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San Cristobal

November 1, 2012

Bucketing it down in San Cristobal

What’s the story in Las Palmas? Well, today it’s a rainy day – indeed the mac I brought in the Isle of Mull’s Tobermory (the real-life setting for Balamory) is saving me from a drenching. But I don’ t mind all that much as I’m in one of my favourite parts of the capital, San Cristobal.

San Cristóbal

I can see a rainbow

Not that this rainbow-coloured shanty town meets gentrified new-build development has always been in Las Palmas. However, as the capital spread southwards to become the ninth-largest city in Spain, this former fishing village was swallowed up. Jonah and the Whale style.

Tunnelling out

I first visited SC as it lies on the other side of the GC-1 to the Hospital Materno where I was taking my then youngest son Alex for his weekly visits. If you think NHS cafes don’t offer many vegetarian options, those of Spanish hospitals are so scarce that they almost seem to count as a negative number. So one day we made our way through a road tunnel and San Cristobal.

Gastro heaven

The restaurants of SC are excellent, even the cheapo ones. Indeed, there’s no other area in Las Palmas with a greater concentration of quality eateries. San Cristobal is also home to Panadería Ruano, where they’ve been baking bread and pastries since 1912 – and, in these credit-crunch times, a local business celebrating its centenary is a rare good-news story.

Pirate tales

Often locals will congegrate in front of the Castillo de San Cristobal to gather cockles (berberechos) from the rocks. This fortress dates back to 1577. In 1595, it repelled the fleet of Sir Francis Drake, naval hero to the English but a pirate from the point of view of your average Spaniard. Don’t worry, the locals are rather more hospitable to Drakes’ descendants.