What to buy in Spain: Torron, Sangria, Beer, Wine, Coffee

One of the great things to buy in Spain is eating the tapas in the restaurants since there is such a great selection to choose from (pending the restaurants). From sausages to octopus to fish to vegetables to all sorts of plates out there, you cannot say no to them all! However, there is only one problem: you cannot take these items with you hoping that they will last awhile since they will spoil within a few days so alternatives must be found which I’ve found the following items: Torron, Sangria, Beer, Wine, and Coffee.

Torron
I knew someone who really loves this stuff as there are many varieties of it and prefers the original almond hard stuff. I like them all especially the chocolate flavored ones!

torrón españa español dulce sweets

This is one of the more common high-quality brands of Torron that is sold in Spain. It’s actually pretty good with some hot tea.

Torrun torron spanish hard candy high quality cualidad mejor alta

This is probably the highest quality torron out there in Spain. You can usually find these in high-end stores and maybe in major airports of Spain. The top one is my favorite with the chocolate layer on the bottom.

Sangria
There are different varieties of this particular liquid out there in the world where one is a soda in Mexico which I really like and other liquid is an alcoholic one. I’m not an alcoholic drinker not even at social events but I’ve known people who love this stuff and will mix it with fruits and juice to be served chilled during a party and/or a hot day.

sangría spanish version drink alcohol

This is not like the Mexican Sangria which is more of a soda than the Spanish version which kind of like a wine cooler, I guess.

Beer
I’m not an alcohol person but there are so-called connoisseurs of the booze-liquid so I’ve bought cans and bottles of Spain’s most well-known beer, Damm Estrella, only to hand them out to friends and family. One friend said that he liked the beer and could drink it all day with no problems. Again, I’m not a drinker so I’ll take his word for it since I saw a lot of Spaniards drinking that brand in the streets, restaurants, cafes, bars, etc.

regular spanish beer cerveza bier biere

The beer that I saw most commonly in Spain that people were drinking on the streets, in cafes, in bars, in restaurants, etc.

tropical beer brand canarias canary islands

In the Canary Islands, it was a different perspective as most people were drinking this brand of beer: Tropical. Not sure on how good it is since I don’t drink, but I assume that the locals were drinking it – should be okay.

Wine

Like with the beer, I’ll buy wine bottles only to give them away as gifts. Spain has more fertile environment and growing conditions compared to other regions of Europe which are colder and receive less sun so Spanish wine might be seen as a positive in many people’s eyes. Someone told me that the growing conditions are almost similar to the ones in California so the red wine is seen as be exceptional. Again, I don’t know since I don’t drink the red or white stuff. I’m not into wine but I know that there are many out there would love a bottle of Spanish wine.

13.5% alcohol level nivel wine vino tinto red rojo

A couple of red wines bought in Spain.

Coffee
Again, like with the alcoholic beverages, I don’t drink coffee so buying the black stuff don’t equate to purchasing them for my usage. The coffee is intended to be gifts to friends and family. Still, it’s interesting that the Canaries have this kind of product be sold but then again, the Galapagos sold coffee as well. So every place has their own specialty if it can be grown there in the right growing conditions.

café de canarias españa islas island coffee canary Spanish lands off Africa black java joe packs bags

When I went into a local stores in the Canaries, I saw a variety of different coffees for sale that I have never seen in Spain. So I figured why not buy some for some friends and family?

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Canary Islands diving day #2

Same diving outfit, different diving day, different diving location. I was hoping that the water temperature and weather conditions would actually be warmer than the previous day which was cold and windy. Water temperature makes all the difference in the world for diving as does the waves caused by winds. But of course, even if there were bad diving conditions, it would not be an issue with a good dive operator because otherwise the people would start heaving their breakfast overboard.

Unfortunately, the waves and winds didn’t subside from yesterday so the dive operator had to go to a regular shore dive since boats would not be able to operate well out on open water. To me, it was alright since that meant that we had to drive to another part of the island which I had not yet seen even though I was hoping to go on a boat so we could have gone and done a wreck diving. But alas, the weather and waves were not cooperating so off to a different section of the island.

