Merry Christmas Everyone. Wishing you peace, love and happiness for 2022.
Tenerife and Back
It had been over two years since I have traveled up to last month. Of course, you know the main reason – Covid. But even when restrictions were released I didn’t travel. I didn’t understand this immediate need to get back out there. Sure I missed seeing new places and going back to my favorite spots but why the rush? Covid was (is) still a big problem. There were a new surge of Covid cases in Mallorca when tourists were allowed back (naturally) and I just didn’t get it the immediate need to get away.
Anyways, I turned the big half a century last month and I wanted to go somewhere to celebrate the big 5-0. I felt so bad for the people who turned 50 or had any huge celebration during 2020. I know that had to have sucked. We looked into fun places that would hopefully be somewhat warm. Felix, being European, still wasn’t allowed into the USA so we couldn’t go there. We looked into a cruise but after REALLY looking into it we found out that our stops, mostly in Italy, we wouldn’t be able to get off the boat just ourselves. We HAD TO go with a group. Well, that’s not what we wanted to do. In the end, we decided on Tenerife. Felix had been when he was eight (how cute!) and the flight there was a direct flight. So, alright Tenerife, show us what you got.
We chose the Gran Melia Palacio de Isora hotel which I may do a separate blog post about but just be careful if you choose this one, or it may be just the way things are in Tenerife. There are a few pros – friendly staff, the Bali beds looking over the Atlantic are nice and I liked the Clarins products in the room but sadly, the cons outweighed the pros – the restaurant situation is horrific, you need to book 2 or 3 days in advance if you want a table at a decent time, the service is slowwwwwww, the bars close at 6 except for the big main one which takes forever to get a drink. Again, a possible blog post. But I really didn’t want this one to be negative. But seems like it is so far, so let’s change that, shall we?
Alright, we enjoyed a few relaxing days renting a Bali bed, drinking some cervezas and swimming in Europe’s largest salt water pool. The lizards were fun to watch and I loved the red dragonflies buzzing around.
The cool breeze coming off the Atlantico was a nice feeling against the hot sun tanning our skin. One night we ventured out to a local Italian restaurant with great service and yummy food – Pepi Vintage Room Tenerife in Puerto de Santiago. Great food, wine and service. It is a bit small so I would call for a reservation at 673 72 56 61.
Close to the hotel was a black sand beach which seemed pretty hip with the locals.
After a few days of completely vegging out on the beds and swimming we decided to take a break from the Bali beds and rent a car to check out Teide and Masca.
The rental car was booked at the hotel, it was super easy and 60 euro for the day. Off onto our best day of the trip.
Teide National Park took us about an hour from our hotel. Teide is an active volcano but the last eruption was in 1909. I must add to this post that we were in Tenerife at the time the La Palma volcano was erupting. We tried to get a view of it but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. My heart goes out to the people who have lost their homes and belongings from the erupting volcano.
Teide National Park is the biggest park on the Canary Islands. A trip that should be at the top of the must-see list of everyone who visits Tenerife. And the island was busy! It was a four day weekend for the Spanish (un puente as they call it), plus a two week school break for the Germans, lots of people had descended onto the island. And the closer we got into the park the more you could see it. All photo opportunity spots were full and when we got to the area where you could take a cable car to the top, forget about it! There were at least 200 cars lined up. And you do need tickets for the cable car so book in advance if that’s what you really want to do. We drove a bit further and found a spot that seriously looked like Mars – so cool. We got out and walked around and took some advantage of photo ops.
Next we decided to check out Masca. Be prepared, the road to Masca is tight! If you are afraid of heights or get car sick, it might not be the drive for you. But the views are beautiful.
Until the 1960s, the picturesque mountain hamlet of Masca was only accessible on foot or by donkey. Nowadays, it is well connected to the rest of Tenerife by road. Winding roads lead to exciting hairpin bends and narrow corners. The trip will take you through deep ravines covered with lush green vegetation.
There weren’t any parking spots for a restaurant when we arrived in Masca so we continued on the curvy road and soon came across a cute restaurant overlooking the gorge. You can’t miss it, after passing Masca you will see it when the road starts heading back up. We stopped for a glass of wine and some roasted potatoes with mojo sauce. Super yummy.
It was so nice to get away from the hotel madness and actually have people attentively serve food and drinks! Seriously Gran Melia, you need to figure some problems out!
One more day at the hotel and we were looking forward to home and all the comforts one has at their home. And our six cats. 🙂
But one more thing.
When we first arrived there were a lot of plants under big tents that were on large plantations. I kept wondering what it was, they were even right outside our hotel window (see first pic). And then it hit me, BANANAS! B-A-N-A-N-A-S. This shit is bananas. Bananas are a particularly important crop, as Tenerife grows more bananas than the other Canary Islands, with a current annual production of about 150,000 tons. Nice.
