18:00 Sun.
2 Aug, 2020

Spain again

,
°C
12:00 am
12:00 am

What, Spain Again, just after San Sebastian? Well, not exactly, there was Australia in between, but as I write this posts 3 years later yea, another visit to Spain!

Once could say I like paella so much I throw a trip to Spain just to have it.

Since I learned about heat in Spain during my San Sebastian’s visit during last summer, I decided it was probably better to visit during winter this time. Just kidding, it was not up to me, again we had another project meeting this time in the middle of January 2018 in Madrid.

Well can’t say I’ve seen a store like this anywhere else, and I could say I’ve traveled somewhat…

The weather this time was much more cooperatively, I came from freezing Slovenia to a warm and sunny Spain. The added bonus was that because of their western position the sunset was only at 18’o clock or something. Well, since I’m already speaking about it I should mention that on the other hand sunrise was at 9. Perfect for my schedule.

This visit was a bit shorter in total only 4 days, of which I spent most of the time at the project meetings. Still, I had some time to explore the city. Again the city is enormous. I visited some parks, viewed some old buildings in the city centre and of course I had had a paella. This is just a must, if you visit a Spain, no matter which part, you have to have paella, it’s so good.

A knight on a horse and a squire on a donkey. I wonder who that might be. 🙂

Well not much more to say about it, nothing exciting happened during my visits, well nothing until our flight back.

 

17:00 Sun.
2 Aug, 2020

Workation

,
°C
12:00 am
12:00 am

Uff, this was so long ago I almost forgot I went. I’m not sure if I just couldn’t find it now or really didn’t even mention it anywhere. Thank god for the pictures, looking at them brings back the memories even though it is more than 3 years since I was in San Sebastian, Spain.

In middle of June of 2017 I had another project meeting, this time in San Sebastian, Spain. I was so happy to go there, not only because I have a thing for Spain, but also because Mikel, one of my best friends from Sweden, lives (or rather lived there).

I touched down in Barcelona, from where I thought it would be an interesting experience if I took the train to get from there to San Sebastian, which is on the west coast of Spain, and I was not sorry I took it, the train was fast, clean, nice and the best part was I was able to enjoy great vistas and see a bit of Spanish landscape which you otherwise just fly over.  The ride took over 6 hours if I remember correctly so in the evening I just made it in time to crash at my hotel.

The city of San Sebastian is very nice and quite different compared to the rest of the Spain. It is belongs to Basque country and the natives there consider themselves Basque before Spanish, they have their language, which is actually spoken there on the streets, but everyone also knows Spanish. The city is also quite rich, not sure from what, but just by watching the houses or rather mansions you can tell.

Other than that the city lies inside a gorgeous bay surrounded by small hills. Perfect for watching sunset.

As luck would have it, I arrived as usually during the extreme and unusual heat wave. It was way over 30 C all the time I was there, which is really unusual, so ofcourse no-one has ACs. Luckily the beach was large and nearby so it was not so bad, when I was not at the meetings.

Besides travelling, these project meetings are also great because of the social aspect and dinners that accompany them in the evening. I still haven’t eaten anything like the year before in Haliklidi, Greece. Though the Spanish variant wasn’t bad either. Up for eels anyone?

In the northern (I think) part of Spain the so called tapas are very popular. When you go into a bar or hang out with friends you don’t usually go for a dinner but into a bar, where the whole groups orders various bite sized snacks called tapas. They were very very good and the idea that you can try many different ones alongside nice cold beer, huh, really fantastic.

I said that Mikel lived in San Sebastian, well that was not actually true anymore, he moved to Valencia, where he had work. But luckily he came back just in time for me to meet with him. We spend a wonderful day of chatting, remembering the Sweden and all our friends from there. We even went to a nearby town just across the French border just, so we could send Jean a postcard from France. All in all it was a great day, well worth suffering the heat for the whole week.

Mikel and I in San Sebastian, 2017

I usually I also wrote some postcards to send back home and to co-workers.  I have slowly started abandoning this practice as it is becoming incredibly hard finding post stamps lately. But in San Sebastian I had a different problem, I couldn’t find mail box. After complaining to Mikel about it, he actually drove me to the post office in the end I was not surprised how I couldn’t find it earlier.

Mail box in San Sebastian

After the day I spent with Mikel I had to return back to Slovenia. To go back, instead of going by the train again I took a plane to Barcelona, which gave me whole day to explore the Barcelona.

The city is really amazing, I’m always overwhelmed with such big cities, since in Slovenia we have nothing like that. Since it was summer it was full of people, literary everywhere, on the buses, underground, I don’t think another person would fit on the beach and don’t get me started on the other tourists attractions. The  city is also notorious for the pick-pockets so I was kind of nervous whole time there, but luckily survived without any incidents and managed to see quite a lot of it. Still, I don’t think I would want to go on vacation there.

In the evening I returned back home, back to Slovenia. Huh, again, thank god for the pictures otherwise I would completely forgot about everything. But still I should be more diligent in the future and do this thing more real time like, otherwise what’s the point. 🙂 So now I’m off to the next overdue trip from memory lane.

15:00 Sat.
1 Sep, 2018

Dolphin Watching

Arguineguin , Spain
22 °C
Sunny
7:35 am
8:36 pm

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.

Camel
Camel

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.

Reminds me of Grand Canyon.
Reminds 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.

Banana tree
Banana tree

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.

Views from the center of island
Views from the center of island

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.

15:00 Sat.
25 Aug, 2018

Around the island again

Maspalomas , Spain
23 °C
Sunny
7:35 am
8:36 pm

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.

Mespalomes dunes
Mespalomes dunes

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.

Paella
Paella

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.

The westernmost point of Gran Canaria.
The westernmost point of Gran Canaria.

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.

Traffic sign.
Traffic sign.
15:26 Sun.
19 Aug, 2018

To Africa and Beyond

Arguineguin , Spain
21 °C
Sunny
7:35 am
8:36 pm

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 only day we could see, volcano on the neighboring island Tenerife. I think it's around 4.000m high.
The only day we could see it, volcano on the neighboring island Tenerife. I think it’s around 4.000m high.

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.

First sunset in Africa.
First sunset in Africa.

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 .

At one point we noticed we aren't on any path anymore. How could we miss the big wide road?
At one point we noticed we aren’t on any path anymore. How could we miss the big wide road?

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.

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