La Palma.

Title: A Winter Break in La Palma.

Length: 500 words.

Reference: LAP

All Publishing rights

Travel company:Thomson Travel

Copyright: Derrick Grover.

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A Winter Break in La Palma.

Hotel cactus garden,

We had visited all the Canary islands except La Palma and so it was more from a sense of curiosity that we decided to go there in January for a warm winter's break. As promised it was not spoilt by too much tourism and the La Palma Princess hotel was in a secluded position on the South of the island. Its eleven swimming pools were, we thought, more than necessary but they made for a pleasant environment and no doubt would be well used in the high season, particularly as the many pools were provided with many bars and a pizzeria.

We were nearly put off by warnings of the steepness of the land in the hotel grounds. In fact the slopes are steep but, unlike climbing steps, you can simply take a shorter stride and climb the slope more gradually. No one found it a problem but we were pleased our luggage was delivered to and from the rooms on an electric buggy.

Car hire is recommended, but there is also a bus service from the hotel up to Los Canarios every hour. From there, buses are available to Santa Cruz - the capital. The journey of about an hour follows a winding and scenic route.

Iglesia del Salvador

In Santa Cruz we explored monuments from the early 18th century and the town hall and church Iglesia del Salvador, both of 16th century. The square offers seats in the shade, which are welcome on a hot day. We ventured down one of the During our stop for coffee we were serenaded by some wandering minstrels with an unusual complement of instruments. The music was dominated by the shofar player with an instrument of about 4 to 5 feet in length. Miniature drums made a clip clopping sound and a trumpet, tambourine and clarinet made up the ensemble. The casual tone fitted well with the setting.

Meals at the hotel are self-service and provide a wide choice of food. The bacon at breakfast was too fatty for our taste, but we were adequately provided for in every other choice. A late breakfast could be taken by the pool. Dinner included at least four choices of meat or fish, a variety of soups, ice cream fruits and salad. Each guest was offered one evening at one of the a la carte restaurants. The benefit of this was not clear to me. Whilst we did not have to get up for each course, the waiter service was slow and the choice of food more limited.

The evening entertainment was well presented in the extensive lounge. We were impressed with the Flamenco dancers, acrobats and singing groups. Alternatively a band often played in the reception area till late in the evening.

A health club including jacuzzi was included in the price, and a gym at the other end of the premises included a useful set of apparatus.

During our first week we enquired whether we could extend our stay for another week. The asking price, however, was about double the cost of the first week. We had not realised the benefit of Thomson's negotiating power.

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