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Holidays in Santa Cruz – 2.

After a restful day, I went cycling again. This time I wanted to ride to the north along the eastern coast of the island, then turn to the west, and climb the highest peak of La Palma from the northwestern direction. I knew it would be hard (with more than 120 km and three and a half kilometer of elevation gain, on the steepest roads of the island), but we need challenges in life :) I had my breakfast sitting at the open window (that’s something I will miss in Leuven, but finally I will have my chocolate, fries, and beer ;D) and watching the sunrise over the calm see towards the island of Tenerife. I had some difficulties inserting my contact lenses (everything is great about lenses, but I don’t like this part), so it was already half past 9 by the time I managed to leave the apartment.

The first 60.9 km was like a roller-coaster ride, with amazing views to the see, the steep cliffs and narrow valleys. In general, there were three longer climbs before the real thing started, but if you are interested in the details, click here to see the GPS data of the day. Words are not enough to describe the beauty of the island, I have seen the paradise here. Really, there were times, when I could see a rainbow in the distance as there were small showers hanging over the see, and imagine the whole scene over green slopes and curvy mountain roads…


The road usually went around the ridges, but sometimes there were tunnels also. I knew this would happen, so I put my rear light on already at the beginning, and just turned it on when I saw a tunnel approaching. But at the last and longest one, I went in as usual, but then it turned out that there is absolutely no lighting inside, and as the end was not visible from the first hundreds of meters, it became completely dark very soon. Luckily, for safety reasons, I also put my headlamp in my backpack, so I stopped in the darkness, and put it on… But it was really shocking to roll in with 40 km/h and then realize that the road disappears in the darkness :D There were also some sections, where one lane was closed due to road-works, and the traffic was controlled by traffic-lights, so I had to wait sometimes several minutes to get a green sign (and I usually managed to pass the section before the other direction got the green).

So after a bit more than 60 km and an elevation gain of two kilometers, I arrived to the start of the climb at an elevation of 940 meter ASL. From here, it took 19.4 km to climb 1485 meter to the Roque de los Muchachos, which gives an average slope steepness of 7.7%, making this the most difficult climb I ever had (maybe even without taking into account the two kilometers of elevation gain already in my legs at the beginning of the big climb). The first kilometers were quite OK till the point where I had to turn to the TF-4 road from the TF-1 (which I was following from Santa Cruz), then came the brutal section. Really, it did hurt. In 1.8 km I rode up 200 meters, which translates to an average steepness of 11.1%, and also a nice amount of lactate in your legs ;) But this is only the average, there was a curve-combination (looking down you could see three two more “levels” of the road below the one you were riding on), where it went up to 15% for quite a long section. (There were two buses coming down, and the drivers were waving and smiling when they saw me – but this was the case with most of the cars I met on the way up, which felt really good.) Of course the forest and the scenery was amazing, the sky was deep blue (with no clouds on this side of the mountain), but I was really tired to take pictures, I think I just wanted to concentrate on the climb itself.


Halfway up the mountain, I really got fed up with the energy bars and gels (which I ate ate every stop after every 250 m of elevation gain), so I will be happy not to eat them for a while now, as the outdoor cycling season is probably over for this year (based on the temperatures I have seen for Belgium). Now – not like two days before – I arrived to the area of the Observatory in sunshine, so there was no need of warmer clothes before reaching the summit. I was extremely happy when I finally arrived at the peak, and I don’t want to deny that it felt very good that quite a few people gave their congratulations when they saw me :) Quickly I asked for a photo, then (after all these formalities) I sat down and took a bit of a rest. (But first I put on the knee and arm warmers, the wind west and the neck warmer, because the wind was cold.)


I already knew the way down from two days earlier, but it was still a challenge with the numerous steep curves. Luckily the road was less wet now (though it was still not cloudless on this side of the mountain), and as I did not receive another tropical rain-shower as a present from mother nature this time, I hade really nice views after I came out of the cloud layer. It was a really well spent day.

After taking a shower, I slept a bit (yeah, I was tired as hell) before I went for my usual dinner. You coud really tell that the waiter was really happy to see me again – as I had my dinner at the same small pizzeria every evening (I already had my favorite spot). They served great pizza (though not the best I ever had, but close to it), and I liked the atmosphere of the place. Moreover, I usually payed only 10 € for everything with tip included, which is at least 50% more in Leuven. But this was also true for the supermarket, I was always surprised how cheep my purchases were.

