Sunday, January 09, 2011

More Fun Things From Fantastic Dresden

These guys that I spotted in the fall near the Elbe summed up how everyone was feeling with winter approaching pretty well.

The pleasant smily faces made me feel a bit better about things, though.

I thought the brain-drainer was pretty clever, too.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Of banana farms and fishing towns

From our last hotel in Puerto Santiago, where we spent our last 5 days in Tenerife, we were able to cross the street, go across an empty lot, and - so we thought - cut through a banana farm to walk to the coast. We started off on our trek, successfully entered the banana farm through a side gate that was open, and started trying to find the exit closest to the coast, which unfortunately, didn't exist. The friendly workers kept pointing us in the direction of the exit, which was by the street, exactly the direction we didn't want to go. So we cobbled together a question in Spanish of how to ask for the exit by the beach, and were told we had to walk down the street and then cut through another lot to the coast. At least we tried, got a cool glimpse into a banana farm, and one worker even chased us down and gave us an armload of delicious ripe bananas!

We didn't walk between the trees, we always stayed on the paths between the walled-in areas where the bananas were growing. There were always doors open into the actual banana fields, so we could look in and check out the plants.

A lot of the giant bunches of bananas were bagged, apparently to protect them from pests that would harm the fruit.

We made it to the water! The coast is quite stony, composed of rock that was formed from the volcanic eruptions that also created the island. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera and didn't take photos of Punta Blanca, where we took a longer break. It was an area made up of not only black stone, but also layers of white stone, rounded by erosion and creating an almost space-like feel to the area.

Our walk along the coast took us from Puerto Santiago once again to the village Alcalá. The distance from our starting point to Alcalá was about 4-5 kilometers. In Alcalá we were able to observe the crabs at the harbor enjoying whatever they were picking off the rocks and eating!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A hike in the Canadas at the base of El Teide

On our drive up to the national park surrounding El Teide, where you are in danger of park rangers roaring up in their SUVs and shaking their finger at you and hissing "No! Parque Nacional!" if you accidentally leave the path, we stopped off at a scenic turnout and enjoyed the view of La Gomera next door. I'd like to go back there and back into the spoooooky-oooky foggy forests, supposedly the biggest existing laurel forest in the world. Call me a weirdo, but I like foggy hiking places. My first trip into the Sächsische Schweiz was in the late winter in 2003, and my jaw literally dropped because it looked just like some of my favorite Romantic paintings.

Caution! It truly was a high mountainous area at 2250 meters elevation. The air up there only has 25% humidity making lots of drinking water an absolute must. Dry lips and skin were also a result of this 4 hour trek. My personal favorite tip is to not walk near ledges while taking photos, in the middle at the bottom of the sign.

Here's El Teide, Spain's highest mountain. Kid 1 was with us in 2007 when we were in Tenerife, and he was only 13 months old then. He had an impressive vocabulary even then, and shouted out "El Teide, El Teide!" every time we saw the mountain. Kid 2, who is 14 months now, does not have such an advanced vocabulary. I think "Teide" slipped out of his mouth maybe once on this trip. Other words? No. He's too busy climbing everything he comes near to talk. His main modes of communication are nodding, shaking his head, throwing things down, pointing and saying "This, this" or pointing and saying "AAAAAAAAH!" in his shrill little voice.

Here are some shots of the landscape, which was pretty impressive on this hike. Each of these formations probably has a name, but I didn't take the time (or didn't exactly have the time, considering my duties as mother of kid 1 and kid 2 and my resulting lack of concentration) to look them up. All in all this was a nice hike, made much more difficult than it actually is by lugging around a one year old in a baby backpack and adjusting our pace for a 4-year-old. It was doable for all, though rather exhausting for the distance (8-10 km? We aren't sure because the distances on the maps didn't prove to be very reliable...what appeared to be 2 km turned out to be nearly 4 on one stretch) because of the thin and dry air. I found the first part the most interesting, starting at the Parador and walking among all of the rock formations, after we went the first leg of the trip we were walking toward El Teide where it was relatively flat and aside from the view of Teide, not so scenic.