The Canary Islands, a beautiful Spanish archipelago located off the coast of northwestern Africa, is a group of seven volcanic islands each known for their very different landscapes and terrain. The seven islands are Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro.
Earlier this year, during one of our coldest days in February, I came across some photos of Gran Canaria while scrolling through Canary Ride‘s Instagram page, an account I followed for seducing images of motorcycles and amazing scenery and fell in love with what seemed to look like the perfect motorcycle riding destination due to its gorgeous, year round spring and summer-like weather. I knew then and there that I had to book a ticket to go ride there.
Within a week, I had booked a ticket, booked an apartment and anxiously waited seven months for my departure date.
Fast forward to last month (October 2019) and I was ready to go. Bike gear packed, passport in my hand and a smile on my face. I had a short stop in Ponta Delgada, which is the capital city of the Azores and located on São Miguel Island. From there, I would head to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands.
Little did I know that I would be visiting Ponta Delgada for the next 24 hours. *sigh*
As we boarded the plane to Gran Canaria, I was extremely tired, so I was looking forward to a nice three hour nap during the flight. I passed out hard…so hard that I didn’t even know that we had to make an emergency turnaround back to Ponta Delgada due to extreme turbulence and less than ideal weather conditions. When we landed, I thought to myself, “this ground crew looks awfully familiar.” Well, to my shock, we were back in Ponta Delgada and apparently we only had approximately 200 miles left of fuel in the tank and we weren’t going to make it to Gran Canaria. Thanks to the folks at Sata Airlines for not continuing, as I, along with the rest of the passengers, more than likely didn’t want to land in the Atlantic Ocean.
As we all stepped off the flight, collected our bags and stood around confused and waiting for our next steps, the ground crew then took us inside the airport and to the Sata Airlines customer service desk. When it was my turn to get served, I heard those words that I was dreading on hearing. “We have to re-book your ticket, but the next flight is not until tomorrow morning.” WHAT?! *ugh*
I knew right there and then that I could literally not do a damn thing to prevent the situation from happening, so I just agreed and took my new ticket for the next day in my hand and waited for the airline to sort me out. The folks at Sata Airlines were amazing though. They gave us all hotel, food and taxi vouchers for the trouble, which was definitely helpful in easing my mind as to where I would sleep for the next 24 hours. Once give all of my documents, I walked out the door, hopped into the taxi and headed for the hotel.
Upon arrival, the weather was less than pleasant. It had started to rain extremely hard and the wind was crazy. It was a legit tropical storm. After checking in and heading to my room, I was pleasantly surprised on the hookup that Sata Airlines gave us. The hotel was massive and the staff was incredibly helpful. I now had to contact my apartment host and let him know that I was going to be a day late (he got paid a day from me even though I was not there, unfortunately) and I had to try and contact the taxi service that I had prepaid to pick me up and switch pick dates, which unfortunately did not work and I ended up having to pay again for a new pick up date. I was out about $140.00 CAD at this point now. I also had to contact my friend and owner of Canary Ride, Ondřej, and reschedule our motorcycle ride from Sunday, to Monday. Luckily he was flexible and available to ride the next day. *Phew*
It was around noon at this point and I was getting hungry, so I headed down to the dining room and was seated with some people from my flight. The hotel buffet was plentiful and full of delicious foods to try. I piled some food on my plate and rejoined my table. I initiated a conversation with another traveller, named Joel, at my table and it turns out that he was on my flight from Toronto as well. Small world! We ended up talking and I found out that him and his wife are from the Canary Islands and lived in Canada for the last seven years, but they were moving back home once again. His wife had been back in Gran Canaria for the last two months with their two children and now he was joining them.
After lunch, I decided to grab a beer at the hotel bar because the weather outside was still pretty unpleasant. As I sat in the bar, sipping my beer, I was dreading having to stay inside the hotel for the next 14 hours as the rain just poured down outside. I glanced out the window and noticed that the sun was coming out and the rain had stopped. I finished up my beer, bolted up to my room, packed up my camera and hit the ground running to explore Ponta Delgada. I was so happy that I didn’t have to spend the day cooped up in a hotel.
I wandered the empty cobblestone streets, grabbed delicious coffee and pastries and enjoyed a lovely walk along the pier promenade while the scent of churros filled the air from numerous street food stands. I visited quaint souvenir shops and started to fall in love with Ponta Delgada and realized that maybe this unexpected stopover wasn’t so bad after all.
I made my way back to the hotel for dinner and went to bed early because I had an early morning wake up call at 4:30am to head back to the airport.
The next morning, bleary eyed and semi-jetlagged, I gathered my stuff and headed down to my taxi, which I shared with Joel and we took off for the airport.
Upon arrival at the airport, I grabbed a much needed coffee and small breakfast. Our fight was scheduled for around 8am and of course, there was another delay. I joked that I felt like I was supposed to stay in the Azores now. Our plane finally pulled up and we were escorted across the tarmac to the flight and began to taxi out to the runway.
After all the issues the past 24 hours through my way, I felt like everything happened for a reason. I would have never met my new friend Joel, whom I ended up making dinner plans with him and his wife in Las Palmas before leaving for Canada and I would have never been able to visit a new city, such as Ponta Delgada. It definitely taught me not to stress about things and situations that I simply cannot control and just let things happen.
As the turboprop plane started to take off, the wheels lifted up and I caught a glimpse of the plane leaving the coastline of São Miguel Island, I knew I’d be back, but I was now heading to my intended final destination.
Gran Canaria, here I come!
Have you guys ever been in a situation that at the time seemed really unfortunate, but then turned out to be not so bad in the end? Let me know in the comments below. xo