Monthly Archives: March 2013

Isla Coronado in the Loreto Bay National Marine Park

Isla Coronado queda muy cerca de la costa frente a Loreto

Isla Coronado vista desde el este con la península de Baja California Sur al fondo.
La Isla es parte del Parque Nacional Marino de la Bahia de Loreto.
Se llegua muy rápido por Panga en cuestión de unos 30 minutos.
La Isla tiene una de las mejores playas de la región en su lado suroeste.
Les sugiero coordinar con un pescador para que combinen unas horas de pesca y unas vueltas para fotografear las rocas a su alrededor.

Isla Coronado off the coast of Loreto

View of the north end of Isla Coronado.
The island is part of the Loreto Bay National Marine Park in Baja California Sur, Mexico.
It is easily reached by boat in 30 minutes from the marina in Loreto.
The island has one of the region’s most beautiful, pristine beaches on its other side.
You may want to hire a boat for a day and combine photography with some fishing.

What do you see in this rock formation?
Rock formation at Isla Coronado off the coast of Loreto

Rock formation at Isla Coronado

Teide National Park in Tenerife

Exploring Tenerife – the Island of Eternal Spring and Mount Teide.

We wanted to explore the Teide National Park so we took a flight into Tenerife in the Canary Islands. We decided to stay in the town of Los Cristianos. This town in the south coast offers good services and has a good harbor with ferries to the other islands. The large beach of Playa de Las Américas is a few steps away. We rented a car here so we could drive all around the island since public transportation schedules are not convenient. If you are interested in exploring the Garojanay National Park in the island of La Gomera, the ferry leaves out of this harbor several times a day.

 

Los Cristianos harbor in the south of Tenerife is home to a large fishing fleet.

Los Cristianos harbor in the south of Tenerife is home to a large fishing fleet.

 

Fast ferry service from Tenerife to La Gomera

Fast ferry service from Tenerife to La Gomera

 

Ferries to other Islands - the port gets very busy when loading or disembarking.

Ferries to other Islands – the port gets very busy when loading or disembarking.

 

Tenerife is home to Teide National Park which was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most visited National Parks in the world. Mount Teide or El Pico del Teide, is a volcano in the center of the island. Its summit at 3,718 meters makes it one of the highest volcanoes in the World. It remains active but its last eruption occurred in 1909. A risk of destructive eruptions still exists and it is of concern to nearby towns. Just last year, the world almost witnessed the birth of a new island next to the island of El Hierro. That Canary Island a few kilometers West of Tenerife suffered some disruptions as underwater eruptions near the coast forced evacuations.

 

Mount Teide and Los Roques in the center of Tenerife

Mount Teide and Los Roques in the center of Tenerife

 

We gathered hiking maps and other information at the park’s visitor center. We were here at the end of May.”You came to the park at the best time of the year” – the park ranger said. Spring time offers lots of wildflowers in bloom. Our favorite wildflower was the Tajinaste Rojo. Tajinaste (Echium Wildpretii) is a species of flowering plant that grows up to 3 meters in height. The species is endemic to the island of Tenerife, and is found in large numbers in Las Cañadas del Teide. It grows at high altitudes under dry conditions. Red flowers bloom in late spring to early summer. Had we visited some other time of the year, we would have missed it.

 

Tajinaste Rojo is endemic to the island of Tenerife

Tajinaste Rojo is endemic to the island of Tenerife

 

Everyday we would explore a new area of the park. Our favorite hikes were on the trails of Roques de Garcia, Siete Cañadas, and Samara. I always find it difficult to plan a hike at the right time so the Sun is at the right angle for photography. The best possible light for photography occurs early or late in the day. The information office recommended hiking the Samara trail later in the afternoon. The Sun would be behind us and Mount Teide would be fully illuminated to the East. We walked along this trail for a while but we found ourselves alone without really knowing the area and it was getting late so we returned without going too far. I would recommend using the services of an experienced local guide.

 

Los Cristianos harbor in southern Tenerife

Los Cristianos harbor in southern Tenerife

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Day trip to the Priorat wine region of Southern Catalunya

Walking in The Priorat wine region

The Priorat region is close to Barcelona and Tarragona and is one of the best regions for wine in Spain. My friends at The Spain Scoop recently published my story on a day trip that I took while visiting Southern Catalunya.
Go check it out!

Here are a couple more photos from the tour which was expertly guided by Txell from El Brogit Guiatges. El Brogit Guiatges is a small local ecotourism guide service that offers activities in the mountains of Southern Catalunya. I would highly recommend their services. This is the kind of business I like to support when I travel.

You can click here to continue reading the story at The Spain Scoop.

You can click here to explore your hiking options at El Brogit Guiatges.

 

Caminando entre uvas en el Priorat

La region del Priorat se encuentra en la provincia de Tarragona no muy lejos al sur de Barcelona . Es una de las mejores regiones de vino en España. Mis amigos en The Spain Scoop recientemente publicaron un relato de mi excursión por estos viñedos del sur de Catalunya. Siguan el enlace que está muy bueno.