In the end, everyone that we encountered in Tenerife were really friendly and the sights in Masca and Teide were gorgeous. I am glad to have experienced the island and seen the sights. I’d give it at least a chance if your travel plans allow for a stop there. It’s always a nice to change your scenery view even with a few bumps in the road.
There is never a bad trip! Unless you took some bad LSD. Don’t do that.
Nit de l’Art
Sometimes I forget to post about the coolness of Mallorca. There are always so many fun events, amazing restaurants and of course the beaches ….. I could go on and on about Mallorca and I will try to add more MALLORCA to my blog. Cuz it’s one helluva island.
So let’s talk about something going on this weekend – Nit de l’Art in Palma. It’s the island’s most important art event (even though I’m a bit partial to Art Night in Campos) and this year it takes place on the 19th, 20th and 21st of September.
This year marks the 23rd anniversary of this special event in Palma where museums, art galleries and art studios open their doors until midnight for people (thousands attend every year) to wander in and out and see the newest art – paintings, sculptures, installations and more. This year includes a special guest, director Christian Tran will present his film Terres Barceló and after there will be Q & A. So very exciting!
Oh, and did I mention drinks? Bars are open, drinks are flowing and peeps are gathering.
I’m a bit of an artist myself and like to dabble in a bit of creativeness here and there. The art shown on this page is mine and for sale. I will be posting more soon with a link at the top of my home page so keep an eye out. You can send me an email at email@example.com if you want to make an offer on a painting. And go to Nit de l’Art !
Sant Joan Festival
It’s that time of year again! Sant Joan festival in Spain. Many different versions around Spain – tonight in my sleepy Mallorcan town we will be heading to the beach for some BBQ, lighting LOTS of candles around us and possibly dip our toes in the ocean. This is all to celebrate the summer solstice.
BUT the best one to experience is in Menorca. The Sant Joan festival in Ciutadella. Which is CRAZY! Looks super cool but I would rather have the tamer version of it. And it allowed me to come into full contact with the horses! Something I doubt would be possible for me at the Sant Joan festival.
Check out these pics from the Sant Joan festival in Ciutadella. Insane in the membrane.
and this …..
Wowzers. That is A LOT of people. But that is the Sant Joan fiesta. Es normal.
The smaller festival that I attended the other year in Menorca was in Es Mercadal and called Sant Marti. The horse is the common hero of all the local saint’s day festivals celebrated in all the Menorcan villages during the summer and clearly shows how authentic the island customs are. The drivers and horsemen, dressed up in the outfit called “de just” (of the just man) in a combination of black and white and they ride Menorcan-race stallions in a long procession or parade (qualcada) which goes through all the main streets and squares of the town.
During the two days of the holiday, strict protocol is observed, mixing religious acts which are closely observed, with moments of collective fun especially during the “jaleos” which take place in the main square and where the horses, horsemen and public take part to an equal extent in the show.
And this Jaleo is what we went to on Sunday morning at 11 am in the Plaça Constitució. It was, in a word, fantastic. First, the riders rode in a procession through the street showing off themselves and their gorgeous horses. And then the fun begins! They ride into the public circle in twos while the spectators (me!) try to touch the horse while it rears up. This went on for about an hour. I am allergic to horses. Seriously, all I have to do is look at a horse and I start to get welts on my face and arms. But after 15 minutes I was ready to get into the game. Screw allergies! It was so much fun.
If you get a chance to go to the Sant Marti or the Sant Joan festival I highly recommend it. And make sure you wear clothes that can get dirt, sand, horse slobber and more on it. NO HIGH HEELS! No. Muy ridiculo – and don’t think I didn’t see it.
Happy Summer Solstice! xo
Restaurants I Want To Go To
With the holiday season coming up it all really turns to food. Am I right? What’s on the menu for Turkey Day? While obviously Spain doesn’t celebrate it, Felix and I always try to make a nice dinner on the weekend after. I’ll remember to do a weekend update to let you know about it. Gonna try a new side dish – something with potatoes! And of course, I will need to make my favorite of favs – deviled eggs.
So, food. The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards just came out and wouldn’t you know but number 2 is in Girona, Spain – El Cellar de Can Roca. Putting this on my list of restaurants to try. Plus I have always wanted to check out the medieval city of Girona.
I’m only sharing the top 10 here (three are in Spain!). Click on the link above to read the full list. And congrats to numero uno – Osteria Francescana in Italy. Gotta get back to Italy soon too.
So many places so little time!
