Thursday, January 5, 2017

January 5, 2017: Slow day in San Sebastian!

Subtitle: A Mountain of Love for the Town They Call Valle (de Gran Rey)

A distant view of San Sebastian and Tenerife in the background.

“We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.” 
― John MuirMy First Summer in the Sierra

Today was our day "off," and due to a variety of circumstances, Paul and I managed for the first time in many days to walk less than two miles! But we are off to a good start exercising for the most part for 2017 nonetheless.

We awoke to rain. It doesn't actually rain much here, we are told. Although, they do say there is frequently a mist at about 2000 feet elevation. Thusly, the islands of Tenerife and La Gomera have the most trees and greenery , and Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are dry and even desert like in places. We have been fortunate not to encounter much in the way of precipitation for some long hiking experiences. But today, the rain came until about 2pm.

We had decided to visit the town of Valle de Rey which is on the complete 180 degree opposite end of the island. We are not doing any hiking in that area, so this was the only way to get over there. The town is known for it's abundance of "hippies" and it's good beach from which most of the whale watching tours launch.  Because today was rainy and windy, the tours were cancelled, but we went anyway, just to get a gander.

Part of the scenery on the bus ride

Valle de Rey in the distance at the end of the V shaped Valley

The beach at Valle de Rey. The rough waves and those rain clouds you see kept folks out of the water.

The bus ride was about 90 minutes and the scenery was really nice on the way. We saw many of the lovely volcanic ridges, mountains and ravines, many small towns, and passed through the heart of the Garanjonay National Park with its thick copses of low trees.  The best part of this day off was probably the bus ride, because we passed so many beautiful scenic spots.

Another glimpse of the beach at Valle de Rey.

A look back at the valley on the trip back to San Sebastian

Terraces with Tenerife in the background. Teide has a cloud on its top.

Our lunch spot where we were serenaded by a bunch of melodic intoxicated locals. Lotsa fun

Veggie pizza!

A wonderful local shopping spot: Ceramic Space. There were pottery pieces as well as nice jewelry from local lava , seeds and rocks.

Paul poses in the light rain.

This is a good town to come to for a day on the beach if you like a spot with numerous bars and restaurants nearby or enjoy whale and dolphin tours. Although it wasn't heavily touristed today, I would think it would be very crowded in the summertime. The water here tends to be pretty cold.

We spent only about 2 hours here with at least light mist and after our serenade of Spanish songs wiht a pizza, we were back on the bus to San Sebastian.  The minute we got on the bus, of course, the rain stopped. But that was okay. We are not really "beach people."

We arrived back to San Sebastian and tomorrow is the day of the Three Kings. So today, in Latin terms, is essentially Christmas Eve. Gifts aren't exchanged on Christ's birthday, but on the day of the Magi instead. Makes sense, if you ask me!  So this was a special day in town.  We tried to visit the Columbus Museum in town, as he spent some time here. But it was closed. We have heard from local legend that the grand dame of the town, Ms. Peraza (whose husband, the Spanish appointed leader who was so hated , the locals KILLED him) was holed up in the Torre de Conde, a local tower. (We are actually staying in the Torre de Conde Hotel which is near the tower in the center of town. ) Christopher Columbus theoretically took a shine to this rich widow and hung around La Gomera for a while prior to launching for the New World.  We could not tour the tower either, although you can look at it from the outside. It isn't a place I fancy being barricaded into, but then, where would that be a good experience?

We were able to tour the church built in the 1400s. It was obviously quite old, but also very nice. It is the church of the ascension of Mary.
The Church of the Ascension of Mary in San Sebastian, La Gomera

A "splain board" of the churches long and tumultous history. It survived despite some scary situations.

Interior view

This is also a special day that correlates somewhat with Mardi Gras in New Orleans. There is a parade through town with the Three Kings, bands, and apparently Walt Disney characters were also a part of the adoration of the Christ. Well, maybe not, but they are popular here amongst the three kings on parade and their attendants. They wear the Mardi Gras colors of purple, yellow and green as well as masks. They serve king's cake here. The paraders give out candy to the children instead of beads. It's pretty civilized though. A family affair and not a bunch of drunks standing around begging for beads!

I'm so out of it on Disney, I have no idea who this is supposed to be

The fairy princess posed for many photos with kids.

Sponge bob and ninja turtle

The attendants of the King

These guys have candy in the bag
Tonight, while the children sleep, the Three Kings will come and leave a gift by the children's shoes.

Paul and I decided our celebration would be an ice cream :)

Straciatella and Coffee

Eventually ,we met back up with the group for a dinner at our hotel. I have to tell you that the breakfast has left something to be desired unless you are a major fan of pate and canned fruit cocktail, so we were a little alarmed when our guide, Max, said we were having a set menu in the hotel. But it ended up to be a very tasty meal of vegetable soup, meatballs and tres leches.
El grupo

Yummy meatballs

A very nice Spanish Red

And an equally impressive white. 

So it was a nice slow day and a chance to rest our sore legs and backs. Tomorrow, we are back on the trail! It has been a very enjoyable day indeed.

“The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.” 
― O. HenryThe Gift of the Magi

Paul's Ponderings:  A slow day out today and a welcome one as well!   We had a nice ride on the bus over a part of the island we had not visited, followed by a leisurely meal and some shopping.  Then it was back to relax a bit more at our hotel in San Sebastian....all in all, an enjoyable experience after several tough days of walking.  On the way back, we had great view of Tenerife from La Gomera and we can see where we will be after our return to the former.  Tomorrow we head out to our last day of hiking....then back to Tenerife and some more well deserved relaxing.   

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