Gran Canaria

Fifteen years or so ago there was a TV show in Lithuania that sent an old lady on holiday to Gran Canaria. I don’t remember now all the details, but she put together a ridiculous song that, unfortunately, is still in my head. Apart from petting all the cats on the island and singing random songs, I don’t think she got up to much else.

Needless to say, that TV show didn’t move Gran Canaria to the top of my list of places to visit, but I ended up going there anyway couple of years ago since I was keen to celebrate New Year in a warm country.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Las Palmas is a capital of Gran Canaria and it’s a nice mix of old and new. If you ever visit Las Palmas Cathedral I would recommend going up one of the towers which offers amazing views of the city.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Las Palmas turned out to be a perfect place for celebrating New Year not just due to the weather, but also because of a great choice of restaurants serving five courses and celebration packs to take away for when you head to the beach to watch the fireworks. These packs included random party stuff as well as 12 grapes that are eaten at midnight as a tradition and they are supposed to bring you luck. The bars were open till very late or you could stay on the beach with your own booze after watching the fireworks.

I know some people head to Maspalomas to celebrate, however I wasn’t impressed with the place. It’s built for tourists, feels inauthentic and overpriced. The only nice thing there are huge sand dunes that give you a feeling of being in the middle of the desert. Well and the beach wasn’t too crowded on the new years day which was a bonus.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

We didn’t stay in towns very long after the 1st Jan, just rented a car and headed to the mountains. Some windy roads take you through small beautiful villages to the hilly areas and offer amazing views.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The mountains in Gran Canaria are not extremely high or challenging to climb. We did a Roque Nublo walk and some parts of it felt like we were instantly transferred to the moon. Rock and its formations looked quite surreal, but gave a lot of space for thoughts and it seemed to be a great spot for rock climbers.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Can you spot a hole in the photo above? I really want to know whether this is a natural formation or not, but you needed a climbing gear to get up there to check. Next time I’ll take my gear with me and investigate this unless one of you tells me what it is.

We stayed a few days in the house on the hill, admiring the views, warm weather and eating the best steak ever! I wish I could remember the name of the place, since the owner of the guesthouse grilled the steak to perfection. If I ever go back to Gran Canaria I will do all I can to find that steak again 🙂

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Hiking in Mallorca

When I told some of my friends I was going to do some hiking in Mallorca almost every single one of them looked at me strangely, some of them asked if it is possible to go hiking there in the first place, some of them thought that was the new way to call “drinking” and even after my explanation that Mallorca was perfect for hiking nobody seemed to believe me.

While two thirds of the plane probably didn’t make it further than El Arenal (Party area in Mallorca), we tried to be a bit more adventurous. We spent the first night in Palma, took some photos of their amazing cathedral and had the best paella ever (no photos as it was too good)!

DSC_0595

The first destination on the list was Banyalbufar. It is a small picturesque village on the west coast less than an hour drive from Palma. It’s popular among hikers and wine lovers – Banyalbufar is famous for its Malvasia wine.

After some stressful parking experience (the streets in the village are really narrow!), we started our hike to Port des Canonge. It was a nice, though not really challenging hike. The path was going through the forest and you could enjoy the views of the sea. We ended up in a stony beach and had a nice lunch in the sun.

 

We left Banyalbufar in the late afternoon and headed towards Port de Soller. The town was really pretty and we got a hotel just at the beach. Having breakfast outside in front of the beach every morning, enjoying the sun, was probably one of my favourite things to do.

Port de Soller also has a tram which is over a 100 years old! I saw it a few times, but didn’t get a chance to take a photo. It looked really cool though 🙂

The second day we decided to drive to Port de Sa Calobra – the town famous for its beach. The drive there was an absolute pleasure. The road was zigzagging through the mountains and the views were terrific.

The place was nice, but the beach was a bit of the disappointment, as I imagined it to be much bigger.

However, we were not really beach type of people anyway, thus we decided to do a Torrent de Pareis hike which started at the same place. Well, if you imagine it is some ordinary hike then you are completely wrong. It is said to be one of the most impressive gorge walks in Mediterranean. I kind of knew what to expect, however I got more than I could ever want from a hike and the canyon was a real pleasant surprise. The hike was mostly jumping and climbing from one rock to the other and it was extremely fulfilling. We only did a part of the hike and only the “easy” bit, but it was still a great fun. If you want a full experience of Torrent de Pareis – start from Escorca and finish at Sa Calobra.

 

The third and the last hike that we did was around Valldemossa. We started in this little town and walked a nice circle on some mountain peaks. The views were absolutely amazing and the later it got, the less people we saw on the way. It was so nice and peaceful and it was great to enjoy the silence.

It was hard to leave Mallorca. The weather was really nice all the time and we still felt like we did not manage to do a lot of things we planned. The dinners we had all the evening were absolutely amazing as well – fresh seafood, nice tapas and some quality local wine, so it was hard to come back to chips, haggis and irn bru. Will go back! 😉

First Ever Trip Abroad

I think my first ever trip was quite an unusual experience. Especially because it was a crazy trip after which some people might not even want to travel ever again. I managed to keep only a few photos from that trip, but I guess it doesn’t matter -memories stay for life.