Aquí les dejo un par de imágenes más de la región. Nuestra guía nos llevó por toda la región y pudimos recorrer mucho combinando coche con un poco de senderismo.
Contratamos a Txell de El Brogit Guiatges através de su sitio web. El Brogit Guiatges es una pequeña empresa local especializada en turismo ecológico en las montañas del sur de Catalunya. Les recomiendo sus servicios de excursiones. Este es el tipo de empresa que me gusta patrocinar cuando viajo.

Pueden continuar con el relato aquí en The Spain Scoop.

Pueden explorar las opciones de senderismo aquí en El Brogit Guiatges.

 

The Cellar Coop in Falset.

The Cellar Coop in Falset. Founded in 1919, the modernist style Bodega was designed by architect Cèsar Martinell which trained under Gaudí.

Carthusian monastery ruins at the Cartoixa de Escaladei

Carthusian monastery ruins at the Cartoixa de Escaladei

Spanish Civil War Observatory over the  Ebro River.

Spanish Civil War Observatory over the Ebro River.

Agrobotiga in Vilella Baixa

Agrobotiga in Vilella Baixa

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Brunello di Montalcino – wine in the Tuscany region

Italy’s most famous wine

If you find yourself visiting Siena in Italy, I would highly recommend that you take a tour of the Brunello di Montalcino wine region. Montalcino is a medieval town in Tuscany situated 42 kilometers South of Siena. The town sits high on a hill with incredible views of the valleys around it.

The region grows Sangiovese Grosso grapes and produces one of the finest red wines in the world. As part of your tour you may visit a couple of wineries. The visits include wine tasting and sampling of local cured meats and cheeses. Some of the wineries are big enough that you may arrive at the same time as other tours but they can accommodate quite a few people. After a little wine, the conversation with fellow travelers will flow easier. Our tour left out of Siena and took longer than the planned time. The group enjoyed wine drinking so much that our tour leader could not get us to move quickly. We finished the tour with a quick stop at the Abbey of Sant Antimo to listen to Gregorian chants of the monks.

 

El Brunello es uno de los vinos mas famosos de Italia

Si pasan por Siena en la región Toscana de Italia, les recomiendo una excursión a la región del vino Brunello di Montalcino. Montalcino es un pueblo medieval en Toscana. Esta situado 42 km al Sur de Siena. Como muchos pueblos medievales, este también se encuentra situado en una parte alta sobre unas montes. Las vistas de los valles y montes alrededor son grandiosas. Si tienen tiempo, hay senderos para caminar. No dejen de ver el pueblo con sus torres desde afuera ya que la vista les transportará a otra época.

La región cultiva la uva Sangiovese Grosso y produce uno de los vinos mas finos del mundo. La excursión les llevará a un par de bodegas. Por supuesto, probarán vinos y comerán mucho Prosciutto y Formaggio. Algunas de las bodegas son grandes acomodan varios grupos a la vez. Cuando lleguen a la segunda bodega, y luego de tomar mas vino, conocerán muchos amigos. Nuestro tour tomó mas tiempo de lo planificado pues le fue un poco dificil al lider acorralar a todos a la hora de irnos. La última parada fue una visita a la Abadía de San Antimo donde se escuchaban los cánticos Gregorianos de los monjes.

 

Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino

Map of the Consorzio del Vino South of Siena

 

Brunello di Montalcino - old bottles in the cellar

Brunello di Montalcino – old bottles in the cellar

 

Tuscan courtyard azienda agricola piombaia montalcino

Tuscan courtyard at Azienda Agricola Piombaia

 

Gatto Nero

Piombaia Gatto Nero and Grappa

Vinoteca in Montalcino

Vinoteca in Montalcino

Bianco di Abbadia

Bianco di Abbadia – white wine is also produced in the region

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Mediterranean diet options at the Jerez market

Fish at the Mercado Central de Abastos in Jerez

Earlier this week I was listening to the media discussing the report on the Mediterranean Diet study. All the talk on the radio brought back memories of an impromptu visit to the market in Jerez de La Frontera. The benefits reported in the study are probably driving you to figure out how to “become” more Mediterranean. If you have ever been to the markets in Italy, France, or Spain, you know it will not be easy.

The United Nations FAO figures reveal that Spain is the world’s third largest consumer of fish and seafood right behind Portugal and Japan. If you walk in on a fish market day at the Mercado Central de Abastos in Jerez, you will witness the insatiable hunger for seafood of the Spanish consumer. I have never seen such a variety of fresh fish in one place. A visit to this market is a must – particularly if you are a fisherman. In addition to better known species such as Tuna or Swordfish, the consumer has other choices of what I would call “lesser” fish. Fish of lesser quality such as Jureles are on offer. I would never eat these as their meat is quite dark and oily. We call them Goggle-Eyes and make excellent hardy live baits. I am sure these fish have a high content of the good Omega-3 fish oil and it is good they are offered. Even consumers on a budget can balance their Mediterranean diet.  Another unusual offering is Raya, those are Stingrays fresh from the Bahia de Cadiz. I remember catching one and having to clean it later. They are incredibly hard to clean. Consider the following options for your next meal.

Urta at the market in Jerez

Urta at the market in Jerez – they must be related to the Sheepshead. Hooks are left in their mouth because they are hard to remove.

Atun de Almadraba

Atun de Almadraba

Jureles

Jureles or Google-Eyes

Rayas or Stingray

Rayas or Stingray

Salmonete

Salmonete – they look like Caribbean Goatfish

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