The last two days we spent relaxing near our hotel, swimming, reading a book on the beach. Not to waist the whole day just lying on the beach we decided to go on a short trip with a boat to try and find dolphins that usually swim nearby. Surprisingly enough after about 45 minutes of riding the waves we actually came to a group (school?) of dolphins. They were jumping out of the water and swimming around the ship. As per usual, I managed to miss all the good shots. They are surprisingly large up and close.
And the main thing … well you can’t say you’ve been in Africa if you haven’t ridden a camel – sort of.
On the last day, the sky was super clear so we again decided we should go and try to hike on the Roque Nuble. We took a different route now (with a car), it was suppose to be a bit faster. On the way there, we drove through some amazing valleys, they reminded me of Grand Canyon.
And somewhere along the way we found a big sign that sad camel safari. It didn’t take us long to decide to check it out. We found out you can actually ride the camels there for about 20€ / person. Well you don’t get this chance every day so it wasn’t long we were sited high on the camels, slowly swinging as they walked. Sadly they had these big ugly green saddles on the camels, so we weren’t sitting directly on them, but it was a fun hike anyway.
After the ride we finally realized we were in Africa, despite being April it was so incredibly hot on the sun, and despite using 50 sun sunscreen, you could actually see the “sleeves” later in the evening, the total camel hike lasted about an hour. The place also had some other animals there and a banana palm. Don’t think I ever saw one before, it actually had some bananas on it.
On our way to the top we stopped at a gas station. I’m mentioning this because the woman working there actually filled the car for us, I don’t remember when this last happened in Slovenia, must have been at least 20 years ago. Anyway this time we reached the top of the island and luckily there were no clouds to be seen anywhere. The views were really amazing.
In the evening we returned to Maspalomas, we had an early flight at 5 am or something, so we didn’t rent a hotel for the last night. Instead we went to a nice restaurant at the edge of the dessert to have another paella and then played about 30 games of briskula late into the night until it was time to actually go back.
All in all it was a very fun trip although a bit short. We did a lot of exploring and I will never forget the first hike to the rock in that fog and rain. Hopefully we will visit Canary Islands again soon, this time some other island. By the looks of it Tenerife island is even better.
After a rainy Sunday it was only natural to go someplace that is know for a lack of rain – the desert. It just so happens there is a small desert in the south of the island. I’m not really sure if it really is a desert, but it sure looks like it. Large sand dunes stretch couple of kilometers around at the seaside in the south.
The town of Maspalomas is the most touristic area of the island, full of bars, hotels and restaurants. After the dunes we hiked around the town before going back to our apartments. For most of the time we cooked for ourselves, I think in total we ate outside 3 times, and all three times it was paella time.
Sadly it wasn’t as good as the one Veronika and I had in Valencia couple of years ago.
On Tuesday we went to visit the main city on the island Les Palmas, the city is located on the far north of the island. It is quite large, almost 400.000 inhabitants, so larger than Ljubljana. We visited couple of stores and hiked alongside the main beach. Aside from few interesting shops there wasn’t much to do here and we were happy we picked south of the island for our vacation.
In the afternoon, instead of taking the highway and going down the same way we came up, we decided to go around the island. Again, the roads quickly became narrow, cutting into the edges of cliffs high above the sea. The views were amazing though.
We stopped at a couple of places along the way. At the most west part of the island there was a iconic traditional colored lighthouse.
It took us half a day to get back home again. Along the way, from time to time, we saw this funny traffic sign, alerting drivers about donkey-cow, sadly we did not see any live specimen of the animal depicted.
More than 6 years have passed, since my friends and I planned a trip to Canary Islands. Sadly back then, just couple of months before our departure Ryanair cancelled our flight and we had to change our plans and go to mainland Spain. Since then we waited for the right moment to take that trip again and this year that moment had came. In the end of April Veronika, I and two of my friends Vito and Eva finally left Europe and landed in Africa.
Our destination was Gran Canaria – the third largest island of Canary Islands. The round island is of volcanic origin, it is relatively small – only measuring 50km in diameter. It is located about 200 kilometers west of Western Sahara in Africa.
The flight from Venice took about 5 hours and I think it is the longest (by far) flight operated by Ryanair or some other low budget airline in Europe. We landed about 4pm on the island where we rented a car. We have pre-booked the car, while we were back in Slovenia, I still cannot believe how cheap it was. We booked our car at AutoReisen, and for 7 days we paid less than 50€ (not per day, in total). Noted, we did rent it out of the main tourist season, but still, it was actually cheaper to rent a car for whole week than to take a taxi from the airport to our apartments on the other side of the island.
We arrived to our apartments in the evening, we choose the south of the island for our home base – a small town of Arguineguin. Surprisingly the weather on the island varies differently on the location, the south is better for summer holidays, it is warmer, sunnier and as a bonus it has a small desert couple of kilometers from our location.
We spent our first two days exploring little towns around us and swimming. Despite this being Africa and getting burned really really fast on the sun, the water was cool – couldn’t have had more than 20 degrees, so in the end we didn’t swim that much. The area is very touristy, with lots of activities, beaches and paths everywhere.
To our amusement the people there seem to like Spar (the store) very much, it was literary on every corner.
On Sunday (3rd day) we decided to go check out markets in the northern part of the island. The weather wasn’t the best but at least it wasn’t raining, yet. We took the highway on the eastern part of the island to go north and then went through the middle of island back. After about an hour of driving, we reached small town of Teror where the market was located. The market was nothing special, but Vito and I managed to “pirate” a recipe from some tourist cuisine book, that we later replicated. It was the Spanish pancake thingie, that Mikel did in Luleå once.
