Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Trip report the Canary Islands

Agatha Christi once wrote in a novel set and written in Puerto de la Cruz Tenerife Canary Islands Spain

“Mr.Satterthwaite passed on down the cypress walk to the sea. It was rather wonderful sitting there--on the edge of nothing--with that sheer drop below one.  But he found no inspiration there, and turning slowly he walked back along the path between the cypresses and into the quiet garden.”

I, however on that very same cliff WAS inspired.  Most of our trips or so it seems, are learning events.  We learn how to get through an airport, get a rental car, order food in a foreign language, how to find the birds and what unfamiliar calls are, or drive on the left.  We just spent 9 days in Tenerife on the Canary Islands and a day in Iceland after going for a week to Wisconsin and Minnesota for Christmas.  I have made some additions to "Olaf's Rules."

1) Never check in luggage.

This is an old rule, but recently we have forgotten.  Icelandair bullied us to check a suitcase in Minneapolis and we did not have to, and we checked one going home that we definitely did not have to, and it is still out there ...somewhere, carrying my tripod, two monopod walking sticks, a bathrobe, a pair of Crocs, a field guide, and an 800 camera part I just got in from losing it in Bhutan.

2)  Christmas trips are two long

being gone 17 days over the holidays is too much, thing need to be fixed in the future.

3) Why are we going to a place that is typically cooler than Florida when we have a house in

 Florida plus and RV spot?  The Canaries are nice but from Tampa we can be to Puerto Rico or Panama in 3 hours by plane, and almost any Carribbean Island in four.  Tenerife was 6 hours from Minneapolis plus another 6 to Tenerife.  The flight home was 6 plus 8 to Orlando with an overnight in Keflavik near a volcano that is ready to blow again, and possibly a closed airport.  

4) Do not eat squid ink, it is a little salty going in, but what comes out a day or two later is a little much

So with that introduction, we went to Tenerife, just off the African coast of Spanish Sahara, we met up with our son Allwin, his girlfriend and her parents.  We've known then for many years,  Allwin is a research Chemist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany.  It is much easier to get to Tenerife for him.  a Four hour flight

We stayed in a nice VRBO and hung out on the tropical island.  The house was in the middle of a banana plantation
We had a nice view of the ocean, and of the city below us.  We went up to the volcano, Teide that last erupted in 1908 and could threaten the entire eastern US coast.  The barren landscape was used for the movie "Planet of the Apes."

The most common critter in this massive desert is the Gallot's lizard

We also saw endemic butterflies like the 

The Canary Speckled Wood Butterfly, and we also saw African blues

The beaches are down steep cliffs, wavy, black sand beaches and filled with shadows

Ancon Beach
Some impressive waves

We even saw a few surfers.

One (in)famous beach, the naturist Playa Patos, just below our house, had had its stairs eroded 9 years ago, then in 2023, they spent 30000 euros to replace them.  On December 24, five days before we arrived the cliff failed and blocked the beach.  The local city closed the access and put up a barricade fence. But intrepid souls climbed the fence and then went down the stairs and then in barefeet or flipflops crossed the fifty meter high pile of rocks.

We had an eight course meal at new years (see previous blogs) and hiked and saw a few sights including Agatha Christi's famous steps

The port, just another place to take one's clothes off for sun

red rock crab

Of course I drank lifer beers
I saw nine lifer birds for my world list and photographed 8 of them, six of those pretty good.  The Bolle's Pigeon went unphotographed, saw one and heard one.  Birder Neil Hayward was on the island but he was a day ahead of me in seeing birds and we never met up despite me reaching out.  Oh well.

