Up until now I think the closest I’ve come to paradise is… well, in all honesty I can’t ever recall the word “paradise” entering my mind when describing an actual physical setting I’ve experienced. I’ve experienced beauty, majesty, grandiosity. I’ve experienced a sort of eerily soothing mysticism, but until now I don’t believe I’ve ever felt the kind of calm subtle awe that I feel from where I’m writing this right now.
I’m typing to you from Parador de La Gomera, from a sprawling hotel nestled atop the cliff overlooking San Sebastian, the port capital of La Gomera, the island closest to Tenerife. The sun is bright and warm and the breeze is cooling and constant and all I can see atop the low white wall surrounding the tranquil pool area is an endless stretch of clear blue sky punctuated by a sliver of royal blue sea.
It truly is a stone’s throw from perfection here.
Our apartment in Tenerife is providing us with a lovely, lively home base and we’ve already driven all over the island, swum in volcanic pools on the craggy northern coast, drove to the top of the towering El Tiede mountain, and wound our way through the less populated hills to the west. But this trip to La Gomera is a getaway within the getaway.
I really didn’t think that was possible, but as we stood atop the cliff yesterday afternoon, listening to the sounds of the town filtering up from below: the cry of a baby, a jack hammer, the gossip of two women, surrounded by tangles of fuchsia and violet bougainvillea, I felt even more relaxed than I had on Tenerife.
While San Sebastian itself is a small but perfectly typical little town, it’s the Parador that immediately won my heart. The beauty of the Spanish colonial hotel is in it’s stark splendor. The floors are all golden wood, polished to a glossy shine, with neutrally shaded carpets running down the centers of the halls. The nearly black wooden doors and frames contrast austerely with the white walls, which display tasteful sketches and paintings of fishing boats, seascapes and Spanish villagers and upper class. The bathroom in our room is almost entirely of red and cream marble and is separate from a small entryway, as is our bedroom, which is furnished with equally simple yet sumptuous wooden Furniture, two comfortable sleigh beds and a few colorful pottery lamps.
The back door opens onto a small Stone patio and the vast, winding garden that is elevated above the pool and provides, not only a lush selection of plant life but an amazing view to the sea. Within the Parador itself are several small but equally verdant courtyards, surrounded by flagstone hallways with shining rattan and bamboo rockers and loung chairs not to mention the generous sprinkling of sitting rooms and salons situated on all three floors of the house. Each is decorated with odds and ends perfectly suited to the environment; a ship’s Wheel, several old globes, settee and chaise lounges upholstered in soft, muted houndstooth and brocade.
The overall effect is stunning. It’s one of the few places I’ve stepped foot into and within an hour thought “I could live here”.
Which of course, is an impossible dream, but one that’s inspired by what I’m certain will be a lasting memory.