Friday, November 30, 2012

On holiday again!

So, this time my friend is staying at my place but I still feel like I am on holiday with her, cause we're exploring and seeing so many beautiful spots of the island. As this is being posted, we will be enjoying a "Circuito Wellness 5*" at the spa one of the nicest hotels on this island, sounds good to me! Gran Canaria is famous for having lots of nice spa's and I am not objecting to testing some of them out!

In the mean time, here's a sneak peak to some of the stuff we've seen while she's been here!

Like, this pine forest. Which reminds me more of Norway than anything I expected to find on Gran Canaria!

Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I am one lucky girl! Yesterday my best friend from Barcelona arrived to visit me here in Las Palmas. One visit after another, I could get used to this for sure! Anyway, yesterday night walking along the beach, someone had been "drawing" in the sand, so Monday I posted some AlgArt and today I am sharing some SandArt, both from Las Canteras beach. 

The message was that Spain has become so much more expensive with the European Union/the Euro. (A bread was 10 pesetas. Now in EU, a bread = 80 pesetas.) Yes, there is quite a lot of frustration with the financial crisis in Spain on a daily basis, and the Canary Islands are no exception with their very high unemployment rate. A different and creative way to state a point!

Have a nice day - I am off playing tourist with my friend!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The wall is not dirty, it's alive!

Walking on the boardwalk of Playa de Las Canteras in Las Palmas, you can see this: 

It says that right here, under your feet there is a different work of art, every single day. AlgArt.

The poster reads out:

Where does the O2 we breathe come from?
Small organisms known as cyanobacteria developed photosynthesis some 3,5 billion years ago, when life barely existed. As a result of this the production of oxygen dramatically changed the planet’s geology, chemistry and life. They were the origin of all plants and, as such, we owe them our lives, each and every time we breathe. If you want to see them, all you have to do it go down… 
They’re waiting for you.

Here, under your feet there’s a different work of art every day
The microalgae biofilm growing on this wall is a microjungle subjected daily to the dramatic environmental changes (in temperature, humidity, light and saltiness). It is an impressive and ever changing picture on which microalgae are the stars. That’s why we’ve called it AlgArt. You are invited to check it out. Come on down and see it, live!

Always fun with some educational facts on random places!
So, if you go down to the beach, just below this poster, you’ll find more informative posters, and you can see the wall they refer to. So well, if you're interested in some facts on microalgae, here you go!

THE WALL IS NOT DIRTY, IT'S ALIVE! - A microscopic jungle: A very curious kind of life is growing on this wall. Its survival stems from its ability to adapt to rapidly changing environmental conditions. On this wall grow some very small and completely harmless organisms that are valuable to the environment. They form a kind of a mat a few millimeters thick in which different groups of  cyanobacteria and microalgae coexist. Microalgae represent the planet's greatest reserve of biodiversity for us to learn about and exploit. The Canary Islands is one of the world's most biodiverse regions, especially in microalgae.

EVERYDAY - Every day we consume and use products with  microalgae, present in yogurt, ice cream, sausages, medicines, textile, dyes, cosmetics, soft drinks, beers, sunblocks… :

PURIFICATION - Microalgae makes it possible to recycle urban and industrial water. They are small and powerful purifiers :

ENERGY & CLIMATE - Oil and gas was generated millions of years ago by microalgae. They are the main agents regulating the planet's climate :

RESIDENTS - A drop of water may contain more microalgae than the entire population of the Canaries. An island is a territory surrounded by algae, everywhere!

LIFE - Life on our planet has been possible thanks to the oxygen produced by microalgae for the last 3.5 billion years. 

BEAUTY - Microalgae are so small that their beauty can only be appreciated through a microscope. The diversity of shapes and colous are surprising.

Friday, November 23, 2012

How I got to know about Chocolate Amatller (and Simon Coll)

So, I was talking about the Chocolate museum in Barcelona a while ago.  Finding out that the first chocolate mechanical-production workshop dates back to 1777, in Barcelona, got me curious to learn more about the chocolate history of Barcelona.

I found that Chocolates Amatller is most likely the oldest brand in Spain, having been active ever since the Amatller family started making chocolate in 1797. 