My first ever trip abroad was a gift for my 18th birthday – so it was in 2009 if I remember it right. I’ve done a lot of travelling in Lithuania before that, both with my parents and friends, but I’ve never been abroad. It is expensive to travel abroad when you earn so little in Lithuania (my parents don’t have very well paid jobs).

So what happened? My parents decided it would be quite nice to send me to visit an aunt who lived in Spain. She lived in a little town called Orihuela, which is relatively close to Alicante. The cheapest way to get there was to take a special mini bus, which would pick you up from your home town and drop you off in basically any place you wanted. Sounds pretty good, no? Of course it takes more time than flying, but you get to see a lot along the way – scenery of Poland, Germany, France and Spain.

So I left Lithuania with around 10 people in a mini van. My parents didn’t exactly left me on my own to travel – my aunts “boyfriend” was travelling with me, although we didn’t know each other and thus did not sit together and did not talk too much to each other during the trip. There was also a family with a baby, couple of older travelers, a girl about my age and a driver. Yes, one driver and there was no plan to stop in a hotels to sleep. Now when I think about this trip it all sounds crazy, but then it was my first trip ever and I was super excited.

I was sitting next to a girl and she seemed like a nice person, so I thought this trip would be quite cool and we’d have a good chat. I was wrong. Somewhere in the middle of Poland she remembered that she forgot her passport. Of course we weren’t planning to come back and the only thing to do was to keep going. Even though the countries I was travelling through were in Schengen zone, you were still required to carry the passport with you and you would still get occasional checks. The driver knew the areas where it was more likely to be stopped and get checked. So we were going through the smaller villages and towns. That meant that that the entire trip took longer than expected.

The girl next to me was crying a lot and she was so nervous that it was really difficult to sit next to her and listen to her complains. The baby was crying a lot and nobody was in a good mood. The driver was doing crazy hours and he was stopping to sleep only occasionally. He was constantly encouraging people to get some alcohol and drink instead of sleeping – so he wouldn’t fall asleep as well. It didn’t bother me that much but my legs hurt and I was just thinking about the bed. The views through the window were absolutely fantastic, especially because a lot of time we weren’t going through the main roads. Also, I got to see Millau Viaduct which was probably the reason why the year later I got into engineering. Yes, it was the first time I saw a structure this big and I was really impressed.

At Spain-France border we went through the little shopping town which was crazy busy. We let that girl out and she mixed in with the crowd of shoppers and crossed the border. We got our passports checked and then picked her up a few hundred meters further. So almost three days later we were in Spain. Everyone could not wait to arrive to their destinations.

Finally, I managed to reach the place and met my aunt. Orihuela was a nice little town and I was really happy to be there. I was supposed to spend three weeks there, then go to Barcelona for a week and then come back to Orihuela. I didn’t know the exact date of return, as we just had to give a ring to the mini van company closer to the date and they would tell me when I was going back. Nice and flexible!

Not much to talk about Orihuela really. I was just chilling in the house, eating ice cream, occasionally going to the beach in Torrevieja, going to the open cinema in the city center, just enjoying life and practicing my Spanish from time to time. I got to go to Valencia for a day as well with my aunt’s friends to visit Aquarium and Marine Park, which I thought was super cool.

Barcelona was something completely different. I was living with my cousin who was sharing a flat with a transgender man who was working as a massage therapist and couple of other guys. There were a bunch of random people coming in every day and it was a complete different experience for me. Just to be clear – I have nothing against transgender people and I thought it was super cool to meet different people.

The city itself was absolutely gorgeous and I had loads of fun exploring it. I was lucky to be there in mid-August when Gràcia Festival was taking place. It is a street festival and the streets are covered with loads of crazy decorations. There is a plenty of live music and for a person who’s never seen something like that before, it was a crazy experience. I was wondering in the streets until late and meeting loads of people. Yes, I was slightly jealous that my cousin, who was only a year older than me, got to live there.

 

When the time arrived to go home I was a bit nervous. I thought it be another three long days. However, the trip was quite fun and I got to see a bit of Switzerland as we had to pick somebody up from there. On the way back the car broke twice. The first time we just had to change the tire. The second time we were in Poland and this time we had to change the tire as well, but we didn’t have another spare one and as it was Sunday everything around was closed. However it wasn’t that far from Lithuanian border and somebody brought us a spare one. The entire trip took less than two days, as there was a passenger who had a licence to drive a mini van and he was occasionally taking over. People seemed to be pretty decent as well and nobody was crying.

It was hard to come back as I basically went back straight to school after the trip. Although I got to be a cool one for a few days as nobody else did anything fun that summer.

It was a crazy trip when I’m thinking about it now. But at that point all those crazy things didn’t seem that bad and they just added some extra colour to my memories. I was happy I got to travel by car, as I got to see so much and I don’t know if that ever happens again. And of course, that trip just got me thinking how to get out and see more and maybe that’s why a year later I moved to Edinburgh.