After the market we continued toward the middle of the island. There are two very high “rocks” in the middle, from where you can see half of the island. Sadly the closer and higher we got, the more clouds gathered. In the end when we finally reached the Roque Nublo it started to rain a bit, we stopped the car just below the fog. Since we already came here, we thought it only makes sense to actually hike to the top, it was suppose to be about 30 minute hike on a nice path to the top. This turned out into a fun adventure, soon after we left the car we found ourselves in a dense fog, the rain started pouring down on us, the paths literary turned into streams. After about half an hour we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of steep slope, below some cliffs and in some dense vegetation. The fog was so dense we weren’t sure where we were or where we had to go. After searching for another half an hour, climbing the steep slopes we finally figured out we were lost. After some intense backtracking and searching we finally found the correct path and soon climbed to the top where we could see exactly nothing, the fog was so dense the visibility was about 5m .
We returned to a car about 3 hours later, all wet and cold. As we lowered from the mountains the fog dissipated and we were greeted by incredible views of the valleys below us. I think we were stopping every 15 minutes to take some photos, combined with a narrow and windy road it must have taken us more than 2 hours to make the last 25 kilometers to our apartments, where the skies were clear and of course there was no sign of rain.
After arriving we found our way to hostel we booked in the city center. Since we wanted to go to the Sydney’s marathon the next day, which started early morning, we didn’t have time to stay at Veronika’s relatives in the suburbs. Since we arrived too early we left our backpacks at hostel and left to explore the city. We visited a market, where a lot of Asians were selling all kings of cheap stuff. We bought some souvenirs and gifts here, some were actually made in Australia and had certificate (if it wasn’t counterfeit).
For lunch we decided to visit famous Sydney’s fish market, which had really great reviews. The fish marked looked really good, there were tons of fresh food raw and cooked. Sadly everything was very expensive, in the end we decided to grab a 2 person’s plate with various sea fruits, which was about 50$. It was pretty disgusting, so I would say if you aren’t prepared to spend more than 200$ on lobster don’t go to the fish market.
After the lunch we walked around the city some more. I really liked the dead end streets with circular ending so you can turn your car around. We also saw some old building in the city center alongside high modern skyscrapers.
In the evening Veronika’s cousin brought us the rest of the suitcases that we have left at their place so we finally checked in at the hostel. After a short shower in the most disgusting bathroom I ever was in (the water was leaking from the ceiling) we were ready to explore the city a bit more. We took another hike through the Royal botanical gardens, from where there is a great view of the opera and Harbour bridge. We sat there and watched the sunset, together with around 50 tourists.
After the sunset we had to go back to our hotel to get some much needed sleep. Next morning we had to wake up really early to get to the marathon. Veronika had decided to participate, so we took metro under the bridge to the other side where the start was. There was great view of the opera from this side.
The rout went over the bridge and then around the city center. I walked over the bridge and took couple of more photos.
After the run we took couple more photos and then sadly had to head back to our hotel to prepare for our departure in a couple of hours.
Sadly we lost almost 2 days of exploring the city with flight cancellation, still we had about 4 days of exploring the city which was enough to get the first impression. It is a nice city to visit, from all the cities however I preferred Melbourne but most of all I loved our trip in the Queensland, there is so much to see and so much to do there compared to the rest of the country.
Sadly this was the end of our great trip to Australia. I definitely loved every day of it and would love to return. I’m a bit sorry I didn’t know about working holiday before (now I’m almost too old for it), it would be an interesting experience living in New Zealand or Australia for a year. Anyway at 3 PM we boarded our plane and left Australia. After gruelling 23 hours we touched down in Venice.
On Wednesday, late morning, we checked out of the hotel and walked couple of hundred meters to the central train station where we took the an hour long train to the Gold Coast.
The Gold Coast is a tourist city full of skyscrapers alongside the beach. After a bit of searching we found our hotel (Meriton Suites again). At check-in we were pleasantly surprised when we learned that our room is going to be in 53rd floor with a view over the sea. This was by far the highest I ever slept and the view was fantastic. The hotel also had an indoor and outdoor swimming pool with fitness and sauna. The apartment was a bit smaller than the one in Brisbane but more than enough spacious.
For these last days we decided to take it easy. We spent most of the time watching tv, cooking, swimming and going for a strolls through the city. Since city stretches for some length along the beach, we used local tram to get from one end to other faster.
Both mornings we were waken by a gorgeous sunrise over the sea.
On Friday morning we had a flight scheduled at 8AM, so we were up at 6 and ready to leave. Just when we checked out however, we got an SMS that our flight was cancelled. After trying to get TigerAir (airline) on the phone. I guess everyone was also tying to do that since we arrived at the airport (1 hour away) before they picked up. The airport was full of stranded people, the reason why the flight (and others) were cancelled was because there was strong wind in Sydney so planes couldn’t land there. For some reason we could not get an alternative flight before Sunday afternoon which was too late for us, since we had flight back to Europe at 3PM. We looked at option for renting a car, but since we would have to leave it in Sydney it would cost us around 400€ (the flight ticket was around 60€/person) (btw which we didn’t get refunded, but only got 60€ positive balance if we book another flight in the next 6 months, which we obviously cannot do!! 🙁 furthermore my company ensured me for 100k€ but of course flight being cancelled was not included so I didn’t get anything from insurance either).
Left with no other option we had no choice but to book another bus to Sydney. After another 16 hours overnight (and day) with bus we arrived to Sydney, tired and cranky, on Saturday morning. We were quite upset about this, since we lost whole Friday and half of Saturday.