Saturday, January 26, 2013

El Hierro!

  After our first week of vacation, we jumped on the Benchijigua Express and ferried over the El Hierro, the smallest and furthest west of the Canary Islands.

  Here's the car line before the ferry arrived and before we could drive on.

 We're on our way!  We've actually taken this ferry before, back in 2007 over to La Gomera.  That's a trip for lightweights, it only takes about 30 minutes from Tenerife to La Gomera.  It takes 2 hours to get to El Hierro.  And not many people make the trip:  the boat was pretty full on the first leg of the journey to La Gomera, but cleared right out when we got there.  We had a relatively quiet and relaxed trip over.
 There you can see La Gomera and Tenerife behind the boat.  The water was really calm and the air was super clear, I think this view is unusual.

Puerto de la Estaca, El Hierro.  on the right side you can see the Fred Olsen Express on which we came.

El Hierro is much smaller than Tenerife, which you certainly can feel after you've gotten used to following maps in Tenerife.  At first I often expected a relatively short drive to take at least twice as long, despite knowing the scale of the map.  My first impressions of El Hierro were that it's very quiet:  there are very few tourists. Also, it seemed to be more "original", meaning that in Tenerife you can find a lot of British and German products in the supermarkets, and in La Palma and La Gomera we came across lots of products made by German expatriates (bread, sweets, tofu products), whereas we didn't spot any of this in El Hierro, just lots of Spanish stuff!  This isn't to say that it's not there, we just didn't notice any.  I really liked that, because it really felt like I was away.  When I go on vacation, I don't want things from home, I want to try different things, and this was a great place to do it. Herreno cheese, Herreno cheesecake, lots of delicious fruits and vegetables, yum, yum, yum...

Another very pleasing aspect of this island is the small population:  about 10,800 people live there!  On the whole island!  That's about 40 people per square kilometer.  It was quiet, the nature areas weren't overrun, even the "tourist towns" were very civilized.  I instantly fell in love with this little island, even though it doesn't have any of the heavy hitting major attractions like Tenerife with El Teide, La Palma with the Caldera and Cumbre, etc.  In a way, it's almost like a mini format of the other islands without the extremes.  Even with the small population, however, I found the capital city to be pretty hip, with lots of interesting shops and cafes.  El Hierro definitely has its own flair, and if you want to go off the beaten path, I'd say that this is a great place to do it.

 We stayed in Casa Elvira in the town of Isora, which was relatively centrally located.  It wasn't too long of a drive to get anywhere.  The only trouble was that the house is about 700 meters above sea level, which we didn't expect to be so questionable, but it was.  The first couple of days were gorgeous...
 ...the orange tree was blooming and smelled fantastic...
 ...from Casa Elvira we could even see La Gomera and Tenerife.  We read in our travel guides that you can't usually see the other islands, and thought this was a joke to keep the tourists away, but it seems like we were very lucky on our first 2 days and our last day.  In between there was an awful windstorm and it was gray and cloudy.  It wasn't possible to sit outside and it was even relatively cold inside because the house was pretty drafty.  The real downside:  the fireplace didn't work, it just smoked up the whole house, and when we turned on the electric radiators, we kept blowing fuses.  That was unfortunate, but I think these problems can be avoided if you don't stay at such a high elevation, at least in the winter.  On the coast it was always at least 7 degrees warmer, even if it was windy.
 Here's a view from La Restinga, on the southern tip of El Hierro, to the ocean.  La Restinga is one of the tourist towns on the island, and it was just my style of tourist town:  not at all overrun, pretty calm and civilized.  This town also seems like the one to be in to avoid the windstorms...maybe we'll stay there next time!
 As usual, we did some creature watching, and even found a crocodile this time!
We got to witness quite a sunset in La Restinga.


3 comments:

nur shahirah said...

waaa sweet moment :)

nur shahirah said...

wah sweet moment

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