Sunday, February 3, 2013

And . . . It's February (+Tenerife)

I'm definitely having a moment here.

Where exactly did January go? I know a week of it was spent in Spain, and when I look my calendar I see many colorful blocks telling me I was somewhat busy with lots of this-and-that. Mostly what I see is that it's now February, which means in 9 days, we'll have been living in England for 5 months. Almost half a year! Suddenly, the two-and-a-half-years we're living in England is down to two years and one month! Well crap.

Luckily, we continue to do super fun stuff and are having many adventures in-between working hard and living a normal day-to-day existence.

Instead of going away for Christmas and New Years we decided to save our pence and take a trip to Spain for some sunshine and a change of scenery. We chose the island of Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands just off the coast of southern Morocco. While parts of Tenerife are over-run with tourists, it's not difficult to escape into a more rural and authentic Canary Island environment. We stayed in a little town named Callao Salvaje which is on the south-west coast of the island, an easy jumping-off point for lots of exploring up and down the coast as well as a short 1 hour drive up into El Tiede National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site).

We rented an apartment and cooked many of our meals at home. We do this to save money, and because for us, part of being on vacation is eating what we want, when we want to, without having to navigate foreign menus for vegetarian fare. Within a 5-minute walk of the flat was a beautiful sandy beach, numerous supermercados, restaurants, bodegas, and even English pubs. 

Our Flat in Callao Salvaje

View from our flat's balcony.

Walking out the door from our apartment, either to the north or south there were plenty of walking and hiking trails that meandered above the rocky coast line, through the local vegetation of cacti and succulents. The colors were varied and beautiful, the temperature, absolutely perfect (read 72°F/ 22°C)

On an even stroll to the north of town.

Callao Salvaje in the distance.

One of the first major hikes we did was from the city of Masca which is in the northwest corner of Tenerife. A town of ~80 people, sitting about 600 meters (1,968 ft) above sea level on a rocky peninsula. The Masca Gorge hike is 10k round trip and it took us about 5 hours in hiking time. Once we reached the beach at the bottom of the gorge we sat for a spell and had our traditional travel sandwich of cheese, hummus, cucumber and greens. (Mmmmm. Travel sandwich!) Devin ran immediately to the ocean and went for a swim as I munched on snacks and rested my weary legs (what can I say, it's been a few months since we've done a hike of that drop and distance!)


Heading down the gorge to the beach.

Post-lunch photo before heading back up to Masca.

The second hike we did wasn't exactly planned, but we aimed for something beautiful via a random dotted line on a screen-captured map on the iPad and totally lucked out. This hike was taken from just east of the city of Adeje, way up to the tippy top of the road (San Francisco's got nothing on these mountain roads in Tenerife. We are talking s-t-e-e-p! Yikes!) We found our way to Sendero de Barranco del Infierno and followed the trail up and down through an alternately beautiful rocky and lushy (that's for you Leyser lab) terrain. If you're ever in Tenerife and want an easy hike, this is the one for you. The trail is the most beautifully kept trail of all time. Unfortunately, it's a rather busy trail and when you get to the waterfall at the end you have to squeeze on the rocks with the rest of the tourists to eat your snacks. It's still beautiful though, and totally worth it.

Adeje in the distance.

Can you see Devin?

Devin strikes a mountaineering pose.

On our last day we decided to tackle El Tiede National Park (ETNP) and do some exploring and you know . . . maybe summit a volcano or something. We took our time on the lovely drive up into the park and were shocked to find coniferous trees in abundance. For stretches of time we pretended we were back in Colorado or Yosemite. But then the horizon would come into view and seeing the frothy edge of the island where it met the Atlantic ocean brought us back to reality. We're on a Spanish island in the middle of the Atlantic! Sweet! The landscape in ETNP is totally surreal and unlike anything either of us had ever seen before. 

Pico Viejo

After exploring some of the park by car, we decided to head over to the less crowded section of the park and try a hike up the smaller volcano named Pico Viejo (3,135 meters / 10,258 feet). This was the first hike in a long time where we decided to wear "real" hiking shoes instead of our minimalist New Balance (which have very thin rubber soles). The lava rock was crunch, sharp and a bit awkward to walk on, but luckily after a short while the trail gave way to a lovely path of tiny pebbles with the lava rocks off to the side amongst the greenery and bushes.

See the coastline in the distance?

In the picture above you can see a tiny little person on the right-hand side of the photo. That's me! I made it about 200 more feet before I decided to take a break while Devin went full-speed ahead for the summit. After climbing from sea level that morning at 9:00am, to about 10,000ft at 4:00pm I thought I'd done pretty well. But those of you who know Devin know that he had to go for it. And he made it! Below is our most favorite picture of him. The sun was really intense on the island, and even more so on top of a volcano so he's wearing my scarf as a sun shield for his head and neck. Hilariously, it looks like he's been photoshopped into a picture of El Tiede (in the background). 

Devin unknowingly captured his shadow. Pico Viejo caldera.

We made it back down Pico Viejo in no time at all. The path was so smooth and the tiny rocks so loose we ran down it in parts, skating over the rocks like surfing on water. We saw our last sunset of our vacation from the road on the drive back down to our little abode in Callao Salvaje. The next morning had us up at 3:45am to catch our 6:30am flight back to London. By 1:00 that afternoon we were both at our jobs, working away as if nothing had ever happened. Completely surreal.

Bye Bye Spain! Thanks for the sunshine!

P.S. Devin took many of the above photos. Yay for his iPhone camera. So much better than mine.
Well done babe.


  1. Wow, I had not imagined the island this way. Thanks for sharing the photos. Edie

  2. Wow, what fun to read all about your trip! REally makes me miss hiking. Beautiful photos!