la palma

My 5 Favourite Places

Here are my favourite five places from the last few years of traveling.

  • Mljet, Dubrovnik, Croatia

The whole holiday was awesome, but the island of Mljet is particularly beautiful.  Most of it is a national park so it’s very green, we rent bikes and rode around the island until we reached a swimming lake which was a lot of fun to swim in.  You do have to pay for the ferry, and to enter the national park, and to rent the bikes if you want them so it did get more costly than anticipated.  Still I recommend.

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Travel of 2015

It’s not been my most traveled year but I have had a few trips and I thought I would look back on the highlights.

La Palma- my first time in the Canary Islands!  It’s a shame neither of us could drive because the island is not easy to navigate without a car. But the mountain did provide the highlight of the trip, seeing the cloud in the caldera.  We also visited the telescopes on the top of the mountain which was cool, and I like seeing the bananas that were growing everywhere.

 

Boyfriend and I took a trip a little nearer to home to Liverpool, we spent a night in Liverpool and then headed on to Southport with a stop at Crosby Beach to visit the Anthony Gormley sculptures. The highlight for me though was Etsu a yummy Japanese restaurant were I enjoyed Gyoza and Tempura.

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Munich was hot!  At times a little too hot.  We spent ages at the Deutsche Museum, before heading out to the Englischer Garten where everyone was jumping into the river.  I was excited to visit another Olympic Stadium especially as the swimming pool was still in action, and I liked eating fruit and granola for breakfast.

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And during the Summer we went on lots of little walks.  Hebden Bridge where we saw some super cute sheep and some incredible unhelpful signs.  The walk was nice, although it took us about 30mins to find the start and then we got lost before the end.

Walk in Hebden Bridge

 

 

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5 Best Things About La Palma

  1. The clouds.  La Palma has horizontal rain, I have a t-shirt that says so.  It’s actually the cloud around the mountain.
  2. The stars.  There are lots.  Turns out all that light pollution mumbo-jumbo those fussy astronomers were babbling on about was true.  Without all those pesky street lights you can actually see all the real night lights.
  3. Roque de Los Muchachos.  The highest point on the island and we got an amazing view of the cloud in the Caldera (old volcano hole).
  4. Bananas.  There were nanas everywhere.
  5. Fuencaliente and the volcanoes.  It was fun to walk through the black volcanic ash soil, wish we could have visited the volcanic beach.
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La Palma- La Bajada de la Virgen de las Nieves

La Bajada de la Virgen de las Nieves y La Danza de los Enanos or The descent of the Virgin de las Nieves and the dance of the dwarves is a big celebration that only rolls around every five years, we had missed by a few months when we were in La Palma.  Apparently there’s a 4am procession and men dressed as dwarves in big hats who dance the polka.

It seems like it’s their Olympics.  Especially, as pretty much every shop was referencing the festival presumably to sell stuff, and usually with a picture or cut out of a little man in a big hat. There were so many I had to photograph them.

La Palma2

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La Palma- Cinnamon Bar

We wanted to visit Cinnamon Bar when we stayed in La Palma as we had read on tripadvisor that it had good veggie options and it was right next to our accommodation.  The first night it seemed to be half open and half closed, it looked like for a private event, the next night was Sunday and barely anything was open at all, so it wasn’t until the third night we were able to try it out (and even then not until after 8pm, crazy Europeans).

The menu was only available in Spanish but the waiter translated everything for us, there were a few veggie options, which for Spain is a lot!   I got some spring rolls with banana sauce drizzled over- they were nice but really felt more like eating a starter and I couldn’t taste any banana although I’m not sure if that was a bad thing or not.

Boyfriend got a huge lump of meat which apparently was quite nice, and annoyingly the same price as mine!  We both got desserts, I went for meringue.  I’m not sure why because I always find it too sweet and it was, and boyfriend got some pastry with coffee goo in between the layers which he liked.

La Palma Cinnamon Bar

I would recommend a trip to Cinnamon Bar as it was a nice laid back atmosphere and the food was good, shame though that the veggie option had such a small portion.

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Top of The World (Well La Palma Anyway!)

We didn’t get to the explore the Caldera de Taburiente National Park very much unfortunately.  It was a little tricky without a car, and we were kinda tired by that point of the holiday.  But we were up there when we visited one of the observatories on the top and stopped off at the Roque de Los Muchachos which is 2,426m above sea level and the highest point on the island.  For reference, the highest point in the UK is Ben Nevis at 1344m.

Roque de los muchachosIt was a beautiful day but the Caldera (the 8km wide crater once thought to be the volcano crater but was actually caused by erosion) was full of clouds and we couldn’t see the any of the island below.  Still I thought the clouds were very beautiful.

La Palma

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La Palma, Bananas

BananasThey grow bananas in La Palma, lot of bananas!  Because the island is a volcano all the soil is volcanic ash meaning that it’s not the best to grow stuff in but bananas seem to manage.

They were all over the island, or at least the base of the mountain as they don’t grow well higher up as it’s cooler up there.

They also need a lot of water and respond well to the ‘horizontal rain’ they have in La Palma.  This is the permanent clouds that surround the mountain and are full of moisture.  This moisture is soaked up the the vegetation, and the islanders have created irrigation tunnels from the top of the mountain down the bottom making La Palma extremely green.

I had never seen bananas growing before and didn’t realise what bonkers looking flowers they have at the bottom!P1010842P1010839

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La Palma, Canary Island- Astronomy!

Apparently, La Palma is the place to go for sky.  Night time sky I mean, if you’re an astronomer it’s La Palma (or Hawaii or Chile).  The permanent low clouds around the mountain mean that the lights from the cities below are blocked out, and industry on the island is restricted.

On top of the mountain near the Roque de Los Muchachos there are a number of giant telescopes such as Gran Telescopio de Canarias, William Herschel Telescope, Telescopio Nazionale Galileo.  Since the observatories were the main reason we went to La Palma (and to get some sun) we booked a tour of the observatory before we left the UK.  It costs 9 euros each, and last for about 70-90mins.

Observatory La Palma

P1010819We were staying in Santa Cruz and had to book a taxi to get to the meeting point as there is no bus.  Once at the meeting point we gave our names, and went to the toilets as there are no other ones you can use.  Then we drove further up the mountain to a helipad where our tour guide gave an overview of Astro Camp La Palma in English and Spanish. Our taxi drive happened to work for Astro La Palma as well and luckily he knew the drill so he happily drove us on to the next stage of the tour- the company doesn’t provide any transport.

After a 30ish min intro we moved on to the Observatory, you only a tour of one and you can’t pick it but luckily we were shown around the big one: Gran Telescopio de Canarias.  It’s the largest optical-infrared telescope in the world- apparently.  It has a 10.4m mirror inside.  They don’t look like nice pirate spy glasses, and you can’t ‘look’ through the telescope.

Astro La Palma Astro La PalmaIt was cool to see the inside of the Observatory but you don’t get much time in there, and the talk is giving in Spanish and English which mean you only get half the time (or the same thing twice).  It would have been nice as well to stand on the upper level to get a better view, and see some more examples of their results (but this telescope really gets data not pretty pictures).  I recommend going if you are in the area as it was interesting but this is an intro to tourists rather than an in depth astronomical exploration for scientists.

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