And I would have to say that going to this other part of the island was a great idea because there was a lot more to see in terms of sea life. Sure, it was a little colder in the water this time around but I felt that putting up with the chills was worth the diving. Besides, I could always eat more food to make up for the calories burnt for diving and being cold.

pier marina for scuba diving gran canaria canary buceo bucear

Ready to jump in? It looks cold and it was cold! But it was worth doing because of the rewards underwater.

angelshark endangered tiburon mar atlantic ocean protected species spotted

One of the first things that I saw in terms of sea life was this Angelshark! They are actually endangered because a lot of them were by-catch from netting. Fishermen would often cut them up as bait instead of letting them go.

angelshark swimming on the sand nadar nada nadando por la arena debajo del agua

I took whatever photos I could before this shark took off like a rocket. It stayed around for a bit and then it was gone!

schools of fish underwater canary islands diving blue waters sandy bottom escuela de peces pez

There were hundreds of fish swimming around and one point, I was surrounded by all these fish which probably thought that I was a shark to them so they were looking for parasites to eat or even gain protection.

barracuda predator fish missile shaped attacker aggressive

I also saw all these Barracuda swimming around which was the first time that I’ve ever seen this many of these missile-shaped fish at one time in one place.

The second dive of the day took more of a careful observation skill because some of the sea life were not so visible unless you are really looking carefully!

broken cement pipe broken tubo roto debajo de agua salada

At first glance, it looked like that this broken pipe might have held some sea life but nope. It’s still worth checking out though… leave no stone, er, leave no pipe unchecked.

arrow crab spanish waters atlantico salt water diving 20 meters below 20 m

This Arrow Crab was hiding in its hole unless it was spotted due to one of long, slender limbs sticking out. Even in this picture, the crab was poking one of its legs out like it was threatening to do jab-punches.

cuttlefish hiding in the sand escandarse en la arena sea mollusc

Can you spot the Cuttlefish? It was buried in the sand trying to camouflage itself from potential predators. Cuttlefish are considered to be on the smartest invertebrates in the world thus the reason to utilize camo and survive onwards.

intelligent invertebrate camo camoflage pattern hiding escando

How about this Cuttlefish? It’s trying to use the rocks for camo.

main event territory fighting lenguado fish sole flatfish fighting luchando lucha luchan pelean pelearse pelea bajo de agua

You had to be there to see it and believe this main event boxing event! Yes, those are Lenguado (Sole Fish / Flatfish) duking it out for territorial rights! You have to keep your eyes open and being completely observant because you will rarely see anything like this!

Well, that was it for me in terms of diving. So…. would I go back to the Gran Canaria to dive some more? Oh yeah! Maybe a different season would help in seeing different kinds of life underwater as well. I would have to say that the diving in the Canaries was definitely worth doing even in the cold water during the winter. I will have to come back someday again.

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Canary Islands diving day #1

Due to the heavy dosage amount of tourists, great climate, and many places to go diving, one might need years in order to go diving in every spot in the Canaries. And of course, weather and water conditions change over the year so certain dive spots might look differently as well particularly in the animal migration schedule. The one great thing about going in the winter time is the lack of tourists wanting to scuba dive which is also a great reason since they are only in the Canary Islands to sun bathe. Well… that and get drunk which reminded me of being in Hurgada, Egypt with the hordes of European tourists trampling down at the resort hotels guzzling alcohol in the Egyptian sun by the pool or the beach. Nope, not during this time in the Canaries!

And yes, that’s a good thing for me because my efforts and time shall be spent economically out on the water and in the water for the scuba diving experience since most people do not scuba dive at all. Not way to get off the beaten-down tourist paths. I was told that the water in the Canaries can be unpredictable since the water temperature is generally warmed by the Gulf Stream and waters coming from warm Africa but it’s always that chilling water coming down from the cold wintery Arctic of the north especially during the winter. That’s what causes the water temperature to drop so it can be cold diving instead of warm water diving like I encountered in Spain and France. But even cold water will not deter me from accomplishing one of my goals of scuba diving the Canaries so off I go!

The first day of scuba diving began with the usual sizing up equipment, loading up, and then off to the dive spot. I was with some other divers whom happen to be beginners and they were not in thrillsville about being at rough water shore dive. I didn’t think much of it because I’ve been through far worse.

shore beach dive rough wavy conditions slippery wet waves ocean atlantic spain canary islands diving buceo bucear

It looked rough but I’ve done worse so it wasn’t a bother. I think the other divers were thinking that there would be a pier and ladder to get down/up. Haha. Not likely that mother nature gives you something like that. It’s more like humans have to build the place up.

