Spring Break for “Adults”: Gran Canaria, Spain

Gran Canaria DunesThe best part of moving to Europe to attend grad school, surprisingly, has not been travel. Or school. Or even, living in Europe.

Instead, what has made this all worth while, and granting me some of my fondest life memories has been the result of meeting three women.

These women, who I now count as some of my closest friends, has been an unbelievable gift. I generally have a hard time making and keeping girlfriends. The ones I do have meant the world to me, and while I very much believe in quality over quantity I had generally given up on the prospect of having a strong group of girlfriends in my life. And given that I’ve moved around the world so much in the past half decade, I accept that my friends will be spread around the world. A blessing, certainly, but also a bit lonely at times. 

But then, I met these three. They (we) are an odd combination of interests, backgrounds, personalities and ages. It works wonderfully. I thought it impossible to have a group a girlfriends without drama. One reason I’ve been hesitant to be friends with groups of girls.Turns out, you just need the right kind of girls. And more, we all travel wonderfully together. Never a truer test of friendship, traveling with friends can be a very revealing experience. There have been people I’ve traveled with, and as a result no longer count them as friends. So the fact that traveling with these women is so easy, and always so joyous is pretty indicative of the fact I’ve found some great people.

Gran Canaria

So, as a bit of a last hurrah for the year the four of us set out for some much needed sun. Ryan Air offered up cheap flights to the Canary Islands, and with the hope for warmth and a bit of vitamin D, we set out for a week of blissful nothing on the beach.

What we didn’t know, is that Gran Canaria, and the Canaries in general are not quite the spring break destination we envisioned. It was beautiful, had great beaches, and even decent food. Though as we learned quickly, our presence brought the median age of the island down quite a bit. Outside of the summer season, it is primarily elderly vacationers and young, Scandinavian families.  Granted, we weren’t exactly there to socialize, and we knew it was hugely touristy (read: giant resorts built up everywhere), so it didn’t so much affect our trip, other than restaurants closing early-but it was strange.

Puerto de MoganWhat also struck me, was how different this place looked. It was incredibly arid, with large crumbling cliffs, and beaches on various inlets. Though I haven’t traveled a highly extensive amount I’ve been to enough places that I usually find each new place resembles somewhere I’ve been before, to a pretty significant degree. Iceland, with its entirely otherworldly appearance was an exception. Though, driving the countryside, it sometimes looked the Palouse. Gran Canaria, or at least the south side of it was particularly strange. It is a tropical island, but at the same time a bit like Nepal, or India. A few hours north of where we stayed there were sand dunes, granted, the island is off the coast of the Western Sahara, so a resemblance to west Africa might be expected. Mostly, it was just so dry. Coming from humid Dublin however, this was a welcome change. And, the oddity of its appearance made it far more intriguing than the “all inclusive-resort” status it has acquired.

Puerto de MoganWe spent the week the way you would expect. We went to the beach. We meandered around town, and ran around the dunes. We drank sangria and read non-thought provoking magazines. It was incredibly relaxing. A much-needed break from the cold and clouds of Dublin.

Las Palmas Sunset

Las Palmas Sunset

It was the last trip the four of us will make together for a while. As the semester comes to a close, we will all begin our dissertations that will take us to different parts of the world. With a brief reunion in November for graduation. It is on one hand incredibly sad, I love these women and can’t imagine not being able to see them any given day. But mostly, I’m just glad to have met them. A rare, if fleeting, encounter with three outstanding people I intend to count as close friends for many years to come.

But it’s not quite over yet. We have a few weeks left. And…

Later this week two of us head to Rome!




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