The beauty of being on a cruise ship is to wake up and find yourself in a new port but Santa Cruz on the island of La Palma was an especially appealing place from the first moment. My first time in the Canary Islands and I was not sure what to expect. The main thing to understand is that La Palma is a small volcanic island - as are all the Canary Islands - and is situated on a lava flow coming from a small caldera. Wandering through the small city streets mid morning at it was coming to life and again, on a lovely blue sky day, helped enhance the appeal. Bur what was it? Beautiful Spanish architecture, cobblestone streets, neat and tidy streets with no litter, baskets of colourful flowers cascading from balconies, the smell of baked pastries and bread and ohh the smell of coffee wafting down the street certainly didn't leave much not to like! Another 'hidden gem'. Our guide proudly told our group about the history of Santa Cruz being the gateway to Caribbean and South America for sailing ships as we weaved through the pretty streets.
We travelled by coach up to see cigars being made which was a first for me and most interesting and then after tasting some local rum, locally made capsicum relishes with goats cheese and smoked meats, we headed off to a famous church high up above the city. Like in many other places, the solid silver altar from the church is dismantled and every 5 years I think it is here, carried down to the town in a very spectacular procession which involves some drinking. for a very important ceremony. I'm sure it comes back on a truck though!
These islands are typically volcanic in shape so have dramatic steep hills rising from the sea and townships forged where there is some level ground. But I have to say, if you ever come to the Canary Islands, a visit here is to be recommended. Just loved it.