After some deliberation, the others decided to go ahead and do the dive which I think was to the relief of the divemaster because he looked at me and my dive partner and we just gave that, “Meh. Whatever. Let’s dive!” And once everyone was in the water, I think everyone’s scuba diving training took over and we were off to go see some amazing things down there.

blue coral reef fish swimming in Canaries Islands gran canaria Spanish diving buceo agua

The Canary Islands don’t have a lot of coral in its water probably due to the centuries and centuries of humanity living there trying to make a living or even survive through fishing and collecting crabs, snails, etc.

sea urchin over harvested minimal sea life ocean waters atlantic islands near africa

I saw this blue-black sea urchin trying to hide itself in a hole. There weren’t a lot of sea urchins down there which made my hypothesis correct that people over-harvested the nearby waters.

needlefish long stick-like fish long body

In Mexico, Needlefish are a pest because they take your sardine baitfish instead of letting the intended gamefish take them. But here, it’s an interesting sight to see them down there.

arena pez plano flatfish flounder camo camoflauge hidden during scuba diving

Due to my hunting and fishing skills and experience, I spotted this flatfish and started to have some fun chasing it. Most of the diving group didn’t even see this fish except the others who recognized that I was following something on the ocean sands.

The second dive was a little more productive for the other divers because they were not used to looking around carefully. I saw them all and a few others that they missed including some massive fish that I would have loved to have on a hook, line, rod, and reel.

sea slug nudibranch atlantic ocean saltwater spain

It was interesting to see this Nudibranch out on the sands which makes me think that it got separated from the rocks.

christmas tree under water arbol de navidad debajo del agua Christbaum unter dem Wasser tanks tanques Gran Canary Island

Yep, that is a Christmas tree and scuba tanks. I think the scuba tanks represent crosses meaning that two people died scuba diving. Not sure unless they are simply decorations for scuba divers coming around underwater in that area.

great view from a cave underwater

Big fish and small fish at the entrance of a very small cave.

proof evidence that I was underwater in Gran Canaria Canary Islands Las Palmas

My proof that I did scuba diving in the Canary Islands!

I have to admit that it was cold but I think I was more cold from the blistering winds that were blowing at me once I was out of the water that chilled me more. Sure, the water temperature was warmer and better compared to chilly Iceland’s diving waters, but you have to wear a thick wetsuit. Maybe it might be a different story in the winter but hey, it’s diving.

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Canary Islands – In Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

The outside temperature in the Canaries is sure warmer than being on continental Europe since it’s winter time, but the water temperature is a slightly different story. It’s a bit colder than it looks. It reminds me of scuba diving in Egypt – the outside climate is nice but not that hot nor cold, but the water temperature can make you cold when spending time in it. It’s definitely not like diving in Mexico, Honduras, Brazil, or Colombia where it’s tropical water diving. And thank the scuba diving gods that it’s not like scuba diving in Iceland where it’s freezing COLD even in the summer! However, at the time I thought of the Canaries as being the tropical version of Iceland, kind of barren but having that tropical, warm feeling.

first survivors livers habitantes inhabitants colonizer colony spanish espanol islas solvingforzero

Weird looking monument but it’s a memento to the first inhabitants of the Canary Islands. The ones who survived the initial colonization of new lands and made a contribution to what the Canary Islands were and are now.

If it’s cold, windy, and chilly… is there anywhere else in Europe to escape the snow blizzards from engulfing you to a status of a frozen caveman trapped in ice? Well, there is one place where I have found to be such a paradise and it is the Canary Islands, west of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean belonging to Spain. Well, technically, the islands are part of Africa but these islands have belonged so long to Spanish hands that they are considered part of Europe which makes it very easy for EU residents to travel there and back since Spain is part of the EU.

gran canaria island las palmas marina pier muelle spanish port puerto

This is Las Palmas marina where it is just jam-packed with boats, boats, and more boats. Northeast of this marina is a pier where the massive cruise liners come to dock.

