The Famous Balconies

The famous sea-front balconies in Santa Cruz de la Palma
December 3, 2018

These are the famous sea-front balconies in Santa Cruz de la Palma. Actually these are the backs of the houses: the fronts look onto the Calle Real. When I first came to the island in 1990, the woodwork was all green and the plaster all white. For the town’s 500th anniversay, in 1993, the whole lot disappeared behind acres of black plastic sheeting for weeks while they were repainted in…

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A line on the sea

Roque Teneguía and a line on the sea
November 21, 2018

La Palma sits in the trade winds. Most days of the year we have a stiff breeze from the northwest. That creates most of the island’s climate: the wind hits the island at Barlovento (which means “windward”) and gets flows uphill. As it rises, it cools down and forms clouds. Sometimes it rains, and Barlovento is the wettest part of the island with a metre of rain per year. By…

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Footpaths on La Palma

November 5, 2018

La Palma has a network of well-marked footpaths, most of which are centuries old.  As late as the 1960s, walking was still a major form of transport for the islanders, The whole network of hiking trails on the island comes to over 1,000 km, and between them they pass through just about every kind of scenery on the island: lava fields, pine forests, lush laurel forests, farmland and village centres….

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Remembering the Dead on La Palma

Halloween isn’t much of a fiesta here, although it’s becoming more popular. All Saint’s Day is. Traditionally, it’s when people remember their dead. So they decorate the graves in the morning, and most cemeteries have a special mass. It’s fascinating to see, but please be sensitive. Some people may be recently bereaved and feeling fragile.

November 1, 2018
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Tobacco in La Palma

October 20, 2018

I don’t smoke, so everything I know about Palmeran cigars is from hearsay. But they seem to have a very good reputation. Certainly Winston Churchill was known to be a fan, and certainly they get shipped off to the Spanish royal family. Most of the tobacco farms on the island are in Santa Cruz, Breña Baja, and especially Breña Alta. Typically, the crop is grown in tiny fields and given…

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Manolo Blahnik

Whitney Port wearing Manolo Blahnik's 2009 design 'Tribeca'. Photo: David Shankbone
October 12, 2018

Manolo Blahnik’s Czech father met his mother on a stopover in Santa Cruz de la Palma. He continued his journey, but promised to come back. The unusual bit is that he did indeed come back and marry her, and they set up home just south of Santa Cruz on a banana plantation. “Our property had no neighbours apart from my grandfather’s house. It was just bananas, the sea and us……

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