I couldn't help it - I had to fit in another trip to Europe before the 2015/16 season starts back up at the Boston Ballet next week. This trip was a bit different from my trip to Italy. For one thing, instead of gallivanting around a country for 11 days, this two week trip was spent entirely in one place: Las Palmas in Spain. For another, food was not the main focus - it was ballet. With over two months off from performing and rehearsing, a few of my fellow dancers and I decided to fly to the Gran Canary islands for a two-week intensive training program with principal dancer, Yury Yanowsky's, parents.
I must be honest however and admit that, even though the purpose and focus of this trip was dancing and getting back into shape, I couldn't resist reveling in every single meal we had. What with all the jamon and wine by the glass for 2.50 euros, how could I not?
We stayed in Las Canteras, on the northern side of the island for the duration of the trip, our apartment was a few blocks from the ballet studios and the beach. Class started at noon everyday, we would sweat it out in the studios for a few hours, enjoy a simple and delicious lunch full of local and fresh produce, and then install ourselves at the beach. It was certainly a schedule we all got used to:)
Spain is renowned for its fresh produce, and Las Palmas is no different. Tomatoes taste like candy and avocados are so creamy and rich that it would have been sacrilegious not to have one every day. Other favorites were the mangoes, papaya and peaches.
In addition to our daily avocados, I had to drag our group to a gelato shop at least once a day. Along the board walk, one tiny spot, Peña La Vieja really sparked our interest with their small batch flavors and hand rolled and dipped waffle cones. My absolute favorite combination ended up being cafe leche y leche (coffee with sweetened condensed milk) and pistachio. Every, single day.
We mostly stayed local for our evenings, but would occasionally take a short ride to Triana, the old neighborhood where Columbus's house, the Cathedral and all the shopping is to be found. On one evening, they were having a 'pinchos' festival. Each bar would feature their own bar snack and, paired with a wine or 'Clara' (beer with fanta limon), you could hop from one to the other without spending more than 2.50 euros. It was an incredible scene, boisterous, lively and so Spanish!
Café con leche was another element of local Spanish life I could not get enough of. A bakery near our apartment sold wonderful cafés and tiny, two-bite sized pastries which quickly became my post-beach, pre-homework incentive.
We only got to enjoy one full weekend in Las Palmas, but it was so packed with incredible things that it may as well have been an entire week on its own. Dancers Kathleen and Yury took us to the southern side of the island. With not a single cloud in the sky, we enjoyed the beach and the dunes at Mas Palomas.
Just as the sun was setting we drove up Tirajana mountain to see some of the surrounding volcanoes and stopped at the Degollada de las Yeguas lookout.
Unsurprisingly, given all the amazing things we experienced on a daily basis, the two weeks flew by. It was an incredible opportunity to train with wonderful ballet professionals, alongside some of my dearest and most inspiring friends. I feel refreshed, inspired and prepared for a new season to begin - see you at the Opera House soon!