Ann-Marie – How Did a Finnish Girl End Up on Gran Canary Island?

Gran Canaria is the second most populous island of the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago, with a population of 838,397 which constitutes approximately 40% of the population of the archipelago. Located in the Atlantic Ocean about 150 kilometres (93 mi) off the northwestern coast of Africa and about 1,350 km (840 mi) from Europe. The island is called a “Miniature Continent” due to the different climates and variety of landscapes found, with long beaches and dunes of white sand, contrasting with green ravines and picturesque villages. A third of the island is under protection as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Now, let’s meet Finnish girl who somehow found herself living in Gran Canary Island.

I’m Ann-Marie Merkel. I am originally from Finland and currently live in Spain, Gran Canary Island. I’ve lived here since last January (2015). I am a blogger.  However, I have plans to open a small bar here. I’m helping my boyfriend a couple times a week with his music performances when he has his gigs around the island.

My Spanish family is my boyfriend and my pitbull Jeremiel (2). The rest of my family – mom, dad, my brothers, grandparents and friends all live in Finland.

How did I end up here? Well I used to say that I would never go for a holiday in Canary Islands. It’s just proves Never say never – one of my best friends was working here during the winter 2014-15. We booked a holiday with the other girls to see her. Three days before we were supposed to fly back home to Finland I met this man – my boyfriend and future husband. So, life gives you what you ask for. In three weeks I returned to the Canary Islands.

The best thing about this island is the weather. 

It’s pretty much always sunny and warm. Even though I miss the fall right now, crisp mornings and wool socks – life is SO much easier with just a pair of flip flops, right ? 😉 I also love the ocean. As a matter of fact I can see the Ocean right now from my living room window. That’s the view!

My typical day goes more or less like this:

In the morning I work on my blog and some other stuff on my laptop. In the evenings I help my husband by being his technical assistant. When we have days off we go shopping, to the pool, movies, dinners, meet some friends etc. – all the stuff any normal couple might do!

Restaurants are far cheaper here than for example in Finland. I like to go and eat different foods and try different restaurants.

Lifestyle is a subject that I was actually thinking to blog about yesterday. For tourist, this is like a paradise, a really easy place to visit. However, when you live here it is a bit different story. Everything here is either tomorrow (manana) or not their fault, and many times it’s really pisses you off. Any regular stuff you take as granted like phone company: so far whatever they have said to us will happen or work – or promised us – has not been true or taken place. There is no timetable, no urgency, no prices, nada. NADA! I am not kidding.

Learning to deal with different mentality than you are used to… For example: there is a laundromat in Arguine (24h hyperdino gasoline station (self- service). Their dryers didn’t work and they do not bother tell you that. You find out AFTER you have tried twice drying your laundry and it is still wet. You would think they would tell you that, right? I didn’t realize this at first. I just listened to my husband telling how rude they are. Why – because when Finnish people are rude I am pretty sure anyone can tell that without understanding a word of Finnish. Not the same here.

Apartment hunting experiences… Let me tell you another example. We were looking for an apartment and the agent was a local guy. However, he spoke Finnish pretty well! He offered coffee at his office while we were waiting for the owner of that house to arrive. We spoke about different options, how the house is really big, private, great etc.

Well everything changed when we saw the house. A private house does not have a terrace shared with three other people. Not to mention you could also see inside the other house as people were having a siesta there. The house was smaller than we were told, one window behind in the bedroom – absolutely horrible – and not at all what we told him we wanted.

When my husband saw that I didn’t like it and he didn’t like it either (he has this slightly annoying habit to tell to everyone ”you are the boss”), I was in-charge. Well, I was shy and asked politely about other housing options. Suddenly, everything changed. The agent became rude: ”This is the only one you can get”- and that’s it. It really was such a surprise to me. Now I understand how they are, or how they aren’t. What happens when they can’t please you –  or you aren’t pleased what they have to offer.

In general people are very nice and easy going. They say hello to you everywhere – even the supermarket – people who you don’t know you at all. That’s a welcome change after Finnish people who only stare at their toes 😉

At the end, people here are kind and easy to get along with. You will have no problems as a tourist here. However, please rent a car and go see Mogan, go see north of the island, Agaete, caves, mountains and all the nature. There are wonderful small towns – such amazing places. The Play del Ingles (PDI) area is full of hotels and touristy places.

My Tips: I have spent enough time here to have some favorites where to take my friends and family when they come to visit. Let’s see – a few places to name in Playa del Ingles area:

Desnunos, it’s a kind off messy at first but once your look little bit closer, you can find shoes, clothes, home decorations or even bags really really cheap.

A big Chinese shop in San Fernando, I love it, you can find whatever you need.

Along the pedestrian road in San Fernando there is a shop where everything is 10 euros. I like to buy my handbags from them. The products are very nice. I’m gonna take my mom there next time !

When people ask me about moving back to Finland – Yes, we will make home in Finland. Maybe next spring, and also the wedding will be there in fall 2016. So no, this is not rest of my life home but in the meantime I enjoy my life here.

On my To-Do list is to learn Spanish. Many Spanish people don’t speak English so socializing and life in general would be much easier in their language.

Luckily the tourist season is starting soon. Many Finnish people come here so I can start speaking my own language again 🙂

Lastly, I wanted to tell you all if you come to this island, and like Asian cuisine, check out Fusion Restaurant next to Centro Commercial Yumbo. Amazing food !

Nice to meet you all online and below is how you can find me in the future !