This morning (after the usual breakfast wit the view to the sunrise over the sea… – boring :D) I packed in everything (now I am a really professional bike disassembler and packer), the took the taxi to the airport, and now I am flying over Portugal on the way to Madrid. Hopefully everything will be fine and I (and also my luggage) will arrive around 10 PM to Brussels, so I might be in Leuven still before midnight. If I manage to post this post then you know I am fine (and if not, then this sentence does not make any sense, but hope for the best :D).

Holidays in Santa Cruz – 1.

On the 20th I finally took the taxi and left the mountaintop behind. I asked for a big cab at the reception (because of my bike box) of the Observatory, but I did not expect a mini van :D The driver was very nice, we talked about cycling almost all the way down. I went directly to my apartment (La Fuente), where I got the keys, but as I had to wait till noon before I could move in, I decided to go for a short walk in the city.


Santa Cruz de La Palma is really nice, I am not a huge fan of the Spanish (or Latin) style, but these small streets with the wooden balconies are lovely. As the Queen Elizabeth was in town (I mean, in the port), the old part of the city was flooded by mostly old European and Japanese tourists… In theory, it was only 26°C (in the shadow of course), but after the climate of the Observatory (at 2150-2350 m ASL), I was really sweating like a horse down at sea level. I had lunch at the new port building on the terrace of a nice modern pizzeria (where all the pizzas were named after old Hollywood movies), then I walked back to the La Fuente. My apartment is on the 4th floor, which has pros and cons. First of all, I have a view to the sea, and the sunrise (which is just awesome), but I had to carry up the 32 kg bike box in the narrow staircase, which was quite a difficult job… Anyway, it has a very good price/quality ratio.

On Thursday morning I packed my arm and knee warmers, a wind west, and a cap into my small backpack, I filled its hydration pack and two bottles with Isostar, and after putting on some sunscreen I went out to climb the highest peak of the world’s steepest island. By bike, from sea level. (You can see the details of the ride here.)


When I left Santa Cruz, the Sun was very strong, so I started to worry a bit that leaving the rest of the sunscreen at the apartment might turn out to be not my best idea ever, but then I entered the cloud layer at around 800 m ASL, and I spent almost all the rest of the ride in there… Around 400 m ASL small dogs started to follow me while barking loud just 10-20 cm from my feet, but luckily it was still a bit too early for lunch :) (Normally dogs are not a big deal, as I can go faster than them, but not uphills on a 8% slope…) This was a much harder climb than the on on Tenerife – almost as long, but significantly steeper. It consists of three parts: 33.62 km @ 6.8% from 5 m to 2285 m, then 5.20 km slight up and downs (average @ -2.7%), and finally 3.67 km @ 7.2% from 2147 m to 2411 m (with sections as steep as 11% at the last hundreds of meters – which really did hurt).  I saw the Sun again at ~2200 ASL meter for a couple of minutes while I was pedaling up through the area of the Observatory, but that’s all – the peak (Roque de Los Muchachos) was in the clouds again already by the time I arrived. It took me almost 3 hours and 20 minutes to ride from sea level to the top of La Palma.


Before I started the descent I put the arm and knee warmers on, plus the cap under the helmet, because the weather was quite chilly up there. Unfortunately it did not improve on the way down, but it started to be quite wet at around 1200 m ASL – which gave me a bit of a trouble in one of the many corners, but my experience (unclipping the SPD shoes when realizing that breaking is not effective enough for such a steep curve) saved the day for me :) To put the icing on the cake, it started to rain cats and dogs (with really big, but luckily quite warm drops) at around 400 m ASL, which lasted till I reached sea level. The road turned into a river almost immediately, so I had to be extremely careful, because 180° turns on flowing water are not that easy. I got completely soaked, I have never been so wet on the bike before. As soon as I arrived home (and took a shower) I put my cycling shoes out into the window, and it was still a bit wet after drying for 20 hours there. So all I want to say that it was really like a tropical rain storm.