Historically, the Canary Islands were not a tourist spot at all. Instead, in the past, Spanish explorers, sailors, and conquistadors used the Canary Islands as an initial pit-stop to load up on food and water one last time before making the eventual trip westward to the New World or going southward towards Africa during the discovery era. As technology got better over time, the Canary Islands lost its position as a way-point for many ship-faring vessels due to airplanes becoming more mainstream and advanced along with the Canaries’s sugar industry facing more and more stiff competition. In time, as modernization came to play, the Canaries did eventually become a tourist hotspot for both travelers to enjoy sun-lighted beaches and snowbirds looking to avoid the European winters. That’s why some people have made the Canary Islands their permanent home like how some people have made Costa del Sol or Portugal their final homes due to the more hospitable climate and the desire to see the sun on a regular basis.

beach canary islands canarias playa tourist turista zona zone

This is Playa Las Canteras facing north. It’s fairly empty but I can see the summers just crammed full of beach goers.

beach walkway sand spanish spain espanol nacion pais

Another view of Playa Las Canteras but it’s facing southward. The walkway that goes parallel with the beach has some great restaurants to eat at.

What’s interesting is that the Canaries do not have one capital since the islands are actually separated into two different provinces: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This is because of the long-standing rivalry between the island populations (particularly the elites) which still exist to this day. Out of the many islands there (which 8 of them are populated), I went to the island called Gran Canaria and made my way to the city of Las Palmas. What’s interesting is that for such a small island for its size (compared to bigger islands like Hispaniola which has 21 million people living in the two nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti), there are almost 850,000 people living there with almost half of the population living in the capital, Las Palmas. The city, or more like the island, supports both a professional basketball team and a football team; the first FC Barcelona game that I ever went to was played against Union Deportiva Las Palmas (Barca won that game 5-0). And of course, the rivaling island of Tenerife has its own football club as well, Club Deportivo Tenerife. So when both teams meet, which is Europe’s most geographical isolated match from the continent since both clubs are out in the Atlantic Ocean, the match becomes the Canary Islands Derby where the teams and fans are generally more laid back than the ultras/hardcore fans in other European clubs such as the Premier League teams of Tottenham or Chelsea.

Coming here to this island of Gran Canaria, it’s great. It almost reminds me of Costa Rica but with more of a European flair and less Latin American flavor and chill. But I think of the place as an awesome gateway which puts me back into sunlight and warm weather after being swamped down by heavy gusts of wind, warm skies constantly filled with clouds, rain, snow, and cold chills of Europe. And the islands are still considered to be EU so it’s not as difficult as going to somewhere like Egypt or Jordan despite being relatively close destinations to mainland Europe.

One issue that I have is seeing how many backpackers there were on this island. I personally saw one girl trying to hitch-hike from the airport…. are you serious? C’mon now! It’s only about 3 euros to get on the bus that will take you to the capital city, Las Palmas. Ugh… I don’t know what these people are thinking.

The positives? The people are nice and friendly. They are certainly intrigued if you speak Spanish because most of the tourists that go to the Canaries are mostly Europeans but not the Spanish-speaking type. But the food, wow… usually the advice to travelers is to not go to tourist areas to eat if you’re looking for authentic food. However, the advice here is the reverse as the tourist areas have some really, really good as seen below.

hot plate chinese food la comida china espanola canaries food restaurants restaurant great food tourist zone

I was at a Chinese restaurant and they changed the flavor to meet the local Spanish tastes. But this duck with bamboo and onions was amazing as the guy brought it on a hot plate and then pour some amazing sauce on it. Then you get to hear that amazing sizzling sound which you know that it’s making it taste better when you eat it.

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Back in London for more football: Chelsea FC vs Newcastle United FC

Stamford Bridge, home of the famed Chelsea FC also informally known as the Blues for their blue crest and blue uniforms, is considered as one of the premier stadiums in Europe due to the long and famed history of this football club which dates over a hundred years old and claiming London as its home base. Chelsea is commonly part of the big six in the Premier League so the club is always a challenger not only in the Premier League but also in Champions League or Europa League (depending on its previous season’s accomplishments; generally, only the top 4 clubs make it to Champions League and the next two make it to Europa League). The London Derby games (when playing another London-based team particularly Arsenal and Tottenham), the two Manchester mainstays (Manchester City and Manchester United), and Liverpool are always the most heated games. Most Chelsea fans consider the north London-based Tottenham Hotspurs along with a very close second, Arsenal FC, another North London team, as their rivals.

