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Reviews and Testimonials for Going Local in Gran Canaria
"Matthew Hirtes proves a witty and thorough guide to his adopted land in Going Local in Gran Canaria. While he takes care to cover all the practical essentials a newcomer needs to know, he slips in delicious tidbits of information about local culture, from favorite foods to the island's name (which comes from the Latin for dog; canaries are named for the island). It's like sitting at a beachfront café table with a knowledgeable friend who has all the time in the world to tell you about the place he loves to call home."
"This book include so much more information about Gran Canaria than most other books I have purchased. Even if you don't plan to move to the island, it's a great resource for tourists as well. Highly recommended!!"
"What this book is not is a rival for the Lonely Planet type guide that you would buy ahead of your first holiday on Gran Canaria - instead it goes under the skin of life on the island and lets you imagine what it might be like living there.
It's a fascinating insight into Gran Canaria with well-written sections for everyone: the tourist, the would-be 'native', the curious, the historian and everyone in-between.
The personal anecdotes are what draw you in and make you trust the author as a true expert while the facts were enlightening and often surprising. It's a book to read before you visit the island but also one to take with you as a reference book - the practical info at the start also might encourage you to skip the flight home, and set up here!
What comes across throughout the book is a clear passion for life on Gran Canaria and I would recommend this book as essential reading for travellers returning to the island having first skimmed the surface with a guide book and tourist map.
Overall it is a very good read, and written by someone who takes full advantage of the opportunities that life on Gran Canaria offers.
My one criticism would be that the author is a vegetarian, so he gives us a slightly skewed angle on the eating possibilities on the island - perhaps in a later edition he should get a carnivorous friend to help him out!"
"A few years ago an American travel writer admitted that he hadn't even been to the country (Colombia) that he'd written about for a Lonely Planet guide, instead cobbling together his info from the internet and a well-informed South American girlfriend. Ever since then, I've always been a bit suspicious about guide books - have the writers actually put in the legwork and been to all the places which feature in the text, or have they just spent hours browsing the web and let their imaginations run riot?
On a recent trip to the Canary Islands, however, I came across this book and it was clear from even the most cursory flick through that the author really knows his stuff. Formerly a London-based journalist, Matthew Hirtes has lived on Gran Canaria for nearly a decade and it is apparent that he is a genuine authority on virtually every aspect of life on the island: local culture, food and drink, transport and so on. Perhaps because Señor Hirtes is a bit of a sporty type - he has learned to surf since relocating to the Canaries and plays football for a Spanish-speaking veterans' team - the section on outdoor activities is particularly strong.
Throughout, the book is written in a lively and engaging style and, refreshingly, the author is not afraid to put the boot in if a bar, restaurant, hotel or whatever doesn't cut the mustard. Another aspect of the book I especially enjoyed were the various mini-interviews with other expats, providing their own particular slant on the pros and cons of local life. All in all, this is a guide I would thoroughly recommend, either to holiday-makers or to people thinking of making a permanent move to the Canaries."
"I considered myself to be too adventurous to travel to the Canary Islands for the umpteenth time but this book has me doubting my non-Canarian holiday resolve. Do not expect your average guide to negotiating the nightclubs and English breakfast joints. This is completely different. Buying this book would be a sensible investment for those planning a holiday on the island, but an essential "bible" purchase for those intending a new life there.
Hirtes has successfully gathered all the bits and pieces we would hope to find (but probably fail to find) via an awful lot of google research and created one handy guide. A brief (and humorous) history, some personal anecdotes (his and other contributors - particularly like this aspect), sections about climate, culture, public transport, employment etc. Also, a huge amount of essential information for those relocating, consolidated into something easy to follow and understand, plus common pitfalls and practical tips. For example, language learning, healthcare entitlements, school enrollment, property buying vs. renting, form filling, setting up in business and so much more.
My favourite section suggests ways that different groups of travellers from romantics to sports fanatics can enjoy the best that Gran Canaria has to offer whether they are there for just a weekend, a week, a month or a lifetime. Hirtes then moves on to discuss each individual area of Gran Canaria in his witty, informal and chatty style concentrating on food, beaches, accommodation, nightlife, fiestas and attractions.
