told me that Las Palmas offers the perfect combination of beach and city life – and so it did!

Leaving the airport, my first glimpses of Las Palmas occurred through the window screen of a taxi. The first thing to really catch my interest was the large harbour area. I learned that the town, with its 530 year long history, was Europe’s first overseas maritime urban centre – a natural stop for Christopher Columbus and other sailors.

I immediately felt rather at home in Las Palmas. Its size is about the same as my hometown Göteborg. The outgoingness and friendliness of the locals reminded me of the Göteborg atmosphere... I couldn’t help wondering if the long history of shipping – and thereby contact with the rest of the world – that characterises these two cities has fostered its people to remarkably open and welcoming attitudes...

To begin with; pretty much according to expectations...
The taxi driver dropped me off at an apartment hotel next to Las Canteras. Las Canteras is this beautiful and looong beach (about 10 kilometres) where hotels and restaurants corner each other in their aspiration to benefit from the tourists coming there to enjoy the sunbathing opportunities offered all year around.

I found the locals to be extremely proud of the climate. Next to San Diego, California, Las Palmas is said to have the best climate in the world. Moving around the island, on the other hand, would imply moving around in different climate zones. “Gran Canaria is a continent in miniature”, was explained to me by probably every Canarian I talked to... :)

In the search for something... not according to expectations...
After 48 hours at Las Canteras, I’d kind of had it with beach life. It was time to see something else of Las Palmas. I left the tourist area by local bus and headed for Triana – the district of Las Palmas where commercial life meets cultural life, offices meet residences, cathedral meets theatre, shopping meets restaurants... I suspected – and hoped – that I was aiming for the heart of the city. It is in the melting pot of everything and anything, that this ‘special something’ is likely to be found...

Finding that something...
For me, the charm of exploring a city is that I don’t know what I’m looking for. But I sure know when I’ve found it...!

Follow your instinct, and you will find that special place for you. For me, following my instinct implied finding the seeds of cultural life... I knew I was close when the houses I passed suddenly were inhabited by art galleries, designers and music clubs... I kept on walking. I was, by now, craving for a coffee, but I wouldn’t stop until I’d found it... that special place...

That special something was Café Teatro La Fábrica
After walking up and down a few small streets, I suddenly entered Avenida 1º de Mayo. At number 48 I stopped, gazed through the window, and knew; this is special. I entered, sat down at the bar, ordered my coffee, and enjoyed the atmosphere...

In one corner, a few men sat down with drinks in the yellow, interestingly shaped, designer sofas. Along the other wall, people enjoyed full meals at dinner tables. All around the place, paintings covered the walls. I could not stop starring at the Picasso-influenced paintings that composed an essential part of the current exhibition... The tunes of tango reached me... and through the door opening to the inner room, I glanced a few people in the midst of a tango lesson...

I was inspired! In the large melting pot of Las Palmas, I’d found my small favourite melting pot, filled with ingredients of artistic inspiration. Do I need to say that I stayed much longer than the coffee lasted!? I got stuck in these insightful discussions with one its founders, Juan. Café Teatro La Fábrica, as the place is called, was quite recently opened. It opened after hard work of creation and putting everything together according to an ‘idea’.

The ‘idea’ of creating that inspirational, multi-dimensional meeting-point is so appealing to me. Every town needs these types of meeting-points. Only the limits of creativity put limits to this ‘idea’. Enter La Fábrica in the evening for a coffee, a drink, or a dinner. Enjoy the paintings or chat with interesting people. One night, there might be tango lessons. Another, there might be music. A third, their might be movie evening. And at day time, there is room for a seminar or conference...

So... with a mix of travelling review and some words on my philosophy of city exploration, I wish you the very best of luck on your future discoveries of ‘special places’... And if you ever go to Las Palmas, you’re now equipped with the short cut to my favourite place... ;)

Juan, ¡que te siempre quedes fiel a tus ideas...!

/Evelina

2 comments:

Linda said...

Jag är chockad, glad och stolt på en gång... Evelina på semester! Riktig semester! Utomlands! Långt bort från kontoret! Ledig från jobbet! Vet knappt vad jag ska säga mitt i denna tumultartade upptäckt, så det får bli ett "Grattis!" :-) Vad kul! Har du fått blodad tand nu eller dröjer det till nästa resa? Vi ses i Stockholm i veckan!

Evelina Wahlqvist said...

Tack Linda!!! Jag är rätt stolt själv får jag säga! :) Beklagar att vi inte hann höras av när jag nu ändå var i Estocolmo i helgen. Men visst har jag fått blodad tand för semester så jag hoppas på en nöjeshelg med dig i Sthlm framöver. Nu önskar jag dig en fantastisk semester in THE CITY!!! Ser redan fram emot recension! ;)