Notes of a traveller

Alan Dodds – photographer (among other things)

Notes of a traveller


Tenerife, Madeira, Lisbon and Vigo

Posted on Tuesday, May 10th, 2016 at 12:23 am

The crossing of the Atlantic Ocean takes six days. It is a big ocean! For most of the way, a gentle swell accompanies us and we get into the rhythm of ship board life. It is a journey. The appearance of land, in the shape of the first of the Canary Islands, greets us in the early morning of the seventh day. We are heading for Tenerife, an outpost of Spain off the coast of Africa and a favourite holiday destination for many Europeans.

Tenerife

Approaching the island it’s immediately obvious that we are back in Europe albeit somewhat isolated off the west coast of Africa. Its volcanic origins show clearly as we approach. It’s interesting to see land after such a seemingly long time and I speculate what it must have been like for those explorers that went the other way with no real idea where they were going. Brave people!

The island of Tenerife rises from the ocean.

The volcanic island of Tenerife rises from the ocean.

Dolphins play alongside the boat in remarkably clear water.

Dolphins play alongside the boat in remarkably clear water.

This is not really typical but it's very easy on the eye!

This is not really typical but it’s very easy on the eye!

We are not really very excursion minded people, and up to this point have avoided them with some zeal. However, part of the cruise package included three tours and the first of these happens today. After the requisite queue and allocation of sticky labels to identify which bus we belong to, we file down the gangway and onto the waiting bus.

This tour takes us out of the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, first to the botanical gardens and then to the small town of Puerto de la Cruz on the north coast of the island. It seems the botanical gardens are famous for the many sub-tropical plants that are able to grow here, and so the first stop on the tour bus is in front of the gates. Now inside, we find that there are a remarkable number of plants that we have growing in our garden at home. It is lush and green and we wander around for the allocated half an hour.

… and what’s more, the “looloos” are free, a fact told to us with great pride by our Spanish guide!

This enormous strangler fig, along with many other plants remind us of Queensland.

This enormous strangler fig, along with many other plants remind us of Queensland.

And so to Puerto de la Cruz with it’s narrow winding cobbled streets. Off the bus we all get. This is to be our first experience of following the tour leader. We are tempted to wander, but manage to discipline ourselves appropriately.

Follow the floating number or you might get lost.

Follow the floating number or you might get lost.

Building on steep hills requires some innovation when it comes to doors.

Building on steep hills requires some innovation when it comes to doors.

Is this outside a shoe shop or a flower shop?

Is this outside a shoe shop or a flower shop?

We wind our way up and down the cobbled streets like a tail following the number 21. Inside the church the tail bunches up before forming again as we leave.

Follow my leader

Follow my leader past the church of San Agustin

Mary is very popular where ever we go.

Mary is very popular where ever we go.

I'm watching you ...

I’m watching you …

This strange tree is apparently young ... only 200 years old!

This strange tree is apparently young … only 200 years old!

Worlds within worlds within worlds

Worlds within worlds. The ghost of the photographer haunts the lady in the shop.

Every where you go there is an opera house.

It seems that Opera houses are quite the fashion these days.

Madeira

The approach to Funchal, the capital of the Portugese island of Madeira is the most spectacular yet. The ship heads directly for the shore before performing a graceful pirouette at the last moment and reversing gently into it’s berth. The popularity of the island, as a place to live in the sun, is shown by the houses built high up onto the mountainside.

Everybody is on deck for the approach to Medeira

Everybody is on deck for the approach to Madeira

Houses, houses and more houses.

Houses, houses and more houses.

Another day, another tour. This is getting to be a habit. Today (another free tour) we are off to the highest sea cliff in Europe and a small seaside town called Ribeira Brava for some “free time”. Winding our way up through the hills, every possible space is cultivated. The terraces, with their rich volcanic soil, cascade down the hill sides. The main roads are well constructed with numerous tunnels, but the small roads are a different thing. I wouldn’t want to drive one of these huge buses around such tiny winding roads with all their blind bends.

Every space is cultivated ... all by hand on these steep terraces.

Every space is cultivated … all by hand on these steep terraces.

Up and up we go up into the first clouds of our trip which blanket the tops of the hills.

Approaching the lookout for the highest sea cliff in Europe, the signs are not good

Approaching the lookout for the highest sea cliff in Europe, the signs are not good

The lookout has a glass floor so that we can check that the clouds are definitely lower than we are.

The lookout has a glass floor so that we can check that the clouds are definitely lower than we are.

Gum trees? Wattles in flower? Is this somewhere in Australia we have been transported to through the clouds?

Gum trees? Wattles in flower? Is this somewhere in Australia we have been transported to through the clouds?

So we move on to Ribeira Brava a small and rather unremarkable seaside town.

Neat houses  among winding street in Ribeira Brava

Neat houses among winding street in Ribeira Brava

The church sits along side the main square.

The church sits along side the main square.

Every night a sunset as we leave the islands of Madeira.

Every night a sunset … this one as we leave the island of Madeira.

Lisbon

We finally arrive on mainland Europe, in the capital of Portugal, a world away from where we started in Cuba. No tour today (yay!) and so we wander off the ship which is moored right near the old city and set off up the hill to see what we can find.

It is Saturday and in the way of communities everywhere, the first thing we stumble into is a flea market. Stalls of every shape and size flow down the streets and through the squares of the old city.

They like their woman tough in Portugal

They like their woman tough in Portugal

This really is a flea market with stalls selling everything you can imagine ...

This really is a flea market with stalls selling everything you can imagine …

... and some things you can't image ... note the lily holders!

… and some things you can’t image … note the lily holders!

