Crossing On The SILVER SPIRIT, Part Four

Take a full day tour of picturesque Las Palmas with Peter Knego on the fourth leg of his latest Sea Trek aboard Silversea Cruises’ ultra-deluxe MV SILVER SPIRIT during the ship’s leisurely fifteen night transatlantic crossing from Lisbon to Barbados.

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Silversea Cruises

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

SILVER SPIRIT to Las Palmas.

At dawn, SILVER SPIRIT was pivoting into sprawling, industrial Las Palmas harbor. The capital of Gran Canaria, Las Palmas has a population of 382,000 and is the largest city in the Canary Islands.

Breakfast omelet.

A perfectly prepared omelet would lay the foundation for a full breakfast in La Terrazza before we disembarked to join a full day tour of the circular island.

Cathedral Santa Ana.

After a short drive into the city center, our first stop was the Santa Ana Cathedral and Plaza. Construction on its neoclassic facade began in 1570 but a lack of funding delayed completion for several decades.

Cathedral column.

Tour groups are not allowed in the cathedral but our guide cleverly suggested we stray in individually if we wanted a peek at its relatively spartan Gothic interior.

Columbus Museum.

From the Plaza, we walked around the Cathedral to Casa de Colon, a former governor’s house that may have been visited by Columbus in 1492. Now a museum dedicated to Columbus’ transatlantic treks, it features a patio with a well and a series of exhibition rooms.

Columbus route.

The SILVER SPIRIT would soon be retracing a segment of Columbus’ first route between Las Palmas and La Gomera in the Canary Islands.

Ciudad de Las Palmas.

Among the myriad displays is a map of Las Palmas from 1685. In addition, a crypt houses displays of pre-Colombian American artifacts.

Las Palmas Cathedral street.

From Casa de Colon, we walked along a pastel stuccoed, cobblestone alleyway back to the coach. Our next stop would be atop the double craters of Tiede for a view of the southern coast of the island.

Dragon tree.

As we wound along the narrow switchback roads of the interior of Gran Canaria, past sprawling villas and quaint villages, our guide pointed out the distinctively craggy dragon trees, some of which are over 1,000 years old.

Monolith amongst trees.
Pines and pinnacles.

Our lunch stop in a small town atop a mid-island ridge provided some spectacular views of a monolithic stone formation and the densely forested north side. After our meal, the view had been obscured by clouds.

Crazy Christo.

Intriguing religious iconography is apparently alive and well in the Canaries.

Street of Teror.

Our next stop was the village of Teror, whose pastoral streets belied its unsettling name.

Teror cracked.
Teror gargoyle.

Aside from a trio of twisted gargoyles and some cracking paint, there was nothing to fear in Teror.

Teror plaza.

We had a few moments to shop for local crafts — Las Palmas is known for its polished lava jewelry — before heading off to our final stop at the Botanical Gardens.

Las Palmas Botanical Gardens.

In addition to abundant native flora, the fauna in the gardens included peacocks, swans and turtles.

Playa de las Canteras.

On the way back to the ship, we saw many beautiful beaches on the north side of the island, including the famous Playa de las Canteras, which is across the narrow isthmus from the harbor.

SILVER SPIRIT at Las Palmas.

Back on board the spacious SILVER SPIRIT, we watched as a neighboring 160,000 gross ton mega ship, rails packed with onlookers and announcements blaring, sailed off into the Atlantic.

Seishin Restaurant, facing starboard.

Tonight, we would sample SILVER SPIRIT’s extra tariff ($30) Seishin Restaurant. Seating 24 guests on a reservations-only basis, Seishin (which means “spirit in Japanese) is located off the port side entrance to the main Restaurant. Its starboard side complement is a second extra tariff venue, Le Champagne, which features French cuisine and wine pairings in partnership with Relais and Chateaux.

Sashimi starter in Seishin.

There is a choice of two set menus with all ingredients freshly prepared at the chef’s table in the room’s center. I ordered a combination of items from the first and second set three course menus but there is also a nine course degustation menu that can be paired with sake for fans of sashimi, caviar and beef.

Hen with a flourish.

Teriyaki Game Hen intermezzo in Seishin.

Spirited green tea finale.

After a Tiger Prawn main course, I wrapped up my meal in Seishin with a serving of delicious, made-on-board green tea sorbet.

A walk around deck under the stars would wrap up yet another early evening as SILVER SPIRIT slowly made her way to San Sebastian, La Gomera.

End Of Fourth Post: Much More To Come…

Special thanks: Brad Ball, Martin Cox, Rob Di Stefano, Gina Finocchiaro, Paolo Percivale

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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