Hi there! My name is Irene and I'm from sunny Tenerife. I now live in sunny Switzerland (not kidding). I have lived in several other not-so-sunny countries in Europe. I liked them all the same. You can read about my retrospective travels here.
  • Day5

    Living history in Jaca

    June 17, 2017 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    Jaca, a small town south of the Pyrenees, was the first capital of the former Kingdom of Aragon during the 11th century. For a brief period of twenty years, Jaca was the leading city of that incipient kingdom and blossomed beautifully. A cathedral and a citadel were built to accommodate the clergy and the royals. By the turn of the century, however, Jaca was no longer the capital, though it remained an important city in the kingdom. And it has been quite renowned throughout history, in spite of its outlying location and diminishing population. Today, it is no more than a small town which serves as a convenient base for fans of winter sports and outdoors activities; and it is also one of the entry points for pilgrims hiking French route of the Camino de Santiago.

    I was in Jaca seven years ago and I was mesmerised by the beauty of the place. Surrounded by pristine nature, the town has been extremely well preserved and walking along its cobbled streets, one can feel part of a distant past that never really ended. Anyway, this feeling might have been induced by the medieval market that was taking place during those summer days.
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  • Day4

    Milmarcos, where time stood still

    June 16, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 37 °C

    Something very funny happens in Spain. With an area of some 500000 Km2 and a population of roughly 46 million, Spain has a population density of 92/Km2. Yet there's a big patch almost in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula that has the lowest population density in Europe, 1.63/Km2. That's even less than the population density of Lapland or Siberia. In fact, this area that comprises the north of Castilla-La Mancha and much of Aragón is now known in the Spanish media as the Spanish Siberia. Once a lively region, now many villages are dying out, as people have been leaving the Spanish countryside looking for a better life in the cities since the 1960s.

    Milmarcos, on the province of Guadalajara and just over the border with Zaragoza, is one of those villages who saw the people leave and masse and never return. Its population once reached 5000 inhabitants and now it doesn't outnumber the fingers in both hands. Things improve in the summer, when people come over for the holidays and the local religious celebrations. I spent many a summer there during my childhood, as my family on my father's side comes from that tiny village.

    I last went to Milmarcos nearly seven years ago and not much had changed. Everything was just as I remember and the only novelty in the village was a bus stop that had been placed on the back of the main church. Apparently, a bus passes by every morning and afternoon, Monday to Friday during the school months to pick up the only children of the village and drive him to a bigger village where there is still a school.
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  • Day3

    Love&Hate in Málaga

    June 15, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    I have kind of a bittersweet relationship with Malaga. I've been going there since I was a baby, as my family on my mother's side comes from Malaga but I've never really liked it. Too hot, too noisy, too dirty, too many things at the same time. The city has improved, though, and so have my feelings towards her.

    I was only two months old when I flew for the first time and the destination was Malaga, where I was to be christened. As you can imagine, I have no recollections of that particular trip and most of my childhood memories are a mix of hot days in a crowded house on the outskirts of the city, sunny days spent in the swimming pool at my auntie's, long road trips with my parents to lost villages whose beauty I could not appreciate and stressful Sunday roasts where everyone would talk way too loud. Oh, and I also remember that time my mother took me to watch the 'procesiones' and told me to ask the 'nazarenos' to pour melted wax on my hand to make a ball throughout the week. The kind of fun all eight-year-olds want to have.

    Things are definitely better when your hand is not being burnt by some masked penitent and I've had more fun in recent trips than I ever did when I was a child. I had even planned to go this year for Easter but things didn't turn out that way in the end. But hey, I'm going there in a couple of weeks. Ten days of sun and sea at the Costa del Sol can do no wrong and there's quite a lot to do in Malaga. Here's a short list of what to do and see:

    - Go to the beach (actually, I don't remember I've ever been to the beach in the city centre so this is high on my list. Also, because I've never bathed in the Mediterranean. They say it's warmer, isn't it?)
    - See a museum or two. The city has been revamped recently and major developments have focused on its cultural side. To name a few, you can visit the Pablo Picasso Museum, the Museo Carmen Thyssen, or a permanent venue of the famous Paris' Pompidou Museum.
    - Wander around the city centre and marvel at the many historical buildings. Romans and Arabs both left their imprint on the city and you can visit the ancient Roman Theatre or the Alcazaba fortress. Other interesting buildings are the Cathedral or the old market.
    - Eat 'pescadito frito'. As much as you can.
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  • Day2

    Introducing Tenerife

    June 14, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    When I first went to live abroad, I was often asked all kind of bizarre questions when people found out that I was from tenerife. A holiday island for most, they could just not imagine that there were people who grew up there and led a normal life, just like they did everywhere else. Do you live in a hut at the beach? No, I don't. Haver you ever been to the movies? Yes, like a hundred times. Are there schools in Tenerife? No, I learnt everything I know at home and somehow I landed an Erasmus scholarship and ended up here. Just kidding. Of course there are schools in Tenerife. We even have a university. Two, actually.