I tried Amatller chocolate a long time ago, (before knowing much about the history,) and it is really nice. They sell it in little shops here and there, but it’s not chocolate you can get everywhere.
I started collecting the little tins that come with chocolate leaves or catanies cause they are just so beautiful.

Antoni, the grandson of the founder, was very passionate about art and started promoting the chocolate on posters and cards designed by important artists of that time. The designs haven’t changed, and it’s a delight to buy delicious chocolate in such beautiful wrappings!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
In 1972, Amatller became a part of another chocolatier, Simon Coll, who had a family tradition of chocolate makers since 1840. 

And it was in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia that I came across Amatller and Simon Coll the first time. Sant Sadurni d’Anoia is where the chocolate factory (aka heaven) is, a little town about 45 minutes out of Barcelona by train. Unfortunately there was no ways of visiting the factory, but the chocolate shop was a great consolation prize! The beautiful images on the different wrappings caught my attention and every time I visit a shop that sells them, I just have to buy some.

And if you have been to Barcelona, there is a big chance you've stopped by Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona to admire the incredible architecture on one of my personal Gaudí-favourites. But most people will also notice the very beutiful building next door to Casa Battló too. This house it called Casa Amatller and was the home of the grandson of the founder, Antoni. The one with the art-passion mentioned above.

Have you ever eaten chocolate from Amatller, and aren't the wrappings just beautiful?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Maspalomas vs. Las Palmas

So after spending some days in Maspalomas I have been mentally comparing it with Las Palmas.

In the post where I revealed how I ended up in Las Palmas, and how I learned that I had been totally prejudged about this whole island, I wrote about the tourist resorts in the south of Gran Canaria.

It feels like coming to another world. It's full of tourists and also built around tourists. Minimarkets selling products from other European countries (drinks, chocolates, chips, biscuits etc.).  Restaurants with glossy menus written in many European languages, all selling basically the same fastfood. Where is the local and Spanish food? Waiters calling out in German or Swedish to attract customers. Shop attendants not even speaking to you in Spanish, but directly in German or English. 

Although many many locals also go there, as well as people from other parts of Spain, the foreign tourists dominate. When I go to these places, my love for Spain gets confused. Cause it's not like the Spain I know and love. But to have the chance to jump on a bus for 45 minutes, and then come to this world for a little holiday is great, as long as I can come back to my real authentic Spanish city afterwards. Really, what a bonus! I love it in the south of the island, I just don't want to live there.

If all you look for is beach & sun, it's the perfect place. Really, it's lovely. The beaches are wonderful, and especially for people coming from a cold country it's like a little piece of paradise. What is no good is if you leave the island without having been outside the resort to see anything else, while judging how little true character and personality the island has, and that "this is Gran Canaria". The island has so much more to offer! I don't judge those who doesn't see anything else than the tourist resort, I just don't think it's fair to say that Gran Canaria is a place with no personality if you don't go outside the resort and see the real world. Cause it exists en Gran Canaria too!

For instance, Sunday was excursion day to San Mateo for the local farmers market, and my friend was so happy! She loved it in Maspalomas, but thought it was really nice to see something else, and she also said it was like coming to another world. The beauty of the mountains and the volcanic crater on the way was very much appreciated. As well as going to Las Palmas, and seeing normal people leading a normal life in a normal big Spanish city. 

Playa de las Canteras, Las Palmas
So, I can say I love Maspalomas, especially for the beautiful beautiful sand dunes, but also for the nice climate you find there, it being basically sunny and warm all year around. (Which is true for all of the south of the island.) And I think Maspalomas is one of the nicest tourist resorts on Gran Canaria. Ever been there or anywhere else on the island? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm on holiday!

How lucky am I to live on a tourist destination. A good friend of mine always goes somewhere warm for holidays in November to avoid some of the darkness and cold of Norway, and this year since I am now living here on Gran Canaria, her trip went here! So these days I am holiday'ing with her, and enjoying it so much! She's on the south side of the island (she got a great package deal with flight+hotel, with room for me too) so we've just been disconnected from the real world, going to the beach, having lovely meals, and talking and talking for hours. 

We go 13 years back and I can't tell you how happy I am to hang out with an old friend. I love new friends too, but there's just something very nice and comfortable about being around someone who's known you for so long, someone who's been with you through the changes that life has presented for you over a long period of time. Just  like it was so so wonderful having my other friend visiting me in Barcelona in September

Her hotel is in the area of one of my favourites on this island: Maspalomas, where the sand dunes are. It is SO BEAUTIFUL!! I love walking on the sand dunes, they go on and on and you can't see where they end. It's like a mini desert. Very nice.

