La Palma in Spain was the second stop during my Christmas Cruise in the med. I didn't know anything about this island at all and had no expectation of it.
La Palma 拉帕爾馬島
Now I know La Palma isn't as touristy as its neighbouring islands. That's why there wasn't anything to do by yourself once we had docked. Luckily I had pre booked an excursion as advised by the cruise company but really had no idea where we were going. Not long after I got on the coach, we were gradually going up the mountain. The town was getting smaller and smaller.
遊覽車從渡輪碼頭慢慢往山上去，市區變得越來越渺小。沿路上我看到山邊有不少香蕉樹，原來拉帕爾馬島主要一項收入是種植香蕉。第一站是La Zarza公園。公園裏有20多面古代石雕刻，在1941年被發掘。 很奇怪，我在網路上找不到有關石雕刻的詳盡資料，只是說這些石雕刻是從遠古時代已有，從考古學角度上有重要價值。看來這跟英國巨石陣一樣，都是一個謎。
I remember seeing a lot of banana plantations on the way and it turns out that banana is one of La Palm's biggest source of income. The coach ride up the mountain, cruising along the bendy roads with banana trees all over the mountain was an experience in itself.
La Zarza Cultural Park
Not long after, we arrived at our first stop, La Zarza Cultural Park. This is an archaeological site famous for the the geometric-shaped etchings. There are 29 panels here and were discovered in 1941. Obviously at the time of visit, I didn't know the significance of this, or maybe I did and forgot. I can't help but wonder why did people make these etchings onto the rocks? And more importantly, how did they make these balance geometry shapes? I don't know why I can't find more information about it on internet. Perhaps it another mystery just like the Stonehenge in England.
Roque de los Muchachos Observatory 穆查丘斯羅克天文台
Finally we got to our destination, and I really did not expect that. I was at 2396m above sea level, and nearby the island's volcanic peak. In 1979 the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory was set up when the massive telescope called the Isaac Newton Telescope was moved here from the famous Royal Greenwich Observatory in London.
行程中的亮點是位於2396米海拔高的穆查丘斯羅克天文台。 這個時候我們已在雲海之上。 這所天文台建於1979年，是世界上其中一所擁有最先進天文望遠鏡的天文台之一。而且在北半球上是觀看天文星象第二最佳的位置。
The remote locaton of La Palma and the dark clear skies here makes it the perfect place to gaze at stars and other solar activity. In fact, it is said to be one of the best astronomical sites in the world, and the second best place in the northern hemisphere for star gazing.
The site is managed by varous astronomical organisations from different countries, and over the years have built up the most extensive fleet of telescopes around the world. If you are an astronomy buff, you can book a tour of the inside of the telescope. My excursion tour just viewed it from far away and that was fine for me. We had other things to do.
Caldera de Taburiente National Park 塔武連特山國家公園
The Roque de los Muchachos Observatory is located in the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, and we drove further up towards the caldera. Tha'ts the highest point on the island, 2426m above sea level. The caldera is about 2 million years old and was created when the walls of an old volcano collapsed into itself creating a massive 10km wide opening. The landscape here is rugged and dramatic at the same time.
天文台還未到島上最高點。最高點是2496米的塔武連特山國家公園。國家公園裡有一座火山口。 相傳火山口是200多萬年前一次火山後，火山壁向內倒塌而形成今天這個10公里闊的火山口。 這裏的地勢環境非常獨特，夾雜崎嶇峭壁與各類高山植物。從火山口可以眺望幾百米腳下的天文台。
A path led further upwards to the outlook and I ventured across. The walk wasn't as bad as it looks. I remember looking at the terrain, thinking that this is part of a volcano. The short walk was absolutely breath taking, as was the surrounding view.
Coach driver 旅遊車司機
My trip here vastly exceeded my expectation and that was undoubtedly thanks to the driver Here he is feeding a crow at the top of the mountain, and when crow flew onto his back, he kindly the bent over so we could take photos of it, and him.
整個旅程除了觀賞崎嶇而又壯觀的火山鋒，和世界其中首屈一指的天文台外， 完美的行程要感謝非常專業的旅遊車司機。 沿途上彎彎曲曲的山路已顯示他精湛又安全的駕駛技術。 到山頂時，他在餵飼野生烏鴉 ，又讓烏鴉站在他背上讓遊客們拍照。 而讓我最欣賞就是他停泊在路邊的旅遊車，技術超一流。車子剛好停在2496米高的山路旁，離開懸崖邊只有很少的距離足夠乘客上車。很驚險噢！
That is the not the most remarkable thing about our driver. You may have noticed how narrow and bendy the roads were coming up. I always have the utmost respect for coach and bus drivers as they drive along these roads with a vehicle full of passengers. The other thing is, did you notice how the coach was parked in the photo above where he was feeding the crow? Here's another view.
And the full view of the vehicle parked on the side of the road 2426 meters above sea level with a few hundred meters drop below. It is pretty much near to the edge of the cliff with just enough space for us passengers to board the coach safely. I take my hats off to him!