Punta de Teno

January 6, 2010

Today I received another warm welcome by the authorities:

“Do you really want to die?”

After passing that rather ominous sign, I drove through some of the most dramatic landscape I have ever seen. The narrow dwindling road just barely managed to cling on the nearly vertical mountain walls., Above me I had spectacular cliffs almost disappearing into the clouds, and below me over a hundred metre drop.

Tenerife’s Land’s End

Punta de Teno really made my day. It lies on the very northwestern tip of Tenerife. Very much like Land’s End in England. Far away in the mist you can discern the silhouette of Gomera Island.


My Canarian Adventures

December 29, 2009

Despite a ridiculously prolonged absence from this forum, this particular blogger is still breathing…

…and at this moment I happen to be breathing the ocean air of the 28th northern parallel, and to be more precise: the air of Los Gigantes, Tenerife, of the Canary Islands. But getting here was not without extracurricular events.

As I landed in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, my original plan was to: rent a car at the airport, find a hotel with the airport services, chill down in Las Palmas for two nights, and take the car on ferry to Tenerife. I mean seriously, the touristiest place on the planet, how hard can it be to find a car, and a hotel, without advance bookings? Yeah right!

As I landed: no rental cars available. OK. “But where can I book a hotel?” I was recommended to try the agency in the upstairs hall. Surprise surprise: closed for Christmas holidays. OK no worries. Next Black-Adder-like-brilliant-idea: let the cabbie find a hotel for me. Yeah right!

I also had this bright idea that I wanted to stay away from the touristy (near-the-beach) parts of Las Palmas:
“So cabbie,” (in rather broken Spanish), “please find me a hotel in Barrio Vegueta [the Old Town of Las Palmas]”
He gives me this look and: “No hotels in Vegueta!”.
Me incredulous (like being told, no hotels in Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm): “No hotels in Vegueta??”.
“Nope. None. So where you go?”

Fairly certain that he is putting me on, in order to take me to his uncles place miles outside town or something, I insist he takes me to the market at the centre of Vegueta.
But when we get there, there really are no hotels in sight.
“So where you go?”
“Well, anything nearby.”
“Nothing nearby.”
“Right, something a bit further off, towards the centre.”
“Aha further off, well there’s Hotel Parque.”
Saying: “Sounds like a terrific idea!” Thinking: “Thanks for finally understanding me, bloody nitwit!”

Anyway the Hotel Parque is totally full. But they recommend the Tryp a few hundred yards to the north. And I enter that four-star-lounge, thinking “uh-oh, this will cost but wtf, I’ve had enuff of this.”
“No rooms Sir. We are fully booked.”
“eh really?”
“Yes, afraid so.”
“Ok anything nearby, that you know of?”
“Not really.”

At this moment I begin to envision myself spending the night underneath a palm tree, and on top of my bags. But then the other lady behind the counter notices my predicament:
“You could try the Pension Perojo.”
“But it’s a pension, not a hotel. It’s not far from here.”

So from the prospect of staying in a four-star-megacomplex I move through hyperspace and (finally) get a room in place where the shared bath has a sign like this:

Dear blog-guests I challenge you guess the price in Euros, that this place cost me. Points will be awarded.

Then, finding and booking the ferry, was not without challenges either, nor was it easy to find any internet access. I found it very surprising that it was much easier to find internet access in Tripoli, Libya than it was in the mega touristy town of Las Palmas. But the problems were not insurmountable. And then: my arrival in Tenerife was not without the warm welcome of the harbour police. Keep your eyes open, for my next post.

Before letting the curtain fall I would like to thank my boss Jörgen (bless his gentle heart) who predicted that I would be knifed to death in Gran Canaria, “because I have read that is what they do to Swedes there”. Thanks to his unselfish alert, I kept my eyes open and nuthin, totally nuthin, bad happened 😛

Of Music And Chess

January 17, 2008

Well, another hiatus. Well, another year. Welcome to 2008. Thanks for stickin’ by.

Those of you who have not played a lot of chess might find it hard to see a natural connection between chess, and music. No matter, I think there is one. Music has the ability to transport your mind to another universe, to a world where other laws and values rule. To a world where you can find peace. Chess, sometimes does the same.

I may have blogged about this before, but when it comes to music I can warmly recommend one specific source: Radio Paradise, is a web-radio station that I cannot help fall in love with. They describe themselves as an “eclectic rock music station”. You may say that you are not “really into rock”. But these guys will play an amazingly broad selection of music. You may hear anything from the Beatles to the Chemical Brothers. If you love David Bowie, Calexico, Jethro Tull, Aimee Mann, Roxy Music, Björk, Beck, REM, Tom Petty, Tori Amos, Goldfrapp, and such, you should check it out. Or if you just like to be musically surprised, to hear a lot of new bands that you never heard of, you should click that link. The cool thing is not only that they play very cool music but if you listen for a couple of hours you begin to notice that they mix it in a really cool way that adds up to more than just the separate songs. Now the really great thing is that it is 100% commercial free. It is all working through voluntary listener support. Try it!