So, I just wanted to stop by to say hi, and wish all of you a lovely week! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Smile, please!

The other day, walking around Las Palmas, a big poster caught my eye. It was very colourful and the words “Sonría, por favor” (Smile, please) shouted at me. I smiled! And got closer to see what it was about.  

The poster read out: "The most important thing is using humor. It's free and does not wear out!
So true!

It was an exhibiton about humor and smiling! How neat. El museo Elder de la ciencia y la tecnología is currently hosting this free outdoor exhibition, with big panels explaining fun facts
related to humor and smiling. 

Like this one for instance. I especially like the highlighted part: 

Humor and the genders: 

It states that men seems to enjoy a more hostile humor than women. (I agree! I am often astounded how "mean" humor between males can be!)  Further it says that men use humor to show women 
that they are good entertainers.

Women are more sensitive to spontaneous humor in sosial interactions, and I believe that is true too. 
It states that women show a bigger activation in the left front half of the Neocortex & Mesolimbic regions.   

Humor and Mental & Physical health:

That humor can contribute to a good emotional & physical health is not new to me. But I think it's very interesting that laughter and a good mood can relieve pain and stress.

The Right Hemisphere & Mirror Neurons

The scenario and the fun part of a story is detected in the right hemisphere, and the mirror neurons responds to the perception of others experience. Which means that when we watch someone laugh it can induce laughter in ourselves, even though we don't why they are laughing. Funny, but very true. I often smile at people who are smiling or laughing, it's contageous! (For me anyway, not always the case in customer service situations in Barcelona though.)

Laugh muscles? Yes sir!

Do Animals laugh? According to this, yes!  

Love it! Cats, rats, gorillas and chimpanzees. The two latter without showing their teeth unlike humans, as showing teeth is a sign of fear or aggressiveness.

I love everything on this subject, I enjoy reading scientific articles on happiness, and the importance of that as well as humor and smiling. Just that someone actually made such an exhibition made me smile all day long. I loved it! It was fun and interesting. 

While I was taking my time in front of each panel, reading the text, snapping some photos before moving on to the next one, a lot of people hurried past me and some looked at me with wonder. (Not at the walls I was looking at, but me.) Why on earth was I taking pictures of these walls? Of course I don’t know if these people had already seen it, but it made me think about something. When you are new somewhere, you notice everything with much more detail. It is very refreshing, to look up and around insted of just on the ground in front of me. Do you take time to look up and actually notice what's around you?

The posters are in Spanish and English, and can all be seen online here if you are interested. If you are around and want the real thing, go by the museum, just between the port / shopping centre El Muelle, 
and Parque Santa Catalina.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cockroaches - help anyone, please??

So, the thing is, cockroaches are happy in warmer climates, just like myself. They love it here in Gran Canaria. (Just like me.)

And I have learned that I just have to look down a bit when walking in the streets at  night to avoid stepping on one. Two reasons for that:
  1. It's disgusting, they are big!
  2. I've heard you should not kill a cockroach by stepping on it, as it might bear eggs, that you will then drag around the house, and well you can all imagine what a party that could turn out to be.
Lately, these last few weeks the temperature has cooled down a little, there has been more winds and less heat, and it seems the cockraches have disappeared a bit with the heat. The local council have been fumigating the streets too. 

I don't mind them that much outdoors...

...but when they invade the safety and comfort of my home, I do mind!

In Norway, fortunately these buggers don't exist. So I am not used to them. In Barcelona, I have seen cockroaches in the metro-stations, but NEVER inside my home. And I wasn't taking too much care of things there to be honest, cause I didn't have to. It wasn't a problem, they didn't enter my building.

Here, I've learned that you simply have to be very careful with food, sweets, crumbs etc. And that is ok. I keep all food and sweets (need my chocolate!) safely closed in tuppers, glass containers etc. I make sure the garbage is taken out every single night, and that there are never any dishes waiting to be done. I make sure there is no grease on the stove, or anywhere else. Basically I keep everything CLEAN.