    However, what puzzled people most was my relationship with the weather. The cold weather, to be more specific. Everyone assumed that I must love hot, sunny days and would be freezing to death as soon as temperatures dropped below 20°C, which is not true at all. And everyone assumed that I had never seen snow in my life. Wrong again. Most people are surprised to find out that there is snow in Tenerife; not too often and not too much, but there is definitely some snow nearly every year. And last year was quite a snowy year with some of the biggest snowfalls of the 21st century.

    I went to Tenerife on March 2016 and was totally amazed when I first glimpsed the island from the plane, as most of the centre was gleaming white under the sun. There was snow. A lot of snow. A week later I drove to the National Park of Las Cañadas del Teide and there was still some snow on the north side of the mountains and valleys (a lot of snow had already melted within that week as temperatures went back to their subtropical normality). It was quite a joy, I can tell you. I love snow anywhere, but there's something very special about seeing your beautiful home island blanketed in white.

    In fact, there are many special things about Tenerife. There are many stories I could tell you and I might obligue in future footprints. But until then, enjoy the snowy view.
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  • Day1

    Where it all began

    June 13, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    I guess that if I should start somewhere it should be in Spain, after this is where it all began. This is the country where I was born and this is the country I left behind to go and love abroad. This is the country I first tripped around before I travelled around.

    I was born and grew up in Tenerife. I often travelled to the mainland during my childhood to visit relatives, so there a few places I know quite well. One of them is Málaga, the glitzy capital of the Costa del Sol, and the other is a small village called Milmarcos, which most probably you've never heard of. Well, I'll tell you some about it later on.

    Besides, I have done some road trips with my parents and seen several more towns and cities in Andalusia and some villages in the often forgotten plains of inner Spain. I also did a trip a few years ago with some friends and visited Madrid and Toledo. Unfortunately, I don't know much more about my home country. But that only means that I still have plenty to discover. So, here's a list of some things I'd love to see some day:

    - Visit all seven Canary Islands.
    - Hike the Camino de Santiago.
    - Visit Barcelona. Maybe watch Barcelona FC play at the Camp Nou.
    - Do a road trip in Andalusia and visit Seville (never been there), Cordoba and Granada.
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  • Day1

    Where I've been

    June 12, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Hi there!

    I used to travel blog at Away from Tenerife (https://awayfromtenerife.blogspot.com in case you're curious) but I haven't updated it since forever. So here I am trying out this thing to try and keep track of my travels, past and future. I'm not 100% sure of how this work so I'll just pretend it just like an ordinary blog. I might change things in the future, but for the time being I'm just going to write down about the places I've been to in this trip notebook called Wanderlust. Maybe I'll change to single-country trips later.

    Anyway.

    First things first, my name is Irene and I was born on Tenerife. I left ten years ago to study abroad and I have only spent two years back on my home island ever since. I haven't travelled as much as I would have liked to but I have seen quite a lot of Western Europe. So here's a detailed list of the places I've been to. The order is more or less chronological.

    SPAIN
    Tenerife - Gran Canaria - La Gomera - Málaga -Córdoba - Granada - Zaragoza - Madrid - Toledo

    UK
    London - Edinburgh

    PORTUGAL
    Madeira

    FRANCE
    Paris - Lille - Pau - Strasburg - Colmar - Sélestat - Mulhouse

    BELGIUM
    Antwerp - Brussels - Brugge - Ghent - Ostende - Mechelen - Liege - Leuven - Lier - Hasselt - Knokke-Heist - Charleroi - Spa - Eupen

    THE NETHERLANDS
    Amsterdam - Rotterdam - The Hague - Leeuwarden - Workum - Hindeloopen - Groningen - Utrecht - Groesbeek - Nijmegen - Maastricht - Edam - Volendam - Den Bosch - Eindhoven - Delft - Leiden - Tilburg - Breda - Haarlem - Zandvoort - Bloemendaal aan Zee - Bergen op Zoom - Heerlen

    LUXEMBURG
    Luxembourg City

    GERMANY
    Cologne - Bonn - Aachen - Freiburg im Breisgau - Heidelberg - Frankfurt am Main - Karlsruhe - Lörrach - Konstanz - Insel Mainau

    CZECH REPUBLIC
    Prague - Karlstejn

    ITALY
    Rome - Milan - Pisa - Florence - Siena - Domodossola - Cannero Riviera - Cannobio

    SWITZERLAND
    Basel - Bern - Zurich - Interlaken - Luzern - Winterthur - Schaffhausen - Zermatt - Geneve - Sion - Leukerbad - Locarno - Lugano - Montreux - Davos - Lenk

    LICHTENSTEIN
    Vaduz - Schaan - Malbun

    IRELAND
    Dublin - Howth - Dun Laoghaire - Bray - Greystones - Maynooth
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