Fuelling up for Walking on La Gomera Andy Montgomery | Posted: 05 February 2013
A veritable feast to give you energy to enjoy your walking holiday on La Gomera
Andy Montgomery

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Andy Montgomery

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Enjoy breakfast before setting off for the next leg of your walking holiday on La Gomera

What can you expect to find on a breakfast buffet in the Canary Islands and, crucially, is it enough to sate the appetite of a hungry walker?

When I'm about to set out from my rural hotel and head into the achingly beautiful walking terrain of La Gomera to spend a day climbing and descending steep barrancos, breakfast becomes more than just having something to eat, it's essential fuel.

Getting a good breakfast under my belt can add an extra spring to my step and make the difference between a morning's enjoyable walking and an endurance test to make it through to my packed lunch. Experiencing breakfast in three different rural hotels, I naturally found myself comparing and contrasting the breakfasts in each.

First stop was the picturesque Tamahuche Rural Hotel in Vallehermoso where breakfast is served in the cosy, traditional dining room at the front of the house.

Arriving to the irresistible scent of freshly brewed coffee, the first thing that struck me was the unusual components of the breakfast choice. As well as the standard selection of muesli, yoghurt, fresh bread rolls and squeezed orange juice, there was a bowl of gofio, a traditional flour milled from maize, wheat or barley whose use dates back to the island's first known inhabitants. Added to cereal or mixed to a paste with condensed milk, gofio is like an early power food and is still used extensively in rural communities across the Canary Islands to thicken stews and soups or to stave off hunger until lunch time.

Alongside the traditional Spanish breakfast components of cooked ham, chorizo, cheese, jamón Serrano and cakes, each morning there were breakfast 'specials': a delicious plátano [banana] flambé served with orange segments and sprinkled with demerara sugar; creamy rice pudding with aromatic nutmeg; home-made, sweet empanadillas (pastries) and traditional biscuits. As breakfasts go, this one was a real winner and fuelled me up nicely for my morning's exertions.

Next on the itinerary was the characterful Hotel Ibo Alfaro in Hermigua where we had a beautiful room at the front of the house with widescreen views right across the valley and the town to the Atlantic, and beyond, just visible above the ridge, to the outline of Mount Teide on the horizon. At Ibo Alfaro breakfast is served in the pretty dining room with its volcanic stone walls, eclectic art collection and views over the valley.

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As well as an impressive selection of cold meat cuts and the addition of hard boiled eggs, the harvest of muesli, nuts and dried fruits at Ibo Alfaro is the best I have ever encountered and I was like a kiddie in a sweet shop each morning with my cereal bowl filled to spilling. Then there was goat's cheese, Brie, jamón Serrano, jams, cakes and breads all freshly served and begging to be sampled.

Our final hotel was the rather splendid Parador in San Sebastián, perched on its cliff top overlooking the harbour and looking as if it has been there since the 17th century rather than the late 20th when it was actually built. The dining room at the Parador is sumptuous – all chandeliers, high-backed chairs and sweeping drapes with an elegant conservatory room where you can take breakfast amidst the birdsong and the tropical gardens.

The Parador has a reputation for fine dining on La Gomera and the selection, creativity and presentation of the dishes was, unsurprisingly, considerably better than at either of the rural hotels.

Here for the first time I could satisfy a yen for breakfast cholesterol with bacon, sausage and fried egg should I feel the need. Here, too, was the only fresh fruit salad I encountered during my sojourn and fresh juices that ran beyond the ubiquitous orange to include mango and papaya. The hot food could have been hotter but on the up side, their sticky doughnuts are quite possibly the best in the known Universe.

So, which breakfast came out top of my unofficial, completely random and unscientific comparison of breakfasts on La Gomera? The fact is, every hotel allowed me to breakfast like a king, giving me high energy, nutritious fuel and sweet treats to set me up for a rewarding morning's walking. I stepped out of each and every hotel with stamina levels that remained happily high right through to lunch. By a hair's breadth I decided my favourite was Tamahuche, as I loved their freshly made specials and their aromatically addictive coffee.

Now if you were to ask me who prepared the best packed lunch...

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