2013-01-30 - lo siento, no hablo espanol

i'm back! chances are you didn't know i was gone. but i was. matti and me spent eight days in tenerife to escape the cold grip of the german winter. we had rented a nice little house on the slopes of spain's highest mountain, el teide, and had a terrific time amongst large waves, even larger mountains and completely insane spanish car drivers.

we went on 22. january from berlin tegel to tenerife sur. to avoid a long drive during the night we went to berlin the night before and stayed at michas place, one of matti's friends, to meet friends we haven't seen in a while and were served lots of food and drinks. upon arriving in tenerife we were immediately blown away by the warm sunny weather, the palms and the insane amount of huge hotels. so we got our rental car and went all around to the other side of the island where our little finca was located in a pretty rural area at an elevation of 700 metres. especially towards the end of that drive that trip was pretty unreal as the route was leading us along insanely steep slopes, narrow serpentines and scary dirt tracks. but when we finally got there we were rewarded with an incredibly beautiful view over almost half the island, very lovely hosts and a nice house to stay.

after that we spent pretty much all days on the road to see as much as possible of the many beautiful sights tenerife has to offer. i guess i'm gonna give a quick overview over each day:

01/23: the very first trip lead us to el teide. the ascent was an amazing drive trough thinly spread fields of shrubs, cloudy lava landscapes and along steep mountain sides with amazing views over the landscapes below. this first trip also revealed what would be one of the biggest problems during our stay: because of the narrow streets you cannot simply stop to take photos of all the amazing things you see. if there is no viewpoint or some other kind of space to squeeze your car into it is impossible to stop. we hadn't got a slot on one of the guided tours of the vulcano so we could only get to the open areas at a height of about 3550 metres (you can get there via cable car, thank god!). it's a weird feeling when you see from up above the clouds that you have been driving through the caldera of the vulcano for the past hour. on the way back we had various stops at viewpoints and also at a strange forest amidst the clouds. the evening was spent eating pompano in puerto de la cruz.

01/24: the next day we returned to puerto de la cruz to visit loro parque. it's basically a zoo although with a heavy focus on parrots. i would guess it's not quite as large as the leipzig zoo but with lots of sights you won't see anywhere in germany such as orca whales and dolphins or the incredible amounts of parrots. the was a very large ice-packed indoor penguin compount, an absurdly large aviary where could walk among the tree tops to see parrots and other birds eye to eye (or eye-to-bootlace when one particularly trusting birdy ventured to steel matti's bootlace). we were busy almost until the parque closes in the evening and once got back home after dark.

01/25: after two pretty demanding days we decided to take it easy the next day and to visit the parque del drago in icod de los vinos (i.e. the town more or less next door to our finca). the park is home to the (supposedly) oldest drago tree (wiki dracaena draco for details). it seems that estimates on the exact ago of the tree vary between 500 yrs (biologists) and one to two thousand years (tenerife natives). the thing is really big and impressive in any case and the park itself is pretty large and beautiful, too and well worth the small entrance fee. it contains lots of exibits of the local flora as well as a number of quite colourful chickens that seem convinced that they own the bloody place. after another small detour up some neighbouring hills we got some fresh fish and had quite a nice dinner as well as some good time at the sauna that was part of our finca.

01/26: for the next way we had a trip to the historic city centre of la orotava planned. in retrospect in was kind of naïve to not take the motorway and instead use some of the backstreets in the hinterland. at some point we decided to let google help us and got one of the most adventurous trips of the whole week out of that. incredibly steep and narrow streets that looked like no tourist had ever seen them before guided us to la orotava at last. but once there we failed miserably to find a parking space. i know it sounds absurd but even after a long search there no place to leave the car in walking distance to the city centre. so we left the city unnerved and went to the beautiful san christobal de la laguna instead. this time parking was no problem and the city centre of la laguna is really beautiful, too, as we soon discovered. as a bonus there were almost no tourists there (contrary to la orotava) and got some nice impressions of old canary island architecture out of it. on the way back matti stopped at one of the many viewpoints along the way, mirador san pedro to be specific. we decided to walk a few steps and discovered an amazing piece of land with beautiful views of the cliffs, a banana plantation, lots of palms and springs and in the end spent a few hours around there.

01/27: oh, that fateful day! we did a tour to the northwestern lighthouse on tenerife, punto del teno, via garachico and buenavista. there were lots of signs on the way that going there is not advised due to the dangerous road but we got there safe. the landscape on the way was stunning already with high mountains and cliffs right beside the road. teno itself gives an amazing view along the west coast of tenerife, the mountains and you can also see la gomera, the island to the west of tenerife, from there. despite the oh-so-dangerous road there where a lot of spanish people there as well as a few tourists. after a quick visit to an abandoned greenhouse compound nearby we decided it was still time enough to go to masca. and on the way there in some beautiful valley amidst the clouds the unthinkable happened: my camera died on me! that was really depressing! of course we went to masca anyway and i simply cam-napped matti's nikon whenever i needed to take a picture. masca was a pretty nice village but completely focussed on tourism. the view of the masca chasm was really impressive though and with more time on our hands (and more strength in our bodies) exporing might have been really nice.

01/28: on our last day we went way north based on the tip a nice man we'd met a few days before had given us. the destination was batan, a village amidst the anaga mountains. after leaving the motorway the route there got increasingly beautiful and batan itself was really stunning. completely hidden in a valley in the middle of eucalyptus-forests, almost no tourists, the rural village was, at least for me, the highlight of the whole trip. we did one of the (really steep!) trails around the village, met a nice cat, and had a wonderful but exhausting time there. we also went to the nearby cruz del carmen, a viewpoint and starting point for various points to the nature reserve there which turned out to be lovely, too.

the trip back was without incidents (except a little delayed start of our plane) and we got back safe and sound. my camera has not yet recovered despite a number of tips of the internet. i did first sweep through the photos and should probably post some here when i get around to it. also, matti did a way more comprehensive blog on our adventures and it should be somewhere over here real soon. anyway, as mentioned in the beginning, i'm back now!

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