Practically reflecting

We’re just back from a month away from home, finding some sun from the wet and grey west coast Canada winter. Travel is always a wonderful opportunity to get perspective on things, our home lives. This little post is a combo of topics from our Canary Islands trip; the practical and some musings.

Our primary destination was La Palma, Canary Islands, and got there via Gatwick. For anyone interested in travelling there from western Canada, we flew Westjet, Victoria to Gatwick (return); Easyjet from Gatwick to Tenerife, and from La Palma. We flew Binter Canarias (Canary Islands inter island airline) from from Tenerife to La Palma.

Flight costs worked out to be approximately CDN $1200 return per person. Breakdown below, for two people.

  • EasyJet Gatwick to Tenerife $253.14
  • EasyJet La Palma to Gatwick $231.55
  • WestJet Victoria to Gatwick $1,770.36
  • Binter Tenerife to La Palma $152.79
  • We rented cars twice, worked out to €460 for 27 days. $720 CDN, or $27.00/day. La Palma was actually cheaper, as we had the car for 22 days. This is an average of Tenerife and La Palma costs together.
  • Our exchange rates for this trip
    • €1 to $1.56 CAD;
    • £1 to $1.80 CAD.

Generally, food and alcohol were much cheaper in the Canary islands than in Canada. We shopped at HiperDino, a Spanish supermarket chain, and SPAR, a German supermarket chain. We found HiperDino/SuperDino to be superb well stocked and very reasonable. We noticed that the staffing levels of HiperDino to be better than what we experience where I live. Things are definitely more “businesslike” at home. Never extra staff in the stores; just enough to keep people moving. On La Palma, it seemed as though the service jobs were careers, often held by older employees; a different approach to the booming job shortage that we’re experiencing in the service sector here. An observation only. I could be totally wrong on this.

It was the high season on La Palma, it’s a very popular destination for German tourists and expats. Some Dutch, and UK tourists; tho I think Canadian travellers were less common there. Accommodation costs can vary; we stayed at a lovely place Amana’s apartment, (we had met Amana ten years earlier during our first stay there). On average, costs are about €50/night, if you can find a place. It is very popular, and depending on the “altitude” of accommodations, they can be hard or easier to find. La Palma is a very steep island, with many microclimates. In my interpretation, on the west side of the island, anything under the 250 metre to the coast/”sea level”, is very coveted. Higher up, and it’s hotter in the summer, cooler in the winter. Our accommodations were at the 180 metre mark – perfect. As the island is incredibly steep, the views are incredible from pretty much anywhere. The eastern side of the island, from Santa Cruz to the airport is very touristy. There are more resorts on this side, it is more dense.

As there is a very strong German influence on La Palma, there are some really awesome pastries and breads from the konditorei’s. The baguettes from the Spars and SuperDino’s were really good. We visited this coffee shop on  more than one occasion for cafe con leche, and yummy apple strudel(s)!



La Palma is a hiker’s paradise, and probably one of the reasons why Germans travel there so much. Lars and I like to hike too, and we did a lot of it. We were away for a month, and hiking and walking in the Canaries our treads counted 100 kms. The elevation gains were enormous also… Most of our hikes are documented here.

We easily walked 10+kms the day we were in London too. So, walks r us!

Driving is windy and curvy and a lot of fun. Generally, we found the drivers, whether German or Palmero, or whatever, to be great. It was interesting to see the vehicles, so much smaller than here in North America. Even the work trucks are smaller than the massive pickup trucks that are so common here. “Normal cars” are small – often diesel, and almost exclusively manual transmission. Trucks and busses are narrow – and quiet. We need some of those here. Motorcycles are small too, the Honda Grom 125cc was a very common site, along with scooters. Bigger motorbikes were less common. The attitudes of drivers was better, I think. Where we are in Victoria, there’s a painful sense of entitlement with a lot of drivers, and I don’t think it’s for the common good. Hard to explain, but very interesting to observe. Again, the things you experience when you get out of your home bubble.

The other thing we noticed was the two wheeled tourism. 29’er suspension mountain bikes, and road bike riders. La Palma is very steep, 18-20+ per cent grades are not uncommon. We watched a few mountain bikers on the San Nicholas hike – suspension was mandatory. They were bumping down those trails headlong. Good on them, but not for us! On our first visit in 2008, we brought a folding bike – a Dahon 18 speed with us. On some uphill climbs, I remember having to work to keep the front wheel on the ground as the steepness is so extreme. We were avid cyclists then, but we aren’t anymore. The hiking suits us better.

