Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How I wish I were still there, Part Two

Damn it's cold in Iowa. But on January 2nd, I was here, and it was 30 degrees Celsius. This is La Playa de las Canteras in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. Our pension was only about 4 blocks away. This is a great beach, and it's 2 miles long.  

Dunas de Maspalomas -- the sand dunes at Maspalomas, on the southern side of Gran Canaria. We hiked through them -- it's a park. This happens to be where the nudist beach is (the one that I mentioned in a previous post; it's not really noticeable in this picture though, sorry to disappoint). Women, of course, go topless on regular beaches in the Canary Islands. I didn't; I've been feeling a bit too Rubenesque lately to even don a bikini, so I made do with my modest one-piece. I tell you, I needn't have worried. There are all shapes and sizes of people on these beaches. Although, older women who've done a lot of topless sunbathing do not have attractive breasts, in my humble opinion, unless you consider leather pouches hanging off of the chest attractive. 

How I wish I were still there ....

Iowa is experiencing some schizophrenic weather currently. Yesterday it was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, very lovely for January. In fact, much of the snow melted. Today, however, is not as nice. In fact, I think the windchill right now is -10, and may even get as low as -30. Sucky. So in an effort to stay warm, I will imagine that I'm still on a beach in the Canary Islands, one of the many that I visited.  

This is in Puerto de la Cruz. I didn't actually go to the beach there (we did other things that day, like went to El Botanico, the botanical gardens, and La Orotava), but it's beautiful, as you can see. I especially like the black sand. That's the volcano Teide in the background. We didn't ascend Teide, as the highest 200 m of roads were closed due to snow.  

Playa de los Americas, Tenerife, on the south part of the island.  This locale is very touristy and has lots of resorts. Read: expensive. At least, more expensive than Santa Cruz.

Playa de las Teresitas, just a few kilometers north of Santa Cruz. This is actually an artificial beach, which I would normally protest, except that the sand is imported from the Saharan desert, which I think is cool. It was softer than I expected. Speaking of the Sahara, there was a map in a museum that I liked. I didn't take a picture of, and I wish I had. It dated from ... can't quite remember, maybe early 13th century? This particular map, as you might expect, was very detailed in Europe and the Mediterranean. But south of Libya it read "End of Inhabitable Land." Clearly the authors of said map didn't ever visit Iowa in January.  

Monday, January 28, 2008

Einstein on the Bus

Tenerife has a great bus system.  They go all over the island, and as a bonus for non-Spanish speakers, the schedule is very easy to read (unlike Gran Canaria's).  You can buy a bono pass for 12 Euro, and use it on any bus or even the tram that goes from La Laguna to Santa Cruz.  And more than one person can use the same pass.  If you use the bono, you also get a discount on the longer rides, say, if you go from Santa Cruz to Playa de los Americas on the other side of the island.   Hey, even Einstein rides the bus.  

Night in Santa Cruz

We were in Santa Cruz the week between Christmas and New Year's; many decorations were still up (and some were in the process of being put up for Tres Reyes -- the Festival of the Three Kings -- or as you may know it, Epiphany).   One great thing about Spain is that everyone has this big late lunch -- sometime between 1 and 4, shops are generally closed then for lunch/siesta, and then open back up between 4 and 8 -- and then a late dinner of tapas and wine.  And everyone is out at night, enjoying life.  

View from the Bell Tower

La Laguna, Tenerife.  This is from the bell tower of Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion.  

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just call him the Spanish Babe

Somehow, I don't think he'd be dancing if he knew where el jamon was coming from.  

The first time in Spain

While I've been in Europe several times by now, this was the first time I'd been in Spain. We landed in Madrid, then flew to Tenerife North. This is the Madrid airport, International Terminal. I think it's cool.  

This was at 8 a.m.; it was still dark outside.

naranja naturale

Ok, so, when you think of Spain, you probably don't think of orange juice. Let me tell you, I had the best orange juice of my life on this trip. Really. Every place had fresh squeezed juice.  Even the coffee shops at the bus and ferry stations had fresh squeezed orange juice. This particular photo is from a restaurant/coffee shop/bar we stopped at driving from Madrid to Lisbon.  The machine on the counter in the background is that most wonderful of inventions, the orange squeezer. Hmm, it just occurred to me now, three weeks too late, that I should have taken a video of it in action. Oh well, you'll just have to go there to experience it yourself. The best orange juice story is this: in Puerto de la Cruz, on Tenerife, we stopped at a cantina for lunch. I ordered orange juice, and the waiter shook his head. Then he turned around, said something to the woman behind the counter, then turned to me, nodded, and said, Yes, Ok. Then he disappeared for quite a while. Where were our drinks? We waited, and waited some more, and then he came up with bags in his hands ... bags full of oranges, so we could have our fresh squeezed juice.  Life was beautiful.  

You will probably not see all 603

So, a couple of weeks ago, as you probably know from reading my blog and/or being my friend, I returned from a 3 week long trip to the Canary Islands (Tenerife and Gran Canaria), Madrid, and Lisbon.  I took 603 pictures, a record for me.  Now that I have a fancy digital camera, I can take as many photos as my li'l ol' heart desires, and I don't have to worry about running out of film.   Probably you all discovered this in the last millenium, but since I'm just a nineteenth-century girl at heart, I haven't had my digital camera but for a few months. Anyway. The thought of posting this many photos (or half of this many photos, or a quarter of this many photos) overwhelms me, especially now that semester number 4 of ? has begun. So pictures will be posted at my leisure, most likely one at a time. This way you can really savor them.  

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The soundtrack for this picture is by Brahms

I have a good excuse, I was in Europe

So the Iowa caucuses are now long past.  Sadly I had to miss my first caucus as an Iowa resident. I was in the Canary Islands on that particular day (on Gran Canaria, as it were, hiking through the sand dunes at Maspalomas, which includes a nudist beach, and I am here to tell you that is not nearly as exciting as it sounds, but I digress). But even in Europe there was a lot of buzz about the US primaries. Pretty much that's all CNN reported on. They even talked about such ridiculous topics as the size of Obama's ears. (How about some real issues, people?)
Anyway, now I'm back in the Midwest, good ol' Iowa City, and the only two things that aren't swell are 1) it's absolutely freezing here and 2) I am feeling stressed out because I have 4 German chapters to finish, 2 German tests to take, 1 syllabus to write, a sonata to learn, a chapter of keyboard harmony to learn before Tuesday, 4 essays to read for 19th-Century Music, and approximately 100 emails to respond to.  Have I mentioned that the semester doesn't officially begin until Tuesday?  But I digress again.  The point of this post is the picture posted above.   I saw this while walking past (or, more accurately, running past in the freezing cold) the Hamburg Inn the other day. The candidate I support came in 4th, and my second choice came in 3rd, so maybe it doesn't matter quite so much that I was in Europe for this historic caucus.  Nevertheless, the results, though interesting as they may be, cannot bring a regime change fast enough for me.  

Monday, January 14, 2008