Today I dod not do anything special, but not doing anything was really nice :) And I am still shocked by the fact that it is 23°C at 11 PM :D

Cycling in the snow | Hóban bringázás

It started to snow around noon on Thursday, and it lasted until almost midnight, turning the city of Leuven to a real winter wonderland. The most beautiful parts are definitely the bike paths connecting the center with the campus in Heverlee, because they are car-free, salt-free, and the best of all: not cleaned! So you can (or at least tonight you could) ride through the parks on the white roads, passing trees, bushes and fields covered with 10 cm of snow… Everything was so quiet and peaceful. I wish it could stay like this, at least till Christmas. But I am sure that by tomorrow morning, the bike paths will also be cleaned. Because – yeah, of course – it is quite slippery. At least when you don’t have the right tires on your wheels. But I have them, so for me, it is just fun! Pure fun! It was so funny to see all the cars sliding, unable to move in any direction (clearly, the majority of the cars were not on winter tires), blocking all the streets around the city, causing traffic jams everywhere, while we could easily pass them even in the “deep” snow :) We went for dinner to the Amici Miei (they have good pizza for really low price), and afterwards I rode back to the Institute to finish my work, so I left finally only around half past eleven. But riding through the snow covered city is fantastic. I have already seen a lot of faces of Leuven, but this one is very close to the top spot on my list! (But I have to admit that having a melting bike inside is not part of the fun :D) And here is my bike after one hour of snow:


Tegnap dél körül kezdett el havazni, és majdnem éjfélig folyamatosan esett, így a várakozásaimat 100%-osan felülmúló 10 cm-es hó borította be a tájat. Az egész város meseszép, de nekem legjobban így is az autó és (egyelőre) só-mentes, (jelenleg még) takarítatlan bicikliutak tetszenek, melyek a központot és a kampuszt kötik össze. Este itt minden olyan békés és csendes volt. Ilyen időnek kellene lennie karácsonykor Budapesten. Ennyit az óceáni éghajlatról… Na de vissza a havas sztorihoz. Fél hétkor leléptünk az egyetemről vacsorázni – végül az Amici Miei-be mentünk, mert 1) az első célpontunk zárva volt, 2) igen olcsón adják az elég jó pizzát, amit ráadásul már nem is emlékszem mikor ettem utoljára! Odafelé jól szórakoztunk a láthatóan nem téli-gumival közlekedő autósokon, akik össze vissza csúszkáltak, és bedugult miattuk az egész város, miközben mi biciklivel lazán eltekertünk mellettük :) Vacsora után (egy óra hóesésben parkolás a fenti képet produkálja) én még visszamentem az egyetemre, hogy befejezzem amit félbehagytam, így nagyjából fél tizenkettő körül indultam haza, de legalább újra keresztültekerhettem a gyönyörű havas kastélyparkon és végiggurulhattam a város karácsonyi díszbe öltözött utcáin. És a helyiek ilyen időben is mind biciklivel járnak. Nem ördöngősség. (Azért a nálam kevesebb tapasztalattal és “simább” gumikkal rendelkező bringások egy része inkább tolta a gépet, mert meg kell hagyni, azért csúszott az út rendesen. De nekem az egész egy nagy buli volt, és hihetetlenül élveztem minden a bringán hóban töltött percet! Farolgattam is a hátsó kerékkel jobbra-balra ;D Viszont a bringa hómentesítése és fel(vagy inkább le)olvasztása nem a móka és kacagás részhez tartozik…)

Második munkahét

Mondjuk pont a munkárol nem sokat fogok írni. Python-ban programoztam, meg cikkeket olvastam, ennyi. Kedden voltam az International Office-ban, és bemutattam a diplomám eredetijét, így nem kell kínkeserves úton hivatalos másolatot kérni az ELTE-től… Persze ezt a lehetőséget úgy kellett kihúzni az itteniekből (mindemellett mondjuk mindenki nagyon kedves és segítőkész). Továbbra is tartom azt az elképzelésemet, hogy még szeptemberben lesz diákom :) Mivel ez volt az első nap, hogy a saját biciklimmel mentem dolgozni, egyből be is gyűjtöttem az elismerő szavakat – mondtam én, hogy ez a bringa itt is menő lesz.

Szerdán munka után Ilse-hez (ERASMUS alatt vele is egy évfolyamon voltam) mentünk Brüsszelbe (pontosabban Uccle-be), aki talán kicsit meglepő módon a Belga Királyi Meteorológiai Intézetnél csinálja a PhD-ját. Az estét egy kicsi, de kellemes polasz étteremben kezdtük vörösborral és pizzával. Utóbbi – nekem mindenképpen – az elmúlt évek legjobbja volt. Egyszerre volt hatalmas (lelógott a nagy pizzás tényérról), ízletes (tökéletes tészta, nem túl száraz, vékony, mennyei feltétek: sonka, hagyma, gomba, sajt, tojás) és nem túl drága (8 EUR). Ráadásul a társaságból ketten nem is bírtak a sajátjukkal, így végül kicsit több mint másfelet ettem – jól is laktam rendesen, a többiek meg értetlenül nézték, hogy bírok ennyit enni, és emellett hogy tudok ilyen vékony lenni :) Eztán hosszú beszélgetés, képnézegetés, zenehallgatás és sörözés (Stella Artois) kezdődött Ilse lakásán, ami egészen hajnali egy körülig tartott, így már kettő óra is elmúlt, mire ágyba kerültem…

