Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tenerife, Canary Islands

Oh Tenerife, how I miss you! My week of fun in the sun is over. *sigh* Leaving was hard (I might have actually considered "missing" my flight home), but I have to say it's been nice to be back in my bed. //It has also been glorious to fall asleep to the sweet sound of silence, sans 3 hostel people snoring all around me.//

First off, can I just give a big thank you to the city of Algeciras for hosting having their fería in August instead of during the school year. Every city in Spain has their own fería at some point during the year. This is basically a week-long, city-wide festival. For cities in which this takes place during the school year, the schools all shut down for the week.
So then, what happens when the fería isn't celebrated until the summer months? The school system takes a week-long vacation anyway! (Spaniards are never one to be short-changed on their holidays.)
This is the whole reason that I was able to spend that first weekend in Madrid, and then 4 more days soaking up the sun in the Canary Islands in the beginning of March, while friends and family back home where experiencing snow storms. Thank you Spain!

If you ever get the chance to go to to Tenerife, I highly recommend Los Amigos Hostel. Emily and I stayed there for 4 nights, and it was honestly the best part of our entire trip. It is kind of out of the way (okay, very out the way) of everything on the island, but I have never had such a great experience at a hostel before. And since renting a car is ridiculously cheap and the minimum age is only 21, the isolation part isn't really a problem.

Since the hostel is in its own little world, in between 2 small towns on the southern point of the island, it created a very homey-feeling atmosphere when we were at the hostel. (This might also be because the hostel actually is a house, with only 3 dorm rooms and 2 bathrooms. And the owner lives there as well.) Everybody ate breakfast together on the patio outside, and at night after dinner we all stayed out talking for hours before going to bed. I met people from Slovenia, Germany, Poland, Ireland, England, New York, and Italy all in one night! The conversations mostly all took place in English, and were quite interesting to listen to, as a native speaker.

The girl from Slovenia asked the guy from New York to describe the city to her, about anything and everything that he noticed was different from here in Europe. She asked if it was true that the buildings were so tall that some of the streets never got direct sunlight. She said she couldn't imagine not knowing the city by heart, or the nearby cities her friends lived in by heart. She knew everybody and everything in her hometown and all of the surrounding towns. I told her that I still got lost in my university town after living there for 4 years. She was shocked. But then she got indignant when a girl from Germany excitedly said that her parents were going on vacation to Slovenia to see the wolves. "They aren't that common, really."

The guy from Ireland told us about Father Ted, a popular TV show in Ireland with an intense fan-base. Every year two small islands off the coast of Northern Ireland hold a Father Ted festival, to commemorate the show, where party-goers dress up in costumes from the show and get drunk and have great time. They also host a 'Lovely Girl Competition', which is sort of like a beauty pageant, except instead of finding the best looking girl, they crown the girl whom everyone says "what a lovely girl!" (Hearing this in an Irish accent was priceless. I almost asked him to repeat it, but that might have been weird.)

It was a great international experience. I watched the guy from Poland eat a sandwich for breakfast with jam on one half and cheese on the other.

Although I didn't actually wind up seeing much of the island, it was great to finally have a trip to just relax without feeling rushed to see all the sights.

On Wednesday, Emily and I explored the beaches around our hostel, since they were literally a 5 minute walk from the front door.

Then that night went for an impromptu beer with 2 hostel workers and a guy from Italy who turned out to be our roadtripping buddy later in the trip. This gave me the chance to be a part of the most epic parallel parking job I have ever seen:

Bumper to bumper with the car behind, and about 3 inches to spare in front. It was a valiant effort, and we all applauded. 

On Thursday, said Italian roadtripping buddy, Emily and I headed up the coast to Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas to explore for the day. Since none of the 3 of us were overly extroverted or loud, it made for a rather quiet, but very enjoyable, day. It was particularly interesting since our Italian friend didn't speak a whole lot of either Spanish or English. //And clearly we don't speak Italian.//

I want. 
Los Cristianos. Basically your average retirement resort town. Like all of southern Florida. 
Playa de las Américas, very similar to Los Cristianos. All the beaches here were enclosed by stone breakways, to create safe swimming areas.

We got back Thursday night just in time to hike speed walk up la montaña roja to catch the sunset. I couldn't breathe for the better half of the hike (thanks asthma) and I spent a lot of time muttering under my breathe wondering why on earth I was putting myself through such an intense hike just to see a stupid sunset.

(Oh yeah. That's why.)
         Don't be fooled by the flatness, the killer hill was behind me.
I made it! And it was so windy that if I would have tripped, the wind probably would have blown me all the way down the side of the mountain. It was a little scary.
Makin' friends.

On Friday, Emily and I did a "whale watching" cruise. Aka we spent 4 hours on a boat cruising up and down the southern coast. During this time Emily befriended a slightly-creepy-when-we-thought-about-it-later older crew member, who brought us glasses of champagne from the crew's stash during lunch, and continued to stop by and chat throughout the cruise. He introduced us to the captain, and to another crew member who turned out to be from Algeciras. (What???) We were a hit with the crew, most likely because we were the only people on the boat over the age of 10 and under the age of 50. Whatever. I'll take what I can get.
The best part of this story came right before we docked, when the man came over with a bottle stuffed in a garbage bag (trying to hide his gift of generosity from the rest of the general public who weren't given the same present) and said "from the crew." It was a WHOLE BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE! And because we had recently discovered an addiction to mimosas, this was the best present we could have asked for!

Mama and baby pilot whale swimming beside our boat.
In front of Los Gigantes, 8-10 million year old ginormous rock formations, creatively named 'the Giants'.
Right after the captain announced we had 20 minutes to go swimming, we saw this little guy swim by. Umm..swimming with jelly fish? PASS.
Yeah, we're cool.
Walking back to the bus stop after the tour. //I kind of have a thing for palm trees.//
I call this 'The Death of a Palm Tree'

Friday night when we got back, the hostel was celebrating finishing their 3rd bathroom. This may seem like a strange thing to celebrate, but when there are 20 people in a house and only 2 bathrooms....this is the most exciting news in the world. We did a toast, popped some champagne and then kept it classy by signing helpful reminders on the bathroom stall's wall. 

I wrote 'be a sweetie, close the seatie'. 

And then it was Saturday, our last day :( So sad. Emily, Italian friend and I drove to Costa del Silencio, because we were intrigued by its name and heard it was pretty. 
It...wasn't very pretty. And it was eerily silent. And was actually just a town, not an entire coast.
We decided it must have been named Silent Coast because all of its visitors were there to sunbathe and sleep. It was, literally, a silent town for the half hour we were there. We spent about 20 minutes walking around before deciding it was slightly creepy and that we should go somewhere else. 

So back to the hostel we headed, where we sat on the beach and drank mimosas for the next 2 hours. It was glorious. 

And then we caught our flight and headed home, and I finally stumbled into bed at 5:30am the next morning. 



  1. Life is rough, eh?

    Looks gorgeous and I love your story about your hostel/shared house!

    1. Yeah, finding reasons to wake up each morning has been difficult, but you know, I make it through :p
      I saw you're moving to Madrid soon! Congratulations!! (Life's not looking too shabby for you either.)

  2. Hi there :) I kniow your post about Tenerife is super-old, but I found it while searching google Images for Montana Roja. I spen last week in Los Amigos, and ti was amazing! I climbed Montana Roja to watch the sunset too. It's funny that you have a pic of the graffitti in the bathroom, that graffitti is old now and covered up with new messages! Ciao, Alasdair x