Well, my intentions to update my report in real-time kinda went sideways. We were home in Greater Boston on Sunday after a great 18-day trip. I’ll try to piece together the days. The concluding days of our trip had several memorable moments.
Some photos from our arduous 800 (steep) vertical feet/244 meters beach hike.
We left our just-okay cottage in the Anaga Mountains and headed to our final destination, a cottage in a vineyard south of Santa Cruz, in Arafo. We stopped in Santa Cruz on the way to visit TEA contemporary art museum and Museo de la Naturaleza y Arqueología. Because we’ve been staying in relatively remote houses, being in the big city feels like a culture shock and aside from the museums and lunch, we didn’t check out the rest of the city (but we saw the Opera House from afar). We grabbed lunch nearby, at La Escala, a pleasant spot. It has 3 levels and we chose to sit on the rooftop patio. Server was Marco, an expat from Milan, who is aspiring to open his own place and was doing research in Tenerife - his hospitality was exemplary and we had a really good meal. The restaurant offers vegan/veggie riffs on meat dishes so I happily ordered a “duck” quinoa dish - subtle seasoning which built up with every bite. B enjoyed his octopus, beautifully charred, and SO made quick work of his salmon (attempts to get him to try local seafood were thwarted). We celebrated our day by ordering a fancy gold ingot dessert. Even I had a bite and swooned - it was rich but not cloying and had an almost freeze-dried interior that just melted in the mouth.
Onto our “splurge” stay of the trip (which was a very reasonable $175 USD/night) at a vineyard south of Santa Cruz. The house inside-and-out is lovely, great kitchen, a wood-fired hot tub, and a surprise ping pong table!
Dinner was at home - pasta with tomato sauce a la Hazan and chickpeas.
We want to get away from the cloud line (above and below it, there is full-on sun to be enjoyed) so we decide to go to back to Mount Teide and it was a good move. We had a great day looking at Teide one last time. And what luck - we saw some paragliders setting up for a run so we stopped to watch. There was 1 German couple who were paragliding for the first time. B took videos of them and offered to email those to them. The female companion left without a hitch (pictured below). The male, who was last to go, ran into trouble. A big wind gust came up and dragged him and his tandem partner on the rocky terrain quite a ways and into a woody bush, with the chute flapping around and not properly filling with air. B, who was filming, dropped his phone to his side, thinking he would need to grab them. The driver was yelling to the instructor - we didn’t know what to do, thinking that they were going to get smashed into the mountainside. Unbelievably, the instructor was able to take control of the chute and righted them and they were off. The driver yelled to them if they were ok and we got a thumbs up. B and I had racing hearts, grateful that we didn’t see someone plunge to their deaths. I think we’ll skip paragliding for another day.
Hearts still pounding, we headed back to Arafo in time for a late lunch and decided to check out a place heartily recommended by our cottage owners, Bar Chicho. The pork sandwich was highly-lauded. We walk in - it’s definitely not a tourist place. Barely any English spoken and everyone eating looks to be local. We ask for the menu and the friendly server points to a picture of a pork sandwich on the wall and then points to a couple eating a platter of pork and potatoes and says “un poco picante.” And that’s all they have. B is concerned, knowing that I don’t eat pork and SO’s pickiness. In my mind, I’m thinking, I just thought I was going to see 2 human beings plunge to their deaths…life’s too short. “Let’s go for it.” We order a non-spicy and regular sandwiches. SO and I both try. And surprise - we both like it! B absolutely swoons. The pork is pounded thin and then pan-fried (I think). There’s a slice of cheese and it’s all on a good bun. This is definitely a case where the sum was greater than its parts. There’s something extraordinary about this humble-looking sandwich that B and I can’t describe. We finish the sandwiches and order a small platter of the pork and potatoes - this is the dish I will order if we’re ever in Arafo again. Small carafes of the house made red wine and cold beer round out the meal, probably the best of our trip.
Dinner at home again as we try to eat all the bits-and-bobs that are left before we fly back to Reykjavik the next day.
We consider getting pork sandwiches to-go for our 3:30 pm flight back to Reykjavik but we decide against it - B thinks they are probably best when fresh and so our memories of the sandwich would be spoiled. We make our way south, to the airport. We have several hours to kill so we check out Playa de Tejita for a while (but all of our stuff is packed up and we’re in our airplane clothes, so we can’t do much). There is a nearby food hall and sit down at Selvaje where we are the only English-speaking party and everyone seems to know each other. They don’t serve food until 2 pm so we do like the Spanish, and enjoy the sun and some adult beverages. The cook starts up a giant paella and it smells good. SO gets a hot dog. Even though we’re not the biggest paella fans (I find it a bit of slog to make it through an entire plate of it), we order it. And it’s just ok. The rice is quite al dente, which I think is intentional, but B doesn’t enjoy it. Nevertheless, we had a fun time and then it’s off to the airport.
Midway through the flight, there’s a request for medical help at the front of the plane. B makes his way up there and I watch as he tends to the passenger. I think I see a flight attendant bringing up a defibrillator and of course, I’m thinking the worst. I check out location and we’re no where near land - if we had to divert, it would be to Spain or the UK, I think. He’s up there for quite some time but finally returns to his seat. The man - not an elderly person with heart issues - had passed out for an unexplained reason. Thankfully, he’s ok and we don’t need to divert. This is the first time this has happened to B and we travel A LOT (it happened once when he was a medical resident and to his relief, there were other physicians on board). We land in Reykjavik around 10:30 pm and head to our hotel.
Our last day in Reykjavik. We are staying close to the hotel. There’s not a whole lot to do, but there is time for 1 last visit to the nearby swimming pool before our 5 pm-ish flight. So we end our trip as it began, with a geothermal pool and hot dogs (veggie pita for me).
Our flight back to Boston is full and our seats are in the very last row - oh joy. About an hour into the flight, there is a call for medical help a few rows ahead of us - another medical emergency! I am on the aisle so I run up and let the attendants know that B is a doctor. This is one is very serious - a boy of about 12 years was having an allergic reaction to a snack his mom gave him that was supposed to be nut-free (a beef jerky snack from France). She was, of course, beside herself. He was rushed into the galley behind our seats and I had no where to go but into the galley with them. I helped with supplies while the attendants and B helped the boy. Two other physicians, an older pediatrician with boatloads of experience and an anesthesiologist were on board and came back to help. The poor kid initially did not look good - the concern was for his airways. He got 2 epi pens (with a 3rd at the ready), Benadryl, prednisone. There was serious consideration to divert to Greenland and the decision needed to be made within 15 minutes. The 3 docs got that kid stable, who was taking oxygen to keep him calm and diversion was not needed. That 5+ hour flight seemed to go by in a flash. I went back to my seat once I could to see how SO was doing - he was happily watching movies and wondered if the boy was ok. I gave him a big hug him and said, yes, he’s ok. The row next to ours was cleared so that the boy and his mom could sit next to B for the 1 hour or so left in our flight. He and mom were let off the plane first to the waiting paramedics and then off to Mass General Hospital Peds ED as a precaution.
Oh, and just as we were landing, the poor kid in front of me (probably 6 years old) threw up on his mom. I saw it happen and yelled out for paper towels, sanitizer, and more bags. The junior crew member who was involved with the medical emergency (this was her 6th flight) jumped into action. She has gotten more training in the field than you could get in a classroom. I gave my compliments to the crew, to their manager, and sent an email. We are customers (of this budget Icelandic airline) for life and in fact, we are going back to Denmark in August on the same airline.
And so, that concludes this trip.