Tenerife. Made it. Completely on time, perhaps even early. However my advice for anyone entering or transiting Ireland: print out the onward boarding pass. Don’t know why but passed customs in Dublin not Frankfurt. Spent some time with the border guard explaining that I did have a ticket out, I just couldn’t print it (didn’t mention that until hours ago I wasn’t even sure that ticket really existed). He ultimately let me through with a strict warning not to leave the airport, and an “I.T.” (in transit) above my entry stamp. Then, rather than moving straight through to departures, I spent about 20 minutes trying to pull up a boarding pass on the slow and cumbersome free WIFI so I could get through security. Nothing doing. So out through customs (hoping my border guard would not consider this exiting the airport…). Always good to stretch the legs and ultimately going to the Aer Lingus check in counter meant a seat in aisle 3 rather than whatever back-of-the-craft seat I had originally (no business class on this plane, all economy and packed to the absolute gills with assuredly the least possible space between rows that they could legally maneuver).
And yes, I enjoyed a Guinness in the airport.
Makes a great lunch.
So arrival Tenerife. Dry, this island is dry. First saw Lagomera, which is much greener.
Tenerife, a destination for northern Europeans who want the beach, cheap cigarettes, and plenty of
inexpensive alcohol. Concentrated in the south of the island, where my friends live, of course as most of the jobs are there. For me, that’s the not-so-great part. But far from complaining. Warm, not too hot. Numerous beaches with water so saline it’s possible to float with absolutely no effort. Nothing quite like being fully held by the ocean, really by anything come to think of it (sorry, no pictures, no type of camera went to the beach with me…). And I had the best hotel of all, with Doña Carmen and Don Raphael, who truly did everything and anything to make my stay a great one. And as Carmen is a tour guide and Raphael operates the best boutique in Los Christianos, I was in very good hands. But more importantly, these are two people I’ve been so randomly fortunate to meet. Interesting, smart, deeply decent. Over the course of four days, we found differences in opinions, especially cosmology, which led not to discord, but to edge-pushing debates. Nothing like someone who doesn’t see the world exactly as you do to help you better understand your own perspective.
Discoveries from Tenerife? The best of all, leche leche.
About one, one and a half euros at any café, this tasty concoction starts with a layer of sweetened condensed milk, then espresso, topped with frothed milk. Sweetened condensed milk represents the ultimate in decadence. Used to eat it directly as a kid. Mmmmmm. It’s a very good thing I was only in Tenerife for five days.
To balance the leche leche, the waterfront in Los Christianos makes a great running path (and yes, I did run, once…). Then there’s the wonderfully mountainous interior (says the girl from Colorado). Truth be told, most of that was done in car and by tram, but it’s there for the walking. On a future visit, will plan some hikes to El Tiede and a day trip to the neighboring island of Lagomera. RealTenerife has some great itineraries.
Other highlights: First day, Wednesday, visited San Cristóbal de La Laguna, known as La Laguna in the northern part of the island. It’s the oldest town on the island with buildings dating to the mid 1500s. Perfect for wandering, with tourist presence but not overwhelmingly so. Peeked in the front door of multiple buildings to see beautiful tiles.
Apparently doors were left open at night to these entryways so the homeless could sleep there. A gesture to help the very wealthy feel beneficent. The corners of some even have a stone urinal (sorry, no photo, and yes, apparently only for the male homeless population). Found a little shop with my name
And one, Carla G, with elegant Italian clothes that seemed to perfectly reflect the color scheme of the town’s buildings.
Also found a small art gallery with birds made of vertebrae and an ocean in a ball.
Thursday spent the day wandering around Los Christianos. Running in the morning, then passing most of the day deep in philosophical discussions with Rapahel. And learning all about his casual, elegant, boutique, from which I want at least one of just about everything… I’ll post a full interview/description soon. Here’s a quick image for the moment.
Did a sunset swim with Carmen to close out the day. Sadly no images from there, but nothing quite like floating in the ocean with the sun right at the horizon. A deep slate color rippling through salmon/orange/pink….
Next up was a trip literally around the island with Carmen and Raphael. Some crazy crazy roads. Very glad Carmen was driving, not me. Basically one lane snaking down a mountainside, but with two-way traffic. Not engineering you see in the US. Here you can make out just a part of it.
Visited Masca (via one of the crazy roads), Guarachico (my favorite town), and Icod de los Vinos. Tasted several wines made from grapes obliterated in the rest of Europe in the 19th century due to the phylloxera epidemic. Saw a centuries old tree, El Drago Milenario, that’s actually a plant not a tree and is filled with cement to keep it vertical, but it made a good photo backdrop.
Guarachico is down another of those crazy roads. The town, formerly an important port, was mostly destroyed in the 1706 by lava flow. The local population survived by swimming out to a rock in the ocean. Now there are a number of pools built along the coast, filling with the tide, and some from heated volcanic water. Public and clearly popular. Then found the town square as the sun started setting. Perfectly lit the yellows and reds of the buildings. Daredevil kid on a red bike added to the photographic experience.
Perhaps the best part of the day? Finding that very casual and oh-so-good seaside restaurant. Seated on a terrace atop an old building right next to the ocean at the Medano beach. All the tables around us were doing it, and looked good to us, so we ordered the fish with my last name (charnai, any idea what fish that is??). Left the nice camera in the car, so these iPhone photos will have to suffice (photo to come, need to sync my phone!).
And then it was Saturday and time to leave for Paris. The complete opposite of the arrival flight, this was a throwback to air travel from years ago. Don’t think the plane was even half full. Had a full row to myself. First time on Iberia, and know not all flights would be so spacious, but I’d certainly fly them again. Nice flight attendants and a pilot who doesn’t put on the fasten seat belt sign at the slightest bump in the air.
Next up, stories from France. But now it’s time to explore the blocks long garage sale that happens to be taking place on the street outside the hotel!
ps. again with the photo placement! I will figure this out and improve, but this post is late enough!