Ennek meg is lett a hatása másnap, mégpedig az, hogy a délelőtt katasztrófális volt – szerencsére az ebéd után elfogyasztott káve (az első kávém az Intézetben) rendesen felpörgetett, így délután elég jól dolgoztam. Munka után páran elmentünk kebabot enni. Úgy látszik ez egy ilyen hét, de ez is isteni volt. A hely nincs messze a Heverlee-i vasútállomástól (Heverlee Leuven egyik külső része, itt van az egyetem is), és a kebabjuk egyszerűen mennyei. Egy nagy, csirkés változatot ettem (azt hiszem ez is 8 EUR volt, de lehet hogy 7, már nem emlékszem), és komolyan mondom minden tökéletes volt benne, méretre meg akkora volt, mint három-négy otthoni gyros. Magát az evést már Robin lakásán hajtottuk végre (micsoda megfogalmazás), és amilyen okos vagyok, a pulcsimat sikerült otthagynom, így miután Valery visszafurikázott az Intézethez (ahol a cuccaim és a bringám volt) első utam ugyanoda vezetett vissza… Este mostam. Az új hely jó, de a mosó-program és a szárító-program is 10 perccel hosszabb, mint a réginél.

Pénteken megszerveztem, hogy legyen aki felfúrja a falamra a nagy képet, szóval hétfőn ez is megoldódik. Voltunk Nadia diplomaosztója utáni fogadásán, ahol sajnos csak pia volt (fene az ingyenélő fajtánkat :D), pedig addigra pont elég éhes lettem. Kiderült viszont, hogy miért nem jött vasárnap senki biciklizni: Kristof beteg lett, és nem emlékezett, hogy pénteken már nekem is szólt, hogy mennének, így engem nem értesítettek, hogy mégsem lesz – viszont jövő héten újra nekifutunk ugyanannak a tervnek. Ha minden jól megy.

Szombaton elköltöttem egy halom pénzt :) De most már igazából minden megvan, amire szükségem van (kivéve egy normális rongyszőnyeget, és egy faliórát vagy még egy képet). Vettem egy Apple AirPort Express-t (így most már van WPA2-vel és MAC-szűréssel ellátott szuperbiztos saját WiFi hálózatom – már az ágyból is tudok netezni :D), egy biciklis szerszámos-dobozt (eszméletlen jó, most már mindent meg tudok szerelni saját magam, valamelyik nap majd kikapom a monoblokkot és megnézem hogy csak lazán van benn, kevés a zsír, vagy maga a monoblokk a ludas a kattogásban), seprűt, terítőt, alátéteket, fűszereket, fakanalat, serpenyőt (profi TEFAL cucc), késeket, mosószert, mérőedényt (amin liszt, cukor és só beosztás is van a folyadék-mérce mellett), stb. Még filc alátéteket is szereztem az asztalok és a székek lábai alá – föl is raktam, minden szuper :) Ha minden jól alakul, jövő héten megszületik a lakásomat bemutató képes, videós bejegyzés is! Kicsit olvashatóbbá tettem a blogot is, megnöveltem a betűméretet és a sorközt, valamint átálltam Helvetica betűtípusra. Vasárnap megírom az utolsó Naprovatom a Meteor-ba.

Diploma afterparty


Csak címszavakban. Nagyon jó volt a társaság (köszi, hogy jöttetek!), Pirx kapitány kalandjain jót derültünk, az 55 cm-es pizza hatalmas és gyorsan véget vetett az Activity-nek :) Nem sirattuk meg az egyetemet, inkább ittunk a PhD-re (bort, édeset, jót). Miután Kata elsajátította a klarinétozás technikáját, hajnali kettő körül még kimentünk a kertbe, ami előbb hullócsillag-nézéshez (láttunk egy nagyon fényeset is), majd éjszakai ping-pongozáshoz vezetett ;) Nem volt semmi… Aztán már hajnalodott, amikor mindenki haza indult, Katát és Józsit el is kísértem hazáig, mert bringával jöttek, nekem meg tekerhetnékem volt. Haza hat után értem (kis kerülővel jöttem), kissé érzelmileg kiégve – annyira jó volt, hogy itt voltak, utána pedig elég egyedül éreztem magam :( De az este az jó volt :)