Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mardi Gras

Then Tuesday it was Mardi Gras. I'm that far behind with posting all this.
Our friends François & Claudine are also staying at the residence, and they invite us to drive with them to see the Mardi Gras festivities in Santa Cruz, the capital. The weather isn't great when we start out, but I have faith it will get better, as it has every afternoon so far.
On the way, I see why the guide book shows no hiking trails for the whole southeastern quarter of the island: there's nothing much there to go look at.
Arriving at lunchtime, we see a teeny bit of the city before settling down to eat at an outdoor place set up for the festival. Grilled sausages! Should have had them, because the paella was just rice with two lonely mussels. But the fried little fish and octopus were great, and the beer refreshing.

 And now! for the parade! Some highlights only. Once the sun got low it was too chilly for us. A fun parade, though. Everybody was out there. Every school, church, club, and organisation of any kind, they were all out there in outlandish costumes, sashaying down the waterfront, strutting their stuff no matter how young or old. Good thing there were plenty of tourists, because without us there'd be nobody to watch it all.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Los Gigantes

uh, so that was Sunday.
Monday we took the bus to Las Gigantes.

These impressive cliffs have become so popular that the tourist town next to them ruins the effect. All those beautiful photos are very carefully cropped to delete the buildings rising higher and higher on the hillside, and even cutting into the cliffs themselves. The highest complex is an abandoned mess.

Yeah, I should talk. I myself am staying in a monstrous building that blights the view of the landscape for miles around.
What we're most interested in here is finding the head of a hiking trail that goes along the cliff face for a couple kilometers before heading inland to a town where we can surely catch a different bus home. We've borrowed a hikers' guidebook from M's friends, and it says that the trail is officially closed, and that parts of it are dangerous and it's really not for those with vertigo. Oh, and there are a couple of long tunnels, so you'll need a light for the 5-hour hike.
I don't intend to do the whole thing, I just want to get out of town, appreciate the landscape, and turn around.
But we don't even seriously look for the trailhead, which is somewhere along the road our bus just took. M doesn't want to. I don't get that, but there's no forcing the issue.
Fine. We look around the town, and for lunch somewhere along the spectacular coastline.

Lunch in the tourist trap is pretty lame. Boring, big-hotel food; not a cozy local joint in sight. But you can get a shot of the Giants without their creeping urbanisation, and a good look at one of the blowholes.

After lunch, M is so sick of the town that when we go to the bus stop for a trip out of here, she decides on a bus back to our lodgings. So I decide, well, why not stay and find the trailhead after all? And there was a beach promised, that we haven't seen. See ya later, alligator.
The map in the book is pretty lame, but it's not a big town, how hard can it be to find? You can see the scar the trail makes from here. The thing is, I'm trying to follow the directions backwards, and it's written "50 meters after the big rock, turn right" and suchlike, so you have to anticipate.
YEA I found the trail!
And it's a perfectly good trail.
Any time now, it'll take a left and get back to the cliffs.
A really hard left.
Er, no, I've gone the wrong way, this is the loop heading to the town.
But it's pretty, and it's quiet. Just like I like it.
An hour later, here we are. The trailhead to the part across the cliffs.

It really is closed, and hasn't been maintained for years. I try a bit, but I'm not a goat. Even the parts that look ok are covered with pebbles just waiting for you to slip on them, and then there is not much between you and the sea. So never mind. But I'm glad to have found it, and tried.
Oh, look, from up here you can see the beach! There really is one, tucked away between the port and the foot of the cliff. We passed just 50 yards from it earlier.

It's after school now, and most of the beachgoers are local teenagers and families. It's nice. Not noisy with radios or shouting or anything. When I get there, there's a jellyfish warning posted, so people are just playing or sunning on the sand. Once they take that down, people immediately get out there on bodyboards (for what surf?), or just get their feet wet.
Sun's going down - time to go catch a bus.

Friday, March 10, 2017


Sunday we all went to the nearby town of Adeje to go to mass and then eat lunch.

Actually, everybody else went to mass while I explored a bit of the hillside. Two major hiking trailheads are right next to the restaurant where we were to meet at 12:30. The weather wasn't great, but the sharp volcanic terrain is pretty neat. I kept going up and up, hoping to get a better view of the crags, or down over the town to the sea, but didn't have a lot of luck.
Here are a few shots:

Lunch was garlic chicken, the local potato recipe which uses egg-sized spuds covered with a layer of very fine salt & roasted, and wine. The carafe of rosé was so bad we sent it back, but we managed to suck down all the red they served us. The chicken was delicious - kind of dry, roasted with a thick covering of garlic & spices.
We were 10 at lunch, and afterwards some of the Tenerife regulars wanted to show those of us there for the first time some of the sights. So we took 3 cars and drove down to the ritzy part of town with its imported-sand beach.
Well, Bea drove like a person who knows where she's going, as she did. And in the crowded little streets full of pedestrians and crazy drivers, we lost the other two cars while searching for parking.  Without all of us present, Bea just wanted to call it off and go back home to lounge by the pool. M and I were out for adventure, not for hanging around a hotel, no matter how well equipped, so we hopped out, vowing to make our own way back.
M's idea was to just walk, it being only a couple of miles along the coast. I thought that was nonsense, having paid attention to the terrain and the stretches of private property and impassable ravines on the way, but I was certainly game to walk as much as we could, then go inland to catch a bus.
We had a great walk once we got out of town.


It's a delicate thing to persist in looking for a way forward and obtaining your goal of getting all the way back on foot, versus deciding to cut your losses and hike the mile inland necessary to find a bus, or in our eventual case a taxi. If you wait too long, a fun outing can become a really annoying, footsore failure. Especially if between you and your travelling companion, your thresholds for no longer having fun are quite different.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tenerife: Marazul

Oh, has it really been that long? Time does fly. I keep meaning to blog, and then don't. As you can see.

With things being pretty calm at work, I was able to take a week off and get some sun. It hasn't been a very onerous winter this year, but a grey one all the same. Even sunny days in January I go to work in the dark and get home from work in the dark.

My friend Mariette was very keen to go to Tenerife, where a bunch of her friends would also be on holidays, and she did all the hunting around for cheap tickets and stuff. You can get some incredible deals if you pay attention to all the extras, like checking baggage and having an in-flight snack and picking your seat and how/when you check in, and priority boarding. If you want to travel in any kind of comfort, the low-costs end up costing just as much as any other airline.

So we drove down to Toulouse on Friday afternoon, to catch a 6 am flight. How much savings is there if you have to spend 40$ in tolls, more on gas, plus dinner and a hotel room, just to get a good fare? As a principle, I mean. Toulouse was the closest airport with a flight going where we wanted, so we had to go down there and there's only one flight a day. I was just scratching my head sometimes, listening to the others talk about their 100-euro deals for flights out of Barcelona - um, you have to get to Barcelona, and then get home from Barcelona...

But, oh, partly sunny in Tenerife! and temperatures you didn't have to wear a coat for!

We were on the south side of the island, the dry side. Marazul, where we stayed, is a giant timeshare complex a couple miles from the towns to either side. It had a little convenience store, a bar, two restaurants, a hairdresser's, a travel agency, and gift shop, so if you needed something you didn't have to drive anywhere to get through the day, or take the bus.

The first day we spent pretty much settling in and visiting with Bea & Jean-Paul, who spend every February in apartment 414. Here are some pics from the ravine on the west side of the complex.

I really liked the crabs. They must no be good to eat, or there would be far fewer of them. But they're really fun to play hide & seek with. I see you!