There seemed to be a level of simplicity and support on La Palma and Tenerife. Apartments and houses weren’t huge, by any stretch; not like home, where things having just gotten way out of control. Houses here are massive, and it’s ridiculous. It just seemed like a more reasonable way to live; smaller dwellings, smaller cars, less to maintain more time to live. Not sure how to transfer that lifestyle back home, but to try to live more simply is always a good thing.




Tenerife and La Palma, Hikes and walks


We didn’t have an opportunity to do the hiking we wanted to on Tenerife, the weather was colder and wetter, and snowy atop Mt. Teide, so… We ended up driving from La Orotava to Playa de San Juan. San Juan is on the southwest coast, and is north of the gong show of beaches, where the greatest majority of tourists go. We did one walk a few times, from San Juan beach, north to the town of Alcala. It was very lovely, here are our tracks in google maps:

Tenerife photos

Tenerife today

and, in case you are curious about driving on Tenerife

La Palma

La Palma is a hiker’s paradise. A great number of the German population has figured this out already, and there are a lot of them here during the winter. Trust me on this one.

Colado San Juan

Our first hike was a loop from San Nicholas to the San Juan Volcano (Colado San Juan). We had done a bit of this hike in 2008, when we were here with my kids, so we started with that on this trip. We had forgotten how very steep this island is, starting elevation at San Nicholas 600 metres, up to 1200 metres when we got to top of the hike at San Juan. Yah, that hurt. We thought we didn’t want to go down the same way, something about screaming thighs, and eccentric contraction… So, via a mapping program Lars has on his ipad, we sought out a more reasonable route. Well, don’t follow us on the way down. There had been quite a wash out at some point, so we were just ploughing through the loose dirt, trying to follow the routing down. We did make it down in the end, where we saw signs saying that the hiking route was closed. What you don’t know…

Still, awesome, no matter what. Our route in Google maps:

Name: SAN Juan volcano
Date: 2018-02-05
Length: 6.26 km
Duration: 03:37:16
Average: 1.7 km/h
Incline: 572 m
Decline: 574 m
Max. Speed: 6 km/h
Max. Altitude: 1190 m
Min. Altitude: 627 m
Alt. Dif.: 563 m

Some photos of this hike:

Pics from La Palma

Puerto Naos to La Bombilla and Beyond!

This is a pretty easy walk – all level, and on the coast. We parked in Puerto Naos, and then stayed on the coast where possible, all the way to La Bombilla, and carried on from there. There are two very nice beaches that had few people on them. The walk was busy, it looked like a popular pathway. Some parts were derelict, while others were paved, and well maintained! At the last, most northerly beach, there is a really lovely restaurant, with large patio and viewing area.  It’s an easy 4km from Puerto Naos. Out and back, an easy 8km walk. We did this walk three times, and here are some pics from these outings. The seas were particularly rough on one of the days. Mesmerizing.

Stormy Seas near La Bombilla

Our route in Google maps:

Name: Bombilla
Date: 2018-02-09
Length: 4.10 km
Duration: 01:14:55
Average: 3.3 km/h
Incline: 57 m
Decline: 71 m
Max. Speed: 8 km/h
Max. Altitude: 57 m
Min. Altitude: 11 m
Alt. Dif.: 46 m

Puerto Tazacorte, Up! and Down!

We started this hike in Puerto Tazacorte, a lovely seaside port, with a black sand beach, and many beachside restaurants, and ample pathways to watch the goings ons.

Probably not the wisest move to start a strenuous hike in the heat of the day, but whatever… We were at the top in 45 minutes, back down in probably a few minutes less. We had coffee, water and orange soft drink. Thirsts quenched.

After this initial hike, we visited Tazacorte and Puerto Tazacorte a couple more times. It’s a very lovely place, we are interested in maybe staying in Tazacorte in a future visit. The pier is an amazing structure, huge curving cement pillars with a huge empty parking area. Likely to accommodate cruise ship and container ships, as all of that traffic is managed in Santa Cruz de la Palma. Impressive anyway, click the photos to see.

Puerto Tazacorte waves

Our route in Google maps:

Name: Tazacorte
Date: 2018-02-11
Length: 2.08 km
Duration: 01:41:16
Average: 1.2 km/h
Incline: 272 m
Decline: 269 m
Max. Speed: 4 km/h
Max. Altitude: 225 m
Min. Altitude: 14 m
Alt. Dif.: 211 m

Actually, that really hurt!

