Sunday, April 2, 2017

MEMORIES OF EL HIERRO: THE SMALLEST OF THE CANARY ISLANDS

El Hierro is a peaceful island, little known outside of the Canary archipelago. Inhabitated by friendly and welcoming people, it offers several activities in contact with nature and away from mass tourism. I visited El Hierro with my sister for a week in December and it was a beautiful discovery. Here are some memories and things learnt from this special week:




1- VISITING AND TASTING WINES AT BODEGA FRONTERA IS A MUST FOR WINE LOVERS

Bodega Frontera is arguably the best winery in the island and among the best in the Canarian Archipelago. The wines here are truly unique and cannot be compared easily to other wine regions. I tried grapes never heard before which were brought originally by the Spaniards. I loved the red Barboso (smooth and round, with lots of black fruits and cassis notes) and for the whites Blanco Afrutado, with a bit of residual sugar, and the Blanco Seco for a dry aperitif wine. Very nice, knowledgable and friendly staff. 





2- THIS IS THE PERFECT SPOT FOR HIKING 

There are different paths to go hiking in the central part of the island, whose landscape resembles a lot Scottish highlands. It was incredible to see how the countryside evolves as one drives around. One of the best hiking paths is the Llania, where we found also the Lauri Silva forest, a must-see! I have to thank my sister for pushing me to see it. The shortest path in Llania (4km) is easily doable and worthwhile. It leads you through a lot of widely different and stunning landscapes. 











3- LEARNING ABOUT BIODIVERSITY IS KEY

One of the best things to do to enjoy local biodiversity is to go with a guide. Luckily, we met Ralf: a friendly and knowledgable German guide who showed us all the unique plants of the island and brought us to places with an amazing view on the Ocean. Tours can be done in English and are great to discover the beauty of the island! Visiting the Eco-Museum is also a great way of learning about the unique biodiversity of the island. There, we saw the original village of the indigenous people (Bimbaches) and also learnt about the preservation of the rare giant lizard of El Hierro. 


4- BEST LOCAL FOOD IS SIMPLE AND FRESH 

El Hierro might not be the most famous destination for foodies, but if you know where to go it will not disappoint. For breakfast we tried the Panderia Santiago and, in particular, a sweet called Estrella cabello de angelo which is filled with a pumpkin marmalade. La Pasada, ten minutes away from the capital Valverde, offers seafood and meaty dishes with a good quality price. Stunning view from the dining room. Goat cheese is a local delicacy, mosty made at Isora, in the centre of the island. The mojo sauces, typical of the Canary Islands, are a must too. They vary in spices and are used troughout the meal! 








 5- IT ALL COMES DOWN TO ARBOL GAROE 

This is the most important tree in the island as its history is fascinating and involves the encounter of Spaniards and indigenous people. This laurel tree was the main source of water for the Bimbaches as it could retain water for the whole island. Destroyed by a hurricane in the 17th century, it was replented only in the mid-20th century for remembrance. Still, this place is full of legends and mystery, that the guide there explained to us in detail. 


WEBSITE: http://www.hellocanaryislands.com/museums-and-places-interest/el-hierro/garoe-tree/





6- GOING SWIMMING IS NOT A GREAT IDEA!

The view on the coastline is simply impressing and beautiful, especially at sunset. Often you will find public pools or protected beaches where to sunbathe. However, being in the middle of the Atlantic, this is not the ideal place for going swimming because of the waves!




7- LOCAL CRAFTMANSHIP IS AMAZING!

This island has local craftsmen with incredible skills. During a tour of the island with Ralf we met an old woman that is making amazing textile made of wool!  




8- THE VIEW FROM THE MIRADORS IS STUNNING!

El Hierro offers amazing views on the Atlantic. You will find many miradors, or viewpoints, in all parts of the island. We always brought a camera and enjoyed the view. 





NOTE: WE RENTED A CAR FOR THE WHOLE TRIP AND I HIGHLY RECOMMEND EVERYONE TO DO SO. IT'S NOT ONLY CHEAP, BUT ALSO A BASIC REQUIREMENT TO VISIT THIS BEAUTIFUL ISLAND!

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