Stamford Bridge pitch green campo de futbol inglaterra ingles England Premier League Chelsea football club stadium

It’s a pretty impressive stadium since it was originally built in the late 1800s. There are plans to renovate it so the team can go back to home sweet home after a lot of redecorating.

So the matches can be pretty rough among the extreme passionate fans as they just pulverize each other on chants, insults, and get involved in the occasional fist fight where the London Metropolitan Police have to get involved to break it all up in order to prevent World War III from starting. And I can clearly see on the faces of the police officers that they would rather not deal with such idiocy of getting in the middle of a fight (or riot), property damage, fires, flares, and whatever else might happen at one end of the extreme. Not fun at all, but the Po-Po have to be there as a just in case these rowdy fans decide to go full acceleration Mike Tyson boxing on each other. And don’t think the police are not tough despite England not allowing tax-abiding citizens to own guns and some of the policemen not having guns. In reality, some of these policemen actually have firearms, show in plain view, and they know how to use them with deadly force. And I’ve seen a few burly-looking guys in their force who you wouldn’t take on a real bar fight 1 on 1 so don’t try to pick a fight with you. It won’t go well. And don’t think about running out on the field – the results are just disastrous as you will be taken down by security and/or police to be hauled away to jail.

warming up warm ups before the game

Both teams warming up prior to the start of the game.

england football game pitch winter january 2019

Just seconds before the kickoff of the Chelsea FC – Newcastle United FC Premier League game.

For the match itself, Chelsea came out roaring with its 4-3-3 formation which they utilized their best player, Eden Hazard, to be the 9 striker instead of being out on the wings. One thing that I noticed is that this Chelsea team utilizes more of a possession-style type of playing style where they keep the ball with safe passes until a good opportunity strikes. The problem with this is that they don’t (or can’t) go to side-to-side like other teams do to get another angle of attack. The players also are terrible at doing crosses so it makes me wonder if the current manager, Sarri, knows this so he’s employed more of a possession-style football in order to keep the turnovers to a minimum and possibly find holes in the opposing defense. Of course, the long ball has to be played but this Chelsea team doesn’t really do that and I feel as if their current team still lacks several key personnel to play the possession style which is they need a striker (9), wingers or at least full-backs who can pass forward and make those cross passes.

belgium football player hazard futbolista belgica

Here’s Eden Hazard, probably Chelsea’s best player, who is looking for the ball. He’s similar to Leo Messi but not quite there yet. He was playing as a 9 striker in this game.

Pedro chelsea players celebrating goal team

Chelsea players celebrate first goal by Pedro who opened it all up by putting himself on the scoresheet.

Newcastle United played a similar style of 4-3-3 but at times, it felt like they successfully and deceptively played a 5-4-1 or a variation of it by going 5-3-2 or 5-3-1-2. This put pressure on the Chelsea offense as it would sputter because of the face-up defense that Newcastle would push back with. The back 5 defenders also make it difficult for Chelsea to go side-to-side as they are forced to pass immediately instead of dribbling and then finding an angle or open area to make the pass. This resulted in several turnovers made by Chelsea where Newcastle was able to counterattack and push back the opposing team.

tactic soccer football upfront pressure

Newcastle would pressure Chelsea even up front so they could steal the ball.

kepa spanish goalie chelsea

Chelsea’s goalie, Kepa, would try to get the team to calm down at times.

In the end, Chelsea prevailed with a 2-1 score but there were times that Newcastle could have equalized particularly near the end of the game during extra time.

after the game despues de futbol final whistle stamford bridge premier league handshake

Chelsea FC and Newcastle United FC players met up after the game to say “Good game” as a show of respect to one another.

After watching that game live, I now have 4 of the Premier League Big Six complete!
Manchester City
Arsenal FC
Tottenham Hotspur FC
Chelsea FC

I just need these two teams from northern England to complete seeing all the Premier League Big Six:
Manchester United
Liverpool FC

My quest to complete the set is surely but slowly getting there! Just breaking down those invisible walls! As most people know that the hardest part is just starting and laziness just breeds more laziness, so the less you do, the less you feel like doing. Nope. I am doing. I am moving!

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