Yesterday’s leg and lung buster was a 15km out and back, starting from the Visitor Information Centre for the Caldera de Taburiente, to the Virgen del Pino, and up, up, up, to the ridge of La Palma. From there, the hearty can see both coasts of the island. It is beautiful, but it was a tough hike! Almost 1,000 metres in elevation changes on this hike. Ouch, is right.

In the Walk! La Palma book, by Charles Davis, he describes it as a 5, (the hardest of walks), and apparently was one of the original routes from Santa Cruz de la Palma to Tazacorte. A real donkey trail, and it was on more than one occasion that I wished I had had one on this walk.


Our route in Google maps:

Name: Virgins Pine
Date: 2018-02-15
Length: 15.06 km
Duration: 06:19:51
Average: 2.4 km/h
Incline: 928 m
Decline: 928 m
Max. Speed: 5 km/h
Max. Altitude: 1425 m
Min. Altitude: 836 m
Alt. Dif.: 589 m

Pico Bejenado ten years later!

Feb 19, we hiked to Pico Bejenado. We did a variation of this hike in 2008; this time we went out and back on the westerly side; in ‘08, we did the east side. It took us a while to find it; we were trying to get to something recognizable, and that was impossible and a little frustrating. We followed some Barcelona Spaniards a bit, that and moreso using Lars’ ipad and mapping app, we found the road and path up to Bejenado. It was very overcast, which was OK, as it was a bit of work hiking. Up through the Canary Island pine forests (I so love the smell of those trees!); at the higher elevations the clouds thinned at views of the Caldera were free to see. We got to the top less than two hours. The Spaniards, three out of four, looked to be ultramarathoners. They were at the top for probably an hour before we got there, and two of them packed up as we arrived, and ran down. Yah. Then a group of Germans came along, and we beat a hasty exit. I would have loved to stay up there longer, but, also didn’t want to get caught in a traffic jam heading down.

Got to the trail, or started walking at 10:30; at the top of Bejenado at 12:20; then back at the car after lunch break around 90 minutes or so down. Wishing we had dirtbikes for that dirt road! 

There was high cloud, so views weren’t abundant. Here are just a few pics from that day.

At Pico Bejenado.

Our route in Google maps:

Name: Pico Bejenado
Date: 2018-02-19
Length: 9.56 km
Duration: 04:09:48
Average: 2.3 km/h
Incline: 921 m
Decline: 925 m
Max. Speed: 5 km/h
Max. Altitude: 1840 m
Min. Altitude: 1153 m
Alt. Dif.: 687 m

Teneguia hikes

Southern end of the island, Volcan San Antonio, Teneguia,

We drove down to the southern end of the island, to Los Canarios, to begin the hike at Volcan San Antonio, past Teneguia, then Fuencaliente. It was only a 6 km hike, but some very brutal descents, and corresponding ascents! Eleven km walk, with 600 metre change in elevation.  What goes down, must come up.

There are quite a few hikers here, from what we can figure out, mostly German. These hikes are pretty strenuous, but not all the hikers here, look to be able to make the out and back without some concern. From what we can figure out, some, walk one way, then have a ride/taxi at the other end to return them to their cars. This hike is pretty strenuous, and should not be taken lightly. The rewards are huge, but so is the effort.

We hiked down this way three times during our stay. Photos over here in flickr:

A raven of beauty.

Our route in Google maps:

Name: SAN Antonio
Date: 2018-02-07
Length: 11.15 km
Duration: 03:58:35
Average: 2.8 km/h
Incline: 598 m
Decline: 599 m
Max. Speed: 7 km/h
Max. Altitude: 646 m
Min. Altitude: 143 m
Alt. Dif.: 503 m

Last hike of our stay, Fuencaliente, southern part of La Palma

Lars wanted a warm weather and figured the best chance of that would be in the south. So, down to the very south Faro Fuencaliente –  is where we got sticked up and ready to walk. The road down there is pretty unreal, switchbacks r-us! As most of the island, movement is dictated by the steepness in this geography. At the Faro at 11:15; we started walking up towards the visitors’ centre at Volcan San Antonio. We went up Teneguia, which was super awesome, except for the busload of Tysklanders who happened to be hiking it at the same time. It was amazing, the views! Very windy, very breathtaking. The crater of the volcano, and the immensity of it all. It was almost a scramble-hike in some spots. We took a couple of pics, and made our way down from Teneguia. 

