I now dream more of running away than I ever did as a child.
I went on a roadtrip with a bunch of friends back in early October, to go and see Sort Sol, a biannual starling migration crossing the western Danish marshes. The local ornithologists estimated that this flock contained around 1,1 million starlings.
I've long since changed my tune on travelling, who you go with is more important than what you see (within reason).
Going down from El Teide was on foot, the cablecar workers were striking. Had we known this, and that it wouldn't be possible to buy water, we would have brought a lot more water. It was a beautiful day, and the landscape otherworldly, but we were parched and dreamt of water. We eventually reached the car after six hours, were let out of the car park by the protesting workers, and raced to the nearest restaurant for a large and cold bottle of water. Delicious.
We got up at five, long before down, to climb back up to the top of El Teide, for the sunrise view. We had been told to start so early, but the host at the refugio hadn't imagined that Inés would walk like a donkey with a carrot in front of it, so we were at the summit long before sunrise. Instead, we got something just as special C the peak to ourselves until more people arrived, and the change from night to day from the very beginning, when the horizon isn't even the lightest shade of orange. The sunrise was beautiful and came in stages, add the horizon lightened, the stars went out, the sun itself came up, and we saw the different parts of the island get light at different times; especially behind El Teide, as it casts a long shadow (as pictured).
We climbed all the the way to the peak of El Teide, all 3718 metres, to enjoy the sunset and the view of all the other Canarian islands. We found a little niche to sit in, safe from the wind, and enjoyed the motion of the heavens. The hike down to the refugio in the dark was a little scarier, but the stars came out and lent the scene some magic.
We went up El Teide, dormant volcano and the tallest mountain in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and Spain. Before we went up, we visited the crater of the last volcano to erupt here, Chinyero in 1909. A cablecar goes up to about an hour below the peak of El Teide, and we took the last one of the day (we overnighted), and learned after we had gone up, that the cablecar would be closed due to a strike the next day 😑. Great views though.
Inés's father is an amateur astronomer, so towards sunset we drove up to a plateau on El Teide, the mountain in the centre of the island, to look at stars, planets, and the moon. It was a marvelous experience, I've never looked at the sky through a telescope before. I saw Jupiter, Saturn and its rings (which truly blew my mind, I could actually *see* the rings), star clusters, and towards deep in the night, the moon rose and I could see it in startling detail. Blew. My. Mind. Also, Inés' mother made a pie with El Teide drawn on it 🤤.
The dancers were all spectacular, but the musicians are often the Spain we know the best, classical guitars and soulful singing. Each group of musicians had their own musical take on how to best please the Virgen de Esperanza, and they all sounded wonderful to me (and my gimmicky Spanish).
The festival in La Guancha was to honour the local saint, La Virgen de Esperanza. It featured dancers and musicians representing different villages of Tenerife, and even some from one of the far flung islands. They all arrived in procession, having been dancing and singing for four hours, for a chance to perform in front of the Virgen de Esperanza.
To finish a great day, we drove to the village is La Guancha, high (crazy steep roads, wouldn't want to drop a ball) in the mountains of Tenerife, for a real fiesta. We arrived in good time to look around, the square was beautifully decorated, and looked at the beautiful local dresses (each village or minor region will have its own dress, as does each island). Shoes are often chosen at random, though a few wore traditional shoes too.
The dracaena draco tree is native to the Canary Islands, and is a symbol of Tenerife in particular. "At about 10–15 years of age the stem stops growing and produces a first flower spike with white, lily-like perfumed flowers, followed by coral berries. Soon a crown of terminal buds appears and the plant starts branching. Each branch grows for about 10–15 years and re-branches, so a mature plant has an umbrella-like habit." Fairly otherworldly, and related to the famed dracaena cinnabari trees of Socotra.
Spent a full day in La Orotava, visiting my roommate from back home in Copenhagen, who has now moved out 😞. The day started with me winning in go-karting 🏎️, meeting his dogs🐶, walking in his gorgeous town🏰, and enjoying delicious cakes🍰 (that almond cake 🤤) by a little square◼️.