Assumption: Madeira and the Canaries are way too touristy islands, to which Scandinavians travel in hordes in the fall and winter. They are welcomed at the airport by tour operators, who facilitate their transport to the hotel, lie on crowded beaches every day, have dinner at “Skandinaviska klubben”, shop in oversized malls, drink sangria and party all night long.
Fleeing the rain, snow and cold and grey weather at home is absolutely understandable, and the Atlantic Islands are indeed brilliant destinations for this purpose, given their stable and comfortable weather conditions. And yes, they do have lovely beaches and great food and wine!
But we have now realized that they also have so much more. Rent a car and drive into the mountains and get thrilled (and a little nervous sometimes) by breathtaking views of the Atlantic from the narrow (too narrow?!) coastline road, visit the traditional villages, buy bananas from the local farmer, and have dinner in a grill restaurant, where the salsa music might have been turned a little down.
The great thing about travelling in a sailboat, is that you can “hop” from island to island and discover their differences, which are remarkable despite the relatively short distance between them. The majestetic but dry 3718 meter high volcano Teide in Tenerife versus the lush El Cedro (the “rain forest”) in La Gomera versus beautiful flower trees in Madeira. The big city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria versus the traditional Spanish city of San Sebastián de La Gomera. But the banana trees are everywhere 😉
Hopping somewhat further south, off the coast of Mauritania and Senegal, the Cape Verde archipelago rises out of the ocean. Despite its Portuguese roots, Cape Verde has a clear African flair. The moment you arrive with your dinghy on the beach, the curious local boys hasten towards you to give a helping hand for a few escudos and offer to look after it, again for a few escudos (although it is not necessary). On the quay, the fishermen have returned from sea in their (too) small boats (they can, contrary to us, catch tunas!). In the town, dogs are wandering around, colorful houses lie next to houses still under construction, and open trucks (“aluguer”) are waiting to take you to the bigger town (beware, they might go 100 km/h in the roundabout!). In the supermarket, a good portion of the shelves are empty, and if you want meat, you hopefully like chicken (lucky Henrik!). At the police station, you might be unable to check out and get your ship papers back upon departure, if the official with the authority to fill in the relevant (very simple) papers is not there, even though they are open “24/7″… Welcome to the “No stress” philosophy outside of Europe 🙂
One of the blanks to fill in when clearing in in a new port is “next port of call”. I was a little suprised myself this time when writing… Martinique!