The flat has been fumigated, which should keep the buggers out for 12 months. But they don't stay out. The one that was wandering around on top of my kitchen cabinet last  night was huge. I'm sure she goes to roach-gym every single day, cause she wasn't a small one. (By the way, it's a she in Spainsh, una cucaracha, while a kakkerlakk is masculin in Norwegian, interesting.) But the point is, I DON'T WANT THEM IN MY FLAT! 

Anyway, long introduction, but my post of today is a cry for help!!!  
Anyone have experience with this and have any form of help to offer me?
Anything, like tips for how to avoid them (apart from the typical insecticide-spray
and taking care with food), what to do if they are already inside, how to get rid of the image of them
 that keeps popping into my head, especially before sleeping (which creates lovely dreams...)
Anything! If you live somewhere with cockroaches yourself and are used to them and see
them as I see a fly, please tell me the secret!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chocolate Workshop at Museu Xocolata Barcelona

A while back I talked about the Chocolate Museum in Barcelona. It was supposed to be the introduction to a later post about what brought me there in the first place. I just never got round to that. See, they have these fabulous activities there, and being the chocolate lover that I am, I simply could not resist when I saw they were arranging something called "Speaking With Chocolate". A chocolate making workshop in English, great for locals who wanted to practice their English, or for non-Spanish speakers. (Or people like me who wanted a break from Spanish and talk & hear some English!) We were a good mix of locals, tourists and expats.

We had a workstation each with a mould for a chocolate tablet, bombon moulds, some fillings and a hat! 

First, the teacher made a big portion of ganache that we would later use to fill our bombons. It was surprisingly easy and took only a couple of minutes. Then it had to cool down an hour or so in the fridge.

In the meantime, we made our chocolate tablets. There was a selection of spices and things we could add to give flavour. Chopped almonds, coconut, peanuts etc. After having chosen our preferred flavours, we paired up and headed over to the machine of deliciousness to get our chocolate. Oh My Goodness! Can I have one of these please?

There was one for dark chocolate and one for white. (I wouldn't mind having one of each.)

I thought I'd try something new, so for my tablet, I added seasalt in one part, then some ginger to another part and pepper to a third part. My partner (as you can see in the photo) LOVED pepper in chocolate, I wasn't quite as brave as him though. He added loads!

I decorated mine with white chocolate haha!

While the tablet cooled off we made "Rocas de chocolate", chocolate-stones.. (!?) Off to the machine of deliciousness we headed once more...

And then it was time for the lollipops! Here we could use the wonderful fresh fruit and berries set out and white or dark chocolate however we preferred.

But we were still not done! It was time for filling our bombons with the previously made ganache. Again we could add fruit, coconut, nuts or spices.

Now we just had to make sure it was all cooled off before we could pack it, cause we got to bring all this home with us. One big tablet of chocolate, 6 ganache-filled bombons, lollipops and rocas de chocolate. Loads of chocolate!! The whole workshop was about 3 hours and included a drink at the end and well, all the chocolate to bring home. It was a GREAT way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

The activity is now called "Chocolating" and is now set up as a 2 hour activity instead of 3, so I suppose the content has changed. Anywyay, if you are interested, info can be found here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Caelum, a Wonderful Treasure in Barcelona

There is this little place in the Gothic quarter in Barcelona that is quite unique. And I think it’s more of a secret than the obvious tourist attraction. I like to call it a treasure, because it really is special.

I heard about it from a friend, who used to go there with her Catalan boyfriend for dessert after a typical Spanish lunch. (What I am trying to say is that she heard it from a local, I don’t think this is the 
typical place a tourist finds!?)

From the outside it looks like any bakery set in beautiful premises, located on a corner where one narrow street split into two new narrow streets.

But it’s not like any bakery. First of all, the baked goods for sale are made by monks and nuns from  different monasteries around Spain. That already makes it special, doesn’t it?

But there’s more. The lower floor of the café, were medieval Jewish baths in Barcelona. Brick walls, high ceilings, dimly lit by candles, people respecting the atmosphere by talking in a lower voice, rather than the normal ’competition of talking the loudest’! The atmosphere is so calm and it really is a sanctuary, a nice place to unwind from the busy city.

There is also a little sale for you to be able to take the cakes and sweets home. 
See? Treasure!

Caelum can be found at Carrer de la Palla 8