Tenerife Blue Chaffinch, maybe a population of 5000 birds on the one island

(White tailed) Laurel pigeon, maybe 5000 on three islands having been split from the Madeira Laurel Pigeon and is near threatened

Island canary

Canary Island Chiffchaff

Canary Island chaffinch

Berthelot's pipit 

Barbary Partridge, here and North Africa

African Blue tit

Tenerife is not a birdy island. I also saw some avian creatures.

common buzzard

Common sandpiper

Eurasian blackcap

Eurasian kestrel

European robin

Gray wagtail

Little egret

The super skulky Sardinian Warbler

Yellow Legged gull, despite being an island, saw a grand total of just four gulls all were this species

  It was really a nice vanilla trip and then...we started for home. We got notified of a strike so we headed to the airport extra early but there was nothing looking like a strike, just long lines at the food court and a crowded airport.  We had a long wait.

Allwin's flight to Frankfurt and ours to Reykjavik were at adjoining gates, so we bid farewell and off we went to Iceland.
The six hour flight ended and my suitcase never came off the carousel  "Sir, your bag is safe and checked for Orlando."  So we went to the hotel and slept.  The Blue lagoon opened up that morning but many thought it was risky as another volcano eruption is imminent (has not erupted as of today) so we went to airport and I birded a little outside.

I picked up a nice redwing, have not seen one for a few years and after a hot dog we went through security.  Everything was going fine and then, it did not....I broke a zipper on my favorite jacket that morning, I have had the jacket for at least 25 years.  I love that jacket.  decided to throw it away before security.

It was very sad throwing away an old friend, 

So we went through customs and Silja got the random selection for extra screening.

Back at Christmas we have a newer tradition, we go to my uncle's place on Christmas eve to his gun range and shoot.

My daughter Lauren and Silja target shooting

Afterwards we ate Swedish meatballs with Grandma Lucille's recipe!  
Son Tyko with meatballs

So back to Iceland, they swabbed that jacket of Silja's for explosives.....and forty minutes later as I was wondering if she had been kidnapped.  She was finally released from her secret room.  She was mad and upset and vowed that Iceland was never going to be in our future again.  

So after more lines we got on a plane and 8 hours later aboard a 727 Max 9 (with a plug) that would be grounded a day later, we arrived in luggage however has never been seen again.......
Iceland(air) again is on my S#$$t list 

You know it was fun, it was nice, but was it real nice and fun.....?  Silja picked up a bug on a plane,  we have jet lag, my luggage is ....somewhere.  I am out a tripod a teleconverter some Christmas gifts, a kilo of prized coffee and a favorite hat.  I ruined a jacket and well, that is that.




  1. Some nice birds there. I hate to think what an inky squid looks like exiting??!!! Darn airlines; why can't they get anything right?? I had the same experience as Silya at the L.A. airport in the " secret room " when I used my Canadian passport instead of my American Green Card, coming back into the country. Not pleasant. Enjoy.

  2. Don't know why I am anonymous; it's Thor

  3. Another engrossing trip report for a (relatively) little-visited location.
    I'm with you about not checking luggage, at least on an out-bound flight and especially with connections. I once had baggage delayed for a week, and one of my executives arrived in Japan to find his luggage was at Schiphol, etc.
    On my trip tp Uganda in 2021, when we touched down in Africa (Rwanda first), they made an announcement to the effect of "to the passengers who connected from Boston, we regret to inform you that your bags didn't make it." I was arriving late and starting out early the next morning, so it would have been a serious problem. So I hang onto my bag -- a dufflebag that fits in overheads -- at all costs. Sometimes they stop me on the runway and take it below, but at least I know it's on the plane. However, in Colombia last year, I barely made a connection and the luggage wouldn't have, even thought it was on the arriving airplane.
    Going home it doesn't matter if it's delayed...

    1. If I can skiing to Sweden with just a carryon, I can go anywhere with just a carry-on, we were bringing gifts and despite sending a big box to Florida, we were carrying too much stuff.....heard those type of overhead calls before. Worse one was in St Martin and someone had hustled to the airport using a boat from Anguilla and a suitcase apparently fell off the boat hitting a wave.


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