As for chess: a year ago I wrote that my goal for 2007 was to improve my rating by 200 rating points. 200 rating points, is a tall order, approximately you would win 4 out of 5 games against someone 200 points below yourself. So it is a significant improvement. Now, one year later the result is [drum roll please]:

230 rating points. Of course I am happy with that. For this year I hesitate to set a new goal because another 200 rating points is quite unrealistic. Anyway, the interesting thing is that my improvement did not chiefly come from intense study or training. Most of it came from a psychological shift, in my attitude towards the game. I have grown more, confident, careful, less risk prone, and most of all, more patient and persistent.

That might be a good lesson, for all of us, in all areas of life. Trust your decisions, stay patient, and do persist.


September 17, 2007

“Convivance”, or “living together”, a term that some apply to the phenomenon of different groups of people living, and getting by together. Two groups of people here in San Francisco are bicyclists and car drivers. Me being a bicyclist, and them… being car drivers. Don’t get me wrong, I am really glad I got a bike for my stay here and I love riding it everywhere. But some car drivers here really scare me to death. I mean I have been biking in NYC The Big Apple, but biking here is really something. Car drivers here often forget about the outside world and just cut corner and lanes like they were alone. Several people who live here agree with me on this; that bikers and pedestrians really need to watch out. Cars running red lights here happens all too often, I saw it myself twice in just a week. And I am honestly a lot more afraid of the cars here than in NYC, because I see a lot more unpredictability here.

Now I am not saying that car drivers here, are more evil, or stupid, than in New York. But in a city which is so much structured in favour of cars, people automatically adopt different patterns of behaviour. I suppose I might too. New York is packed with pedestrians, so that makes the whole race so much more balanced.

Ah well, just a silly little rant, and perhaps some of you, with a bit of knowledge of history, and me, know of another very specific episode in time that this term also may refer to….

Marathon Dreams, again

May 29, 2007

With less than two weeks away, my preparations for the Stockholm Marathon are getting into their final stage. Last year I really wanted to do the New York Marathon, but I didn’t win the lottery to get into it (as it is hugely popular). But in Stockholm I got in and unless something really dramatic happens, well off I go!

OK, I did make it but in the scorching dry 28 centigrades it was no walk in the park. I crossed the finish line more than an hour behind my planned schedule. 520 kms of tarmac behind my runners this year did not matter. The heat got to me, I had the cramps and whatnot. But I did finish the bloody thing.

Sahara Run

March 2, 2007

Well my friends, the rumours of my untimely death have been exaggerated. Two legs, two arms, and my head, still in place.

I thought that I was done with the Sahara, blogwise but no, not yet. This story is so good that I must share it with you. I wrote that the Dakar was a tough challenge. Well, compared to this the Dakar is a walk in the park.

Three top athletes ran 6437 km from coast to coast in the Sahara. It took them 100 days. That corresponds to more than two marathons a day. I’m not kiddin, two marathons a day! And marathons are sort of tough, even under the “luxurious” conditions of paved roads and a nice climate. Really really impressing…

Check story on National Geographic and Yahoo.

Sahara – Encore Une Fois

January 24, 2007

Fresh snow outside my window.
10 degrees below freezing.

The Formula 1 season seems far away indeed…

But in the world of Rally Racing: the Jewel in the Crown, The Dakar, (for many years known as the Paris-Dakar), [Wiki facts], has just reached its completion. It is one of the toughest challenges on this planet, and extremely dangerous too. It crosses over endless miles of dessert landscapes. And the roads, oh the roads (!), are certainly not a walk in the park. Driving skill, mechanical skills, navigation, endurance and machinery all come into play.

This year’s winner in the car division was Frenchman Stèphane Peterhansel. After 16 days of racing, his winning margin was an astonishingly slim 7 minutes! But I must confess to you my dear readers: as I have been following this race on TV, I have hardly paid any attention to the numbers and names. I have been quite hypnotized by all the Sahara images.

When I traveled the Libyan Sahara some 9 months ago, something happened to me. That experience got into my bloodstream in a way I never imagined. It is like malaria, once you get it, it remains in your body for life. It does not necessarily break out, but it is always there. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing negative with the malaria comparison, I love this feeling. I just mean that it is something that I may forget for many months, but when it wakes up I realize that it has been there, all the time…

…and then sometimes, one starts to think about the people who live their entire lives here.