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My Incredible Day Trekking in Teide National Park, Tenerife Island Spain

Driving through the park entry the landscape suddenly changed, from rolling brown dessert to giant rock formations and lava rock. It looked kind of like mars. In fact, Austin told me that NASA often practices handling their rovers in the park. It looked mystifying and beautiful, like Arches, Zion, and Sedona all rolled into one marvelous place. It was hard to believe I was about to go trekking in Teide National Park, on the Island of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands of Spain.

The Park

Mount Teide towers at an incredible 12,200 feet above sea level, making it the highest peak in all of Spain. Driving to the national park was full of interesting surprises; from the sunny south coast to pine trees and mossy forest, the geography changes suddenly. The park itself lies at around 6,562 feet and is usually covered in snow during the winter months. Temperatures vary throughout the year from below freezing to 104 degree.

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Tenerife: A Crown Jewel of Spain’s Canary Islands

Many people have never heard of the Canary Islands. In fact, Americans rarely visit them. It’s a popular destination for Europeans, but to most of the world the stunning Canary Islands, just off the coast of Morocco, remain a mystery. The island of Tenerife is a geographic wonderland, much like the island of Kauai. In fact, they even share a similar climate. From thick lush forest to lava rock filled desert, it’s a recreational wonderland and a feast for the senses. Tenerife is a stunning crown jewel of Spain’s Canary Islands.

Hiking and Biking

 

The choices for hiking on Tenerife go on forever. You can choose from a nice short walk along the coast to one of the island’s beautiful lighthouses, or a vigorous hike to the top of one of the many mountains. Mount Teide is an old volcano and towers above the island at 12,198 feet. So from mountain climbing to meandering walks along the coastline, there are plenty of options. The same goes for mount biking. Want to kick your recreation up a notch? Fly down one of Tenerife’s many mountains on two wheels!

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The Beautiful Trifecta of Lucca, Florence, and Puerto Venere Italy

Looking out over the aqua blue water of the Ligurian Sea, while standing in the ruins of an ancient castle, took my breath away and made me feel insignificant. Nothing can compare to the glorious feats of mother nature and the Roman empire. I was surprised at the gorgeous diversity of the landscape of Italy. Within just an hour or two of Florence is the Ligurian Sea, the majestic Alps, and the beloved wine region of Tuscany. I’ll always cherish the beautiful trifecta of Lucca, Florence, and Puerto Venere Italy.

Lucca

 

Lucca is best known for its giant wall that is five kilometers long, about 20 something feet tall, and more than 20 feet thick, and surrounds the oldest part of the town. The wall was built by the Romans to protect its occupants from invasion but it still stands proudly today. Tourists and residents alike enjoy walking, biking, and jogging along the wall. Alongside it are great restaurants, food vendors, shops, and a vast variety of fascinating sculptures. The wall really is the heart of the city.

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How Drunk did I get on My Wine Tasting Tour in Chianti Tuscany Italy?

I always thought chianti was a style or type of vino. Boy was I ignorant. Chianti is actually a region found in Tuscany Italy. So, you can even get white chianti. I learned all kinds of interesting things on my wine tasting tour, like you can buy a $70 bottle of balsamic vinegar, and that it’s pretty hard to hold a yoga pose when you’re a little drunk from all that wine. It was an incredible autumn day in Chianti Tuscany, and it was full of fun, fascinating facts, and new friendships.

Getting Around

The day wasn’t perfect. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, the lack of organization surrounding the transport of guests was pretty shocking. It was kind of similar to my experience at the Rolling Stones concert in Lucca. It was a great event with lack luster planning. I can’t recommend to anyone using My Tours or GetYourGuide. The shuttle on the way out was 45 minutes late, and the shuttle at the end of the tour was over an hour late. I’ve been told that is just what you should expect as “Italian time”, but really? At the end of the tour, I had to call and pester the guide service to actually do what they had promised, shuttle me and some new friends back to our originating town. It was a real buzz kill, quite literally!

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The Rolling Stones in Lucca Italy: A Spectacular Disaster

I went to the Rolling Stones concert in Lucca Italy, but I didn’t “see” the show. Probably only about 10 percent of the 55,000 people attending were able to see the show, because it was general admission on a flat field, that sloped slightly downhill the opposite direction. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get frustrated and soon drunk concert attendees were climbing up anything they could find to get a glimpse of the stage. Trees and concert rigging were popular places to perch, but it seems the best seats in the house were on top of the portable toilets! The Rolling Stones concert in Lucca Italy can only be described as a spectacular disaster, but I’m still glad I went!

The Ticket

 

I didn’t go to Lucca with the intention of going to the concert. But on my second day there we drove by the venue where they were erecting the stage and I realized that the Rolling Stones would soon be playing only three blocks away from where I was staying. So, I decided to go, but by that time tickets were next to impossible to find. I tried buying some online but the websites were all in Italian and they would only snail mail the tickets. With only a few days to wait before the show, I didn’t want to risk the tickets not arriving in time. Finally, I looked on Craigslist and got lucky! An American many (Jason) was going to go with his girlfriend, but she cancelled on him at the last minute. Like I said, I got lucky, and he got $200.

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A Most Delightful Weekend in a 250 Year Old Home in Sassi, Italy

When my Italian friend and host suggested we go to Sassi for the weekend, I agreed, but I had no idea what, or even where, it was. Next thing I know we are headed out of Lucca and towards the mountains of northern Italy. Before long we are zooming along steep switchbacks, away from the city, enjoying the changing colors of autumn and the view of the valley below. Finally, we enter the most charming little historical village and stop in front of a giant red home, made of stones and concrete. To my right the Alps are towering in the distance and an ancient castle sits high on a hill. It was like like a view from a postcard. Staying in a 250 year old home, enjoying the astounding view, and mushroom hunting in the forest were all remarkable, and made for a most delightful weekend in Sassi Italy.

The Historical Home

 

Paolo Pocai’s family has owned the old homestead for generations. The front part of the home was built in 1770 and there is still an old brass plate above the door with the date on it. As if that isn’t remarkable enough, the back part of the building was a 15th century tower and still contains some of the ancient doors and the original circular stone staircase. The home contains some of the most beautiful antique furniture and chandeliers I have ever seen! It’s hard to guess how big the “house” is, as some rooms in the basement have never been completed, but I would estimate that it was well over 4,000 feet, which seems to be about normal for summer homes in the country in Italy. I helped Paolo prepare the home for winter as he doesn’t go there much anymore in the off season.

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