Going Local is a fantastic guide for holidaymakers. But, if you are thinking of making a permanent move to Gran Canaria, it's an essential for your hand luggage. Moving to a new country is baffling even for the seasoned pro but this guide will help smooth the way."
"This book is a delight: an essential road map for anyone wishing to make the most of their visit to these fascinating islands.
To begin with, it places the history and geography of Gran Canaria into a clear and engrossing context.
It richly delivers too, on the more esoteric, avant-garde pleasures that the island has to offer. Matthew clearly has the magpie's eye for the exotic and unusual; such is evident from the treasure-trove of watering holes, eataries and architectual follies which he has unearthed. He has a finely-tuned sense for the ridiculous, and a genuine affection for the islander's foibles. His descriptions of the weird and wonderful fiestas the year round are hugely amusing and make you just want to be a part of the fun.
The style is engaging, avuncular and gonzo; bearing the unmistakeable stamp of the author's (a fine journalist) personal experience.
There are many autobiographical touches. These often prove unexpectedly moving and funny; the picture one gets is of a modern Londoner suddenly displaced into an alien culture and his process (sometimes painful) of adaptation born of bitter experience.
It is a also a practical book providing invaluable and succinct advice on such matters as claiming a pension, moving house and consular assistance. In this respect, it oozes commonsense and could well prove a life (or at least wallet!) saver for the unsuspecting tourist.
In short, an excellent and mind-broadening introduction-cum-survival manual for anyone contemplating either holidaying or emigrating to Gran Canaria. Warmly recommended!"
"Matthew Hirtes' in-depth look into Gran Canaria and what it offers first-time visitors and those those who decide to locate to its shores on a permanent basis, is a brilliant and engaging read that looks at all sides of life there to offer up a very detailed and personal account on how to make Spanish expat life a reality.
As someone who's moved out to the country myself to live and work, Going Local in Gran Canaria stoked my interest in the Canary Islands to new levels. From detailed accounts of where best to eat, drink, live and work, Hirtes leaves no path unchartered. The only thing I wish is that he'd come to Madrid and offered up a similar guide on life there first!"
"Whatever you want "Going Local In Gran Canaria" has just what you need. Whether you're staying for a weekend, a week, a month or for the rest of your life Matthew has packed this short guide with everything you'll need. Where to eat, what attractions to see, where to stay the night and when to fiesta - you won't miss a thing.
I particularly enjoyed Matthew's friendly and relaxed style; and the stories and anecdotes from other travelers and home-makers make this a very personal account of a wonderful Island."
"This is certainly a breath of fresh air from the normal travel or guide books. Superbly researched,informative and very amusing in places,Going Local in Gran Canaria puts the equivalent Lonely Planet guide to shame. It takes readers well off the beaten track and has finally exposed many hidden gems on this amazing island.
But this is more than just a useful travel guide for visitors and includes invaluable day-to-day information about living there as a resident. If you are planning on joining the ever-increasing expat population,this book will prevent from wasting literally hours of time queuing in government offices when you can be putting it to better use relaxing on the beach,hiking in the mountains,sampling a cubata or any other of the activities Matthew writes about,so entertainingly."
"The Canary Islands are somewhat an esoteric destination. Spanish, but not Spain. European but off Africa and sometimes chavy (when the English visit) bit often cultured. These islands are then somewhat of a conundrum. Easy to the eye, yet difficult to unravel. Thankfully Hirtes has managed just that, peeling back layer upon layer of what makes the largest of this archipelago tick, as an expert cook might peel back an onion.
This book is aimed at those wishing to settle in Gran Canaria, and is sometimes novel like in its anecdotal nature. Do not think that this renders the book lean on fact - there is plenty of information here - but rather that its prose entertains as it informs.
I bought the book as I have long considered emigrating to Spain, from England, and have started to think of a life a little off the beaten path. Of course such a move can be somewhat daunting, but though I have yet to visit I would consider myself now au fait with the Gran Canaria low down, which is appropriate since in European terms these islands are a little down low.
So here we have a guidebook that is also a book - a good read as well as a good guide. Sometimes Bryson like in its observational humour. A book that informs and entertains. And in doing so occasionally brings a tear to the eye, though through the deftness of the author's touch rather than that of the expert cook and his peeled onion!