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.

23:18 Wed.
26 Jul, 2017

Time to make some paella!

Valencia , Spain
27 °C
Partly Cloudy
6:56 am
9:19 pm

Near the end of the year (2015) we randomly found out a return plain ticket from Venice to Valencia, Spain cost only 45€, of course we had to buy it, it was almost cheaper than bus ticket from Nova Gorica to Ljubljana.

Soon after, on the 20th December, we were on the plane flying toward Spain. We landed in the evening and took metro to the city center where we had hotel. Next day we had reservation in a nearby restaurant for paella.

Underground from airport to the city center.
Underground from airport to the city center.

Early in the morning (at least early for Spain) we woke up and went for a walk through the old city center. The city is old but fairly clean, there were a lot of people but not too much, since it was out of season. Despite being December it was quite warm, almost 20 degrees during the day in the sun. City was full of trees, not just any trees, the trees were full of mandarins. After trying one we soon learned why no-one ate them – they were sour as lemons.

Mandarins in December through the city of Valencia.
Mandarins in December through the city of Valencia.

In the city center there was the largest closed market in Europe (if I remember correctly). They were selling all sorts of fruits, vegetables, meat and fishes. The biggest surprise was strawberries. They had really big and juicy strawberries for less than a quarter price of the ones in Slovenia. After buying 1kg of them we learned they were also much better than the ones we get here in Slovenia (during the late spring/early summer – we have no strawberries in December), they were very sweet as oppose to the ones we get in Slovenia which are watery almost without the taste. After enquiring a bit we were told that the season for greenhouse strawberries has just begun.

In the afternoon we had a chance to try paella at last. It was so good, almost worth the whole trip just to try it.

Paella in Valencia.
Paella in Valencia.
Paella in Valencia.
Paella in Valencia.

After the lunch we had a chance to explore the city some more.

The next day we had a chance to visit the famous beach in Valencia.  It looked so nice, very very large full of sand, you almost wanted to go for a quick swim in the sea. We had a nice lunch at the beach-side – again paella of course, with some snagrias to  have full Spanish meal.

Valencia's beach.
Valencia’s beach.

After the lunch we went to the other side to visit City of arts and sciences. 

Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències
Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències

It was really interesting inside. They had tons of experiments that you could try everything from space and stars to animals. We also saw a 360 degree  movie about Jerusalem, it was quite a fun experience.

Preparing to see the movie. The thing I have around my head are headphones. The movie was dubbed to different languages.
Preparing to see the movie. The thing I have around my head are headphones. The movie was dubbed to different languages.

After we finished with everything it was already night and time to go to sleep. Next day we had something really special planned.

L'Hemisfèric
L’Hemisfèric

The next day we had “How to make a paella” cooking course. It lasted for about 5 hours and we did everything. In the beginning we went to local market (from previous days) to buy the ingredients. We also bought few grams of zafran alongside with snails, rabbit, chicken and other ingredients. After it we went to the restaurant where me Veronika and another two couples from USA were instructed how to do everything from cleaning to cooking ingredients.

Cooking paella
Cooking paella

In the end we tried our creations and while it was ok, I think I will stick to going to the restaurants there, theirs is better. 😛

After the course we went to visit the bullfighting arena near our hotel. It was closed few years ago and turned into a museum.

Bull fighting arena
Bull fighting arena

This was our last day in Valencia, but we couldn’t leave without trying one more thing: The black turtle burgers. We read online that it’s a must try after paella and spoiler alert, it was really worth it. Note: you really need a reservation before though, it is packed full all the time.

Veronika enjoining her burger, while I did a fatal mistake and took a burger with pancakes instead of bread buns. :(
Veronika enjoining her burger, while I did a fatal mistake and took a burger with pancakes instead of bread buns. 🙁

The interesting part is that the fries are even better than the burgers. They are dipped in the cheese and spices sauce.

The black turtle french fries.
The black turtle french fries.

After big dinner we went to hotel and took the bus next day back to Slovenia. It was a fun trip and we will definitely go again if we find another cheap flight. It’s a good trip for a few days and if you go outside of summer season it is fairly cheap.