Dia de les Illes Balears
March 1 is always Balearic Day here on the islands. All schools take advantage of this day to make it a long weekend (they call it puente – a bridge). Hey, I am NOT complaining, cuz it means I get a few days off myself. Today was a lovely day (a bit windy) of sleeping late, catching up on some cleaning and laundry, a little exercise and some new t-shirt designs.
This date commemorates when the Balearic Islands’ Statute of Autonomy came into effect on March 1, 1983. And if you’re on the island it’s not too late to join in the festivities. Or just go out to dinner and celebrate with the locals like we are about to do.
No matter when you visit Mallorca (or any of the Balearic islands), a gorgeous spot is right around the corner.
Picture taken from a hike north of Andratx in the Tramuntana mountains, gorgeous!
Parc Güell ~ Barcelona
The first time I visited Barcelona, I was twenty-one years old with a mission to see as much of Europe as I could. I had bought a month long eurorail train ticket and was trying to visit as many European countries as humanly possible with not much money. Back then I only spent one day in Barcelona and it was a mix of seeing the Olympic Park at Montjuic Mountain (which I found a little boring) and checking out the Picasso Museum (amazing).
But the next time (and the next time and the next time) I returned to Barcelona I had a plan. I knew what I wanted to see, which was pretty much everything created by Gaudí – Parc Güell, La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and Casa Battló. And all of these are so remarkable and beautiful that I must focus on each, one at a time. And first up is Parc Güell.
A little history for you – in 1890, the industrialist Eusebi Güell hired Antoni Gaudí to design the park which was originally planned to be a garden city with villas high above Barcelona in an area called Bare Mountain. It was inspired by the English garden city movement and its intent was to exploit the fresh air and enjoy expansive views of the city and the coast. There were sixty triangular lots available for luxury houses but nobody was interested. Only two homes were built on the land (neither by Gaudí), with Gaudí buying one of them and living there from 1906 to 1926, it is now the Gaudí House Museum.
By 1903 the two entrance pavilions had been constructed, as well as the main flight of steps, the shelter for horse-drawn carriages, the outer enclosure, the viaducts and part of the great esplanade, together with the water evacuation system.
The Dragon Stairway:
The great entrance leads to the Hypostyle room, which was designed to be the market for the estate. It is made up of 86 striated columns inspired in the Doric order. The outermost ones slope in an undulating movement clearly contrary to the rules of classical composition, while reinforcing a perception of their structural role.
Inside the room the absence of columns in some sections creates spaces that simulate three naves, like a great church. The ceiling is formed of small domes constructed using the traditional technique of clay bricks decorated with original tile-shard mosaics made by Josep M. Jujol, one of Gaudí’s assistants.
My favorite area (and I think most people’s favorite) is the Greek Theatre but it has more recently been rechristened as Plaça de la Natura (Nature Square). Its original name was due to the fact that it was planned for staging large open-air shows that could be watched from the surrounding terraces. Although Gaudí always respected the lie of the land, this large square is artificial. Part of it is dug into the rock, while the other part is held up on top of the Hypostyle room. The focal point is the long bench in the form of a sea serpent and the views are breathtaking. The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere.
This bench is world famous, even Salvador Dalí called the bench once the precursor of surrealism. And he has sat there!
I mean seriously, check out the view.
On the eastern side of the Greek Theatre square there is an original iron door which leads to where there used to be the gardens of Casa Larrard, the former mansion that Güell adopted as his own house, but which has been a school since 1931. The route, which runs at a level higher than that of the house, passes through a pine grove with the portico backing onto a retaining wall made from unworked stone. The portico adopts the shape of a great wave atop slanting columns, with a double colonnade that acts as a buttress. It is one of the finest examples of the organic architecture upheld by Gaudí.
While the park is completely enchanting with all of its, let’s just say “stunningness”, my favorites are always the gorgeous mosaic tiles. Which a lot of were planned and designed not by Gaudí but by his often overlooked colaberator, Josep M. Jujol.
And the best mosaic of them all, the dragon which guards the entrance to Park Güell – El Drac. A conduit running inside the Hypostyle toom collects the rainwater that filters down from the square, sending it to an underground tank, which uses the dragon’s mouth as its overflow. Genius, I tell you.
There is a large area of the park that is open free to the public. But all of these areas to visit mentioned above you need to buy a ticket, adults are 7.50€ and children are 5.25€. I would advise to buy tickets online to bypass the long line that sometimes happens with the beautiful park.
I would love to hear about your experience at Parc Güell if you go or if you have been before. I find this such a magical place that it always draws me to it every time I am in the fabulous city of Barcelona.
C O S T A D E C A N Y A M E L :: M A L L O R C A
Sea and clouds as far as the eye can see.