Tuesday 1 February 2011


This post is about feet and legs. But don’t despair, dear logophiles, these body parts can be both intriguing, interesting and great fun to read about.

Let’s start with the intriguing part. Way back in 2003, I had an accident whilst hiking in Teneriffa (another one of those nice Canary Islands), with an important ligament in my right foot having been half torn. As a consequence, I could no longer raise that foot, which made walking somewhat difficult. I almost got persuaded to have an operation, but when the foremost foot surgeon in Belgium (Mr. de Halleux) explained to me what he intended to do, I realized that this was not for me. I thought that, instead, maybe the muscles could be re-educated to do the work that the torn ligament was not able to carry out any longer. 

Portal to the Beach
In that context I recalled the beach of Playa del Inglès. When I was on Gran Canaria for the first time, I walked along that beach one day, not realizing its wonders, since my mind was full of melancholy. I did not think much of the hike then and neither did I repeat the exercise during that stay. But with my foot aching and my mind busy with envisaging reasonable training schedules, it suddenly occurred to me that this could be THE PLACE for my exercises. “Why not give it a try and walk this beach back and fro barefoot for a week or two and see what this does to my foot” I was thinking and I rushed to buy tickets for a trip back to Gran Canaria for the second time after a ten years’ hiatus.

Seen in the light of possible reconvalescence the beach of Playa del Inglès is indeed a remarkable place. A stretch of firm sand, as made for walking, about five kilometres long; to your left (when starting to walk in Playa del Inglès) the Atlantic seemingly stretching unhindered for ever, but in fact bounded by the Sahara, which is just fifty kilometres away; to your right ridge after ridge of sand dunes resting in laid back leisure, burnished by the ocean breeze. As soon as I took of my shoes, on the first day of my return, my toes started to tingle and my feet started to walk almost by themselves, firm and wet sand driving them along, and gentle waves cooling them off, so that there never was a risk of tiring or overheating. 

You may be surprised, to hear that two weeks’ pure pleasure in hiking that beach for an hour every day restored the functionality of my ailing foot. It is as if the ligament never had been torn. A miracle if there ever was one! I trust you understand that I am now a true believer in WALKING THE BEACH. Since this remarkable recovery, I have been revisiting the blessed place at least once a year and I have never been disappointed with its remarkable healing properties. 

To count just a few of my ailments that this doctor has cured: Severe back aches, foot sores, bad winter cough and even a more or less chronic bronchitis I acquired in Brussels, the city of the bad winter air. How come that walking the beach is curing even lung afflictions? Well, good folks, this is due to the purity and saltiness of the ocean air that you cannot avoid breathing whilst doing some healthy exercises on the beach. With salty water on your toes and salty air in your lungs your health is getting restored almost without efforts; a leisurely stroll along the beach will do. 

Now comes the interesting part: I am not the only one having discovered the beneficial effects of strolling along. If you plan to follow my example and rush off to Gran Canaria, you better plan to get up early in the morning for your daily routine. I usually start the walk around 9 pm and have the beach more or less to myself. An hour later and I would have to share it with thousands and yet more thousands of fellow walkers. This is no surprise, considering the effectiveness and speediness of the cure. What surprises me is that at least half of the walkers have SHOES ON! This is as going to the doctor, but refusing to take medicine he has prescribed!

To finish this post in a half-joking vein, here is another piece of advice for your planning of the trip to Gran Canaria. Have your doctor or spouse measure your legs before you leave home. I have done so and found that my left leg is slightly larger than the right. There you have the ultimate reason for me staying in Playa del Inglès instead of in the more fashionable Playa Meloneras (which is located on the other end of the beach). When starting my walk from my hotel, I am going westward, with the ocean to my left. I think you get it now. I am all for pleasure in walking and every little help is appreciated.

Postscript: Many readers have contacted me about this posting. Given this general interest, I have prepared a gallery of my better pictures from this marvelous beach of Maspalomas and invite you to look at it at the video below.  [For reasons that escape me, some readers are unable to open it. For them, please click the word Video]


  1. Dear Emil, my "old" Boss,

    it´s such a pleasure to read your thoughts and experience right now! You make me smile, and I wish I could have joined you walking that gorgeous beach. I have been there once, in Augtumn 2009, on a work-trip, holding a speach. Many of the participants brought their kids, so I did too. While my two daughters(then 12 and 16) jumped into the pool, I sat by a tiny table in our hotel room, working on a forecast for the Swedish economy. Still, it was nice to see the brilliant light from outside, and in the evening we went down to the restaurants along the beach, which was the best part of the trip, for me. I don´t mean the part of eating a good dinner, but the part of seeing my daughters and the sunset outside the window, and having a time on our own.

    Keep enjoying yourself!

    Your "old" admirer

  2. Yes, that is the beach! I stayed, not in Playa del Ingles, but just a few hundred meters up the hill in a place with a name I don't want to remember. The place was half-built at the time, and of very charm. But we never stayed there very long, except for sleeping.
    We even rode the camels, as all good tourists should. Have you tried that?

  3. Dear Lena and Kari,

    Thank you kindly for your encourageing reactions, they will help me continue the hard blogging work.

    No Kari, no camels for me, I am afraid, even if they are dromedars rather than camels. Either way, I much prefer to keep going on my own feet, either on the beach or in the mountains. More about the latter in forthcoming posts!

  4. Dear Emil,
    Thank you again for your blogs.
    They almost make me feel that we made a wrong choice for our first "holiday" trip during our retirement as we are leaving to Mauritius next week.
    Anyway, I can learn one thing at least: to have long walks on the beach. I think that we will have such opportunities in Mauritius as well. In fact, walking barefoot on the beach has been our favourite things as well - though never done as a regular and healing exercise. Now I am better informed.
    A particular thank for your tip that such walks in salty air can be curing also for lung diseases. I also got one in Brussels - a mild astma. I have recognised during my holidays in warm places that my astma becomes easier with warm weather and perhaps also with salty air. I guess that I'll add more snorkeling to my programme.

    Many thanks and best regards,

  5. wonderful ! it's so beautiful , i would like to visit someday

  6. Gratuliere dem Lebensgenießer, der das eigene Reisen überflüssig macht und die für uns exotische Welt auch in das schneeige Österreich sendet. Weiterhin viel Spaß