The ceramic tiles come in all shapes and sizes.

The ceramic tiles come in all shapes and sizes.

Beautiful hand made shoes

Beautiful hand made shoes

Sunglasses Mister?

Sunglasses Mister?

Beautiful artwork on fridge magnets

Beautiful artwork on fridge magnets

We wander higher up the hill from the market through the winding streets until we reach the lookout and it’s panoramic view across the city.

Colourful houses in pastel shades.

Colourful houses in pastel shades.

Extensive use is made of ceramic tiles ... with wiring draped across on the outside.

Extensive use is made of ceramic tiles … with wiring draped across on the outside.

Just love that street art!

Just love that street art!

Never seen one of these before

Never seen one of these before

Still hanging the washing out

Still hanging the washing out

Finally we get to the lookout and the castle stands before us.

Finally we get to the lookout and the castle stands before us.

Good 'ole Indian Tuk Tuk's are alive and well in Lisbon

Good ‘ole Indian Tuk Tuk’s are alive and well in Lisbon

Is this Melbourne, I ask myself. No, these trams go up and down steep hills.

Is this Melbourne, I ask myself. No, these trams go up and down steep hills.

Cobbles on the road ... cobbles on the pavement.

Cobbles on the road … cobbles on the pavement.

Definitely high quality art ...

Definitely high quality art …

We wander back down through the town after a thoroughly pleasant day … we like Lisbon!

Down through the old city.

Down through the old city.

Having arrived very early this morning, we missed the spectacular approach to the port. We get a glimpse of this as we make our way back to the ocean.

Saturday sailboat races under the bridge as we leave Lisbon

Saturday sailboat races under the bridge as we leave Lisbon

Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie .... Oy! Oy! Oy!

Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie …. Oy! Oy! Oy!

Please don't feed the birds!

Notice : Please don’t feed the birds!

Vigo

Our next stop is in the Spanish city of Vigo situated on the Atlantic Coast just north of the Portugese border. It is Sunday and in this very catholic country it is very quiet as we walk up through the city making for the castle at the top of the hill. We notice that while parts of the old city are still there, there has also been modern redevelopment in the heart of the old city and other parts are still in a very bad state of repair.

Walking the dogs on a quiet Sunday morning.

Walking the dogs on a quiet Sunday morning in Vigo.

Gelata is available every where ... unless it's Sunday in Vigo!

Gelata is available every where … unless it’s Sunday in Vigo!

Yes ... but is there anything to eat?

Yes … but is there anything to eat?

Jonny Dep pops up all over the place

Jonny Dep pops up all over the place

Watch out behind you ...

Watch out behind you …

It’s spring in Europe and we have memories of childhood when the bare dark trees of winter explode in a mass of green. We remember when down on the ground wildflowers appeared and the warm spring sun bathed everything … occasionally … if you were lucky!

Daisies! Of what fun we had making all those daisy chains ...

Daisies! Of what fun we had making all those daisy chains …

An explosion of green ...

An explosion of green …

We do make such a thing about guns and war ...

We do make such a thing about guns and war …

A chance to rest the back.

A chance to rest the back.

An army of Ents guard the castle walls.

An army of Ents guard the castle walls.

Sit in the sun and stare at your phone!

Climb up the hill on a beautiful day, sit in the sun and stare at your phone!

Camelias every where ...

Camelias every where …

Reaching the castle on its hill we wander around in the warm sunshine enjoying the gardens within the old walls. The view across the city is interesting … some good and some not so good. The new council building for example.

Politics. Get yourself elected, get hold of the public purse, take the most prominent site in the old city and build a really ugly new council building that can be seen from all over the city!

Politics. Get yourself elected, get hold of the public purse, take the most prominent site in the old city and build a really ugly new council building that can be seen from all over the city!

As we walk back down to the harbour, we reflect on the public art and the sculptures that abound. No longer the statues of the rich but the workings of the imagination of artists.

I gotta get out of this place ... if it's the last thing I ever do ...

I gotta get out of this place … if it’s the last thing I ever do …

Oooooh!

Ouch!!!

And so off we go again ...

And so off we go again …

Leaving Vigo, we set off for northern Europe and our next stop in France. But more of that later!

Enjoy 🙂
Alan.


7 responses to “Tenerife, Madeira, Lisbon and Vigo”

  1. Danielle says:

    More lively and colourful photos! I love the joyful tone of your captions. Thanks for sharing and giving me the opportunity to enjoy another tour from my sofa. I loved very much the Caribbean tour also. Much love to you both.

  2. Lynn says:

    Enjoying the great pictures and humour as always! Roll on France. xx

  3. Pam Rumble says:

    What a beautiful visual feast thank you Alan, my favorite was Lisbon too! Helps to have a good camera and a good eye. Love your funny comments!! For a few good moments I was there walking the streets with you. Love to you and Jacqui, from Pam in Denmark WA where the weather and the cohousing project are fine. Xxx

  4. Domi Cohen says:

    You have the best life style ever!
    🙂

  5. Jac says:

    Just superb thanks dear heart – every image has pointS of interest – what a shame the lookout was fogged in!! Albeit, most ‘atmospheric’ – ….but those colours!! Wonderful Feast of character throughout with those great shots and light – love the sunset and sun-filled reflections on leaving Lisbon harbour, the festive tiles and patterning of cobbles – (no looloos here:)…??

  6. Tony & Beryl says:

    Tracing some of our footsteps during last year but I could do with some tuition with my photography!!!
    Keep enjoying yourselves.

  7. Helen Lynes says:

    I love the doors adapted to the steep hill and can just imagine the gotta get out of here singing turtle. what a joy your posts are Alan, thanks!

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