This was our third visit this trip, so we were pretty familiar with the area. We headed along the aqueduct to find a quiet place to have our lunch. Cheese, Grommit! and some meat, two huevos, and patates chippies! and chocolate. and water. It wasn’t a very hot day, almost cool in fact, so the walking wasn’t so strenuous. We headed towards Los Quemados; then up the very very steep road aka the Barky-dog road to the Teneguia road … and eventually back to the Faro. We stopped in at the Faro info centre, and watched a video for 2 euros. By the end of the day, we had covered 11km, 700 metres of uppity and downness. It was a fantastic hike, on the way back,  we could see el Teide, covered in snow,  above the clouds. Also on today’s Canary Islands view list were la Gomera, and el Hierro. Very awesome. 

Our route in Google maps:

Name: Teneguia
Date: 2018-02-21
Length: 11.93 km
Duration: 04:51:30
Average: 2.5 km/h
Incline: 645 m
Decline: 645 m
Max. Speed: 5 km/h
Max. Altitude: 546 m
Min. Altitude: 23 m
Alt. Dif.: 523 m

Here’s a flickr album of our La Palma stay. Hope you like.


And here are a few of Lars’ photos (opens in a new tab)

What a difference a week can make…

The last post was about our travel and destination not being perfect.

Two weeks and a day has passed since we left home; and it’s been one week plus a day since we’ve been on La Palma. Wow, I love it here. It’s February, and according to our host, it’s the coldest month of the year. I will take it.

It’s not blazing hot 25 degrees celcius, the mornings are a bit chilly, the running water isn’t always hot, (solar heated, you know), but it as close to perfect as I will venture to want, and I’m not complaining.

We’re now on La Palma, staying near Puerto Naos, just on the hillside above the town. The accommodations are awesome, we get to feel the tickle of the sun around 9:00am if the clouds cooperate; and if we’re lucky, the sun warms us through the day, and we are forutnate to watch the sunsets around 8:00 pm in the evenings.

If there’s an example of slow travellers, I think we would fit the bill. We’re here for three weeks, and we haven’t got a check list or bucket list of to-do’s. So, for the time we have been here, we have alternated the days between strenuous and not; while being in zero rush. So far we have struck a pretty good balance balance  between doing a bit, and doing a lot, and then doing next to nothing at all.

We have been on a few hikes and extended walks; and the days between the hikes have been filled with activities such as: listening to the rock doves coo-cooing, and watching them hurtle down the steep hillsides at breakneck speeds; listening to the activity of the coast that is almost 200 metres below, a lot of reading, sunbathing, and visits to town for shopping.

The view we have from our vacation rental is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s easy to just sit here and while the days away.




We’re here, and it’s not quite perfect.

No, I don’t want to be a complainer, that is not what I do. But, I do love warm weather, and have been seeking, craving, desiring it for a little while now. Travelling from Victoria to Tenerife via London, with each transit, I, (and I’m sure Lars too), we are bidding wet, winter and grey skies, a less than fond farewell.

At present, we are on Tenerife and have been in La Florida, near La Oritava, for four days. When the guide books said that La Oritava was an historic town, a little bit wetter than the south west of the island, but not as touristed, we thought that was great. We’ve all experienced wet weather, and being Victoria residents, it’s a big so what.

Well, it seems like we’ve hit an uncommon weather pattern during our stay on Tenerife. Snow on Mt. Teide, (where we had hoped to hike, walk, and spend the majority of our time) and rain, and more rain here in La Oritava. Soo… it’s not perfect.

On the bright side? In an effort to find the sun, we have visited the beachside town of Playa de San Juan, and we both really like it. About a 90 minute drive from La Orotava, San Juan is a gem. Less built up than the big resort towns of Playa de las Americas, and Los Cristianos, it is protected from the winds (and wow, is it ever windy!) San Juan has a coastal walking path which we have traversed twice now, (and will again once more tomorrow) and it seems like a place we think we would be comfortable staying at. Staying at San Juan  would give us the opportunity to enjoy the beach, and also access Teide hiking, as it is quite close to Santiago del Teide – an entry point to hiking paths in Teide national park.

Tenerife today

[there will be more, and click to see more!]

On a side note, we walked from where we are staying in La Florida, to La Oritava; about an 8km walk down and back. So incredibly steep! Cars taking sharp turns, and one of the four wheels was very far off the ground!