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7th November, 2012

Santa Cruz de La Palma

Santa Cruz de La Palma

I often have very interesting passengers at my dining table, but the night we left Funchal was particularly special. The three gentlemen were all over ninety, during the Second World War one had been on submarines; another had been in the Air Transport Auxiliary and had flown 78 different types of aircraft from Spitfires to Lancasters. The third was 94 year old Ian who had been on HMS Eagle during the Malta convoy, Operation Pedestal. The aircraft carrier had been hit by four torpedoes simultaneously, then rolled over and sank within a very short time. He told us he had walked out of the bridge and down the ship side as it sank. I am grateful for the privilege of meeting chaps like these and listen to their tales, first hand as it were.

The northern coast of La Palma the following morning was hidden in heavy rain showers as we closed the port of Santa Cruz. It was an interesting docking as the pilot wanted us to go in one way, and I the other. He came to see my reasoning in the end and the approach must have seemed rather unusual for any layman looking on (and probably for most professionals). A case of setting down with wind and current, trickling the engines ahead and steering with the bow thruster as the end of the breakwater passed down our starboard side.

Santa Cruz de La Palma

I opted to take the tour which went to the south of the island, hopefully to avoid the rain in the north. We were most fortunate and enjoyed five hours of interesting touring with only the odd light shower. The view from Mirador de la Conception over Santa Cruz and the eastern coastline would have been quite superb, even without the rainbow that just happened to be there just at the right moment.

The little church of ‘Our Lady of the Snows’ (yes, really) was a delight as was the potter who we visited at ‘El Molino’. He was more than eager to show us his skills, not in spinning clay, but in actually carving his pots in the ancient traditional style of the early island inhabitants. Needless to say we were then discreetly encouraged to visit the shop where his wife and daughter waited eagerly.

Local potter

We continued on to visit the Volcano San Antonio, a rather convenient stop that not only gave us an insight as to how the island was formed, but was suitably geographically manageable that even those tourists who struggled a little on their pins could actually manage the short amount of walking required in order to peer into the minor abyss below. A brief wine stop at Bodegas Carballo was followed by a ten minute stop at the relatively new Plaza La Glorieta in the village of Las Manchas. A local architect, Luis Morera, was commissioned to design and construct a small area with mural and mosaic, surrounded by tropical plants. It was a little gem and a fine finale to our tour.

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The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.